A Misjudged City: Part One
Mystery Islanders know very well since they are quite young not to enter the Lost City of Geraptiku. They know bad luck lingers in the very air above the place and that it shall be brought unto anyone who dares enter. Some are even afraid to speak the name, let alone travel across the borders.
Other Neopians, however, do not know what haunting the city brings. They know that only a dense jungle has taken over most of it, leaving a small marketplace and an old tomb that seems almost disinclined to leave its Islanders and their wild imaginations. It’s why many come to visit the place, to see if the legends are true.
Sorren, a young Shadow Lupe, first heard about Geraptiku when he visited Mystery Island with two of his friends on Gadgadsbogen. The celebration, however, did not appeal to him; he did not understand why the arrival of new fruits was of such importance to the Islanders.
“Let’s do something fun,” he said to his friends darkly as they watched the Gadgadsbogen Parade.
“Like what?” asked his Pink Aisha friend, Artemesa.
“Let’s visit Geraptiku.”
“No!” said the Yellow Kougra, Kyren, almost immediately.
“Why not?” griped Sorren. “It’s better than watching this boring parade.”
An Islander turned and glared at him coldly. Sorren shrugged him off.
“I don’t know. Haven’t you heard the stories?” asked Artemesa nervously. Her long ears twitched.
“Yeah. I heard that if you value your life, you shouldn’t go in there,” added Kyren.
Sorren rolled his eyes. “They’re just stories. They’re just to add some fun to this place. I’ll bet there never was a City of Geraptiku.”
“Well, why would they say it’s haunted if it’s not?” pointed out Artemesa. Kyren nodded in eager agreement.
“Alright, fine,” said Sorren boldly. “I’ll go by myself then, if you’re so scared.” He turned and started walking slowly away. Behind him, he heard Artemesa murmur, “We can’t let him go in there by himself.”
“There’s probably something really bad in there,” said Kyren.
“Alright, we’ll come with you, Sorren,” Artemesa said reluctantly. “But it’s just because we don’t want you to get hurt; we won’t actually be having fun.”
Sorren grinned. “You guys are the best.”
“Yeah, well, when you’re caught in some deathly trap you won’t be saying that,” muttered Kyren.
Ignoring the jeer, Sorren led his friends away from the cheering crowd of Islanders yelling for the new fruits. They elbowed their way through greedy investors trying to buy every last old fruit from shops before the new ones were put in stock.
The village they walked through was silent. Everyone had gathered at the center of the Island for the Gadgadsbogen celebration and the naming of the fruits. Nighttime was approaching fast, the perfect time for visiting a spooky place.
Geraptiku looked even more menacing than Sorren imagined. There was nothing left of the city except the small marketplace. The rest was overgrown by thick trees and bushes, lost forever. And maybe that was a good thing.
The only things that remained were a few small huts that looked as though they were about to fall to the ground anyway. They were made of twigs and leaves. The thing that turned Sorren’s blood to ice was that there were skulls scattered here and there. Maybe the legend the Islanders believed was right; that the city had angered the ancient spirits with their arrogance and boasts of greatness, and these infuriated spirits struck down the population with a single, swift movement.
As the three friends looked around, Sorren noticed a large, stone tomb nestled between some overgrown trees. It wouldn’t be long before it was devoured by forest too, but something about the tomb seemed strange. It seemed as though it were influential in some way, and did not want to leave the city, did not want to be lost in a jungle, but wanted to stay with its people, who, of course, were no longer there.
“What’s that noise?” gasped Artemesa suddenly.
Sorren listened. She was right. Somewhere, in the opposite corner of the tomb, almost enveloped by trees, was a small building, and there was a soft growling sound coming from it.
“It’s coming from that building,” said Kyren, and pointed a shaky paw toward the stone hut.
“Well, come on, let’s see,” said Sorren, and he ran ahead. He knew by the sound of his lone footprints that Artemesa and Kyren were not following. Turning, he urged them to follow, and they obeyed hesitantly. Their steps were shuffled and unsure, but Sorren rolled his eyes and kept moving.
When he neared the building, he let out a frightened scream.
“Aarrgg!” he shouted, and fell to his paws.
“What is it?” screamed Artemesa, and Sorren knew they were backing up, trembling with fear.
He started laughing. “You guys are so gullible!” he shouted, turning around. Their faces were painted in both shock and annoyance.
“That was mean!” snapped Artemesa.
“Yeah, why did you do that?” snarled Kyren.
“Aw, come on, guys,” said Sorren sweetly. “I was just playing. There’s nothing here.”
“Then what’s that noise?” asked Artemesa again. The growling had gotten louder at the sudden commotion.
Sorren moved closer, Artemesa and Kyren following. He opened the door to the building with a horrible squeak. In the darkness, he could make out a pair of yellow eyes gleaming with ferocity...
“Guys, it’s just a Bazatlan!” he yelled. “It’s a Petpet shop. C’mon, you can come in, he won’t hurt you.”
“This isn’t another trick, is it?” squeaked Artemesa.
“You’re not going to shove a skull in our face, are you?” asked Kyren.
“No, I swear! Look, there’s a Bazatlan and some Tapiras and a Fleeper.”
Cautiously, Kyren and Artemesa walked into the dark room. When she could see the two Tapiras in the glow of the moon from the open door, however, Artemesa quickly ran over to pet the nearest one.
“How cute!” she exclaimed.
“‘Please leave money in jar’,” read Kyren. He was looking at a skin stretched out on old white bones. The words were scribbled awkwardly in black charcoal, and beside it was an old jar fallen on its side. Some Neopoints spilled from it.
“But if no one’s here, who feeds them?” asked Artemesa.
“Who cares?” snapped Sorren. “We’re not the Petpet Protection League. We’re here to explore.”
Artemesa glared at him, then went back to playing with the Petpets.
“C’mon, let’s get out of here. There’s got to be something else worth seeing. Did you see that old tomb...?” He darted out of the Petpet shop.
“Oh, no!” called Kyren from the shop. “I’m not going in there. That’s the Deserted Tomb. Haven’t you heard? There’s all sorts of traps in there... most who have gone in are have said to have... disappeared inside.”
“And you actually believe them?” Sorren stopped short in his tracks. “I repeat; you guys are so gullible!”
“Well, we’re not coming.” Artemesa had finally left the Petpets alone.
Once again, Sorren rolled his eyes. They would come. He would do what he had done before.
“Fine. I’ll go by myself.” And he started walking.
It worked like a charm. He heard them mumbling, debating with each other whether or not they should go with him.
“Alright, we’ll come!” yelled Kyren. “But it’s only because we don’t want you to go in there alone.”
“Yeah, yeah,” droned Sorren, and he continued on with his friends following.
By now the Gadgadsbogen celebration had ended, and the distant chatter of Neopets walking home could be heard. No one, of course, saw Sorren, Artemesa, or Kyren, because most of the people took roundabout routes home just to avoid Geraptiku.
Up close, the tomb was even more frightening. It was almost completely covered by vines and twisting tendrils. And that same feeling, that the building had some sort of power or presence, still lingered over it.
A soft wind blew, swinging the vines, adding to the effect that the building was, indeed, alive. There were a number of stone steps they needed to climb, so they did, even scared Artemesa and Kyren.
Behind Sorren, Artemesa gulped.
He looked at her skeptically. “C’mon. You don’t seriously believe there’s some kind of ghost in there, do you?”
“N-no,” she insisted, swallowing hard.
“Then what are you worried about?”
“There’s all kind of traps in there!” said Kyren. “Fatal traps, Sorren!”
“So? I think I can outsmart a few traps. Besides, these were ancient people, right? So current intelligence surely can defeat prehistoric intelligence, I’d think,” said Sorren.
There was silence for a moment. “I don’t know,” Artemesa finally said.
“Well, come on. I’m sure it’s perfectly safe.” Sorren approached the door. “Now how do we open it...?” He looked around for some sort of doorknob, but there was nothing beneath the tendrils.
“Look at that!” said Artemesa. She reached over, brushing away the leafy vines, unveiling some sort of symbol. It was a large circle with a design in it that looked like a compass. Surrounding the circle were three other smaller circles; two in the top, and one in the bottom. Carved inside each were detailed symbols, containing unknown information.
“What do you reckon they are?” asked Kyren.
“I don’t know,” said Artemesa.
“Probably the people’s language,” said Sorren impatiently. “Can we please figure out how to open it?”
“Well, what do you think they mean?” wondered Artemesa aloud.
“Well, I think this must’ve been some sort of worshipping place,” said Kyren. “Where the people worshipped the spirits. But I don’t know for sure.”
There was silence. Then, tentatively, Artemesa reached out her paw and stroked the large circle.
Immediately, all four symbols glowed with an eerie golden light, pulsing softly. Then, with a crumbling sound, the door to the tomb opened, revealing a dark tunnel.
“What in Neopia...?” Kyren’s voice trailed off. “How did you do that?”
Artemesa, however, was silent.
Sorren looked into the darkness. It seemed to go on and on forever. It almost made him regret coming here. But he was looking for adventure, wasn’t he?
Sorren cleared his throat. “Should we go in?”
To be continued...