Neopia, Year 200: The Beginning - Part Nine
Chapter Nine: The Search Begins
“So what does the journal say again?” Kayna turned to her brother Yorick as he flipped through the bundle of papers.
“Hmm... Wednesday, 6th day of the Month of Sleeping. We have successfully cracked through another layer. Harry the Gnorbu was sad. No, that’s not it... ah, here it is.”
“What does it say?” demanded Layla, who pulled her fur coat around her body.
“Friday, 7th day of the Month of Awakening. The Mistress has requested that we bring her several artifacts, including the Keeper of Time’s staff and Taelia’s wand- for what purpose, I know not. The Keeper’s staff I have in my possession, of course, because it was handed down to me from a distant relative of mine named Armin. Taelia’s wand will be more difficult to find, considering that the Snow Faerie has become something of a recluse these days. Robyn and Clarke will try and locate her. In the meantime, I will get the staff.” Yorick turned to his siblings as he pushed the paper back into the bundle. “Well, that pretty much settles it.”
“Settles what?” asked Cillo.
“We’ll have to split up if we want to find the Keys,” said Yorick. Everyone nodded, at which the Draik grinned.
“Great! There’s just one problem, though...”
“What?” Layla’s insisting voice cut through the still night air.
Yorick frowned. “We don’t know where the Keys are.”
“I can help with that.” Everyone turned around to see Luther standing there, beaming.
“You can?” asked Kayna suspiciously. “And how did you just sneak up on us like that?”
Cillo looked at Kayna, clearly shocked. “Are you implying something, Kay?” he asked. “Luther’s our friend! Remember?”
Kayna bit her lip, at which Luther smiled. “That’s fine with me. I just walk around softly in the snow, that’s all.”
“But where are the Keys?” asked Layla, who was starting to get annoyed.
The dark red Bori paused for a moment. “Well, if my memory serves me correctly, the Keeper’s staff should be somewhere in the Hall of Slumber. That’s where the Keeper lived, so it stands to reason that his staff should be there also. As for Taelia’s wand, I’d suggest looking in the Snowager’s den.”
“That’s great!” said Yorick.
Luther, however, wasn’t finished. “Before you five start splitting up... Alice, could you stay back with me at the shop? It’s just that I could use an extra hand doing inventory.”
Brianne smiled. “Sure.”
Luther looked at the group. “Well, I’d best be off. Alice, if you could come with me?” Then the two were gone, lost amidst the drifting snow.
Yorick and Layla walked through the snow, their tracks constantly filled by the increasing snowfall. Layla looked up at the moon, trying to figure out what time it was.
“I wonder where the Snowager’s den is?” murmured the Aisha, shivering in the decreased temperature, which became lower and lower the more and more they walked.
“I’m sure it’s around here somewhere,” said Yorick, peering about at the terrain, which was currently almost entirely white. “I mean, it can’t be that hard to find a cave...”
“Yes?” Yorick sighed. “Look, Layla, I don’t have time for trees that look like Kacheeks. Can you just let it go?”
“Yorick,” Layla protested, causing the Draik to look up in annoyance.
“What is it...? Oh.”
The two pets stood before a gargantuan cave mouth, around the top of which was countless, dangerous-looking icicles. In the ground nearby was a snow-covered sign that read “Elcome to the air of he owager. eware!”
“‘Eware’?” Layla peered at the sign with uncertainty, unsure of what she was reading.
“The sign’s old, that’s all,” Yorick said with impatience. “Come ON. Do you want to find that wand or not?”
Layla nodded, and so the two siblings began their careful trek into the lair of the Snowager.
“You see, Alice,” Luther said, adjusting his glasses, “the Peppermint Peaks tea goes in the green box, while the Snowberry Sunrise variety goes in the blue box, and the Cinnamon Springs tea goes in the red box.”
Brianne sat back, rolling her eyes and sighing. “Look, Luther. I really appreciate being given this glimpse of the inner workings of your shop, but can we please do something else now?”
Luther nodded, and began rummaging through the cupboards, taking out cups, mugs, and the occasional box of teabags. Suddenly, something shiny fell out of one cupboard, presumably having been stashed away in the back.
“What was that?” Brianne craned her neck to try and catch a glimpse of the item that had fallen out. Luther smiled nervously. “Don’t worry about it; it’s just a tin of Neopoints I keep in the back for emergencies. Shall I pour you some tea?”
Brianne sighed and nodded. After pouring some pre-made tea into a bright red mug and adding a dose of syrup, the Bori brought it over to the table. “Here. I made some Mountain Majesty, with extra maple syrup added.”
The Nimmo smiled and sipped her tea, then lay back and entered a state of complete relaxation.
Yorick and Layla looked up at the enormous ice worm before them, which was currently curled up on top of its pile of treasure, eyes closed shut.
“Is it asleep?” asked Layla, her whispers accompanied by the white breath coming from her mouth.
“I think so,” murmured Yorick, his breath having a similar effect. “Let’s see if we can find the wand.”
The two split up and began circling the Snowager’s nest, keeping their eyes peeled for a wand of any kind. Eventually, Yorick waved his hand at his sister, who crept over to the Draik’s location.
“Did you find it?” Layla whispered.
Yorick nodded and pointed to a glittering rod adorned with an icicle-studded orb two feet above Yorick’s head. “Can you get it, Layla? I’m too heavy and might wake up our friend here.”
The baby Aisha nodded and was about to begin climbing up when Yorick froze.
“Wait!” he hissed. “If we remove the wand from the pile, who’s to say that it won’t wake the Snowager up?”
“Yeah,” Layla said, nodding. Yorick bit his lip. “But what can we use as a replacement?”
After a few moments of contemplation, the Draik stiffened. “Perfect!” From his pack, Yorick withdrew one of the Codestones. Layla, who understood what her brother wanted her to do, took the mystical stone and began climbing up, with the occasional boost from Yorick every now and then. At last, Layla reached the wand, removed it from its position between a Pink Poogle Plushie and a Red Bori Keychain, and put the Codestone in its place.
Yorick gave Layla the thumbs-up as he helped her get down. Then, without a word, the siblings left the cave and headed back to Happy Valley, unaware that Kayna and Cillo were already there.
“Well, that was easy,” Cillo said triumphantly as he and Kayna walked along a snowy path. “The staff was just lying there in the middle of the Chamber. Pretty easy, if you ask me. I thought there’d at least be a couple of traps or something, but no! There was just the staff, in the middle of the—”
“Keep your voice down!” hissed Kayna, elbowing her brother in the ribs. “You don’t want to wake the whole village, do you?”
“No,” muttered Cillo as the duo headed to Luther’s shop. “I’m just complaining about how easy finding that staff thingy was. On Neovision, it’s never this easy. For example, on Caves and Corridors, when Jake found the Golden Idol of Telmaroo—”
Thus, the two siblings entered Luther’s shop this way, Cillo glaring at Kayna the entire time.
Luther looked up in surprise as the bell attached to his door rang, and Kayna and Cillo entered the shop.
“Back already?” he asked, smiling warmly. Kayna nodded.
“Yup. And here’s the staff.” As the Zafara handed the staff to Luther, he beamed. “Excellent! Now, we just have to wait for Layla and Yorick to arrive.”
“Hey,” said Cillo, frowning at a nearby table where Brianne sat, slouched. “What’s up with Br- I mean, Alice?”
Luther smiled. “She just had a little nap, that’s all.” The Bori approached Brianne’s table and tapped her gently on the shoulders. “Alice, dear, it’s time to wake up.”
Brianne stirred from her slumber, the Nimmo costume moving with her body as she sat and stretched. “I had the strangest dream...”
“Well, of course you did,” said Luther kindly. “We can hear all about White Cybunnies and tea parties later.”
“No, no,” she protested, sitting up more. “It wasn’t that sort of dream. It was one of those dreams,” the Nimmo paused, “where you just sort of... black out, and then you wake up later.”
Kayna, concerned, looked at Brianne. “What were you doing just before falling asleep? That might have something to do with it,” she added to Luther.
Brianne smiled. “Luther and I were sorting tea boxes, and we were having so much fun, and then we ate cookies from a cupboard. They were really good.”
“That’s it?” asked Kayna. Brianne nodded.
“Well, there you have it,” said Luther, sighing. “Hopefully you’ll remember what caused you to have that strange dream, Alice. In the meantime, I think I see your siblings coming!”
Luther beamed as Yorick and Layla entered the shop and handed Taelia’s wand to him. “Excellent! Now, we should all head over and do some knitting.”
“Huh?” asked Layla. Luther grinned and opened the passageway to the Sewing Club again, which all six pets crawled through until they entered the Club’s headquarters.
“Luther,” asked Kayna once everyone was through the tunnel, “shouldn’t someone go and guard the shop?”
Luther shook his head. “Don’t worry, Kayna. Altaira’s patrolling the outskirts of Happy Valley as we speak. June, on the other hand, is currently asleep in an adjacent room. We don’t want to wake her up.”
The Bori smiled. “Now, since we have two of the three Keys, our next plan of action is to—” Luther’s speech was interrupted by four hasty knocks and two slower ones.
“Altaira!” Luther’s eyes were filled with an indescribable emotion as he pulled open the hatch to admit a bruised and slightly bleeding Eyrie.
“They’re-coming,” she panted as Luther rushed to give her a healing potion. “The-Agents-are-coming...”
Luther turned to Yorick, Kayna, Cillo, Layla and Brianne. “Well, this complicates things a bit. It looks like I can’t accompany you five to Rheani’s lair, as I have to take care of Altaira. However, you can take the Keys and try to stop her, somehow. Good luck. Oh, and before I forget...”
The Bori handed each pet a vial of clear blue liquid. “This elixir will keep each of you invisible for a few hours or so, which should be more than enough time to get to Terror Mountain.”
Luther then opened up a door leading behind the headquarters. “Now, hurry!”
Without further pressure, the five pets ran out of the house, leaving Luther to fend for himself against the Agents.
To be continued...