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Snowy's Latest Craze

by toffee_choc


Minty_choc85 slowly sat up in bed and rubbed his eyes. Sleepily, he reached for his hat and glanced at his alarm clock. 5:30!!

     "Ugh," he groaned, "why am I awake NOW?"

     It didn't take long to ascertain the reason - from the sound of it, the evil forces of Sloth, Captain Scarblade and Prince Jazan had gotten together and were now having it out in the living room. Which could mean only one thing - his owner and brother were arguing about moving. Again.

     Suddenly, the door burst open and a flustered yellow Lenny ran in.

     "Minty? Oh good, you're up - can you believe they're at it already?" The Lenny paused, and noticed Minty's bewildered expression.

     "Hello? Neopia to Minty? Anyone in there?" She sighed. "L-a-b r-a-y. Remember? Zzzap - and suddenly I've got feathers."

     Minty's face cleared. "Orange! Sorry, my brain doesn't work so well at 5:30 in the morning. And you look a little…different. How's Icy?"

     Orange_choc85 chuckled. "You mean Goober? Well, he's a little…metallic." As she spoke, a Yellow N-4 Info Retrieval Bot hopped into the room and started to survey the furniture.

     Minty laughed - especially as Fluff, his Babaa, took one startled look at the little robot and vanished under his hat.

     "Well, I guess we'd better go and break up the party before anything gets-"

     A resounding crash sounded from below. Minty winced.

     "-broken. Or we could just tidy it up."

     At the bottom of the stairs, the pair were met by an interesting scene - a robot Aisha shouting at their owner, Toffee_choc (we call her TC - otherwise it gets confusing), while their Scorchio sister, Milk_choc85, frantically tried to prevent any more of their belongings from being broken.

     "Right…so, now we're here, how do you suggest we stop them fighting?" hissed Minty to his sister.

     Orange didn't answer, bewitched by the madly flying sparks shooting from Toffee_choc85's tail. Minty rolled his eyes and glanced around the room.

     "Of course!" he breathed.

     Ignoring the escalating chaos, he darted across the room. Toffee was just starting his newest tirade.

     "But WHY Terror Mountain? I mean, couldn't you have picked somewhere nice, like Mystery Island, or Meridell - even the SPACE Station would be bet-WHA?!"

     Minty stayed by the light switch for a couple of seconds, just to make sure the shouting (at least, about moving) had really stopped, before flicking the light back on again. He was met by glares from both Toffee and TC - the others just looked slightly relieved. He felt Fluff tentatively poke her nose out from under his hat as they all stared at each other.

     "C'mon guys," he muttered, "can we at least sit down and talk about this? As we're all up already. Besides - I could really do with some coffee."

     Milk_choc grinned, and put down the pile of items she'd been juggling. "I'll go make some - and I think we've still got some biscuits left!"

     Ten minutes later, they were all seated with large mugs of coffee and the last of the biscuits. Minty glanced at Toffee and TC - both were staring at the floor in silence. Then he glanced at Milk_choc and Orange - they were both staring at him. He sighed.

     "What are we going to do? We can't keep arguing about this - our belongings won't survive, for a start."

     He paused, then set down his coffee mug and looked at them pointedly.

     "But we can't sit in silence either - so how do we sort it?"

     It was Toffee who broke the silence - "I just don't get why you chose Terror Mountain. It's cold, wet and nasty…and did I mention wet? I'll RUST!! It's a stupid place to live."

     TC sighed and looked at him. "I did ask you guys, remember? But you couldn't agree at all - one shouts Tyrannia, another shouts "boring", you suggest the Haunted Woods, and half the family hides behind the sofa - what was I meant to do? None of us wants to stay here, and Terror Mountain was by far the best choice - lots of shops, games and people. And snow."

     Toffee rolled his eyes. "Snow is NOT a good reason for going. That's what's gonna make me RUST!"

     TC's eyes flashed. "I have never heard of a pet rusting - you're just using it as an excuse! It's not like you'll be standing out in the snow, waiting for the rust to set in! Think of all the great things you could do there!"

     "Hey, I know!" interrupted Orange suddenly, "let's go there! Let's go and see what's there - maybe we'll finally be able to agree!"

     TC jumped up, spilling her coffee in the process. "Great idea! Let's go and take a look, hopefully you'll change your mind."

     She glanced at her watch. "And as it's only 6am, it shouldn't be too crowded - we should get there within an hour or so!"

     Nobody moved. "Come on, guys! It'll be fine - but don't forget your scarves and other warm stuff."

     She glanced at Toffee. "At least give it a chance, okay?" Toffee grunted and went to find his scarf and Meggie, his Halloween Mazzew.

     An hour later they were at Terror Mountain. TC sighed - today was not a good day to try and persuade the pets that this was were they wanted to live. A blizzard was raging across the mountain peak - only Taelia's hut could be seen.

     "Let's head into the Ice Caves - we should be able to get some shelter there," she shouted to the pets as they battled the wind. It took a further ten minutes to reach the mouth of the caves, by which time everyone was soaked through and freezing.

     "So," said Toffee acidly, once they were inside the caves, "how exactly is this demonstrating that we want to live here? I'll RUST! I'm already soaked - wet + robot = rust! And rust means less of me - I don't want to disintegrate!!"

     TC rolled her eyes and surveyed the cave, while Milk_choc dried Toffee off with a towel she'd brought with her.

     Minty glanced around - he had to admit, he wasn't loving the snow at the moment either.

     "Hey TC," he called, "why don't we go and pay a visit to the Snowager? You never know, he might be asleep. We could get a plushie or something."

     TC smiled a little nervously. "Er, why don't you go and take a look? The rest of us will get a scratch card while we wait."

     The group watched Minty trudge across the icy ground in his boots, then headed towards the kiosk. TC bought a card from the Wocky, then passed it across to Toffee and the others.

     "Here, let's see if we can get lucky." Grinning in spite of himself, Toffee grabbed the card and hastily scratched 6 panels off.

     "YES!" he shouted, jumping up, "10,000 NP!"

     TC caught him in a congratulatory hug. "Well done, Toffee! You couldn't have done that in Brightvale!"

     Toffee stopped and eyed his owner. "No," he said slowly, "I guess not."

     "Alright!" cried Orange. "Let's find Minty and go spend this cash - exploring Happy Valley!"

     TC smiled. "Great idea, Orange. Although Minty should be back by now - the Snowag-"

     "There he is," interrupted Milk_choc suddenly "-but he doesn't look very well, and his hat's missing - I wonder what happened?"

     TC frowned. "I guess he could have got blasted, but that doesn't explain where his hat is - come on, guys." As the foursome neared Minty, it was clear there was something very wrong.

     "Minty! Where's your hat? What happened" asked TC urgently, as they reached him.

     Minty looked up with tearful eyes. "She's gone!" he wailed. "He stole her! What am I going to do?"

     TC stooped and gave him a hug. "Minty, what are you talking about - who stole who?"

     Minty pointed a shaking paw at the Snowager's cave. "He stole her! The Snowager - he took Fluff! She was still hiding under my hat, and he took one look at me and- and- lunged! Next thing I knew, I was lying at the entrance, hatless and Babaa-less. We have to get her back." His eyes flashed determinedly.

     TC looked concerned, but Toffee broke in. "Don't be silly, Minty. The Snowager doesn't steal petpets - that's the Turmaculus's job. He must have blasted you and your hat got blown off, so Fluff went to hide."

     His face brightened. "Maybe she went exploring or something - you know, with all the snow bunnies."

     Minty looked at him scornfully. "Toffee, she's a Babaa. Babaas don't explore, they hide in dark corners 'til someone they know comes to rescue them. That's why she was so happy when I got painted royal - it gave her a dark place - under my hat - and someone she knew, all rolled into one. I tell you - he took her!"

     Milk_choc, as always, had the perfect solution - go back to the Snowager's cave and have a look around, to see if they could spot Minty's hat or if anyone had seen anything. However, an hour later they were still at a loss, having found neither a trace of Babaa wool or purple silk. Exhausted, Minty flopped down on the ground.

     "This is pointless!" he cried, "we'll never find her at this rate. We'll never find her at all, because she's IN THERE!" He glowered at the cave entrance, and covered his head with his paws. The others looked at each other uncertainly - what now?

     "Excuse me," said a voice, "but can I help you? I couldn't help but notice that you've been searching for something." Looking around, they saw -

     "The Negg Faerie," breathed Orange.

     The Negg Faerie smiled. "Indeed. Now, what is it that you're searching for?"

     Minty lifted his head from under his paws. "My Babaa, Fluff. The Snowager stole her."

     TC interrupted quickly. "Er, that is, we think Minty probably got blasted and Fluff ran away."

     Minty scowled. "No, that's what you think - I know she was stolen!"

     The Negg Faerie looked at Minty carefully. "You know, that may not be so unlikely. Come back to the Neggery with me, I think there's something you should take a look at."

     Puzzled, the group followed her into the strange-shaped building, moving swiftly past the rare and wonderful Neggs ("Don't touch" hissed TC at Toffee and Orange), to what seemed to be the Faerie's office.

     "Sorry about the mess," she smiled, "I don't get many visitors." Cautiously, Minty picked his way through the paper covered floor until he reached the desk.

     "So," he said, "what exactly did you want to show us?"

     The Negg Faerie smiled again and reached inside a drawer. "This."

     She pulled out a small diagram of all the different kinds of petpets in Neopia. Minty noticed some of them were faded. "What is it?" he asked, taking the piece of paper between his paws.

     The Negg Faerie leaned back in her chair. "The faded ones are all the petpets that we believe the Snowager has kidnapped. Most of them were strays - I think yours was the first to be stolen directly from a pet."

     Minty looked shocked. "But what does he want with them?" he demanded. "As Toffee said, it's the Turmaculus that eats petpets - the Snowager has never shown any interest before."

     The Negg Faerie stood up. "You're right," she replied. "And we're not entirely sure of the cause. The only thing that we can come up with is that the Snowager is a collector - a hoarder, if you like - and this may simply be his latest craze."

     TC, who had been listening from the doorway, broke in. "But how can we persuade him that this really isn't a good thing to collect?"

     The Negg Faerie frowned. "To be honest, I'm not sure. But I'll bet he's not too happy with the petpets right now - I'm pretty sure he's got a Kadoatie, and you know how noisy they are."

     Minty stood up suddenly. "That's it!" he breathed.

     The Negg Faerie wrinkled her brow. "What's it?" she asked.

     Minty smiled. "We'll persuade the Snowager he should try to collect something a little quieter - but still looking like the petpets. How about petpet plushies? Or Usuki sets? I'm sure he'll see that they're a much more sensible option."

     TC rolled her eyes. "Great plan Minty, just one flaw - there are no such thing as petpet plushies, and a lot of them don't have Usuki sets either."

     "Oh," said Minty. "That could be a problem." He sat down again, looking crestfallen.

     "Not necessarily," said the Negg Faerie suddenly. "I could ask Fyora for special permission to create one plushie of every petpet in Neopia - and have them appear in "random" events near the Snowager. That should keep him occupied for a while - and should convince him to stop snatching petpets."

     Minty jumped up again. "Great!" he said. "How long will that take?"

     The Negg Faerie returned to her desk. "Probably until tomorrow morning, I'm afraid - it'll take some time to make the plushies. And besides, I have to make contact with Fyora first - she's a busy faerie! All I can suggest is to check into the Neolodge on the top of the mountain, and enjoy some of the other sights." Minty sighed, and traipsed after the others as they exited the Neggery.

     "Well, rather than just moping, why don't we go and check out Happy Valley?" suggested TC. "After all, that's what we came here for." She glanced at Minty.

      "C'mon Minty, I know you're worried about Fluff, but there's really nothing we can do until tomorrow." Minty shrugged and followed them out into the cool, crisp air of the valley.

     Orange was all excitement. "Hey, cool, wintery petpets - why don't we go and have a look?" She caught her owner's warning look.

     "Oh, um, okay, maybe not…let's go and get a slushie then? Come on!" Even Toffee looked quite excited as they wove their way through the snow-laden trees.

     The next few hours were spent merrily exploring the snow-covered fields of Happy Valley. Toffee discovered a talent for Snow Wars II, and didn't complain once about rusting.

     Orange spent the afternoon trying to persuade Mr. Chipper to give her an ice-cream, because "how do I know it's worth getting a token without trying it first?"

     TC, Milk_choc and Minty watched the scene unfold, sipping their slushies. TC eyed Mr. Chipper, who was getting angrier by the minute.

     "You know," she commented, "they really weren't kidding when they warn you not to try getting an ice-cream without a token."

     "Mmm," said Milk_choc, "do you think we should retrieve Orange before they do each other an injury? I'm sure it's not healthy for Mr. Chipper to turn such a shade of puce."

     Before TC could reply, Mr. Chipper gave a snarl and hurled something at Orange, who caught it swiftly and scampered away.

     "Ta! I'll send you my review!" she called over her shoulder. When she joined the others at the table, she was merrily licking an ice-cream.

     Even Minty reacted to that. "HOW did you manage that?" he asked in amazement.

     Orange considered for a moment. "Never," she said seriously, "underestimate the power of perseverance."

     "What's it like?" asked Milk_choc curiously.

     Orange grinned. "It's great, though it could do with a bit more cinnamon."

     TC frowned. "Cinnamon? What flavour is it?"

     Orange grinned again. "Christmas is the best name I can find for it."

     At that moment, Toffee rolled up to them, encased in a huge snowball. It cracked open as it hit the edge of the Slushie shop.

     "I guess I lost," he said, dusting himself off. "Hey, it's getting a bit dark - do you think we should head for the Lodge?"

     TC nodded her ascent, and they all headed towards the mountain. Minty lagged behind, staring mournfully at the Snowager's cave as they passed it.

     Milk_choc hung back for him. "Don't worry Minty, the faeries will help us."

     Minty shrugged, and silently they continued through the snow.

     The night at the Lodge went by uneventfully, aside from the usual squabbles over who was going to sleep in which room, and as morning broke the whole family were sitting in the dining room, drinking steaming hot cups of Borovan. Minty was by far the most awake.

     "When can we go and see the Negg Faerie?" he demanded. "She said to come back in the morning."

     Toffee snorted. "Yeah, but at 6am? If she's got any sense, she'll be in bed sleeping."

     Minty shot him a black look. "We'd still be sleeping if you hadn't decided to get up early to play Snow Wars II." Toffee replied by sticking out his tongue.

     By 6.30, everyone had finished their breakfast. TC glanced at her watch.

     "Well, I don't see much point in waiting around. Why don't Minty and I go to see the Negg Faerie while the rest of you go and play in Happy Valley?"

     The others agreed, apart from Orange. "I want to go with you guys! I liked the Neggery! And besides…I think I'll avoid Mr. Chipper for a bit."

     TC laughed. "Fine, but I'm not convinced he'd recognise you - you weren't a Korbat yesterday."

     Orange shrugged. "I want to show Icy the caves anyway - now that she can fly! She's a white Weewoo!"

     Toffee made a derogatory noise. "Don't be daft, white Weewoos don't exist."

     Orange rolled her eyes. "No Toffee, 'course they don't."

     "Right!" interrupted TC, "we'll meet you by Snow Wars II in a couple of hours - DON'T get into trouble."

     As Toffee and Milk_choc dashed away, the others made their way to the Neggery.

      "The light's on," commented Orange, "I guess that means she's up."

     Tentatively, they pushed the door open…only to find the Negg Faerie struggling with a huge box of plushies. Quickly TC grabbed the other side of the box and between them they managed to set it down without spilling any of them.

     "Jeez," said Minty, "that's a lot of plushies!"

     The Negg Faerie straightened. "Yes, it is," she replied. "They're replicas of all the petpets we believe the Snowager has stolen - I think we can persuade him to exchange the noisy petpets for them."

     She and TC lifted up the box again, and together they made their way across to the Snowager's cave.

     "Hey!" said Orange suddenly, "how do we know he won't be sleeping?"

     TC looked at her watch. "He should have just woken up…"

     Orange frowned. "How do you know that?" she demanded.

     "Er.." TC looked helplessly at the Negg Faerie.

     "He snores," said the Negg Faerie firmly.

     As they reached the cave, the Faerie glanced at the two pets.

     "I think you should wait out here," she said. "You know what the Snowager's like with pets. There's no point in aggravating him more than necessary."

     "But…" began Minty.

     "No buts" said TC, "the Negg Faerie's right - we'll make sure we find Fluff."

     Minty and Orange stood outside for what seemed like an eternity. Well, stood only applies to Minty - Orange and her white Weewoo (which didn't exist) spent the time whizzing round the Scratch card kiosk until the Wocky threatened to personally throw them off the mountain.

     Suddenly there was a growl from deep within the Snowager's cave, followed by a mighty roar, which shook the whole cavern.

     "Ummm…" said Orange, "…that was good…right?"

     Minty threw her a sharp glance, then began making his way cautiously towards the entrance of the cave. He paused, and glanced back at Orange.

     "Is it me?" he asked, "or is the floor shaking?"

     As if in response to his question, the thundering grew louder, until the cause became obvious; a crowd of petpets, running as fast as they could from the caves. Minty tried to move out of the way, but it was too late.

     As the snowflakes cleared, Orange went to dig out her brother. "Are you alright?" she asked. Minty nodded, then went towards TC and the Negg Faerie, who were emerging from the cave.

     TC was looking a little frosty. "Did he blast you?" Orange asked, and giggled. TC glared at her, then turned to Minty.

     "I'm sorry, Minty - we looked everywhere for Fluff, but there was no sign of her, or your hat. And the Snowager denied all knowledge..." Minty hung his head - now what?

     Suddenly Orange broke in. "Hey, what's Icy looking at?" The Weewoo had perched on the edge of a small hole in the ice, just above the entrance to the Snowager's cave.

     "I'll go look," announced Orange, and took off. Two minutes later, she flew down again, with something purple clutched in her talons.

     "My hat!" said Minty, looking up.

     "Ugh, it's heavy for just a hat," muttered Orange. A small head poked out from the folds in the material.

     "Fluff!" cried Minty joyfully. Re-united with her owner, the Babaa made a rare foray out of the material to bounce around him, before heading back to her hiding spot.

     "Well," said Minty, replacing the hat on his head, "I guess the Snowager didn't steal her after all."

     "No," smiled the Negg Faerie, "but it did force us to address the problem - I'm sure it would only have been a matter of time before he would have stolen a rare petpet." Waving goodbye, she hurried back to the Neggery, where there was a growing queue of pets waiting to redeem their Negg tokens.

     Another rumbling noise was suddenly heard, this time coming from Happy Valley. Milk_choc appeared, pushing an ever-growing snowball in front of her.

      "I guess he lost again, huh?" asked Orange brightly, watching the snowball hit the Kiosk and crack open.

     Shaking the snow from between his ears, Toffee jumped out from the pile of snow.

     "Hey! Milk_choc and I just found a great house! You should come look! Now!"

     TC laughed, but turned to Minty. "Do you still want to move here, I mean, given what's just happened?"

     Minty smiled. "Yeah, why not?" He paused. "With ONE condition - no-one disturbs the giant worm."

     TC laughed. "I think we can live with that."

     As the four wandered back towards Terror Mountain, Orange turned to call Icy to follow them. The Weewoo glided to join her, uttering a soft cry that filled the air. Orange smiled.

     "Home," she said.

The End

***Disclaimer*** I'm sure the Snowager would never dream of stealing your petpets, and as far as I know there are no such things as petpet plushies…but you never know?

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