Caution: Quills may be sharp Circulation: 177,388,757 Issue: 427 | 22nd day of Sleeping, Y12
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The Puzzling Voyage to Geraptiku: Part Three


by stingjc

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Scrap stared at the professor as if the Lenny had gone quite mad. How was he supposed to figure out some archaic puzzle? Something about collision and a symbol wheel. Scrap found it especially difficult to mull over the solution to his puzzle with the ever encroaching darkness. An eerie mist was beginning to form on the ground, and it seemed as if the stuff was about to course its way up their bodies and choke them. It really couldn’t be getting this dark and spooky out here so fast. What time was it again?

     Time.

     Scrap’s face lit up. The answer dawned on him. “Collision. As in hand collision. As in on a clock!” he said aloud, the excitement making him a bit louder than he expected. The captain shushed him and gazed at him quizzically. The professor, on the other hand, smiled. “That’s it. This wheel here on the door isn’t just a random jumble of glyphs. It’s a clock, and those symbols surrounding the other circles. Those are numbers. On a regular clock, there are two hands, right? An hour hand and a minute hand. Well, at certain times, those two hands overlap, giving the appearance that they collide.”

     At the word ‘collide’, the truth must have dawned on the Captain as she closed her eyes and nodded as if she should have known the answer all along. “So, the door can only be opened when the hands would overlap... if there were hands to the clock?”

     The professor nodded. “And there may have been hands at one point. The tomb is very old. There is simply no telling if the hands broke off over time without further inspection. But the next available time to open the door is then-”

     Scrap cut him off. “7:35 PM!”

     The professor nodded yet again. “That is correct. Or about so. You see, on a traditional clock the hour hand moves constantly over an entire hour. At 7:35, the hour hand would be closer to the 8 on a clock than the seven since the hour is more than halfway over. I would truly estimate the next available time to be roughly 7:38. Which is in six minutes.”

     The next six minutes were the longest Scrap could ever remember. The anticipation of whether their theory was correct mixed with his trepidation of what may arise out of the eerie murkiness of the Lost City stretched the six minute timeframe as if it were six hours. However, at the end of the sixth minute (Professor Lenny had been counting down), the door to the tomb made a dull click. Professor Lenny pressed gently on the surface of the “clock”, and the door slid slightly backwards before drawing itself slowly upwards through the doorway above.

     Before the trio (and robot Petpet) was a long and dark hallway, not much comforting than the murkiness outside. But it was slightly better, and the group entered the doorway and began to walk though the dark tunnel.

     The captain found a torch on the wall, which she promptly lit, bathing the walls in a warm and flickering light. She found a second, lit it, and handed the torch to Scrap, who was bringing up the rear of their party. The three carefully made their way down the dusty and dank corridor towards the interior of the tomb. It was after a few minutes that the Captain stopped. The sudden stop did not allow enough warning to Scrap or the professor who bumped into each other and then into the captain, but she quickly held her ground, stopping herself from nearly tripping over some invisible wire on the ground.

     “Be careful, you idiots,” she hissed at the pair of them who had toppled to the ground behind her. “There are a series of traps on this ground. You almost made me trigger one of them.”

     Scrap looked up at her fearfully. “Traps?”

     “No doubt, the ancient Geraptiku people set dangerous, deadly traps throughout this tomb in order to keep out grave robbers and riffraff of that sort,” said the professor as he stood from the dusty ground and brushed off his clothing. “Based on the limited technology of that time, many of these traps are triggered by either tripwires set in these narrow passageways or by pressure plates hidden around the stone tiles. I suppose we should take greater care not to set one of these traps off.”

     The captain grumbled. “That’s for the history lesson, doc. But when it comes to survival, why don’t you leave that to me?” She squatted down and gently ran her fingers over the ground. Suddenly, the ground her hand touched shifted and the stone floor in front of the trio slid open, revealing the tips of sharply pointed spears.

     Scrap stared blankly at the deadly trap. “If you wouldn’t have stopped, we would have all fallen into that pit,” he said dully.

     “True,” the captain replied. “But I did stop. Now, let’s get to hopping over this pit so we can continue.”

     Crossing the pit was easier than Scrap thought it might be. While jumping over was not really an option since the pit was longer than any of them could jump, Rax carried the ends of some spare rope across the pit as the little Robot Petpet hopped from pointy spear to pointy spear. Their sharpness did not seem to bother him or his shiny metal body. As soon as two ropes were strewn across the opening, everyone took great care balancing themselves across the tautness of the makeshift rope bridge. Once Scrap made it to the other side, the captain decided to leave the ropes there since they would probably need to cross again on their way out of the tomb. Not to mention that she had quite a few pieces of rope in her backpack.

     The group moved even further down the dark passageways of the tomb. Occasionally, an option was given to turn right, turn left, or continue going straight. During those key moments, the professor would search for some meaning in the glyphs inscribed upon the walls of the temple.

     “I believe this one says something about the tomb being on the right and the treasure room being on the left,” he said at one of these forks.

     Captain Sam rolled her eyes. “Listen, professor, you’ve said the same thing about six times now. Not to mention that after you say it, you continue by saying that all of the writing is probably a trap anyways since the people who built this pyramid wouldn’t want grave robbers to follow the signs so easily. So just pick a route, save us the time of listening to your rambling, and let’s keep moving. The sooner we’re out of here, the better.”

     The professor looked hurt, as if he had only said the statement four times instead of six. Then, he point one feathery wing down the passageway to their right, and they continued onward. Not ten yards down the passageway, and Rax began to make the whirring noise Scrap had first heard him make back in the cargo hold of the pirate ship. Everyone stopped in their tracks.

     The little petpet jumped off of Captain Sam’s shoulder (where he had been perched) and scooted down the dark passageway. Scrap looked at the captain, who was staring intently into the darkness beyond the light of her torch. Abruptly, a chirping noise echoed down the passageway, and the captain moved carefully and quickly towards the source of the noise. Not wanting to be left behind, the professor and Scrap kept pace until all three happened upon a glimmering room.

     The room was glimmering due to the amount of golden treasure housed within it.

     “Payday!” yelled the captain as she approached the nearest stack of golden doubloons and grabbed one, biting the end of it to ensure its authenticity. “And it’s real gold, too.”

     “They spared no expense,” mumbled the professor as he stared in astonishment across the treasure chamber.

     Scrap couldn’t help but stare himself. The sight was beautiful. Open treasure chests filled with gold doubloons and jewelry, precious gems and jewel-encrusted weaponry, regal crowns and silvery opal tiaras were mixed with tall hills of doubloons and golden shields. This place was the greatest treasure trove Scrap had not only ever seen but could have ever imagined. Simply owning one-twentieth of this room would ensure Scrap would never again have to stowaway on some strange ship going to some mysterious island.

     Captain Sam jumped into a nearby pile of gold doubloons, swimming as if the gold were water. When she popped her head back up, she looked over at the professor who was sitting and fiddling with a nearby object. “Is that it? Is that the talisman you wanted?”

     The professor looked up glumly. It was odd to Scrap that anyone who had just found an ancient treasure room with gold for the taking could be so glum. “No,” he replied in a melancholy tone. “This is just a trinket. The talisman wouldn’t be here. It would actually be in the tomb where their leader is buried.”

     It was Captain Sam’s turn to have the color drain from her face. Her body buried in the golden doubloons, her mouth gaped open as if she had been struck dumb. The professor merely looked at her and sighed.

     “The talisman, the Gold Geraptiku Talisman, was much too important to keep in this room filled with other treasures. It would need to be buried with the body of their leader so that he may have success after his death. His spirit could use the effects of the talisman to forever live in greatness. Or so they would think. We aren’t actually looking for a room of treasure but actually a crypt for their late king. Only in that crypt will we find the real treasure of this pyramid.”

     “So, you’re saying we took a wrong turn somewhere?” asked Scrap, looking around at the gold that would no doubt be weighing them all down as they continued their search of the tomb.

     “Yes, we did indeed,” replied the professor. “I apologize, but there was no map for me to follow once we got here. I’ve had to read ancient text which may be incorrectly translated, not to mention use my ability to understand the logic behind their placing of the tomb. We will have to go back and try a different route.”

     The captain had been silently staring at the two of them for quite some time. Rax came bursting through another nearby hill of gold, chirping excitedly.

     “Well, I say we camp in this room for the night. It will be much safer than traversing the halls of this pyramid while we continue getting tired,” she said finally. The professor and Scrap nodded their approval. Soon, blankets of palm leaves the captain had collected from the beach were laid out across the floor, and within moments her gentle snoring filled the echoing chamber of treasure.

     The professor, on the other hand, was busy tinkering away with the same device he had in his wingtips earlier. “What is that, Professor Lenny?” asked Scrap who was tired but trying hard not to sleep in this creepy temple.

     “This, my dear boy, is a compass of sorts.” Sure enough, a compass made of pure gold was in his right wingtip, but the needle (usually pointing north on most compasses) was spinning wildly. “But I think it may be broken. It is an interesting contraption, which perhaps has lost its magnetism over the centuries.”

     Scrap stared at the compass in Lenny’s hand. It bore gemstones around its circumference, and the needle itself looked to be of a silvery color. However, it was the shape in the middle that was the most interesting of all. A golden skull was emblazoned in the very center of the compass, reminding Scrap of the skull-and-crossbones flag he had expected to see on his first time on the pirate ship’s deck.

     “Professor, you don’t think the compass points to the tomb of the Geraptiku king, do you?”

     The professor chuckled. “Well, that seems nigh impossible, my boy. Magnetism just doesn’t work that way. Unless, of course, the tomb itself were so highly magnetized that the needle would point towards it, but as you can see the needle is spinning in no particular direction at all. Even if it did point towards the tomb, how would we determine where it was pointing?”

     Scrap looked at it again, but he didn’t see how the needle could point to the tomb either. It had been a silly idea, and he felt foolish asking it of the professor in the first place.

     “Regardless, Scrap, I suppose it’s time for bed. We have much exploring to do tomorrow. I hope we can get to the heart of this tomb early enough that we can set course back for home. I must say that I am as fearful of this place as our dear captain.”

     Scrap didn’t feel the need to mention that getting back to home without a ship would be more impossible than the professor thought. Instead, he nodded and rolled over on his blanket of palm leaves. In seconds, he had passed out, more exhausted than he thought.

     In fact, he was so exhausted that he didn’t awaken until later in the morning (or so he thought from the inside of a pyramid) to the sound of a screaming female.

     Scrap jumped from his makeshift bed, pounced and ready to strike at whatever was attacking the captain. Instead, what he saw was more eerie than a monster coming to eat them all. The captain was screaming but not from fear. Rather, she seemed fairly angry. Angry that during the night, all of the treasure in the room they had been sleeping had simply disappeared.

To be continued...

 
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Other Episodes


» The Puzzling Voyage to Geraptiku: Part One
» The Puzzling Voyage to Geraptiku: Part Two
» The Puzzling Voyage to Geraptiku



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