Geraptiku's Potential Chocolaty Truth
Rargyle, the Chocolate Ogrin, looked out of place on Mystery Island. “What is that meltable, delicious, not-tropical-at-all pet doing on this island?” he imagined the locals questioned. He was born chocolate, raised chocolate, and didn’t plan to stop being chocolate, though. Even his parents were chocolate, or so his owner (who had adopted Rargyle) had told him. He was with his foster brother, Sthenos, who knew Mystery Island like the back of his hand, so the Ogrin didn’t feel totally lost.
“Whoa, look at those pretty birds!” he cried. A large pink bird sat on a branch in the distance, making a bizarre call. It seemed to be engaged in conversation with another bird that looked rather like an artichoke. “What are they?”
“The pink one’s a Ponka,” Sthenos explained. “Pretty, maybe. But a bad omen.”
Rargyle wasn’t one to be brave, but he had to get closer. He envied Sthenos’ bravery. Sthenos had stories published in the Neopian Times about his adventurers in the jungles of the mystery isle. “Let’s get closer!” he enthused.
“No way,” replied the stout Ixi. “You can get closer, but I don’t like the way that bird sounds. I don’t even know what that green bird is. ‘Sides, I’m starving. You can check it out, just meet me back home soon.”
“U-uhh... alright...” Rargyle replied. The idea of jungle even Sthenos didn't want to explore was quite daunting, but also exhilarating. Not wanting to be a coward, he continued, “I’ll go check it out. Save some dinner.” With that, he trudged into the dense underbrush, towards the strange Ponka.
The Ponka, visibly alarmed, took flight, and flew surprisingly quickly through the dense foliage. Rargyle felt sort of entranced by its vivid color, and gave chase. He had something to prove! He wasn’t a coward. He almost tripped a few times, as keeping pace with the agile bird was difficult. It kept making nervous glances behind it, then flapping its wings and accelerating after it saw the Ogrin keeping chase.
Rargyle saw the bird fading into darkness, flying into some sort of cave. As he trudged forward, out of breath (chocolate pets, understandably, are not usually among the most athletic), his eyes widened as he saw the great structure that stood before him. Several stories tall and made entirely of what appeared to be hewn stone, it was a great temple. Pink feathers retreated into the darkness of its open, foreboding entrance. Carved into the archway to the tomb were the words “Geraptiku Tomb.” Other strange characters were etched into the stone, but nothing that made sense to Rargyle. The Ogrin hesitated for a long time, as to whether he should follow the colorful bird. He knew he shouldn’t. But he thought, “Sthenos would. He’s still alive. Here goes nothing!”
And indeed, there went nothing. He couldn’t make himself do it.
Then, he heard the Ponka cawing from within the tomb, its creepy bird-voice echoing off the stone walls. It was calling him. He proceeded forward into the darkness, already wishing he hadn’t.
There were torches, but they weren’t lit. The vast expanse of this first room was covered in dust. There were windows, just holes in the wall, at least on this floor, which allowed him to see. He spotted the bird perched on the entrance to another room. It said “Kaw!!” and flew into the door. Rargyle pursued diligently.
The next room looked just like the entrance hall, except smaller, and even more dusty. He saw some eyes in the shadows. An orange tiger-like creature with blue eyes seemed to be chasing a mouse. It looked playful enough, and not big enough to hurt him. Weren’t cats allergic to chocolate or something anyway? There was no sign of the bird, but he heard its eerie cry coming from a room on the left. At least he thought he did. He turned left, into another room that looked exactly the same. The bird’s colorful beak was visible in the darkness of another door, and he followed it; it vanished into the room, as expected.
This room was different from the other, what, five rooms? that Rargyle had already been through. How many had it been? This room had a huge hole in the ceiling, and sunlight shone down upon shelves and shelves and shelves of books. The bird flew up and out of the hole in the ceiling, making a laugh-like cry as it escaped. Rargyle wasn’t even sure how he got there. Just as he tried to recall all the turns he took, he noticed his company. A small blue leopard lurked on top of a bookshelf, and another small tiger napped peacefully on a shelf, leaned against a book. A small llama-like creature was bumbling around. It kept bumping into a bookshelf, again and again, in a rather silly and clumsy way. Attracted by its adorable slowness, he walked over to it, and suddenly, -WHACK- something hit him in the head.
“I’m done for! I’m over! I’m not brave! I shouldn’t have tried to be brave! I’m just a food product!” he thought before recognizing his attacker as a large and dusty book.
“Baa?” said the llama-thing cutely. Rargyle took this as encouragement to open the book. He turned a few pages, and saw dozens and dozens of dusty photos. The text was foreign glyphs, except for the captions under the photos, which were also in the plain English alphabet. Photos of waterfalls, strange creatures, and pets. Strangely, all the pets were chocolate. Was this some sort of twisted cookbook? The thought made Rargyle shudder, and some of his chocolate shavings fell to the floor, which pleased the little llama very much.
Rargyle turned the page and chanced upon what seemed to be family pictures. A group of Chocolate Kacheeks, painted with tribal colors (frosting?), smiling cheerily. “Tikal” was the caption. More chocolate pets, including pets that Rargyle didn’t even think existed as chocolates! Captions under Kougras and Cybunnies, pets not even native to Mystery Island, that read “Zori, Teca, Gyle.” He did a double take upon seeing the word “Gyle,” which was assigned to a picture of two adult Chocolate Ogrins cradling a baby one. His jaw dropped, and he looked between the picture and the caption; he couldn’t believe it... could these have been his parents? What business did they have in this abandoned city?
“Baa,” bleated the llama. Rargyle took his eyes out of the book and saw the llama smiling dumbly. I guess it would have been smiling cutely, to some people, but to Rargyle, it looked rather dumb. Rargyle also noticed the glowing eyes of the tigers, leopards, and other creatures, which all seemed to be staring at him very intently. Intently, in that they had intentions: indeed, they seemed to be... yearning, lusting, hungering. Hungering. Rargyle suddenly got the uneasy feeling that all the creatures were eyeing him hungrily, except for the llama, because its eyes were covered with a thick patch of hair. A cyan leopard slinked slowly and purposefully off of a shelf, and Rargyle turned and ran.
He made a wrong turn. He already knew it. This place was a huge maze! The creatures didn’t seem to be following him. Lucky thing, because this room was a dead end. He turned around, and saw stone slabs sliding together to close the door he had used to enter. He was about to be trapped! He ran back into the hungry-creature-room, and immediately heard a whistling noise. Arrows! Arrows were flying through the air, weaving a deadly, or at least very painful, pattern in the air around him. He left the room through what he thought was the right door.
He spotted the llama creature in this new room. It looked friendly in its clumsy, eye-hidden sort of way, but before Rargyle could admire it, he heard a hissing noise, and a purple gas started to descend from the ceiling. The llama bleated and bounded towards what Rargyle thought was the right door, so he followed, very quickly.
This next room was very large, and could only be the entrance hall. Another noise (Rargyle now perceived any noise as ominous.). He looked up to see spikes descending from the ceiling extremely rapidly. He was already scared out of his whipped cream, but knew that this could actually be the end. He bounded towards the light of the real exit, and his llama pal did the same behind him. The grinding grew closer to his ears, he didn’t want to look up, he was too scared, he was almost to the exit, and then he heard a bleat. An ominous bleat. It was ominous, he knew, because it meant that the llama had tripped.
He turned around and looked. He already knew it had taken a hard fall; he just had to decide what to do about it. He hesitated. “What would Sthenos, the great adventurer, do?” He clenched his jaw as he ran back towards the llama. He tasted its dank fur in his mouth as he picked it up and made a final dash for the exit. He could practically feel the spikes descending into his chocolaty flesh, so he had to crouch for the final sprint. As he literally flew into the clearing in front of the trap-riddled tomb, he heard the spikes touch the floor with a deadly “crunch.”
His llama friend, identifiable in the light as a Vacana (Rargyle read exotic travel books), stuck its tongue out and panted, being the most expressive Rargyle had ever seen it. He was glad to have a new friend: one who saved his life by showing him the way out, and someone he could be there for. He had a lot of things to think over, including the best way to catch his breath, and if being a hero is really all it’s cracked up to be.
He had learned a thing about heroism (Don’t try it), which he felt improved him as a person. But what happened to the residents of Geraptiku? If the chocolate pet photographs and ravenous creatures were any clue, it was enough to instill fear into Rargyle for the rest of his life. He knew not to trust birds anymore, and although scared, really wanted to get to the bottom of this. Was this a tragically devoured ancient edible civilization? There was no way to be sure.
It was only one book.
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Here's the thing about citadels: nobody goes to citadels. Ever. They're cold, damp, lack any sort of beachfront property, and almost always seem to be inhabited by deposed despots walking around in their bathrobes.