Adventures in the Catacombs: Part Two
Holly the Christmas Yooyu was standing in the foyer of the catacombs, high above Neovia. She had just waved goodbye to her friend, Ruaalia, and was about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime - venturing into the maze of tunnels below to seek out hidden treasure.
She looked at her companion, a tiny Plushie Eizzil named Egads. They had only recently met outside, but had agreed to tackle the Grave Danger challenge together. After all, neither of them had ventured here before, and they had no idea what was awaiting them.
An old Quiggle stood before them, gazing at the petpets in speculation. He was the caretaker of the catacombs, and had seen the pair signed in and handed over, before locking the wooden doors and keeping them contained in the hall. He cleared his throat and began to speak.
"Your journey begins the moment that you walk down those stairs. Ahead lies many twists and turns, possible riches, and many dangers. This challenge is a solo challenge, so you must conquer it alone. You may encounter each other while you are down there, but you may not stick together. When the time is up, I will ring the tower bell, and the challenge will be over. Whatever prize you find closest to you at the time of the bell chiming, is yours to keep. Good luck."
He pulled a lever at the side of the staircase, and gestured to Egads. "You first."
The Eizzil looked back at Holly with wide, terrified eyes, and tentatively took a step forward. As soon as his feet hit the stairs, all of the candles flickered out and darkness filled the hall. When the lights came back on again a moment later, Egads was gone.
Holly looked around in surprise, but it was only herself and the old Quiggle standing where they had been before. She took her place at the top of the staircase, took a deep breath, and began to descend into the darkness.
As she ventured further and further down the stairs, the candles were the only thing lighting her way. The concrete stairs beneath her were crumbling in places, and she fluttered lightly on her feet, thankful for all those games of Yooyuball that had kept her light and graceful. After what felt like an eternity, she came to the foot of the staircase and looked around. There were two tunnels ahead of her, each looking identical to the other.
"Wait a minute, this looks familiar!" Holly had seen something similar to this before, but couldn't quite place it. Suddenly, she remembered. These two options reminded her of the Faerie Caverns! They weren't so bad, just a little dark and damp; maybe these ones wouldn't be as scary as she thought. Now, which way to go - left or right?
All of a sudden, a loud BOOM! echoed through the tunnel, the walls shaking in its wake. It sounded as though it had come from the passageway on the left, so Holly quickly made up her mind and wandered into the right one. Everything looked pretty much the same: flickering lights, dusty cobwebs, and eerie silence. Soon, she came to another set of split corridors, almost identical to the previous ones. Holly decided to continue on her journey by choosing the right option once again, and off she went.
Hours passed, and Holly continued walking through the catacombs. She hadn't encountered anything too spooky so far, but she also hadn't discovered anything too exciting either. There was that one time that she stepped in glowing ghostly residue, but that wiped off on the floor after a while. There was that other time when she walked backward with a pair of mummies, but they disappeared shortly afterwards. Most of her time so far had been spent exploring empty corridors. There had been no sign of Egads at all, and she hoped he was having a little more luck finding treasure than she was!
As she rounded a bend, Holly was greeted by another two corridors; only this time, the tunnel on the left was lit up with a blazing glow. It looked warm and inviting, especially compare to the dark and dreary tunnel on the right, but the Yooyu was uncertain. Should she stick with her system, or try something new? She followed her gut, and walked into the light.
"Whoa!" Holly looked around in awe. The glow was all around her, and she wondered where it was coming from. It seemed as though the walls themselves were glistening, and something made her reach out and touch them. She quickly jerked her hand back in surprise. The walls felt as though they were humming! What could be happening?
"Why hello there!" A cheerful voice sang out across the room.
Holly turned, and saw a beautiful Light Faerie smiling at her, her wings glinting in the soft glow.
The Faerie came closer and shook Holly's hand. "It's your lucky day! I'm here to guide you through the rest of the maze... and to keep you safe."
"Keep me safe from what?" Holly asked, confused.
A loud roar echoed through the catacombs.
"Sssssssh!" whispered the Faerie, hiding Holly behind her. Holly shivered in fear, and the Light Faerie gave her a pat on the shoulder. "I think it's time to go! Follow me." She pushed Holly towards an exit, looking over her shoulder as they ran.
Holly was exhausted and didn't know how much more steam she had in her, but she continued bounding along the passageway, the Faerie by her side. They flew around the corner and abruptly skidded to a halt.
It was a huge mountain of gold, with coins and codestones and faerie dolls stacked as high as the eye could see. In the centre of the cavern was an enormous treasure chest, glinting in the light. Holly couldn't believe her eyes.
"Oh my!" The little Yooyu ran into the room, headed straight for the chest. The Light Faerie trailed behind her, her eyes still flickering on the path from which they had come. She looked concerned, though there was no danger imminent at the moment.
Holly unlatched the chest and pushed the lid back. Inside were dozens of items; gems, coins and stamps. Ruaalia was always saying that she wanted to collect stamps, but she just couldn't seem to save enough to get the ones she wanted - how amazing it would be to present her with a rare one of her own!
She reached in and was about to grab one of the stamps, when someone appeared at her side. It was Egads!
"You made it here too! I was wondering how you were going. Can you believe this treasure?" Holly exclaimed excitedly.
Egads looked around in wonder, but soon fixed his gaze on the stamp in Holly's hand. His eyes narrowed.
"Sorry Holly, but that's the only reason I came to this awful place. I'm going to have to take that off you." The Eizzil reached out and grabbed the stamp, and then took off towards the door to the rear of the caverns.
"Egads, no! I wouldn't go that way if I were you, there was something chasing us through the corridor!" Holly yelled out, still in shock about the stamp being stolen from her, but mostly just worried about what was lurking outside.
Egads ignored her, and disappeared. The Light Faerie watched him go, and shook her head. "Greed." She sighed, and turned back to Holly. "It's almost time."
Almost on cue, the chime of a bell boomed around the catacombs.
"Quickly, follow me. The last thing you want is to be trapped here." The Faerie grabbed her hand and together they headed in the opposite direction to where Egads had vanished.
A staircase appeared in front of them, leading upwards. Just as Holly was about to take her first step, the Light Faerie stopped in her tracks. "This is where I leave you, my friend. My job is here, to make sure worthy explorers can find their way back. I must go."
The pair smiled at each other. "Thank you!" said Holly. "I'm so glad to have had your help. But... how do I explain all of this to Ruaalia? I wanted to bring her back something special."
The Faerie gently pushed her towards the stairs. "Speak to the Quiggle on your way out. Now, go!"
Holly bounded up the stairs, not looking back. She saw a light at the top, and let that guide her way. As she got closer and closer to the peak of the staircase, she realised that it was the morning sun rising, peeking through the open doors to the catacombs. As soon as she had reached the entrance hallway, the old Quiggle caretaker appeared beside her.
"This is for you." He said gruffly, handing her a gift box. "Thanks for playing!" The Quiggle hobbled away on his peg-leg, leaving Holly alone.
She exited the building and stood happily in the warm morning sun, her eyes adjusting to the light. As Holly looked down towards Neovia, she saw Ruaalia bounding up the staircase, and she squealed with happiness.
"Holly! You're ok!" The Cybunny gathered up her friend in a big hug, and set her down gently. "How was it? Did you have fun? Did you find any treasure?"
Holly looked down at the gift box in her hand, and was about to answer when Darouge the Draik suddenly appeared next to them.
"Hey, where's Egads?" He asked, looking around for his petpet.
Holly looked at him sadly, and shook her head. "You'd better go speak to the Quiggle. We... lost contact." She didn't want to tell the Draik about the stamp theft, but she hoped that he found his Eizzil friend safely. "Ruaalia, let's go home."
Ruaalia and Holly made their way down the old staircase, and back through Neovia. As they walked, Holly handed the gift box to Ruaalia. "I'm sorry about the treasure, Ruaalia. I had the most incredible stamp to give you, but..."
The Cybunny stopped walking, and stooped down to reassure her petpet friend. "The prize doesn't matter, Holly. What matters is that you're safe, and you made it through. In fact, why don't we donate this gift to the Money Tree? That way, someone else might get the surprise of a lifetime."
"That's a great idea!" Holly agreed, and they walked off into the dawn.