The Greatest Treasure of All
Also by lucky_oreo_13
Today is going to be like any other day, or so you think. As you step outside, the outdoors greet your numb, pink fingertips with its routine cold and blustery winter dance, a delicate bombardment of snowflakes and winter wind. It’s a good thing Merry Outfits still had some mittens in stock.
The cobblestones beneath your feet now add to this silent commotion, as you quickly trot over them through Happy Valley, avoiding patches of frozen puddles and drifts of snow.
Snowflakes are gently gracing your cheeks and and sticking to your eyelashes. As you are swatting at your stiffening eyes, your neopet begins to look up to you with begging and pleading eyes, then she asks: “Where are we going?"
“...What do you mean? Back home of course,” you nervously reply. You look down to stare at your anxious feet, nervously shaking, hoping your neopet will not remember...
“But, isn’t it almost 3:00?”
She is right; it is only 2:37 PM. You are caught, red-handed and trapped. Every day you have tried to avoid this adverse task, but for some reason you can never evade it. It must be one of the many perks of living in Terror Mountain, so close to the beast.
Reluctantly, you pick up your pace to keep up with your eager neopet, who is darting ahead of you with immaculate speed - towards the Snowager. Today is the day you’ll find treasure.
Ever so quick, you and your pet begin to climb toward the Ice Caves. Even though a blizzard is consuming the sky and the atmosphere is devouring your warmth, you can’t help but feel energized from your feverish addiction to the adrenaline rush. Visiting the Snowager is the last thing you ever want to do, but oddly enough it is something you crave.
Now running, both of you pass the Ice Arena, only to hear the clash of battle, hoots and hollers, and triumphant knockouts, which might soon be you. As you run faster, the trees and buildings begin to blur past you. Ordinary noise transforms into a reckless, wind-filled screech, but you keep going, eye fixated on the cavern enormously emerging before you.
You pause. There it is, the cavern opening. You fall to your knees in a futile attempt to gain a last bit of strength and stability. You look down towards the ground, wincing in weariness, only to be dragged to life by your impatient neopet, who keeps urging you on forward.
You and your neopet share a nervous glance as you both continue forward into the piercing darkness. The caverns walls tower over you in a majestic silence and its bitter wind licks both your faces. It seems to consume you as you both enter and travel deeper, for what seems like forever.
“What time is it now?” asks your neopet, in an almost certain desperation.
“2:53,” you reply, gasping in a fearful breath. You do not have much time.
The tremendous walls of ice glisten and twinkle in the darkness, surrounding you in an ominous, dark peace. From the darkness your neopet gives you a nervous glance, seemingly to imply, “Hurry up, we’re here.” Something has caught her attention towards the depths of the cave, as she scuttles ahead past you.
In utter awe and horrific admiration, you see a shadowy figure emerging slowly but with great, ancient power over your neopet. With an erratic force, and unexpected motion, it surges straight for you and your pet! She recklessly turns and begins darting back towards you, empty-handed. This won’t do!
In a flight of panic and blind, petrified fear, you hurry to pick up something, anything, as you frantically run out. It’s too late now; it’s spotted you. Your startled scream bitterly echoes down the blackened gruesome cave, tearing and ripping its horrible pitch across the surrounding cascading walls of ice. The Snowager has awakened, and it is angry. In its fit of rage and fury, it fires an icy blast at you and your empty-handed neopet, who is lost somewhere behind you! The blast is enough to push you and your pet out of the cavern. The overwhelming commotion sickens you and you are thrust back in flight, unable to think or act, as your hearing slithers silent. Only a hollowed, muffled mayhem can be heard as you watch the dancing lights of the cascading walls, fading slowly out of focus.
* * *
Awakening in a dizzy, fearful satisfaction, you weakly turn your head to look for your neopet. She is only a few feet away, weakly smiling back.
“We almost got ‘em that time,” she says, pushing herself up from the ground.
“Safe at last,” you whisper, with a tired, aching relief. You too are empty handed, but at least you’ve both survived.
She glances back at you as if to agree, but her face quickly becomes contorted with bewilderment. Her eyes scan the cavern with fear and resentment, and you soon see what she realizes. Almost as if to confirm, you scramble for your watch. It is 3:01 PM, and you are both still in the cave.... and the Snowager is awake.
The two of you silently crawl towards an undisturbed mound of ice, just inches out of view.
“What do we do now!” asks your neopet, pleading for an answer.
The thing is, you don’t know. You just don’t. There is nothing you can do, let alone will do. You’ve heard of the monstrous tales of this dark beast devouring neopets and owners alike. This is why you didn’t want to go; you’ve wasted away your freedom for some simple kicks and thrills. At least for tonight. Now, there is nothing you can do but wait.
“Here, stay by my side. You’ve still got those mittens I bought you from Happy Valley? Put ‘em on. We’re in for the longest night of our lives.”
The icy worm stirs again, now fully awake from its slumber. It coils and twists to the daunting stalactites above, shuffling the mass hoard of treasures now exposed bellow. With a tender care, it begins nudging through its possessions.
“What’s it doing?” whispers your neopet.
“I don’t know. It looks like it’s-”
“Look! There, what is that, do you see it?!”
Unnoticing of the noise, the Snowager budges its possessions away. Amongst the rubble a small, fragile icy figure sits. It moves and coils, just as if to impersonate the Snowager itself. The two seem to interact with a delicate grace, as the Snowager playfully nudges its companion.
“A... baby? No, it is a snowickle!” you exclaim.
“The Snowager, a mother,” your neopet replies, trying to absorb this unreal discovery.
You two sit watching the Snowager and child, both filled with fearful amazement.
The ominous presence of the caves and its blackened walls seem to slowly dull over, and a brilliant display of pure twinkling lights can be seen, dancing throughout the cascading walls.
It is a wonder such tales and stories have been created. Every explorer, every adventurer, every soul ever lost and rescued from these caves has spoken of terrifying tales of death and despair, but the truth is now evident. It’s almost like a silent union of protection, and a human sense of understanding and compassion. The Snowager hides one the greatest treasures of all in that pile, and that treasure is the gift of life. Who are we to disturb them?