Petpet Adventures: Entombed - Part Five
The Guardian filled the entire doorway, the hiss fading away into silence. He was an enormous ghost Hissi, glowing a pale blue, while wisps of what looked like blue smoke coiled from his outstretched wings and shoulders. Crimson eyes glinted malevolently, matching the feathered crown he wore upon his brow. His wings were decorated with faded gold and carved wood, while a gold-threaded red sash flowed over his shoulders and onto the floor.
Kintyre goggled at the sheer size of him. He was simply the largest pet she had ever seen, and even from the opposite side of the chamber from the Kougras he dwarfed them.
"RAWWWRR!" he snarled. Then two other words that were completely lost on Kintyre.
There was a whimper from the black Kougra, and he took several steps backward, ears pressed flat to his head. The Lizarks scrambled off him, and landed lightly on the floor, heads bowed towards the opposite side of the chamber and one knee bent. Kintyre was gripped by the sudden urge to do the same, and glanced fearfully back at the Hissi.
Fortunately the Guardian had eyes only for the Kougras, who were backing away as he slithered further into the room. His wings were spread threateningly, and his pointed spiny teeth could be seen as he advanced. It was not quite a grin, more like a grimace intended to be as threatening as possible. As he approached Kintyre saw that his body was at least as thick around as the entire length of one of the Kougras, and gulped. His tail was still hidden somewhere back in the passage behind him.
She watched the black Kougra back himself into the wall near the doorframe, then freeze. His companion was lucky enough to have reached the door, and immediately fled back along the tunnel. The black Kougra stayed pressed against the wall, hypnotized by the approach of the Hissi.
When the Guardian had reach the centre of the chamber, he stopped, let out another terrifying hiss, then lunged forward so fast that all Kintyre saw was a blur of blue-grey. The Kougra bolted, and the Guardian roared at his retreating back, then reached down and picked up the nets that had been left behind, crunching them in massive jaws before letting the splintered remains fall to the floor.
He turned his giant head towards the petpets in the middle of the chamber, and Kintyre hastily bowed her head, imitating the Lizarks. She fixed her gaze on one of the glowing green stones on the floor as she heard his body slide closer. Finally he stopped, and she heard something completely unexpected.
"Look at me." The voice was a deep rumple in his massive chest, but still had a faint characteristic hissing sound as the words left his mouth.
She looked up, startled. Into a glowing red eye the size of her entire body. This was impossible! No pet could speak petpet. Even the natives, who lived in the wilds amongst the petpets, had tried and failed. It was simply unheard of, despite stories of some rather bored or intelligent petpets learning to speak pet.
Even as she thought that, she realised that the Guardian's accent was extremely strange, guttural and as unsophisticated as a young petpet just learning to speak.
"Guardian." Xuvaka sounded breathless. "Thank you for saving us."
The reptilian face broke into what appeared to be a smile. "It was nothing, faithful ones. But who are these others? I can see they are not pets, but I have not been out into the jungle for so many years..."
"They are wanderers that got lost, Guardian. We will show them the way out."
The Hissi nodded gravely. "I must thank you for keeping the treasures of the ancients safe. It has been... ten years, has it not?"
"Yes, Guardian," Xuvaka said.
"Ten years?" Kintyre whispered to him. "You only see him once every ten years?"
Xuvaka raised a claw for her to be quite, but the messenger whispered in her ear, "We only do the ritual once a decade, to make sure he is still alive. Otherwise we just leave food for him. Sometimes we might see him in the corridors, if we're lucky, but not many venture through his doorway."
Those terrible red eyes had fastened on Kintyre, and the messenger stepped back, looking a bit embarrassed.
"You have a question?" he rumbled.
"How can you possibly speak petpet?" Quaz sounded like he was about to burst. "It's impossible!"
The head tilted slightly towards him.
"This is the language I have spoken for millennia," he said. "I know a few scattered words of the language pets currently use, which I use to frighten them, but otherwise speak my native language."
Quaz looked surprised, then thoughtful. The Guardian straightened up and was about to move away when Chandre called after him.
The Hissi stopped, glanced back.
"Would it be possible... umm..." the Taigar began to look nervous under his scrutiny, but then bravely ploughed on. "I-I just wanted to ask for some help. You see, those pets were capturing petpets and keeping them captive to be sold. I thought it would be nice to set them free..."
There was a collective angry hiss from the Lizarks, and Xuvaka turned towards her, brows drawn. Then the Guardian spoke.
"I shall. It will be good to feel the wind again, and see how the island fares."
Xuvaka's mouth snapped shut, and he stared up at the Guardian in shock. Kintyre relaxed and Chandre looked so relieved Kintyre was considering going up to her to help her stand in case she fainted.
The Hissi looked at Xuvaka.
"Please show us the way out, my faithful friend."
Xuvaka bowed his head and at once headed towards the first door. The Guardian slithered after him, wings now folded neatly at his sides, his sash dragging in the dirt on the floor. The assembled lizards followed at a hurried pace to keep up with his stately one, and Kintyre and her companions rushed to keep up.
They wandered through the maze of tunnels, and Kintyre realised that they would have been completely lost if they had not had a guide. Finally she smelt fresh air again, and up ahead was the same corridor they had started out trapped in.
When they reached it she realised the Guardian had hunched over quite a bit, most of his body pressed to the floor and wings folded tightly at his sides, simply to be able to move through the tunnels that were uncomfortably small for a pet his size.
The door was ajar, just enough room for a pet to squeeze through, and the Guardian's tongue flickered out.
"The pets are still lost in here." He looked at his Lizarks. "Make sure they leave, without anything."
Most of the petpets hurried off, leaving two Lizarks as well as Xuvaka. Then the Guardian pressed his head against the door and without showing any outward sign of effort, it opened, the bottom of the rock scraping against the mud and stone with a harsh grating sound.
Outside it was still raining. It was dark, not quite nightfall, but the clouds obscured the sun so that guessing the time of day was almost impossible. Kintyre could see the mist that shielded the Temple as a wall of white in the distance.
"This way," Chandre said, leaping down the steps to the earth below.
The procession followed the Taigar as she weaved through the trees. Kintyre saw a flash of colour ahead, and then an island Skeith that had been sitting next to one of the crumbling dwellings was fleeing, casting scared glances back at the towering Hissi. He would later tell his friends on the island that a giant Hissi monster had eaten his companions in the Tomb.
They continued until they came to a piece of cloth stretched over a few bones tied together in a frame. On the cloth were more strange markings that Kintyre guessed was pet writing. A few metres away there was a giant hole dug in the ground, with a frame of criss-crossed wood placed over the top.
"They're in here," Chandre said. She padded over to the edge of the pit and looked down.
"We're rescuing you," she shouted down. "Just don't be scared of the giant Hissi."
She was answered by growls and shouted questions, but they stopped abruptly as the Guardian reached forward, picked up the wooden covering, and tossed it away.
Kintyre watched in awe as it sailed through the air, hit the wall of mist, and disappeared into the jungle behind. They were at least a hundred metres away. Then the Guardian dropped his tail into the pit. The height of the hole was at least ten petpet heights, but it was barely a fraction of his total length.
"Climb up," he rumbled. He looked at Chandre. "I'm a little disappointed there was no one to fight," he said to her.
"I don't think the owner of this shop is going to be visiting very frequently from now on," the Taigar replied, as the first of the rescued petpets began to appear.
As soon as most of them reached level ground they bounded away into the trees. Some nodded at the petpets waiting, but few dared to look at the Hissi. Those that did stared at him in disbelief, probably wondering how they could understand him, but the Guardian was too busy looking wistfully into the trees.
Finally the last of the petpets had dispersed, and the Hissi spent a few minutes pushing the sides of the pit until they had collapsed in on themselves. When he was done he looked up at the rain, which had flattened his feathered crown to his scales.
"Thank you for helping me remember the mysteries of the outside world," he said into the sky. "I will venture out more often, but at this moment the rain is reminding me why I prefer to stay in the Temple."
He nodded in their direction, and then slithered back towards the Tomb. Two of the Lizarks flanked him, but Xuvaka remained.
"What will you do now?" he asked. "And please don't bring more pets into the Temple."
"I'm going back to the wild!" Chandre said. "If you guys don't mind..." she bounded away into the mist
Kintyre looked up at the looming Temple and shivered, not just from the rain. "I think I'll stay out of it, to be honest. I don't want to wander around lost forever."
Quaz was staring after the Guardian, his face lost in thought. He shook himself out of his reverie.
"I'm going to stowaway on a ship to Brightvale," he said. "I've heard they have the most knowledge in the whole of Neopia, and I want to research more about the ancients. And how they can speak petpet!"
Kintyre raised her eyebrows, but he nodded gravely. "I will do it one day," he said.
"I say we get out of Geruptiki," Lithiarre offered helpfully. "It was nice meeting you, Xuvaka. I'm sorry about so rudely interrupting your ritual."
The Lizark shook his head with a smile. "It's fine. Well, I had better follow the Guardian again. If it's not too much trouble you petpets could even patrol the borders of the city and scare any pets that come too close." He padded away, towards the Tomb.
Quaz had disappeared somewhere during the exchange, and now it was just Kintyre and Lithiarre left, just the way she preferred it.
"Come on, you lazy lump," she told him, hitting him in the side affectionately. "Let's go find some shelter from the rain."
"Then can I finally sleep?" Lithiarre asked, plodding after her.
She smiled. "Yes, you can sleep."