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Tropical Tragedy: Search for the Jungly Jem - Part Six


by cheopspyramid

--------

The Secrets of the Jem:

A startling draft blew the haunted trees surrounding Ailis and me. As the wind wove its way in and out of the branches, it howled alarmingly and frightened the group of Flippys that bunched together by the opening to their underground nest. The Flippys shivered and then crawled back into their burrow, only leaving behind a pile of blackened soil. Ailis stared determinedly into the neglected village and gulped noticeably and then turned back to me and nodded her head quickly and took one small step nearer towards the city's gates.

      The senescent plants that weakly clung to the city's walls had no source of sunlight or water; dark, gray clouds shrouded the sun in this area and there wasn't water for miles. The thatched huts creaked in the violent wind, and some even had pieces of bamboo fall off of the walls, leaving a small hole behind where it used to be. The strange mist that flowed from deep within the city wasn't affected by the wind, but instead just seemed to grow at a rapid rate, cloaking the huts in a swirling mass of fog.

      Turning back towards Ailis, I noticed that she was already heading towards the city, but I knew she wasn't going to enter it alone. She paused and set a tender hand upon the trunk of a lifeless palm tree and peeled off a layer of its bark without any struggle whatsoever. She examined it intently and then put some of it inside of her backpack.

      "Well," she finally stated. "I guess we better head in? It's no use waiting out here while we could be in there searching for it. Besides, the looters are probably already in there. They have the riddle. We don't."

      I turned towards the city again and examined all of the things inside of it. "I guess so," I replied, sorrowfully. "But remember that one line of the riddle? 'But be forewarned, and if it is wrong, its suffering will end, for you become their friend.' That doesn't exactly sound too pleasant. We need to get the riddle correct on the first try, or else it looks like it'll be the end."

      "Do you remember anything about what the riddle said?" Ailis questioned.

      "Something about 'it was spoken earlier on in the da--'" I paused, and suddenly an epiphany stuck me hard. I had heard something earlier on that day! "Ailis!" I shouted. "I know the answer! I know it! You rememb--"

      "Don't say it out loud, you nitwit! The looters are most likely somewhere near us! If they hear what the answer is, they'll find it before us. Whisper it into my ear… you do remember what you heard, right?"

      I nodded and ran over to Ailis. Cupping my hands around her tall ears, I whispered the phrase that I heard earlier that day. I even spelt out most of the words because I understood what the voice said and knew what words they were. So did Ailis.

      She stood there, awestruck, and grinned widely at my fabulous memory. "So you did hear something! I'm so sorry that I doubted you! Now we know the phrase!" She embraced me in a gigantic hug. She let go of the hug and instead clasped my shoulders tightly and stared at me with a gigantic smile that spread from ear to ear.

      The moment of rejoicing was suddenly shattered by a large crack that erupted from behind an olden bush. The tree adjacent to the bush suddenly wobbled somewhat and then toppled over, nearly crushing Ailis beneath its jagged branches. Frightened, Ailis scrambled away from the tree that nearly took her and we turned to look at the bush, searching for the cause of the tree's deposing. And not to our surprise, but beyond the fallen tree was a pair of dastardly crooks that were snickering with glee, but ran away suddenly because they knew they were spotted. The Bruce flapped his fins frantically and hurriedly waddled off, falling flat on his face amidst the rush of things. The Kyrii pulled the Bruce off of the ground and cuffed him vigorously on the back of the head before dashing off into the city.

      "Come on!" Ailis screeched at me, clasping her paws around my wrist and dragging me along with her. "We now have less time than we thought! Let's go!"

      We scurried into the misty city and flew past all the huts along the way; each had a different interior that was unique to that specific home. The looters were a few feet in front of us, slowly jogging towards an unknown destiny. Of course, we were much quicker than them and the distance between our pattering feet steadily grew more and more minute. Yet after a few more steps, the Bruce tripped once more and fell on his face, dropping his backpack on the soil and scattering all of our maps… and the riddle.

      The rolled-up scroll quickly revolved towards us and eventually found its way at Ailis's feet. Without a moment's pause, she grasped the scroll and took off running in the direction of an old hut. I glared at the looters for a moment; enjoying the terrified looks on their faces, and then I ran after Ailis.

      I saw her disappear behind a wall of darkness that lead into one of the cottages; a cloud of dust churned up as she passed over it. I stormed into the hut and stopped once I entered. Inside was a small, single room with charred walls and ripped curtains that dangled over the windows. In the corner was a tiny bed with a faerie doll on it, along with sheets that were thrashed over the bed; whoever left here left in a hurry. My head began to spin and I grasped it with one of my paws. The room swirled and I saw Ailis rushing over to me and putting a paw on my back. My vision darkened and screams filled my ears….

     ***

      "Amelie! Amelie!" a woman shrieked loudly while shaking a youthful Acara violently. "Venez rapidement! Venez rapidement! Hurry! The Werelupe is here for the gem! The faeries are coming to hide it! Venez rapidement!"

      The Island Acara rose quickly and dropped her doll that she was clasping with all her might. The doll landed on the bed and bounced twice before coming to rest by her pillows. I noticed that the room was clean and new and the island outside was filled with large, green plants that were full of life. Yet the people outside were screaming alarmingly and shouting to their loved ones.

      The Acara ran from her hut and followed her mother outside into the island village. Outside was a scene of pure chaos and fear that flowed quickly throughout the small town. To the left of the hut was a giant Werelupe roaring vigorously, grabbing hold of random villagers, and tossing them into the forest that surrounded the town. The more wise villagers decided to vamoose before they, too, were captured and chucked into the bristly branches.

      I looked towards the clouds and saw a fleet of possibly seven or so earth faeries descending quickly upon the town. Each of them held a wooden shield and a short dagger in which they clasped in their emerald hands. They screeched in a language unknown to me and formed into pairs and then charged head-on towards the Werelupe, all except for one faerie. The smaller faerie, instead of following her fellow faeries in their battalion, flew into one of the huts across the way from where I stoo-- wait… I hadn't noticed that! I had no body… only a meager spirit floating in times past. Well, anyways, she flew into one of the huts with a large, covered object which she was clutching with all her might. She vanished beyond the shadows of the darkened doorway and closed the hut's small, bamboo door behind her. With a flash of jade light, the hut began to smoke from the windows, and at long last the faerie appeared and flew off into the distance.

      The child that I was in the hut with began to scream loudly. She trembled and ran over to her mother and embraced her in a binding hug, and then began to run with her. They ran faster and faster, out of the city and into the forest. The pack of islanders followed as well, leaving behind all of their belongings.

      I turned to look at the Werelupe again, yet he was still roaring and trying to fight off the faeries. The faeries tried their best to bind him with tree roots and ropes, but it was ineffectual. At last a faerie raised her hand vaguely in the air and waved it around in a loop that formed green sparkles. The sparkles spun in a quick circle and began to surround the Werelupe. He roared one final time and froze in the middle of a howl. His color changed from brown and gray and cracks formed on his head and his arms. A loud crunch was discharged and he stopped moving altogether. He was stone.

     ***

      The memory faded out and the small, one-roomed hut slowly became clearer. I saw Ailis crouching over me, her hand over my forehead and the other was laid across her knees. She cocked her head to the side and looked at me speculatively, and then opened her mouth to speak. "Are you alright? You pass out too many times. What did you see this time?"

      I shook my head quickly from side to side and then stroked my face with my paw. "I know where the Jungly Jem is hidden. I saw a moment in the past with a giant Werelupe and earth faeries that froze him into a statue."

      "I saw that monument when we came into the city!" Ailis shouted. "Do you think it's safe to venture past it?"

      "Yeah, I think it'll be fine. We just need to get into the hut before the looters find out where we're going."

      "Right." Ailis nodded her head. "Yet we need to check the riddle before entering the hut. There should be some form of protection that guards the gem. No faerie would be as foolish as to leaving such a powerful item vulnerable."

      I grabbed Ailis's wrist hastily and pulled her out of the hut, but I felt her struggle. I let go and turned around to see her arms crossed in front of her chest and her head looking up. "What is it?" I groaned. "We need to get there quickly!"

      "It's just," she sighed. "How come you always get the cool visions? The only vision I've ever gotten is one that reminded me that the air fresheners are inside the back closet in your house. But no, you get a vision of the past!" She threw her hands up in the air, waving them back and forth while saying "Woo!" as if she were a ghost.

      "I'm not going to deal with this," I mumbled under my breath while exiting the hut in a fuss. I stomped my feet on the ground harder than what I usually would, but unsurprisingly Ailis came running out of the door and headed towards me. "Listen," she said. "I'm sorry. I'm just so envious of all your grand apparitions… they've helped us so much during this trip-you've helped us so much during this trip. I've done nothing at all except for sit on a rock." She fumbled with a pebble with her foot and ended up kicking it off to the side.

      I blabbered for a moment with a loss of words. "I- I never knew you felt that way. Why didn't you tell me earlier? I wouldn't have bragged so much about my visions… and don't say that about yourself. You've helped a lot. Without you, who would've interpreted all of those documents? You've contributed so much to this trip!"

      She smiled sheepishly and I saw blood rush to her cheeks, flushing them to a vivid pink. She opened her arms widely with a secretive smile dashed upon her reddened face and began to walk towards me. She unexpectedly grasped me in a tightening hug and began to giggle a bit. "Eww," I squealed in a puerile manner while walking backwards and laughing.

      "Okay, okay." Ailis calmed herself. "You know very well that we can't just walk up to the hut, snatch the gem, and leave without any disturbances. The looters will most likely try and follow us into the hut and steal the gem before we can even rest a paw on it. Any ideas?"

      "Hm…" I mumbled. "Well, in the riddle it said if you guess wrong, its suffering will end and you become the friend. That means that you can get two answers from the riddle? What if we act like the statue is the true answer and we get the looters to go to the statue and fail?"

      "Ooh!" Ailis cried. "Splendid idea! So we try and fake them out? Excellent. Though I can't help but feel the slightest bit horrible at the thought of what their fate will be."

      "It doesn't matter. They stole from us, tried to harm you, and are attempting to steal such a valuable artifact. Whatever befalls them will be deserved."

      "Right," Ailis said. "Shall we be off then? We'd better try and trick them and snatch the gem before anything else happens. First let's just get the looters out of the way."

      We headed out towards the center circle of the city with the Werelupe statue frozen in the center of the village. The day had passed rather speedily and the sky was slowly growing pinkish-orange. The trees surrounding the square waved gently from side to side in the soft breeze; it was the first time I had thought of Geraptiku as "beautiful."

      The entire city seemed to be spinning (no, I'm not going into another vision)… all around the center point: the Werelupe. I could see the hut that we were going into; the one that contained the gem. Indeed it seemed different than the other huts, though I wouldn't have noticed that if I hadn't known that it was the hut we were looking for. It seemed much darker and burnt that the other huts and a large vine climbed the side of the bamboo walls, but a strange glow appeared to surround it; shimmering lightly beneath the orange sun. Yet then it seemed to pass me by due to its nonexistent rotation.

      "Come on, Damian!" Ailis yelled abnormally loud, and with a large amount of sarcasm. I glanced at her strangely and she winked and continued to yell. "We need to go over to the Werelupe statue to find the gem! But we have to be aware of the looters so they don't make it before us!"

      "Oh!" I suddenly shouted under my breath. "Heh, I get it now."

      Ailis's plan had worked; not long after she shouted that, the two looters came running out from behind a hut and headed towards us. The tubby Bruce was still waddling quickly after the Kyrii and tripping occasionally over his feet. The Kyrii wore a black, turtleneck sweater and baggy denim jeans. As for the Bruce, he wore a red and white striped shirt and red shorts that were practically falling off of his bottom. The Bruce hitched up his shorts and fell forward once more.

      "Oh come on, Eugene! You keep holding us back," I heard the Kyrii yell at the poor Bruce as he fell on his face once more.

      "Buhhwadd uff triklemeh evoul, Koick?" the portly Bruce mumbled to the Kyrii.

      "Listen, Eugene," the Kyrii spoke again. "My name is Kirk… why can't you say that? Why can't you say anything that people can understand? Kirk… Kirk! You're luck that I can understand you. And no, I don't believe they would do something like that."

      "So, Eugene and Kirk; that's what they call you?" I shouted to them. "Well, good luck getting the gem before us! That Werelupe statue is closer to us than it is to you! The only way to get there first is if you fight us!"

      My eyes grew wide as Kirk came trampling towards me; a spiteful look darted his face. His fists were clenched tightly and I could see his veins popping out from his paw. Gritting his teeth together, he jumped high into the air and came smashing down upon me. We wrestled for a moment or two, rolling around on the dusty ground and stirring up a large cloud of dirt.

      Soon after the "battle" began, Eugene became incredibly excited and waddled towards us while giggling stupidly, "Uhhhuhuhuh!" Yet instead of watching Kirk and I fight, he decided to help out a little bit… which was actually horrible. He flopped himself on top of Kirk while I was on the bottom of the dog pile. Instantly the air was knocked out of my lungs and my eyes bulged.

      "Get off of me, you imbecile!" Kirk yelled at Eugene. "I'm on your side. You don't need to flatten me!"

      "Ooooh! Huhuhrite," Eugene burbled as he lifted himself off of Kirk.

      Kirk arose from the dog pile that he created just a few moments ago. He paused for a second and glanced at me, and then at the statue, and then back to me. Without a moment's pause, he grabbed Eugene and dragged him quickly over to the Werelupe statue where they waited for something to happen. Kirk softly touched the statue on its side and stared at it speculatively. Nothing was happening.

      An earsplitting crack erupted throughout the trees and the statue began to move. At first his arms writhed back and forth and eventually his head began to shake and an odd thing happened. "MEAAAAAH!" the statue screeched like a Babaa and then paused for just a moment. It let out another shattering screech that actually split a nearby tree in half.

      "Err…" Ailis mumbled. "I thought you said the Werelupe 'roared' loudly?"

      "Heh, I did say that didn't I?" I replied with a sheepish grin. "I guess a few hundred years of being stone can do that to your voice."

      I felt awful after this next scene… I felt sorry for the looters… I felt hatred within them… yet I felt awful that this had to happen. It all happened within a blur, but I remember ever aching detail.

      The statue reached for Kirk and grasped him by the waist and swung him high into the air, still holding onto him. The Werelupe flicked its stony hand back and forth trying to make Kirk fall off, yet he hung on tightly to his paw. He screamed loudly as the Werelupe grasped him once more around his midriff and held onto him.

      Eugene, on the other hand, was desperately trying to escape the mass chaos. Of course he was unsuccessful because he was lying on the ground once more after tripping over his feet. He turned his head around and yawped at the sight of Kirk being held so high up in the air like that. He quickened his crawling pace but found himself moving nowhere because of the new restraining grip that held him tightly by his shorts. The Werelupe statue managed to get hold of his trousers and began to drag him across the dirt and towards the statue's base. He squealed once more as the statue held him up high just as he had done to Kirk, except Eugene had to face the enormous wedgie that the Werelupe was giving him. He let out a gasping scream and his eyes bulged at the horrible feeling of his trousers raising him into the air.

      I heard the Werelupe stop screeching as another familiar sound began to fill the tiny city. The recognizable sound was the same one that I heard in my vision that befell me but a few moments ago. The Werelupe's arms changed from the furry brown to the cold, stone gray once again and cracks formed on him once more. And just as the Werelupe morphed into stone, the same occurred to Kirk and the suffering Eugene. All I remember nowadays is the glower that was placed upon Kirk's face and the agonizing face of suffering that struck Eugene's face. Then it was all over. They were stone.

      "Come on," Ailis murmured mournfully.

      Our destination lay directly in front of us; the strange radiance continued to flow from behind the hut. Ailis and I walked slowly towards the house… slightly afraid of what might lie beyond the mysterious front door. I swear this scene could've come right out of a movie, but I'll make it a bit more dramatic! The sky behind us was bright orange with a hint of red dashed beyond the pink clouds, while the sky in front of us was slowly dimming into a navy blue and stars dotted a map on top of it. A wind blew from behind us and tossed Ailis's hair valiantly in the breeze as we took each dignified step.

      "Ninety-nine bottles of Achyfi on the wall… ninety-nine bottles of Achyfi. Take one down, pass it around… ninety-eight bottles of Achyfi on the wall!" I began to sing while walking towards the falling-apart hut.

      To my surprise, Ailis seemed quite annoyed by my fabulous singing talent! She huffed and covered her ears, but I kept singing. She finally stated slowly, "Damian… please. The last time you started to sing that song you went all the way to seven Achyfi, lost count, and started over. I cannot stand that song."

      "Well!" I replied. "First off, the last time I sang that song, I sang it about Neocola: not Achyfi. And besides, I thought you liked that song!"

      "I GET IT STUCK IN MY HEAD!" she screamed. "Likewise, I'd prefer to drink the ninety-nine bottles of whatever drink than to listen to that song."

      And with that, the conversation was over, but not due to Ailis's previous remark, but because we found ourselves standing directly in front of the inexplicable hut. I took a step forward, but Ailis stretched an arm out to block me from entering. Without a sound she put a finger up to her lip, symbolizing me to be silent. She lifted the decrepit riddle out of the pocket of her black knickers and pointed to it while tapping her other finger on her lips once more.

      Oh! I thought. I forgot that the riddle suggested that if one spoke while inside the cottage, they would have poison spewed at them.

      I nodded my head to show that I knew what Ailis was trying to say to me. She lowered her hand away from me and we entered the sinister room that hopefully contained the Jungly Jem.

     The room was strange, indeed. A foul smell polluted the dark room, and it was strikingly familiar, yet it wasn't a smell that I often had the displeasure to inhale. A statue of an alarming Mynci was found on the left side of the room upon entrance; its mouth was wide open and its eyes gleamed with terror that accented the frightening theme of the room. Probably more chilling than the statue were the three skulls that dangled from the ceiling by ropes. All three skulls (the Wocky, Gelert, and Acara skulls) seemed to have a vile grin placed upon their bony mouths. A chill went down my spine that caused me to jump with the cold feeling.

      And there, in the center of the hut, was our goal: a wooden box with a green, diamond emblem on the lid. Just inches from the lid was a small keyhole that I knew must be the one that the key I had would fit into. The box was placed on a wooden pedestal that rose from the ground with a small, thin neck that merged into a large platform that the box rested upon.

      Ailis crept in slowly on her tiptoes, not daring to rest her heels on the forlorn soil of the hut. She touched the skulls on the far-right side of the room and they clanked together so loudly that I could hear it even from where I stood. She stopped suddenly and cringed at the thought that she might have broken the warning that the riddle gave about not making a noise, but thankfully nothing happened. She sighed comfortingly and indicated me to come into the room to help her with the gem. I sneaked in the same way that Ailis did, but headed towards the box and the pedestal instead of the skulls.

      It was time for the moment that we long awaited for; the reason we came past all of the distractions and tasks. I slid the rusted key out of my pocket and firmly grasped it in my right hand. Ailis gently slunk over towards me and glared over my shoulder to get a view of me opening the tiny box. The key slipped into the lock without any force or hassle and I turned it to the right in order to hear the light click of the lock coming undone.

      Click.

      It was done. I stared at Ailis for a moment and she stared right back at me with eager eyes. My original plan was for me to open the box, snatch the Jem, and run quickly out of the door, but I felt that Ailis had done so much along the way that she deserved to open the box and grab the Jem. I smiled at her and shrugged my shoulders while tilting my head towards the box. Ailis's face brightened and she quickly came over and took my place in front of the wooden box. She opened it, and inside, just as we planned, was a medium-sized crystal about the size of my fist. It was emerald green and slightly transparent, but full enough to see the entire power that was contained inside of it. Miniature lightning sparks went off in the core of the Jem and a green glow brightly lit up the darkened box.

      "At last…" I murmured loudly.

      "Oh my gosh… Damian! No!" Ailis screeched only slightly above a whisper.

      I knew I had done it when the floor began to tremor violently up and down. The statue of the Mynci turned towards us, opened its mouth wider than it was before, and screeched at the top of its lungs while spewing a green-white liquid out of its mouth. We dodged the stream of toxin and headed straight for the door, but before we exited Ailis turned around towards me and shouted, "Damian! The Jem!" I quickly raced back to the pedestal, jumped over the stream, and grasped the box tightly within my arms. The floor continued to shake as I ran towards Ailis once again to pass off the Jem to her. She grabbed the box from me and dashed off into the center of the city… I followed close behind her. It was all over; we did it.

      Ailis came to rest at a tree just outside the city's gates. The tree was much different than all the other ones because it was actually alive and a bright, cheery green. She laid her back against the tree and opened the box to look at the Jem again. I laid down next to her and glanced into the box that contained the sparkling Jungly Jem and smiled at Ailis's content face. She smiled back and closed her eyes, but I stared at the glamorous sunset that hid behind the forgotten city of Geraptiku. I laughed softly and started to talk to myself. "Where was I again? Oh well…. Ninety-nine bottles of Achyfi on the wall, ninety-nine bottles of Achyfi…"

      "Damian, please," Ailis giggled while curling up next to me and staring off into the sunset. "Sing about Neocola again."

     The End

     ***

      Dearest readers,

      Many of you may be wondering what happened to Damian and Ailis after they found the Jungly Jem and escaped from the deadly hut in Geraptiku. Might I say that it wasn't as eventful as the journey to Geraptiku, but their journey to Faerieland had the same significance as finding the Jem in the first place. Once they arrived in Faerieland they gave the Jem to Queen Fyora who traded it off to Iyana, a fellow earth faerie. After it made its way around the faeries, it was destroyed at long last. Nobody wanted the same danger to occur once again.

      As for our two heroes, they are taking a well deserved vacation in parts unknown. But rest assured they will come back to help out anyone in need of adventurers. For now they will come back when they feel that they are ready, but the scars that were left behind might never heal.

      Keahi has yet to be found. Most of us have assumed he was taken by island natives and forced to travel with them back to their village. Keahi's importance during the quest has been honored by a plaque left where he last disappeared, just outside of Techo Mountain. Do not assume that his fate is unspeakable; it's always best to keep your head high and think positive about an ill-fated situation.

      As for myself, I am doing fine. My battle against the looters back at my hut was not fatal, only a few physical scars and damage was done to myself and my home, but nothing long-term. I recently found Damian's journal in which he logged all events and findings; I have only published what was inside the journal so I have no clue about any other secrets or happenings that he did not write about. In fact, this is the only part of the tale that I am even writing: Damian wrote all previous text. As a final note, I wish to say thank you all for reading Damian's chronicles; he will appreciate it when I tell him what I have done with his journal. For now, we must depart.

           Farewell,

           Phillip (The Island Mystic)

     P.S. You will quickly realize that you forgot to bury all your clothes.

Author's Note: I hope you enjoyed my series. Questions, comments, and criticism are ALWAYS appreciated through Neomail.

 
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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 - Part Three
» Tropical Tragedy: Search for the Jungly Jem - Part Four
» Tropical Tragedy: Search for the Jungly Jem - Part Five



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