The Jackals of Sakhmet II- Finding Lee: Part Seven
Cave One (Task One)-
Which tunnel was which? Which tunnels were tricks? Which
tunnels held aids that would lead them down the right way? Niger had not expected
anything like this. You see, reader, even though it was unfortunate that Kasha
had been in the caves before, it was quite smart of Scarab to only take her
and show her the way. No one else in Neopia, not even Lycos, knew how to get
on in the caves. Real brainwork was required to get by.
"Is this some kind of joke?" Niger snarled,
releasing Cole for the first time. "What are we to do? How's anyone supposed
to reach those tunnels?"
Dear reader, excuse me for putting our tale
on pause for a moment, but have you ever watched a movie where the kids and
teens were much more educated and much brighter than the grown-ups? This is
like one of those movies, for you see, Lee was already on the right track when
she began to push the rocks on top of the buttons in the ground.
"You guys get those," she told Cole and Omar,
who obeyed immediately. Niger watched as they did so, clearly not impressed,
for nothing happened. He thought they were wasting his time; so instead, he
searched the walls, hoping to find a hidden tunnel or passage of some sort.
Half an hour, dear reader… It took half an hour for the trio to push all the
rocks onto all the buttons. That's how many there were. At first, nothing seemed
to happen, and soon, they realized that the ground they stood on was rising
to the topmost level of tunnels.
"How did you do that?" Niger snapped as the
ground came to a sudden halt. "How did you make us move?"
The children smirked, remaining silent. So that
was part one of their tasks…but now came part two. Which tunnel was the correct
one? There were three tunnels…but which was the right one?
"Maybe we should go down this one," Omar pointed
to the second one.
"Oh no, you don't…" said Niger, taking Cole's
arm once more. (Why did he insist on hurting Cole?) "You and the Ixi will go
down those two separate tunnels; Cole and I are going down this one…"
He pointed to each tunnel as he said so. Lee
and Omar remained silent, giving Cole worried looks.
"I'll be fine," he mouthed to them. With that
said and done, the four set off down the separate tunnels; Lee down the third
one, Omar down the second one, and Cole and Niger down the first one. Each tunnel
led to three separate rooms, dear reader, yet only one of them was the right
one. Wondering who had the right room? I bet you are…
As Lee began to walk further down, she began
having second thoughts. She had the most peculiar feeling that someone was watching
her… One step, two steps, three steps… With Lee's every step she heard an echo…an
echo of each step. Was someone following her? One step, two steps, three steps…
Every time a footstep echoed…but it wasn't a natural echo. Someone was following
her. Holding her breath, Lee spun around to see what stood behind her, but found
nothing but air.
"For the love of… Hello?" she called. By now
she had traveled quite a distance down the tunnel, so no one would be able to
hear here from the tunnel's entrance. Shaking her head in confusion, Lee turned
back and continued walking. This time the footsteps were louder. Lee ignored
it for as long as she could, but no longer could when she felt a sharp claw
touch her shoulder…
* * *
"It had to be a giant cave, didn't it?" Omar
muttered angrily to himself. "Scarab just had to make a maze out of it, didn't
The tunnel seemed to just stretch on and on,
never ending… In fact, Omar had been walking for so long; he could hear his
own stomach rumbling…it was his stomach, wasn't it? Omar stopped in his tracks,
his ears listened attentively: it wasn't his stomach he was hearing… Something
rather large was rolling his way from the way he had come, yet he could not
see what it was…
"What the heck…" was all Omar had time to say
before a gigantic boulder, larger than nobody's business, was rolling his way.
Omar didn't need telling twice to pick up the pace. Where did the boulder come
from?! Had Scarab completely lost his mind? But perhaps this wasn't the right
* * *
"Why do you keep looking back? You're not going
anywhere, you're staying with me," Niger snapped at Cole for the third time.
Cole couldn't help it. He had a feeling that his friends were in trouble. But
would you argue with a dagger, especially a poisoned tipped one? Tunnel number
one, actually, was the shortest of all three, but for a reason. Niger and Cole
found out that reason within the next five minutes…
"There is a giant lake in this cave?" Cole said
in disbelief as they entered the adjoining cave. A lake, at least ten feet in
length, sat before them. No bridge was present, and the water was obviously
too deep to wade in. The only way across was to swim.
"C'mon," Niger ordered, placing his dagger in
his cloak. "We need to get across to there."
He pointed to the tunnel opposite them, the
only one… Cole stared into the murky, lake water; it didn't look very promising.
"Come, now!" Niger yelled. Hesitantly, Cole
climbed into the water after Niger. Normally, he wouldn't listen to a grown-up
like him. It wasn't Niger he was afraid of; it was the concept of losing his
life to him that frightened him beyond anything else… The water was not as cold
as it let on, but it still was cold, and very deep. The two began to swim across
the lake, and everything seemed so quiet, so peaceful, and so calm. In fact,
after a while, it sounded as if the lake itself was singing a lullaby.
Its voice was so beautiful, Cole longed to stay
there forever to listen and never leave. The lake's effects even took its toll
on Niger who had actually stopped swimming just to listen. The song made Cole
and Niger drowsy, unfocused, and slower than usual… What were they doing in
the first place? They had forgotten everything; their worries, their troubles,
their friends; everything. Nothing mattered. The lullaby grew louder with every
Cole felt something move beneath his feet, but
paid no notice…at least not at first. He came back to his senses and glance
into the water. Nothing was supposed to be moving beneath his feet; the water
had to be at least thirty feet deep! Whatever had moved before had moved once
more, only this time it felt much sharper and rough. Cole looked over at Niger:
he was still in a trance, listening to the music… Music… Where was it coming
"Niger, we need to go," Cole said quietly to
the Cybunny, but Niger wasn't listening. He only heard the music, and nothing
more. His eyes were closed and he wore a small smile of relaxation… The music
"Niger, we got to move," Cole said more loudly,
swimming over to him. "Now would be a good time…"
The music got louder still. Suddenly, a large,
scaly, human hand came up from the water, grabbing Cole by the arm. He let out
a scream of surprise as another hand grabbed him, and another. He was soon staring
at the dull, grey, inhuman faces of three water faeries. The Drenched… But that
was not possible! The Drenched lived in Maraqua, not a cave on Krawk Island!
Whoever these faeries were, they dragged Cole underwater, smirking at him.
The music was still playing from above, for
Cole could hear it so faintly. The faeries snickered as Cole tried to break
free. They were too strong for him. Was this the end? Was this where Cole's
journey came to a stop? No, reader… Nay, I say. Do you know why? Niger had come
to Cole's aid. He had swum down to the faeries, his poisoned tipped dagger in
one hand and Omar's stolen, Cobrall dagger in the other… The moment the faeries
saw each dagger, they released Cole immediately and swam away. They knew when
they'd had enough.
Cole and Niger returned to the surface for some
air. Cole noticed the music had stopped… That was what broke Niger's trance…
"Come on; we still need to get across," said
Niger coldly, starting for the other end of the lake once more. Cole floated
there for a moment, staring at him in disbelief. He had just saved his life,
and all he could say was come on? Letting out an annoyed sigh, Cole started
swimming. Niger was something else… Moments later, the two of them gladly climbed
onto the small bank on the other side of the lake. Cole was more than glad to
be out of the water.
"This had better lead to the Rubite," Niger
growled, squeezing out the sleeves of his cloak. "C'mon… Up front where I can
Without a moment's hesitation, the two were
walking once more as if nothing had happened in the lake. The second cave was
lighter, for there were lit torches hanging on its walls. Niger grabbed one
of them before proceeding. Meanwhile, Cole was thinking to himself: were Lee
and Omar okay? What of Keera, Scarab, Lycos, and Wain? What was Kasha doing
now? So many questions, dear reader, and if there's one thing…need I say it?
To be continued...