The Lost Tomb of Coltzan: Part Four
The morning sunlight glinted off the sand, creating a glare and burning Jynifer’s eyes. But she hardly noticed. She was focused too intently on the task at hand, which was finding the entrance to the mountain which loomed before her, vast and full of mystery. It was early morning, and they had just reached the mountain. She sighed, gazing dubiously at the enormity of the mountain. It seemed impossible to ever be able to find an entrance!!
After walking nearly around the entire perimeter of the mountain, they finally found a small, cleverly concealed entrance at the base of the mountain. Luckily they were small Neopets and could fit through the hole easily! If they were Mutant Grundos or Chombies, they would become stuck for sure.
Ukodus was the last in, managing to squeeze his exceptionally tall antennae into the confined space. Jynifer looked around the dim tunnel they had entered, scrutinizing every aspect of it in a glance. It didn’t look like much, and it especially didn’t look like a lost tomb stuffed with treasure. But of course, looks can be deceiving, and they probably had to go deeper into the mountain to find it.
Jynifer grinned, suddenly feeling giddy and foolish about the fantastic treasure that lay in wait for them just ahead. She turned around to face the others with the silly grin still plastered to her face. “Come on!” she cried, beckoning them onward with her wing and charging forward into the dark and mysterious mountain.
* * * * * * * * * *
Half an hour later, Jaik was really wishing they had brought more lights than the one gas lamp they had. It was very dim and hard to see inside the mountain. He wasn’t complaining though. Worse things could happen. They could’ve been attacked by vicious Magtiles back there in the desert, or they could’ve forgotten to bring enough water. Compared to those possibilities, they were doing fine.
He squinted ahead in the receding light. It looked like the tunnel was growing smaller up ahead. “Hey Jynifer!” he called loudly, creating a painful echo. “I think the tunnel gets smaller as we go farther on. So either there will be a door up ahead leading to the tomb,” Jynifer’s face fell as she realized what he was about to say, “or... there never was anything there at all.”
Jynifer paused for a moment, pondering their situation carefully. If there really was nothing there, and that ancient scroll was just an elaborate hoax, what did it matter? They would be no worse off for not finding anything! What could it hurt to continue on? They had already come so far, and if they turned back now and there really WAS a tomb, and someone else found it later, they would regret it forever!
She turned back to face Jaik, who was patiently awaiting her reply. “No,” came the answer. “We’ve already come so far. We have to continue. If there is a tomb, you’ll thank me for it. If there isn’t,” she gave an uncertain grin and shrugged her shoulders, “well, it’s been exciting, right?”
Ukodus grinned clownishly and jumped from foot to foot. “Treasuretreasuretreasuretreasuretreasuretreasuretreasure!!!!” he shouted, almost incoherently. The others stared at him strangely.
“Yeah,” Jaik answered, falling back to walk with Ukodus, and to remain out of Jynifer’s earshot. “Yeah, you and I both wish, buddy.”
In the next five minutes - or was it less? More? Jynifer had trouble keeping track now - the tunnel grew so small that the Neopets had to crawl to get around. The confined space made their spirits droop - all except Jynifer’s, who, as the tunnel grew smaller, had become more and more confident. Every couple of minutes she would try to keep them going by saying cheerful things, like:
“We HAVE to be going the right way. Why else would it be getting so tiny unless the builders tried to conceal Coltzan’s tomb?”
“This has to be Coltzan’s tomb. If it weren’t, why would there be a hole in the side of a mountain?”
And “See? I told you that scroll was a map!”
It didn’t seem to be doing much good. They crawled along monotonously, heads down, all form of eagerness vanished. Perhaps this mountain was only an ancient volcano, long since gone dormant, and the lava flow was the reason for the tunnel. Even Jynifer stopped saying her cheery things, and started to look a bit downcast herself.
They continued through the tunnel, not even bothering to look ahead because they were so focused on being negative about the expedition. Suddenly Jynifer - in the front again as usual - smacked her head on something solid. “Ouch!!” she cried, rubbing her sore head. “What was that?! Oh great; just great. We come all this way just to get trapped in a dead-end,” she grumbled, finally glaring up, prepared to release her anger on whatever that was that had caused her to injure herself. But when she looked up, she wasn’t prepared to see what she saw. And she had been too angry at bumping her head that she hadn’t heard the rest of the team - Ukodus, being his usual strange self, excluded - gasp aloud in astonishment and amazement.
In fact, when she saw the tiny door - still gleaming, gilded with gold and covered with ancient symbols and a carving of King Coltzan III, she surprised herself by gasping out loud as well. The door was so beautiful!! But more than that; they had discovered the tomb!!
* * * * * * * * * *
There was an intricate puzzle lock on the door. They soon realized that only the smartest among them could decipher it, so they waved Aliah forward. She was shy and reluctant to accept at first, but when she took a look at the puzzle, she fell into her element. She took her glasses out of their small carrying case in her backpack, and set to work, staring intently at the puzzle at times, musing over what to do next. Fifteen minutes later, she had solved it, and the lock opened with a loud thump. Jynifer hugged Aliah quickly. “Thank you so much!” she squealed. “If we hadn’t taken you along we would have never finished that puzzle! Well... it may’ve taken us several days at any rate.”
Aliah laughed nervously, from embarrassment. “I-It was nothing, Jynie. Really! Please.”
Jynifer glanced at her. “Aw come on, Aliah. You can’t take a compliment? You don’t have to be so shy all the time, you know.”
Jaik cleared his throat impatiently. “Um, are you going to keep talking all day, or are you coming with us? In case you hadn’t noticed, the door is open now!!”
Jynifer quickly forgot all about her conversation with Aliah, and nearly bowled Jaik and Ukodus over in her mad crawling stampede for the now-open door. She tumbled out of the tunnel head-first, the others right behind her; they all looked like insane yooyu balls on a rampage. Jaik rolled on top of Jynifer, crashing hard into her and nearly knocking her out with the force of his helmet hitting her already-sore head. She winced in pain, and reminded herself to drink a Healing Potion I when they got back.
Aliah wisely saved herself from crashing into Jaik and Jynifer by flying high above them, her wings no longer drooping as they were when she was out in the blazing heat of the desert. Ukodus bowled out of the tunnel, did several flips as he flew through the air, then landed on his feet several feet away from the others. What could they say? He was quite strange.
When Jynifer could finally stand up, she hopped up eagerly and gazed around her, prepared to drink in the sights around her. But when she did, her jaw dropped and she was rendered speechless, unable to utter a sound of wonder or astonishment; only able to look with awe upon the vast treasure amassed before her eyes.
The entire room was filled - from floor to ceiling in some places! - with scrolls, artifacts, and loads upon loads of neopoints!! The team’s eyes were dazzled looking upon all of these fantastic items. Golden Qasalan Boots, goblets, rings, motes, and even plushies!! Jynifer stifled a giggle upon seeing King Coltzan III’s rather impressive collection of Lupe plushies. But the most impressive and mighty of all was the enormous solid golden sarcophagus in the center of the room, quite obviously enlarged for dramatic effect, and because Coltzan was such a fantastic ruler. Too bad he was usurped in so untimely a fashion. Aliah tore her eyes away from the amazing sight to glance concernedly at Jynifer.
“Jynie!!” she cried, surprised. Her wings fluttered as she hovered a yard above the ground. “Are you... crying?”
Jynifer grinned past her tears. “Yeah.. Yeah, I guess I am!” She sheepishly swiped at a stray tear. “It’s just... being the first Neopets to enter this tomb for thousands of years, and nobody knowing about it but us... it’s just sort of amazing, and overwhelming at the same time!”
“I know what you mean,” Jaik unexpectedly replied in hushed tones. “It’s... incredible.”
And they all turned again to stare at the fabulous treasure, none of them needing to speak any longer. The unspoken awe they shared was enough to bind them together. They had found the Lost Tomb of Coltzan III.
To be continued...