The Snow Princess: A Terror Mountain Tale - Part Three
One day, the prince spied something flying in the distance. As it tried to fly through the falling snow, it suddenly became still and started to fall towards the ground. The prince ran towards it, hoping to catch it before it crashed. He managed to jump and grab it within his arms, sliding through the snow. As he took a closer look, he realized it was his old petpet, a Gallion.
“Did you come all this way searching for me, my friend?” the prince asked of his Gallion; the tired petpet nodded its head in agreement. “I am so sorry to have left you like that, my friend; I did not wish for you to worry over me so. But why have you come here?” The little Gallion raised its claw towards him; in it lay a scroll, sealed with the crest of Delfinor. The prince opened the scroll and began to read:
“Citizens of Delfinor,
We shall make our final stand against that malevolent Kingdom of Merian; that vile country that not only has our crown prince either held captive or worse, but has the audacity to claim we have done the same with their crown princess! I entreat that every able-bodied Neopet travel to the Capital to receive arms for battle. No longer shall we engage in endless skirmishes; within but a few days’ time, we shall determine the victor of both lands once and for all.”
The prince’s eyes widened upon this horrible news. In his bliss he had not realized the consequences of his actions; only now did he see how his absence would be viewed by his people. The small battles were horrifying enough, but to instigate a final battle? Countless lives would be lost! Despite his desire for peace, he certainly did not wish for the rest of his people to remain in turmoil. And even if he could stay away, how long would it be before the war spread even towards this peaceful land?
The prince walked towards his princess, to tell her of this dreadful news. “My Lady, I have received word of our homeland; there is to be a final battle between our peoples. There shall be no retreats or treaties; the last side standing will be the victor of both lands.”
The princess gasped upon hearing this. Though his actions caused her pain and loneliness, she still loved her father, and wished no harm to befall him, or the prince’s father. She had been so happy these past few days, that she had forgotten that she had ever felt sadness before. She remembered that the people they had left behind were still suffering, and that the two of them could not live in peace knowing that. She turned her head away from the prince, her eyes welling up with tears. She knew what he was going to do.
“Princess, I must go to them. I must go to our fathers and demand that they stop this once and for all! I will tell them both that we are safe and wish to be together; surely they would stop their fighting if they can see us in peace with one another! And when we all meet,” he added, on bended knee before her, “I intend to ask your father for your hand. A Princess of Merian and a Prince of Delfinor, a way to unite the kingdoms without any bloodshed.”
“I know that you must go, my prince,” the princess replied, teary eyed, “And though it makes my heart heavy to do so, I will await your return, with the hope that we can finally be together again.” Having said that, she removed her locket from her neck, and placed her hand in his. “Take my locket with you; it holds the crest of Merian, and none but my chosen champion may hold it. Take it with you as proof of my safety, and you will be protected from my father.”
“I will return to you, my Lady,” the prince said, holding her hand in his, “for nothing could keep me from you.” Rising from the ground, the prince began to walk the steep descent of the mountain, his Gallion circling him overhead.
The princess watched him leave, and as he faded from her view, her strength left her and she collapsed to the ground crying. The deep snow surrounded her like a cold blanket, unable to dry her tears or bring her comfort. Raising her head towards the now setting sun, she whispered, “I will wait for you, my dearest prince; please, return to me.”
The Gelert prince traveled across the vast ocean, asking for passage from a kind Green Eyrie searching for some fish to eat. Much swifter than traveling by sea, within a days’ time he could see the green land of his birth come into view. As the prince landed upon the shores of his homeland, he thanked the kind Eyrie and set forth to the battlefield. He did not have to journey far.
The land was swarming with soldiers from both kingdoms, a sea of red and blue banners. Sword and axe clashed while arrows screamed through the air, crying out for destruction; fires spread across the villages, as hut by hut was brought to rubble. In the faint distance, he could hear young Neopets crying, crying out over something they could not understand.
He must stop this war, the prince thought to himself, before it is too late. He scanned the horizon for any sign of the royal cavalry, a sure indication that his father was in battle. He motioned to his Gallion, who then began to fly over the far reaching battlefield for his master’s target. As the Gallion crossed the sky, it could see the Red Skeith King of Delfinor clashing swords against that of the Blue Skeith King of Merian. The petpet screeched and began to circle around them; the prince having found where his father was, ran towards his Gallion’s location with haste, his red cloak flying against the wind.
Running towards the two kings, the Gelert prince shouted, “My lords, please cease this battle! There is no reason to fight!”
The two Skeiths halted their assaults upon the other, turning towards that shouting voice. “My son, he is alive!” the Delfinor King cried out, his voice broken amid sobs of joy.
The prince held out the golden locket of the princess as he ran, its Merian crest glinting in the bright sunlight.
“My daughter,” the King of Merian exclaimed, “she is safe!”
But as the prince drew nearer, he was halted in his place; an arrow had been let loose, and as it screamed for blood it found the prince in its path. As it passed through his side the prince gasped in pain; he collapsed to the red stained earth and lay still.
The princess waited at that spot where her prince had left her, searching for some sign of his return. She clasped her hands together, and whispered, “Please Fyora, protect him; keep him safe from all harm, and give me the strength to wait here for him.”
Even though the nights grew colder with each passing day, the princess struggled to stay there waiting for him for as long as she could; even when sleep or hunger threatened to overpower her, still she waited by their meeting place, until eventually falling asleep in the snow with tear strewn face.
One night, the princess was once again fighting against her enemy Sleep; her head began to nod off, but she caught herself and tried to wake up once more. Opening her eyes, she stared off into the distance, hope against hope that the next dawn would be the one to bring the prince to her along with the morning’s light.
But that dawn never came. That night the mountain grew deathly cold, and wild blizzards of snow and ice blew about the mountainside. The princess, shivering beneath her white cloak, continued to stand in that spot until the prince returned. The sky became white from the heavy flurry of snow and ice; the princess turned in all directions, unable to see anything. Even had she wanted to, she could certainly not retreat to her cave, lest she become lost in the snow trying to find it. The snow piled upon her, and ice began to form around her, but still she waited. As her tears began to freeze, she whispered amidst the torrential frozen winds, “My dearest, I was waiting for you for so long; why did you not return to me?”
The princess, heart broken, sang once more the song from the forest clearing, the song that had made the prince so enchanted by her. Her ethereal voice was carried in the wind, circling over the snowy mountain range, until it faded beneath its icy roar.
Just before she became completely frozen by the ice, she reached out her arms, for an unseen prince that was not there. How she wished she could embrace him, one last time...
Both kings yelled out in horror, running towards the wounded prince. “Call the battle off! Sheath your swords, we command it!” they barked out to their respective captains. The soldiers did as they were told, and slowly everyone began to hover around the Gelert prince lying upon the ground.
The Delfinor King lifted his son’s head in his arms, and whispered frantically to him, “My son, we shall have you healed; we shall travel to Faerieland and you will be all right-” But the Gelert prince weakly lifted his hand in objection.
“I have not much time left, father,” he said quietly, struggling to speak, “I wish to see my dearest, the Princess of Merian. She... she is waiting for me, atop the mountain beyond the sea. Please, I wish to see her... one last time.” He then closed his eyes, his breathing becoming shallow and haggard.
“Then it shall be as you wish, my son,” the red Skeith king replied solemnly, his hand resting upon the prince’s head. “Call the Eyrie pilots! We are to travel to the mountain with haste!”
The Kings of Merian and Delfinor, along with the weakened prince, flew upon the Eyries’ backs to the top of the mountain. Throughout the journey, the prince’s father gave him flasks of potions, hope against hope that he would be brought back to his health. But the potions had little effect over him, for the wound was too deep; it was nothing short of his will to see his princess that kept the Gelert prince alive. He fought against the pain, enduring it all, just to look into her deep green eyes once more.
The Eyries reached the land of endless snow, and they battled the horrendous winds of the mountain range, until finally they reached the top of the mountain. They landed upon the snow with a heavy thud, and the Skeith kings dismounted from their backs with the prince. The prince, held in his father’s arms, whispered gently, “Where is my dearest one?” As he slowly moved his eyes in search of her, his eyes widened in pained shock.
The Aisha princess, arms outstretched, was encased completely in ice. Her pallid pink fur was but a sad semblance of its past vibrancy; even her once warm green eyes had become a pale blue, as cold and unfeeling as the ice that held her prisoner. Through the ice the prince could see that she had been crying frozen tears, her eyes fixed on the West from which her prince would have been returning.
The blue Skeith king dropped to his knees, his most beloved daughter gone from him a second time. He began to bawl loudly, his massive fists slamming against the frozen earth. The prince pushed himself out of his father’s arms, and dragged his body over towards the ice statue of the princess. With no more strength left in his body, he fell before her feet.
Tears falling from his face, he whispered, “My dearest, I have returned to you...” before closing his eyes, one last time.
As the two kings watched this heartrending scene, they felt the wind grow strong and cold; snow began to fall, as if the very sky could not help but cry out for them. Through the wind, the kings could have sworn they heard a soft voice whisper, “I was waiting for you for so long... I was waiting...” The statue of ice shattered from the force of the wind, and the tiny shards of sparkling light were carried on the current of air.
As the two kings witnessed this terrible tragedy, their hearts were no longer filled with hatred, but of sorrow; they were filled with such a terrible grief, that a dark shadow had lifted from within them as if clouds of smoke. Before fading into nothingness, they could have sworn that it appeared as the figures of a Faerie, a Skeith, and a Gelert. Their minds felt clearer, and they saw everything with eyes truly opened.
“In Fyora’s name,” the Delfinor King exclaimed, “What have we done? Our Ambition and Greed have caused this awful occurrence. Our desire for Revenge blinded us, and now our most precious treasures are gone from this world.”
“Aye, you speak the truth,” the Merian King replied, “I cannot even recall what led us to this dreadful war in the first place. Perhaps there never was a true reason from the start. Let us make a vow, an eternal vow, to become one people, as our children wanted to be.”
With that they clasped each other’s hands in agreement; they would never again let such an awful thing happen. Within time, they truly became one people; the colors of red and blue became one crest, until even their countries’ names became one as well: Meridell. Though by then the tale of the two countries had been all but forgotten, still in the back of its peoples’ minds did they remember a time when peace was not so common; though with no reason to explain such thoughts, still the people of Meridell took heed of it and did their best to remain peaceful with one another.
As for the mountain across the ocean, which by now had been named Terror Mountain, some folklore still remains of this ancient tale. It has been said by children lost in blizzards that a pale Aisha dressed in white took their hands and led them back safely to their homes. It had happened so often that parents began to give their children small totems of the Aisha in white to wear around their neck, should they ever become lost in the snow. Couples separated from each other on the mountain have seen her especially, claiming that she would help one find the other, smile sadly and fade away. The spirit of the Aisha princess had become known as the Snow Princess of Terror Mountain.
“And that,” the old Poogle exclaimed to the children, “is the end of my tale.”
The little Neopets, one baby Usul and the other a baby Gelert, giggled in joy at the story’s conclusion, perhaps still a bit too young to understand all that had happened, but entertained nonetheless.
“Now it’s time for bed, you two; your mother and father will be home shortly, and I expect they want to see you both asleep.” The old Poogle tucked them into their beds, and kissing their foreheads lightly, carried away the candlestick and began to close the door behind her.
“Good night, Nana Gracey,” the little pets whispered, eyes heavy with sleep.
“Good night, my dearies,” the old Poogle replied, smiling gently over them. She blew out the candle, as the two drifted off into the land of dreams.