The Adventures of Jake the Explorer!: Part Five
“Well, it is about time, Jake the Explorer,” King Hagan said to me, as I stood before the wise ruler of Brightvale. “You have no idea how long I have been desiring this meeting with you.”
I bowed. “It is a great pleasure to meet and converse with you, King Hagan. But... what is it that you wish of me, your Highness? I spoke with Princess Amira, yet she knew little.”
King Hagan nodded. “I apologize; I didn’t wish for too many to know the reason for my calling for you, Jake.
“There are some ruins of an ancient temple in the mountains overlooking Meridell. It was recently discovered by a team of Brightvale’s top scholars. MORE recently, it was found that the ruins hold a mysterious, magical item.
“Now, as I hope you know, Meridell is known for its brave knights, so naturally the origins of the ruins AND the treasure within - finding out their purpose and history - would be put on Brightvale’s shoulders: a task we shall greatly honor.
“However, as I mentioned, the temple is ancient, and for all the wisdom of Brightvale, my best scholars cannot get passed the front door. They could only decipher the writing on the walls and columns outside, which speak of a powerful weapon inside.
“This is where YOU come in, Jake the Explorer. I know no one more capable of a task; one who has been in every known temple on Mystery Island - and has SURVIVED.
“Will you help?”
“I would love to serve you, your Majesty. What is the magical item you seek within?”
“The Archaic Wand,” King Hagan said.
“The Archaic Wand?” Weird name. Maybe it was more of a title?
“A wand SO old its name has been forgotten. But its immense powers have not.”
I turned to the blue Acara who had just walked into the throne room. She had wavy black hair and wore the green and gold Brightvale robes of wizardry.
“Welcome, Roberta,” greeted the king. He turned to me. “This is my niece, Lady Roberta; she is steadily reaching the highest level of sorcery under the guidance of Seradar, Brightvale’s greatest magician. She will accompany you to the ruins. She knows twice as much as my scholars, and will prove invaluable in your quest for the Archaic Wand.
“I wish you two luck.”
King Hagan took his leave then.
“Come on, Sir Jake, I’ll tell you the rest.” Roberta beckoned me to follow her and she led me to the hanging gardens of Brightvale.
“It’s just Jake, my lady,” I said.
“All right. You can call me Roberta - I’m just the king’s niece, not his daughter.”
“Not too hot for formalities, huh?” I asked.
“You got it right; it all makes me extra nervous. That’s why I insisted on becoming a spell caster. I’m just not a diplomat like my parents.
“Okay, sit down here at this table and I’ll show you a map of the area where we are going.”
Across the round, stone garden table a map was spread out. Brightvale was marked over to the left, but it mainly showcased Meridell: its farms, meadows, hills, the well-known Illusen’s Glade, and finally the Golden Mountains. Places such as Drakon Ridge and Cogham Village were marked all along the range, but right in the middle, in a hidden valley, was a red circle where someone wrote the words above it: The Ruins of Valtora.
Roberta indicated the red circle mark. “This is where the ruins are located. We’ll have to climb either over the mountains, or find a pass through them. The scholars who discovered the Valtora temple have yet to leave since they first found the ruins; they’ve been sending messages to Brightvale via Weewoos and Crokabeks. They sent this map to King Hagan, showing where the ruins are, but not how to GET there exactly. Which is why we’ll have to figure that out on our own.
“Not as much as a question, but advice,” I said. “This, here, looks like a pass near the ruins. Have you been down that way?”
“Hm... no, not particularly. I’ve been through Drakon Ridge, explored a couple of mines and caves there, but I never knew there was another pass around that area. It looks possible, however. It may not take us exactly to Valtora, but maybe it looks out over the temple.
“The only bad part is that the pass will look a lot different when we’re actually there; we won’t be able to look over ourselves like we’re doing now with this map. We might get lost.”
“Ah, no fear, Lady Roberta, you’ll be with me: Jake the Explorer! There is nothing I can’t navigate through - eventually, anyway.”
The Acara gave me a pained look. “You’re joking, right? That doesn’t sound reassuring.”
“Nah, we’ll be all right. The longest I’ve ever been lost is a week.”
“Uh... I-I better go buy LOTS of supplies.” She stood up and gathered up the map. “Meet me at the front gate in an hour. You might want to check out the shops here, as well, for whatever you might need.
“Oh yeah, do you have a weapon?”
“My whip,” I answered. “And dagger.”
“Do you think that will be enough to protect us?” Roberta asked.
“Grumpy Drackonacks, for one. The temple ruins could have its share of monsters as well.” She took out a diamond-topped wand. “I have my magic wand, but it would be good for you to have a suitable weapon, too. Maybe you should get yourself a better whip.” She eyed my leather whip hanging on my left side; it was severely cracked and bits of material were peeling off. “Here, take this.” The Acara placed a bag of coins in front of me. “Remember, front gate, in an hour. See you there.” Roberta left then.
I opened the pouch. “Holy Kau! Fifty thousand NP!? What is she doing walking around with this much on her?” Whips must be awfully expensive in Brightvale.
I shrugged. Time to go shopping.
I ended up buying a gold-plated whip and aligned it with a Sun Mote, because I figured if we’re going to a dark and spooky temple I was going to need pure light to fight whatever dark monsters were inside.
“Great! Right on time,” Roberta greeted me as I approached the front gate of Brightvale’s castle. The Acara carried on her back a giant pack.
“Are you sure we’re going to need all that? I can get by with Islandberries.” I handed her back what was left of the coins.
Roberta shook her head. “Keep the rest. And yes, who can say how long this quest will be.”
“Are you ready? Come on, let’s go,” Roberta said.
We hopped into a carriage that was readied for our trip. It was almost alien, riding in the carriage. I had naturally assumed we’d walk. It was what I was used to. Sinking into the pink, soft seats of the carriage, I suddenly felt lazy...
“Are we going to meet with the King of Meridell?” I asked Roberta, since we were headed towards the castle of Meridell and not the Golden Mountains.
“No. We’re going to pick up a friend,” Roberta replied, rather mysteriously.
After getting past two Draik knights at the castle entrance, we walked into an immense hall. Corridors went off on either side, stairs went up to the second floor, and straight ahead was a hallway to a grand set of red and blue doors.
“Hey, Roberta! Long time no see,” a yellow Lupe knight said coming up to us.
“Jake, this is Sir Tormund,” Roberta introduced me to the knight.
“But you can call me Tor,” the Lupe told me. “So Roberta, what brings you here?”
The Acara grinned. “I have a special mission for you, Tor. I hope you’re not too busy protecting Meridell from certain doom.”
“Heh... nah, if I was, you’d be helping,” Tor replied.
“Too true, too true,” Roberta nodded in full agreement.
“What’s this ‘special mission’?” Tor asked.
“Jake and I are traveling to the Golden Mountains, to the ruins of Valtora. You’ve heard of them, right? I would like for you to accompany us. We’re a great team, Tor, so I couldn’t do this without you.
“Jake, here, will be our expert in navigating through the ancient temple - that is, if we can GET IN the temple.”
“Oh, we will,” I said with assurance.
Tor nodded. “I’ll have to get permission from King Skarl.”
“Naturally,” Roberta said.
The knight, his gold-toned armor clinking with the movement, ran down the wide hallway to the great doors. He was accepted in by the two knights standing guard, then the doors opened and shut behind him.
Roberta waited patiently for, oh, two minutes, then told me that she’d better go join Tor to explain the whole situation to King Skarl. She, too, went down the hall and through the big doors.
I took this time to look around. Meridell’s castle was strikingly different from Brightvale’s - as different as the two rulers were. Brightvale’s was full of light, the walls painted white and adored with artistic paintings. Meridell’s was gray, fairly bare, and only tapestries of the kingdom’s crest hung on the walls. You could tell, just by looking at them, that one was solely a fortress of protection and the other a palace of academics.
Roberta laughed. “You shouldn’t go around scaring Neopets, Tor.”
I may not have yelled aloud, but I probably jumped a couple of feet.
“Ha, ha, sorry there, Jake; it’s just that you looked so spaced-out.”
“We’re ready to go,” Roberta said. “King Skarl gave Tor his permission.”
I nodded. “Then let’s go.”
I noticed, as we climbed into the carriage, that the driver was changed, wearing a dirty, hooded cloak to conceal his face. Very suspicious.
The trip to the Golden Mountains wasn’t too long, a few hours riding in the Uni-drawn carriage and we were there. But that was the easy part. There was still traversing the range itself.
“The carriage can’t go any farther,” announced Roberta. “We’ll have to walk from here on out.
“Thomas,” she said to the driver, “you may go back to Brightvale, I’ll send a message-by-wing when we’re done here.”
“I’m afraid I can’t do that, my lady,” this Thomas said.
“Huh? And why not?” Roberta demanded.
“Because... ” the Neopet tossed his cloak off, “I am coming with you.”
“Sir Jeran!?” Tor and Roberta uttered together.
“Wh-wh-wh-what’s going on?” the yellow Lupe asked. “What are you doing here, Sir Jeran?”
The blue Lupe chuckled. “I wagered if you two were going to save the world again, I wanted to be in on the action. Besides, Tormund, you may have saved Neopia from the Darkest Faerie, but you’re still a rookie.”
“How’s that...?” Tor muttered to himself, though I could clearly understand his words.
“Oh, but, Sir Jeran,” Roberta said, “we’re really just here to retrieve the Archaic Wand, nothing more.”
“And who would have thought the Wand of Wishing could create such dark troubles?” Jeran replied back. “When it comes to ancient artifacts, there is no such thing as a small task. I will be glad to give you my aid, Lady Roberta -” he turned to me - “Mr. Jake the Explorer.”
Jeran, Meridell’s greatest knight, knew who I WAS? Wow!
And so it was that the four of us ventured into the depths of the Golden Mountains.
“Thunder!” Roberta cried out, knocking an aggressive Drackonack unconscious.
“Sheesh! I wish I knew what made these guys so cranky,” Tor said.
“We’re trespassing, of course,” Jeran pointed out.
All I had to do was crack the air with my whip and the Drackonacks thought I was Roberta raining lightning magic down on them.
I checked the map. “The entrance to that hidden pass should be somewhere around here.”
“If it’s hidden, how do we know where to look?” Tor asked, wrestling with a rather wild Drackonack.
“Just keep those savage beasts busy,” I said. “I’ll look around.” I scrambled up some rocks. “Hm, need to go higher... ”
“Hey! Watch where you’re kicking those rocks,” Jeran yelled up at me. He was rubbing his head.
“Oops, sorry about that... ” I was more careful not to step on any loose rocks. “Ah, the top.” I checked what was around me. Mountain, mountain, and more - wait a minute, what’s that? “The pass! I see it.”
“Where?” Tor inquired, still trying to keep that wild Drackonack back.
“Over there!” I pointed. “To your right, about thirty feet, there’s a rock pointing out that resembles a, uh... Snowbunny.”
“A Snowbunny?” the three of then questioned me in unison.
It DID look like a Snowbunny.
“Come on, let’s go!” Tor said.
“There! The rock Jake mentioned,” Roberta said.
I ran along the ridge.
“Well, what do you know.” Jeran stared at the shaped boulder. “It DOES look like a Snowbunny.”
I slid down and joined the rest in the pass that had been concealed by brush and one mighty tree. Looking back, we noticed that the Drackonacks didn’t follow us in.
“See? They were protecting their territory,” Jeran said.
“I still don’t think they have to be so mean about it,” Tor remarked.
“We should be getting closer to the Ruins of Valtora,” Roberta informed us. “But the walls of this pass haven’t fallen away yet... and it’s getting dark. I wonder if we missed it. Oh dear, I hope not.”
“We probably have a ways to go still,” I assured her. “Maps always make it seem like one point to the next is just a hop, skip, and away there.”
Jeran nodded. “Let’s see the map.” Roberta handed the folded paper to the blue Lupe. “Hm, ah-ha, yes, I see... ”
“What? What do you see?” Tor asked.
“Each inch on this map equals about half a mile,” Jeran said. He measured the distance with the points of his nails. “We’ve gone, uh, two miles into the pass... we have approximately three to three and a half miles to go. Why don’t we camp here for the night and continue on bright and early tomorrow morning?”
“Sounds good to me,” Tor said readily. “But do we have to get up ‘bright and early’?”
Jeran thumped Tor’s back. “What’s wrong, you’re away from the castle and already want to be lazy? Come now, Tormund, that’s not how you be a knight of Meridell!”
“And you should know, shouldn’t you, Sir Jeran?” Tor grumbled.
Jeran showed his pearly whites.
“Supper time!” Roberta announced.
That got everyone busy. The campfire was made, dinner set over it, and the tents were built. And after supper, the s’mores were brought out. Ah, yes, it hardly felt like a quest, as Roberta would call it, that we were on, but a fun outing with friends.
Next day Jeran woke us all up at the crack of dawn; the sun hadn’t even shone its warm light on the mountain pass, and so the morning was COLD.
Roberta set the fire to cook breakfast, Jeran scouted the area, I took the tents down, and Tor blew on his paws to warm them up.
“Well, the pass definitely goes on for a couple of miles,” Jeran reported. “I couldn’t see any ruins, though.”
“I really do hope we’re going the right way,” Roberta said. She looked over at me, leaning against the mountain wall, silently asking me my opinion on the matter. I was going to say ‘Of course we are!’ But then the Acara stood up and walked over to me.
“Um... what is it, Roberta?” I asked.
She pointed. “What is THAT?”
What is what? Did I have some Islandberry juice on me from yesterday?
Jeran and Tor came to have a closer look. I felt like I was on display... !
“It’s some kind of... drawing or painting,” Jeran said.
Huh? I turned around and saw what the others were really looking at: ancient writing and symbols carved and inked into the rock. “This is Ancient Neopian script!“ I exclaimed. “It looks to be very old, predating the Golden Era of Altador, before the Darkest Faerie betrayed the good king’s trust a thousand years ago!“
“Can you read it?” Roberta asked.
“I’ll try. I’m more of an expert in the dead languages of Mystery Island, though.” There were a few hard words to decipher, but once I figured them out, I gasped. “It’s a warning, not to go further.”
“Why?” Jeran asked.
“Because the sealed temple of Valtora is up ahead!” I said.
Roberta clapped her hands. “Then we ARE going the right way! Oh, thank you, Jake!” She hugged me. “Come on, guys, we’re leaving.”
“Huh?” Tor voiced in shock. “But... but what about breakfast?”
“I brought some fruit; you can eat those while we walk,” Roberta said. “We’re almost there, guys. We can’t just mosey about like Slorgs. We have a date with some ruins!”
Tor sighed, then shrugged. “Oh, well... ” He opened his pack and took out a bag of Juppies.
I suppose Juppies can give you a burst of energy, but nothing fills the stomach and quenches the thirst like a handful of Islandberries. Mmm... good...
“There it is! That’s GOT to be the Ruins of Valtora.” Roberta pointed out excitedly at the ancient entrance built into the side of a mountain.
The ruins, scattered about, were located in a valley surrounded on all sides by mountain, but it was the entrance into the temple that was the main focus. Tents, belonging to the scholars King Hagan mentioned, were set up just before the colonnade of pillars leading to the doors inside the mountain temple.
“Can we get down there?” Tor asked.
“Follow me,” Jeran instructed; he found a fairly good route down to the valley - though it mostly consisted of sliding on hard rocks...
As we reached the valley, a white Xweetok and purple Blumaroo approached us.
“Are you here to here to help us find a way inside the temple?” the girl Xweetok asked me. “Oh! Sir Jeran!”
“And Sir Tormund!” exclaimed the male Blumaroo.
Seeing as they didn’t recognize me, they must have not have heard of my magnificent exploits. Ah well.
Roberta came forward. “Hi, Bernette, Henry. Tor and Sir Jeran have come to aide me if there is any trouble inside the temple.” She then (finally) introduced me.
“We are so glad you’ve come,” Henry said. “We’ve been working like mad to open the doors, but it’s no use!”
More scholars and other scientists greeted us as we came into the camp. Except for one particular Neopet, dressed in a heavy white, hooded cloak; he - or she - just stared at us from a distance. Maybe they were upset because we were butting in.
“Let me have a look,” I said, taking charge.
I first examined the columns, kneeling down to read the fallen ones. They all told of a powerful wand, and each one told of a particular magic it could do: Heal wounds, nullify curses, make the earth tremble, create fire, cause celestial bodies to blink out, nurture growth in plants, morph people and things, move inanimate objects, and... make music?
“Have any of you tried playing music in front of the doors?” I asked.
The scholars stared blankly at one another, probably thinking I was bonkers.
“Um, no,” Bernette said. “Why WOULD we?”
Why would you, indeed?
I took the steps up to the temple entrance. On either side were a set of bells hung from gold chains. I rung one set; they boomed and rattled.
“Do, do you have something, Jake?” Roberta asked, joining me.
“I believe so... I need you to ring those bells while I do these. Together, all right? On three. One, two... THREE.”
BONG, CLANG, RiiiNG....
Slowly the stone doors began to shudder open.
Roberta beamed; the scholars stared with their mouths open (including the one in the white cloak). I grinned.
“What were you guys trying this entire time?” I asked.
“We-we-we thought those were just decorations,” a Wocky said. “Bernette played one of them for fun, but...”
“You never dreamed they’d be your invitation into the temple, huh?” I said. They nodded.
I felt sorry for them, but I had no time to dwell on others’ depression. We had an ancient temple to explore!
“Coming, Roberta?” I inquired.
“Oh! Yes, definitely! Come on, Tor!”
Jeran followed after Tor, and as the four of us entered Valtora, I heard the scholars outside mumble bitterly - one even had the gall to say “Stupid, stuck-up Kougra!”
I bet it was that stranger in the white cloak...
“This is amazing...” Roberta awed, looking up at the ceiling; it was vaulted and had intricately carved reliefs.
“Give me the Hall of Heroes any day,” Tor said. “This place is just plain creepy, like those tombs we explored in our quest to rid Neopia of the Darkest Faerie.”
“Aw, are you scared?” Jeran teased the other Lupe.
“Wha...!? N-n-no! I just don’t like it, that’s all. Those places were crawling with the undead, and even after you defeated one, they’d just pop back up again.”
“That’s not gonna happen here, Tor,” Roberta assured him. “So just relax.”
Tor still looked uneasy. So was I. I was too interested in the wall art to be too bothered, however.
“These murals tell of the history beyond that of history books!” I said. “Fascinating!”
According to the pictured murals, Neopia was home to only one species: the Varwolf. It looked a cross between a Lupe and an Eyrie, the head being of a Lupe with long fangs, and the body being that of a wingless Eyrie.
The Varwolves were wise, but seemed to think too much of themselves. When the world began to be populated by a variety of Neopets, the Varwolves locked themselves away in their many temples - Valtora being one of them.
To prove they were the better Neopet, the Varwolves created the Archaic Wand, but it fell between their fingers and out of their reach. However, one brave Varwolf, by the name of Trophimus, ventured out to retrieve the Wand, for it was being used wickedly. Trophimus went through many trials to bring the Archaic Wand back, and once in the hands of the Varwolves, it was put to rest.
Until today, when it will rise again.
Going by the murals, maybe that wasn’t such a good idea.
Shrugging, I went back to examining the walls when I thought I heard the rattle of bones. Roberta gasped. Tor said, “Yeah, that’s not gonna happen here, huh?”
I whirled around. There, limping its way towards us, was the skeleton of a Skeith. Jeran leaped into action and struck the skeleton down with one strike. Seconds later, however, the thing stood up again.
“Fire Bolt! “ Roberta cried. The skeleton melted away. “Let’s go before more arrive.”
Moving forward, however, only brought more undead to hunt and haunt us. I got to see Sir Jeran, Meridell’s greatest knight, and Tor in a real battle, and Roberta was pretty impressive with her “Fire!” and ”Ice!” magic. My Sun Mote-aligned whip did its job well, too:
“Yeah, that’s right, I don’t mind YOU skeletons falling apart on me,” I remarked to an undead Techo who crumbled to dust at the touch of my whip.
Soon, there were none who dared harass us.
“Okay, let’s see.” I stopped us to get our bearings. “I’ve been mapping our progress and there is a definite pattern in how the corridors are arranged - it’s not as much of a maze as it seems.”
“So do you know which way to go?” Tor asked. “Because I’m utterly lost.”
Jeran tutted the young knight. “You should have been paying more attention.”
“I’ve had a lot on my mind,” Tor defended himself. “You never know when the next zombie might pop up out of the ground.”
“We’re pretty deep inside the temple now,” I said, getting in between the two knights, “so the Archaic Wand should be close at hand.”
We continued on...
And came to a dead end.
“Uh, Jake, I don’t mean to sound rude, but it seems you’ve steered us wrong,” Jeran said.
Hm, I’m sure I didn’t. There WAS a definite pattern, this wall just was in the wrong place. But I guess that doesn’t help me, huh?
Roberta went up to the wall. She ran a hand over it. “This is meant to deter us. It’s not a wall at all, but a DOOR...!”
The slab of stone slid to the side to reveal a cluttered room, whose torches were mysteriously lit.
“Does someone still live here?” Tor wondered.
“Oh, wow! It’s a library of scrolls!” Roberta cried with joy.
“Best to be on our guard,” I cautioned.
“I agree,” Jeran said.
Tormund and Jeran looked around for any life, while Roberta and I checked out the shelves and crates of wrinkled, yellow scrolls.
Roberta unrolled one scroll. I couldn’t even read the writing, the script was far too old. That, or it was a code the Varwolves made that only they would know.
“This one is written in a magic language,” Roberta said about another one. “I can make out some of it - Seradar has been teaching me about the different magic languages and their writing systems. But I’ve yet to master all of them.”
“Do you know what it pretty much says?” I asked.
“Magic writing is for spells, so I can say it’s for a particular spell for certain. It mentions a Uni gem, Glowing Pebbles, one Bargella Root, and a Dark Shroom. Those are probably ingredients.”
“A spell using ingredients?” Tor asked. “I figured the magicians here were more advanced than THAT.”
“You have to start from the bottom to reach the top, Mr. Farm Lupe-turned Meridell Knight,” Roberta said. “Anyway, the more advanced spells that just require words are most likely written in script that I can’t read - as of yet.”
I opened a cupboard. “Hey, look at all this stuff. You can’t find items like these in Neopia anymore.” There were jars and boxes of rare items going in the market for ten to THIRTY million neopoints: Slumberberry Potion, Glittery Faerie Dust, Flaming Bomberries, Spooky Slime, two Leaded Elemental Vials and... a Bottled Grey Faerie?
“I wonder what ever happened to the Varwolves,” Tor said. (I had told them about the murals a while back.) “I mean, we’ve yet to come across Varwolf skeletons, or even ghosts. How’d those Skeiths and Techos get in here?”
“They could have found the way in, like Jake had,” Jeran suggested, “but were trapped ‘til they expired.”
“What a pleasant way to put that,” remarked Roberta to Jeran.
“Come on,” I urged, “we have a date with an Archaic Wand.”
We left the library by way of another door and Tormund’s question - about what happened to the Varwolves - was answered.
We walked down a flight of stairs and into a catacombs of sorts. There was only one Varwolf skeleton exposed in the hundreds of rectangular crevices carved into the walls; the rest were in coffins.
“Creepy, creepy, creepy,” Tor said.
I walked over to a greatly decorated coffin, set at the back of one wall, all alone. “Look! This is Trophimus’s casket, the one who secured the Archaic Wand.”
“Ack, don’t get too close, Jake,” Tor said. “In my experience, every time you get too close to a coffin in a ruined temple like this, that’s when the ghosts arrive. And this is not a place I’d want that to happen.”
“I don’t know,” Jeran said. “It might be interesting to meet the creators of the Archaic Wand.”
“It’s not like the ghosts of the Varwolves would be smart,” I said. “Ghosts usually aren’t. But I wouldn’t mind that either - meeting Varwolf ghosts, not ghosts being stupid.”
“You guys say that, but... if you only knew...” Tor shook his head.
“This place is too sacred,” Roberta said then. “No wandering souls will be coming out of these coffins. And this time I know I’m right,” she said specially to Tormund.
Before we exited the catacombs, I took one more glance at Trophimus’s stone casket - where at the bottom his name was carved in BIG letters.
No new discoveries were made until we entered a vast hall held up by pillars and guarded by fierce statues. We caught sight of an item floating in the center of the room. It gave off a pulsating glow.
“Is that -” Jeran spoke first - the first voice the great hall had heard in who knows how many years.
“...the Archaic Wand?” Tor finished the other knight’s question.
Roberta and I stepped closer.
“It must be... ” the blue Acara said.
Its handle was a smooth mahogany wood, spiraled like a Uni’s horn, its main ornament a shining white crystal in the shape of a crescent.
Roberta reached out to take the wand, but -
“Why THANK you,” came a scratchy voice, “for helping me acquire the Archaic Wand.”
Vira, the winged Acara, appeared right next to the wand and snatched it up.
“YOU!” I exclaimed, recognizing the white cloak Vira had on. “You were the one at the camp, the one who stood away from everyone else! I KNEW there was something weird about you.”
“No!” Roberta cried. “Jake, in the wrong hands the Archaic Wand could plunge Neopia into eternal darkness!”
“Now, why would I want to do that?” Vira asked, sneering at us. “Then no one would be able to see ME: the most beautiful of all. I needed this wand to reverse this curse of ugliness on me. THEN I’ll think about taking over the world.”
“How original,” I muttered.
“Give the Archaic Wand back!” Tor demanded, unsheathing his sword.
“Hm, well, since you asked... NO!” Vira shouted. “First thing I’ll do with this wand is THIS!”
The Archaic Wand showered the hall in light, and when it died down, those statues I mentioned before? They were real, live neopets, taken from the form of the statues, which were an extinct Neopian species: the Varwolf.
“Attack them!” Vira instructed the mindless puppets. “While I get my beauty back and then some.”
Steel swords fell against iron staffs, and Roberta’s awesome magic was let loose.
Me, with no adversary, and Vira too busy to notice, I took that chance to get the Wand back. I hid behind the many pillars and made my way around the hall to Vira’s backside. “These ancient temples always have traps; there’s just GOT to be one around here somewhere...
“Oh? Now what’s this?”
It was another set of bells - just one this time. I checked Vira out; she was about to use the Wand to nullify her curse. I tugged on the bells’ rope. The hall was immediately alive with beautiful, chiming music.
Gasp! It wasn’t just the bells; the Archaic Wand was answering with its own notes.
“What is going on!?” Vira cried in distress.
The floor began to shake, then the ceiling began to open and we were suddenly rising up towards a blue sky outdoors. The floor continued to shake violently (making the Varwolf puppets fall off and having my friends hold on for dear life) before it finally settled into the grooves cut purposely into the mountain top for such a thing.
"Huh? What just happened there?" Jeran asked.
"Something has happened, and that would be ME," I said.
Vira swung around to face me. "Grr~ You, you... Arg! Take THAT!" Fire shot out of the Wand.
I rolled and dodged the attack, grabbed my hat before it fell off the mountain side, and snapped the air with my whip.
The Archaic Wand responded.
"Huh?" Everybody stared at the Wand.
I figured out the Wand's secret. Just before the statues came to life I heard a musical note. I thought at first it was just my ears ringing. But then I heard a DIFFERENT note with the fire attack. THAT'S what the pillar meant by the Archaic Wand making music.
Not only that, the Archaic Wand doesn't just make music, it's CONTROLLED by music: a musical note here, a particular sound there. That's probably why it was buried and locked here - anything could have set its powers off.
The crack of my whip sent Vira vibrating. The winged Acara shook it off. "How did you do that? I'M the one holding the Wand. Ah! Never mind, I'm tired of you four."
The trees growing atop the mountain started to get bigger and bigger; their roots burst out of the ground and grabbed us. We struggled in vain but for Sir Jeran, he sliced right through the roots and charged for Vira.
That's when I saw it. "A... tuning fork?" An image of it, big as life, was carved into the floor of the hall. Now, why would that be there? Unless... "Jeran! Stop! Strike the thunderbolt! The thunderbolt!"
"What...?" Jeran stopped and looked at me funny.
"'What?' exactly," Vira sneered. "You're so foolish, Kougra. What are you thinking? Strike the thunderbolt? WHAT thunderbolt?" She laughed.
Jeran looked down and saw what I had: a jagged crack in the floor squiggled to the image of the tuning fork. He probably didn't see the fork, but he saw the 'thunderbolt', and thrust his sword into it.
"YOU'RE the foolish one, Vira," I said. "Beauty only counts for something when it is found within the heart. It's sad that you will never learn that."
"What!?" Vira snarled. "I'll show you true beauty!"
The giant tuning fork began to rise from the floor. It started to ring, softly at first, but I knew what was to come.
"I suggest we all cover our ears!" I said.
Vira screamed as the noise became louder and louder.
The Archaic Wand suddenly shattered, silencing everything.
Things were put into their proper place as the hall descended back down.
Vira crumpled to the floor. "No... no... the Wand, it was my only way to be beautiful again..." She cried tears of poison.
"Jake," Jeran said, "you knew that would happen, didn't you?"
"The Archaic Wand... it's gone, though," Roberta murmured.
"I'm sorry," I apologized. "But the only way to stop the Wand was to silence it, forever. Its magic used music and sounds, but it could also be controlled BY that. That would mean ANYONE near the Wand could use it to their advantage.
"But it's a shame such a wonderful artifact had to be destroyed. I really am sorry."
"No," Roberta shook her head, "it's all right."
"Heh, WELL, it looks like you needed me after all," Jeran said.
Roberta grinned. "Yeah, I guess we did. Thanks, Jeran, and Jake."
"Did you hear that, Tormund?" Jeran said. "Yep, nothing beats a seasoned knight."
"Huh? What was that?" Tor only glanced at Sir Jeran, for his aiming needed more attention as he threw a dagger and snagged Vira's dress. The winged Acara came tumbling down. "Trying to sneak away, Miss Vira? You're coming with us."
Jeran cleared his throat. He hadn't seen THAT coming.
"Jake's the one who saved the day," Tor said, a tied-up Vira next to him. "His quick thinking and vast knowledge - he's the REAL seasoned knight."
I collapsed then. "All in a day's work. Phew, I think I need a vacation."
The others laughed.
Roberta helped me up. "Come on, Jake, I think we can arrange for that."
To be continued...
Stay tuned for another new chapter of The Adventures of Jake the Explorer! Where will Jake end up next?
(Just a side note: the Bottled Grey Faerie is not a real item, and the Varwolf was part of a past April’s Fools joke on the Neopets site.)