Grundo on Ice: Part Three
Fallicina couldn't fall asleep anymore. She was too excited about traveling to Happy Valley on her own. And she was even more excited to compete at the Neopia's most famous figure skating competition.
When morning arrived, her mother came to Fallicina's room and invited her to the kitchen for breakfast. The purple Grundo went to bathroom, then got dressed and hurried downstairs. It was still too early and the other siblings were sleeping. Mother had made ham and cheese omelette, doughnutfruit sandwich and a cup of herbal coffee – Fallicina's favorite. Mother was sitting at the table and giving another safety lecture during the time when Fallicina munched her breakfast. As for any caring mother, children's safety was the first priority for her.
When breakfast was finished, Fallicina went upstairs to bring her bag. On the way, she peeked in to her sister's room and whispered:
"Nora, are you awake?"
Norabet was in bed and didn't react to the question. Fallicina quietly closed the door and went to see her brother.
"Musta? Musta, are you awake?" she whispered in her baby brother's bedroom.
The little Wocky heard it, pushed the blanket off and got out of bed. Together they brought Fallicina's bag downstairs and Mustafaakene sat on the lowest step of the stairs to watch his sister and mommy getting ready to go out. When all was set, he gave Fallicina a big hug and stayed waving on the doorway, when the other two walked outside.
The closest way from their neohome to Happy Valley is via Roo Island. It's easy to get to the island, as there is a twice-daily ferry service leaving from the port of Neopia Central.
Mother and daughter walked together to the port. They had plenty of time and there was no need to hurry. Mother continued her safety lecture all the way. Fallicina had gotten bored of it long ago, but she listened patiently. She was afraid to interrupt, because her mother could change her mind at the last minute and not let her go. Then they arrived at the port of Neopia Central. It was surprisingly crowded for this early hour. They purchased a one-way ferry ticket for thirty neopoints and then it was time to say goodbye. They hugged and when Mother didn't want to let go, Fallicina reminded her that they would meet in Happy Valley in two days. She promised to be careful, said that she would be all right, waved and stepped on the ferry.
Fallicina found a seat by the window. She took a book called Nimmo Winter Tales out of her bag and started reading. But she couldn't even finish third page, because an elderly Skeith, who was sitting next to her, began snoring. The sound was too disturbing for reading. Fallicina put her book back into bag and watched out of the window until the ferry arrived to Roo Island.
Fallicina took her bag and walked out of the ferry. The weather was warmer than at home and Fallicina even unzipped her jacket. She started looking for a ticket booth from where to buy her next ferry ticket to Happy Valley. She found two ticket booths, but both of them had big signs on the window:
"Happy Valley – SOLD OUT!"
The young Grundo was baffled. She stood in the long line at a ticket booth, waiting to ask help or advice. Finally her turn in the line came. A speckled Blumaroo, who was working at the ticket booth, heard her out, but sadly announced that all tickets to Happy Valley were sold out until the end of year. He explained that Happy Valley was the "hottest" spot in Neopia during the holidays, especially for its winter activities and the skating competition. But on seeing tears appearing in Fallicina's big orange eyes, the Blumaroo leaned forward and whispered:
"You can go to Blumaria. It's a bigger village nearby and if you're lucky, there might be some ferry tickets left. I cannot guarantee anything, but it might be your last hope. Just follow this path to the north for about one hour."
The Blumaroo pointed the direction for Fallicina and then shouted:
"Next in the line, please!"
Fallicina hurried in the shown direction. She didn't want to lose any time, as it could cost her a ticket. Her bag was heavy, but Fallicina had trained herself well and didn't stop until she saw a welcoming sign to the village of Blumaria. She visited every ticket booth in the village, but got bitterly disappointed in every single one of them. None of them had any tickets left to Happy Valley.
Fallicina didn't know what to do. She wandered slowly on the streets of Blumaria, when suddenly heard a rough voice:
"Hey, you! Yes, you, with the sad face!"
It was an old Krawk with soggy clothes and long grey beard, sitting under a tree. Fallicina approached him carefully.
"What's botherin' you?" he asked.
Fallicina explained that she needed to go to Happy Valley on that day, but all the ferry tickets were sold out.
"Oy, you've found the right ol' Krawk! I've got here a potion which gives you wings. They're callin' it Pteri morphin' potion. With wings you'll not be needin' any boat, you'll fly to Happy Valley on your own! I'm askin' only eighty thousan' neopoints.."
A Korbat, who had been sitting on the tree all this time, interrupted the Krawk and said: "Don't listen to him! This potion will turn you into a Pteri forever! He's trying to trick you!"
The Krawk found an acorn from the grass and threw it at the Korbat. It missed and the Krawk replied with upset voice tone:
"I ain't trickin' nobody; the girl wants to get to other side of the gulf and I'm offerin' her a solution here!"
He turned back to Fallicina and asked: "So, how's it gonna be – deal or no deal?"
Fallicina started to hesitate. She asked:
"After crossing the gulf, how would I get back to my current look again?"
The stranger put his arm into his pocket and pulled out another little bottle, saying:
"As simple as a slorg's smile! Drink it up and you'll be lookin' the same again. Only additional 400,000 neopoints for this potion."
Fallicina didn't obviously have enough neopoints for both potions. She refused the offer politely and walked away. Then she saw two Blumaroo merchants, trying to sell all kinds of different wings. She stopped to watch how a Yurble lad was trying on the Shell Faerie wings. It took him big effort to lift himself from the ground and float around a few circles. Fallicina could actually afford the cheapest wings, but that would leave her no neopoints to pay for food and lodging in Happy Valley. Besides, she wasn't sure if the wings would be able to carry her across the gulf. She kept walking along.
The Grundo arrived at the end of the dock. She sat on a big mushroom, covered her face with her arms and started sobbing. She realized that there was no way of getting to Happy Valley on time. She understood that all her hard work and her dreams had been for nothing. She took her Snow Bruce music box out of the bag, opened it and put it on the ground next to her. But the melody made her feel even worse. Fallicina felt so hopeless and cried there for almost an hour. She missed her family and wished that her mother would be there with her. Mother always knew what to do in such situations. Fallicina started thinking what her mother would say and then remembered a quote:
"Everything will go well, when your stomach is full."
Indeed, she felt hungry. She had heard many good stories about Grandma Roo's Cafe and since she happened to be in the same village, she decided to go have lunch there before sadly returning back home.
The cafe was easy to find, thanks to the good smell of pancakes coming from it. It was a nice, clean, cozy hut on the main street of the village. Fallicina stepped in and found a cute wooden table by a window. The waitress, an orange Blumaroo lady, brought Fallicina the menu and a glass of Melowhirl juice. The menu included all kinds of pancakes available in Neopia. It was quite difficult to choose one dish, but Fallicina managed to finally make up her mind and she ordered Ona pancakes. The description in the menu said that the Ona pancakes had a hint of blueberry baked right in! Fallicina loved blueberries. After ten minutes of waiting, a plate with her order was brought to her table. The pancakes looked delicious! They smelled so good and were covered with special blueberry syrup. And there were big blue spots – blueberries – inside the pancakes. Even though Fallicina was still very sad, she decided to enjoy her lunch and took the first bite. It was the best pancake she had ever eaten; it almost melted in her mouth! She took a second bite and a third bite, when suddenly:
She had bitten something small and very hard that nearly broke her teeth.
"Excuse me, waitress, why is there... a... blue die... in my... pancakes?!?"
After Fallicina had finished her question, she heard many neopets gasping and the mumble, which had filled the cafe, faded immediately. Everybody's eyes were pointed on her. The waitress slowly approached and asked:
"My child, did I hear you saying that you found a... BLUE DIE?"
Fallicina nodded and showed the die in her palm to everybody.
"But why was it in my food and what's so special about it?!"
When that was asked, all the cafe customers gained their ability to speak and a red Grarrl shouted:
"What's so special about it, you ask? Haven't you heard?! King Roo lost his blue die a few days ago and he has been devastated since then. He promised a great reward to whoever happens to find his die! And that die you're holding, must be the King Roo's lost die!"
The Blumaroo waitress ran into the back room and soon returned with her petpet, a purple Beekadoodle. While attaching a little note to the petpet's foot, she explained:
"King Roo lives in Roo City, which is quite far from our little village of Blumaria. It would take you at least half a day to get there. Why don't you just stay here, rest and eat as much as you like. Everything will be on the house for you! My little friend will take the happy news about finding the die to King Roo's palace and I'm sure the king's servants will come here to get it in no time."
Then she opened a window and the Beekadoodle dashed outside before anyone could even blink their eyes.
Fallicina admired the die in her palm for a while, then put it on the table in front of her and ordered more different kinds of pancakes to try. All the neopets in the cafe were celebrating and waiting to see the king's servants. A group of red Blumaroos started singing winter carols and soon everybody else joined them. Even Fallicina, who had forgotten her sadness, was humming along. A couple of hours merrily went by, when a Lenny in the crowd shouted:
"They're coming! They're coming! King's servants are coming!"
The Blumaroo waitress opened the door to welcome the royal guests. And to everyone's surprise, a tall blue Blumaroo with a golden crown and dark red cape entered first. It was King Roo himself! Everybody in the cafe became silent and waited to see what would happen next. King Roo walked to the middle of the cafe and said:
"I got the word that my lost blue die has been found in this cafe. I came personally to thank the finder. Please bring my die forward!"
Fallicina stood up, took the blue die from her table and approached the king. She curtsied and handed the die to King Roo. The king was very pleased and asked:
"How did you find it, little miss?"
"It was in my Ona pancakes, your majesty."
"I see.. Then I must have lost it when having a walk through my royal berry fields and someone... " King Roo gave a pitiful look behind his shoulder at his servants, "someone must have picked it up with the blueberries and brought it here! Little miss, how can I show my gratefulness and award you?"
Fallicina hesitated for a second and then said:
"I was traveling to the Happy Valley for the annual figure skating competition. I was supposed to get there today, to have a whole day tomorrow for practicing, but all the ferry tickets are sold out. Is there possibly a way I could still get to Happy Valley today?"
"Of course there is!" said the king. "I will offer you my personal ship for the ride. And my servants will guard you, they know how to operate the ship. But in this case there's no more time to lose; you better get going. And good luck at the skating competition, little miss!"
Fallicina thanked the king, curtsied, took her bag and followed a couple of king's servants to the dock. King Roo stayed in the cafe, ordered Ona pancakes and celebrated finding his die until a very late hour.
Fallicina entered King Roo's luxury ship. It was huge, very beautiful and filled with all kinds of comforts. Fallicina spent some time outside on the deck. But as they were getting closer to Terror Mountain, it got cold and windy and the Grundo decided to go back inside. Her stomach was full, she was feeling very happy and excited and quite soon she fell asleep on a fluffy cloud sofa.
It was evening, when the ship arrived to its destination. One of the servants woke Fallicina. The girl thanked them for the pleasant trip and stepped outside on the snowy pier. She waved to the ship, as it turned around and sailed away.
"I can't believe I actually made it here!" she said to herself and then followed the signs to Happy Valley center.
Fallicina had a look on the skating rink. It was huge, much bigger than she had expected.
She felt tired from the long trip, so she decided to just sit and watch on that evening. She admired two talented Bruce ladies, who were practicing their jumps on ice. But as it was getting late and quite chilly, the skaters finished soon and left to rest for the night. Fallicina also decided to go find her cabin and get a good night's sleep before trying the ice herself on next morning. She took her bag and started walking on the snowy path, up the hill where a sign directed. But suddenly, after walking about ten minutes, the ground started shaking heavily. And then, everything turned white... and the purple Grundo was torn into a blizzard.
To be continued...