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Trip to Turmaculus


by simplyalice

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This story is about my Krawk, Vanhail, and his petpet Trekker, a young Nuk.

The sun was shining brightly at their backs as the travelling pair could be seen approaching over the eastern hills. Vanhail and his faithfully adventurous Nuk, Trekker, had spent the past eight days backpacking and camping their way down the misty mountains of Shenkuu and over the snowy peaks that separated his home from his past, deep in the depths of Edna’s dungeons. The grass-colored Krawk shuddered, remembering the cold, haunted music that drifted, echoing, through the ever-present gloom that surrounded the deserted fairgrounds, spilling softly out past the gates and into their outskirts. The music had resounded clearly through the small window near the ceiling in his room, the moonlight seeming to carry it down into his cavernous cell.

     He shook the image from his head and looked down at the small creature beside him. Trekker was waiting, at knee level, for him to give the signal that it was acceptable to run through the field before them: the final stretch before they reached the small but regal city of Brightvale.

     “Okay, but don’t get too far ahead!” Vanhail chuckled and motioned forward with his knobby walking stick.

     The Nuk bleated and reared up excitedly, his tiny black hooves shining slightly in the bright sun, then he bolted forward in a quick bound. He bleated happily again and bounced merrily around the lush field that waved slightly in the breeze. Trekker was barely taller than the fresh spring field as he bounced through the field, staying no more than twenty feet in front of Vanhail and occasionally doubling back to fling himself playfully into the worn knees of the Krawk's black jeans.

     Halfway through the field, Vanhail stopped and slipped his lucky jacket from his shoulders and hung it by the collar at the top of his walking stick, his white shirt wet with sweat.

     “Man, Trek, that black leather is like an oven in the sun.” He laughed as he sidestepped another horned attack from the excited Nuk, his soft white hair fluttered in the breeze and his white freckles shone brightly in the morning light.

     The brown bunch of gangly legs and black horns only bleated loudly in return and zipped ahead again as the Krawk started forward. When Trekker reached the edge of the field, where the unkempt wild-flora met abruptly with neatly trimmed grass and the edge of a curving path that lead into Brightvale, he sat rather impatiently and waited for Vanhail, who was not far behind. Vanhail squatted beside his fur-covered friend and rubbed his velvety, brown, oversized ear lovingly, the Nuk leaning his head heavily into the Krawk's hand.

     “Well, buddy, this is where you ride with me.” He chuckled and slipped his heavy pack from his back and carefully attached his long, crooked walking stick to the side jacket still dangling from the knobbed head, then hoisted the pack back onto his shoulders. “I’m not sure how much they’d appreciate you banging up everyone’s shins in the city limits.”

     Vanhail leaned over and scooped Trekker up into his arms. The Nuk protested at first, writhing and kicking half-heartedly, and then resigned himself to the inevitable as Vanhail lifted him over his head and placed him carefully on top of the soft sleeping bag on his back. Trekker sniffed loudly in the Krawk's ear and then trod in a half circle, finally plopping softly into a heap and flopping his head down onto his hooves.

     The Krawk, his companion dozing on his back, stepped onto the path and headed towards the sparkling city ahead. He could see the steeples of the castle towers rising above the rest of the buildings in the small, congested valley. The streets of Brightvale were mostly empty, and the occasional patron seemed to be in a hurry and didn’t notice the two of them. To his left, he was approaching what appeared to be a small stone building with a large wheel attached to the front. A small stone wall surrounded the whole thing, a stone-pillared archway granted entrance, adorned with a large stained glass sign that read “Wheel of Knowledge”.

     Vanhail stopped in front of the archway and peered at the wheel. Unlike the fruit machine, there was not a rowdy group of onlookers surrounding the attraction, instead only a pair of scholarly looking Draiks sitting quietly at a table, writing hurriedly in the open books before them. A wooden door behind them was labeled with a large brass plate.

     PRIZE WAREHOUSE

     AUTHORIZED ENTRY ONLY

     Attached to the stone pillar beside him was another, much smaller brass plate, engraved with information about the wheel.

     Welcome, scholars and scholaresses to the Wheel of Knowledge.

     You could win Neopoints, an item, or even our grand prize –

     wisdom from the mouth of King Hagan himself.

     LET THE ENLIGHTENMENT BEGIN!

     this attraction has been provided by:

     the ALL-KNOWING and most charitable King Hagan

     Vanhail chuckled softly and shook his head, continuing along the path, past the cork-topped potionery, the scrollery, and the armoury with its gleaming helmet of a roof. The juicy-looking fruit adorning the top of the Fruits of Brightvale shop reminded Vanhail that they had eaten breakfast not long before the sun had emerged from the horizon at the beginning of their day and his stomach grumbled hungrily, loudly enough to rouse the sleeping Nuk.

     Trekker yawned widely and blinked for a moment before Vanhail leaned down slightly, allowing the Nuk to hop safely to the ground. They clomped over the small wooden bridge into the more quaint, country setting of the adjacent town of Meridell. Here, small farm-raised petpets ran down the streets occasionally, a plethora of patrons bustled back and forth along the dirt and stone path, and open markets filled the space with a mixture of delicious smells and boisterous voices. The first stall was the Merifoods shop, and a small group of people and pets hovered near the shopkeeper as he sorted out a box from the recent restock drop-off.

     “Draik eggs?! Are there any in there?!” a middle-aged woman shrieked as the Meerca continued to unpack the box.

     “No way, they’re mine!” another shouted, flailing her arm into the group.

     “A pirate one! I’m looking for a pirate one!” a male voice shouted out of the middle somewhere, a Skeith hand appearing above the heads of the group.

     The shopkeeper continued to ignore them as he filled his stand with a number of different wheels of cheese and loaves of bread, a large crock of stone soup and meaty stew. When he had finished unloading his goods, he looked to the writhing group who waited for each shipment, eager to get their hands (or paws) on one of the ever-coveted Draik eggs. Holding up the empty box, the shopkeeper revealed that there were none in this shipment. The group groaned and sat in the grass beside the stand to wait for the next restock shipment. Vanhail looked down at Trekker, who was weaving between his legs and bleating hungrily, and smiled.

     “I agree, Trekker, that food smells good. Let's get some!” The Krawk shoved his hand into his pocket and pulled out a small leather sack full of jingling coins, looking at the large variety of food jumbled on the wooden stand.

     The shopkeeper meandered over to the pair as they approached the stand.

     “What can I get for ye?” the burly little Meerca asked cheerfully.

     “I think we’ll take one meaty stew, a loaf of courgette bread, two of those turnips over there and a quarter-wheel of soft white cheese.” He gestured to a smaller round of cheese, so white it looked like chalk, just as the Nuk bashed his head into the Krawk's shin.

     “Oh, and we’re going to need two cups of water and two Illusen Day cupcakes.” He glared down at Trekker, who bleated satisfactorily up at him. “Well, I’m glad you’re happy now. Next time, leave my shins out of it!”

     Vanhail collected their goods after paying the shopkeeper in shining neopoints and the pair headed towards a small area off the path and sat down against a couple of fallen trees to enjoy their spoils. After Trekker had gobbled down his turnips, half of the soft lump of cheese, and one of the cupcakes, he sat contentedly on his haunches and stared around at the busy, dirt streets of Meridell. Soon after, Vanhail popped the last bit of his own cupcake into his mouth and washed it down with the remaining water in his cup. The two of them, bellies full, staggered to their feet and looked around, trying to assess which direction they needed to head.

     “Well, Trek, Turmaculus has to be around here somewhere,” the Krawk said, matter-of-factly. “Want to check out the symol hole, first?”

     The small Nuk bleated nervously at him and knocked his horns softly against Vanhail's left leg.

     “It’ll be alright, little buddy,” Vanhail consoled his friend, smiling playfully. “I bet he’ll think you’re too cute to eat... I did!”

     They ambled around the corner and to their left, they saw a short fence encircling a small dirt track. A group of Turdles were dragging themselves slowly along the track. A group of rowdy pets was shouting, pumping their fists in the air, and tossing NP across the booth behind them.

     “Let's go, Squelchy!” someone shouted.

     “Come onnnnn, Nutty!!” Another voice.

     The shouting died down as they continued on their way. Ahead, they saw a small line of pets and their petpets standing beside a huge, old tree. The trees gnarled branches hung out over the path, bathing the otherwise sunny walkway in a cool pool of shade. As they got closer, they began to see what the line waited for. At each pair's turn, they would step forward and the petpet would then disappear into the ground, emerging a short distance away. Reaching the tree, Vanhail could see now that there was a small hole in the ground, not far from the base. A small plaque nailed to a post read:

     SYMOL HOLE

     This tunnel is believed to have been

     created by the ever elusive symol.

     The hole is nearly 3 feet deep. Its entrance is a mere 6 feet away from the exit.

     There is no evidence as to what the interior of the tunnel looks like or where

     any items may come from. The town of Meridell invites you and your petpet

     to investigate the tunnel yourselves. Any items or neopoints recovered during

     your petpet's trip through the tunnel are yours to keep.

     Please only one visit per petpet, per day.

     Brought to you by: The court of King Skarl

     “Hey Trekker, you want a go at it?” Vanhail looked down towards his Nuk, who had been standing near his feet, but saw that Trekker was already bounding towards the back of the line.

     The line moved fairly quickly as they watched petpets step up and disappear into the hole. First was a Noil, who made quick time of the tunnel but returned with nothing to show for his trip; next was a Polarchuck, who waddled along at a creeping pace that made Trekker knock his horns against Van’s shin; he also found nothing in the tunnel. Third was a Dandan, which slunk into the hole stealthily, its bushy tail disappearing quickly behind it, and returned carrying a turtum wind-up toy. Last and slowest of the line ahead of them was the Slugawoo, who also returned carrying a toy, this one a symol toy of some sort. Finally it was Trekker's turn, and he leapt headfirst into the tunnel, and Vanhail could hear him bleat at the bottom of the dark hole as he thudded softly at the bottom. Vanhail wandered towards the other hole in the ground and waited for his petpet to surface. A few minutes later Trekker's tail appeared at the mouth of the tunnel exit. He clambered out, rear first, dragging a somewhat dusty, patchwork plushie in the shape of a selket.

     “Woohoo, buddy!” Vanhail hollered, leaning down to pat Trekker on the head and retrieve the plushie, which he brushed off vigorously before waggling it at Trekker proudly and stuffing into his pack. “Way to go, Trek! I knew you’d find something.”

     They set off along the path again, towards a small hill. A small sign on the side of the walkway told them that the great Turmaculus was not far ahead. Vanhail stooped down and scooped his petpet into his arms, clutching him to his chest softly. Trekker nuzzled the Krawk and licked his chin.

     “You don’t have to do this, Trekker, if you don’t want.”

     The small, disproportionately brave Nuk bleated loudly and wriggled out of Vanhail's arms, leaping to the ground. He ran ahead up the hill, towards the Turmaculus, as if to tell his friend that he was ready. Vanhail met Trekker at the crest of the hill and saw the shack ahead of them. Outside the shack a hand painted sign read:

     THE GREAT TURMACULUS

     Legends speak of a Petpet who had a gigantic appetite.

     As he ate, he grew, and as he grew, he ate...

     until one day this colossal petpet could not move any more.

     Turmaculus can be found sleeping nearly 24 hours a day.

     Awaken him at your own risk.

     He is known to be very generous, but also very dangerous.

     Attempting to wake the Turmaculus more than once a day is

     said to be exceptionally dangerous, please only visit once daily.

     Vanhail and Trekker approached the small door to the shack and it swung open slowly as they reached it. The Krawk swallowed a lump in his throat and looked down at his Nuk, who was marching very determinedly into the shack beside him. As they stepped clear, the door swung closed with a soft creak. The lighting inside the small wooden building was dim, and it took a moment for Vanhail's eyes to adjust.

     He looked around slowly, and saw in the corner, the large Turmaculus. It was hard for him to believe that this huge lump of green and purple was once a small petpet. Now it was a huge heap of leathery skin, with stumpy legs protruding from the sides. The Turmaculus rose and fell softly as it snored in its corner. Trekker huffed into the dirt and then barreled towards the king of petpets, who slept soundly. Trekker dodged to the right just before reaching the huge ball of petpet, and ducked his head low, his horns connected solidly with a bell hanging near the ground. The loud gong of the bell resounded around the shack and Vanhail stared nervously as Trekker crept around the great Turmaculus, watching for any signs of waking.

     The huge petpet grunted deeply and slid one eye open slowly, its pupil swinging around to stare directly at Trekker. The small Nuk froze as the Turmaculus heaved itself to its feet, its huge belly touching the ground below it. It sniffed at Trekker, its hot breath rippling through the soft brown fur on the Nuk's face, as it towered over the small petpet. Vanhail's heart pounded fiercely as the lumbering creature stepped towards Trekker, still frozen in place and eyes as wide as flying discs, and all at once snapped him up in one easy bite.

     “Trekker... NO!” Vanhail exclaimed, reaching forward just as a loud click and a bright, white flash filled the shack.

     The Turmaculus grunted and spat a trembling Trekker out onto the ground, his fur glistening in the dim light, and lumbered backwards into its corner where it flopped back into a heap and began snoring again. Vanhail stumbled forward, kneeling on the ground beside Trekker, who had just stood and shaken off the slimy mucus from inside the Turmaculus’ great, wet mouth. The freckled Krawk, ignoring the glops of petpet spit covering his friend, scooped Trekker up and hugged him tightly and began to laugh.

     A door on the other side of the shack swung open slowly, filling the dark room with a wide river of sunlight the shape of the doorway. The two stumbled through the door and into the open air again; Vanhail was still chuckling.

     “Fancy a photo for your memories?” a lovely island Gelert offered, her pale yellow ears adorned with multiple earrings. She held up a snapshot of the Turmaculus, Trekker filling the huge petpet's mouth, and Vanhail outstretched in a panicked state. She tried again to sell her wares. “Only 5 neopoints.”

     The Krawk ruffled the fur on Trekker's head, which stood out in every direction then, held in place by the saliva that covered him. Vanhail gladly paid the price for the photo and placed it carefully in a locked box in his pack.

     “Well, Trekker, looks like I was wrong.” Vanhail smiled at the Nuk. “The great Turmaculus must not have thought you were as cute as I do.”

     The Krawk laughed as he slipped his trusty leather jacket over his shoulders and hefted his pack onto his back again. The sun was starting to set as the pair headed out of Meridell and back through the streets of Brightvale. In a few days they would be home again. Trekker would be bounding around the yard, chasing the Ladyblurgs and Vanhail would be sharing stories and treasures from their trip... and together they would plan their next adventure.

The End

 
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