It was the next morning at breakfast that my apprehension turned into a huge
set of worries. I had actually begun to feel pleased about the matter. After
all, the Snowager was gone now, and that meant that his huge stash of treasure
was out there for the taking. Whoever got into it would become rich... and the
more I thought about it, why shouldn't it be me? I'd certainly earned it the
"I wonder how rich a pet would get if they had the Snowager's whole stash,
rather than just an item or two," I mused out loud.
"Probably richer than anyone else in Neopia," my owner replied. "Though for
how long might be another matter. There's probably several quadrillion points'
worth of stuff in there. Having that much just turned loose all at once would
be quite a blow to the economy."
"Huh? What does the economy have to do with it?"
"Well, two things basically. One is that if the stuff was being given out
for free, the pets making it would maybe go out of business--it certainly wouldn't
help them any."
"Hmmm... wonder if that would include the Faerie Queen."
"I dunno. Going out of business might be too strong a term for her, but her
very valuable artifacts might lose a lot of value fast. Increase the supply
faster than demand, and the price goes down. And, too, the other side of it
is that pets and owners might stop trying to earn a living, choosing instead
to just live off of their cheap wealth. No production--nothing to buy with it
after you've got it."
I squirmed a bit when that one hit. "But that would be true only for those
who found it, right?"
"Could be... but how many would find it? If it was just one or a few, that
would be one thing--but if there were a lot, who knows."
I was suddenly glad my breakfast had managed to settle safely in my stomach.
Blchocobo gazed at me without saying anything. I couldn't tell what his expression
was behind his mask, but he was either being very thoughtful or was just waiting
for my next move. Our owner, fortunately for me, was treating it as an idle
thought experiment rather than taking anything seriously. I made my excuses
and left the house hurriedly.
If there were a lot... I shuddered. The Snowager wasn't just asleep now, he
was gone. When that news got out, as it would in a day or two at most, there
would be the biggest mob of looters in that cavern in the history of Neopia.
What would happen amongst a quarreling lot of looters when the loot consisted
in part of some of the most powerful battle weapons in existence didn't even
bear thinking about. That it would be bloody was a given. That it might prove
disastrous in the extreme wasn't at all unlikely. I strode into my office, yanked
open desk drawers, dropped things into my pack and grabbed the silver tube containing
my petpet baby fireball Sun Pegasus on my way back out. I was so preoccupied
that I almost forgot to lock the door behind me.
I realised now that the magical balance of things had been totally upset. A
huge part of it was completely gone, and that imbalance would soon show up in
riots and worse before too long. Too much wealth all at once meant poverty and
disaster, apparently. It was a strange thought, but my gut knew it was true--and
that I was almost certainly the cause of it. I might try to excuse myself by
saying that the Snowager was breaking out anyway, but I was afraid that didn't
The morning sun hadn't quite warmed things up yet in the deserted valley that
was the Snowager's final resting place. I stepped carefully over the clods of
disturbed earth. I still didn't have any clear plan in mind, except that I had
to know exactly what happened. If there was any hope of salvaging this mess,
then the answer had to be here. I set my equipment down and gritted my teeth
with frustration as I saw how my hooves were shaking.
I spent the next few minutes sitting in a cross-legged position with my eyes
shut and mouth slightly open. Deep breathing exercises combined with isometric
muscle exercises to give my body the illusion of calm. The sun on my golden
fur, though, did as much to warm me up and relax me as anything else I suspect.
Opening my eyes and getting my stuff out, I still maintained the calm state
that I'd pulled myself into. The next bit of magic that I would do demanded
a good control of the flows, and one mistake could leave me with more than a
bit of a headache. Carefully selecting a set of wands, I began the routine.
Letting the magic energy flow through me and into the ground, I crooned to it.
You might say I sang to it. There really is no exact word outside of magic to
describe what I did, but it basically amounted to calling the earth's attention
to me and making a polite request, even a pleading.
I was answered so quickly and easily that it was obvious the earth was glad
to do what I had asked for. A large area of ground in front of me flew up and
away to the far sides of the valley, leaving a gaping pit that dug itself deeper
and deeper, down to the watery remains of the Snowager himself. I stopped as
gently as I could, and let things settle back down as I stared down at the melting
blocks of ice. Even now, they still had the power to awe me. I gulped, and knew
why my request had been granted--the earth itself wanted this no more than I
did, and had been glad to get away. It was just as well I had my mind on other
things, rather than feeling its hurt and fear as a rebuke to my ill-thought
The next step was to unscrew Sun Pegasus' tube and let him out. He popped out
and hovered above the ground, not going anywhere, just waiting to see what was
about to happen to him. He didn't seem all that enthusiastic to move at all,
and I suspected he shared my own apprehensions about what was going to happen
next. Well, tough. I had to put up with it, and he wasn't going to get out of
it either. Selecting a rod of metal that had poor conductivity, I gingerly prodded
him into the air and balanced him on the end of it. He stared at me, and I let
out a slow moaning breath as I engaged his little mind in my own. It took a
minute or so to establish rapport, but as he slowly flew into the air and bobbed
down into the pit, he was in effect an extension of my own senses for the first
time in his existence.
Using Sun as my magical pawn, I carefully searched the blocks below for any
signs of life. There weren't any, not even any possible ones that could be revived--not
that I knew how to do that anyway. (It was possible, I'd found, but the exact
details were both beyond my experience and were not divulged readily to anyone.)
It wasn't until Sun reached the far side of the pit that things changed.
I felt a sharp pain in my mind, and I heard Sun's hissing and snarling as he
backed away from something moving towards him. Looking closer, I suddenly had
my hopes revived--along with an explanation of what had been happening all along.
The Snowager wasn't a he--it had been a she! She had been about to give birth,
and I had interrupted her trek to her usual birthing grounds. Now, we had a
baby Snowager feasting on the remains of its mother.
"Yesss!!" My exultant cry was heartfelt, although poor Sun didn't share my
joy. He was teasing the thing as he bounced away from it and it began to chase
him. He came back for me at close to top speed, with a swiftly flowing ice worm
I had only seconds to prepare for it, but they were enough. I just turned my
backpack up and let all the wands and stuff fall out, then cast a quick cold-lock
spell on it. Sun popped over the brink of the pit, and as the ice worm blinked
at the sudden increase in light, I whipped a magical coil of rope around it
(a Battledome item, actually) and yanked it into its prepared spot. Before it
could even began to hiss, it was safely tied up and stowed for travel.
It took longer to get Sun calmed down than it did to gather up my belongings
and tie them into a bundle of their own. I finally got him under control and
in his own tube before heading north back to the Snowager's den.
It was hard to act normal as I caught the ferry north and then headed into
the hills, but I didn't dare let anyone know what I was doing. I reached the
den and carefully slipped inside, doing everything I could to make sure I wasn't
noticed. I skirted the vast pile of treasure and was about ready to let the
worm out when I heard some noises. Peeking around the corner, I saw that my
fears were being realised already. There was a large red Shoyru rummaging through
the items and cackling to himself.
I eased back and wondered frantically what to do about this. A sudden movement
on my back told me the ice worm was awake again. It hadn't moved during the
journey up, which had been a relief, but now it wanted out. I wanted the same
thing, actually, but wasn't sure what would happen.
I shrugged. It wasn't like I had a choice. Caught between fire and ice, I chose
the only possible solution there was. I opened the top of my pack and stepped
around the pile of items that I'd been hiding behind.
"Hey you!" I called in an authoritative tone. The Shoyru spun around, saw
me, and snarled angrily.
"Get outta here before I...."
I didn't let him finish his threat. "Not so fast!" I barked at him, and threw
the ice worm into his face.
He shrieked and fell back, his head covered with angry biting ice. There was
plenty of hissing from the worm as well, and it was all over in a matter of
seconds. The Shoyru lay stretched out, motionless and quiet. The new Snowager
and I stared at each other for a few seconds before it crawled away into the
pile of treasure. I calmed my shuddering breath and noted that it was already
a lot larger than it had been before.
Who knows? Maybe it fed on the Shoyru's blood. Maybe it was just being in the
cavern. Maybe it was the treasure, or the fight. Whatever it was, I knew the
Snowager's hoard was now safe under the care of its new owner. My worries about
that were over, and now that the danger was past I could almost even like the...
formerly little... critter.
I was feeling so generous that I even did it another favour. I dragged its
victim out of the cave and left him stretched out in front of it as a warning
to any other would-be looters.
I headed towards home feeling much better, with the satisfaction of knowing
that things had truly been taken care of and that it was all over. Wrong. The
End, as I thought of it, had a postscript the next day when I found out what
sort of big trouble I was really in.
It seems that those in the know had been watching the whole thing, and to say
that they were displeased was an understatement....
To be continued...