The Phantom of 1000 Tombs
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
"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
Meti gulped at his water, venturing, "Zaqa?
How can you follow a map, when there are no landmarks? We're in the middle of
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
"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
"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
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
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
"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!