The Discovery of the Secret Tunnel
The Camouflage Scorchio named Voswick often sat in Neoschool dreaming of fame, fortune, and adventure. He had written reports on pretty much every famous Scorchio there ever was - many of them were natural Altador Cup players and champions in their own right. Others were capable warriors that turned the tide of battle when it was most needed. Many were ordinary Neopians called upon to do extraordinary things to save their friends and family from the occasional villain. Voswick often wondered what he would grow up to do. Would he be the next Altador Cup All-Star? Would he be one of Tyrannia's toughest warriors? Would he courageously help others despite dangerous obstacles?
One day, he was learning about Moltara's Discovery when he came to realize something that he hadn't thought of before. There were legends of Magma-colored Neopets from long ago all over Neopia - Miss Chatham had discovered some markings in a cave indicating a Magma Meerca, for example. It's possible that they came and went through the main entrance that Jordie and Roxton Colchester helped her to discover - but it was also quite possible that the Moltaran's wisely had a secondary entrance to and from their underground city.
Voswick remembered last month's lesson about how volcanos - like his very homeland - are formed. The teacher told him that over time, non-magical Magma is pushed up to the surface. It cools to become layers of ash and rock. The layers upon layers continue to add up and results in big volcanoes. Such eruptions usually happen every once in long while. In fact, they had learned that some of the tunnels throughout the volcano were once formed by the Magma slicing through rock like a hot knife through butter had actually cooled ages ago and were now safe to travel through. He wondered - could there be a tunnel from the Tyrannian Volcano to Moltara?
When Voswick had finished lunch, he made haste for the library. He specifically looked for any maps of Moltara's known tunnels and diagrams of the Tyrannian Volcano. He also read expedition journals of adventurers and explorers. He took notes about everything - hoping that some of it would prove useful. It was then that Voswick decided to begin writing his own - this is how it began:
I, Voswick the Valiant, have decided to search out whether or not a tunnel exists connecting the Tyrannian Volcano to the underground region of Moltara. I started by acquiring maps and now believe that my next step is to gather supplies for my journey into the Volcano Tunnel System. It occurs to me that if I am successful - I might run into a Lava Monster, in which case -I'll probably need weapons to defend myself - oh, and to ask permission. I might miss dinner and I don't want Mom to worry.
After school was out, Voswick flew to Tyrannian Foods on the Plateau and bought something for dinner, breakfast, and lunch. He hiked into the Jungle to stop by Tyrannian Weaponry to buy a good solid Stone Helmet (a must when exploring dangerous caves!) and an Egg Slingshot, just in case.
These are my supplies: Tyrannian Flat Bread, Egg In Stone Cup, Grarrl Saliva Soup, Plateau Berries, Dino Snapper, and Tekels Questionable Stew for Dinner, Breakfast, and Lunch. I bought a Stone Helmet and an Egg Slingshot - just in case, but I hope I don't have to use it because I don't have enough time to practice right now. I copied the maps in the tomes at school by carefully tracing over them with paper - and I have my notes with me. To keep from being lost as I go along, I'll knock small pebbles lose from the walls and leave a trail behind me. I hope i don't confuse them with the ones that are already there. I think I'm forgetting something important - but I hope I remember what it was before I reach Moltara.
Looking at my map, I have identified three tunnels that look promising. They're very deep and will take a lot of walking to reach. After walking for about an hour, maybe less - I've stopped to take a break. Much of this region of the tunnel seems similar to the ones near my home. The rocks all look pretty much the same. This reminds me, the expedition journals were far more interesting than my journey has been so far. I hope something exciting happens soon. I'll eat my Plateau Berries and then continue exploring.
After another half-hour of walking, I discovered that the tunnel was a dead-end. This leaves me with an hour and a half-walk back to my starting point to reach the second tunnel. While I'm a little disappointed, I remember reading in one of the expedition journals how obstacles are common when one is close to the goal. The trick is to not turn back. So that's what I'll do, turn back to start again. With one tunnel eliminated, my chances are now fifty-fifty.
I traveled about a half-hour down the second tunnel and found a nice place to stop and rest for the evening and eat dinner while I'm at it. I've done so much walking that it's made me very sleepy. I found a few nice stones that I plan to turn into a bracelet or necklace, so I can remember my adventure. I don't have anything to weave them together with, so I'm just storing them in my pocket for now. It occurs to me that this tunnel is warmer compared to the other tunnel - so I hope it's a good sign that I'm on the right track to find Moltara.
Note to self: Journeying alone isn't very fun; next time, bring along a petpet or good friend to keep me company.
This was a fine morning to start an adventure. I had the most marvelous dream - I had come to a large pool of Magma and carefully flew to the other side, where I met the Moltaran Altador Cup Team and played with them for the afternoon. I was the most valuable player and they offered for me to join their team as co-captain. I certainly hope it comes true one day. Before I begin, I'll eat breakfast and stretch my wings.
Voswick wasn't sure whether or not his expedition was a success. So far it was very different from the ones he had read about the day before. He started asking himself all sorts of questions: Am I going about it the right way? Have I brought enough food? What if I need help? Where am I going to find it? Did I remember to ask permission first?
He set down his pack and took a quick flight through the tunnel, he scouted ahead and saw that it was very much the same, except that it was beginning to narrow and go more steeply downhill. He flew back to his pack and quickly got to walking. The narrow part of the cave would require a little creative navigating. Some of the tunnel was so short, he had to crawl. Some of the tunnel was so small, that he had to walk sideways to get through. Though this section was a real work out - there was no indication of it on his map - so he felt like he was the first Neopian to explore that and that made it all seem special. The cave soon opened up - but it was much warmer here than he thought it would be.
He stopped here to rest and also to make a few additions to his own expedition journal, he drew the tunnel section as best as he could remember - indicating where it was short and narrow. He drew the map so that he could put it side by side with the copy of the map from the book and it looked like one. Here on out, he also stopped to map it out as often has he had the chance.
I now feel as if my adventure is about to really get started. I've lost track of time, so I hope I haven't been gone too long. I only have one meal left- lunch. But I'm not very hungry yet. Just as I was walking along - I made my first discovery: there was a glint of light coming from the metal in the ground - it was a small gear. It was broken - but obviously made by somebody. I take it as the first sign of civilization.
Now I think about it - I didn't really do very much homework on Moltarans - just what are their ways and customs? I was so busy dreaming of adventure - that I didn't take any notes on the lesson. At least it's a week-end, and I can catch the rest of the lesson when school starts - which I hope is in a day or so. I have stopped to take more frequent breaks and ate most of my remaining food. Adventuring is thirsty work- I wonder was sort of refreshing drinks Moltaran's have. Also, I think I saw a black worm - it was difficult to tell for sure because it was small and gone in the blink of an eye.
Voswick was now much more tired than he cared to admit. On one of his longer breaks, he hadn't realized how sleepy the warm and pleasant cave had made him. To be honest, it reminded him of the tunnels around his house - there was a similar shape and he imagined having dinner with the family, talking about what he had learned at school that day. In almost no time at all, the warm cave had made him fall into a deep sleep.
Again, he found himself dreaming. This time he was having his favorite foods for dinner - he was telling his family what it was like to be a famous adventurer and of his fantastic discoveries. Everybody was really happy and smiling. When Voswick woke up, he started to have a small cry. He was alone. He was lost. He was far away from home, and he had forgotten to ask permission - so he had worried his family. He began to get scared - what if he was wrong? What if a lava monster was coming to get him? The echoes of his tears against the cavern walls seemed to go on and on.
In almost no time at all, a Magma Yurble found poor Voswick and carried him to the Arcanium - Moltara's Book Shop. She carefully laid the young Scorchio down and brought him as much Moltaran Morsels as he could eat. Voswick had dozens of questions: Am I really in Moltara? What's it like to be the color Magma? Is it always this pleasant down here? What's the weather like? Do you shake hands to say hello? This food is great! What is it? How do I get home?
The Magma Yurble answered each question as politely as possible: Yes, the caves - actually. I suppose it's like being Camouflage - I hadn't given it much thought. Usually, the light of the Magma Pool gave everything a nice warm glow. We don't really get weather down here. We do - we also say hello, too. It's our specialty - Boiling Hot Lava Soup. That's a question for the Mayor - he'll know what to do. And if you're quite recovered - we'll go into the city and ask him right now.
It was a short hike to Moltara City. The Magma Yurble knew pretty much everything about the caves and pointed out Igneot and the Magma Pool to Voswick. When Voswick asked about getting past the guard, the Magma Yurble winked and smiled as she said: "That's the most mysterious secret of them all. I wouldn't worry about that - if you've found a secret entrance to Moltara - then one day I'm sure you'll discover that secret as well - when you're older."
Voswick stopped to stare at the city. It had a heart-beat that ran on clock-work. Steam vents and fans and machinery constantly in motion - he had never imagined that's what Moltara was like. He met Lampwyck and Cog almost right away. They were working on creating a Miniature Lamp Necklace - so that people could keep their hands free to collect the occasional gear and still see their way around the city.
It was just outside the Mayor's office that he tripped over a Miscellaneous Gear. He picked it up and put it in his pocket, intending to throw it away when the opportunity next presented itself - but it appeared that there were no rubbish bins in the Town Hall.
The Mayor carefully listened as Voswick and the Magma Yurble explained their story. "Young man," he began, "I hope you know that the first thing you ought to do is to check in with your family - they're probably worried that something terrible has happened to you. So right now, you're going to right a letter to tell them that you're all right. You may use my official Moltaran Stationary."
Once that was over with, he gave the message to his aide - who was ordered to deliver it right away - to Voswick's family in Tyrannia.
Then the Mayor explained: "We Moltarans have always known that tunnels exist between Moltara and Tyrannia - but we have kept them secret. Firstly, they're for emergency use - to gather supplies and weapons (which are all Tyrannian in origin - if you were to look carefully) as well as to escape if the need should ever arise. Secondly, because they are quite dangerous and we want to discourage people so that they do not get hit by falling rocks, or trapped by a cave-quake or the occasional lava flow. And most importantly, we prefer that people travel by the door. That's what doors are there for - entrances and exits. Can you imagine the chaos if people chose to enter by windows or exit by cutting holes through roofs? Therefore, we must ask you not to tell everybody that the tunnels exist. You may - of course, tell your family ... but please don't tell the rest of Neopia - they're not ready for this secret."
Voswick nodded in agreement because he didn't know what to say.
"Well then, now that is settled - here is our course of action. You are to be our guest - until arrangements can be made to reunite you with your family. I sent my aide to personally deliver your note and to explain the situation. It might take a little time - so you'll stay with the Magma Yurble for now. Oh, and you'll be expected to attend Neoschool - the weekend is almost over." The Mayor finished.
Voswick and the Magma Yurble toured the city - he stopped by the quarry and picked up a shiny piece of obsidian. Then they visited Tangor. Tangor explained how he could turn the four basic materials into a wide variety of petpets. Voswick handed over his Miscellaneous Gear and Shiny Obsidian and watched Tangor work his magic. In a few minutes Tangor gave him an Oop.
"What are you going to name your Oop, Voswick?" Tangor asked.
"I will call him Vault," Voswick decided - it somehow sounded right.
The next day, the Magma Yurble got him to Neoschool somewhat early. He brought Vault along - he decided to stop by this schools library and look for a book on the Proper Care and Maintenance of the Oop. He was pleasantly surprised - most other students had brought along their Moltaran and Tangor-made petpets, too - so school was a blast. Today's lesson was about the rediscovery of the rest of Neopia (from the Moltaran perspective.) Voswick learned a lot and made a few friends - they agreed to be penpals.
By that evening, word had reached Moltara of the arrangements for Voswick - his mother would be traveling to Moltara to bring him back home - until then, he would remain right where he was. Voswick wasn't even all that upset to hear that he was grounded - there's only so much flying you can do underground anyway - and so many stalactites and stalagmites to watch out for - so you can never really go all that fast. He spent most of his last day finishing his journal - more so for himself than for anyone else to read. When he was done - he gave it to Vault for safe-keeping.
It was mid-morning when Voswick's mother finally arrived - the first thing she did was to give him a great big Scorchio hug. They shared one last Moltaran meal together before catching the boat back to Tyrannia.
What a way to end an adventure! I, Voswick, have done something amazing - I think I could make a career out of being a famous explorer - if it didn't worry Mom so much. Vault seems happy in his new home - and everybody seems happy to have him around. My friends at school are all jealous - and my penpal's first letters have just arrived. I'm still grounded, and probably will be for awhile - but I certainly did learn a lesson. Next time - I'll pack more food, and maybe a compass, but mostly more food.