Reign of Ice: Part Five
They found the stairs and made their way to the top of the mountains. The highest peaks were above the clouds, so they found the air to be surprisingly warmer. They used the bridges between the mountains to find their way to the Cyodrake’s Gaze, where Captain Tuan was meeting with the navigator, Hoban.
This was Irena’s calling: wedging her way into others’ conversations. At least, compared to Brendon’s conversation skills, it seemed to be a calling.
“Excuse me, Mr. Tuan?”
The burly blue Gnorbu turned to them. “Yes, that’s me, though I prefer ‘captain’. Are you two here with the ingredients Bonju ordered?”
“No,” Irena answered, “We came here because we need a map.”
Hoban jumped in. “If you’re looking for maps, I’m your Aisha.”
Brendon was surprisingly quiet, so Irena turned to look at him. Fortunately, he was just asleep. “I’m looking for a map of Terror Mountain. My brother and I need to find a hidden cavern somewhere on the mountain, but we heard there is only one map with the cave in question.”
Hoban led Irena to his quarters inside the Cyodrake’s Gaze. “All right, let me check my files… T… Terror Mountain…” Hoban dropped a huge stack of papers on his desk. “On my last visit to the mountain, I found this extravagant gate to a tunnel on one of the smaller peaks, actually, I think it was the second tallest one. I recorded its position here.” He handed them the paper on top of the pile.
Irena read the paper. “Neggs, Kau Kau Farm Milk, Bread…” Hoban snatched the note away from her.
“No, that’s my shopping list. Here’s the map you’re looking for.” He handed her a new piece of paper, with an artistic rendition of Terror Mountain and a large red circle between two of the peaks.
“So,” Hoban continued, “You’re heading to the origin of this mighty storm.”
“Well, yes, we are. Wait, how did you figure that?”
“Well, I couldn’t be a world-class navigator if I couldn’t read a few basic weather patterns, could I?”
Brendon came into the room at just that moment. “’World-class’? I seem to remember you fell off your own boat a few years back.”
“I was pushed!”
Irena took a step back. Brendon floated higher in the air.
Irena sighed. “I apologize for my brother.” It seemed that was all she was doing on this venture.
“What are a couple of kids like you going to be doing there in this weather?”
“Well,” Irena told him, “we’re trying to put a stop to this storm. We heard there is a powerful sorcerer at the top of the mountain who seems to be trying to freeze all of Neopia. My brother and I are going to defeat him.”
Hoban responded, “A while ago I would not have believed that story. Then Faerieland fell to the ground. There’s no way you two will make it to the mountain on foot. I’ll talk to the captain, and I’ll see if I can get him to take you to the mountain aboard our lovely airship.”
“You’d do that?” Brendon was impertinent as ever.
Hoban headed out the door. When he returned, he immediately made himself busy. “Take your positions. We’re setting course for Terror Mountain.”
Irena asked him, “Captain Tuan believed our story?”
“No. But when I told him Linae ate the last Chia Pop, he decided it was high time to stock up at the Super Happy Icy Fun Snow Shop.”
At that moment, the Pink Kougra walked in on their conversation. Hoban made a break for it.
“Hoban,” Linae scowled, “I thought we agreed to keep that a secret. Hoban? Argh, where did you go?”
At that moment, the ship shook. “Everybody get into position,” the captain bellowed, “We’re setting course for Terror Mountain.”
The Cyodrake’s Gaze flew over the clouds. They were above the storm, and sailing was smooth.
The peak of Terror Mountain was also above the clouds. When the airship reached its destination, they came to a stop at the top, not far from the Super Happy Icy Fun Snow Shop. Irena and Brendon jumped off the ship almost as soon as it docked; they assumed the crew did not know they were on board.
The two young Neopets climbed down the side of the mountain.
“Ow,” Brendon groaned, “You’re standing on my head.”
“I told you I should have gone down first. Why are you floating so close to the mountain?”
“Well, I think it has something to do with how a Kiko’s natural floatation works. I think I learned a little bit in anatomy over at Neoschool.”
“You didn’t go to Neoschool,” Irena scolded him. “When they saw your enrollment, all the would-be teachers fled the land.”
They continued climbing down the side of the mountain until Irena missed her step. “Whoa!” Irena screamed. She whipped out her Wand of the Air Faerie and created a whirlwind to break her fall. As the wind gently set her down, she found the ground was finally level. As Brendon descended to catch up with her, she turned to look at where she fell. To her surprise, the mountain slope just gave way to a cavern, with an intricately crafted gate at the front. Irena pulled the key out of her pocket and turned to Brendon.
“So, it looks like this is it. Everything for which we travelled so far and worked so hard comes down to this.”
Brendon chuckled, “Yeah, kinda like we’ve made it to the final boss.”
Irena rolled her eyes. “How can you be joking at a time like this?”
Brendon just shrugged. Irena turned to unlock the gate and a freak gust of wind started blowing from nowhere. Irena grasped the key tightly and inserted it in the lock. She turned the key and, as the gate opened, the key shattered like an ice cube. Irena and Brendon entered the cavern and the gate crashed behind them with a loud “clang!” As they moved past the entryway, they found the interior of the cave was extravagantly decorated in tints of light blue and cyan, silvery grey and white. Off to the side, Brendon saw another room decorated in a similar color scheme, but with a strong “sports” motif.
“Wow,” stated Irena, who was having a hard time taking everything in.
“I know,” Brendon tried to agree, “This guy is nuts for the Terror Mountain Yooyuball team.”
Irena scowled at him. “Not that. We seem to have stumbled upon your typical evil villain living room.”
“Well, isn’t that a bit harsh. I mean, ‘evil’ is such a strong word. And come to think of it, I’m none too fond of ‘villain’ either.” An unknown voice spoke from the back of the tunnel, with the crisp coldness of a winter wind.
Brendon backed out of the Altador Cup room and turned around slowly, shaking in his boots. Or at least, he was shaking; being a Kiko, he didn’t wear boots. In the back of the cave stood a White Eyrie, clad in silver and white, yet with a dark presence. He continued, “It’s not often I get guests all the way up here. Please make yourself at home.” He turned to Irena. “And what’s so typical or evil about my living room? I’ll have you know I won the Neohome Spotlight a few years back.”
Irena stuttered, “What I m-mean is, I meant t-to say, the living room itself isn’t evil, it just belongs to a bad guy.”
The Eyrie scowled. “Again with those bad guy labels. What do you think you have over me? Why do you think you’re the good guys here?”
“Well, we picked up this letter from Taelia a long while ago. Take a look.” Irena pulled out the white parchment from her pocket, and showed it to the Eyrie.
He read it and looked at the two of them. “And where on this does it say I created the storm, or that I am a villain or crazed maniac?”
Irena was shocked. She took the paper back from him, and as she looked it over, her eyes widened. “Oh, um… wow, you’re right, it says nothing about you causing the storm, or even being a bad guy. But we got the tiny key that was attached to the letter. And after we used the Tagobo Potion on it, it was restored to the size of a regular key, which fit perfectly into the lock on your gate.”
Brendon added on, “And after we used it to get in, it shattered like an ice cube.”
The Eyrie contemplated this. “That must have been my spare key. I always keep it under my welcome mat. I make it by freezing the moisture in the air inside the keyhole. I still prefer to use my regular key; if I use a spare, then it breaks and I have to make a new one. And that is not easy. Even with my experience with water and ice magic, if I lose focus, I could freeze the lock shut. Last time that happened, I was locked out of my own house for a week. It could have been longer, given how cold it gets on Terror Mountain, but luckily for me, a Scorchio flew by and I asked for help melting the ice.”
Irena furthered her argument, “But we went to the Island Mystic and he showed us these bones, which showed my brother and me battling a cloaked ice-wielding warlock at the top of the mountain.”
He retorted, “Do I look like I’m wearing a cloak?”
Brendon jumped in, “just because you aren’t wearing one now, doesn’t mean you don’t have time to go put one on before our battle. We’re in no hurry.”
Irena shushed him. “Brendon,” she whispered. “I think we found our way out of a fight this time. DON’T start anything.” Turning to the Eyrie, she tried to make sense of it all. “This doesn’t make any sense,” she told him. “If Taelia hadn’t meant for someone to defeat you, why would she have sent out your spare key. And what does the letter mean?” She got out the Magma Lamp she had since Moltara. “And we brought this to aid us in our fight against you… err, I mean I apologize on behalf of myself and my brother for this misunderstanding, but we can’t do anything with it now.”
“I can’t understand what brought you to this conclusion. Taelia and I go way back. We started studying magic at around the same time, in Faerieland. The two of us were the best in the field of ice magic around, so you could say that kind of made us rivals. We often had contests when we were younger to see who could more skillfully wield the ice. This often caused a lot of excess freezing, but not everyone appreciated having a frozen cloud for a yard. So we came to Terror Mountain, where we could practice without causing damage. In time, we became the masters of this mountain, but our as our clashes were always equal, we came to the conclusion that our conflicts wouldn’t create anything but disruption, and so we went our separate ways. She moved into an igloo on the top of the mountain to hand out quests, and I retired into this cave. We used to still get together for ice cream from time to time, but with this storm going on for a few weeks by now, I haven’t left my cave in quite some time.”
Brendon was on the ground, with his eyes shut. Irena shot a gust at him, which lifted him up and dropped very roughly. “I’m listening,” he groaned. “I heard every word he just said.”
Irena shot him a glance, but quickly decided not to ask to hear that again.
The wizard continued, “So what do you deduce was the intent of the letter now?”
Irena thought it over for a little bit. “If she doesn’t want us to fight you… she must be looking for your help!”
The wizard nodded. “Follow me. There’s a back door to my cave so we can get to the top of the mountain.”
The twins followed him to the back of the cave. Brendon whined, “It’s going to be freezing up there.” Irena sighed.
“Take the Magma Lamp with you then.” By this point even she was getting tired of this journey, though the length barely constitutes a short story. She is still just a kid, after all.
As the climbed up the stairs and emerged in the heart of the snowstorm, they had to fight the winds just to open the door. Then they struggled even more to make their way to Taelia’s igloo. The storm somehow managed to get worse in the short time they were inside the cave. Inside, they found the Snow Faerie… encased in a block of ice.
“When have I seen this before?” grumbled Brendon. Irena just sighed. As they approached the faerie ice cube, Brendon dropped the Magma Lamp.
“Brendon,” Irena snapped. “Why didn’t you just put that in the bag? You could have broken something.”
In response, Brendon said, “You told me to take the lamp so I wouldn’t get cold.”
Irena rolled her eyes. “Sarcasm is wasted on the…”
As they were arguing, the lamp rolled toward the frozen faerie, and by that point she was thawed enough to speak. “What happened here?” Indeed, the igloo was a complete mess, though it was like that before everyone arrived. She turned to the Eyrie. “The last thing I remember was that I was in an argument with some hooligan and wound up frozen, cliché though it may be. The hooligan was trying to …ahem, learn some of my more powerful magic, and I would not let them. I guess he, or she, was really upset and froze me in order to steal my notes and potions.”
“Taelia,” the Eyrie interrupted her while the twins continued arguing, we have bigger problems right now. Those two,” he nodded at the young Neopets, “came up here to do something about that ice storm that has encompassed Neopia and seems to have originated right here on Terror Mountain.”
“Say no more.” Taelia stepped outside, though the storm was stronger than she expected. “On second thought, I would like it if you said some words along the lines of ‘I’ll help you stop this storm’.”
The faerie and the wizard worked together to control the storm and drain its energy. The clouds’ spinning began to slow down and they eventually dissipated, leaving a clear sky over Terror Mountain that would soon spread to the rest of Neopia.
Inside the igloo Irena and Brendon finally stopped arguing. They noticed that the other two left the igloo and stepped outside, but not before putting the lamp in their bag. To their surprise, the storm had finally stopped.
Brendon whined, “Aw, we missed all the action.”
Irena spoke to Taelia and the Eyrie. “So you guys took care of this all by yourself?”
The Eyrie said graciously, “Well, we cast the spell to stop the storm, but neither one of us could have stopped it individually. If you hadn’t come up here to save Taelia, Neopia would have been in trouble.”
Taelia thanked the children. “If you hadn’t brought that Magma Lamp up here, who knows how long I would have stayed frozen. Even though this wasn’t technically one of my quests, I think you deserve a treat. Why don’t you take these ice cream coupons? I’d like to go with you but I have a lot of cleaning up to do. Also, if you ever want to go up against me in the Battledome, just let me know.”
Brendon snatched the coupons. Irena thanked the Snow Faerie, but she still was upset. “Taelia, it’s been a long journey for my brother and me. I just want to get home.”
Taelia nodded in understanding. “I’ll freeze the water to create a raft for you at the base of the mountain. Judging from the way you’re shivering, you’re probably not from nearby.”
“Thank you.” Irena said. “My brother and I came from Roo Island, actually, and I think we both are done with adventures for a while.”
At the base of Terror Mountain, Irena and Brendon set off for Roo Island, waving good-bye to the Snow Faerie and the Wizard. With the world saved, their journey was over. They finally could go home, where their parents would be waiting, and they could have their first warm meal in weeks.