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The Phantom of 1000 Tombs


by anjie

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The book was old, held tightly in the paw of Meti, a small Plushie Draik. A dreamy expression was fixed upon his face, his thoughts overcome with fantasies of adventures in far away lands.

     With wonder and awe, he read aloud from the tome.

     'Golden dust, like sunlight ground into a million tiny particles, scatters in hectic patterns. A dry wind lifts the grains and flicks them against the Temple of 1000 Tombs. Towering and endless, it stands proudly above the arid lands of the Lost Desert. A structure that is ageless. So little is known of the story behind it that even Neopia's most famous archeologists know almost nothing about it.'

     There was an impatient cough, and Meti lifted his head. His wide, crimson gaze fell upon a second Draik, standing by the doorway. A look of regal impatience was on her features, and the priceless tiara that encircled her head was shimmering.

     "I don't know if that means there would be treasure there, Zaqa," Meti murmured, looking slightly afraid.

     Zaqa scowled as her long, indigo tail thumped angrily against the doorframe. She studied the smaller Draik, and hissed.

     "Meti, use your brain. It's an ancient temple. Of course there must be treasure hidden there! Riches beyond what a simple creature such as yourself can imagine!"

     Meti shook his head slowly. Zaqa intimidated him. He wasn't sure if it was the way she spoke, or her royal heritage. But he wasn't silly enough to argue with her. She had stormed into the small Mystery Island hut he lived in only an hour ago and thrown the dusty history book at him, demanding he read it.

     A look of concern flickered across his features, and a sinking feeling gripped the pit of his stomach.

     "You want us to go there, don't you, Zaqa?" he squeaked, fear in his eyes. "You want us to look for the treasure!"

     The royal Draik smirked, and nodded, telling him snidely "Very good, Meti. Who knows. Maybe I'll even consider giving you a share of the riches!"

     Meti opened his mouth to protest, then realised it was pointless. Zaqa always got her way. Within an hour, they were packed and on their way.

     The desert was much hotter than Meti had imagined, and the journey had been more harrowing than he had dreamed. They had trudged across the sands for days now, with him carrying not only his own knapsack, but Zaqa's, too. The Royal Draik had explained she was simply too weak to carry anything, though Meti thought she seemed fairly energetic as she barked out orders.

     "I need a break, Zaqa!" he cried, slumping to the ground and reaching for his water container.

     Zaqa gave a dramatic sigh, and sunk down beside him, her vibrant gaze fixated upon a map she had been reading. One long, sharp talon traced the path they were taking slowly as she studied the directions solemnly.

     Meti gulped at his water, venturing, "Zaqa? How can you follow a map, when there are no landmarks? We're in the middle of the desert!"

     Zaqa rolled her eyes, pondering whether all Plushie pets were as simple minded as Meti seemed to be.

     "I don't need landmarks, Meti. The path is clearly marked on the map, and all royal pets have a superior sense of direction!"

     As much as he doubted the truth behind this statement, the small Plushie Draik remained silent, wishing he was back at home on Mystery Island. His dreams of sipping a Skeith cocktail whilst watching the Mynci volleyball game were rudely interrupted.

     "Meti! Look! Over beyond the dunes!"

     He glanced in the direction Zaqa was indicating, and inhaled shapely. There, like a mirage stood the Temple of 1000 Tombs. The place whispered of. Many Neopians believed it was a myth, until the recent events involving the tomb and the nearby scroll repository.

     When this had occurred, what had been no more than a legend had become fact. The temple had been filled with millions of owners and Neopets, scouring for statues and prophecies.

     It was apparent this novelty had faded, now the events had come to a close. As Meti and Zaqa approached, the temple was silent and slightly spooky. Desert tempests had forced massive piles of sands up against the crumbling walls, and the building was in a state of general disrepair.

     Meti felt the need to keep his voice low, reverent. "Zaqa… Wouldn't all the pets who had searched for statues and scrolls in here have found a treasure if one existed?"

     Zaqa shook her head, sublime gaze shimmering with excitement.

     "Of course not, Meti! How could they have! They were in such a rush to find the scrolls or statues and get out, there would have been no chance…"

     Merrily, she strode ahead, singing cheerfully in horribly high pitched tones.

     She was interrupted by a low, ominous whine. Both pets gasped, and stared in fright at the temple door.

     "Zaqa, what made that noise?" Meti whispered.

     "Nothing, the wind…" croaked Zaqa hoarsely, but the tremble in her voice was far too obvious to offer Meti any comfort.

     Gazing around uneasily, Meti felt a strong sense of foreboding wash over him. Now and then the same ghostly whine echoed forth from the temple, ringing like a sinister warning. Meti coughed, backing away.

     "I don't like this, Zaqa. The temple's haunted; let's just get out of here. We can go to Qasala and buy action figures!"

     Zaqa had a strange expression of delight on her face, and she grabbed Meti's paw, dragging him firmly towards the dilapidated structure.

     "Don't you understand, plushie-brains? If it's haunted, it's because the phantom is protecting a great treasure! Maybe more than I even thought! I'm going to be rich!"

     Meti winced, murmuring nervously, "What good is wealth if a Ghost eats you, Zaqa?"

     The royal Draik, however, merely rolled her eyes at him, leading him into the cool, musty halls of the ancient temple.

     The air was still, and no light could be seen. The only illumination occurred via small streaks of light. They filtered through the meandering cracks in the walls and lit the area in long, sharp beams.

     Zaqa gazed around.

     "You should have brought a torch, Meti!" she muttered.

     Meti shivered. The entire temple was giving him tingles up and down his spine. He slowly followed Zaqa down the seemingly endless trails and hallways. Dark doorways, decorated with massive jewels, glistened out of the obsidian shadows. Zaqa, however, had stopped singing, which seemed to be a small blessing.

     Meti's ears peaked. A low, angry hissing was coming from somewhere ahead. The shadows seemed to make the noise echo. Even Zaqa looked a little pale beneath her smug expression. There was a sinister growl, followed by a dangerous snarl. Frightened, Meti jumped.

     "Zaqa! Please! Let's get out of here, it's a Ghost! The temple of 1000 tombs is haunted!"

     "It's hissing because it's protecting something valuable, Meti!' Zaqa hissed. Her companion, however could sense the nervous tension in her tones. Her pitch was high, and she seemed a little hysterical.

     Meti took a step forward, and tripped. Something large had pushed against his legs! He toppled forward, a massive cloud of dust swirling up as he hit the ground.

     "Zaqa! It pushed me! The Ghost pushed me! It wants us to leave!"

     Zaqa grabbed Meti's paw, and helped him to his feet, shaking her head. Somewhere nearby a sinister noise was echoing. Something was approaching, and from the sounds of things, quickly!

     The ground below was obscured by shadow, and this time it was Zaqa who bore the brunt of the phantom's charge. She tumbled backwards, landing on her own tail and squealing in fright.

     Meti gazed around frantically, trying to spot whatever seemed to be attacking them. In the murky light though, he could see nothing. The lack of vision, however didn't stop him from hearing a quick series of loud noises!

     He grasped Zaqa's hand, his eyes wide in terror.

     "It was warning us to get out, Zaqa! Who cares about the treasure!"

     The noises faded, and Zaqa inhaled slowly.

     "No, Meti! We've come this far! We have to go on."

     Trembling in fear, the two Draiks ventured deeper into the winding labyrinth of the building. The air was thicker, but now and then, that eerie noise, almost like light footsteps, dashed nearby.

     They searched room after room, nerves on edge, and fear in their hearts. Zaqa noticed her companion trembling, and opened her mouth to sing. This was apparently her effort at distracting him.

     Her screeching song filled the tomb, horrid and reverberating against the crumbling walls. Zaqa, for all her royal heritage, lacked any kind of singing ability.

     Meti appreciated she was trying to calm him, but seriously contemplated informing her that the song wasn't as bad as being devoured by an angry phantom. Zaqa, however, fancied herself as a beautiful singer. She switched from her song into an upbeat melody by Yes Boy Ice Cream.

     Meti tried to avoid covering his ears, before he noticed a high pitched whining noise. Glancing around frantically, he indicated silently to Zaqa that she should silence. The Royal Draik, however, was caught up in her performance, and didn't notice the whining, or Meti's panicked motions.

     Zaqa sang louder and louder, and the high-pitched wailing of the creature in the shadows grew more intimidating. Within moments, it was so nearby that Zaqa stopped, gasping. Whatever had been haunting them was behind the blue jeweled door to the right of them.

     Meti turned to run, and tripped over Zaqa's tail. The two Draiks collapsed on the ground, tails knotted together. Struggling in the attempt to disentangle themselves and escape, neither was able to move in time to avoid seeing the door swing open.

     Meti closed his eyes, thinking it was better not to look upon a Ghost. Maybe if he didn't see it, it wouldn't see him! He panted in fear, slightly confused when instead of a scream, he heard Zaqa utter a cry of adoration.

     In the billowing dust emitted from the open door, stood a diminutive Faerie Seti. Its ebony coat was shimmering and the golden markings on its arched wings illuminated the hallway.

     "It wasn't a Ghost!" Zaqa exclaimed in delight. "It's a Seti!"

     Meti looked at her as if she was mad.

     "Zaqa, you heard the noises it made! It's obviously a horrible creature!"

     She shook her head, picking up the whining petpet, who arched its graceful neck and licked her chin. Meti widened his eyes as Zaqa carried the Seti back in the direction they had come.

     "Don't be foolish, Meti!" She laughed. "He wasn't making strange noises! He was singing with me!"

     Meti looked dumbfounded. It slowly dawned upon him that the noises had only been angry when Zaqa had ceased her musical efforts.

     Shaking his head in shock, he glanced at his companion helplessly.

     "Zaqa?" he enquired. "What about the treasure?"

     She laughed, and cuddled the petpet in her arms.

     "Meti, I found a Seti that could sing along with me! There's no better treasure!"

     The Plushie Draik gazed at the Seti in disbelief, and at that moment, Zaqa struck up a tune, the petpet whining along with her. Wriggling in enthusiasm, the Seti beat its black and gold wings in time to Zaqa's off pitch screeching.

     Walking behind them into the sunlight, Meti groaned. He wasn't sure what was worse. The fact they hadn't found any treasure, or having to spend the whole journey home listening to the Draik and Seti singing duo!

The End

 
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