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The Lost City of Geraptiku


by positive_changes

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"'S too hot," a young Lupe complained, rolling onto his stomach and facing his sister, who lay on her back lazily, watching the gnats swarm.

      "It's always hot, Tumba. What makes today different?" she shot back irritably, shutting her eyes as the sun yet again escaped the cover of passing white clouds. He was right though; the afternoon was sweltering, with the sun beating down on their pelts relentlessly. Rarely, a balmy breeze passed through to bring relief. The elder of the two, a Lupess by name of Kyra, sighed and lifted her hot, tired self to her feet. Stretching for a moment, she surveyed the island around them.

      Beaten dirt paths snaked across the island, cutting through the overgrown jungle in the center, twisting through the clusters of thatched huts that congregated here and there on the island. Flowers every color of the rainbow blossomed on bushes and vines, often tucked behind the ears of passers-by. Crystalline waters surrounded the island, lapping up onto the white sugar sand to cool the feet of those positioned there. A beautiful place to live, anyone would say.

      "C'mon, Tumba, let's do something. I'm bored stiff just sitting here," Kyra said, leading the way down a path known as Trade Road. It was named appropriately; along the road, carts and tents were lined up side by side, displaying their goods. Fruits, flowers, sand sculptures and other novelties by Island natives, but also many weapons, books, and toys from the mainland. Everyone came to Mystery Island to trade, from all four corners of Neopia. It was one of Kyra's favorite places to be; watching hagglers argue raucously over prices, pets tugging their owners' hands, leading them towards a certain toy or book, fighters surveying weapons with masked interest.

      Kyra stopped briefly, to watch two men yelling at the tops of their voices over a particular piece of map, which was near to being torn in half by the two. They shook fists and shouted curses, two arguing sides, neither to win any time soon. It was only when Tumba tugged on her that Kyra shook her head and moved forward, no longer entranced by the goings-on of Trade Road.

      The two took a side road off of the bustling street, walking a more serene path. It wasn't one often traveled, by the looks of it; vines creeped across from treetop to treetop, creating a sort of canopy over the path, and bushes pushed out from their confines, stretching their roots into the walking path. The path was mostly shaded by foliage, so it was a comfortable route to take. Cool dirt beneath their paws, the scent of fruit and flowers wafting past their snouts, and best of all, no heat of the sun beating on their backs.

      "Where are we going?" Tumba asked, looking up to his big sister with curious eyes. He always counted on her to know what was going on. Kyra didn't answer at first, but rather, scanned further down the trail. She didn't really know herself; they hadn't walked this path in her recent memory.

      "Uhm…" she said, not really sure. As the two reached the crest of the hill they had been slowly ascending, they looked down around them. To their far right, a small bit of land with Easter Island heads popping up here and there. To their far left, miles of ocean. Looking overhead, they saw a thick chord of smoke rising unhurriedly into the cerulean sky. "We're on Techo Mountain -" Kyra said perceptively, realizing from the smoke, "-and that below us is Geraptiku. Where we're going."

      Tumba looked up at Kyra, eyes wide. "But Mom said we're not to go there, remember? She said -"

      "I know what she said, Tumba. But you said you wanted to have some fun, and exploring is fun, and we've never been there before. What else are we going to do for fun, drink mango juice?" Kyra spoke in a persuading tone, almost like that of the traders on the island when trying to sell their goods. In truth, Tumba hadn't said anything about being bored; Kyra had. But she was so convincing that Tumba overlooked that slight detail. He finally nodded, after about 30 seconds of contemplation. Kyra burst into a toothy grin, and lead the way down the path towards the lost city, tail swishing in the air.

      About 20 yards from the entrance to Geraptiku, the duo stopped, surveying their destination. A growth of trees and bushes fenced off most of the ruined city from sight, the only visible part being the main entrance, and two or three buildings. Kyra was sure there were more in there, and quite keen to investigate. Much more so than Tumba, who stood stock-still as Kyra moved towards the entrance.

      "What're you waiting for?" she asked impatiently, stopping to face him. He shook his head, looking down the path into the city with a great distrust.

      "I don't think we should," he said in a would-be firm voice, but he wavered through his statement, obviously apprehensive about the whole thing.

      "Oh stop being a baby, Tumba, just come on!" Kyra said. "Aw, I'm sorry, is wittle Tumba afwaid of the big, scawy city? Maybe he should go home and take a nappie!" Kyra cackled callously, eyes gleaming.

      "I'm not scared!" Tumba shouted defensively, puffing up his chest and trying his best to look valorous. But no façade could mask his obvious fear. Nevertheless, he took a deep breath and marched towards where Kyra stood, just before the entrance. "Let's go," he growled, almost threateningly. Kyra smiled inwardly, knowing she'd hit a soft spot and gotten exactly what she wanted. She trailed her brother, both of the Lupes entering the Lost City of Geraptiku.

      Upon entering the city, the very first thing Kyra took notice of was the lack of sound. The only noises were the crunching of twigs and long-dead leaves beneath Kyra and Tumba's paws, and their haggard breathing. Otherwise, the silence was eerie. It was as if the birds stopped singing in Geraptiku, for there was no song to be heard. The lulling sound of ocean waves slapping the shore was not heard within the limits of the city; it was like the barrier of trees and bushes could keep out sound as well. Kyra shook the thought out of her head; it was a ridiculous thing to think. But the silence was quite unnerving… and finally Kyra had to make some noise, otherwise she thought she might go crazy.

      "So, little brother," she said suddenly, causing Tumba to nearly jump out of his skin. "What do you think of this place?"

      "It's really…" he trailed off, not able to find a word to explain Geraptiku. It wasn't really scary, because there was nothing there to scare them. The place was void of anything living, the two Lupes aside. They hadn't seen so much as a gnat or a lizard since they entered. Nothing green grew within the boundaries of the shrubbery fence, only the twisted remains of dead plants, that were slowly crumbling into nothing. Huts were scattered all around Geraptiku, most of them in pretty decent shape from the outside. A few had holes in the roofs, as if someone had left a fire burning and not paid attention. Left, was what it was. Left behind.

      "Weird," Kyra said, finishing his sentence. She too had noticed the up-and-gone look of the place. It was like someone had lived there before, a lot of someones, and then they just disappeared to nowhere. Pots were hung over long-extinguished fires, their contents nothing but rot and ash now. Roughly-made toys were lying in the paths that cut around the city, like children had simply left them to go in for dinner. It was creepy.

      "Hey Tumba, look at this!" Kyra shouted, walking into one of the huts that had the door swinging wide open. Two beds stood against the circular walls, covered in blankets sewn from some kind of animal hide. A fire pit was sunken into the floor in the center of the hut, and above it, a large hole was burned out of the thatched roof. A spear was leaned against the inner wall, cobwebs strung between the handle and the wall. Once the weapon of a warrior, now the home of a lonely spider.

      "Hey, Tumba, c'mere already!" she shouted again, in awe at the abandoned home. When Tumba didn't answer, Kyra frowned. Where was he? She exited the hut, walking around and calling his name. Her voice, shouting, 'Tumba! Tumba!' over and over again, was the only sound in Geraptiku. She grew worried; where was he? She had thought he was right behind her, or in another hut looking around. Now he was nowhere.

      "Tumba, this isn't funny, you know! Come out, really!" Kyra's voice squeaked, and anxiety gripped her. What if something had hurt him? But there wasn't anything beside for you and him here, remember? She reasoned with herself, but it wasn't helping matters any. Kyra began running from hut to hut, shouting his name and looking for a glimpse of his copper-red fur. Nowhere.

      "Tumba! Please come out!" Tears pricked at Kyra's eyes, but she blinked them back hard. He would be okay… he had to be…

      Somewhere in the distance, a young male's voice shouted.

      "Kyra! Help!" At the sound, Kyra's ears swiveled around, trying to catch where his voice was coming from. Somewhere in the back of the forgotten city, she thought, taking off in that direction. Her paws beat at the hard-packed dirt beneath her, breath coming out in short pants. Her eyes were peeled, her fangs bared. Nothing would hurt her brother, if she had any say in it.

      As Kyra turned to look to the left side of her, something very furry collided with her. Both fell to the ground, and Kyra yelped.

      "Tumba!" What the -"

      "No time! No time! RUN!" he shouted exasperatedly, taking off in the direction of the entrance to the city. Kyra didn't need telling twice; within seconds she was neck and neck with Tumba, running hard towards their escape. Behind her, for the first time, something aside from them could be heard. Heavy footsteps, of something rather large, were coming up behind them. Kyra dared not turn around and take a look at whatever it was, but instead willed herself to run faster.

      With the entrance in sight, she looked to her side to give her brother an encouraging smile. They were almost free. Instead, she saw nothing to her left but air. Nothing to her right but air. Looking behind her, she gasped loudly. Tumba was laid out on the ground, having tripped on a root. His eyes were wide as saucers, and he leaped up quickly and began limping towards the exit. Behind them, whatever it was, had disappeared. But the sound of the heavy footsteps hadn't. Kyra even thought she might be hearing a harsh, rattling breathing from somewhere behind a large building near the entrance.

      "TUMBA! Are you okay?!" Kyra shouted, slowing so that he would be in stride with her.

      "I'm fine, let's move!" he panted, scrambling as quickly as his 3 unharmed legs would carry him. The two made it to the exit, and while Tumba kept up his loping sprint, Kyra came to an abrupt halt just outside of the entrance, looking back in. Back a bit and to her left, within Geraptiku, was what appeared to be a meeting hall sort of building. In its bamboo side, a large hole torn. Peering out from the hole, two large, gleaming red eyes, round as the full moon and bright as traffic lights. Rough, rattling breaths came in short intervals as the red eyes stared hard at Kyra, unblinking.

      Kyra turned and ran, and didn't stop.

The End

 
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