Saving Terror Mountain: Part Two
Nella paced anxiously across the snowy stone of the mountain peak. Her petpet, Rema the Horus, had been gone for far too long now. Nella had sent her many hours ago to see what kind of quests Jhudora was sending Neopians on recently. But it was nearly midday and Rema had left the night before. What was taking the little Horus so long?
“Please, just relax, Nella,” Lionel told her with a voice full of exasperation. “I am sure Rema is all right,” he pleaded. He put a reassuring paw on her shoulder when she came to a stop at last.
“I don’t know, Lionel. What if Jhudora saw her and she did something to Rema?” Nella asked anxiously.
Lionel frowned slightly and rubbed his tired eyes. They were dry and irritated from the constant icy wind. “Do you want me to send Jace to see if he can find her?” he asked after an awkward silence. Jace was the name of Lionel’s little red Stego.
“Really? Would you mind, Jace?” she asked with relief when the red Stego came out from behind the trees.
“I would be happy to go and see if I can find Rema for you, Nella,” Jace said to her. He smiled at them and ran off towards the Ice Caves.
Nella had been sent here to the Terror Mountain on a dangerous quest. A quest to discover who was trying to destroy the entire mountain. Wind blew the snow away from the ground, the caves were melting, and all of the people were leaving the Happy Valley in fear. She had not known anyone else had been sent, so she and Lionel had nearly attacked each other before realizing they were on the same side.
Lionel had tricked her by his appearance. Because he was a Darigan Bori, she had been cautious to label him on either side or any side at all. Nella herself was a Christmas Bori, an obvious hint to label her on the good side. “But what can I do for her?” she asked him.
“We can only wait. Unless you want to go with me to Jhudora’s cloud right now,” Lionel offered casually. “Both of us can fight, so we have a better chance then our petpets,” he said quietly. But he didn’t sound like he really wanted to do it.
Nella did not notice his face. “Alright, come on. But first, I want to see if King Hagan knows about any other things that have been changing in Neopia. If anything else is out of place, he would know of all people,” Nella said slowly. “Would that be alright?”
Lionel almost fell over in relief. “That’s fine. I can’t believe I never thought of it before,” he said with a slight smile as he hit his own forehead.
The two of them rushed down the side of the mountain with ease, and went over the caves instead of through them in order to save some time. In no time they were down to the valley and running towards Brightvale. Several people watched them run past, startled. One Spotted Tuskaninny waddled alongside the road and waved with one of his chubby hands as they passed by him.
“We are so fast!” Lionel laughed happily.
Nella smiled and ran on faster. “I will beat you there,” she told him. She sped ahead of him and he cried out in surprise.
“How in the world do you run that fast?” he asked breathlessly when he came near her again.
“Practice,” was her reply. In no time they could see the buildings of Brightvale. She smiled at the Brightvale Books bookshop. She loved to read. They slowed to a walk as they passed the Fruits of Brightvale and then the Brightvale Armoury. Headed down the path, several Meercas peered back at them with beady eyes full of curiosity. A striped Lupe smiled at them and a thin blue Zafara eyed them curiously as well.
Nella shivered as they came up to the castle. It was tall, with white and green and windows spotted across the whole building. Four brown Moehogs stood at the gates with their full armor on.
“What do you want?” one of them asked when he saw them, his sharp tusks glinting in the sunlight.
“We need to speak to King Hagan,” Lionel said quietly.
The four Moehogs smiled and shook their heads when they heard his statement. “What do you want to see him for?” the first one demanded.
Nella scowled at them in frustration. “For our quest. And what we need to know is none of your business,” she growled.
Their brown eyes widened in surprise. “Very well. Follow me,” the head of the four said slowly.
Lionel smiled at Nella when they walked into the castle. “I have never seen King Hagan,” he said simply. “I suppose I just never got around to coming to Brightvale Castle before,” he told her.
“Really?” she asked with surprise. “I come here all the time to listen,” she said happily.
“Listen to what?” Lionel asked her.
“To listen to other Neopians' ‘wisdom’,” she replied with a slight smile. “I used to come with my mother before she died. My favorite quote was ‘A wise friend once told me that hard work is like the pride of a family of cloud Blumaroos’.”
“Ah, I remember that quote,” a deep voice said cheerfully. “I enjoyed that one.”
The two Bori turned to see King Hagan walk up behind them. Hagan was a tall green Skeith with the look of wisdom in his dark eyes. “Your majesty,” Nella said softly, nodding her head politely.
“And I remember you, little Bori. Your name is Nella, right?” Hagan asked casually. “You come here almost every day. Except for recently... Why have you not come in the last few days?”
She smiled slightly and then paused before speaking. “Oh, that is the reason why Lionel and I are here, actually. See, we need your help on our quest,” Nella explained to the wise king. He was still someone she greatly admired, so it was a surprise to be talking to him once more face to face.
“On your quest?” Hagan repeated doubtfully. “And what kind of quest would that be? Another bothersome faerie quest? Poor chaps always come to me for help.” He grunted and shook his head disdainfully.
“Not a faerie quest, sir,” Lionel said quickly. “The Keeper sent us on this one.”
“We are charged with finding the cause of the killing of Terror Mountain,” Nella added sadly. “We think we already know who it is, but we needed to ask you a few things before we can be positive.”
Hagan froze. “The Keeper. Well, my friends, if it is for the Keeper and your mountain, ask away,” King Hagan said to them.
“Have you noticed anything else strange, besides on Terror Mountain, happening in Neopia?” Lionel asked him.
The king did not answer at first. “Would you two mind coming with me?” Hagan asked sadly. They followed him into his throne room and sat in two chairs near his throne when he told them to. “Now, about the things happening... I have noticed things,” he said slowly.
“Like what?” Nella pressed.
Hagan sighed and put his head in his hands. “I am old and I have seen many things. Don’t bother asking how old, because I do not feel like telling you,” he added. “Anyways, I have noticed things lately that make me worry, including your poor mountain.”
“For example, enormous sand storms have been rising in the Lost Desert. And especially what is happening in Faerieland alarms me,” Hagan said slowly, shaking his head. “The Faeries are starting to get edgy and upset, and Jhudora’s cloud is continually growing in darkness and size. Especially down in Meridell, Illusen swears that Jhudora is up to something very evil,” he added absently. “So, what have you found so far?”
“Well, I think Illusen is right,” Lionel said angrily.
The three of them looked up in surprise when a shuffling sound came towards them. Jace scrambled into the room and sighed. “Jace!” Lionel gasped, moving to pick up his exhausted petpet.
“I couldn’t find Rema anywhere!” Jace said anxiously. Nella paled at the stego’s grim news.
“Who is Rema?” Hagan asked with surprise.
“My Horus,” Nella stated sadly. “I sent her ahead of us to check on what kinds of quests Jhudora was sending people on. She did not come back yet,” she said slowly.
“So it is Jhudora?” Hagan asked with a deep sigh. “Is that who is ruining the Terror Mountain?”
“We think so,” Lionel said slowly.
“And how can you tell?”
“She sends people on quests for things like snow grapes, snowflakes, garage sale items,” Lionel said. “And probably some sand grapes and scrolls as well.”
“Why in the world would she take things like that?” Hagan asked with surprise. The king’s eyes were wide with disbelief. “How could you destroy an entire mountain with some grapes and tear up whole sand dunes with some scrolls?” he demanded.
“Jhudora takes things from the places she attacks so that she can set a spell on them,” Nella explained to him. “I think that she is only practicing for something bigger on Terror Mountain, now that I think about it,” she said slowly.
“Like... Brightvale and even Faerieland,” Hagan said slowly. He stood and his grim frown deepened. “Come with me,” he told the two young Bori.
“Where are we going?” Nella asked, trotting to keep up with the king.
Hagan looked down at her when moved to walk beside him. “We, my little friend, are going to pay our bouncy friend Illusen, and then we will visit our other ignorant faeries,” Hagan growled in reply.
“You mean it, sir?” she asked happily.
“Of course I mean it if my people are in danger from the darkness,” was his retort. Hagan’s coat billowed out behind him as he rushed down the hallway towards the door.
To be continued...