Anything You Can Do: Part Two
The morning sun brought a chilly wind with it, catching the fisherman off guard as they set sail for the usual fishing spots. Kanrik didn’t mind so much- good preparation for the Ice Caves, he figured. His outfit hadn’t changed at all; his usual gear was enough to keep him warm last time. He impatiently huffed, idly watching his vaporised breath escape into the atmosphere, and shut his eyes. He never remembered dozing off against the doorframe of the Golden Dubloon, but was suddenly jerked awake by Hannah nudging him in the ribs with an elbow.
“Aw, didn’t get enough sleep?” she teased, adjusting the straps of her backpack.
“More like I got tired waiting for you. What took you so long?”
“Ah, well, I don’t know how good a swimmer you are. The Ice Caves have small lakes in them, so I had to look for these...” Hannah said, smirking as she rooted around in her backpack and pulled out a pair of inflatable arm bands. The stern look she received from Kanrik conveyed everything he wanted to say in reply without words, and she promptly threw the arm bands in the nearest bin.
“Did your boss take your leaving notice well? It is rather sudden, after all,” Kanrik asked quietly, eyes darting between Hannah and the horizon.
Kanrik chuckled, not entirely surprised, before crossing his arms and turning his attention to the sky. “We’ll get going in a little bit. Our rides will be here soon.”
Hannah stared at the ocean from the promenade and easily caught sight of the masses of fishing boats already on the water. “Going by boat?”
“Yes, Hannah. We’re going to row the hundreds of miles to Terror Mountain, on a sea full of fishing boats.” Upon receiving a glare from his Usul friend, Kanrik smiled to placate her rage. “We’re going by air.”
Kanrik pointed skyward, sighing in an impatient manner. Two Unis, one spotted and the other striped, skirted around the low clouds circling Krawk Island and touched down on the misty cobblestone path outside the Golden Dubloon. It was immediately obvious to Hannah that these two were members of the Thieves’ Guild too; after all, it was unlikely that they were dressed in a similar way to Kanrik by pure coincidence.
“Lucky for us, they owe me a favour,” Kanrik explained.
“That and you’re our favourite leader. We ain’t really in a position t’say no,” the spotted Uni piped up, tapping the stone path with a hoof in a sheepish manner.
“Favourite? I’m your only leader,” Kanrik quipped, confused.
The Unis shared a nervous glance, shying slightly. “Well, there’s been talk of that Ixi again, y’see...”
“Uh oh,” Hannah muttered, shying away herself as Kanrik’s expression darkened again. His shoulders slumped before rising again as he took a breath, and when he turned around he was wearing a bright, yet cunning smile.
“Boys, when this is over, you’ll have to do me another favour. Don’t worry, it’s nothing strenuous... But when you’re back at the Thieves’ Guild, be sure to tell everyone that I am out to find enough treasure to make the most loyal members of the Guild filthy rich. I’m sure that will put an end to all the talk about Fyora’s new best friend, don’t you agree?”
The Unis, practically salivating at the talk of having enough treasure and money to retire, nodded eagerly. Satisfied, he turned to Hannah and gave her a mock-sweeping bow, motioning toward the Unis.
“So suave,” she muttered as she rolled her eyes, climbing onto the back of the striped Uni. He grunted quietly as she clambered on; were it Hannah by herself, it wouldn’t be an issue. The backpack, however, was another story. The spotted Uni looked over at his brother and stifled a relieved grin; Kanrik, even with all his armour, was much lighter. His grin was soon wiped clean off his face when Kanrik gave him an impatient glance.
“Don’t make me squeeze your sides. Fast as you can, both of you.”
On their leader’s orders, the Uni pair suddenly tore down the promenade and trained their sights on the longest pier on Krawk Island. Hannah couldn’t stop a squeal of surprise from escaping her lips and instinctively looped her arms around the striped Uni’s neck. Her shouts of surprise soon turned to pure unbridled laughter as the edge of the pier drew ever nearer; her laughter proved infectious, as even Kanrik allowed himself a wide smile as they took off into the early morning sky.
The trip to Terror Mountain was a quiet one; Hannah was much too busy admiring the view of Neopia from the sky, as it was a completely new experience for the treasure hunter. Kanrik had travelled this way before, but appreciated the fact that Hannah is rarely completely quiet; he made the most of this rare occurrence and enjoyed the silent atmosphere.
A noise soon broke the silence; it was the sound of chattering teeth. Even with the cold morning wind from Krawk Island to test their resolve, neither of them was prepared for the icy air of Terror Mountain. The Uni brothers descended into a sudden nosedive, wanting their riders to reach their destination as fast as possible- but only so that they could escape this harsh climate.
“Kanrik, sir? I was just thinking...” one Uni piped up, suddenly sounding anxious.
“A dangerous pastime, but go on,” Kanrik shouted back as he pulled his cape around him for warmth.
“We ain’t never landed on snow, sir.”
His warning came much too late, as they were only meters above a snowdrift on the edge of the mountain. The striped Uni attempted to land first, slowing down to a momentary hover with his legs poised to land on all fours at once. Even with his attempt to spread his weight evenly over the snow, his heavy load betrayed him and he instantly sank up to his knees, yelping at the contact of snow on his skin.
“Sir! It’s cold, sir!”
Kanrik didn’t dignify the Uni’s statement with an answer. His own ride attempted the same landing and achieved the same results, then took a moment to look at the snow in mild bewilderment.
“Kanrik, sir! This snow is also cold.”
“Thank you for the warning. Fyora knows what would have become of me if you hadn’t forewarned me of the snow’s temperature,” Kanrik muttered, rolling his eyes as he climbed off the Uni.
“Oh, you’re welcome, sir!” Both Unis looked incredibly pleased with themselves. The sound of Kanrik’s sarcasm whooshing over their heads was practically tangible. The Gelert rolled his eyes a second time before nodding his thanks to the brothers, and then took off up the mountain ahead of his companion. Hannah was much more animated in her gratitude, happily bounding over to pet both Uni on the side of their neck.
“Awesome flying, guys. I’ll make sure Kanrik sets aside half of his gems just for you,” she whispered, giving them a sly wink. Both Unis brayed happily and, after freeing themselves from the snow, took flight again, heading for the warmth of Taelia’s cabin. Hannah saw them off, waving to their retreating figures, and then turned to observe the path up the mountain. Kanrik was waiting for her on an outcrop that poked just above the snow, arms crossed impatiently. She took her time climbing up to him, humming excitedly all the while.
“What did you tell them to make them so happy?” Kanrik enquired, curious and slightly anxious.
“Oh, nothing important.”
Not entirely reassured, Kanrik just sighed and turned back to the monolithic mountain before them, trying to retrace his steps from years ago. He only managed to take a step in one direction before Hannah batted him on the arm, suddenly short with him.
“No, no! The other way!”
Kanrik raised his hands defensively. “I haven’t been here in years! Besides, why are you in such a rush? Ready to lose the bet?”
“Ha! Oh, is that why you were deliberately taking the wrong route up to the caves? You’re trying to prolong your inevitable defeat!”
“You keep telling yourself that,” Kanrik replied nonchalantly. The winding path up the mountain required his attention far more than his squabble with Hannah; not only was it covered in hidden sheets of ice, but the loose snow threatened to bury the pair in an avalanche if their argument went above indoor voice levels. He flinched at the sudden sound of Hannah squealing in surprise, and whipped around to glare at her.
“Sorry! But, I stepped in this...” Hannah whined in defence, pointing to the ground. The lumpy snow was flattened inwards a few inches in the shape of a clawed foot, toes pointed towards the mountain as if the creature that made it had been climbing the cliff face.
“Fresh Snow Beast track. Fantastic...” Kanrik muttered, quickening his pace.
“Calm down, we’re nearly at the entrance anyway. It’s just around the next bend...” Hannah whispered in return. Her excitement had her shoving Kanrik forward towards the last corner, and he flailed slightly in retaliation.
“Check for Snow Beasts,” she whispered, pressing herself up against the rock. “You’re the only one with a weapon, you see.”
Kanrik waved off her excuse and pulled back his cape with an arm, revealing his trademark dagger. He poised a hand above the handle as he stuck his head around the corner and turned his ears towards the mountain, listening intently.
“...Nothing. But there’s another problem, Hannah.”
Kanrik moved forward so that Hannah could see the problem. When Hannah slid around the corner, she didn’t see anything; this was the problem.
“But—the entrance should be here. Where is it?”
Kanrik huffed and crossed his arms, unimpressed. “Did Hannah the Great take a wrong turn?”
“I don’t take wrong turns! There’s—You—“
“Seems like Hannah the Great, Quick and Amazing In General forgot the route up the moun—oof!”
Kanrik didn’t have a chance to finish his chiding words. Hannah shoved the Gelert hard; normally, this would not have achieved much, but the slippery floor underneath Kanrik sent the thief into a fall that penetrated the icy cliff face and made it give way to the hidden entrance to the Ice Caves, disguised from view after years of snow storms. Kanrik fell hard onto the rocky floor of the cave interior and felt the wind suddenly knocked from him, and he took a moment to try and regain it as he stared at the space on the floor where he, Hannah and Armin had sat around a fire all those years ago.
The Usul adventurer simply crossed her arms, happy with her work. “Told you!”
To be continued...