The Found CIty
"T hat's impossible, Eliss."
Eliss and Jris, a candy Aisha and brown Draik, sat in their beach chairs on Mystery Island, fruity drinks in hand. They wore leis around their neck and grass skirts around their waists. The siblings had spent the last two days vacationing on the tropical island. Jris normally wanted nothing to do with his sister's travel plans, and was normally perfectly happy just staying in Tyrannia. But at the encouragement of their owner, Anna, he had reluctantly tagged along.
Not that he looked too reluctant right now, lounging in his chair and eating grapes, seemingly without a care in the world.
"I'm telling you, Jris," she said beseechingly. "I saw it!"
Jris laughed lovingly. He knew his sister had a huge imagination and was always searching for an adventure. Jris didn't always understand his sister. She always seemed so desperate to escape from Tyrannia. But what was wrong with Tyrannia, exactly?
Jris had embraced the culture entirely. He went to the giant omelette every day, hoping to get green pepper, his favorite. He never got tired of seeing the same concerts in the concert hall; as a matter of fact, he was trying to start a band of his own. He happily took over his sister's responsibilities at the furniture store while she traveled the world, never finding their furniture strange or uncomfortable. And he loved the Tyrannian cuisine, from the rock soup to Bronto bites.
Meanwhile, he had watched his sister go in the complete opposite direction. Eliss traveled the world, always wore bright, festive clothing in contrast to the dark togas everybody else wore, and refused to eat the Tyrannian food, instead making food with recipes she'd learned from her travels. (Admittedly, he thought her food was pretty delicious, too.) It had been a sore spot between the both of them for quite some time, and they just never seemed to understand each other.
Seeing his sister's genuinely hurt expression, Jris frowned. Jris had the type of face where when he smiled (or frowned), it seemed to take up his entire face. And despite how much he teased his sister, or how he didn't always understand her, he still cared a great deal about her.
He lowered his sunglasses, revealing his intense, light brown eyes, and looked at his sister, all humor gone. "So you're serious? This isn't some prank you and Chili are in on together?"
Chili was their older sister, a mischievous pepper Chia who was always up to trouble.
Eliss scoffed. "Chili is all the way back in Tyrannia. What would she have to gain by this, anyway? She doesn't believe in it either."
Jris was silent, contemplating. Eliss took the opportunity to tell her brother everything.
"Ok," Eliss said, leaning in. "This is what happened."
x x x
It was early morning and Eliss was by the ocean. Jris was still sleeping in his room, but Eliss had taken advantage of the early hour by watching the sunrise over the water. She watched all the shades of oranges and pinks turns to blues, contemplating her journey so far.
Suddenly, some movement in a nearby bush caught her attention. Eliss stood up cautiously, prepared to fight, but immediately let her guard down when she located the source of the rustling.
It was so cute!
She was looking at a little creature she had never seen before. It was very fluffy, with beige fur and a few red markings near its cheek. It had little pink paws and a coiled tail. It looked at her curiously. It seemed to be extremely timid, and had large, dark eyes.
"Hi there," Eliss said gently, moving towards the creature. She thought maybe she could convince it to trust her; she often helped with the Tyrannian Petpets back home and had even managed to turn a snappy Reptillior into a loving companion.
Frightened at her movement, the creature bolted.
"Wait, come back!"
Eliss chased after the creature, who was surprisingly fast. It eventually outran Eliss and threw itself into a tiny hole in the ground that it had probably dug previously for this exact occasion.
Out of breath, Eliss collapsed on the sand, panting and looking at the small opening that her new friend had escape through. She thought a little more about the creature and what it looked like. Eliss had taken a big interest in Petpets at one point in her life, and knew almost all of them. Why couldn't she remember this one? Had she discovered a new species?
Suddenly, she remembered. She jumped up, all her exhaustion from running gone immediately. But that couldn't be, she thought. It isn't possible.
In a rush of exhilaration, Eliss sprinted back to her hut, eager to tell her brother what she had seen.
x x x
"So, let me make sure I have this right," Jris said. "You saw a Gympu?"
"Yes!" Eliss said, excited her brother was finally listening. "They're little petpets native to Geraptiku. They're adorable and fluffy and extremely shy. Which means it can't be far from here!"
Jris shook his head. "Eliss, Geraptiku isn't around anymore," he said, putting down his drink. "And even if it was, it's really dangerous. I mean, you know the stories."
And Eliss did. She had read all about them ever since she was young.
According to legend, Geraptiku was a lost city that existed somewhere on Mystery Island. It had once been a thriving city with its own culture, inhabitants, and customs, not unlike Mystery Island itself. Nobody knows how it collapsed, and nobody had been able to find it since. All that was known about Geraptiku was from history books, and it had generally been accepted as lost forever. However, a few still believed it existed, including Eliss.
As a matter of fact, one Kougra claimed to have found Geraptiku, an archaeologist named Jake. Nicknamed "Jake the Explorer," he told wild tales of the lost city. He told tales of mysterious monsters native to nowhere else in Neopia, of unique and strange petpets, including one shaped like a coin, and of sophisticated housing. And finally, of exploring a hidden tomb within he city. The tomb had all sorts of traps and tricks, and said it was a miracle he was able to escape. He had entered the tomb in search of treasure, and believed that the Neopet who found it would be rich beyond his very dreams.
When he tried to tell the world of his findings, nobody believed him. And when he tried to bring Neopets back for proof, the city had mysteriously vanished. He became a national laughingstock, making headlines in the papers and everything. Dejected, he retired on Mystery Island and never went public again with any knowledge.
Little did he know, Eliss believed him all along. And she was about to bring him proof.
x x x
"Come here little guy. It's ok, I won't hurt you, come on out!"
Eliss and Jris stood outside the Gympu's home, trying to coax it out. She had a tiny piece of fruit in hand to try and entice the small petpet. They had been at it for close to an hour, and Jris was getting visibly annoyed.
Jris sighed. "Look Eliss, maybe you just saw a different petpet. It could have been one of the Mystery Island ones."
"I know what I saw," Eliss said stubbornly. "I'm going to find the Gympu, then take it to Jake and tell him Geraptiku is still around, and ask for his help."
"What makes you think Jake will even want to talk to us?" her brother asked, watching his sister as she kept pushing the fruit towards the small opening. "He doesn't talk to anyone anymore, not after everything that happened."
Eliss paused. Before she could answer, they saw a little nose peek out of the opening. The Gympu cautiously crawled out, twitching its little tail and observing Eliss, recognizing her. Jris stared, still as stone, unable to believe what he was seeing.
The Gympu scooted towards Eliss, who it seemed to recognize, and took the fruit with its little paws. It made a noise of contentment, and snuggled against Eliss. Eliss looked at it adoringly, touched that it had decided to trust her. She gently held out her paw and let him hop onto it, and held him.
"This is why I know he will talk to me," she said, carefully putting the Gympu in her oversized pockets. It snuggled in, comfortable. "So come on, let's go!"
Jris and Eliss began walking towards the hut that Jake was rumored to live in. In the meantime, Eliss told Jris everything she knew about Jake. Once a famed adventurer and archaeologist, he was responsible for some of the most significant archaeological discoveries in modern history. He had unearthed Coltzan's Tomb, broken into the Smuggler's Cove, and even rediscovered the Lost City of Maraqua.
He was a very controversial character. Many disliked him; they argued he was foolish and overconfident, and that he cared more about finding treasure than making significant discoveries. Others who supported Jake loved his boldness, his daring, and his sense of adventure. Eliss included herself in that category. She tried to tell her brother about him before, but Jris just laughed, saying he found Jake to be ridiculous.
"We're here," Jris said.
Eliss looked up. So they were. Jake lived in a very nondescript hut on the outskirts of the island. A single zeenana tree was planted outside the door, ripe fruit hanging from its limbs.
Taking a deep breath, Eliss knocked on the door. After a few moments, they saw Jake's face appear in the blinds.
"Who are you? What do you want?" Jake's voice sounded tired, grumpy almost. Like the last thing he wanted was to be talking to anybody.
"I'm Eliss, and this is my brother Jris," Eliss said. She was surprised at how confident her voice was. "We found proof that Geraptiku is still around and we need your help in finding it again."
Jake's eyes darkened. "Oh ha ha, very funny," he said. "Never heard that one before. How about you go prank somebody else?" He sounded angry, but also sad. No doubt all the jokes over the years had gotten to him.
"I'm serious!" Eliss said, stung at his sharp tone. "We have proof!"
Jake swung the door open angrily. Eliss and Jris jumped back, startled. Up close, he looked very disheveled. His blue fur was starting to turn grey, and exhaustion lines stretched across his forehead. But he still had a spark in his eye that encouraged Eliss; there was still some fight left in him. He still cared. He could still be convinced.
"Look, little girl," Jake said. "Geraptiku is gone. It's been gone a long time, and nobody ever even believed me when I found it the first time. And I have better things to do right now than entertain a few kids who's idea of a joke is to-"
Jake stopped short. The Gympu has poked its head out of Eliss' pocket, sensing conflict. Its nose twitched nervously. Jake stared at the creature, slack jawed. He leaned in closer, getting a better look at it. The Gympu looked back at him curiously.
"What did…how did you…." Jake trailed off. He hadn't seen a creature like that in over a decade, and was convinced he would never see it again. How was this possible?
Eliss grinned. "Ok, so, now do I have your attention?"
To be continued…