Terror Mountain Exploration – Arctic Fauna
Once more I, Lillooh the White Xweetok, am going to lead an expedition to uncover the mysteries of wildlife roaming around us every day that we don’t usually notice. Life’s cleverness might be quite impressive sometimes. Walking in the path of my mentor, Lilian Fairweather, I invite you to join me by reading my reportage on the field, one day at a time. This week, we are going to uncover the mysteries of the snowy fauna in Terror Mountain. At this time of the year, Terror Mountain is even colder than usual, but nothing can stop me from informing you, dear readers, about the Petpets that surround us.
Please note: This article is following the Haunted Woods Exploration – Spooky Fauna article. I suggest you begin by reading the previous article before continuing with this one.
Day 1, Month of Sleeping 20th
After the scary forests of the Haunted Woods, I’ll get even more chills with the bitter cold of Terror Mountain. But don’t fear, dear readers, I prepared myself! I bought the snowy Xweetok outfit from the Uni’s Clothing Shop before leaving Neopia Central, so I’m ready for the wind, the snow and the cold!
I’m currently in Happy Valley, waiting for an authorisation to use the newly built ski lift up to the top of the mountain. Somehow, the ski lift seems to be broken today. It’s been built only about a year ago, so I’m wondering why. I sneak around the lift to check its state while the Christmas Bruce monitor that watches the lift is gone to get help.
The wooden structure is broken! It looks like the kind of damage a Deaver would do. But those Petpets don’t live so far to the North. I can hear a munching sound a little further. Behind the only intact pillar left, a little white fur ball is having a meal. It’s a Xampher! Those creatures are so cute! They have been discovered recently, and are very popular among Neopets across Neopia, but they tend to gnaw upon everything they can find. Since we just discovered them, we don’t know much about them yet, but they like rolling down the mountain. The giant snowball they form at the end of their slide seems to be a way to discourage potential predators from attacking.
Once the monitor is back, I tell him that they seem to have been infested by a group of Xamphers. The Bruce grumbles something about the LEPON (Law of Endangered Petpets of Neopia) and then tells me that I won’t be able to use the ski lift to get to the top of the mountain before a few days. Since Droplet, the water faerie that is the editor in chief of the Neopian Times, needs to publish this article in the next issue, I won’t be able to wait until they repair the ski lift and I’ll have to go through the Ice Caves. Just thinking about it makes me shiver.
A few Neopets are leading Bikas towards us. The Bikas carry large pieces of wood on their back. Those Petpets are often used to carry things around here, like Apis in Lost Desert and Peos in Maraqua. Just like those Petpets, they can easily be domesticated and they are particularly well adapted to their environment. Bikas have a thick fur to protect them from the weather and they are experts at climbing, which can be really useful when the inhabitants need to carry things to the top of the mountain.
I borrow one of the Bika to carry my luggage during my travel. We walk towards the Terror Mountain and stop near a pine forest. I set up a camp and sleep until morning.
Day 2, Month of Sleeping 21st
In the morning, laughing noises wake me up. I get out of my little tent, and see that many inhabitants of Terror Mountain are in the forest, cutting trees to reheat their neohomes during the cold winter and to decorate their living rooms for the holidays. Younger Neopets are strolling among the trees, playing hide-and-seek or throwing snowballs at each other.
Suddenly, I hear a young snow Poogle screaming. Some pine trees are running around in the forest and they seem to be... laughing? Oh! They are not pine trees! Those are Firs! They are Petpets that look like trees. They like to hide among the real trees to escape from predators. The pine-like fur that covers them protects them from ice and snow that might completely cover them after a storm. They only need to shake to get rid of unwanted ice crystals and snowflakes and that helps them keep their warmth.
I continue to walk toward the Ice Caves with my Bika. Actually, it might be a good idea to go through those caves. There must be a lot of Petpets living in there, even if those caves are quite cold, dark, scary and creepy... But it won’t be the first time I go in such a place anyway, right?
I stop in front of the entrance of the caves and admire its majesty. It looks like it wants to eat me alive. I check my wind-up pocket watch that I got from the Hall of Heroes, when I was helping Roxton and his team find Moltara, to verify if the Snowager is about to wake up. Unfortunately, it stopped working because of the cold. I’m even more worried now. I don’t want to have to face the anger of the Snowager. I better stay away from his lair.
Suddenly, I hear something sliding from the top of the entrance of the cave and I don’t have the time to see anything before something hits me and I fall on the ground. I open my eyes and see, sitting on my chest, smiling and making sniffling sounds, a little Snuffly. Hopefully, it wasn’t too big and it didn’t knock me out.
Snufflies are Petpets that are sliding on ice to travel. Their skin is pretty hard so it never gets wounded when they smash into icicles... or hit Neopets that are in their way, like me! The Snuffly gets down from my chest and begins snuffling the snow and walking around. That’s how those Petpets search for food. Their sense of smell is so accurate that they can smell roots through the snow, then excavate them and eat them. They may also make reserves of food for later in the season by hiding them somewhere else.
Well, I decide to make a camp in front of the entrance of the cave and to brave its dangers... tomorrow.
Day 3, Month of Sleeping 22nd
I’m awakened in the morning, suffocating. Something is pulling my scarf and I can’t breathe! I fight, trying to get away from the lethal grip. When I’m finally released, trying to see the assailant, I can hear a munching sound behind me. I turn around, and see a Dofrey peacefully grazing on a piece of my evergreen holiday scarf that my grandmother offered me last Christmas. Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to bring it here.
Dofreys are Petpets that bear huge flat antlers on their heads and wings on their back. They look really impressive, but in fact, they are a bit foolish. They can do stupid things (like eating someone’s scarf), so they are easily fooled by their predators. Their predators (like the Cougi) often put up traps or lure a Dofrey and catch it... though when it is scared, it can flee faster than a Gobbler pursued by hungry Neopians on Christmas Eve. So it’s still hard for them to catch the Dofrey.
I get nearer to the cave. I must overcome my fear and confront that cave. I tend an ear towards its deep darkness. I can hear clearly a regular snoozing sound. The Bika doesn’t seem to like that sound, gets scared and flees back down to the Happy Valley. That must be the Snowager sleeping! Good, there must be no danger, then. I decide to enter, and carefully walk on the icy path stretching in front of me. The icicles around the cave reflect the light of the sun outside, so it actually isn’t that dark inside.
From behind one of the icicles near me, I hear a huge roar. I begin to shiver and think that maybe the snoozing I heard wasn’t the Snowager, after all... But a cute little Snowickle comes from behind that icicle, jumps around me and scratches the ice with its claws. I think it’s trying to scare me. I must be on its territory or something. I move a little further, and the Snowickle goes back into its shelter.
The Snowickle is a little Petpet that looks like the Snowager (but way smaller, of course). They live a solitary life and defend their territory fiercely. They aren’t really that dangerous, so they use their roar to scare predators away. The cave in which they live echoes its sound so it usually works.
I go deeper in the caves. I get pass the Neggery and I think I saw the Snowager’s lair too. Not too sure, as I didn’t want to get too near. I am now in a much deeper part and there aren’t much people coming here. That means that the creatures living here are more likely to show up thinking there’s no one.
I check every corner and every hole, but seem to find nothing. Maybe the cold Terror Mountain doesn’t have as much biodiversity as I first thought? Maybe very few species have the ability to survive to its coldness? I soon find footsteps in the snow that show me otherwise. They are kind of round, with four little round fingers. They are pretty deep compared to their size, so the beast that made them must have been really heavy. I check in my Petpet biology book to try and identify those footsteps.
Unable to find the right page, I continue my road while examining them. I suddenly hit something. Thinking I hit an icicle, I raise my head to see where I am and then I see... a wall of fur. There’s a Polarchuck right in front of me! In fact, there are three of them. The bigger one is carrying two baby Polarchucks on its back. No wonder those footsteps were so deep!
Polarchucks are furry Petpets that live in Terror Mountain. The mother usually lives with her offspring while male Polarchucks live on their own. Since I know mothers can become quite aggressive if someone gets too close to their babies, I hide myself behind an icicle before she sees me.
Those Petpets are pretty well adapted to their cold environment. Their thick white fur keeps them warm and their their huge paws enables them to dig through ice and swim. From the holes they dig, they jump into the water to hunt Screals. They aren’t as fast as them at swimming, but their white fur makes them hard to see underwater.
I decide to leave the Polarchucks alone and continue my journey to the summit of the mountain. Once at the top of the mountain, I find a clear area among pine trees and set my camp there for the night.
Day 4, Month of Sleeping 23rd
I wake up in the morning and notice that it’s heavily snowing. My tent is already half buried! I must get going before I’m completely drowned into it.
I walk and walk, but I can’t see a thing, the snowstorm being like a white wall right in front of me. After a while, I hear a squeaking sound. I can’t quite see what it is, but it seems to be red and green and moving around me. A few seconds later, it seems to fly away. I decide to follow the squeaking sound it makes to find it again.
I make my way through the snow, guided by that curious thing. Suddenly, I remember something I read in the Petpet biology book. I get it out of my bag and find the page about the Candychan. That’s it! That Petpet is really rare and not much is known about them. But a legend says that they guide lost travelers when they are in danger. I wonder where it is guiding me.
After walking for an hour, the forest ends and I find a clearing. The snowstorm is still raging, but it feels warmer here. I can’t hear the Candychan anymore, but I’m hearing... water? I walk slightly further, and I see hot springs. There must be water coming from deep underground. That water is really warm due to the hot temperatures of the core of Neopia.
I get nearer carefully and decide to jump into it. There is a snowstorm surrounding me, but it doesn’t affect me anymore. I silently thank the Candychan, who has shown me this place! That’s when I notice a group of Gabars a little further. Those are monkey-like Petpets. They can stand the cold of Terror Mountain because of the hot springs. They still have a thick fur to keep them warm, since they have to get out of it to search food and to sleep. But the hot springs help them stay safe in storms like this one. They also keep their children into the water to protect them from the cold.
Oh well, I think my journey ends here. I won’t be able to leave this place until the snowstorm ends anyway. It should stop just in time for me to go back home with my family and spend the holidays with them.
Happy holidays to all of you too, faithful readers. And don’t forget to keep your curiosity sharp and keep on discovering new things about our fascinating world!