Still thwarting Sloth's mind control... Circulation: 145,521,815 Issue: 253 | 18th day of Hiding, Y8
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The Peophin Incident: Part Four

by kyrinn


Kaerhas' mind went blank. Somewhere to his left, the Bori heard a voice, screaming incoherently. To the right of him, he heard another voice screaming, Run, you fool! But he couldn't run. All he could do was stand there, terrified, his eyes shut tightly, waiting for the Snowager to come and devour him.

      The Snowager didn't come. Dimly, Kaerhas was aware of someone tugging at his paw, trying to pull him away.

      "Kaerhas! Come on!"

     "Ow!" Kaerhas felt a sharp pain on the top of his head. The Bori opened his eyes and saw, to his surprise, that his stepbrother Chaelian was trying desperately to drag him away from the Snowager. The smaller Xweetok was struggling, and had, apparently, hit Kaerhas on the head in an attempt to bring the Bori out of his trance.

     "The Snowager!" Kaerhas twisted around, trying to get a glimpse of the ice worm.

     "Keep moving," Chaelian snapped. Kaerhas could hear the tension in the Xweetok's voice as the two of them dashed over to where Teirryn was waiting, half concealed behind one of the Snowager's massive piles of treasure.

     Another scream sounded from behind the three pets, along with another furious-sounding roar from the Snowager. Kaerhas whipped his head around again, but Chaelian grabbed his paw and pulled so hard that Kaerhas almost lost his balance and tripped. The Bori decided to look forward and concentrate on where he was going after that.

     Behind his pile of treasure, Teirryn glanced anxiously at the Snowager. It seemed to be pretty occupied with the Cybunny that had conveniently entered just as Kaerhas knocked over the goblet, but that wouldn't last for long. Already, the Cybunny's panicked footsteps were fading down the tunnel, and the Snowager gave one last warning roar after the poor pet. If it turned around now, it would see Chaelian and Kaerhas sprinting across the piles of gold.

     The Tyrannian Peophin tore his eyes away from the ice worm and looked around for his two companions. They were running at full speed, coming straight towards him. Teirryn quickly caught Chaelian as he dashed by, breaking the Xweetok's momentum. Kaerhas followed close behind his stepbrother.

     "Go down!" Teirryn hissed, pointing at the fissure in the frozen ground that was the supposed shortcut to Tyrannia. Kaerhas looked at it doubtfully. The icy crack looked far too narrow for any one of them to fit through, and the Bori most certainly did not want to be stuck in the floor of the Snowager's cavern.

     Chaelian, on the other hand, harbored no doubts and immediately dived in. Kaerhas watched as the tip of his brother's green and brown tail disappeared through the fissure, and decided that if the Xweetok could do it, he could, too. This decision was hastened by the fact that the Bori could hear the Snowager slowly sliding back to its bed of treasure.

     Kaerhas jumped down into the crevice. He was surprised to find that it was much bigger than it had appeared from the top. The Bori fit into it easily, and was at first relieved to find that he wouldn't get stuck in the fissure. This changed when he felt himself start to fall. Kaerhas panicked, quickly looking down. Fortunately, the bottom of the tunnel was only a few feet below him. Unfortunately, someone was already there.

     "Ow! That was my tail!" Chaelian hissed furiously as his brother landed beside him. The Xweetok pushed Kaerhas off.

     "Well if you'd just had the sense to move out of the way, this wouldn't have happened." Kaerhas stood and stepped back from the spot where he had landed. Chaelian quickly followed him. A split second later, Teirryn landed in the exact spot where Kaerhas had been standing.

     "Good, you're both all right," Teirryn whispered. A rumbling snore sounded from above the Peophin.

     "That thing falls asleep fast," Kaerhas muttered. "Let's get out of here as fast as possible. I don't want to spend another minute in this place."

     The three pets turned around as best as they could (considering they were crammed together in the small space at the bottom of the chute they'd just fallen down), taking note of their new surroundings. A hole in the side of the wall seemed to be the only other way out of the small chute they were in. Kaerhas groaned.

     "What is it with this place and tunnels?" the Bori grumbled.

     "Well, at least there's no massive ice worm waiting for you at the end of it," Teirryn answered. The Peophin pulled a torch from his pack with some difficulty and lit it with a tinderbox before moving inside the tunnel. The flame of the torch caused flickering light to dance over the ice-covered walls, making them shine like crystal.

     "Wow, that's really shiny!" Kaerhas dashed over to the entrance of the tunnel and peered in. Clearly, the Bori had completely recovered from his experience with the Snowager.

     Chaelian frowned, unimpressed. "Wouldn't it be more practical to use a flashlight?"

     Teirryn turned and grinned at the Xweetok before moving further down the tunnel. "It's more fun this way!"

     Chaelian sighed as he followed the Peophin. "You sound like Kyrinn."

     "Kyrinn? Who's that?" Teirryn asked curiously as the little group moved further down the tunnel.

     "She's our owner," Kaerhas explained, still staring around at the shimmering walls. "She's really nice."

     "You guys have an owner? Do you think she'll be worried that you're gone?" The Peophin paused, turning back slightly to face his two companions.

     "Probably not," Chaelian replied with a shrug. "She most likely won't be home any time soon anyway. She tends to come and go whenever she wants to. The RoboPet Shop, on the other hand, may not be quite so lenient. I just hope I don't get fired for this."

     "He has a job at the RoboPet Shop," Kaerhas said, in reply to Teirryn's questioning look. "And besides, Chaelian, why would you want to go back? That place gets pretty boring if you go there every day, and the shopkeeper's kinda grumpy anyway."

     "Well, if you'd like to live off of omelette every day, then yes, I can quit my job," Chaelian responded. "Either that, or you can go out and find some way of making Neopoints. Oh, and you still owe me the parts I need to fix Neji."

     "What?" Kaerhas turned to look back at his stepbrother. "I would think that with all the trouble you got us into, you'd pay for your Griefer's repairs yourself!"

     "Might I remind you that it was you who broke him in the first place-" Chaelian started, but was cut off by Teirryn.

     "Haven't you two been through this before?" the Peophin muttered. Chaelian and Kaerhas exchanged glances.

     "Okay, what about this alternative: we blame Teirryn for this whole thing?" Chaelian suggested.

     "Works for me," Kaerhas agreed. Teirryn laughed.

     "If we find the treasure, you two can thank me," the Peophin said. "If we die in the process, then you can blame me."

     "Deal," Chaelian and Kaerhas said in unison.

     As the three companions traveled deeper down the tunnel, Chaelian noticed that the tunnel floor was gradually leading downwards. The talking dwindled to nothing, until the only sounds that could be heard were a dripping noise, as of water falling to the ground, and the quiet crackle of the torch that Teirryn held aloft, leading the way. Chaelian had lost all sense of time. It could have been a day, or only a few hours, since they had left the Snowager's lair.

     "If this tunnel goes on for much longer, we'll come out to find ourselves on Mystery Island," Chaelian grumbled, after what felt like hours later.

     Kaerhas sighed. "Yeah, I'm bored."

     "This tunnel should be ending soon," Teirryn reassured his companions. "Still, let's stop for a bit."

     Kaerhas and Chaelian sat down thankfully as they took off their packs. Teirryn looked around thoughtfully as his companions searched their backpacks for their water bottles.

     "This tunnel isn't natural, you know." The Peophin spoke up, breaking the momentary silence. "I wonder who made it?"

     "Someone with far too much time on his hands," Chaelian replied. His large green eyes flashed in the light of the torch that Teirryn was still holding. The Xweetok followed Teirryn's example, glancing towards the wall. "Look."

     Teirryn and Kaerhas both looked in the direction the Xweetok was pointing. It was at a bare stretch of gray wall.

     "It's a stone wall," Kaerhas remarked, sounding bored.

     "Your powers of observation astound me," Chaelian said dryly. "Yes, it is a stone wall. What you failed to mention is that it's not covered in ice."

     "Now that you mention it," Teirryn said, looking towards Chaelian, "it feels a lot warmer than before."

     "So that must mean this tunnel is almost ended!" Kaerhas concluded excitedly. "I can't wait to get out of here!"

     "Neither can I," Chaelian added. "Let's go!"

     Filled with new determination, the three pets started down the tunnel again. Eager to leave the confines of the dark channel, and hopeful that they would reach Tyrannia soon, the group moved with much more enthusiasm than they had previously. Their hope was confirmed by the fact that the tunnel was slowly sloping upwards, all the while getting warmer and more humid, until the heat forced Chaelian and Kaerhas to take off their jackets and stuff them in their bags. Teirryn kept his dark, tattered cloak on, refusing to take it off. However, despite the heat (or because of it), the Peophin looked more encouraged, and announced that they were most definitely not in the Terror Mountain territory anymore.

     Chaelian and Kaerhas did have doubts about the treasure, which they voiced, but Teirryn was absolutely certain that it would be there. The stepbrothers eventually gave up trying to dissuade the Peophin's enthusiasm, and joined in Teirryn's optimism, laughing and talking of all the dangers they would face, the treasure that they'd find, and what they'd do when they arrived back in Neopia Central with whole hoards of treasure.

     Suddenly, Kaerhas stopped talking in the middle of a joke that he'd been telling. The Bori turned left, seeming to smell something.

     "What is it?" Chaelian asked curiously.

     Kaerhas walked over to the wall. "I smell fresh air." The Bori leaned over to peer at a shadowed spot on the wall, then turned back to his companions, looking excited.

     "I was right! There's a hole in the wall right here. I bet this leads out of the tunnel! Come on, let's go look!"

     Without waiting for a response, the Bori wormed his way into the hole he had found and disappeared from sight. Chaelian called after his brother, concerned.

     "Hey! Kaerhas, wait up!"

     Kaerhas didn't answer. Chaelian sighed and leaned in close to the wall where the Bori had disappeared. Kaerhas had been right: Chaelian could feel a gentle breeze on his face. The Xweetok's sharp eyes spotted the crack in the wall where the draft of air was coming from. The shadowed area had been hidden by the flickering torchlight, and the companions would have passed it if it hadn't been for Kaerhas.

     Chaelian took a deep breath of fresh air. It was especially welcoming after breathing the stale, musty tunnel air for so long. The Xweetok turned to Teirryn. "What do you think?"

     Teirryn eyed the crack doubtfully. "I don't think I can fit in there. And the main tunnel hasn't ended yet."

     "Go take a look down the main tunnel then," Chaelian suggested. "Not too far though. I'll go investigate this place with Kaerhas."

     Teirryn nodded and dropped his bag near the crack. "I'll leave that there to mark this spot." The Peophin turned and started down the main tunnel again. The light of his torch was soon swallowed by the darkness.

     Chaelian quickly entered the crack in the wall before he forgot where it was. The Xweetok went in easily and found himself in a tunnel that was similar to the one he'd just left, if only a bit smaller. The breeze felt stronger here.

     "Chaelian! Teirryn! You guys have got to see this!" Kaerhas' voice echoed around the tunnel.

     "Coming," Chaelian called back, running lightly down the tunnel. The Xweetok had no light source, but he had pretty good night vision, and he noticed that the tunnel seemed to be getting brighter.

     The tunnel was short. Chaelian hadn't been running for five minutes when the Xweetok rounded a bend in the tunnel and caught sight of his brother. Kaerhas turned to look at Chaelian, his brown eyes glowing.

     "We made it!"

     Just a few feet from where Kaerhas was standing, Chaelian saw that the tunnel ended in a stone wall. But a bright light shone from the top of the tunnel, where a large hole was situated. Along with the light came a gentle breeze, laden with a scent that Chaelian recognized as belonging to Tyrannia.

     "Hey, where's Teirryn?" Kaerhas asked, tapping Chaelian on the shoulder with a claw.

     Chaelian turned to look back down the tunnel. "He went to investigate the main tunnel. I hope he doesn't go too far. Come on, let's go wait for him."

     Chaelian and Kaerhas went back to the crack that led to the main tunnel and waited. It wasn't long before they heard the sound of hoof beats on stone.

     "Teirryn! We found the exit! You don't need the torch anymore!" Kaerhas called.

     "Good!" came the response. "I took a look further down the tunnel, and it was completely blocked. Apparently there was a cave-in."

     "How are you going to get over here?" Chaelian asked, quite certain that the Peophin couldn't get through the crack. There was a slight pause as Teirryn examined the small fissure.

     "You guys had better go further down the tunnel a bit," Teirryn warned. "I hope I don't cause another cave-in here."

     Kaerhas and Chaelian quickly retreated down the tunnel. A loud noise issued from the fissure, mingled with the sound of crumbling rock. It sounded like the Peophin had charged the entrance. The noise sounded again. This time, Teirryn emerged from the crevice, covered in rock dust.

     "I broke some of the rocks around the crack with my tail," Teirryn explained. "Now come on! Let's get out of here!"

     Kaerhas proudly led the way back to the exit he'd found. Teirryn, being the tallest, managed to pull himself up, then lowered a rope down for his companions.

     Chaelian climbed up after his brother. He found himself emerging from a small jumble of rocks that formed a small cave entrance. Blinking in the sudden bright sunlight, he waited until his vision cleared. What the Xweetok saw made him gasp in amazement.

     Teirryn smiled. "Welcome to Tyrannia."

To be continued...

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Other Episodes

» The Peophin Incident: Part One
» The Peophin Incident: Part Two
» The Peophin Incident: Part Three
» The Peophin Incident: Part Five
» The Peophin Incident: Part Six
» The Peophin Incident: Part Seven
» The Peophin Incident: Part Eight

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