Losing Your Keys
"Are you sure this is safe?"
"Relax, scaredy Kougra! It's only a graveyard."
"I don't like graveyards…"
The red Gelert turned furiously on his whining
companion, a red Shoyru.
"Yantarni! Are you chicken? We've gotta do this,
or Lano'll laugh at us!"
"Dzenzursky! It's a graveyard! Lotsa ghosts haunt
Dzenzursky snorted, unlatching the rusty old
gate. It creaked and groaned like a dying man.
"It's just the Game Graveyard. Ghosts don't haunt
the Game Graveyard."
The Gelert padded through, followed by Yantarni,
who stared around with huge, scared eyes. The Game Graveyard was full of fluttering
shadows and huge, looming shapes. Dzenzursky seemed unconcerned and was jumping
from gravestone to gravestone, reading off the names and dates inscribed in
"Hey, look! Kau Korral! That's been gone for
"Can we go now?"
"No! Hey, I remember Swarm…"
Yantarni eyed a particularly malevolent tree
The Gelert sighed irritably.
"All RIGHT! But don't blame me if Lano takes
Yantarni squealed happily and dashed for the
gate. Dzenzursky followed more slowly, glancing back at the graveyard, until
the Haunted Woods were well behind them.
Later on, back in Neopia Central, where it was
sunny and normal, Yantarni had regained his spirits, after several Splime Smoothies
and a doughnut or six, all paid for by a grumbling sulphurheadmatches-their
owner. They had run into Sulphur and her other two pets, the blue Kougra Lanoayhae
and the red Acara Zheltovsky, at the Money Tree, eating bagels and arguing.
Lano quizzed them on all details of the Game Graveyard, apparently to prove
they'd actually been there, and then they trooped back to the small five-room
neohome they just about managed to live in.
"I'm hungry," Yantarni whinged, as Sulphur scrabbled
through her pockets for the keys.
"You can't be hungry," Lano said in disbelief.
"You just ate more than us four put together."
"Well, I am. Hurry up!"
"Dzenzursky, you took the keys, didn't you?"
Sulphur enquired, after a fruitless search.
"Oh, oh yeah, I did. Hang on…"
The Gelert gave himself a pat-down.
"Yantarni?" Sulphur asked hopefully. Yantarni
"I ain't got nothin'," he said offhandedly.
"You haven't got anything," Zheltovsky corrected
"That's what I said. You didn't need to repeat
Lano ignored Yantarni's yells as an irate red
Acara mauled him.
"We've gotta find them, or we'll be locked out
forever. How about I go look around the Money Tree, you take the Marketplace,
Zhel takes the Bank, Dzenzursky takes the Bazaar and Yantarni goes back the
"I'm agreeable," Zheltovsky said, padding up
dragging Yantarni by his tail. Dzenzursky and Sulphur also agreed, but when
Yantarni heard where he was going, he balked.
"The Game Graveyard? No way! Why can't Dzenzursky
"You're the only one who can fly," Sulphur pointed
out happily. "You can be there and back quicker than any of us. Don't you always
boast how quickly you can go places?"
Yantarni cursed his big mouth, and Sulphur offhandedly
"And you're grounded if you don't go."
"I'll go," the Shoyru said at once.
The Game Graveyard seemed even more terrifying
now dusk was falling, and there was no confident red Gelert ahead of him to
bully him in. The gate creaked worse than ever, and a Whoot hooted in the trees,
making him jump. The crooked gravestones loomed up from the shadows, and the
grass rustled in odd ways. Creepers tangled themselves around his legs and wings,
and it was cold…so cold.
He didn't like it at all.
As he made his way through the Graveyard, scanning
the ground as best he could for the glint of dropped keys, the temperature continued
to drop, and soon he was shaking uncontrollably. It was fully dark now, and
he could barely see anything-he realised he was lost. He didn't seem to be in
the Game Graveyard any more, as no gravestones with two sets of numbers and
a name engraved deeply in the stone faced him any more. Instead all he was faced
with was a wall of trees, branches seeming to reach out to him with twisted,
scratching hands. The small Shoyru's eyes were as wide as dinner plates, and
all he wanted to was to go home. But…which way was home?
Suddenly panicked, he shot off into the trees,
half running half flying, eyes bulging out of his head.
Back at home, Dzenzursky had found the keys,
half-hidden in a patch of scrubby ground by the Battle Magic shop. Now the family
was clustered around the kitchen table, drinking cocoa.
"Yantarni isn't back yet," Sulphur said, sounding
somewhat worried. Dzenzursky waved a casual paw.
"He's probably got distracted in the Lost Desert,"
he said, bored, and swigged the last of his cocoa before yawning and stretching.
"I'm gonna go to bed. It's getting late."
Lano and Zheltovsky concurred, and the three
pets trooped off to bed, leaving Sulphur chewing her nails and drinking vast
amounts of caffeine as she waited for her last charge to reappear.
In the morning, he still hadn't.
"I'm worried now," Lano said, absently grooming
her tail with an Illusen's Comb. "He should have been back hours ago."
Zheltovsky snorted, moving one of his counters
three spaces forward on the chequers board. Dzenzursky frowned-he was losing.
"He's probably gotten lost. I shouldn't think
anything too dreadful has happened."
"But he should have been back last night!" Sulphur
wailed. Dzenzursky took two of Zheltovsky's counters, only to have five of his
swept away in one.
"Ack… oh, Yantarni'll be all right. He can look
"Are you sure?" Sulphur asked anxiously.
"Positive," Dzenzursky said, losing spectacularly
in one fell swoop.
Back in the Haunted Woods, Yantarni had somehow
ended up unconscious on Edna's bed. He groaned as he awakened, his head throbbing
furiously. It felt like sixty-seven enormous Grarrls and Skeiths were tap-dancing
in hobnailed boots in his skull.
"Here. Drink this."
A mossy green Zafara loomed into his view, and
Yantarni made a strangled meeping noise as he recognised Edna.
"It's not gonna turn me into a mortog, is it?"
The potion-making Zafara laughed.
"No, it's going to cure your headache. You got
quite a whack-I found you under the Brain Tree. You'd run head first into him-he
Yantarni considered this.
"He won't try an' kill me, will he?" he asked
anxiously, and Edna laughed again. She seemed to find him amusing.
"No, he won't. But he does want you to find out
when Peter Poogle died."
Yantarni, reassured, sipped at the ominous-looking
purple brew cautiously, and found his headache going almost immediately. The
potion tasted intriguingly of apple and rhubarb. Edna watched him silently as
he drank it eagerly, leaving a purple moustache on his upper lip. Finally, he
set the mug down, and eyed Edna.
"You have a moustache," she informed him, and
he blushed an even deeper red as he wiped it away.
"Now, how did a small red Shoyru like yourself
end up in the Haunted Woods, spark out by the Brain Tree at midnight?"
The small red Shoyru in question rustled his
wings awkwardly, then told her everything.
"…An' now all I wanna do is go home. But I don't
know the way…Sulphur will be really worried…that's my owner. I miss her…"
Tears welled up. Edna's heart melted like butter
in a fire.
"Hey, kid, don't cry. I'll show you the way home."
"You will?" Yantarni cried, and flung his stubby
Shoyru arms around the surprised witch.
"Of course I will. Now can you possibly let me
Sulphur was organising a search party. Dzenzursky
had flippantly enquired whether he should buy a coffin, and ended up stuck in
the ceiling. Lano had landed the job of checking out the Haunted Woods, as she
had been unanimously voted the bravest of the lot, and had been loaded down
with torches and emergency rations by an overprotective Sulphur.
"Okay, okay! I've already got three torches,"
she complained as another one was thrust at her by a worriedly frowning Zheltovsky.
"Don't tell me you're going soft too, Zhel? I thought you hated Yantarni."
"Yeah, but…life wouldn't be the same without
that brat whining all the time," the Acara said awkwardly, shrugging. Lano smirked
at him, neatly avoided Sulphur's hugs, and ran off towards the Haunted Woods.
The blue Kougra shivered. Despite the fact that
her entire family thought her desperately brave, she hated the Woods as much
as anybody. Difference was she was better at hiding it.
"Yantarni! Where are you?"
She nearly leaped out of her fur as Edna appeared
in front of her.
"Are you Lanoayhae?"
Lano shuddered at her full name, but nodded,
"How do you know my name?"
"You're Yantarni's sister, yes?"
"You've got Yantarni? Where is he? Show me!"
Edna made calming gestures.
"He's at my tower. Follow me."
The green Zafara witch led Lano to her tower,
a black, forbidding place that made the Kougra shiver. But she forgot her fear
when tackled by a squealing red Shoyru.
"Yantarni! You are here!"
"Edna was nice to me," Yantarni informed her,
blinking up at her with enormous innocent eyes. "But can we go home now?"
"Sure, we can."
Lano turned to Edna, who was watching with an
oddly wistful smile.
"Thank you, Edna," she said sincerely. "I would
never had found Yantarni if it weren't for you."
"That's no problem," Edna said cheerfully, and
watched them walk away, bickering quietly, with a faint air of wistful sadness.
Comments welcome! Hope you enjoyed it. ^-^