Fire and Gold: Part Two
When Gerra returned home, she was in the worst mood of her
life. She had spent all her life dreaming of the day when she would finally become
a Snow Eyrie, and now she was exactly the opposite of a Snow Eyrie. What was she
going to do now? What was she going to tell her parents? To add to her misery,
it was sleeting on Terror Mountain, and Gerra's fiery new paint job made the cold
feel ten times worse than it ever had before. She wanted desperately to be warm.
Steam rose off her back where the sleet fell on her and melted. Her paws melted
a series of holes in the snow where she had walked, which quickly turned icy as
the melted snow froze again.
When at last she reached her home, she brushed
the ice off the door handle and let herself in.
"I'm home," she called miserably.
Two snow-white heads poked around a corner -
Terr and Sherra, Gerra's older brother and sister.
"Gerra?" asked Terr. "Is that you?"
"It's me," said Gerra sadly.
"What happened to you?" asked Sherra, stepping
closer for a better look. "Why, you're... you're..."
"A Fire Eyrie," Gerra complained. "Why did this
have to happen? I did everything right! This is so not fair!" She flopped down
on the carpet and buried her face in her paws.
"Gerra?" called a voice from the back of the
house. "Gerra, honey, is that you?" Gerra's mother appeared, accompanied by
Gerra's father. The both stopped short when they caught sight of her.
"There had better be an explanation for this,"
said Gerra's father.
Gerra sniffled. "It was that stupid Meerca,"
she said. She quickly explained what had happened at the Rainbow Pool. Her family
listened in sympathetic silence.
"Well, this is certainly very unusual," said
Gerra's mother when she'd finished. "I've never heard of anything like this
"What should I do?" asked Gerra. "I can't stay
like this forever! I'll freeze!"
"I'm sorry, honey," her mother said, "but once
you're painted, you stay that way forever, unless you paint yourself again.
That's just how it is."
"Can't we get another Paint Brush?" asked Gerra.
Her father shook his head. "That would take
a long time, maybe years. We were barely able to afford the last one."
"But I don't want to be a Fire Eyrie!"
"It will be all right. We'll think of something,"
said her mother soothingly. She reached out a paw to pat Gerra's shoulder, and
quickly drew it back. "Ow, you're hot!"
Gerra felt a sudden sinking feeling as she realized
the facts: her family were all Snow Eyries, and her new fiery feathers were
too hot for them to touch. As long as she was stuck this way, she would never
be able to hug her parents or tussle with her brother and sister. That was too
much for her. She began to cry. Tears streamed down her beak and disappeared
into clouds of steam before they hit the floor. Her parents looked at each other
"It will be all right," said her mother again,
this time more firmly. "Don't cry. Come on - you'll feel better once you've
Gerra did not feel better once she'd eaten dinner.
They were having one of her favorite treats: snow pizza, with blueberry snow
puffs for dessert. Unfortunately, as soon as she touched the food, it melted,
leaving her with nothing but a soggy pizza crust and a sticky blueberry puddle.
To compound her unhappiness, she was still cold, even inside the house. As soon
as the meal was over, she retreated to her room and covered herself with every
blanket she could find. Only then did she begin to feel properly warm again.
After a few minutes, her brother and sister
slipped into the room. They sat down next to her at a careful distance.
"Gerra?" said Sherra. "You okay?"
"No," Gerra admitted. "But at least I'm warm
"We've been trying to think of a way to help
you," said Sherra. "We think we've got an idea.
Gerra poked her head out from under the heap
of blankets. "Really? What is it?"
"The Snowager," said Terr simply.
Gerra thought about that. The Snowager was,
of course, part of life on Terror Mountain. Her daring brother had gotten his
favorite plushie by sneaking into the Snowager's lair, and on special occasions,
Gerra's father would sneak in and return with delicious Neggs for a treat. Of
course, he'd also made the Snowager angry a few times and spent the next few
"What has he got to do with anything?" Gerra
"Have you ever seen his lair?" asked Terr. "He's
got all kinds of valuable stuff stacked up in there. There's bound to be a Paint
Brush mixed in there somewhere, right? It might not be the kind you want, but
anything is better than the way you are right now."
"Well, you're right about that," said Gerra.
And he was - anything, including being blasted by the Snowager, was better than
spending the rest of her life shivering with cold.
"I know what time he takes his nightly nap,"
said Terr. "I'll wake you up when it's time. Just sneak out tonight and go down
to his cave and see what you can find."
"I'll do it!" said Gerra.
Feeling much more content now that she had a
plan, Gerra settled down to take a rest. She would need all her energy when
it came to facing down the Snowager.
True to his word, Terr woke Gerra in the night
and did what he could to help her into her snow things. He wished her good luck
and saw her as far as the entrance to the Ice Caves before he turned back home,
to make sure no one realized he was missing. Gerra wished he had decided to
stay, but it was safer to face the Snowager alone than to bring friends - more
Neopians meant more noise, and it wouldn't do to wake the sleeping dragon.
Gerra shivered, and not just from nervousness.
The inside of the Ice Caves felt, if anything, even colder than the outside
world. The entrance to the Snowager's lair was up ahead, looking disconcertingly
like a gaping mouth. She wondered a bit hysterically if the Snowager had made
it look that way himself, or if he'd chosen the den for that particular feature.
She swallowed hard and crept up close to the cave's opening, and peeked inside.
She couldn't see a thing, but she thought she heard something breathing in there.
What if her brother had mis-remembered the time, and the Snowager was awake?
What if she woke him up? Well, there was nothing she could do about the situation
now but go forward. Moving as silently as she could, she slipped into the cave.
She just barely stopped herself from heaving
a sigh of relief. The Snowager was asleep, curled up on top of a massive heap
of treasures. Even as nervous as she was, she couldn't help but be amazed at
how many things were piled in there, and such incredible ones! If she had been
a greedy sort of pet, she would have been overcome with desire for some of the
gleaming treasures spread out before her. As it was, she could only scan the
hoard in hopes of spying a Paint Brush - any Paint Brush. Unfortunately,
she couldn't see anything like one. She would have to take a closer look.
The closer she walked, the bigger the Snowager
looked, and the harder it was to think about anything but how uncomfortable
it would be to be blasted by him. Still, she steeled herself and crept right
up to the edge of the pile, and, finding no Paint Brushes in plain view, plunged
a paw into the heap and began to dig around.
Her paw closed on something furry. It yelped.
Immediately, the Snowager looked up. Gerra did
the only thing she could think of: she dove into the pile of treasure and buried
herself in it.
There was a rustling noise above her, and Gerra
held her breath as she listened to the Snowager uncoil itself. It grumbled,
and then slowly slid down to the floor and began slinking around, trying to
find the source of the noise. Gerra watched it from her hiding place until it
had crawled out of sight.
"Whew," she sighed.
"You said it," a voice agreed.
Surprised, Gerra pushed her way free of the
piles of odds and ends until she could see what it was she'd grabbed hold of.
There was a shiny Gold Meerca sitting next to her, gleaming brightly even in
the dim cavern.
"It's you!" she exclaimed. Even though he looked
different, she still recognized the voice and the face - it was the same cheeky
Meerca who had caused all the chaos back at the Rainbow Pool.
He looked slightly abashed. "Yeah, it's me,"
"What are you doing here?" Gerra asked. "No,
wait, never mind. We need to get out of here before the Snowager comes back."
"Not without a Paint Brush," said the Meerca
Gerra shook her head. "There's no time. The
Snowager's awake. We'll never find one in all this junk before he comes back.
We've got to get out now."
She suited action to words by turning and trotting
towards the door. She wasn't feeling too kindly towards the Meerca who had put
her in this mess in the first place; if he was foolish enough to stay and tempt
danger, she wasn't going to stop him.
However, she hadn't made it halfway across the
room before there was a mighty roar that sent icicle-stalactite plummeting down
from the ceiling. Gerra didn't need to look to see that the Snowager was back,
and he was angry. It took a deep breath and prepared to shoot a blast of ice
at her. She stood frozen in panic, unable to move.
"Hey, slush-for-brains, over here!" the Meerca
The Snowager's head swivelled, looking for the
source of the new sound. The Meerca scooped a chocolate Negg up with his tail
and lobbed it at the Snowager. The Negg hit him squarely between the eyes, splattering
gooey chocolate everywhere. The Snowager, blinded by the mess, roared again
and shook his head, trying to rid himself of the sticky stuff in his eyes.
"Run, run, run!" the Meerca squeaked.
He took off like a shot, his metallic paws chiming
against the floor. The Snowager turned to the noise and gathered himself for
another attack. Gerra saw the attack and did the only thing she could think
of: she took to the air. She swooped down and grabbed the Meerca a split-second
before a rain of icicles hit the place where he had been. While the Snowager
continued to try to clean his face, Gerra wheeled through the air, keeping her
wingbeats soft and silent, and swooped out of the cavern. Soon they were safely
far away from the Snowager and his lair, and Gerra dropped the Meerca in a soft
pile of snow before landing gently next to him.
"Did you have to grab me by the tail?" he asked
"Would you rather have been blasted?" Gerra
"I guess not," the Meerca admitted. "Um... I
guess I should probably thank you for that."
"You probably should," Gerra agreed, "but since
you saved me by throwing that Negg, I guess we're even."
"I guess so," he agreed. "Anyway, I'm Twee.
Who are you?"
"Gerra," she replied. "So what were you doing
in the Snowager's lair?"
"Um," he said. "It's kind of a long story."
Gerra settled down on the ground and folded
her paws beneath her, trying to keep them warm. "Tell me anyway. How did you
get way up here? Last time I saw you, you were causing trouble at the Rainbow
"Oh, you saw that, huh?" he asked.
"It's your fault I'm stuck this way in the first
place," Gerra snapped. "Thanks to you, everything I touch melts!" Sure enough,
there was already a small puddle forming around her as the nearby snow and ice
"Hey, I don't like being this way, either!"
Twee protested. "I was trying to paint myself Halloween."
"You stole a Paint Brush."
"Yeah," he said. "I used to be colored Shadow,
and I hated it. I thought it would keep people from noticing me when I was trying
to steal stuff - and it did, but then people stopped noticing me all the
time, and I didn't like that. I just blended into the background, and nobody
ever paid any attention to me. So I decided what I really wanted was
to be something totally different. See, I live in the Haunted Woods, and there
are a lot of really scary types living down there. Bigger Neopets are always
picking on me and pushing me around because I'm so little, so I decided I wanted
to be something scary - Halloween, or maybe Tyrannian. Something like that.
Something to make people take me seriously. So I figured I had to get a Paint
Brush somewhere, so I went to the Rainbow Pool. It would have worked if I hadn't
"Well, you did get caught," said Gerra. "Anyway...
how come if you stole a Halloween Paint Brush, you ended up like this?"
"Like you said, I got caught," Twee replied.
"Someone was about to grab me, and I tried to get away by jumping into the pool.
A Pteri flew by and swiped the Paint Brush right out of my hands, and I fell
into the water, and when I came out, I was like this."
"Better Gold than Fire," said Gerra.
"Huh, that's what you think," Twee replied.
"Haunted Woods, remember? Dark, dank, spooky, all that stuff? I'd stick out
like a sore thumb! I'd never be able to hide from anybody, and there
are kinda lots of pets back there who I'd like to hide from, if you know what
I mean. I can't go back there until I can turn myself back to some decent color."
"And that's why you went to bother the Snowager?"
"Right," said Twee, nodding. "I went in there
and started poking through his things, and I guess he heard me. He looked up,
and I curled myself up into a little ball. Kinda stupid thing to do, thinking
I could hide when I'm this... shiny. I thought the Snowager was going to blast
me for sure, but he just picked me up and stuck me in a pile of Neggs. I guess
when I curl up small like that, I do look sorta round and Negg-ish." He illustrated,
wrapping his tail around himself so that his face and paws didn't show. Gerra
thought he did indeed look somewhat like a particularly shiny Negg.
"I see," she said aloud. "Well... I guess it
is kind of your own fault that you got painted the wrong color, and then got
caught by the Snowager. Then again, you've probably been punished enough already,
and you did help me escape. Maybe the two of us working together can find some
way to turn ourselves the right colors again."
"How are we supposed to do that?" asked Twee.
"I couldn't even steal one Paint Brush, much less two."
"We aren't going to steal a Paint Brush," Gerra
replied sternly. "There's got to be another way we can do it."
"Well, I can't think of one," said Twee.
"Umm..." Gerra thought hard, her tail twitching
in agitation. Then her eyes lit up. "I know! We'll ask Taelia."
"The Snow Faerie? Hey, that's a good idea!"
Gerra nodded eagerly. "She's very wise, and
she knows magic - well, she is a Faerie, so I guess they all do. Sometimes
she'll even give you good things if you do favors for her."
"So maybe if we do something good for her, she'll
give us a Paint Brush?" asked Twee. "Well, couldn't hurt to ask, I guess. She
can't be as nasty as the Snowager is."
"She's nice," said Gerra. "My parents visit
her sometimes. We'll go visit her first thing tomorrow."
Twee looked out the exit to the ice caves. The
moon was still shining over Happy Valley. "Yeah, I guess we would make a better
impression if we didn't wake her up. Let's try to get some sleep."
Gerra nodded. Now that the excitement was over,
she was feeling tired again. The two of them crept off into a corner where no
drafts could reach them, and settled down close to each other for warmth. Within
a few minutes, they were both sound asleep.
To be continued...