The Adventures of Trina: The Glass Key: Part Five
Trina carefully stepped onto the white terrain. Miles and miles ahead, the snow was the only thing in sight, spanning in every direction.
“So this is Terror Mountain…” she said to herself in awe.
In the wispy sky, patches of blue leaked sunlight onto the snow, and in those patches the snowflakes glistened as they floated in the still air. Reaching out to them, the flakes disappeared on her mittens. Although these moments were fresh these flakes would stick with her for the rest of her life. Everything was so peaceful and quiet, down to the soles of her boots as they imprinted her slow movements, almost devoid of sound. She wanted to capture these feelings in a snow globe and relive it forever…who could have expected this from a place called “Terror Mountain?”
She sought to explore the nearest town, and any sightseeing destinations along the way, but the needle on the compass kept spinning, zipping from top to bottom and between clockwise and counterclockwise until she packed it away. She was left with no choice but to roam until she stumbled upon something—anything—she could locate on her map. From the looks of it, it could be hours before she would walk with clarity.
No matter how many footprints she left behind, the horizon remained, shining like the flashbacks stirring in her mind… * * * * *
“I see you did receive my invitation, after all. Days without any conformation and I worried I sent it to the wrong address. It’s a blessing to have you here in Faerieland, my darling. Oh, don’t be afraid—take a seat!”
“Thank you for inviting me,” the camouflage Wocky said and gave a bow, “Brightstar.”
The light faerie returned a serene smile, her teeth as white and polished as ivory.
Upon entering the atrium, the sheer abundance of gold was almost blinding. Probably everything was made with real gold. And of all people, this light faerie believed she was worthy of touching it. Incredibly detailed golden statues guarded every marble pillar, and adjacent to it were matching golden drawers, small enough to fit under the giant windows. Never had she seen windows so enormous they conjoined with the domed ceiling at least two dozen feet high. She imagined that in the past, this room was graced by a breathtaking view of the clouds. Now, while the lush green gardens were beautiful, they wouldn’t compare to the glowing pinks and blues of the sunrise at the top of the world…The faeries needed Neopians more than ever.
“It’s been quite a while, hasn’t it?” Trina began. “Since I met you?”
“Has it really? When you’re an old faerie like me time just flies away…and before you know it you don’t pay any attention to the time that’s gone by.”
“You’re not old at all!” she quickly said, and full heartedly so. Flawless skin, vibrant blonde locks—the faerie did not look a day older than she did all those months ago. Such was true about all of Neopia’s faeries—not a wrinkle in sight.
“Oh, no need for denial!” Brightstar said blissfully. “For us faeries, ‘old’ is a compliment!”
Trina sighed in relief. There were myriads of things about faeries she was clueless about, despite the bookshelves of faerie tale anthologies she read as a youth. The last thing she wanted to do was to step on a faerie’s toes. For all she knew this faerie could turn her into a frog—or worse, deny her a chance to prove herself worthy.
“Fancy some tea and biscuits? It would be a pleasure for me to serve you.” The light faerie said with delight.
“That sounds great!” Trina said, her stomach growling at the thought of food. She teetered on the edge of a golden sofa, still captivated by the furniture. From where she was, everything seemed to glow white with sunlight.
Summoned by the faerie’s gesture, an elderly yellow Tonu in a golden suit—no doubt a servant—poured her some tea in porcelain cup adorned with miniature flowers. Steam clouds billowed from it, rising until its sweet aroma tickled her nose. She brought it hesitantly to her chin, but not without spilling tea on her fingers and losing control of her grip. A wave of dread enveloped her as she heard it shatter.
“Sorry!” she blurted while looking down at her lap.
“It’s nothing to fret over,” she said in a calm voice. “Watch.”
With one tap of her fingernail, the porcelain shards sprang to life. They were drawn to each other like magnets, quickly fitting into their place in the puzzle before fusing together. The faerie spun the teacup around her fingers, flaunting its ornate decoration with no ceases or cracks in sight. It was as good as new.
“Well, let us get to right to business, shall we?” the faerie said before seating herself in front of Trina, the gold-plated coffee table being the only thing between them. “Obliviously, Trina, I need your help…”
“What do you need?”
“Three grams of the Heart of the Mountain. Precisely three grams.”
“The heart of wha—? I’m afraid I’ve never heard of it,” Trina said, feeling her face reddening again.
“No worries. It is a historical relic of Terror Mountain. I’m sure you can learn far more than I can offer once you get there.”
“I’m going to Terror Mountain?”
“Only if you accept my quest, my dear,” she paused and then spoke in a softer tone. “I know what you’re going to say…that Terror Mountain is full of monsters, that it’s much too cold—believe me, I’ve heard it all by now. Even my most loyal advisors and servants turn the other cheek when it comes to venturing there…My quests are never dangerous, just daring.”
She took a sip of tea and continued speaking, ignoring the Wocky bouncing in her seat. “Think wisely, Trina. Back when you saved the Staff, I was impressed by your courage—I still am. Your potential is limitless. This is your chance to show others what you’re capable of. I expect—”
“Count me in!” Trina said with confidence. Brightstar didn’t need to utter another word. Really, she never needed to say anything at all.* * * * *
The snow spiraled around Trina, the wind pushing away her snug hood. To the whistling weather, she slogged through the stiff, frozen layers that stretched well into the white oblivion. As the flakes stung her ears, long forgotten memories of her first snow had awoken. No matter how hard her younger self had wished, it had never snowed in Neopia Central, so during a winter vacation, her family rented a cabin in the West. There, the snow had drifted from the sky like feathers, so soft and pleasant. So cold and yet so heartwarming. The more she pressed forward, she felt more of her winter memories escape her fingers like the snowflakes that rushed by. Life, unfortunately, could not be contained in a snow globe, shielded from this commotion by a shield of glass…
Hours passed with nothing to relish among the whirlwinds. Her face was now a wall of miniature icicles; so many had latched to her fur that she could not smile if she tried. Nightfall had arrived when finally, a cabin came into view. Snowdrifts had poured over the roof and buried the walls, but not enough to block the square yellow lights where the windows should be. She could hear muffled conversations from inside.
“Hey, is a-anyone t-there?” Trina shivered, pounding on the door. “I-I need your help!”
The cabin fell silent.
“I’m a traveler, and I n-need a p-place to stay. Do you know where I m-might find one?”
There was a long and grueling silence, and finally the door opened, albeit only slightly, just enough for an eye to peek through. Then, unexpectedly, it was thrown open.
“Not here,” replied a blue Bori in the doorway. He was tall, and was looking down on her with an annoyed face.
“But w-why not?” Trina whined, quite shocked. How could they have rejected her so outright?
“Who is it?” a harsh female voice snapped from somewhere in the room.
“Another mouth to feed!” the Bori replied, rolling his eyes.
A groan of disgust followed from the other resident, making Trina cringe. Seeing this, the Bori leaned sideways against the door frame, crossed his arms, and for a moment, appeared lost in thought.
“I’ll tell ya what,” he began. “Ya bring the food to feed yourself, and we’ll let ya stay. We’ve got an extra room out in the back, but not enough food to take another in, you see. It’s nothing personal.”
“Oh…I understand…” Trina said solemnly.
“Good luck with your travels,” the Bori finished without a tinge of emotion in his voice, and with that, the door slammed shut. The warm air from the cabin was swept by a gust of wind, along with her hope.
Guess I’ll have to hunt for food, then, she thought, shuddering at the word ‘hunt.’ How would she survive? Perhaps she’d find another cabin that could lend her a hand, or a market nearby. But from the sound of the Bori, chances were she was out of luck. The sheer thought of him got her fired up. How dare he judge her so easily! She was not a helpless girl! Of course she was capable of surviving on her own! Scavenging for food should be no problem. She’ll show him!* * * * *
On second thought, maybe not…
Feeling the brunt force of the raging wind, she was certain that the snowstorm would persist through the lonely night. An hour had passed since she stumbled upon any life whatsoever. Against torrents of flakes, she could not help but regret this fruitless search. Perhaps she should have begged for shelter, unyielding until her throat gave way. But she decided that did not suit her. She always hated when protagonists were suddenly out of character.
So she braved the icy tundra, panting and freezing along the way. From flipping through her maps, there was a massive cavern nearby, surrounded by a valley. Inside its rough outlines was a jumble of indistinguishable shapes, and next to that was a scribble—the words “tourist attraction.”
Although she had no light to guide her way, there was no question that the mountain of grey before her was the cavern. Glancing again at the maps, the entrance was at least a dozen miles away.
The night now prevailed. She could no longer see a foot beyond her nose, nor could she be optimistic about the aches in her legs. And worse, her four layers of clothing was growing heavier, while at the same time, was losing warmth to the dropping temperature.
With a smash, her face hit an icy wall…the cavern!
She hoped to poke her way inside, but as she feared, her mittens met nothing more than stiff wall, no doubt several feet thick.
Suddenly, a hole opened and her foot was caught under the snow. A large kick then swallowed her entire body. In total darkness, she was falling—no, sliding—over a plane of ice. She hugged herself with her tender arms as her body swerved, as her screams echoed into her ringing ears.
Just when her lungs were spent, she landed face-first into a snow bank. Something sharp had scraped against her back as she fought to move. She was not in snow after all. Lighting a candle, golden objects shone in every direction, even from above, where a colossal medley of gold sparkled at the cavern’s peak, wedged as if ripping away a single dubloon would cause it to crumble.
Now this was treasure. Her hungry eyes could not settle on a single place to focus; beautiful goblets, jewels, and ornate swords were scattered about, glistening in the yellow light. Normally, she would be leaping with excitement and writing down all of her amazing sights. But this time, the only real treasure was a bite to eat.
Gently, she ran her mittens across a knight’s shield at her feet, and a sheet of dust had gathered on the brown wool. Whoever had amassed such riches intended to hide it away, or the owner had long since passed. Either way, nothing was hers to take. The stories these artifacts could tell could date back centuries, maybe rewrite history…In any case, the memory of the Staff was enough to steer her temptations away.
A foul odor then entered her nose, but the warning came a second too late. She could feel something soft being squished under her boot, which was now covered in green goo.
“Yuck! What is this?” Trina couldn’t help but take another sniff. It can’t be…
“IT’S A NEGG!” she exclaimed with wide eyes.
Operation: find dinner was now live. She scoured everywhere, sparing not the tightest nook her small physique could squeeze through.
If it just was a little less stale, or smelled just a little less like rotting fish, it’s game… she thought, finally smiling, licking her chapped and frozen lips. Maybe even a fish negg, if I’m lucky…
Accidentally, she leaned against a wall and the layers of rock and dirt fell to pieces, uncovering a black hole. She gasped as she leaped backwards and it ricocheted back to her ears. Her curiosity got the best of her, so she crawled inside without a second thought. Rather narrow, this tunnel was likely carved by smugglers. Yet the treasure seemed untouched…
Again, adrenaline pumped throughout her veins. The anticipation was brimming to her lungs and flowed from her eyes. She caught the tears of joy the moment she spotted a pile of purple neggs waiting for her at the end of the tunnel.
As if it was a foot race, she burst through the tunnel and scooped them up, burning away every semblance of energy in her knees. This was a miniature version of the last cavern; except here the golden towers were reduced to mere piles scattered here and there. Before she could reposition her arms to balance her stack of neggs, her eyes were drawn to more brightly colored neggs hiding in the stockpiles. It felt like no force of nature could stop her from snatching up all sorts of neggs and stuffing them wherever possible.
But thanks to her intense appetite, her stack of neggs soon exceeded her head. The great weight made her wobble backwards, so she tried to counterbalance it by thrusting forward. For a second, she forgot about the dried goo on her boot and the icy floor, and she ended up slipping several feet forward. The Neggs tittered and tottered, and then it all tumbled to the ground, including her.
A lightning bolt-shaped crack ran across the ice, rupturing out of sight behind a great wall of neggs in the corner. It never caught her attention before, but these neggs had large tooth marks, as if they were leftovers from a single bite…
Just then, a giant creature reared up and released a thunderous roar. The ground vibrated from the beastly sound. An array of icicles shot from its mouth, aiming for her pelt. Instinctively, she dived to safety, fortified behind a mound of key chains and weapons. The rapid movement had extinguished the flame, but in total darkness the sight of the creature still burned in her mind. The shiny blue skin, the stripe pattern, the icy blast—there was no question about it. She was facing the wrath of the Snowager.
The Snowager charged again, headfirst, striking a hole into the floor. This time Trina was prepared. Her wand illuminated the scene, just in time to trace the beast slithering in her direction. When it reared for another attempt, Trina swung her wand as forcefully as her coat allowed, and a volley of bright blue orbs stuck the Snowager at close range. However, the Snowager continued its pursuit, just as if the attack missed. Trina repeated the move, and the orbs evaporated the moment it made contact with the skin. It made no sense to her, but she had to keep moving, keep devising her next move. Another roar exploded from nearby. The Snowager was angry, shooting more icicles each second, not hesitating between blasts.
She remembered spying a couple of weapons somewhere, but this was no time to play memory games, nor did she have any strength and energy left to do so.
And suddenly she knew what to do next.
At once, she dove into a corner and unlit her wand. The darkness should conceal her, and give her enough time. This was the worst possible time to have a meal, but it was a risk she had to take. With both hands, she yanked the heaviest negg from her knapsack and gnawed off a large chunk. It tasted repulsive, not to mention extremely crunchy, but it was worth it; just for the moment, she felt rejuvenated.
Once half the negg was gone, she could sense a magical aura encircling her. Something must have materialized from thin air, because a round object now rested in her lap.
Her gamble had worked two-fold! This negg indeed had magical properties, and had awarded her with the thing she needed most: a shield. A wooden shied, fairly lightweight, but nonetheless, it would fare well against the Snowager. Metallic on the outside, almost as if it was wearing armor, she knew this was a negg worth holding on to!
She pondered what the other neggs did until she was interrupted by an earsplitting crash beside her.
How did he find me? She thought, relighting her wand and running with a baffled look on her face.
She reached the other end of the cavern before she was out of breath, but the Snowager was a fast creature, never slowing down for a second. Its movements were unpredictable. Her fur stood like needles, and once again her energy was quickly waning. With no offense on her side, it was only a matter of time before her eardrums burst from its constant screeching. To say he was formidable was putting it lightly.
Thousands must have gone after his treasures, yet here it was still intact—and fortunately so. Now, heaps of items could be used to her advantage, and the possibilities were endless. All she needed was just a little time…
“Bring it on!” she shouted with a grin and another negg in hand, this one wearing a pair of black shades. The red-orange skin peeled effortlessly as Trina’s teeth tore it apart. Like magic, her muscles twitched and contracted and her lightheadedness was gone. Her strength was far more than restored; she was pumped, eager to test her newfound strength boost. The negg’s sunglasses rested loosely on her face, and despite how ridiculous it must have looked, it was all it took for her to feel ready for battle.
Boasting a mad grin, her wand ignited when the Snowager was a foot away, an eruption of light flaring to the ceiling. The beast was blinded instantly. He recoiled in pain, and crashed into a wall in a fit of screams. The cavern acknowledged its anguish by raining icicles. Trina used her shield as an umbrella as she riffled around for a weapon, haphazardly and not hesitating to swoop up some daggers and stray arrows. The hilt of a sword was practically at her fingertips when she was shoved to the ice. She rolled over and sprung to her feet in a second, heart thumping, afraid to look behind her.
But how? With its nose in the ice inches from the tips of her toes, she could feel the Snowager’s warm breath, and she watched frozen in fear as his massive body recoiled for the finishing move.
She vowed to keep her eyes open. If this was the end, she would make no mistakes. Her end would be flawless and exciting, and most of all, unforgettable.
She had no reason to hold back. Raw with energy, her wand was pulsing, keen with the power to take back her own fate. She could feel its vitality through her mittens traveling all the way to her heart, where it swelled and swirled, begging for release.
Synchronous with the Snowager’s final shriek, a massive energy sphere exploded against his body. He withdrew from the scene unscathed, but shaken; the sinister gleam in his eyes frantically moved from side to side as he fought to focus.
Then it struck her. The Snowager had not yet regained his vision. That would explain why he refused to dodge an attack that threatened half his body. By instinct, anyone would quiver at the sight of it. Either that or the beast was a lot defter than she thought. Yes, the legendary Snowager could not be stupid. He had fought thousands of treasure hunters before, and most likely full-fledged wizards were among them. By now he must think he has seen it all. Surely nothing could harm him or his pride.
She grabbed the sword beside her and took off.
So without his eyesight, how was he tracking her? Was it her incessant panting, her thumping heartbeat? Perhaps he was listening to the echoes of her footsteps as she ran. Her boots were making almost no sound…
After sprinting a fair distance, she waited. She predicted she had less than half of a minute before he would locate her. Until then, she worked on devouring another Negg, a pink one that also had a face, this one wearing false red lips.
A quarter through, a flash and a puff of pink smoke appeared above her head and a summoned a golden object. She juggled the Negg, shield, and sword in one hand and managed to catch it before it hit the ice. A working compass, perhaps?
“Aw, what am I supposed to do with this?” she moaned in disappointment as she tossed a golden hair brush aside. She covered her mouth, but she realized her mistake far too late. Now, he’d be here any second…
Sure enough, the Snowager followed her voice. He was now looming above her, his head quickly shifting directions. His teeth were jagged but were arranged in neat rows, ordered by their size, a useful tool for crunching ice—not Wockies.
When the Snowager was close enough to see his nostrils, she chucked her boot at maximum strength. And as predicted, he sped after it.
By now she had mastered the art of opening a knapsack, so within a second her next meal was at her fingertips, an orange negg in a witch’s hat. Unfortunately, the Snowager must have regained his sight, and he stopped unexpectedly. He veered around and rammed into her, and her negg went flying the moment before it could reach her lips. Trina was thrown against the cavern wall so hard that the battlefield was now littered with chunks of ice from above. The icicles kept crashing down as the Snowager dodged the ice blocks. The wall behind her quivered from his angry screams.
He pummeled into her again and then she realized she was pinned against the wall. His thrashings had carved out a rut in the ice, deep enough where she struggled to move. Her shield was reduced to splinters, and even as he continued to strike, his skin was impenetrable.
Dropping the shield freed up a hand, so she discarded a mitten and wedged a hand behind her, waiting, wheezing as the Snowager arched backwards and prepared to send forth his icy breath. His eyes flickered manically, as if he was enjoying this little streak of victory.
Finally, she slashed her sword forward. The ice could hold her no longer. She advanced one step at a time toward the beast’s body. The monster slid backwards when she cut through the fog leaking from his mouth, and once that veil dispersed she had unmasked his weakness. He could not fire at such a close range and expect to win.
In one string of motion, she forced her sword directly to the Snowager’s center, but stopped short.
The wall behind her then exploded with blue light and at once the ceiling came crashing down. The sound of cracking was unlike anything she had heard in her life, reverberating as if the cavern was splitting in two. She pulled back just in time to see his form buried by the blocks of ice. Soon the blue light faded and cavern was silent and motionless, apart from a sharp gasp from the Wocky.
“I did it…” she finally said in a daze. No matter how many times those words echoed into her ears, she was unable to grasp them. “I won…”
The ice mound slightly readjusted itself. Out cold, but nonetheless, he was defeated. Still in her hands was her sword, which flashed from the reflection of the wand in her other hand. She crept forward before turning the other direction. It was not worth the risk. She was not the hero of that story.
Tiptoeing, she weaved her way around the ice chunks until she stumbled upon the golden hair brush. She contemplated for a moment before sticking her sword into the nearest pile of gold coins. Once it was done, she secured the brush into her knapsack. It was her consolation prize.
Legend says that none have successfully stolen the Snowager’s treasure. But valuable possessions were meaningless right now. She had come out with the greatest treasure of all…
But of course, she still had a hunt to fulfill. After recovering her boot and the orange negg she dropped earlier, she hoarded at least dozen neggs, and the temptation to take a bite from a dozen more was simply irresistible. Interesting flavors were ready to be savored, and she wanted to try them all. * * * * *
Just like before the cabin arose from the snow, dimly lit and cloaked in pristine, white layers. She saw that her footprints were long erased by the high winds as she lugged herself to the door.
Ugh…I never want to eat another negg after this, she thought as her stomach churned with her every step.
She rapped on the door and waited with a wide smile on her face as slow footsteps came to life in the silent night. Finally, when she felt her knapsack and coat were about to burst, the door was opened by a sleepy blue Bori, who was rubbing his eyes and grumbling to himself before he froze in shock.
“Anyone up for a feast?” she said, clutching neggs in both hands, unable to contain her excitement…
To be continued…