The Atlas Saga, Book One - Return to Neopia: Part Two
"Welcome to my Tombola! Great prizes to be won here!"
I stepped into the spacious hut, followed closely by my Neopets, and relaxed as I saw a familiar face. Well, a familiar mask, rather. I had just arrived on Mystery Island, and to tell the truth, I was a little bit nervous about the changes that I thought the Island had undergone while I had been gone. Seeing a few recognizable things relieved me a bit, but my mind was still working on exactly how I managed to wind up back in Neopia.
The Tombola Man waved cheerily as he beckoned us over.
"Come, come, good sir!" he shouted. "Care to try your luck?"
"Sure," I said, while shrugging.
I reached into the large container, fumbled around a bit, and pulled out a ticket. The numbers '092' were displayed on the piece of paper in big, bold lettering.
"Congratulations! You are a winner!" the Tombola Man proclaimed, as he handed me a fairly large brown package. "Enjoy, mon."
I thanked him, and walked out of the shack.
"What's in it?" Spyder876 asked.
"Yeah, quick, open it!" Prophetical07 chimed in.
"All right, all right guys, settle down!" I attempted to quiet them down as I tore away the packaging. Eventually, the packaging fell away to reveal a bright red box. Upon opening, the box was found to contain a shaking Mau Codestone, and a transparent case which contained some Pasta and Eyes.
I pocketed the Codestone, and held out the extremely revolting box of pasta to my pets. I raised my eyebrow at them. Maybe one of them preferred gross food.
"There's no way I'm eating that!" Spyder exclaimed, while holding his nose.
"Yeah, me neither," Powertank780 said and nodded. Prophetical quickly concurred with his brothers.
I immediately found a nearby dustbin, and flung the box of pasta inside. After that was done, I whipped out the NeoCom and pulled up a map of Mystery Island.
"What's Ge-rap-ti-ku?" I asked, after noting a small circle of dilapidated shacks at the northern shore of the Island.
"It's an old village that was recently discovered by curious Neopian archeologists. Apparently, its biggest structure is an old tomb. They say that untold riches rest within, just waiting for someone who is courageous enough to brave the dangers of the tomb," Spyder responded, then lowered his voice. "Quite a few people have entered, both Neopians and Humans alike. So far, none of them have returned."
"Sounds like a challenge," I said with a smirk and a glint in my eye.
All of my Neopets had their eyes out of their sockets, and their jaws on the floor.
"Y-You're not seriously thinking of..." Powertank trailed off.
"Yeah, I am. Come on, guys. Let's go see what this tomb is all about," I said, leading the way.
I grinned as the ominous stone structure loomed before me in the distance. I quickened my steps, heading straight for the entrance. All the while, my pets were trying to convince me that I was going on a suicide mission, but I paid them no heed, and just continued on without hesitation.
A group of Neopians wearing hiking garb were gathered at the entrance. They appeared to be huddled around a gleaming silver object.
"Hey, what's going on?" I asked as I approached them.
An elderly Kacheek turned to face me.
"Young man, we've just invented a device and we want to test it out. The tombs are dangerous due to the danger of getting lost and not finding a way out. So, we've designed a belt that can teleport anyone who wears it, along with anything he might be carrying, back right to this spot," he said, in a coarse voice.
"Is that so? Well, I'd like to volunteer to test that belt out for you. I'm just about to head in anyway, and that could be useful. The name's Atlas." I extended my hand towards the Kacheek, gesturing for the belt.
The Kacheek's eyes widened, and he placed the silver belt in my hand. While I strapped it around my waist, he added, "Just to let you know, the belt is equipped with a timer, that is set for half an hour. After that time limit is over, the belt expires, and cannot be used any longer. So you had best use it before the time expires."
I nodded, and tightened the strap. I looked back at the crowd behind me.
"Wish me luck, fellas," I said, before I started up the stone steps to the tomb entrance.
If I had reacted one second later, I would have been missing an arm.
I was halfway into the labyrinth, and had just dodged a particularly vicious trap that was designed to remove at least one of my limbs. I checked the timer on the belt. I had ten minutes left. After the countless turns that I took, I was fairly sure that I could not make it out on my own, so I thought it wise to find the treasure as soon as possible, and to get out of there using the teleportation belt.
After dodging and avoiding quite a number of other traps, I finally came to a great stone hall. There were two doorways, both at opposite ends of the hall.
I walked up to the center of the hall, and turned my head left. My eyes widened as I saw the room's contents.
Countless treasure chests lay unopened in the room. Numerous items made of gleaming gold rested around the chests.
I had done it! I had found the treasure! Now all I had to do was to grab some, and teleport back out.
"Warning!" a voice emanated from the belt. I looked down. "This is a warning. You have thirty seconds left until the belt expires."
I was just about to start for the treasure chamber, when I heard a shrill cry.
"Help! Oh, please! Help me! Somebody!"
I turned around, and my eyes fell upon a badly bruised Cybunny. She was sitting in the other room, the one opposite the treasure chamber.
"Please!" she locked her gaze with mine. "I need some help!"
"Hang on, I'll get you out!" I shouted. But as I turned to move towards her, I froze. I was torn between two decisions, and time was fast running out.
Did I want the treasure, or did I want to help the Cybunny get out? Maybe she could find her own way out. After all, she did not look that badly injured...
"Twenty seconds remaining," the belt warned.
"Please, help!" she screamed at me.
Just as I thought that I could grab some of the treasure quickly, and get to the Cybunny after that, the robotic voice emanated from the belt buckle once more, "Ten seconds remaining."
With one last look at the treasure chamber, I sprinted straight for the injured Neopian.
I delicately wrapped my arms around her so as not to cause her injury.
"Hold on to me! Hold on to me!" I told her as calmly as I could.
She grabbed on to me.
I fumbled with the belt buckle until my thumb found the button that I was supposed to press.
I pressed down.
A blinding flash of light engulfed me. Then all went black.
"...seems to be an unexpected side-effect of the belt..."
I heard a coarse voice coming from my left.
"You better pray that he's all right. If not, you'll be seeing enough stars to make the Space Faerie envious!" I recognized that as Spyder's voice.
I slowly opened my eyes, and quickly shut them again due to the brightness.
"Hey guys! He's stirring!"
I opened my eyes once more, this time raising a hand to shield my eyes. I tried to sit up, and felt a dozen pair of hands push me back down.
"Rest, young one, rest," the old Kacheek said. "I guess this means that the teleportation aspect of the belt worked perfectly. Thank you for your bravery, young man."
An image of the injured Cybunny surfaced in my mind. I quickly asked about her condition.
All I received were confused and puzzled responses.
"Cybunny? What Cybunny?"
"We found you alone, Atlas."
"Are you all right? I think you're hallucinating."
I immediately sat up. This time, when the arms came to push me back down, I swatted them away. Did the Cybunny not get transported with me? Was she still stuck in the tomb, alone and injured?
The old Kacheek spoke once more, "I must commend you, young man, on you finding that beautiful golden artifact that you brought back with you. However, we can't make anything of it at the moment."
I blinked. Golden artifact that I brought back? I did not have time to grab any of the treasure. I had sprinted straight for the Cybunny. I had figured that her life was more important than the size of my bank account.
Was it possible that she had somehow disappeared, and left me a gift? Was she a fellow treasure seeker as well?
I shook my head. That really was strange.
"It is possible to see this artifact?" I spoke, my voice hoarse. Prophetical handed me a flask of water, which I gratefully accepted, and emptied into my dry mouth. The cool, refreshing liquid flowed down my parched throat.
"Of course. Here it is." I was handed an extremely beautiful looking medallion. It was golden, with an image of a sunburst on it.
"Can I keep this?" I asked the Kacheek.
He chuckled. "Well, you found it, so it was already yours to begin with. You don't need to ask for permission."
I settled on the idea that she had left to seek help, and had left me the medallion as a thank-you present. I surveyed my surroundings. I was quite some distance away from the tomb, so it was possible that she had time to move away before I was found.
I put the medallion around my neck, and inquired, "How did you find me if I landed so far away from the tomb?"
"We saw a bright flash of light coming from over here. We investigated, and found you unconscious," Spyder told me.
I scratched my hair, and rose shakily to my feet. Turning to face the Kacheek again, I bid him goodbye, and turned to leave. Soon, we were right in the center of Mystery Island.
It felt refreshing to see healthy green grass once more.
"So, where do you guys wanna go n-" I was cut off by the sound of a huge explosion.
My head snapped to the left, and I saw, as did my pets, a large cloud of smoke billowing from the roof of the Training School.
Seconds later, mass hysteria erupted all over the Island.
"We're under attack! We're under attack!" a panicked Usul screamed as she ran past us.
I cursed. Whoever was invading Kreludor was now invading Neopia. It had to be!
Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted the Tombola Man running out of his shack. Seconds later, the shack erupted into a fiery cloud of flame and smoke.
"Run, mon! Run!" he screamed at me, before pulling his own personal NeoCom out. He hurriedly tapped a few buttons on the device, before a portal opened. He quickly ran through before the portal disappeared.
"Guys, I think he had a wonderful idea," I stated calmly. "We should run. Now. NOW!"
We narrowly dodged a piece of flaming debris that was hurtling our way. I quickly withdrew my NeoCom and pulled up the 'Explore' screen. I immediately selected the place that I thought to be the absolute safest.
Seconds later, a swirling blue portal opened just a short distance ahead of us. We all rushed ahead.
I had just entered the portal when I heard a cry behind me.
I whipped my head around, and realized, to my horror, that Prophetical had tripped on a blackened piece of debris.
Spyder and Powertank were already inside the portal with me. I extended my hand towards my fallen Neopet.
"Come on, Prophetical! Come on, hurry up! Get up!" I yelled, stretching out my hand as far as it could go.
The mutant Grundo leapt to his feet. Pain was evident on his face, but he tried not to show it. He ran as fast as he could towards us.
He extended his hand towards me.
His fingers had just barely grazed mine when the portal closed.
"No! Prophetical!" I yelled, as the image of my pet faded away.
Prophetical07 was stuck on a besieged Mystery Island.
To be continued...