Solkaris: The Narrative - Part Six
"Solkaris!" Sarina's cry echoed throughout the chamber,
and in a split second she flung the rope across the bubbling pit of tar before
I lost balance, lassoing a statue's carved head just in time. I fell forwards,
catching the rope instinctively and swinging across the boiling pit. My feet roughly
skimmed the blubbering surface and I could feel the heat sizzling out from the
black gloop. I was hollering with apprehension as I swung across, but my cry was
cut short as I slammed into the carved pillar and hugged it tight, trying to keep
my balance on the small brick surface protruding from around the pillar. I staggered
a bit and then tossed the rope back to Sarina and she swung after me, landing
beside me on the bricks.
"I didn't know you could do that!" I said, breathless.
She shook her head and looped the rope around the next statue on the second
"Neither did I!" she exclaimed excitedly before
swinging off again, calling over her shoulder: "Now we're even, thief!"
There were three pillars in all stranded in that
sea of boiling, bubbling, popping black ooze. We made it across without too
much trouble as Sarina put into practice her newfound skill. The tar-pit proved
to be the last really bothersome obstacle after that. We came across a similar
sort of trap using acid, and the green luminescent liquid spat and gurgled at
us, sometimes burning away at our fur if we swung down too close. We even ran
across a deep trench full of slithering, spitting Cobralls, preserved somehow
by the strange magic that seemed to trickle from the walls of this strange tomb.
I whipped out my Desert Flute and it was a short tune later before we were running
down a welcoming corridor, tearing through it as fast as our bruised legs would
carry us, our eyes blinded by the searing light blazing before us. We were constantly
tripping and stumbling and falling, but always grabbing and scrambling towards
that light, that welcoming light, until finally we broke free of the Gebmid
for good and threw ourselves into the sand.
We were out.
We were free.
I was home.
You can't imagine how it felt, to be free of
that claustrophobic Gebmid. To you the Lost Desert heat might be the last thing
you want to run into again, you would rather stay in the cool and shade, hiding
from the sun. But I relished it, and Sarina relished it, and Sibil relished
the way the rays of warmth burned into her black feathers. It was mercilessly
hot, the midday sun blinding and dazzling in its sudden brightness, and we were
sent blundering into the desert. It was searing and boiling out there, but we
paid no heed to it.
The torch was thrown carelessly away, and it
rolled in the sand, extinguishing itself in exhaustion at having been kept alight
so long. Sarina fell on paws and knees and immersed herself in kissing the hot
sand in relief and delight, collapsing with joy; while I skipped and ran circles,
the energy pumping through my veins again now that I was free.
It took forever for us to get hold of our rapidly
deteriorating senses, but we calmed down eventually and lounged about Sarina's
tent, basking in unbearable midday heat. Sarina leaned lightly against the spread
canvas, hiding from the sun's direct rays but sucking in the warmth from the
shade. I breathed in the musky desert scents greedily and sighed in contentment,
exposing myself fully to the rays.
"Phew!" I relaxed and my shoulders drooped. "I
will admit that that whole treasure thing is a little bit of a disappointment…"
I paused, thinking of all the riches and wonders of Neopia I had just left behind
me, what I could only return to through my mind, and sighed somewhat. "But…what
a story! That was amazing! All that adventure, the puzzles, the trapdoors, the
revolving walls, hidden passageways, tombs, more puzzles…tar pits, acid…Cobralls!
Wow! I can't believe it's actually my story to tell!" My hands were flailing
about crazily as I illustrated the invisible scenes before her laughing eyes.
"And mine," Sarina added hastily. "It's also
my story to tell. If it weren't for me you probably would never have reached
the tomb, and you would never have had this wonderful misadventure. You might
well be stuck in there now, gasping for air. But it's not like anybody in my
field will ever believe me. But you, who will you tell it to?"
I shrugged and she gazed off into the distance.
I could tell she, too, was thinking of all that archaeological evidence locked
away forever. I stepped up to her and my hands closed around something hard
and smooth and gold around my wrist.
"Here, take this. I salvaged it from the scroll
before we ran out," I explained, sliding the scarab-adorned band from my wrist.
"Use it for your research."
She reached out to it, touched it gently, then
withdrew her paw, looking away with no regret.
"I can't, it's yours to keep," she said, almost
more to convince herself than me that this was the right thing to do. But I
shook my head and persisted, being the stubborn thief that I am.
"Nonsense. What do I need it for? What would
I do with it? Besides, I have more precious items with me, and…it suits you,"
I added, slipping it deftly around her wrist in one easy flick. As she held
it up to look at it, the sun caught the ruby scarab's dully glimmering shell
and turned it into a dancing rainbow of magnificent crimsons. The gold twinkled
and glowed with royal beauty, and the bug ornament's beady eyes seemed to wink
at us as the light played games and danced with it. For a moment, we were entranced.
"I'm a simple thief." I shrugged my shoulders,
looking away at my shadow, my feet shuffling awkwardly in the sand as I stood
before her. She suddenly seemed so regal with the bracelet clasped about her
wrist, and I felt as if I were in the presence of Empress Vyssa or Princess
Amira herself. I felt oddly out of place and felt myself growing hot before
her tall composure.
And then I remembered my home: the Marketplace,
Sakhmet City, the Palace…how they must be missing me! It had only been a day
or two, I knew, but it felt like a lifetime. I was a simple thief, and I needed
my simple life back.
"But just in case there is a next time," I added,
perking up instantly, "Here!"
I dug into my sash again and presented something
to her that made her eyes go wide with wonder. It was square, tatty, and bound
with shabby green leather and contained yellowed pages…and on the front there
was a small plaque that read plainly and clearly 'Sarina's Book'. I smiled and
handed it to her, she gawped and received it gratefully.
"Solkaris…my notebook…wha?…But how?…When?"
I gave her my carefree, lopsided smile that always
means I'm up to no good and petted the black Crokabek perched proudly on my
"Easy," I said, and then added, "And please,
call me Soki." Sibil crooned and sat up straighter, relishing my attention;
and then I sighed. I really didn't want to leave so soon, but I knew I had no
choice. "Well, thanks for stopping me and all. I'm sure none of this would ever
have happened if you had never chased me into that Gebmid…but, well…I should
go. I really should go."
I looked over at the horizon. Far away, its pointed
dome structure gleaming in the sun, I saw the proud, walled city of Sakhmet.
"Home calls," I murmured, but I knew I would
always have a friend at hand.
So there you have it, her story; my story: ours
to share. I've found someone to tell it to, I've passed it on to you, by word
of mouth, the way everything travels around here in the Lost Desert, and I can
only hope you've enjoyed listening to it as much as I have reveled in telling
it and reflecting on that fantastic adventure, and I'm only sorry I couldn't
have offered more hospitality. But, you know, water is scarce around here these
days, and I really do have nothing better for seating than these splintery old
What's that, you ask? What do you mean? Of course
it's true! It's all true! Just ask Sarina! She and I are good friends now, and
I'm sure she'll be happy to show you the bracelet she always wears, tucked away
secretively beneath the sleeves of her shirt.
She's returned to her life, of course. We've
all returned to ours, but I'm just as happy to continue with my simple life
as your everyday, non-Desert Scarab thief in humble ole' Sakhmet city.
"HEY! THERE'S THE THIEF! GET HIM!"
Ah, there's the General finally come and found
me. I was really wondering if he'd find me at all. Well, if you'll excuse me,
my simple life has just resumed and I really must be going. That is, if you
can call this simple!
There, it's done! Solkaris's adventure in the Lost Desert when he was still
a yellow Zafara! Now he is shadow, but knowing him, the adventures will only