The Tomb of the Jellianculus
December 6th, 2010
The days are becoming shorter as winter arrives, and ChikuPia is really starting to get on my nerves. I really don't know why I brought him along with me; of course he was going to be a nuisance! But still, he is my most trusted companion, and, um.. *cough* I considered him my best friend. He shouldn't ever find out, though. Today, we ventured into the caves of Techo Mountain. Mystery Island is a truly beautiful place, and we're very sure that the tomb of the mighty Jellianculus is located somewhere close to here. I buried my nose in our map, following the marked trail we were traveling upon. Suddenly ChikuPia nudged me while whispering excitedly, "Tina! Look at that! It's just like it's described in the book!" I whipped my face upwards, and there it was. The statue of the ever mighty Jellianculus, looming down at us, right above the opening of a cave.
For a split second, I felt fear pass through my body, for I thought I saw a light deep inside the cave, but it disappeared quickly. I decided that my eyes must be playing tricks on me, but they still scanned the cave, hoping to find something. ChikuPia, on the other hand, was looking around, examining everything, completely oblivious to my trance-like state.
"Look at this! It's the lost cup of the Meepit Leaders! OH EM GEE, LOOK AT TH-"
"BE QUIET!" I snapped. I had just seen some movements inside the cave.
"Follow me," I whispered anxiously.
ChikuPia stopped bouncing at once and crept behind me. We ventured deeper and deeper into the cave, unsure of what we would find. I debated whether to turn on my flashlight or not, and fingered the strap of my bag anxiously. ChikuPia understood what I was thinking about and whispered "Don't turn it on. I can sense something here." His jovial mood was gone and I understood that his "scavenger mode" had just flickered on. Being a Kacheek, he had a very good sense of awareness, and could feel someone (or something) from a mile away. Silently, he crept ahead of me and motioned me to follow on the tip of my paws, while he sauntered away. I felt a spasm of annoyance, because he knew I couldn't tiptoe after him. I mean, come on! The paws of Xweetok's are humongous, and I usually grumbled whenever he told me to tiptoe. But this time, I followed quietly as best as I could.
We crept into the cave slowly, ChikuPia occasionally running his finger on the ground and murmuring nonsense to himself like "Yes, right temperature and softness," "Hmm... not quite the right density" and so on. No matter how crazy he might have been, he was definitely one of the brightest observers I had ever met, and I was glad he was my friend. Suddenly, he jerked to a stop.
I bumped right into him and whispered angrily, "Sheesh! You could've at least given me some warning" while rubbing my nose, but he merely waved off my accusations and put a finger to his lips. "There's something odd about here," he murmured in his rich accent. "Tina, turn on your flashlight."
"Are you sure?" I replied.
"Yes!" he hissed. I was taken aback. I had never heard him this angry.
"Fine, if you say so," I muttered. I turned on the flashlight. The cave was suddenly filled with a golden glow. After walking through the darkness for such a long time, the warm glow pierced my eyes. I shielded my eyes from the glare for a minute, and then opened them.
Where was ChikuPia?! I whirled around what seemed to be a circular room, my eyes searching for him, but I couldn't see him. I rushed to the entrance from where we had entered, but no sign of him. My eyes suddenly flicked to a few strands of green fur lying near another entrance.
I rushed over, and to my astonishment, I saw all of the things ChikuPia was carrying strewn all over a trail, leading to another room. I half walked-half ran to the room. A deep reddish light was emitting from nowhere, basking the whole room in its glow.
The temperature grew unbearably hot all of a sudden, and I began panting heavily and wiping my forehead. Big drops of sweat beaded up on my forehead, and I thought that if I stayed here any longer, I'd have to start wringing out my fur! Suddenly, I heard a faint noise. It sounded like the beating of drums, again and again. At first it was quite slow, but the tempo was increasing. I whirled around, trying to figure out where the light and sound was coming from when suddenly...
December 8th, 2010
"Good morning, I'm Thea von Poogle, reporting live from the depths of Techo Mountain. Here we have an ASTONISHING story of two adventurers, Miss Tinaariela Moose and Mr. ChikuPia Stoppingburg. They were reportedly searching for the famous tomb of the Jellianculus, and had apparently found the tomb, when suddenly, Miss Tinaariela went missing, and she has yet to be found. Here we have the lone survivor of this horrible disaster, Mr. ChikuPia. What exactly happened?"
"I have no clue! Tina and I were exploring the cave, and we'd found something too when suddenly she went missing. I searched for her through the whole cave until I tripped on something and fell unconscious. When I woke up, I found myself outside of the cave, and... and.. I COULDN'T FIND TINA!" sobbed the green Kacheek.
"This is truly a sad and terrible story, and we advise all mountain climbers to STAY AWAY from this part of the area. The search continues, and we hope the best for Tinaariela. I'm Thea von Poogle, from the Neopian Times."
December 24th, 2010
Two weeks later, on a cold and bitter Christmas Eve, sat ChikuPia, in the library of his owner's manor, poring over a book. His owner, Sonia, had gone on a holiday, but had neomailed ChikuPia when she discovered what had happened to Tina. She assured him that she was looking for the earliest flight back home.
The door creaked open and his housekeeper waddled in.
"Master Stoppingburg, do you wish to read the paper now, or later?" asked Mrs. Wicket, an elderly Bruce.
"Yes, bring it here, quickly," he snapped, evidently annoyed at being disturbed while he was absorbed in his book.
The housekeeper returned after a few minutes, with a tray in her hands. It carried a newspaper and a teapot from which a large amount of steam was being emitted. Her hands trembled, for she had noticed a massive change in ChikuPia's attitude. He had been a bubbly and friendly young Kacheek. But now, he had become cold and withdrawn, and was rarely seen in a good mood.
"Would you like some more tea, Master?" she squeaked.
"What do you expect? That my cup will fill itself? Of course, I want more tea!"
The Bruce sighed, and refilled his tea cup. She stood there for a few moments wearily, waiting to see if her master wanted something else.
"Well, what are you still doing here? GET OUT NOW!" shouted ChikuPia furiously.
"Y-yes, M-master," stammered the Bruce, hurrying out of the room, and shutting the door so loudly that the doorknob rattled.
ChikuPia set the book titled Return to the Top: The Stories of Neopians Who Achieved Power down on the side table and began to scan the paper.
"'Faerieland Returning to Normal', oh please. 'The Rise of Maractite', boring!"
Suddenly, his eyes fell on the exclusive report, "Lost Scavenger Makes Remarkable Return".
"In our exclusive report today, the officials at Techo Mountain are still on the search for the lost scavenger Ms. Tinaariela Moose, who disappeared on December 6th while reportedly searching for the lost tomb of the Jellianculus. Even though Ms. Moose has not been found, her partner and fellow scavenger, Mr. ChikuPia Stoppingburg made a remarkable return from the depths of the treacherous mountains. Here's what Mr. Stoppingburg had to say: 'Tina and I had found the cave, and we were exploring it when suddenly she disappeared after I instructed her to turn on her flashlight. We were venturing in the dark in fear of disturbing any creature dwelling in the caves, but when I felt something odd, I asked her to turn it on. That's when she disappeared. I wandered around for atleast an hour looking for her when I tripped on something and was knocked unconscious. When I regained my consciousness, I was outside, atleast four miles away from the mouth of the cave. I went back and searched for her, but night had fallen by then and I had to stop my endeavors.'
"The Techo Mountains attract many adventurers, mostly because of the famous tale of the tomb of the Jellianculus, but never before has the mountain claimed a life. We hope that the search is not in vain and that Tinaariela is found soon."
He read the report quickly, and threw the newspaper away, sneering. "What rubbish they print. Two weeks and the story is still going strong. I must have memorized that paragraph about a million times and they're still running it? Exclusive report, my foot."
His eyes fell on the portrait of Tinaariela smiling down at him, across the room. He stood up and crossed over to the portrait, and stared at it for a few moments, before turning away.
"I still can't believe you actually thought I was your 'loyal' companion, your so called 'best friend'," he mumbled softly. "Bah, what nonsense! I hated running behind you like a pack mule, but now... who's leading? " he cackled.
"The tomb was just a ruse to lure you out of the house, and eventually out of my life. You're older, smarter, wiser, and I was always pushed around. But I guess being older doesn't make you that much smarter, does it? But oh, you poor thing. Now you'll never rest in peace, because no one will ever know... the true story of the so called 'Lost Scavenger'." He smirked.
ChikuPia went and sat down in his massive armchair and resumed reading the book he had been absorbed in for so long. Suddenly, the thunder rumbled loudly and lighting struck, illuminating the the room. ChikuPia looked up and smiled. He closed the book and slipped it into the bookshelf. He walked over to the large window, that overlooked the rest of his city, his eyes misting eerily. As the rain began to pour down heavily, the rest of Neopia remained oblivious to the looming danger that was coming, and the growth of an evil so unspeakable, it had truly broken all records of betrayal in the desire for power.
The End... or is it?