Terror Mountain - in Trouble!: Part One
Jatalle awoke with a squeal as a drop of icy water splashed onto her face. Blearily the island Aisha sat up, drying off with a corner of the duvet and glancing around. Her best friends were still asleep. Vilmori the green Lupe was snoring quietly in the corner, twitching and probably dreaming about playing Dice-a-Roo again. He was slightly obsessed with it, and yesterday had woken up yelling, “Yes! The Jackpot at last!” before noticing where he was. Jatalle smiled at the memory. Wroulf the baby Lupe was also still asleep, his tail curled around his legs.
She decided that it was too early to wake them up but the freezing water hitting her eyes had meant she was no longer sleepy. Instead she switched on the light beside her bed and grabbed her book, Gourmet Cooking for your Pet. She had decided to actually learn to cook and thought it might be a good start. Jatalle began to read.
Several hours later it was breakfast in their home on the top of Terror Mountain. Jatalle was still wide awake, but Vilmori and Wroulf drowsily loped into the dining room, mumbling responses to their owner’s way too cheery “Good Morning!” As Jatalle sat down to eat her cereal, another drop of water fell, splashing into her bowl and causing milk to dot the table.
Her owner turned around with a look of reprimand, but Jatalle protested, “It fell! From the ceiling!” Her owner gave her a look, but went to the window and looked out. She gasped. All three pets immediately ran from the table to look as well. Above their little home loomed a massive snow-covered peak of the mountain, and from it rained hugh droplets of water, some of which were hitting their roof and coming inside. Vilmori began to panic.
“It’s melting! Terror Mountain is melting! What are we going to do? We’ll have to move house!”
But their owner smiled. “I wouldn’t worry about it, guys. It does happen, but rarely. It’s probably just the annual Faeries Against Bottles convention (F.A.B). Those fire faeries tend to melt anything around them. Last time I had to go and ask them for sun tan factor 45. Luckily they had hundreds of bottles there, goodness knows why! Funny, though, I thought that was in the Month of Giving. Not now.”
But she could still see three worried faces looking down at her. Honestly, she was a bit apprehensive as well, but this would not be a good time to mention that. She cast one more worried look out of the window and put on a brave face as she turned back to look at them.
“Come on, how about a quick visit to Poogle Races? It’s been a while since we went and we can take some snacks for the racers.”
Vilmori wagged his tail and Wroulf bounced around happily. This was a big treat! But Jatalle had seen her owner’s worried glance, and was not so easily distracted. When her owner gave her an enquiring look, she turned away hastily, plastering on a wide smile and went to grab her coat with the others.
On the way the family met up with another. It turned out that the two owners vaguely knew each other from their younger days and they walked along happily chatting about inflation and the cost of Draik eggs through nostalgic rose-coloured glasses and what Jatalle’s owner should do with her Fountain Faerie Quest.
The other pet turned shyly to greet them. He was a yellow Chia and seemed to wear a perpetual wary look.
Jatalle turned to him to be polite. “Hello! I’m Jatalle and these are my brothers Vilmori and Wroulf. What’s your name?”
“Thor,” said the Chia.
“Thor, eh? Unusual name,” said Jatalle, desperately trying to make conversation as the two Lupes were already bored with stilted chat and had run off to race each other up a nearby hill.
“Well, it’s a nickname really!” replied Thor. “Short for --- Hey!”
Vilmori and Wroulf had been playing ‘whoever tags Jatalle first wins’ and the large green Lupe had accidentally bumped into the Chia, intent on rushing past to win. Their conversation never finished as Jatalle was soon part of a giggling heap with her brothers as Thor looked on. He didn’t really enjoy being his owner’s only pet, and often wished for a larger family. Still... maybe not one quite as rough as those ones...
As they reached the racecourse, the two owners were still chatting amiably, leaving the pets standing a bit awkwardly together. Suddenly Woulf pointed. “Look over there!”
There was a large group of Chias standing and hanging out together. Some were doing tricks with skateboards, others were playing Cheat and some slightly older ones were just hanging around chatting. Each one was a different fruit or vegetable; pineapple, grape, durian, tomato, asparagus... the list went on.
Jatalle looked at Thor and tried to be encouraging “Look! They look nice, maybe we should go over and chat.”
But he sighed. “They won’t let us, not properly,” he said. “It’s a club, and you have to be a fruit or vegetable Chia to join. I’ve wanted to for ages – they’re the epitome of coolness! But I’m not the right colour. Plus, they only have one spot for each colour, so places are really rare. There’s only one open right now, for a pea Chia - as the previous occupant had a little lab ray accident and is now a pink Moehog.”
Jatalle stifled a giggle at this, but tried to look solemn because she realized how much Thor wanted to be a member. Still, there wasn’t much she could do but say, “Well, maybe you’ll be lucky!” and mean it.
Just then, the race began and all attention was diverted from the group of Chias. The families began to yell for their favourite racer and enthusiasm was running high. As the Poogles sped past the finish line a big cheer went up from the crowd, and winnings were given out. Vilmori had been lucky and graciously shared his 8 NP profit out fairly among his siblings and Thor. It seemed rude not to include him!
Then the two families split, their owners exchanging cheery farewells and the pets waving to each other. Jatalle, Vilmori and Wroulf had almost forgotten why they had gone to the races when their owner turned to them happily and said, “Oh, I forgot to mention! Turns out that the Faeries Against Bottles Convention was today after all; they normally have several a year in different locations but had to move Moltara’s at short notice due to an invertebrate problem.”
Reassured, Jatalle smiled. Overall, a good day! She curled up happily in her bed and went to sleep.
Only to be woken up a few hours later by another drop of water splashing onto her face. She sat up with a jolt and a strange sense of deja vu. But this time she ran into her owner’s room and panicked. Her owner was awake at once, asking her what was the matter.
“The faeries, have they gone now?” sobbed Jatalle.
“Oh yes, nothing to worry about!” said her owner reassuringly.
“Then why is my room still dripping?!” cried the Aisha. With a sense of dread, she flung herself to the window and looked out. It was dark outside, but even she could see the dark shape. Water was now streaming off the peak onto the house, careening down in rivulets and splashing off rocks. Jatalle shrieked and turned back inside.
Her owner had looked over her shoulder and run off to wake the boys. The family ran outside into the water, getting drenched. They ran as carefully as they could down the mountain, helping Wroulf out as he slipped and keeping an eye out for each other over the rocks. They got off the mountaintop and sheltered in the Scratch Card Kiosk. The Wocky there was already awake and busied herself with getting everyone hot drinks and handing out towels to the drenched groups now pouring down from the top of the mountain.
Jatalle, Vilmori and Wroulf huddled together looking on silently. They saw Taelia imperiously ask for some hot chocolate and give a snowball to the person who brought her one and Tarla, who seemed unsure what to do and just handed out paint brushes to anyone who spoke to her. Jatalle even spotted Thor and waved, although he gave a very despondent wave back. They all passed the remaining hours of darkness just waiting for the sun to rise, and hoping it was all a dream.
But it wasn’t. The next day Jatalle peered up at the top of Terror Mountain and groaned. A large portion of snow had vanished, and more seemed to be melting. Their home had almost certainly been washed away. Her owner put on a brave face and chivvied them all out of the kiosk, waving thanks to the Wocky as they went. The family walked to Neopia Central and booked into the Neolodge. Then their owner turned to her pets.
“Guys, last night was not good, and I don’t know what’s happening up there. But we’re all safe and can stay here as long as necessary. I need to go sort out food, clothes and supplies for us because I don’t know how long we might have to stay. Please keep out of trouble!” And she left.
But Jatalle had been thinking over the long night, and had come to a decision. She looked at her dejected brothers and began to speak. “Vilmori, Wroulf, something just washed away our house! And I want to stop it before the whole of Terror Mountain is destroyed. Want to help?”
Her brothers looked at her in disbelief. “Jatalle, it was a storm. Freak weather or something. It’s not a mystery, there’s no villain. It’s just... bad luck and life,” said Vilmori kindly.
But the Aisha shook her head. There was something not right about this; she had felt it from the start. “Come on, let’s just go and take a look!” she pleaded.
Wroulf looked at her and wagged his tail. A boring day was stretching out ahead in his mind and he would be happy to do anything. Vilmori shrugged, having the same thought. “Come on then, might as well make a start!” He smiled.
To be continued...