Solkaris: The Narrative: Part Two
The soft, muffled sound of a tired pack animal suddenly
disrupted my thoughts and I looked up in surprise. An exhausted Apis meandered
over the dunes, its bandy legs bending with each step as it struggled towards
the Oasis bearing its rider and her gear. It was a white Aisha wearing a thatched
sunhat and dressed in a beige-colored polo shirt, light green vest and green shorts.
I could already tell by her outfit she was not one with the desert. From my hiding
place beneath the shadow of the ferns, I watched as she dismounted the large Petpet
by the water and allowed it to gulp down the lifesaving liquid ravenously. She,
however, ignored the water and instead brought down a heavy sports bag and retrieved
a notepad from it before walking up to Coltzan's Shrine. Rather than wait to get
blessed (or rejected, as I had been on numerous occasions), she sat down and began
scribbling down notes as if there was no tomorrow. She observed the hieroglyphics
carved into it, copied down the inscriptions within the cartouches and other such
things that were baffling and seemingly pointless to a simple thief like me.
"What kind of Neopet goes to Coltzan, but not
to get blessed?" I mused quietly. Sibil, who was perched on her regular spot
on my shoulder, saved me the trouble of having to answer.
"I think she's an archaeologist," she said softly.
Whatever she was, I could tell she wasn't like
most other Neopets that came by here. I got to my feet and slunk over to her
Apis, making sure I didn't attract the Aisha's attention, and began to nose
around. The poor Petpet seemed too fatigued to care, and just lay there as I
explored the contents of the Aisha's various knapsacks. At first it all seemed
pretty usual and of no interest to me. She didn't carry any jewelry or rare
artifacts, only some notes, changes of clothes, food (which I took anyway) and
various other basic necessities. However, a certain book lying in the sand where
it had fallen out of her bag caught my kohl-encrusted eyes, and I picked it
"Hello, what's this?" I wondered, running my
hands over the tatty edges.
It was a well-loved little book, I could see.
Already the nice green covering was being eaten away by time. On the front there
was a little plaque with the words 'Sarina's Book' written on it. So that's
who she was! The world-famous Aisha archaeologist, Sarina Salen! I had heard
about her, but never met her before. Not that I wanted to, what could an archaeologist
have that would be of any value to me?
"I think that's her diary, Soki," Sibil whispered
into my ear, and I gave her my carefree, lopsided smile that always means I'm
up to no good.
"Let's just see what's she's got in here!" I
smirked, and I flipped through the book, its pages making a muffled flapping
sound as I briefed through them.
Suddenly something caught my attention and I
opened up the page. My eyes went wide with wonder. There before me was a diagram
of the inside of Sutek's Gebmid, the tomb of Neopia's greatest, most respected
ruler and home to the richest wonders ever imaginable. I could see it all before
me: the torches flickering in their gem-studded sconces, casting a warm glow
over the piles of coins and treasure amassed in elaborate chests, piling up
the walls and spilling all over the floor. And the floor would be gold too!
And the ceiling and the walls and the traditional wall paintings would be made
of different types of rare stone, and there would be scrolls with curses and
lamps with genies and…and…his gold throne! There would be all his life's treasures
in there, and they would all be mine! Ornate pillars, solid gold statues, ancient
weapons still intact and ready for use, rich sarcophagi and decorated canopic
jars. Rare Mummified Neggs-it would all be there-Golden Scorchstones! And it
would all be mine!
I turned to my Crokabek and she hopped off my
shoulder and flapped steadily in front of me.
"Sibil, this is the chance we've been waiting
for!" I squeaked in excitement, hardly able to contain myself. I glanced over
at Sarina and saw that she was almost done with her observations. Taking the
book, I dragged Sibil into the cover of the ferns once more before continuing.
"Once we follow this route we'll be rich! Richer than Empress Vyssa and Princess
Amira, richer than rich! Holy Adam, we'll be the richest in Neopia!"
In the background Sarina Salen had packed everything
up and hut-tutted the Apis back into action. Her packs bumped up and down as
the lanky Petpet stumbled back over the dunes, this time heading towards the
"Come on Sibil, the chance of a lifetime!" I
said. I could see that she was just as excited and driven by the thought of
treasure as I was. Unlike Stan, we both had eyes for gold, and the golden eye
makeup she wore outlined her sharp red eyes perfectly against her black feathers,
making her lust for the element all the more apparent. I had found her on Krawk
Island in the first place, and although she had been all too happy to desert
her previous (and might I add, cruel) owner, the pillage and plunder inside
her was still lying dormant. But now it had been spurred back into action and
it wasn't long before we were rushing off across the desert towards the proudly
standing Gebmids, following the tracks left in Sarina's wake.
Sarina was already there when we stumbled up
to the site that night, tired, weary, but much too excited to rest. The Apis
was curled up alongside the largest Gebmid, Sarina's tent canvas erected next
to it, shielding both her and the Petpet from the chilly winds and rapidly dropping
temperatures. I could see her silhouette moving around inside her makeshift
shelter as her lantern flickered and danced and played with the firelight. She
appeared to be rummaging around, looking for something, and my hand instinctively
reached down to my sash to make sure I still had the notebook. I breathed a
sigh of relief as I felt the worn leather cover and couldn't help sniggering
at the unfortunate Aisha. She had had no idea I had taken her book; she could
look everywhere in there and never find it! I chuckled to myself at the thought.
From inside the tent I saw Sarina look up as I ran off to find the entrance
to the Gebmid.
"Hello, is anyone there?" she called out into
the night, and only the night replied in a chorus of crickets and desert whispers.
The stars and the moon overhead were not enough to help her distinguish my fleeing
form as I scampered off.
The main door to the Gebmid could only be opened
using the lucky coin that Brucey B. held in possession. There was no other apparent
way to open it, but, like all things in my home country, there is always another
way to do something, and so it was that there was a second entrance to the Gebmid,
only very craftily hidden.
This second door was embedded so cunningly in
its stone that I barely made it out. It had been many sandstorms since it had
last been opened, and sand was piled high against it, covering almost half of
the door in its coarse warmth.
Putting flint to tinder, I lit a wooden torch
I had brought and held the light up to the door. In the center of the door was
a round disk, at the middle of which was a carved circle. Lines emancipated
out from it like the rays of a sun, and in each compartment formed by the rays
there was a hieroglyphic picture. To the right and left of the sun were two
winged Gebs, both upside-down. The door was the simplest thing to open, I hardly
needed to study the diagram in Sarina's book.
Turning the disk clockwise, I wound it around
until the Gebs were upright and facing the sun. There was a gravelly chink and
then the door slowly began to open, rising upwards and revealing a dank, dark
passageway, every inch foreboding. Normally I would've turned tail and ran,
but there was gold to be had! With Sibil perched snugly on my shoulder, her
ebony head half buried beneath my tangled fringe, I strode confidently into
the tomb, unaware that I was being followed…
I hadn't gone too deep into the Gebmid before
I came across the second puzzle, one much better known and much more baffling.
A great heavy wall of stone barred my path, a grid of hieroglyphic symbols and
pictures covering its vast face. There were red-stained gems; green-hued palm
trees, sandy obelisks, orange suns, blue Desert Blumaroo heads and black scarabs.
All these and more riddled the wall that surged from the floor before disappearing
in the shadows above; my pathetic torchlight unable to reveal what secrets lay
amongst the ceiling. I felt so small and insignificant compared with the majesty
and mystery of it all.
I have watched many Neopians (my owner among
them) playing a reconstruction of this game in the Games Room; swapping adjacent
tiles to make three or more in a row so that they may disappear, and all the
time the tiles keep coming and coming and coming. I gulped and wondered if this
puzzle had an end to it as well! Just as I was about to shift a few squares
of my own, a loud, desperate cry echoed throughout the chamber, scaring me half
I swiveled sharply around in surprise and saw
Sarina Salen standing defensively in the corridor from which I had just come.
"STOP!" she yelled again, blocking the passageway
determinedly. In her right paw she gripped a torch of her own, and she had a
backpack and a fair length of rope with her. No doubt she had followed me after
I had run so carelessly by her tent, and upon seeing the door to the Gebmid
open pursued me farther.
Well, no Aisha was going to stop me now.
"Hand over the book, Solkaris," she panted, clearly
exasperated from running so hard. She read my look of surprise and glared at
me. "I know who you are, I saw the poster in Sakhmet! Now hand over my book
before I have you arrested!"
"By whom?" I sneered. Sibil glowered at her from
beneath my bushy fringe. A coward and hopeless fighter she may be, but she's
no shrinking violet when it comes to siding with me. "There are no Guards for
miles around, and besides, once I find that treasure I won't have to worry about
To prove my point, my hand shot to the nearest
tile on the wall and swapped it with another beneath it. I heard Sarina yelp
again as the whole chamber began to rumble and shake.
"You idiot!" she screamed, running across the
room towards me, her free paw outstretched as if she intended to strangle me."
That was Sutek's--AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!"
Before she could finish her sentence a hidden
trap door fell open beneath us, sending us both plummeting into its gaping mouth.
It happened so suddenly even Sibil was pulled down with us. The torches snuffed
themselves out as the suffocating darkness enveloped us, and our cries of surprise
and terror were muffled as the doors slammed shut above us, plunging us into
We dropped for a long time, our screams echoing
in our ears as they reverberated loudly in the narrow tunnel. I was wondering
if the drop was ever going to end, or if Sutek had gone so far as to include
a never-ending pit as an addition to his array of traps, when I suddenly slammed
onto hard stone and everything went black.
To be continued...