After I'd been scared sick by the mysterious threat I'd accidentally discovered
in my office, you'd think that I would have set out to solve what it was immediately.
But no! A threat seen by a magical cloud, even if it was a cloud I had made myself,
didn't compare to the host of urgent things to do that faced me. Getting zapped
by the Lab Ray had thrown more than just my body out of whack. I spent the next
week dividing my time between trying to get my investigation business built back
up and going to the Training Academy.
Training Academy. I shudder even now at the thought of how that place consumed
my time then. The Lab Ray had left me in poor shape on level- I had actually
lost level- and now I had over thirty levels to make up before I could start
learning anything else. I was spending almost twenty four hours a day at the
feet of the Techo Master, as he initiated me into the secrets and ways that
went into what Neopet owners call level. Much of what I learned had to do with
magic- which should be no surprise to the perceptive owner, since level is what
lets us catch and hold a Faerie blessing. I began to understand that I was still
only a newbie when it came to really advanced magic, but I learned- oh how I
It was the next Thursday evening as I closed my business for the day. The
darkness was chilly, and some small part of me that remembered my Kiko days
almost pitied the wild aquatic Neopets in their freezing waters. Mostly, though,
I was too tired to do much more than lock the door and prepare to go to the
academy. I had another session there before I could sleep for the night, but
I'd already put in a hard day and my defenses were non-existent about then.
Perhaps that is why I felt the first tremor. My stomach suddenly tied itself
into a knot, and I looked up rather blearily in the direction the shaking seemed
to have come from. A bright blue-white flicker in the northern sky brought me
back to wakefulness. Something dangerous? The incident a week earlier suddenly
clicked back into place, and wakefulness became alarm. Forget training for now,
this needed seeing to immediately. I ran to the nearest neotube and caught the
first one heading north.
On the way up, with my stomach still doing loops, I realized that the quake
and light hadn't had any physical effect- only magical. Whatever this was hadn't
started doing anything physical yet, but the tremors in the magical environment
suggested something big was about to break- and soon. As I crossed over on the
ferry, the tension warred with exhaustion, and my stomach was the loser. The
snack that I'd had earlier wound up in the ocean, but I felt better for it.
I got off of the ferry, staggering only slightly from the combined effects
of seasickness, magical buffeting and physical exhaustion. I looked up and the
trouble area wasn't hard to spot- it was in the hills above. Quickly passing
through the shops, with their Brucey and Blumaroo owners and customers dwindling
into a last thin stream, I reached the crevasses of the Ice Caves.
Entering into the fractured valley, I trembled at the sight that met my eyes.
Although calm physically, the whole valley was lit up with a bright blue-white
wall of fire- and it was centered on the Snowager's den. The surreal threat
from that dark hole was made only worse by the fact that no one else around
was affected by it. I stared at them all incredulously as I made my way down
towards the main crevasse and the cave on the other side. A door closed beside
me, and I almost bumped into a stranger before I saw him. Stepping back, I stuttered
apologies to the tunic-clad fairy. He accepted them without any comment beyond
a nod and a slight frown, but before he could brush me off and go on I suddenly
realized that here was a light sent opportunity to check my senses.
"Wait! Uhh... before you leave, I have to ask... can you see anything odd?"
The frown deepened. "Odd? What do you mean?"
"Well, ummm..." I waved vaguely towards the bright chaos on the other side
of the valley, "anything different just sort of around here?"
He looked around for a couple of seconds before shaking his head firmly. "Nope.
Everything's normal. Now if you'll excuse me..."
There was no mistaking the warning that his patience was almost gone. I just
nodded and muttered another quick apology which was ignored as he left. I sighed
and began trudging towards what appeared to be my own private vision. It proved
to nearly be my end as another wall of something hit me, knocking me off my
feet and into the crevasse that bisected the small valley. My hooves flailed
but failed to get any purchase- they only pushed me out further into space!
I screamed at the top of my lungs and closed my eyes as I instinctively fought
to escape the awful plummet that I had gone into. I suddenly felt lighter, and
fuller. I opened my eyes to see that I was coming up onto the other edge of
the crevasse! Grabbing onto it, I burped and let out a huge ball of light. I
shuddered, realizing that I had been saved by a Faerie magic trick that had
been drilled into my subconscious mind only the day before.
So it was that as I approached the edge of the cavern that led to the Snowager's
den, my nerves were rubbed raw and open to just about anything. The brightness
was so much that I held my arm in front of my eyes to shield them, only to find
it overwhelming even through my flesh. If I'd had any illusions about this being
a physical light, that banished them. I pushed into the cave and heard the roaring
and hissing. Peeping into the cavern, I almost choked with fear as I saw the
huge icy coils of the Snowager flowing through the cavern. He was exploding
with the pulsating light, and he was so huge that I almost lost my last shreds
of courage. I'd seen him before, but this! This was beyond anything that I could
have imagined in my worst dreams. The cavern shook and at first I thought it
was from more magical explosions. Then I realized things really were shaking!
The Snowager was ignoring me in my little hole of an entrance and was busily
ramming and crushing his way into the solid ice walls of the cavern! They shook
again as he bashed his way a bit farther into the huge excavation that he was
I'd had enough. I fled for my life... and sanity. It wasn't until I gasped
as the air warmed and grew drier that I realized what I'd done. In my panicky
instinct to be out of the area, I had dived into the tunnel that led into Tyrannia!
I pushed aside the last few leaves that covered the Tyrannian end and climbed
out into a clear starlit sky. My skin was still quivering and jumping from nervous
tension, but my thoughts had cleared enough to realize who I had to consult
Tekeli-Li, I mused as I headed towards his little hut. He had been my first
magic teacher during the Tyrannian war, had in fact been in charge of all spells
and potions for the entire army, not just me. I'd always admired his knowledge
almost as much as I'd been irritated by his total lack of emotion. Not that
he didn't have any; he just never showed it, and I'd never seen him surprised
or shaken. Taken aback, yes. But never truly shaken. Somehow, the more I thought
about it, the more I realized he was the perfect candidate for helping me regain
my balance in all of this.
Tekeli-Li answered my knock quickly. As I had suspected, he wasn't asleep
yet. He nodded when he saw me. "MonoKeras. Come in."
I followed him into the house with my thoughts tumbling through my head, trying
to figure out how to put what came next. He hadn't reacted to my being a golden
Uni again, but I hadn't expected him to. He simply waved me over to a chair
and sat down opposite it, calmly waiting for whatever I had to say.
I took a deep breath. "I've just come from the Snowager's cave, and there's
something horribly wrong!"
Tekeli-Li didn't react to my blurted statement beyond a simple, "Oh?"
"Yes! It's causing ripples that can be seen magically halfway around Neopia,
and when I went to see it was so bad I nearly lost all control" Had lost all
control, I thought to myself. "He's gotten a lot bigger, and he's busy tunneling
out. I'm not sure where he's going or what he's about to do, but all of the
signs point towards big trouble!"
"I see." Tekeli-Li's flat tone indicated that he didn't. But then a thought
seemed to strike him. "Have you been taking courses in level lately?"
"Yeah, I have, and it's a good thing or otherwise I'd be dead--"
Tekeli-Li raised a hand to stop me. "Ok. No need to go on, I understand now."
"Oh good! Then what do we do to stop this?"
"Stop? Nothing. There's nothing to stop."
I'm not proud of what happened next. Blame it on my nerves being stretched
to the breaking point, or maybe just my own foolishness. But after a couple
of seconds, the shock turned to anger. "So that's it! You think I made it up.
I'm just imagining things because I took too much level!"
"I didn't say that."
"You didn't need to! I can tell... I come here and tell you that the Snowager
is absolutely huge now and is breaking out into the rest of Neopia. No telling
where he's going to pop out at or what sort of havoc he'll wreak, and you just
sit there, bump on the log, and tell me there's nothing to it!"
"Yes you did! Well I'll tell you something Mr. nothing to stop, I'm not imagining
things, I know what I saw, and if you won't help protect Neopia from this, I
Tekeli-Li might have said something in reply, but I didn't hear it. I'd already
left by the time he opened his mouth. My speed carried me back all the way to
the tunnel to Terror Mountain before I cooled off enough to think. I sighed
and sat down on the tunnel lip, hooves clicking softly against the rock walls
as I swung my legs and stared into space. All well and good to declare I was
going to "do something", but what?
Analyze this logically, I told myself. First, is there any way to stop the
Snowager from breaking out? I shuddered as I recalled the huge hole that he
was creating. No, definitely not. Was there a way to kill the Snowager? I had
to laugh at that thought; if there was, some adventurer would have made himself
rich a long time ago. Was there a way to guide where the Snowager went? Now
there was some food for thought...
Fifteen minutes or so later, I had my plan lined out. I could affect where
the Snowager went, simply by creating some explosions of magical nature that,
well... the details are better left unmentioned. Let's just say that I could
make the Snowager want to head away from certain areas. And not only that, but
I realized that if I headed him south, the heat might melt him! For all of his
power and size, he was still ice, wasn't he? Yes, it just might work at that...
head him south, and let the warm ocean waters do the rest. By the time he reached
central Neopia- if he did- he'd be too weak and/or small to do anything.
I headed off to gather my materials, and was almost back home before I realized
I'd forgotten something. I sighed in irritation as I backtracked and headed
towards the academy for another round of training... in level, of course.
To be continued...