Treasure of the Caves: Part Five
As midnight came, new workers arrived and the other ones
went home. Shad curled up next to a sack of apples and Saura leaned against the
wall next to the window. They weren't disturbing anyone and nobody disturbed them,
seeing that the two were really awfully tired. So the night passed and Loretta
woke them up in the morning as the other shift arrived again.
"What's wrong with these pirates?" Shad demanded,
trotting in and out like crazy. "They all have ships, galleys and chefs but
they prefer to come here and waste their gold instead of fishing their own food."
"Some of that gold lands in our paws so don't
complain," Saura suggested and kept on cooking, quietly and calmly as always,
not caring much about his surroundings until his big brother galloped in again
at noon, threw the tray down and announced with a wide grin:
"Time to quit, Saura. The gang has arrived. Now
we can finally go and find the hmmmpfff…"
"My, how clumsy of me," the Zafara commented,
releasing Shad's muzzle. "Let's go then. Find the housemaster and tell him about
us quitting, okay?" He left the kitchen, made his way to a small table and greeted
"Looks like we've all been doing pretty well,"
he said, sitting down. "As soon as Shad gets here with our salary, we can get
"And we might want to hurry up," Shad stated,
trotting to the table with a bag of dubloons between his fangs and Ace the Wuzzle
on his back. "The master…"
"Get back here, ye lily livered landlubber!"
the restaurant's boss roared from the other end of the room. Shad's family blinked,
then all of a sudden they were out of the door and inside one of the boats.
They were able to react pretty quickly when it came to drastic situations. Saura
grabbed the oars and started rowing as fast as he could.
"Shad?" Kat asked with a vague frown.
"He only wanted to pay us both two dubloons,"
Shad protested. "I told him that we wanted more, the job wasn't easy, believe
me… he disagreed, so I took the liberty of convincing Ace a little."
Ace hissed. Convincing him usually meant poking
him. As a general rule it was very effective.
"So Ace cornered him and I grabbed the dubloons,"
the Lupe finished. Tsuki reached for the bag and opened it.
"Fifteen dubloons; he has no reason to complain,"
he said. "I for instance got five, plus some priceless info." The others turned
to look at him.
"The treasure is behind a door guarded by something
powerful, that's for sure," the Shoyru explained as the boat turned towards
the pier. "I managed to get my paws on an interesting book. Apparently old Daggers
really had some magical abilities because the door only opens when a puzzle
"What puzzle?" Ice asked.
"We'll know when we get there," the Shoyru replied
with a frown. "Right now I have no idea. There were some little hints though…
nothing too specific but still helpful." He hopped out of the boat - they had
reached the shore. "We'd better go shopping now. How much do we have altogether?"
After adding everything up, they faced Krawk
Island's grocery stores with thirty two dubloons and, as Ice remarked, Tsuki's
"Try stealing my rings and spend the rest of
your life as a Mortog," the Shoyru warned him, looking around in the store.
"Saura, this is your category."
After spending ten dubloons and stuffing their
bags with all sorts of goods they were finally ready to face the unknown lands
before them. With the village left behind them and the sandy plains in front
of their feet they felt like the very first Neopets that had ever made it to
the island's coast.
"That'll be a long way," Ice commented, noting
the difference between her short Ixi legs and the huge distance.
"Once we made it this far, might as well continue,"
Kat replied and started walking. "Come on."
About two hours later they were all bored to
"I liked it better in the village," Shad complained,
panting under the hot sun that was ruthlessly burning the dry plains and especially
his dark fur. "At least there was something to do, something to look out for,
some fun and action…"
"Travellers!" someone's voice echoed over the
lands. "Look before, my friends, more clueless fools have wandered onto our
"You were saying, Shad?" Saura asked, raising
his eyebrows. A huge cloud of dust and sand moved quickly towards them and eventually
turned into a gang of about a dozen Neopets, each riding a Uni. They were instantly
surrounded and a vicious-looking Krawk on a shadow Uni faced them.
"Not many dare to come through these forgotten
lands," he declared, looking down at the five pets. "The path is long and dangerous.
But we gladly help all the explorers by making their luggage a little lighter."
"So give us all your money," the Uni added. Obviously
he didn't like fancy words as much as his buddy.
"They're just robbers," Ice remarked, sounding
a bit disappointed.
"What, and you would've preferred some huge monsters?"
Kat asked sarcastically.
"They're still to come when you go farther,"
another Uni remarked. "Don't make us hurt you now…"
"Hey guys, I've always through that travelling
with Unis is a lot faster," Shad commented, looking around as a grin appeared
on his face.
"We all think that, we just never dare to say
it out loud while Kat is around," Saura agreed. "Listen," he turned to the robbers,
"I believe that you're able to help us a little."
"And why should we do that?" one of them asked
with a grim frown. Tsuki the mage thoughtfully raised a paw. The golden ring
around it flashed in the blinding sunlight…
Dozens of hooves thudded against the soil, manes
and tails waved in the windless air and four scared little Mortogs huddled on
the back of one of the Unis.
"I should become a mage too," Shad stated, trying
to keep himself balanced on the back of a big split Uni who galloped as fast
as he could, fear gleaming in his eyes. "It looks like fun!"
"It's a lot of hard work," Tsuki replied. He
was curled up on the back of a white Uni who was even more scared. The Shoyru
was sleepy. He was usually asleep on daytime and the hot sun added to the feeling.
"But still fun," Shad claimed. The robbers that
hadn't been turned into Mortogs kept quiet. Kat galloped behind everyone else,
the only Uni who wasn't carrying anyone, and kept an eye on the gang.
"How long would it take to reach the Smugglers'
Cove?" Ice asked the Uni she was riding. The robber glanced back over his shoulder.
"Three days, but we never go to the village that
you'd have to pass if you want to go to the Cove, even if you turn us all into
Mortogs. We're outlaws, we can't risk with anything like that."
"Makes sense," Ice agreed. "Just take us as far
as you can, got it?"
About two hours later they were all bored to
death again, except for Kat who took running as training and Tsuki who was now
"Krawk Island is boring!" Shad declared. "Seriously,
you'd think that a pirate island has more to offer than a plain and a bunch
of robbers! Saura, I'm hungry."
"I think we all are," Saura replied. "Let's take
Two days passed, nothing specific happened and
they were already running out of food when they noticed rooftops looming in
the distance one evening. All Unis stopped at once.
"This is as far as we go," the shadow Uni stated.
"Now you're on your own. Luckily," he added very quietly. Tsuki heard that but
didn't mind - after all, he was right - and turned the four Mortogs back into
"Let's go, guys," he said and floated up in the
air. The family followed him and the robbers hurried away, all glad to have
gotten rid of the unwanted guests.
"Should we spend the night in the village?" Ice
asked, stretching her legs. "Or go straight for the Cove?"
"We need more food," Saura replied, looking at
the roofs. "I bet they have a market of some sort. I could use something fresh.
Those biscuits taste like sawdust."
The village turned out to be small, crowded and
rather friendly, though Ice predicted that as soon as any of them would mention
anything about Darkstar Daggers, they'd be driven out at once. They bought some
food, found a nice tavern to spend the night in and the next morning turned
towards the Smugglers' Cove.
"Get ready to be stuck in here for days… Saura,
do we have enough food?" Shad asked grimly when they stopped in front of the
"Yeah, and don't jinx it," the Zafara replied
with a frown. "Tsuki, do you really think that this is where we have to go?"
The Shoyru had already turned left. "Either this
or the Fungus Cave; if what captain Threelegs said is true then it makes no
big difference as the two caves are connected to each other. Let's go to the
Fungus Cave instead; not many people have Krawks and that place isn't visited
"Do you really think that we'll find the treasure?"
Kat asked, following her stepbrother.
"Maybe," Tsuki replied, flying up the side of
the hill that led to the cave. A few moments later they entered the cave.
"Ugh!" Ice stated, peering at the smelly green
fungus that was hanging down all the walls of the cave. "If this is really how
those two thousand Krawks of Neopia came to be, I'm really glad to be an Ixi!"
"Don't forget transmogrification potions," Kat
replied, carefully lurking past the water streams and mouldy walls. Tsuki was
in front of everyone else, quickly venturing deeper and deeper into the cave,
looking around and memorizing everything he saw, smelled, heard, touched or
"I'm pretty sure that those taste pretty much
like fungus too," Ice remarked.
"The morphing potion I drank back then tasted
like liquid cheese with some touch of asparagus," Saura said with a frown -
he had originally been a red Aisha before being morphed into a Zafara.
"Dunno," Shad muttered with his mouth full, gnawing
on a piece of fungus, "this stuff ain't too bad once you get used to the stickiness."
The others stared at him.
"Lovely, then we won't have to worry about you
when we run out of food and need to starve for a few days," Ice said.
"How far do you think we need to go, Tsuki?"
Kat called. The Shoyru had almost disappeared into the depths of the cave but
still his dark blue eyes flashed in the darkness when he turned around and shouted
"These paths are long and form a huge maze. You
might as well try to play hide-and-seek in the Mystery Island volcano. And let's
face it, we don't even have a map. What are the odds that we'll find the right
"How are you planning to find it then?" Shad
demanded, swallowing the last piece of fungus.
"I don't know for sure," the voice echoed back;
Tsuki had gotten very far already. "I believe that I may be able to sense anything
that has to do with magic but it's not a completely reliable way. Hurry up or
we'll get separated here."
"You could just slow down instead," Saura complained,
trotting faster and carrying Ace, their only source of light now as the caves
were getting darker and darker. The other three followed him. Tsuki could see
very well in the darkness so he didn't need the Wuzzle's flames to notice some
odd marks carved inside the ancient wall. The others found him crouching by
that wall when they caught up with him.
"So… do those marks have anything to do with
Daggers?" Kat asked, lowering her head.
"I guess so," Tsuki nodded, quickly sliding his
paw from right to left down the marks. "It's encrypted but not impossible to
decipher. Looks like a riddle of some sort."
"Say," Ice slowly asked, curiously peering at
the marks that were carved about a foot above the floor, "what type of Neopet
was that Daggers anyway?"
"A Quiggle," Tsuki replied absently, still reading
and deciphering as he went.
"The Mootix Warrior might even stand a chance
here," Shad commented with a grin.
"Go ahead and tell him that," Kat grunted. "A
villain is a villain. Is it getting you anywhere, Tsuki?"
"Well, if I got this right, we need to go…" the
Shoyru got up and looked farther into the darkness, "straight ahead, left, right,
left again, past the hall of skeletons, right, straight ahead, left again, past
another skeleton and then follow our noses. That old pirate wasn't as smart
as he thought he was."
"That's what he wrote in there?" Saura asked
when they went on.
"No, he wrote the exact opposite but as you may
remember, he didn't want anyone to find the treasure," the Shoyru replied.
"The hall of skeletons?" Ice asked with a vague
"Every bigger maze has one of those," Shad said
and grabbed another piece of fungus. "Especially when an ancient treasure lies
in that same maze."
"Too true," Tsuki nodded. "How can you eat that
"It doesn't taste bad at all once you're used
to that stuff Huntress feeds us all the time," the Lupe argued. The pets thought
of all the spooky food and then tasted the fungus as well.
"Dunno, I'd still take a Squishy Brain Wrap any
time," Kat said.
"Yeah, that at least has a nutritive value,"
Saura supported. "Hey Tsuki, what if we get lost?"
"I never get lost in places I've already been
to," the reply came from the dimness. "Once I've come in, I'm able to find a
way out. Move it, you're too slow!"
For a while they had no idea where they were
going but Tsuki apparently had and suddenly they came into a vast hall that
was practically filled with skeletons.
"There has been a huge battle in here," Kat said,
"A very long time ago indeed," Saura muttered.
"Look at the armor. They're ancient. Did you find anything, Tsuki?" The Shoyru
had crouched down by a wall but stood up again after Saura's question.
"Just a short note this time," he said. "It says
Shad blinked. "That's weird…"
"No it's not." Tsuki looked around. "The easiest
riddles are always the hardest to solve. Find me a skeleton that has a fancier
armor than the others, you hear me?"
"Here's a fancypants," Ice shouted from the other
corner of the hall, poking a skeleton with her hoof. "An armor made of silver,
really… that stuff is a lot softer than steel, didn't he know that?"
"I believe he found it out very quickly," Kat
replied. "So this is the general, huh? What should he tell us?"
Tsuki looked at the skeleton, then up at the
walls where there were at least ten different pathways, each leading to complete
darkness. Then he looked down again.
"Look," he said, prodding the skeleton's arm
that was pointing straight at one of the doorways.
"That way in that case," Shad said, looking at
the doorway opposite to the one the skeleton was pointing at. Tsuki smiled and
"Very good, Shad. Looks like you're getting the
idea of treasure seeking. Let's go."
To be continued...