The Found CIty:Part Three
This was a disaster.
"I thought you said you knew about the tomb!" Eliss shouted breathlessly. They were running along a wall, dodging poison-tipped darts that kept whizzing in their direction. One of them had accidentally stepped on the wrong stair, triggering the trap.
"I swear it was that step ten years ago! It’s been a while, ok?" Jake added defensively.
Finally, the darts stopped. Eliss collapsed onto the floor, panting.
"This. Is. Terrible," she said between gasps. "Nothing is the same as you remember! I thought you would know where you were going!"
"Look, yelling at me isn’t going to fix the problem," Jake said, removing a dart that had stuck to his backpack. "Clearly, things have changed a bit in the last decade. But it’s nothing we can’t handle."
Eliss shook her head, staring at the ground. All of a sudden, she wanted nothing more than her brother to be here. She felt terrible about how they had ended things. What if they didn’t get to see each other again?
Jake seemed to know what was going through her head. He crouched down next to her and gently put his paw on her shoulder. "Look, you and I are going to be fine. And Jris, he knows you care about him. He knows you were just angry. And he probably wants to work things out just as much as you do."
"I hope so," Eliss said, despondent. She didn’t sound very certain.
All of a sudden, somebody behind them let out a huge yowl of pain. Eliss and Jake whirled around, on their guard.
"Who is it?" Eliss yelled, proud of herself for the fact that her voice only shook slightly.
There was no answer, but from the shadows, a figure emerged. At first all she saw was a pair of dark, menacing wings, and her heart began beating faster with fear. But as quickly as she saw them, the menacing wings turned to brown ones. A pair of friendly, hazelnut eyes stared at the pair of them. She couldn’t believe it. Her brother was standing in front of them, removing an errant dart from his tail. He looked unharmed.
"JRIS!!!" she screamed, embracing her brother happily. Jris hugged her back, holding her tightly. Eliss heard Jake heave a sigh of relief behind her. "How did you find us? How are you here? What happened?"
"I followed you guys," Jris admitted. "I was scared something bad was going to happen, and I wanted to make sure you were safe."
Eliss released her brother and looked at him intently in the eyes. "Why didn’t you just tell me? We thought you were something dangerous!"
"I didn’t want to admit that…" Jris paused, looking down, an awkward look on his face. "I didn’t want to admit that maybe I was wrong. Maybe it was wrong of me to not be supportive of you and your dreams. I just wanted to be right. But I also wanted to make sure you were ok."
Eliss smiled, touched. She teasingly asked him, "Does this mean you’re finally admitting you’re wrong about something?"
"Let’s not get carried away, now," Jris teased back. The two siblings smiled at each other, a look of understanding between the two of them that neither of them were used to.
Jake looked between the two siblings, then smiled, a knowing twinkle in his eyes. "Well now, I knew you two would reach an understanding," he said. "How about you say we move along now?"
Eliss was worried that Jris was about to tell both of them that they needed to quit while they still could, and go aback to the island where it was safe. But Jris surprised both of them.
With a determined look on his face, Jris said, "Ok, let’s do this!"
x x x
Time in the deserted tomb passed slowly, then all at once. For what seemed like a day and a half, the unlikely team wandered through the catacombs, narrowly avoiding the traps that awaited them.
Along the way, Jris and Jake got to know each other better, and Jris warmed to him. He learned that Jake was a self-established Kougra who had basically come from nothing, and worked his way into success all on his own. Jris really admired that in a Neopet, being a harder worker and self-starter himself.
They walked together now, with Eliss walking slightly ahead of them. She was giving them some space, happy they had formed a bond with each other after Jris’ initial hostility.
"My dream is to make it in the music industry," Jris told Jake. Internally, he winced, waiting for the typical responses he usually got when he mentioned it. Oh, that’s a tough industry. You will have a hard time making it. Are you sure you don’t want to do something else?
But Jake surprised him. He grinned broadly. "That’s great, son! What do you play?"
"Guitar," Jris answered. "And I sing. And play piano."
"Well there you go, you’re a triple threat!" Jake said cheerfully. "You work hard enough, you have the talent, and you can achieve anything you set your mind to. Nobody thought I would make it, but yet I did. Because I never gave up, and I never stopped believing in myself."
"Until recently," Jris snapped. He regretted saying that immediately. But Jake just shrugged.
"You’re not wrong there," Jake admitted. "I did let it all get the best of me. Until a very special Aisha helped me believe in myself again. Your sister is really special."
Jris looked ahead at his sister, smiling. "She really is something special," he agreed. "She’s always been so ambitious. And she thinks big. She thinks outside of what’s possible, her head in the clouds. Me, I’m the one with wings, yet here I am, with my feet on the ground at any given time. I could learn from her."
Jake shook his head. "You two can both learn from each other. Think about it this way. Her head is in the clouds; your feet are on the ground. Pteris never stay in the air forever, right? They have to eventually land. But once they land and stay on the ground for a while, they’re ready to fly again. It’s good to stay grounded, but you also have to know when it’s time to start flying. She can show you how to fly, and you can show her how to stay on the ground."
Jris paused, thinking of all the times he and his sister had quarreled over being different. He never realized maybe it was a strength, something they could work on together to bring them closer, as opposed to tearing them apart. Within their differences was a mutual understanding of how their differences complimented each other.
"Jris, Jake! You better come look at this!"
The two Neopets looked at each other, and then rushed quickly after Eliss’ voice, scared. But when they found her, she was grinning like she’d just won the lottery. And she had.
In front of them was the treasure of Geraptiku.
x x x
Gold. So much gold, more than any of them had ever seen. Jewels, the brightest and most colorful, like something out of a storybook. Eliss was sauntering around the room in gold bangles, with rubies dangling from her ears. "Look at me, I’m so pretty!" she simpered.
Jris himself had picked up a small, plain bone necklace he had found near the entrance. It was now resting around his neck, a reminder of his unlikely adventure and unlikely new connection he had formed with his sister. HE was currently in the corner, gazing at some gold-plated pottery, admiring the craftsmanship.
"Wow oh wow," Jake said, looking at the room around them. He had not indulged in the treasures yet, instead taking an opportunity to look around and soak in what he was seeing. After all, what he had been dreaming about for years was finally right in front of him.
After he had collected himself, he allowed himself to search through the treasures, picking out things he wanted to keep and take with them. If only I’d brought a bigger bag, Jake thought wryly.
Hours later, they emerged from the room with their treasures, on their way to the outside world again.
"So Jake, are you excited to finally prove the world wrong?" Jris asked. Along with the necklace, he was wearing an obsidian ring, and carrying an exquisite handmade guitar that was embellished with gold.
"I don’t really care about that anymore," Jake said. "If there’s one thing I have learned, it’s that everybody believes what they want to believe anyway, regardless of what proof you show them. As long as you know the truth at the end of the day, that’s what matters. Plus, I saw something today more valuable than gold or silver."
Eliss and Jris looked at Jake questioningly. He just smiled at the two of them. "I saw two people that cared about each other put aside their differences and put aside their pride to look out for each other. It’s not an easy thing to do, but you two accomplished that. That type of love and trust is more valuable than anything Geraptiku ,or anywhere else for that matter, has to offer."
Eliss smiled at her brother. She was weary a rather gaudy golden, jewel-encrusted tiara, but seemed to be content wearing it, so nobody questioned her. "Yeah, he’s not so bad after all," she said lightly, winking at her brother.
"You’re still pretty awful," Jris joked back.
They all laughed. With new treasures in their hands, and in their hearts, they walked back out onto Mystery Island, ready to enjoy the rest of their vacation.