Chapter 1

It was late enough in the morning for the sun to shed light upon the icy world, but still too early for most of the creatures inhabiting it to have awoken. Herds of animals could be seen sleeping, anywhere from in a tree to beside a river. One of these herds was most unusual, because it had not animals of the same species, but a few different kinds of animals. But there was no doubt they were a herd. More than just a herd, they were family.

The family consisted of two mammoths, twin possums, a saber-toothed tiger, and usually a sloth, who at the moment was nowhere to be seen. As the light from the sun descended upon their makeshift camp, the tiger rose and stretched.

It was relaxing, and he held it for a moment, just to savor the sweet pleasure of a good morning stretch. He opened his eyes and surveyed his friends. As the toughest and most fierce of the herd, Diego felt protective of them. The mammoths, Manny and Ellie, were asleep beside each other. Pretty hard to miss. The twin brother possums, Crash and Eddie, were asleep in a tree a few feet away from the mammoths. There were a few burnt-out logs in the middle of the encampment, and the Diego trotted around them, expecting to see his last furry friend still asleep on the other side.

"Where's Sid?" he asked the empty air around him. Manny shifted in his sleep, but no one answered him. Diego sat down on the ground, confused. Sid was lazy, always a late sleeper. Where had he wandered off to so early in the morning? Diego looked around again. A distance away, he could see other animals and their respective herds waking up, drinking water, and wandering around. He decided it couldn't hurt to wake his friends. The sun was getting higher now, it was about time they got up anyway.

"Hey, Manny," Diego said, pressing a tawny paw against his head.

"No, I didn't make the tree fall over," Ellie muttered, awkwardly turning over in her sleep.

"Manny," Diego whispered loudly, trying to shake the giant mammoth awake.

"Hmm?" Manny said, opening one large eye.

"Manny, have you seen Sid?" Diego asked.

Manny shook his head, slowly standing up. "What do you mean?" Manny said sleepily.

"Sid's gone," Diego said. "He's not here. I don't know where he went."

"Sid?" a small, high-pitched voice said.

"Where did you two come from?" Diego said, looking down with annoyance at the little possums that had appeared out of nowhere.

"We saw Sid."

"He's gone."

"They took him."

"Kidnapped."

"Don't know what they wanted with him."

"Just walked off with him."

"Late at night."

"He was still asleep."

"Didn't know a thing."

"Wait, slow down," Diego said, staring down at the two. "They took Sid? Who took Sid?"

"The Others," Crash said in a serious, mystical voice, and then he and his twin burst out laughing, then bounded away, giggling and chattering to each other.

"Were they joking?" Diego asked, looking out where they had gone.

"Might be," Ellie said behind him, getting to her feet. "But if Sid really is gone, they're probably telling the truth."

Diego took off after the possums to find out where Sid went.