Coltzan IV and the Not-So-Brilliant Bet: Part Three
“How long are we just going to sit here?” Coltzan complained.
Even hiding in the shade of the pyramid didn’t cool the sweat on his back.
Talina huffed in reply, “I don’t know, Coltzan. But it would be nice if you could help instead of just standing there.”
The Acara and Tonu were sitting on the sandy ground, flipping through Milton’s enormous textbook. Talina was frowning; a scowl perched on her delicate face. Sighing with regret, Coltzan sat down next to his teammates.
“So, what have you guys found out so far?” he asked.
“Nothing!” Talina retorted hotly. “It’s only been fifteen minutes! How are we supposed to find a way into the pyramid with no clues whatsoever?”
“You said it would be a ‘piece of cake’!”
“That was SARCASM, Coltzan!”
That comment launched the two into a full-on argument, complete with yelling, interruptions, fist shaking, and, to sum it all up, chaos.
The Tonu stood awkwardly to the side, wondering what to do. If he interfered, he could get hurt... and Fyora knows what his mother would say when he returned with yet another bandage on his paw. But, if he just stood there, the quarrel could last all day.
Lucky for Milton, he didn’t have to make a decision, for Coltzan decided to push Talina in his unbearable rage. After calling him a jerk, Talina shoved back, twice as hard. Coltzan, caught off guard, wobbled uncontrollably and began to slowly tilt backward. The moment seemed to play in slow motion as the Shoyru flailed his arms around wildly and landed with a thud onto a brick that stuck out slightly from the rest of the pyramid.
All of a sudden, the entrance to the pyramid appeared –as if out of nowhere. Coltzan moaned, rubbing the back of his head and Talina lent him an apologetic paw.
“Geez, Talina, what was that for?”
But Talina wasn’t paying attention. She was staring at the pyramid.
“C-Coltzan...” she stated breathlessly. “Look!”
Coltzan turned and stared at the monument before him. Indeed, an entrance was now visible among the bricks. But... how?
“How did that happen?” Talina inquired, as if reading Coltzan’s own thoughts.
“I-I believe the door was activated when Coltzan hit that brick,” Milton declared. “The builders of this p-pyramid must have constructed some sort of lever, which-”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, it opened. Now, are we just going to stand here, or are we going to delve into the pyramid?”
So, the foursome – Coltzan, Talina, Milton, and Garrett the Anubis – cautiously stepped through the stone opening. A refreshingly cool breeze greeted them as they stepped inside. It was dark, quiet, cool, and incredibly eerie. Coltzan was afraid a mummy would suddenly pop up out of nowhere and chase them out, like at the haunted house in the Haunted Woods.
Then the door slammed shut. It figures. That’s what always happens in stories like this, right? But fear clenched the throats of our heroes, as if they weren’t expecting this at all.
“W-what just...” Talina’s voice trailed off and vibrated against the sinister walls.
Coltzan’s flashlight flicked on and he shone it across the corridor, making shapes and shadows emerge into their views.
Garrett whimpered, and Coltzan reached down to give him a somewhat reassuring pat. A patter of paws was heard, but Coltzan ignored them, assuming it was just a Scarab scuttling about.
The walls inside were made of mud, which were cool to the touch and as dry and hardened. Wooden forms hung limply on the walls. Coltzan assumed torches were once placed inside them to lead the way.
But the inside of the pyramid was nothing like Coltzan suspected. There was not one Spyder Web, not one eerie ghost sailing down the corridor... but then again, ghosts dwelled in the Haunted Woods, not the Lost Desert.
“Well... are we continuing or not?” Coltzan asked. His voice echoed loudly around the hallway and bounded enthusiastically across every surface in the room.
“Of course,” replied Talina.
The threesome slowly stepped into the shady secrecy of the sacred temple. A chill wove its way in and out of Coltzan’s spine and he led the group forward with his flashlight.
The tunnel wound its way to the right, then left, then forward, then down, then left again... it was a labyrinth of winding passages and corridors, a never-ending road they would never stop following. Or so Coltzan thought.
They reached a wall.
“Oh, great, a dead end!” Coltzan growled.
“A-according to-” Milton started, but the impatient Shoyru cut him off.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah... the ancient Sakhmetians did this and that and... whatever... just... tell us how to get past this wall!”
Milton peered at the barrier in front of them and ran his paw over its smooth surface.
“Shine the flashlight on the wall, Coltzan,” Milton stated firmly. Coltzan was shocked at the Tonu’s first non-stammering, stable remark. The flashlight illuminated the eerie divider.
A long portrait hung gravely on the wall. It was a painting of an Anubis, covered in layers of thick grime. The Anubis’s head was lifted toward the sun and in his paws sat a single vase. He looked sacred, more like a Neopet than a petpet. His eyes were hollow, but his features quite realistic... actually... very realistic...
Coltzan’s eyes grew wide. The Anubis in the picture looked just like Garrett! Well, most Anubises look pretty much the same, but this picture even had a small black spot on its ear like Garrett!
“Look, Garrett!” He grinned, reaching down to stroke his beloved Anubis...
But his paw swiped air, not the usual coarse fur of his companion. Bewildered, he whirled around and shone the beam of light across the hallway. There was no Anubis in sight. Coltzan’s heart began to race and his breath came out in hollow little gasps. How could he have lost his friend? His petpet? His Garrett?
“G-Garrett?” Coltzan asked, his voice turned to stone.
He felt sick all over. Grave. His stomach felt queasy and his mouth was dry. He wanted to scream as loud as possible and run. Out of the pyramid, out of Sakhmet, out of Neopia. He wouldn’t stop running. Not until he found Garrett.
“It’s O.K., Coltzan,” Talina stated casually, as if Coltzan had lost one neopoint and not his own petpet. “I’m sure Garrett just wandered off for a minute, and-”
Coltzan swerved around to face the Acara.
“How do you expect everything will be O.K.?” His voice rose in a panicky, frantic way that made him feel even worse.
Talina’s eyes melted into sympathy. She reached out and placed a delicate paw on Coltzan’s shoulder.
“Coltzan, I know. I don’t know what I would do if I lost my Crystacat, Jessie. Trust me, everything will be fine.”
Her voice was surprisingly comforting, and Coltzan found himself nodding to the soothing cadence of her tone. Talina carefully removed her paw and gestured for Milton, who was standing awkwardly a few feet away, to approach.
“Let’s turn around. We’re not continuing until we find Garrett,” she said, sending a meaningful glance Coltzan’s way.
Suddenly, the Shoyru wasn’t longing for sympathy. He felt his face grow red, and he avoided the Acara’s gaze. Why did she have to take care of him like that? He felt ashamed for making such a big deal over Garrett, even if he was very nervous just moments before.
“B-but...” the Tonu began and Talina shushed him with a small nod.
“We’ll come back, Milton. I promise. Right now we have to help Coltzan.”
Help Coltzan? The Shoyru sounded so... so pitiful, so needy. Why did he need help? Did his ancestors need help from anyone else?
Nevertheless, they turned around and began walking slowly down the ominous passage, Coltzan’s flashlight leading the way. They wound around the corner, up a slope, down a slope, following the trail they had just embarked on.
And finally, after what seemed like ages, Coltzan spotted the little blue Anubis he knew so well.
It was like seeing an ummagine after months (or at least hours) of no food. Like the comforting feeling of your head grazing your pillow after a long, exhausting day. Like... well, seeing your beloved petpet after fearing you never would again.
“Garrett!” he shouted, like a little boy.
He didn’t worry about what Talina and Milton thought of him. He rushed toward his friend and embraced him tenderly.
“Um, Coltzan?” Talina’s voice sounded behind him.
“What?” the Shoyru replied, not bothering to look up from his petpet.
“What’s up with these vines here...?”
Talina stepped forward onto the vines that lay on the tomb’s floors. Strangely, the threesome hadn’t noticed them before. But they were very apparent now. And just as the Acara stepped foot onto one of the vines...
The floor collapsed and Coltzan, Talina, and Garrett were sent soaring downward, tangled in a nest of vines, with Milton looking down at them in utter shock and terror.
To be continued...