IT WAS A long time before Rosy's blue and white head emerged over the top of
the cliff. Next, it was Emala's turn. The three already at the top ran in short
circles to keep themselves warm. Finally, Emala reached the top, and the group
continued upward. The snow was waist deep and hard to move in. It grew higher
at a surprisingly rapid speed. When Lupina, at the head of the group, was up
to her chest, she gave up. Dropping to her four paws, she began to dig through
the snow. It was surprisingly light, and she made good progress. The others
followed suit. Lily went last, because her short legs were not good at digging
like Lupina's or Rosy's were.
A while later, Lupina stopped to wait for the
others. They were following close behind. "Lily," Lupina suggested, "Do you
think you could fly above us and call out directions? We don't know which way
Lily thought a moment. "All right. But could
you break through the top for me?"
Rosy immediately straightened her long ears
and spun them so fast it seemed to be light blue blur. When she finished, a
hole had been drilled through the top of the tunnel.
"Wow. That was cool," Lupina said. Rosy grinned.
"I made that technique up myself. This is the
first time anyone else has seen it. I call it Gelert Drill. I intend to use
it in our fight." Silence followed her worlds. Our fight. They knew we
would have to battle this "Sinistra" person. None of them, though, had even
considered what technique they were going to use. Except Rosy.
Lily broke the silence by beating her wings
and ascending through Rosy's hole. "We've been veering off course," she called.
"Turn left about forty degrees."
Lupina paused, thinking. History and Writing
were her best classes, but she hated math. Lily, on the contrary, was a math
whiz. "Um, forty degrees... that would be...?"
"This way." Emala pointed. Lupina glared at
"How come you cats are so good at math?" Emala
"Well?" Lily called impatiently. "You going
"We're going, we're going!" Rosy said, taking
the lead and digging at an angle. She winked at Lupina. "Maybe it's just that
you wolves are bad at math."
Sighing, Lupina followed.
The pace that Rosy set showed her boundless
"Don't you ever tire?" Emala panted.
Rosy grinned impishly. "No. Do you?"
"Me? Never!" Emala put on a burst of speed,
"Hey, guys," Lupina warned. "Not too fast. We
don't want to start sweating."
The others immediately adapted a slower pace.
They had all heard horror stories of pets who had worked up a sweat in intense
cold. Their bodies were like statues, frozen in a sheet of ice.
Wordlessly, the friends dug on. Above, Lily
shouted out directions. It seemed that they were ever shifting their path. As
they climbed, the air got thinner. It was harder and harder to breathe. All
four pets were beginning to feel weak, and the storm still raged outside. The
three tunnelers heard something thump against the roof of their passageway.
It bumped again. Lily burst through the roof, showering them in snow.
"Whew!" she exclaimed. "It's good to be out
of that. It's so windy out there that my wings were almost blown straight off.
And the snow is so thick, you can hardly see!"
Lupina looked down sheepishly. "Sorry I suggested
"Oh, no, that's fine," Lily assured her. "If
we can keep going straight north, we're fine."
Emala frowned. "We don't have a compass, though."
Lupina sighed dejectedly and glanced down. Around
her neck, on its blue ribbon, her Lupe Moon Charm sparkled. "I know!" Lupina
declared. "I could summon a compass with my Charm." Without waiting for a reply,
she closed her eyes and reached into her charm to grasp a tendril of its magic.
Taking the magic, she shaped it into a line and allowed her third body to slip
onto it. This body was her magical body, the one that she could use in her spells
to travel over Neopia. She sped along the line, skimming down the mountain to
Happy Valley, where she threaded her way to her own home. Entering, she hurtled
underneath the grand, swooping staircase and into the library. She made her
way through the maze of bookshelves to the grand desk that Rosy's father did
his work at. He was a mapmaker. On his table lay many sheets of paper, charts,
pens, and - in one corner - a compass. In her true-life form, Lupina gritted
her teeth. This was the hard part. Because her magical body was merely a spirit,
with the particles only loosely composed, it was difficult to lift solid objects.
She sent a quick wave of power through her paws to solidify them for a moment
and grasped the compass. It seemed immensely heavy, but she held on. She grasped
her magical line and spun it back into her charm, dragging herself and the compass
along with it. When she opened her eyes, she was clutching the compass tightly
in her paws. She held it level and watched the needle. It swung around to point
straight ahead and slightly left. Lupina began to tunnel in that direction.
The others followed close behind as she forged through the freezing cold. She
had to keep reminding herself that she was getting ever closer to the summit
of Terror Mountain - and the Ugran Cavern.
Emala's teeth chattering broke through her thoughts.
"It's cold," the shadowed Kougra complained. Lupina turned, sighing.
"You want me to keep you warm with a spell?"
Lupina caught a glimpse of Rosy giving Emala a thumbs-up, and glared frostily
at her. "This was a plot to get warm, wasn't it?" she accused.
"Oh, great expedition leader," Rosy began. Lupina
snorted. Rosy ignored her and went on. "Perhaps in your might you feel not the
bitter cold that harasses us." She lowered her voice to a whisper. "And you
know what my mom is like when any of us catch a chill." It was true. Rosy I
had studied with Dr. Gelert in health care, and ever since she had wanted to
try her methods as a healer on the next generation of heroines. Yes, nettle
and leek soup did make them feel better, but it burned and stung on the way
"All right," Lupina agreed, "but I don't think
'harass' is exactly the right word."
"Too bad," Rosy said, tossing her ears back.
"That's what I said, like it or not."
Lupina chuckled and closed her eyes to call
yet again on the magic of her Lupe Charm. Taking a ball of it as if it were
clay, she willed it to become pure heat. Almost immediately, she felt warmth
in her paws. Her magical self began to spin it into fine thread. Unlike solid
objects, magic was easy to hold in this form, just as solid objects were easy
to hold in her solid form.
It wasn't long before the entire ball of heat
had been spun into yards of fine thread. Next, the magical Lupina took the thread
and flitted in and out, back and forth, weaving warm netting. Soon, she had
yards of invisible cloth made entirely of heat. Using her claws, she tore the
cloth into four cloak-shapes. Lastly, she made the cloth so it would be attracted
to her friends' skin and stick there.
Taking the first rectangle of heat-cloth, Lupina
approached Rosy. Her friend had a bit of frost topping her nose. Lupina draped
the cloth over her and heard her gasp in surprise. Ignoring it, she tailored
the cloth so that it was streamlined with the Gelert's body. Then, using extra
cloth she had cut off, she encircled Rosy's ears, tail, and legs.
She proceeded around her friends, and finished
by cloaking herself. Then she returned to her solid form. Her body was stiff
from sitting in the same place, but a quick wisp of magic helped relax her muscles.
"That was cool, Lupina!" Emala exclaimed. "I feel like I'm wrapped up
"Not exactly 'cool,' maybe more 'warm,'" Lupina
observed. "And, in a way, you are wrapped in heat. Each of us is wearing a suit
that I designed specially to fit our bodies, but will not interfere in any way
with movement or senses. I'll bet Lily can hear just as well as always."
Lily rotated her sensitive Aisha ears on their
stalks. "You're right. I can. And what I hear is that the storm is raging even
more wildly outside, and we had better get going."
Emala laughed. "I'll go along with that, Lil'."
To be continued...