The Puzzling Voyage to Geraptiku: Part Four
“Arrrggghhh!!!” screamed Captain Sam as she looked around at the empty treasure room the group had fallen asleep in. Every gold doubloon, every jewel-encrusted weapon or shield was gone. Overnight, everything had simply vanished. “Where did it all go? Wait, how did it all go? We were here all night. Who could have taken it from underneath our very noses?”
Scrap looked over at the professor waking from his slumber and looking just as perplexed as the captain. “Simply amazing... perhaps someone is living in this temple, after all. They must have come in the night and taken it from the room fearing that we would have looted it in the morning..”
“But that makes absolutely no sense,” yelled Captain Sam. Her voice was ringing down the hallway they entered the room through the previous night. “I’m such a light sleeper, I can hear an insect skittering across the floor.” Scrap thought this was a bit of an exaggeration given the snoring the captain had been performing the night before but was smart enough not to mention it.
“Well, there really isn’t any other logical explanation. Though, I wonder...” Professor Lenny von Grubbentrapp dug through his things and pulled out the golden compass-like device he had fiddled with the previous evening. “It seems not everything disappeared.”
Faster than Scrap could have believed it, the captain had crossed the room, grabbed the compass from Professor Lenny’s wing, and licked the device. She scowled as if the compass tasted like a pile of sludge. “It’s not even real gold,” she proclaimed in a whining voice. She tossed the compass over her shoulder, but the professor caught it with his outstretched wing.
“Very curious,” he muttered as he began to rub off the gold paint. Shavings fell upon the ground, and Scrap noticed that the shavings seemed to disappear into the floor, they were so tiny. “Well, what do you know?” said the professor.
Scrap looked up and saw the same compass from the night before. Only this time, the needle was not swinging in a wild direction. In fact, it was pointed plainly at the wall opposite the hallway. “It works!” exclaimed the professor.
“Whoop-dee-doo,” muttered Captain Sam dully. “A compass that works. I already have one here, you know,” she added as she slid her compass across the floor towards the professor and Scrap. But this time, Scrap noticed something out of the ordinary.
“Hold up a minute,” he said as he picked the captain’s compass from the floor. He compared the two compasses. “One of these is wrong.” Sure enough, Captain Sam’s compass was pointed towards the entryway, while the professor’s was pointed in the opposite direction.
“By jove, you’re right, young lad,” exclaimed the professor. “But that makes no sense.”
“Well, I know mine’s right,” the captains said as she stood from the floor and neared the other two. “I used it just yesterday to get us to this deserted tomb.”
“Indeed,” agreed the professor. “Which means that, for some reason, this compass is not pointed north. It must be pointed towards something in particular.” The professor’s eyes lit up, and he focused them on Scrap. “My boy, perhaps you were correct in your assertion last night.”
“Wait. What assertion?” asked the captain.
“My dear captain, I thought for sure you must have heard Master Scrap here and me talking last night as you're such a light sleeper.” Professor Lenny must have received the growling face from the captain he expected because he merely smiled and continued. “I believe Master Scrap was correct when he hypothesized last night that this compass may lead us to the tomb of the Geraptiku king. And more specifically, to the mysterious Gold Geraptiku Talisman.”
Scrap was delighted that the professor believed his theory, though he was still unsure whether it was true or not. Captain Sam, on the other hand, scoffed. “I think it’s just broken myself,” she said, quickly adding, “No offense, swabby. But it’s pointing at a wall. Can’t be too correct then, right?”
“Actually, not right, my dear captain. You see, the paths we traversed earlier could lead to another room behind this very wall. Or...” The professor walked over to the wall and ran his wingtip over it, trying to read the glyphs adorning the walls. “Well, there is something written here. I assumed it was merely a story, but I believe I can translate the word ‘Sesamum’, which would be an archaic form of the word ‘Sesame’.”
The captain squinted at the professor. “Your archaic vocabulary is very strange. You can’t read anything else from this wall but the word ‘sesame’?” The professor shrugged, so she went on. “Alright, then let’s try this. OPEN SESAME!” she yelled.
Nothing happened except for her voice echoing off the walls of the treasure room. She shrugged and began to walk away when Scrap spoke up. “Actually, I have an idea. I was once in Neopia Central at a health food store. I wanted to try something different so I asked for a specialty item. The shopkeeper handed me something very tasty with sesame in it. When I asked him if there was anything else with sesame in it, he said he didn’t know of anything.”
“Is there a point to this story, swabby. We really need to move,” said the captain shortly. The loss of gold had obviously made her resentful.
“OPEN SESAME STICKS!” yelled Scrap unexpectedly. Both the professor and the captain jumped at the sound of his voice. So did the wall the compass was pointing towards.
“Well, I’ll be,” mumbled Captain Sam as the wall slid aside and a second passageway was revealed. “I knew you would be good to have for something on this trip. I just thought swabbing the decks would be good enough. I have to admit that this is much better.” The captain began to move down the passageway, and the professor quickly followed. Scrap looked down, saw Rax the robot petpet, picked him up, and followed the other two even deeper into the pyramid.
The group of explorers traveled quietly through the passageways for hours, taking turns, avoiding traps, and following the advice of the professor’s new silver compass. When everyone’s stomachs had started to grumble, the captain used her pocketknife to chisel some mold from the walls, telling her crew that it was edible. Edible... sure. Tasty... well, Scrap didn’t think so. At the same time, it wasn’t the worst thing he had ever tasted, and he was so hungry that even that pile-of-sludge-tasting compass would be edible right now.
They walked continuously until what Scrap thought must be nighttime. It was confirmed when the professor told Captain Sam on request that it was 7:17 PM. “And when is sundown, again. I think we should camp early because one of us is staying up at all times tonight. No more disappearing anything. And I get first shift.”
The professor scowled as if he needed all the beauty rest he could get, but he replied, “For all intents and purposes, sundown is 7:45 PM. So roughly half an hour.”
“Alright, let’s do about fifteen minutes more exploring and then we’ll set up camp,” Captain Sam said. However, it would not take even fifteen minutes to find their campsite. In fact, after about five minutes, the group waltzed into a large room reminiscent of a crypt Scrap had the displeasure staying in.
Professor Lenny looked so frustrated that he may pull the feathers from his head. “But this makes no sense! This should be the burial chamber. But there’s nothing here. No treasure, no sarcophagus, and more importantly no talisman!” He consulted the compass, but no matter where he stepped in the burial chamber, the compass needle pointed directly towards the room’s center.
“Well, that cuts it,” said the captain. “I’ve had enough of this wild goose chase. It’s time we exited this tomb and found our way back home.”
“Wait,” begged the professor. “Let me search the room a bit more to see what I can find.” The captain nodded, and the professor searched. And he searched. But after more than twenty minutes had passed, not one shred of evidence regarding the sarcophagus nor the talisman were surfaced.
Quietly and sadly, the professor relented. Captain Sam was just about to venture back the way they came when a gold light began to seep into the room. All three heads of the explorers (and Rax’s as well) turned to face the room’s interior where gold doubloons were shifting out from underneath the ground as if they were made of ectoplasm. Also, in the center of the room, a gold sarcophagus was emerging with an elaborate design carved upon it. The explorers gaped open-mouthed at the sight.
After minutes of silence, the professor was the first to gain some composure and speak. “For some reason, gold vanishes into the ground during the day. It must return to the surface at nighttime.” Sure enough, dusk had occurred at the same time the gold shifted from the floor. “This compass did not disappear this morning because it’s not real gold. It’s actually silver.”
Scrap nodded silently to himself. This must be why the gold shavings from the compass seemed to disappear into the floor earlier. He had thought it was because they were so small, but they were really being sucked into the floor. The gold was so thin, though, that the compass didn’t disappear.
“Well, then that means that this is the tomb. The sarcophagus,” said the captain, pointing towards the coffin-like container in the center of the room.
“Yes, it must be,” replied Professor Lenny. He moved forward and placed all his might into shoving open the sarcophagus, but it moved not an inch. Captain Sam and Scrap joined him and pushed simultaneously, finally removing the top of the sarcophagus and staring at the mummified remains inside. Scrap was disgusted by the sight of a centuries-old king, but both the captain and the professor were staring intently at the body. Or at least at the circular talisman around the body’s neck.
“The Gold Geraptiku Talisman,” mumbled the professor as he stared down at the glimmering object. Very slowly, he removed the talisman and held it up to the torchlight. It was beautiful, but Scrap couldn’t even figure out why he thought so. It looked like a generic piece of gold jewelry, but something about it glowed. As if it had an aura, and that aura was the most beautiful thing Scrap had ever seen.
“Well,” said the captain, smiling for the first time they entered the deserted tomb of Geraptiku. “You got your artifact, and I’ve completed my job. Let’s waste no time in heading back to that treasure room. I want to collect all I can before sunrise.”
Scrap nodded his approval, and the professor shrugged, not taking his eyes from the talisman in his wing. But another voice rang out that expressed dissatisfaction with the captain’s new plans.
“You won’t be taking anything else tonight, Captain Samantha Snitzfritz. Not tonight or ever again.” The explorers slowly looked up and saw the floating, ethereal body of the late King of Geraptiku. And he was not smiling.
To be continued...