Forgotten by Time
I lay with my eyes closed, wishing that I could just disappear.
For all I knew, I could have been dead already, except I could still feel the light of the sun scorching my back, and the roughness of the rock digging into my stomach.
I laid myself flat on the ground, willing to just vanish entirely. I was alone out here, and I knew that no one would think to come looking for me. Not that they’d have any luck finding me even if they did.
After a while I seemed to realise that there was really no point in lying there, waiting for the end to come. I got up reluctantly; ever muscle in my body screaming in protest.
As I got to my knees, and took a look at my surroundings. I was in a sandless desert; the most remote place that any neopet had ever known. Otherwise spoken of as the Tyrannian Plateau; the land forgotten by even time itself.
Some may argue that the Lost Desert is the hottest place in Neopia, but they would be wrong. It was here, on this endless stretch of flat rock that the sun shone the hardest. Hot enough to fry a giant egg every morning, to keep any living thing hidden safely in the shade until the sun went down.
There was water, in the Desert. The occasional sparkling pools with palm trees that swayed to a slight breeze. Here, there was nothing. No vegetation could survive, for there was no soil.
There was simply emptiness.
I looked at my hands, which had grown numb long ago. I seemed to have forgotten how they had gotten there. My palms were spread flat on the hard ground, covered with dust.
That’s all it was here; I was standing on a giant flat rock, covered by dust. No sign of life, no sign of anything but the raging endlessness of it all. I got to my feet, and looked around me.
I saw nothing.
Endlessness emptiness. I watched the same landscape stretch out from here to forever. Nothing but the endless dull brownish red of the rock in front of me. The sky I could see was in the distance, pale, colourless.
I’m sure the colour in the sky mirrored it, but even if my neck had the strength to lift itself up, the blazing heat prevented me from doing so.
I opened my mouth to inhale, and deeply regretted it. My tongue, dry as sandpaper, nearly choked me. I keeled over, expelling dust from within my lungs.
It was inside of me.
I don’t know how long I had been wandering out here, looking for...
Looking for what? I don’t even know anymore. Some unnameable force had driven me to my doom, into these endless plains where I would wander in a dull sleep.
All I remember was the sound that my empty canteen made as it banged against my hip with every step, a constant reminder of my thirst.
It was at that point that I decided to get up again. There was a slight hint of resistance in me. The plateau was stronger than me, I had lost this battle before I had even begun it, yet I wouldn’t give up. I would wander it until my feet refused to carry me any further, and even then I would drag myself until my tired bones refused to move.
That blunt determination quickly faded with time. I found myself dragging my feet forward, step after step, my eyes closed in an attempt to spare them from the inferno above.
How could anyone survive out here?
I’d heard of them. Hermits; Tyrannians who had given up the life in the jungle to wander these plains as I did. Life in the jungle was a luxury compared to this.
Even on the outskirts of it, on the piece of plateau where the concert hall stood, where that darned egg roasted each morning.
But here... Here there was nothing to enjoy but one’s own mind, which quickly silenced itself in a futile attempt of self preservation.
I would have been happy if even a tumbleweed had tumbled on by, but no breeze carried even that my way. My head began to droop, and the last thing I remember was the dull sound as my knees hit the ground.
I was floating.
Surely my time must have come, for I could no longer feel the glare on my backside, no raging flame threatening to consume me. I felt strangely detached, as if my mind was separate from my body.
No sooner had this thought presented itself to me, than I was forced back into feeling.
A groan escaped my lips as my head pounded. After some searching, I found my eyes and forced them open.
I was in a cave. A cave, a crevice, a hole in a giant rock; the important thing was that it shielded me from the outside.
A shadow moved above me, but I was too weak to even shout out in terror. I prayed that the end would simply come, and let me suffer no longer. I braced my weak limbs for the impact that never came.
Instead, I felt a cool liquid being forced through my lips. I drank greedily, practically inhaling it.
As the raging burn in my throat died out, I managed to raise my head. And look straight into the eyes of the beast.
That was my initial reaction, before my senses caught up to speed. I blinked, and realised that I was staring into the face of a Kacheek.
It must have been a Kacheek, I figured, for that was the neopet that it most resembled. The part of its face that wasn’t covered in hair looked curiously at me. A prehistoric ancient, a hermit that wandered this land before me.
“Uugbah take care you,” he croaked, with a voice that sounded as if it had not been used for a long while. “No wander alone.”
The name stirred up a thought in the back of my mind. The memory came against my will, but I let it. I remembered sitting at a hard wooden desk in Neoschool, staring vaguely out the window at Chet Flash as the teacher droned on about the history of the plateau.
A single point from his lesson floated back to me; as he taught the class about the citizens of this land that none of us thought we would ever see. “Uugbah Sharp Spear,” the teacher had said. “An ancient citizen of Tyrannia. This Kacheek that preferred the still night air to the company of his fellow neopets, who now wanders the plateau and lives off of anything he can find.”
I never dreamed that I would wander this far from home, ever see this forsaken land with my own eyes, let alone one of the most mysterious figures in its history. I looked at him then, at that prehistoric Kacheek, and wondered how many he had ever graced with his presence.
His back was slightly hunched, and his coarse fur was a mess, but he was my saviour. I was sure he had carried me from the place where I had fallen.
“Thank you,” I whispered, as I looked into his eyes.
Those eyes--how they stared back at me, so knowingly. He was wise, of that I was sure. He was one of the ancients, wandering this land before the rest of Neopia had even known of it. And I knew that he would wander it for decades more.
“Village,” he grunted, pointing off into the distance. For the first time, I saw through the dust that was ever presently spiralling into the sky, and saw the faded outlines of huts. They stood there, beckoning to me, in the shadow of the dying sun.
And silhouetted by the cave entrance, he watched me. He watched as I got to my feet, an inner strength driving me forward.
I was already out of the cave when I turned for my last look, and gazed at him for a final time. The fur of his garment dusty with the ever present chalk that graced everything in sight, signature slouch as he held his pointed spear.
I smiled, as I turned away.
Time may have forgotten him, but I wouldn’t.