Nonlinear Companions: Dawn: Part Six
”It's starting to snow," I observed. "The Ice Caves are like, indoors, right?"
Westron laughed at me, "Well, caves are predominantly 'indoor' locations, in fact, I'd go so far as to say it’s a defining feature of them."
I stuck my tongue out at him.
"That was rude." he said, winking.
I was thinking of a witty retort when the waitress, a starry poogle, brought our lunch over.
"You got fries AND salad?" I asked incredulously.
"Yeah, I was hungry," Westron replied, "All that skating worked me up a proper appetite.”
We sat and ate the burgers, I continued to look out the window, the snow was still falling, gently downwards. It was so magical. The diner was warm and cosy, watching the snow come down, knowing how cold it must be out there, made it feel all the more cosy.
So we made our plans to go over to the Ice Caves after lunch. Westron wanted to see the Ice Arena, where neopets go to battle the likes of the Snowager. I wanted to visit the Neggery.
Once we had finished eating, we put our coats on and braved the outside. The blast of cold air that hit us as we stepped out, went through me like a sheet of ice. Westron looped his arm through mine and hoods up, heads down, we battled through the wind toward the ice caves.
"Phew!" I exclaimed, as we entered the cave; and I brushed the snow from my shoulders.
Westron was scraping the snow off his boots on an ice formation near the entrance. I looked up, I couldn’t even see the top of the caves they were so high. We wandered over to the kiosk, there an orange wocky took the tickets Westron handed him, and gave us a map of the Caves each.
"Would Sir and Miss like a photograph?" He asked us.
So we moved over to the left and stood in front of an ice crystal formation, it was so stunning, there were so many colours, pink, purple, green, blue and turquoise and even a strange little star shaped formation in the middle that was the most beautiful shade of peach. We stood side by side as the wocky took our picture.
"You can pick a copy up inside the Ice Crystal shop, it should be ready in about half an hour," he told us.
We thanked him and set off. Westron was looking intently at the map, tracing a finger around trying to work out the best route to see everything without having to walk back on ourselves.
"Did you want to see the Snowager?" He asked me. "It says here on the map that he’s not appearing in the Ice Arena at the moment, but we could go up to his cavern, see him there, after we've been to see a few battles? Then we can head down to the Neggery, have a nose around there, then swing by the Ice Crystal shop on the way out. "
"Sounds good to me." I replied.
"We can either go back out this way, and get Drake to pick us up," He gestured vaguely at the way we had come in, "or we can go up this big slope at the back," he pointed on the map between the Snowager and Snowmuncher, "That'll take us out at the top of the mountain near the cabin."
I shrugged, it made no real difference.
"We only just got here and you are already trying to work out the best way to leave!" I said, poking him playfully. "Let's go explore!"
So we made our way up to the Ice Arena, the pathway had been gritted, but poorly. I felt my way carefully up the slope. Westron, on the other hand wasn't nearly as graceful. We had barely set off when he slipped on a patch of ice, I watched in horror as my friend's legs swung about manically as he tried to regain his footing. Eventually failing and landing square on his behind.
"Ow!" He shouted.
I stifled a giggle as I helped him back to his feet. "Much less elegant without skates on, aren't you?"
"Oh, ha, ha," he smiled, "But that was a bit of a fall," he rubbed his backside, "Good thing I'm wearing these padded salopettes!"
I held his hand the rest of the way up the slope, he nearly lost his footing several more times, but I managed to keep him from falling again.
It was a short way to the Ice Arena, when we arrived it was already quite full, we squeezed our way to near the back and found some decent enough seats. The view wasn’t too bad. The first battle was a plucky young split lenny versus Lady Frostbite. We watched the battles, cheering for the neopet challengers, and booing the residents of the Ice Arena. It was great fun.
"My bum's starting to ache." Westron said poking me in the ribs, as I stood cheering loudly and waving my arms around for a young biscuit usul who was taking on Valin.
"You want to go?" I asked him.
His eyes pleaded with me, but he only said "If you want to."
I grabbed his hand and led him back through the crowds to the entrance of the Ice Arena. "Come on, let's go see the Snowager." I told him.
He smiled at me thankfully as we rejoined the pathway, the path up here was a little steeper than before, but mercifully it had been gritted a lot better. I still held Westron's hand as we ascended, just in case he lost his footing again. But he didn’t.
When we reached the top of the slope, there was a huge group of neopets outside the Snowager's cavern. They were all chattering between themselves excitedly. On the wall of the cave near the entrance was a timetable, it detailed times that Snowager was known to usually be found asleep. Over the sign was another, bigger sign that stated 'The Snowager is Currently in Hibernation. One item per Neopet.'
"Of course," I said smacking my forehead, "It’s the month of Celebrating, Snowie's in hibernation, we can go in and get a piece of treasure!"
We waited around for about ten minutes, while the crowd slowly dissipated. One by one, neopets would venture into the cave, and one by one, they would return clutching their treasure. Finally it was my turn, I edged my way slowly into the darkened cavern, a gust of cold wind caught me as I entered, the cavern was so unimaginably immense.
Then I saw it, the legendary pile of treasure... thousands, possibly millions of rare Neopian items. And there, on top of the pile, lay the Snowager. He was at least ten times bigger than I had anticipated. He was coiled around a stash of neopoints and assorted treasures, I was almost certain I could see a Rod of Nova in there.
I tiptoed up closer to him, to check if that is indeed what it was. As I got closer I could see a slight fog of cool air emanating from him. I shivered, not because of the temperature, but the thrill. I reached up and grabbed the first thing I could lay my hands on.
I was so excited, I didn’t even stop to see what I had picked up. I turned on my heel and sped toward the entrance, where Westron stood waiting patiently for me.
"Oh cool! You got a Platinum Negg!" He exclaimed when he saw me, "They're really valuable!"
I looked down into my hands, he was right, I moved my hand over the negg, it was smooth and cool and beautiful.
"Wait here, I'll be back in a jiffy." he yelled as he headed into the cavern for himself.
He emerged not two minutes later, disappointedly clutching a Surfboard Keyring.
We were standing in the Ice Crystal shop, trying in vain to find our picture amongst the several hundred on display. There was a faerie moehog at the counter, Westron went over to him to ask for some assistance.
"Oh," exclaimed the moehog, "I didn’t even know anyone was still here, haven't you heard?"
"Heard what?" I asked.
"The blizzard," he replied, "There was an announcement not twenty minutes ago, we're closing up early, it's really coming down out there."
I looked at Westron, twenty minutes ago we had been bartering aggressively with Kari at the Neggery, who, although conceding that my platinum negg was indeed valuable, stated she could not exchange it for any negg tokens as it wasn’t on her list of approved neggs. I can only imagine that we had missed the announcement then.
The moehog quickly helped us to find out picture amongst the masses, we thanked him and headed back up to the rear of the Ice Caves, toward the exit that lead directly to the top of the mountain. The pathways were now almost deserted. The only neopets around were closing up shops or heading back down toward the exit to Happy Valley.
“I wouldn't go that way,” shouted the faerie moehog from behind us, “I heard it's all blocked up with snow, you'll need to go the long way round.”
To be continued…