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Tropical Tragedy: Search for the Jungly Jem - Part Three


by cheopspyramid

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New Bonds:

Ugh, something smelt very horrible. I lifted up my head slightly and opened my eyes. The dimly lit room that I fainted in was still the same. Fog still flooded the air and the candles were still lit. But now, I saw new things that I didn't see before I passed out. Some very strange and mysterious things.

      I blinked a few times and examined the room. By the door I entered-- well, flew into-- there were two tiki statues with odd flowers on top of them. To the right of the statues was a bookcase full of old, tattered books with horrifying titles. "How to Cook a Blumaroo", "Curse Your Enemy… and Leave a Scar", "Possess the Mind in Less than Ten Seconds." I remember shuddering at these. Next to the bookcase was a shrine with a man with a coconut head. Beneath the man was a golden plate that said "Mumbo Pango-- Worship or Become His Soup." The rest of the room was filled with candles. Most of them had different colors other than the red-orange. Some glowed blue while others glowed pink and rainbow. Never had I seen such candles before.

      In the center of the room was a group of three people. I recognized Ailis in the middle of the circle of people. Beside her was the Island Mystic… or Phillip, as Ailis had called him. And on the other side of Ailis was a man I had never seen before. His species was new to me, but I could tell he was Island, like me. Ailis was holding a can of smelling salts. Obviously that's what woke me up. The other two men were speaking rapidly in a language I had never heard before.

      "Are you okay?" Ailis asked. "You took quite a trip through the tunnel."

      I shook my head and suddenly everything flowed back into me. I remembered the tunnel of colors and lights as well as the flipping room. I also remembered the voice that spoke to me right before I passed out.

      Ailis turned to look back at the Island Mystic. She tilted her head towards me and the Island Mystic stood up and began to walk closer to me. I never realized how short he was. He held a cup of a foul smelling liquid. He grabbed my hand and put it around the cup for me to hold.

      "Drink it. You might need it after the fall you took," he spoke. His voice was slow and soft, but it was calming as well.

      I lifted up my head and looked at my legs. I had a large wound on my shins and as soon as I saw the cut, pain shot through my leg like a bolt of lightning. I hissed and grabbed my leg, but found only that it made it sting worse. I took the drink from the Mystic. Slowly I raised my glass to my lips and poured the cold liquid down my parched throat. As it flowed into my mouth and down into my stomach, my flesh began to chill, but my skin felt hot. Suddenly I had an odd feeling of anxiety come over me. What did I drink?

      I looked down at my leg again. For some reason the pain had increased slightly, but was going away rapidly. My eyes widened as I saw my wound suddenly disappear magically. I shook my head and looked back at my leg in disbelief. Amazing! Obviously, the drink healed my cut.

      "I told you it would help," the Island Mystic said with a smile.

      "Wha-wha happened?" I sputtered.

      "You came from the Hall of Recollection," he replied. "Tis frightening for first-timers."

      Ailis got up from her crouching position and walked back towards the other Island man. She put a hand softly on his shoulder and he slowly rose from the ground. He had a long tail and a flower behind his ear. His body, like mine, was covered in tan and white markings.

      "Damian, this is Keahi. He's our new guide who will be helping us find the Jungly Jem. He's also fairly new to different people. His species have remained underwater for a long time. But he knows the island like the back of his hand."

      "What species are you?" I asked.

      "I'm a Lutari. And like Ailis said, I'm new to the outside world. But I have been studying maps of the island so I believe I know approximately where the Jungly Jem should be." His voice was higher than the Mystic's. It was also more rapid, which was good. If someone spoke slowly all the time, I'd find them rather annoying. Ailis, the Mystic, and Keahi went back in their circle.

      I stood up from the ground and walked towards the group and sat criss-cross in the empty spot of the circle. "Phillip" (I hope I never get used to using that name) had resumed his discourse with Keahi, still in the brisk tongue. Ailis was reviewing a map intently and occasionally pointing to a designated point and tracing a path, all the while mumbling indistinctly. I looked over Ailis's shoulder to see what she was looking at… obviously it had something to do with the mission.

      Ailis turned her head to look at me. She flashed a petite grin and then focused back on the map. She pointed to a small circular area and whispered lightly so that she would not disturb Keahi and Phillip, "This is where we are. Keahi says that the Jungly Jem is hidden within one of the derelict huts within Geraptiku. But the thing is, he doesn't know which one."

      "But does he know for sure that the Jem is located there? I don't want to travel there and have it not be located remotely close to it."

      "Nope," Ailis replied. "He's positive the Jem is there. Like I said, he's been studying all sorts of books and artifacts that point directly to Geraptiku."

      During our almost silent conversation, Keahi rose and walked over to Ailis and myself. He cocked his head to look at Ailis's map and lowered his eyes. I noticed his pupils traveling to and fro, silently computing the map. At long last, he dared to speak. "I assume you've briefed him on all of my findings?" Keahi asked Ailis.

      Ailis nodded and glanced back at me again.

      Keahi sat down with us and looked grimly into Ailis's eyes. From time to time he would glimpse into my eyes and then turn back to Ailis. "Did I tell you about the riddle that I found?" he questioned.

      Utterly confused, I shook my head. I looked at Ailis and noticed that she, as well, was shaking her head. Finally, something that neither of us knew about. I hated being the one who was oblivious to everything. It's not a fun feeling when other people know things and sound so confident with their information, but don't dare speak of it to you.

      Keahi pulled out a decrepit, old scrap of paper that was burned around the edges, torn, and then stained multiple times. He unrolled the scroll and began to read aloud.

     "Earlier the day t'was spoken,

     May the coffer be broken.

     Not a word shall one utter,

     Or the statue will sputter,

     Deathly bane.

     First I come,

     Then I'm last.

     And when put together correctly,

     You find the path.

     But be forewarned,

     And if it is wrong,

     Its suffering will end,

     For you become their friend."

     I reread the riddle over and over again, desperately attempting to make something of it. From what I could make out, gruesome fates awaited those who did even the slightest thing wrong. Mortified, I looked away from the paper. On the other hand, Ailis smiled and continued to look over the riddle. I assumed that Keahi and Ailis were both perplexed by the riddle, so I wasn't the only one. Keahi left the papers to Ailis and went to drink from his hip flask off in a dreary corner.

      One thing I did happen to notice throughout the revealing of the riddle and the clues was that the Island Mystic sat casually in front of the statue of Mumbo Pango, deeply inhaling the incense and chanting an incantation to lift up a piece of bamboo. The bamboo would rise into the air for a moment, his chanting became strained as he ran out of breath, and when he drew in more air, the bamboo fell back onto the ground and the steps were repeated.

      "Can you make anything of the riddle?" Ailis asked me.

      I shook my head and turned back to Ailis. "Wha-- oh, no. Not really. I find it troublesome to even stare at it."

      Ailis nodded and continued to reread the poem. Her eyes traveled from right to left and then returned back to the right. She bit her lower lip and then resorted to biting the knuckle of her paw. Her eyes looked worried and frightened, but I could tell that she would be willing to try anything in order to save the inhabitants of Mystery Island.

      Now don't think that this entire time I wasn't suffering. The truth was, I was dying for some food and I was dying for it right now. My stomach let out a piercing growl like that of an angry Gruslen. I clamped both of my paws to my midriff and shushed it. The growling was a sad reminder of what I needed, and I didn't want anyone else knowing that I was hungry.

      "Well, did you think we wouldn't find out eventually?" the Island Mystic suddenly said, as if reading my mind. "Trust me, with a stomach that loud, it's hard to keep it a secret." He chuckled softly and sighed. "Well, I do say that I must agree with it. Let us feast and forget out uncertainties and woes for a moment or two."

      Though shocked by Phillip's mind-reading skills, I smiled widely and nodded. It's hard not to approve when you are starving and your belly is trying to make a speech to the wonderful people in the invisible audience surrounding us. I jumped to my feet (literally) and skipped merrily behind Ailis (literally as well) as we piled through a narrow door that led into the meal room.

      The room was much larger than that of the meditation room. Pictures of tropical fruits and warm meals cluttered the bamboo walls. To one side of the room was a row of bamboo counters with different appliances placed upon them. It also had a window that was over the sink. I looked out through it to see the glow of the tip of the sun. The sky was still dark, but morning was approaching. I calculated the approximate time… it should've been about five thirty. I turned back around to see the Mystic rummaging through the refrigerator. Already on the counter were a few Zeenanas and an Ellecha. The Ellecha was strange for him to place out… most Neopians don't eat them.

      "The sourness will wake you up," the Mystic said, without turning his back. "You need to be wide awake for your trip."

      I nodded silently and sat down at the table with Ailis and Keahi. Ailis had her paws over her eyes and was rubbing them vigorously with her palms. Keahi had his head tilted back and was snoring somewhat. He snorted and jolted his body, and then resumed his steady breathing. Ailis looked up and smiled at me with her usual grin. She was worn out; I could tell. Her eyes had large purple crescents beneath them and she yawned frequently. Suddenly, she bashed her head against the table and lay there. Apparently she fell asleep.

      At this point, the Island Mystic had completed breakfast. He walked over from the counter and set down my food in front of me. He had made Apple Fruit Pancakes with half of a Grapefruit with sugar sprinkled lightly on it, and a glass full of Ellecha juice. My mouth began to water at the sight of this delectable meal. Suddenly, I stopped looking at my food and looked over at Ailis, and then traveled my eyes over to Keahi.

      "What about their food?" I asked the Mystic.

      "Unless you plan to shove their meal down their unconscious throats, then they won't be eating now. Let them rest; it's been a long night. When they wake up I'll prepare them a dish," he replied, sitting down himself.

      Taking now time to breathe, I dug into my food and devoured it bit by bit. The Ellecha juice stung my throat at first, but its powerful taste of sour perked me up. The pancakes were warm and buttery, and the apple syrup was oh-so sweet. Of course I asked for seconds… and thirds… and fourths… and by that time I was so stuffed that the chair was straining and was on the verge of breaking. I groaned and got out of the chair, but found myself on the floor from my full stomach.

     ***

      Ailis and Keahi woke up later that morning. They, too, had the meal that I ate, though I was dying to help them finish it. But at long last, they cleared their plates and we all began to wash off the dishes.

      Ailis and I were at the sink, soaping up the dirty plates and then drying them off. Keahi was standing beside us, putting the dishes away as we handed them to him. Our little system was fun for a while. We talked about our mission and continued to do our chores

      "Haha, so after you both found the treasure, what'd you do?" Keahi laughed.

      "Well," Ailis said in a suspenseful voice. "We ran from the pirates and jumped into our narrow boat in order to sail away. But eventually, the wave--" Ailis stopped abruptly. A loud crash could be heard from within the room beside us. Ailis dropped her plate and warily jerked her head.

      The Mystic came running into the room as fast as he could. His eyes were frightened and his speech was rushed. "The looters are here! They are in search of you… they know you're after the gem! Quick! Head out!"

      Ailis ran into the meditation room, followed by Keahi. I stood still, frightened. The Mystic handed me a heavy sack full of who-knows what. He winked and rushed me into the meditation room. There, Ailis and Keahi were hastily gathering our maps and clues that would later lead us to the Jungly Jem. They shoved the clues into a backpack and Keahi slung it over his shoulder. They both then rushed towards me and the Mystic.

      "Keep all of your clues," the Mystic said. "Remember, you all can do anything, as long as you try your best. There are also dangerous animals in the forests, but if you do not disturb them, then they won't disturb you. Good luck. Now go! I can hold them back for a while, but not long! Go!"

      We ran out a back door and into the warehouse. From there, Ailis and I followed Keahi to another door on the far side of the factory. He pushed open the door and began to walk out into the light of day. It was noon by now, and the sun was high in the sky. We ran for a while, through the forest. I looked back at the warehouse and stood still for a moment.

      From where I stood, I could hear the loud incantations that the Mystic was shouting at the looters. A beam of red light shot out from the roof of the factory and pieces of wood flew in the air and landed on the island's soil. I nodded my head and whispered slightly, "Good luck."

To be continued...

Author's Note: Dare you attempt to solve the riddle before Damian and his companions? The necessary clues are set, and you can begin to solve (if you wish). But might I say, the riddle is tough, and I tried my hardest to make it tricky. (Yes, I did make up the riddle and the clues needed to solve it). Best of luck. And thank you "GotRaT" members who tried to help me make it up.

 
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Other Episodes


» Tropical Tragedy: Search for the Jungly Jem - Part One
» Tropical Tragedy: Search for the Jungly Jem: Part Two
» Tropical Tragedy: Search for the Jungly Jem



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