Quests in the Lost Desert: Part One
The sun shone down brightly on the busy city of Sakhmet. Tomos the Lupe felt the warm sand beneath his paws as he passed between the moving crowds of shoppers. The center square of Sakhmet was always bustling with customers so it was ideal for a thief like Tomos. Sand blew into his red fur, but he wasn't bothered by it. He wore a white tunic with a brown vest and had blue trousers on. His target was a tchea fruit placed on a stand next to the food stall.
"You know, Tomos, there are plenty of other Tchea Fruits in that stall," pointed out one of his partners, Zina, "Ones that aren't right in the open."
"They're all just Tchea Fruits really," observed his other friend, Horace, "Why bother for that particular one."
Tomos knew that the Red Zafara and Yellow Blumaroo were just teasing him; they knew very well that Tomos always took the biggest challenge.
"I want that one," Tomos answered with a smirk. "You guys know that we deserve the best."
"Alright, it's your decision," replied Zina as she returned his grin.
"We'll do whatever you say," declared Horace loyally.
"Okay, Zina, you distract the vendor while I grab the fruit. Horace, you make sure that the Grarrl doesn't realize that it's gone," explained Tomos. "Understand? Good, let's go."
The Lupe darted between people and ducked into the shadow of the stall. Zina casually up to the stall. Once she was there, she kicked a barrage of sand into the vendor's eyes.
"Why, you little brat!" he snarled as he left his stand to chase the Zafara.
Tomos immediately rushed over to the pedestal and snatched the Tchea Fruit, then smiled as Horace replaced it with an identical one. The Lupe and Blumaroo escaped down and narrow alley, they crawled into a hole in a wall. After squeezing through the old passage they arrived into the Desert Scarabs' Headquarters. What had once been an abandoned building had been filled with used beds, broken furniture, and homeless Neopets.
Tomos collapsed into a dilapidated sofa and exclaimed, "Good job, Horace! As soon as Zina gets here, we can all share this precious fruit."
As if one cue, Zina then tumbled in from another passage.
"Zina, you made it," gasped Tomos, feigning relief. "I thought that the Grarrl would get you for sure."
"Ha, he hasn't caught me for the thirteen years that I've been thieving and he won't be catching me soon, " boasted the Zafara. "Now let's eat; this had better be worth it."
Tomos grabbed the Tchea fruit and pulled it apart into three equal pieces. As he divided it something fell out of it and clattered to the floor. The trio knelt down to inspect it, and saw a necklace. Each bead was like a golden pearl, and the center of it was the shape of a Scarab that contained a brilliant emerald.
"Whoa, this is beautiful," breathed Horace, "What was it doing in a Tchea fruit?"
"The more important question is 'How much is it worth?'" exclaimed Tomos eagerly.
"Tomos!" scolded Zina. "This is obviously a treasure from the palace; we can't sell it. We have to return it to Princess Amira."
"Oh, but it's so shiny," protested Tomos. "Alright, we can give it back, but let's wait till evening; if this is as valuable as you think it is, it would be unwise to be caught with it."
"Sounds good to me," agreed Horace. "Now, I think we should get a little shuteye; we want to be fully rested if we're going to sneak into the palace."
The other two agreed and lay down in their lumpy mattresses. Tomos dropped the necklace onto a small table as he closed his eyes for sleep.
Princess Sankara sat in her dank dungeon cell impatiently. Her once white dress was now stained with dirt, and her ebony hair flopped from her head in an disorganized mess. The door that kept her locked up was made out of strong wood and was guarded by tough soldiers, but she wasn't watching the door. The Aisha instead had her eye on the wall. After staring at it for several more minutes, she blinked as one of the bricks began to move. Soon it had fallen out of its place and revealed two brown Meercas.
"What kept you so long?" snapped Sankara.
"So sorry," said the Meerca with goggles on his head.
"We had another theft on our hands," explained the one with a blue cap.
The first Meerca continued, "You see, we heard these other bandits saying that they found a valuable necklace and-"
"Look, I don't care about what you doing before you got here. Just get me out of here!" demanded the Aisha.
"If you didn't want to know, then why did you ask?" posed the capped Meerca.
"Hey, what's going on in there?" shouted a voice from outside.
"Never mind, let's go," urged Sankara as the two Meerca Brothers helped her through the entrance.
Just as the door began to open, the Meerca pulled the brick back into place. A black Tonu in Sakhmet armour entered the room and gasped. Realizing that the prisoner was gone, General Dacon immediately dashed out of the dungeons and through the halls. He went up stairs and though doors until he arrived at Princess Amira's large doors. The tall arched doorway led into the Princess's bedroom. General Dacon didn't bother to knock; he barged right into the room.
"General, what-" started the Brown Aisha sitting on the bed.
"Sankara is gone," announced the Tonu bluntly.
Princess Amira gasped. "How did she get out?"
"I don't know, but I need to stop her," declared the General.
The heavily jewelled Ruler stood up from her bed and stated, "You have to get to the gates and stop her from leaving; it's the only way out."
"I'll search there," Dacon agreed. "But we thought the only way out of her cell was the door, and that proved to be wrong. We will have to look out for anyone with tricks up her sleeve."
Brucey B tugged vigorously on the rope. It burned his hand as his feet sank into the wet sand, but he still pulled with all of his might. The large Grundo on the other side of the river was putting up a challenging fight, but the Green Bruce still held his ground. Suddenly the rope slipped out of his flippers and he stumbled into the water.
Brucey B sighed as he shook off the mud and retired back to Sakhmet. The sun was setting now, and most Tug-o-War players had gone back to their homes. He had stayed out the latest because he had wanted so badly to win; no matter what he did he could never overpower his opponents. That's all he was known as now, the worst player of Tug-O-War. Even though he had been a hero to the Lost Desert and Neopia, his deeds had already been forgotten. There was no mention of him in the Gallery of Heroes, he never got a reward for all of his help, he just went back to games like Tug-O-War, Cheat!, and the Slots.
"What's wrong, Brucey, you look so down in the dumps," came the caring, yet energetic voice of Lady Osiri.
"I saved the Lost Desert from Dr. Sloth, and nobody cares," sighed the Bruce.
The peach Aisha was Brucey B's best friend. She ran a pottery shop near the gates of Sakhmet and always talked to him. She had bouncy orange hair and a wavy white dress. Osiri sighed; she had heard this before.
Still she said comfortingly, "Don't worry about that. The Lost Desert is safe and you should be happy about that."
"Yeah," mumbled Brucey B as he gazed at the village-goers.
His sight stopped at a gangly, purple Jetsam. The mysterious Jetsam was the champion of Tug-O-War, but Brucey B knew that there was more to him than that. He had helped Dr. Sloth try to take over Neopia; Brucey B had stopped him, but not captured him. He had no real evidence against the shifty Jetsam, and he always disappeared whenever Brucey got close to him. Brucey stared at his darting eyes and ominous scar; he wanted to always watch the Jetsam whenever he could. The Jetsam moved quickly and stealthily at the Tchea Fruit stand and grabbed a fruit that was sitting on a pillar.
"That Jetsam just stole a fruit!" Brucey blurted out suddenly.
"Oh, don't worry, Brucey, things get stolen every day here," laughed Osiri. "A little fruit doesn't matter."
"But it's him," spluttered the Bruce, "The guy who helped Dr. Sloth."
"Well, he has to eat too," pointed out Osiri. "He's probably just getting some food."
"No, no, no," protested Brucey. "It must be a part of some nefarious plan."
"Brucey, you're being paranoid," scolded the Aisha, but Brucey B was no longer listening.
He grabbed his companion's wrist and declared, "We have got to stop him. Then I can be sure that he will be stopped for good, and maybe get a little fame for this."
"I am not leaving my stand just so you can get another shot at fame," whined Osiri, but years of rope pulling had strengthened Brucey B's arm.
She had no choice but to go along with him. Osiri sighed as she realized that she had a bag full of plates still with her. Brucey wouldn't stop now, the Jetsam was creeping out of the gates and they were closing soon. She wondered why the Bruce was taking her with her. Maybe he wanted company or help. Maybe he wanted a witness to prove that he really was a hero. Whatever his reason, Osiri decided to get it over with and help him out. As the two Neopets dashed through the gate the bumped into three cloaked figures also leaving.
"Watch it!" snarled a female slender one.
The two shorter ones just ushered her on and nodded in apology. Brucey and Osiri made it through the crowd of people and exited the gates, they were out of Sakhmet. They stumbled awkwardly into the sands just as the sun was sinking beneath the dunes.
"There he is!" Brucey exclaimed as he pointed to a lone silhouette departing into the wild part of the Desert.
As Osiri reluctantly followed her friend she heard a gruff voice demand, "Open this gate immediately! I am General Dacon, and I have reason to believe that the notorious Princess Sankara has escaped."
Osiri turned around and saw that the gates were indeed closed.
"Great," she muttered sarcastically, "Now there's no going back."
To be continued...