The Tundra Prison
The snow fell gently to the ground, and a young male Uni stared out at it in despair. For so long he had lived high up in these mountains, not knowing where he’d come from, or how he was created. Just living. But it was a pathetic sort of life. Most of the time, the weather outside was raging with a newly sprung up blizzard that would easily destroy him. Today was an unusually calm day. Those days usually meant a blizzard was about to start firing up.
Tugging his coat tighter around him, he longed to rip off the heavy woolen clothes and prance about delightfully, without heavy winter clothes to hinder his movement. But he knew he could not; he would freeze death in a matter of minutes. But one day he would escape this place. This horrid, tundra prison in which he lived.
He pawed around through the books he’d had since before he could remember. And suddenly, a glorious idea struck him. It was like a light flicked on inside his brain, like the light bulbs that appeared over characters heads in his books. If a blizzard was about to begin raging, he could write a note on one of the pages from his books, throw it out of his cave, and hope that someone would find it and rescue him.
He scrambled around and found a dull piece of charcoal on the hard, rocky floor. He ripped a page from Mystery of the Kougra Paw and struggled to hold the charcoal between his hooves. Eventually, he found a nice, firm grip and after some thought, he began to write.
Hello, my name is Tarnain. If you are reading this, it means that my plan has worked. I am a Uni that lives high up in the mountains of Terror Mountain. Though I do not know you, I would be eternally grateful if you and a search party might hike up to the cave on the far west side of the mountain and bring me down with you. I long to see what you see, and explore the world freely as you do. I would come down myself, but I do not possess the materials. I will create a large red flag so that you might be able to distinguish my home. All of my hopes rest in you. Please, come as soon as you can.
Tarnain tried hard not to dwell on how sloppy his hand-writing looked. Now all he had to do was wait for the blizzard to kick into action and he could begin his plan.
In two days, the winds began to pick up and the snow fell more heavily. Tarnain stood at the edge of his cave, and stepped a few feet out, the note held carefully in his mouth. Opening his jaw, he let the note fly out and he watched for a few moments as the heavy winds carried it away. He closed his eyes and sent a quick prayer to Fyora that his note might reach the hands of some kind Neopian who would soon come to rescue him. Using his quilted cape to cover his eyes, he slowly trotted into his cave once more.
He quickly set to work. He peeled off his thick red coat, and shivered from the cold drafts that blew in. Using his teeth and hooves, he ripped a large piece from the back end of it. He quickly tied it to a long, sturdy stick, and went outside once more, after re-donning the remains of his coat. He propped the stick into a crevice at the top of the cave. Finally, Tarnain went back inside and huddled close to his small fire for warmth. Eventually, he let himself doze off into a fitful sleep.
For two days the note traveled, getting caught in the uppermost branches of trees, tumbling down indents in the land, sweeping through the hills of Happy Valley. At last, it fell to a stop at the feet of a kind Christmas Draik named Ezo. Bending down, Ezo lifted the note and brushed off the melting snow. It was a bit crumpled and the words were slightly smeared, but it was still readable.
After reading the note through several times, Ezo looked up to the largest mountain in all of Terror Mountain. He swore that far off into the distance, he saw the tiniest fleck of scarlet red, flapping in the wind.
Ezo took a deep breath, and continued to stare up at the mountain, his eyes following the flapping flag. He sighed and quickly flew to his home, knowing there was simply no way he could ignore this. If he did, it would claw at his insides and eat him alive with guilt. He couldn’t deny a fellow Neopian help, no matter who they were. He wrapped himself in a heavy jacket, a scarf, and a thick pair of wool sweatpants. He grabbed a bag and stuffed two apples, two bottles of water, two sandwiches, and two pieces of chocolate into the bag. Enough food for both of them.
He set out and began flying, his eyes trained on the speck of red off in the distance. After a few long hours of flying, he was over halfway there. He pulled the water bottle and sandwich out of his bag. He took a quick swig, ate half the sandwich, took another gulp, and stowed the food away once more. He continued flying on, and he reached the cave by night.
He wrapped the scarf around his face, and yelled out Tarnain’s name. It felt odd calling the name of someone he’d never even met. He walked into the cave, and found a handsome young Uni sound asleep on the hard floor. He bent down, and gently nudged him.
Tarnain blinked his eyes sleepily, certain he had to be dreaming. He rose slowly, yawning and stretching. He shook the snow that had drifted in out of his thick white mane.
“Are you... are you here to rescue me?”
He didn’t dare believe it. The stranger nodded, and told Tarnain that his name was Ezo. Tarnain jumped about in joy, after gripping Ezo’s hand between his own hooves, and practically suffocating him as he tackled him to the floor and hugged him tightly. Ezo explained that Tarnain would have to hold onto the end of his tail and he would fly them to Happy Valley, after which Tarnain was free to do as he wished. Tarnain nodded excitedly.
He had to leave his books behind, but he knew once he made his way to the real world, he would find more. After quickly dowsing his fire, they stepped outside the cave. Ezo began to lift off, and Tarnain jumped high into the air, catching Ezo’s tail between his jaws. He tried not to bite down too hard.
At the bottom of the mountain, Ezo landed, and took out his pack, giving half of everything in the bag to Tarnain. Tarnain thanked him and wolfed down the food, still hardly daring to believe that he had gotten so lucky.
When they landed in Happy Valley, Tarnain thanked him once again, hugged him, and stared out into the vast world he had never known before. He could do anything he wished. He could run freely, jump, write books, own a store... heck, he could become a worshipper of Sloth if he wanted to! Of course, he knew he wouldn’t. But the first thing he did was tear off his hat, scarf, coat, and sweater. He was free, free to do whatever he wanted.
When he started out, he walked, just walked. Not a purpose in the world, just exploring for the heck of it. He didn’t know where he was going, what he would do, where he would live... but he did know he was free, and that he would forever be free. He vowed he would never forget the kind Draik who had saved him from his tundra prison. He vowed that one day, he would repay him. Somehow, he would repay him. He did not know exactly how, but he did know that he would. And with a lifetime of freedom in front of him, he knew now, more than ever, that anything was possible.