Lost in the Desert: Part One
"Hurry!" the little blue Kiko called, hopping his way
off to the Wheel of Excitement. His two best friends, Liji, a yellow Aisha,
and Riggo, a white Lupe, were bringing up the rear, and trying to keep up with
the energetic Neopet.
"Wait up Baroo!" said Riggo, hopping along amongst
the fluffy white clouds.
"Slow down!" came the voice of a very exhausted Liji.
She was panting heavily and was having trouble running with the others. She
was the youngest of the bunch, only a few months old, and often was the cause
of both minor and major setbacks that the three came across. But she was a good
friend, honest and loyal with a sense of humour, so they decided to bring her
along on their little adventures.
"Come on! I'm about to spin the wheel!" Baroo the
Kiko yelled out to his friends. Riggo was almost there, and Liji was only a
few clouds away. "Hurry!"
"We're coming! We're coming!" they both chanted as
they approached the Wheel of Excitement. The faerie smiled and held out her
hand to collect the Neopoints required to play. Baroo handed her the correct
amount, spun the wheel with a big push, and stepped back to look at the spinning
colours. But they didn't slow down. They just kept going around and around and
"What was that?" Baroo asked, looking around at the
arid land that they ended up in.
"Where are we?" Liji asked, getting up to dust herself
off, just as a big gust of wind came and covered them all in sand. "Ptewy, ptewy!"
she said, trying to get all of the sand out of her mouth.
"Ahh!" came the Lupe in a distressed tone. "It's in
my eyes! I can't see!"
"Neither can I," said the Kiko, spitting out the sand
and ducking as another big gust came and went.
"Just keep them closed!" Liji screamed as loud as
she could, but the others only heard it as a faint whisper, "Let's stick together!
Don't get lost!"
"This isn't very exciting," Baroo complained as they
huddled together and walked with the wind pushing at their backs and sand slashing
their skin. They walked on like this for what seemed like hours. Conditions
never improved, overall they got worse; but they had to keep going. What else
could they do? They didn't know where they were, and unless they left now they
would be trapped for a long time, maybe even for an eternity.
"I can't go on," said Riggo faintly. He was limping
on his hind leg, and was only breathing in sand. He coughed and sputtered, but
didn't give up. He was a strong-hearted Lupe, and always lived up to that recognition.
"Wh-what's that?" Liji asked against the wind, looking
up at what stood before them. It was a large gold pillar, just standing there,
in the middle of absolute nowhere. It had etchings and drawings and hieroglyphics
engraved into its surface faintly, perhaps worn away by the harsh winds of the
desert storms, and the high temperatures when the gusts were calm. The three
stopped and looked at it. It was extremely beautiful, with a complex design
on all four flat faces, with pictures of Neopets bringing food to the pharaoh,
a grand-looking Elephante, and gifts like jewelry and perfumes to his wife,
a beautiful Kau. Both of them had been painted using a Lost Desert paintbrush.
In the next scene, the Neopets were bowing down to the etchings of their land's
rulers, praising them and praying for them. Baroo, Liji, and Riggo just stared
at all of the pictures, the beautiful pictures in colours of red and orange
and gold and brown. It was a masterpiece of the ages, no doubt about it, a magnificent
work of perpetual and spiritual art. "What is it? It's beautiful," Liji asked,
adoring its semblance and elegance.
"I-I think it's a shrine. A shrine for the ancient
rulers of the land," Riggo suggested, circling it. Baroo nodded in agreement,
focusing on all the difficult carvings and colours on the sculpture. They were
so amazed by the significance of the column that they didn't even bother to
notice that the winds had died down to a gentle, comforting and welcomed breeze.
Liji looked at some of the scenes that the pictures played out, trying to make
sense of them, trying to figure out what it was used for.
"I think I've figured out the story!" said Liji excitedly,
double checking the pictures. "Yes! Okay, there's the pharaoh," she pointed
at the desert Elephante, "and there's the queen," she pointed to the beautiful
desert Kau. "Now, I think, and I am pretty sure, that this shrine was built
by a gracious citizen of this ancient land. He, or she, built it in honour of
both the pharaoh and his wife as a gift for being such fair rulers. The pictures
represent all of the Neopets who honour them, bowing and presenting gifts, and
look!" she dragged her finger down to the bottom scene, "There it is. The shrine.
See the desert Aisha? He, or she, is unveiling it to them. They are smiling.
They are happy with the gift." Liji looked up to see the puzzled faces of Baroo
and Riggo. They looked at each other, then back at her, still perplexed.
"But-if they are giving a grand gift to the pharaoh,
then why build it here? In the middle of nowhere! Why not bring it to the palace,
so the pharaoh and his wife may admire it?" Riggo asked. "Why? It just doesn't
"It makes perfect sense," Liji butted in, standing
up like she always does when about to give a long elucidation about why things
are the way they are. "The land, the city, whatever it was, used to be right
here. Right where we stand. I presume that the shrine was the very centre. Look.
On this face, it shows panels of pharaohs and palaces and gifts, so I believe
that somewhere over there was where the palace stood. On this face," she walked
around to the other side, "It has drawings of villages and wells and horses,
for the common people. Over here," she moved to the next facet, "Are carvings
of shops, merchants, and customers. This must be the marketplace, and the trading
post. Most of them aren't using currency, because they are poor. Oh and look!
That must be an older version of the soup kitchen. Look at all those poor, hungry
Neopets!" She made her way to the last facet, "And here, the temples. See the
glorious shrines and statues? And they are all praying! Yes, this must be the
temple. You see, this country used to be divided. The nobles stayed away from
the commons, and the foreign merchants often kept far away from the native preachers.
But this sculptor and very talented artisan created something to connect them
in some way, you know, bring the together. Unite them."
"That does make sense," Baroo began, "But there is
still something that isn't quite clear. How come, through all the years of wind
and sand and erosion the palace, village, marketplace, and temple blew over
and disappeared while the shrine stood untouched? Sure, it's sturdy...but wouldn't
the palace and the temples be too? It just doesn't make sense." Liji sighed.
"This shrine is solid gold, yes, extremely strong
and durable, built to last. But it isn't this tall. Look, in the bottom panel,
The Aisha is like an ant compared to the shrine..."
"What does that have to do with anything?" Riggo contorted.
"All right. Now where was I? Oh, yes. Now, I know
Neopets were shorter back then, but not that short! Therefore, I believe that
the shrine goes down into the ground some ways. All the layers of sand, rocks,
mud, and debris from houses and shops held it in place all these years. Also,
being a gift to the royal family, who were considered gods, it probably has
something, well...spiritual about it. You don't think that spirits would just
let such an icon tip over, would you?"
"Well, I suppose not..." Baroo scratched his head.
"Well, I guess that covers everything, but there is still something on my mind.
I can't put my finger on it, though."
"Do you suppose someone is buried under there? It
is a shrine. It may have been built it honour of the nobles, but it may have
been a late relative or priest or someone like that as well," said Riggo.
"You are probably right. And it is somewhere in a
panel, most likely. But we have to dig to find it. It's not on any of the ones
above ground." Liji began to dig, uncovering more and more panels of beautiful
pictures. Baroo and Riggo looked worried.
"Liji," Baroo began, "Do you really think it's smart
to dig when there may be a body...or bodies... under the surface? Come on! We
have to going or we'll never get out of here! We may die of dehydration, or
starvation! Please, Liji! Think logically for once! This isn't a good idea!
We've been delayed enough already!"
"Okay," Liji said, still digging, "You go and get
lost. I'm staying here."
To be continued...