Unforeseen Adventures: The Tomb - Part Two
His senses somewhat dulled by the pain, Dan couldn’t make out what his sisters and brother were saying. There seemed to be a lot of yelling, and maybe a few curses on Thunder’s part. Dan’s vision was blurry. He blinked a few times in quick succession and shook his head experimentally. Almost immediately, it began to pound and ache. He laid his head back on the floor; the cold stone felt soothing on his aching forehead.
“Dan? You OK?” At the sound of Anna’s voice, Dan opened his eyes. In the light of the torch that Thunder had dropped, he noticed that they were out in the corridor once again. Anna was bending down near Dan’s head, her face full of concern. Thunder and Kura were still talking in raised voices ten feet away.
“Well, I think I’ll live.” Dan moaned and sat up, his head throbbing rhythmically. He rubbed his temples with his paws and shut his eyes. “What happened?”
Inanna hesitated a second before answering. “Um... Thunder, uh, kind of just saved your life....”
Dan’s brown eyes snapped open once more. Of all the things that were going through his mind, the fact that Thunder had saved his life was not something he had been expecting. Never in a million years would he have guessed it. Thunder wasn’t exactly the noble type—far from it.
“Yeah, I know,” said Inanna. There was no hint of a joke in her expression. “See, you triggered some kind of booby trap when you stepped on that tile with the weird symbol on it. Arrows shot out of three of those brown diamond shapes in the wall and they were headed right for you. Thunder knew what was happening, don’t ask me how, and he pushed you out of the way kind of hard.” She paused then, a hint of a smile forming on her lips. “Thunder, uh, wasn’t fast enough, and... well, he’s got an arrow stuck in his tail.” Inanna was now on the verge of exploding in giggles. She pressed her paws to her mouth, trying to stifle her laughter, but not entirely succeeding.
Dan stared over her shoulder. Thunder looked like he was arguing with Kura, but he stopped to shout, “Anna, you know I can hear you, shut up! This is so not funny!”
Inanna sucked in a lungful of air and held her breath. Dan got up and walked past her, stopping next to Kura. Sure enough, an arrow was embedded in his brother’s tail; the silver point of it had all but disappeared into Thunder’s jet black fur. Kura was trying to convince Thunder to hold still so she could pull the arrow out.
“Thunder, it has to come out! You cannot go stumbling around in here with an arrow in your tail!”
“Watch me,” Thunder growled, backing away from Kura and wincing. Though he was putting on a good show, he could not conceal the fact that every time his tail moved the slightest bit, it hurt him terribly. Nevertheless, he would not let Kura come close to his backside.
“Thunder,” Dan tried to reason with him, “I know you saved my life and everything, and I’m grateful, but will you please let Kura get the arrow out? I know you’re trying to be brave or something noble like that—”
“It’s not that,” Thunder interrupted. “I just don’t want Kura making it worse!”
“I’m not going to make it worse,” Kura said firmly. “Thunder, I’ve read about ancient booby traps in some of Neopia’s history books—”
“Of course you have,” Thunder muttered.
“—and I know that sometimes when the ancient Neopians made traps like this one, they poisoned the tips of the arrows. If that arrow’s poisoned—”
“Okay, okay, just get it out of me then!” Thunder yowled.
“Now you’re talking sense.” Kura smiled grimly. “All right, Thunder, lie down. Anna, get over here! I need you and Dan to hold him down. This might hurt a little... or a lot,” she added under her breath.
Dan did what he was told and held down Thunder’s front paws. He threw Thunder an apologetic look, but Thunder had his eyes shut tight. Anna held down his back legs. Kura grabbed the torch Thunder had dropped while saving Dan and stuck it in Thunder’s mouth.
“Bite down on this,” she said. Thunder clenched the torch handle between his teeth obediently.
Kura positioned herself next to Thunder’s injured tail. She grimaced, saying, “OK, on the count of three. One—”
Dan tensed, ready to use all his strength to keep Thunder pinned to the floor.
Beneath him, Dan felt Thunder take in a deep breath, his eyes still shut tight.
It was over before Dan could fully register what had happened. Thunder let out a howl past the torch handle in his mouth. Kura exclaimed “Ha!” and Dan saw Inanna relax her grip on Thunder. Dan was about to do the same, when Thunder’s back leg jerked, hitting Anna squarely in the chest and sending her sprawling backward.
“Oops, sorry, Ann.” Thunder’s eyes had finally opened and he had dropped the torch. “You can get off me now, Dan.”
Dan blushed, quickly releasing his hold on his brother, and backed away. Thunder slowly got up, flicking his tail back and forth and wincing. Dan glanced at Kura, still holding the arrow that had pierced Thunder’s tail. She had a triumphant expression on her face.
“What did I tell you?” she said, throwing aside the arrow. It clattered to the ground. “It worked!”
“What were you expecting?” Thunder rumbled. “My tail hurts. Huh, I hope that arrow wasn’t poisoned...” He cast a nervous glance over his shoulder at his injured tail.
Kura laughed. “I, uh, kind of made that up, Thunder.”
“You WHAT?!” Thunder snarled.
“Well, you wouldn’t let me pull it out and I had to do someth—”
“Whatever,” Thunder growled. He muttered something incomprehensible.
“Let’s get your tail wrapped up,” Anna said, staring fixedly at the floor. “It’s making me sick.”
Dan had not noticed that Thunder’s tail was dripping a small pool of blood on the ground. Dan winced, turning away from the sight.
Kura rolled her eyes. “Am I the only one here with a strong stomach? Dan, give me your bandanna. There’s really nothing else we can use....”
Keeping his eyes away from Thunder, Dan slowly unknotted the light blue bandanna tied around his neck. He sighed. Meg had given this to him the day after they had met. Oh well, Dan thought. I’ll ask her for a new one when we get back. It just won’t be the same... He silently handed the bandanna to Kura. She took it without comment, lightly running her paw over his head. Dan swallowed hard, turning away. Dimly, he was aware that Kura had never been so nice to him in all her life. Must be this place...
Kura carefully wrapped the bandanna tightly around Thunder’s wound. Dan heard Thunder inhale sharply, and he felt sorry for his brother. After all, it did seem like Dan’s fault that this whole situation had happened.
“There.” Kura stepped back to study her work. “That should help for a little while. How do you feel, Thunder?”
Thunder scowled. “Spectacular.”
“No,” Kura said, “I’m serious. Do you feel okay?”
Thunder closed his eyes and swayed a little where he stood. “A little dizzy, that’s all. And my tail still hurts, but other than that I think I’m okay.”
Kura looked satisfied. “Good, I don’t think anything is too serious, then. Shall we go back?”
“Back?” Thunder echoed. “No way! We haven’t found the treasure yet!”
“Thunder, you might have an infection—”
“I’m staying,” Thunder said firmly. “You guys can go back, I don’t know how you’ll get out of here, but I’m going on with or without you.”
Thunder’s words hung in the air. Kura glanced at Inanna and Dan, clearly pleading for them to say something, but neither did. Dan didn’t see the point. Once Thunder had made up his mind to do something, he was hard to persuade otherwise. Dan had never met anyone so stubborn. Or foolish.
“Fine,” Kura said bitterly. “We’ll go on. It’s your funeral.”
“That it is,” Thunder muttered.
Kura ignored him. She said stiffly, “So, how do you propose we go through one of the doors in that room without being shot down by arrows?”
“We could always go back and try another room.”
“Let’s try another one,” agreed Inanna hastily.
“The rooms may all be the same,” Dan pointed out.
“I doubt it,” Kura said. “The people who built this tomb and set the traps wouldn’t be that stupid. I say we try another room, but be extra careful this time, okay everyone?”
Dan nodded at the floor, feeling miserable. It felt like Kura was talking directly to him.
The next room they entered was dark, lit by two torches. One torch hung in a bracket to the right of the door they had just entered, the other torch burned twenty feet away, revealing another door on the opposite side of the room.
“I guess there’s only one choice this time,” Inanna whispered.
“Well, what are we waiting for, then?” Thunder said before leading the way to the door. They walked slowly; Dan could barely see the floor he was walking on.
Thunder stopped before the door, examining it. It was large, wooden, and heavy looking. Runes carved into the wood of the door spelled out an unknown message and a rusty metal ring took the place of a doorknob. The door gave Dan a sense of foreboding, as if it guarded the entrance to a dungeon, or a torture chamber. He shuddered at the thought.
Thunder cautiously grabbed the metal ring of the door, hesitating. Dan held his breath as his brother gave an experimental pull on the ring. When nothing happened, Thunder pulled as hard as he could.
The door did not budge.
“It must be locked,” Dan said.
Inanna made an impatient sort of noise. “Always captain obvious....”
Dan ignored her.
“I wonder...” Kura murmured. She moved closer to the door, her eyes locked on the message carved upon it.
“I don’t suppose you’d like to finish your sentence, would you?” said Thunder, irritated. His injured tail was apparently affecting his mood.
When Kura said nothing, Inanna spoke. “Don’t tell me you can actually read that, Kura.”
“No.” Kura’s voice was soft and preoccupied. She seemed to be talking to herself while staring at the runes as if in a trance. “But these look very similar to the ancient runes of the Lost Desert, which I can read. I wonder if I....” She trailed off, still studying the mysterious runes.
They waited several minutes before Thunder lost his patience. “Look, there are plenty of doors in this cursed place. Why don’t we—”
“Just give her a minute!” Inanna snapped.
“I’ve given her more than that!” countered Thunder.
Kura sighed in exasperation. “I think I’m close to something, so would you two please shut your mouths and let me concentrate?!”
Thunder gritted his teeth and turned away from her, glaring at the wall. Kura turned back to the door and inhaled, her eyes closed. She counted to ten, exhaled slowly, and began studying the runes once more. Several more minutes of silence passed before she spoke.
“Right,” she stepped back from the door to look at them all. “I’m not sure, but I think I understand a little bit of what that message says by comparing these runes to the runes of the Lost Desert.”
“Well, let’s hear it, then!” Thunder’s voice was filled with venom.
Kura continued as calmly as ever, “I got the word ‘quick’ or ‘fast’ from the runes and ‘treasure.’ Then the message goes to say something about ‘great danger’ or ‘peril,’ I think. There are tough words that I tried to translate like ‘turn’ and... ‘push’ possibly somewhere in the middle of the message. And I also got the word ‘door’ in there several times.”
“How is that supposed to help us?” scoffed Thunder. “We don’t even know if you’re right!”
Kura opened her mouth to argue but Inanna beat her to it. She rounded on him, her eyes blazing.
“Well, if you don’t want to help us figure it out, then go and find a different way to the treasure by yourself! You’re the one who wanted to keep going anyway!”
“It’s not like we can go back! The door closed on us! I say we try—”
“GUYS!” Dan shouted at the top of his lungs. “CUT IT OUT!” Thunder and Inanna stopped arguing and consented to glare in opposite directions. Dan took this as a good sign and continued, “Why don’t we just try to figure out the message from the words Kura could translate? If it does not work, we’ll go try another door. Let’s try to get along for a little bit here, okay?”
Kura turned back to the group, her chin up in a defiant sort of way. “Fine. As long as he keeps his arrogant, bigheaded comments to himself...”
Thunder said nothing, but he was glowering at Kura with what Dan thought was the dirtiest glare he could muster. If looks could kill....
“So,” said Inanna obviously trying to break the tension. “Does anyone have any idea what the message could mean?”
Kura nodded. “The first part, at least, is pretty clear. I think that the runes say this door,” she pointed over her shoulder at the locked door, “is the ‘quickest way to the treasure.’”
“That makes sense,” said Inanna, nodding. “What about the rest of it, with the pushing and stuff?”
“You skipped the ‘great peril’ part,” Dan said. “I’m guessing that through this door is the quickest way to the treasure, but... beyond the door there is great peril? Or maybe there is great peril if you don’t go this way. Maybe you skip all the dangerous stuff if you go through this door.”
“Good job,” Kura nodded at Dan in approval. “But unfortunately, I think your first guess is more likely.”
“Well, that’s all fine and dandy,” said Thunder, “but from what I can tell, this door is still locked and we don’t have a key or any other way to get the door open. We’re still stuck here.”
Kura shot Thunder a glare. “We’re getting there!” She sighed and turned back to the door. “turn... push... turn and push...” her eyes widened. “Yes!” Without hesitation, she marched up to the door, grasped the rusty ring in place of a handle, pulled, and started to twist it in a clockwise direction. Dan watched in fascination.
Kura managed to turn the rusty door handle around in a three-sixty in less than a minute. She glanced back at the three of them, grinning, and pushed the ring as if to thrust it through the door.
The faint click was barely audible in the silent room, but Dan was sure he heard it.
“Yes!” said Inanna. She walked up to the door, grabbed the handle, and pulled.
To Dan’s amazement, the door creaked and began to inch slowly open. Inanna kept pulling, straining to open the door enough for them to pass through. She waved for Dan and the others to join her. Apparently, the door was pretty heavy. Thunder and Kura started to help Inanna pull. The door’s rusty hinges creaked in protest, but they managed to open the door wide enough for Dan to squeeze through.
“I’ll go push from the other side!” Dan volunteered, eager to help. His siblings grunted in agreement, still straining to open the door.
Dan dashed through the small opening between the door and the wall without difficulty. Before he finished praising his Baby paint job, though, something bellowed a terrifying roar behind him...
To be continued...