The Travels of Mijjol Lightwielder: Part Three
Part Three: Defiance
Mijjol the red Mynci wondered how long he would last before freezing into an ice cube. The Terror Mountain winds blasted snow into his face wherever he looked, spilling glittering inconvenience all over the valley. The ice caves ahead leered at him, but for all their dominance they seemed slightly more sheltered.
Sure enough, the gales diminished as Mijjol hauled his stiff body into the caves. Here he was again a forgotten part of a noisy crowd. A large excited group was clustered around the Scratchcard Kiosk, yelling and squealing. Several dedicated Negg collectors chattered energetically near the Neggery.
There was no sign of a clothes shop anywhere. If only he had thought of bringing more clothes from Shenkuu, rather than just food and medicine.
Two happy Chias jostled past him. “Yay! I got a scratchcard from the Snowager’s cave!” one of them cried.
“You’re lucky he didn’t wake up and blast you!” his friend chided.
“Shall we go scratch it now?” The first Chia waved his card. They went past debating animatedly over whether to scratch it or sell it.
Mijjol glanced in the direction that they had come from and saw the dark, foreboding mouth of a cave. He didn’t quite relish the idea of sneaking into a monster’s cave, but what else could he do? Besides, he thought to himself with a bitter smile, he would probably be warmer in a monster’s cave than out here.
He shook the snow off his fur, clenched his chattering teeth, and headed for the cave.
The air inside was damp and still.
Well, almost still.
The Snowager slept in massive, icy coils amid the treasure. Its fangs lay quietly against its jaw, moving slightly with every breath. Occasionally they gnashed, as though the great ice worm were dreaming of snaring prey. The eyelids stirred ever so slightly from moment to moment.
Stirrrr... nothing. Stirrrrrr...
The Mynci hardly dared to breathe. He could see a lovely leather jacket just a few steps ahead. Unfortunately, two gigantic coils obstructed the way.
They were slick and steely in the dimness.
Mijjol lifted one foot cautiously and stepped over a coil. The Snowager seemed to breathe more loudly, but nothing else happened. Mijjol brought his other foot over and stood wavering for a moment.
Okay, one more coil to cross.
He moved an inch closer. The coil didn’t seem to move. He felt bolder and ventured forward a little more...
SHFFFFT! The coil slithered!
Mijjol almost lost his footing as he jerked backward. The Snowager’s eye opened for a second and stared straight at the Mynci. Mijjol froze.
The moment froze.
Finally the eye glazed over, and closed again.
Mijjol felt his breath return. He realized with an upward jolt of his heart that the coil was now out of his way. Focusing on the leather jacket just two metres before him, he summoned up his courage. In one swift dash, he had tiptoed lightly across and seized the jacket.
He glanced wildly around for some trousers, and spotted an ugly purple pair. They weren’t much, but under the circumstances they would have to do. He reached gingerly across and grabbed them.
The prizes were soft and heavy in his hands.
Now he had to get out of the cave.
Should he sneak out tiny step by tiny step, or run for it?
Sneaking would less likely wake the Snowager, but it would take more time. Running would arouse the Snowager, but he might just get away in time.
Which one? Which one?
The answer presented itself.
“RAWWRRRR!” roared the Snowager, bursting up from its slumber. This time Mijjol did scream. He whipped out his gold handled katana and brandished it at the enraged, sparkling eyes. The Snowager drew back, startled. Never in its years of sleeping on treasure had a thief dared to challenge it. It pondered for a while whether or not to blast this prancing Mynci waving a ribbon-thin blade.
In the meantime, Mijjol backed toward the exit, whirled around, and ran.
Whew! Now he was dressed and ready for adventure.
Mijjol stalked around for a bit in his bulky clothes, feeling with pleasure the Shenkuu helmet on his head and the gold handled katana swinging at his side. A few Terror Mountain pets threw curious glances at him, but hurried past without a word.
After some time, Mijjol began to feel rather angry. He was an adventurer, for Neopia’s sake! And nobody was paying attention to him!
He plonked himself down on a big snowball outside the ice crystal shop and took out his orange to eat. It tasted like a sour lump of ice. He chewed, fuming. Customers flowed past him, in and out of the shop. Why would anyone want to buy ice crystals when the mountain was just crinkling with them?
Mijjol shook his head and shifted his attention to the Scratchcard Kiosk directly opposite the shop. There was a noisy commotion going on there. A tall brown Lupe was howling at the poor Kiosk Wocky, “WHAT DO YOU MEAN I LOST?! THAT WAS THE BEST SCRATCHCARD! I BOUGHT IT FOR A HUGE SUM TOO!!”
“It’s not my fault!” the Wocky protested. “I just run the kiosk...”
“THAT’S MY MONEY YOU TOOK, YOU CHEATER!”
“Oh please! I have to make a living too...”
Mijjol swallowed his last bite of orange and stood up. This was his chance to prove himself. He adjusted his helmet at a more menacing angle and marched up to the ferocious Lupe.
The two went on quarrelling, surrounded by interested bystanders. Nobody took much notice of the young Mynci.
“Hey, look here,” said Mijjol sternly, tapping the Lupe, “you have no right to bully her like that.”
“Oh really?” the Lupe sneered. “And who are you to tell me what to do, you little midget?”
Mijjol drew his gold handled katana. It gleamed like a blade of ice. “I am Mijjol Lightwielder,” he cried, “and I will not let you bully that Wocky!”
The Lupe growled.
The crowd roared.
The fight began.
Mijjol felt as though time had turned into liquid. The crowd’s chanting bubbled into his heartbeat; the katana melded into his arm. He was air, he was gale; he danced a dance of fury. The katana flowed in all directions like starlight.
All other existences paled before the katana. The entire universe became one throbbing, spinning rhythm. Mijjol could see only light, immense, impenetrable light...
Somewhere in the distance, a voice was pleading, its tinny sound a feeble flutter against the beat.
“Have mercy on me, I beg you! I’ll go away and never trouble anyone again! Forgive me!”
It was muffled, smothered by so many layers. It was so far away...
“I won’t ever cause trouble again! I swear! Please, spare me, Mijjol Lightwielder!”
CRASH. The sound of his name summoned the red Mynci back to earth. He blinked. The world shivered, and creaked back into focus. At the very centre was the tall brown Lupe, cowering and shaking before him.
The crowd was hushed.
Mijjol let the katana fall to his side. “Yes, I’ll forgive you,” he said at last.
“You didn’t have to go that far,” said the Kiosk Wocky, when the crowd had dispersed. “I mean, you were very brave...”
“I know,” said Mijjol. He turned the katana gently in his hands. It was cold and dangerously sharp. A double-edged sword, Kentari the weapons master had told him.
He had done something good today, but he had very nearly done something terrible. From now on he would have to be extremely careful.
“Mijjol?” the Wocky’s voice carried him out of his thoughts. “I don’t think I’ve said thank you.”
She was holding out a small bag of Neopoints.
“I don’t deserve this,” stammered Mijjol. “I...”
The Wocky smiled. “You saved me,” she said simply. “It’s only fair for you to take your reward.”
Mijjol hesitated, then held out his hands and received the bag with care. “You’re welcome,” he said shyly.
He was still feeling strangely lightheaded as he left the Scratchcard Kiosk.
Night was descending on Terror Mountain like a thick dark blanket. Sparks of fire glowed on the ground and in the sky. They were tiny spots of warmth in a world of endless cold.
Mijjol huddled in a cave behind the Ice Arena, hugging his medicine bag of provisions. He wasn’t thinking much at the moment. It had been a long day, and he needed rest.
If he were back at home in Shenkuu now, he’d still be living in Master Anshu’s medicine shop, destined to weigh ingredients, clean shelves and gather herbs for the rest of his life. The mountains would forever be green, the streams forever clear, the customers forever whining.
Nothing would happen except for the streams of merchant ships, pouring in and out of the harbour day by day, sailing out to the freedom of the high seas.
Being an adventurer was definitely far more exciting. He couldn’t understand why Master Anshu would go in the other direction.
Well, come to think of it, the shop backroom did indeed have a warmer bed...
To be continued...