Coltzan IV and the Not-So-Brilliant Bet: Part Four
Coltzan’s eyes adjusted to the darkness instantly, as if his body was prepared for anything. He scanned his surroundings. Everything looked the same, really. He was just tangled in a mess of vines. For a moment he worried he was alone, then heard a struggling behind him. Turning, he saw Talina, yanking at a thick vine that had fastened itself around her right arm.
Coltzan wriggled out of the vines and crawled over.
“Here, let me,” he offered, gently pulling at the trailing plants until they released Talina.
“Thanks,” she murmured.
The two stood and surveyed the room. Garrett was sniffing at some rocks a couple feet away.
“T-this must have been a trap, d-disguised with vines to keep intruders out!” a shaky voice declared.
Talina and Coltzan looked up to see the Tonu, about ten feet above them, standing on the landing they had fallen from.
Coltzan rubbed his head. Every time the Tonu spoke he felt like he was playing a nightmarish version of Wicked Wocky Wobble.
“Milton, stay up there, O.K.?” Talina requested. “I will try to find a way up to you.”
Milton nodded and his head disappeared from the gaping hole above them. They heard his footsteps scurry away in the distance.
The Acara reached down and began tearing vines apart and tying them together tightly.
“What’re you doing?” Coltzan asked warily.
“What does it look like I’m doing?”
Coltzan didn’t answer. It looked like she was tearing apart vines and tying them together.
The Acara sighed. “I’m making a rope ladder... er, a vine ladder, so we can climb back up to where Milton is.”
Coltzan rolled his eyes. Good luck with that, he thought sarcastically.
“I’m gonna explore...” he mumbled in return.
This area was much more open than the corridors upstairs. There were no twisting hallways or maneuvering paths... it was just a large, open room, probably about the size of Coltzan’s bedroom and kitchen combined.
He walked parallel to the walls, running his paw across their smooth surface. Garrett skirted around his heels excitedly.
“Garrett, would you knock it off-”
The Anubis wiggled its way in front of the Shoyru, making him trip. Dust plastered itself to his face.
“Thanks a lot,” he groaned, struggling to his feet and trying to swipe the grime off his body.
Had he never have fallen, he would never have noticed the strange door in the wall ahead of him. Hmm, Coltzan pondered. How come everything we find is always by accident?
Ancient Sakhmetian writing adorned the walls. Coltzan didn’t have to be able to read hieroglyphics to understand that this was the door to the tomb of a pharaoh.
His paw jerked excitedly toward the door, but he hesitated, contemplating what would happen when he opened the tomb door – if he could open the tomb door.
What if there were more booby traps inside that sprang on him? What if they trapped him so he could never escape? Then Talina and Milton would have to carry on without him and everyone would think he was a wimp, giving Alam the satisfaction Coltzan was striving for. But what if Coltzan found some sort of scroll declaring him the long-lost descendant of Coltzan III? Then he could march to Sakhmet in triumph and exultation. He would stride up to Amira’s palace proudly, stroll right past the guards (if he could) and simply place the scroll in Amira’s paws. He would receive his own suite in the palace, royal robes, and even Garrett would be considered royal! And Talina and Nathan and Jeremy and the others... they would be able to go back to Neoschool and say they’re friends with the infamous Coltzan IV. And Alam? He would be hurled into the darkest dungeon the Lost Desert had to offer!
But... would Coltzan’s friends really benefit from him being the next king of Sakhmet? Of course they would, Coltzan assured himself quickly. But another voice in his mind told him otherwise. He would probably never see his friends if he were royal. Plus, Coltzan did have a tendency to allow things to get to his head, like victory, pride, jealousy, and greed. Did he really want a life where all he had were riches? Did that really matter?
He slowly removed his paw from the tomb door. Whether there was evidence declaring him the next ruler or not, he didn’t want to disturb whoever’s tomb this happened to be. Coltzan slid his paws into the pockets of his Sakhmet-style robes and began walking toward Talina. He decided not to tell her about his fantasies of becoming king, let alone the tomb door. As he neared the Acara, he couldn’t help but wonder what Alam was up to...
“Binoculars,” he commanded, and the binoculars were placed into his blue palm.
It was a great spot, actually. They could see everything in the entire pyramid from here! At first, his plan was to follow the other group into their assigned pyramid, but when the door had slammed shut behind them, he realized he would have to find another way in. So, he climbed the side of the pyramid with his team members and found a loose brick, which, when removed, led to a small space above everything in the entire pyramid – it was his own little lookout area.
“There he is,” the Techo snarled, pointing his blue finger toward a yellow Shoyru.
He handed the binoculars back to the Scorchio behind him.
“Alam, this doesn’t feel right,” the Lupe growled.
“Yeah, why can’t you just play fair?” the Scorchio added.
The Techo whirled around and glared at the two.
“Keep your eyes on the prize, remember?”
The Scorchio and Lupe exchanged anxious looks and the Lupe said, “Look, Alam, we understand you want to win this bet, but you’re going to far.”
“Nonsense,” spat the Techo, turning his attention back to the Shoyru, “Now, where are the Scarabs?”
The Scorchio turned and grimaced at the sack of angry, crawling Scarabs. Where did anyone get one hundred Scarabs, anyway? And how do you get them all into one bag?
“I’m not releasing the Scarabs, Alam,” the Scorchio said calmly and confidently, even though he was slightly afraid of the Techo.
The Techo turned around again and laughed.
“Of course not,” he mocked sarcastically. “Why obey your leader, right?”
“You are NOT our ‘leader’, Alam!”
“Well, I’m in charge! So, release the Scarabs, Nathan!”
The Scorchio was bristling with anger, an emotion he rarely released or even felt. He shook his head stubbornly.
The Techo rolled his eyes.
“Fine, be a wimp. Garlan, release the Scarabs.”
But the Lupe shook his head, too.
“Alam, you’ve gone too far. No one wants to be friends with a jerk like you.”
The Techo, for once, didn’t protest. He remained silent and stony.
“Come on, Nathan, let’s go,” the Lupe mumbled to the Scorchio.
They glared at him as they disappeared into the darkness.
When he was sure they were gone, the Techo snapped, “Fine, I don’t need them! I can do this myself, they’ll see!”
And with that said, he reached toward the back of Scarabs and released them down into the rest of the pyramid below.
“Whoa...” Coltzan breathed when he reached Talina.
The Acara stared at her elaborate vine ladder with pride. She had even managed to somehow connect it to where Milton was quivering above.
“It’s... really good, Talina. Nice job.”
Talina smiled her thanks and called up to Milton, “O.K., you can come down now!”
The Tonu’s face was stark white and he looked dizzy.
“We already discussed this... I know you want me to climb up to you, but it’s probably safer down here... please come down, Milton, I know you can!”
The Tonu shook his head.
“You can do it, Milton!” Talina reassured, jabbing Coltzan in the ribs.
Coltzan got the message and added, “Yeah, you can do it!
Several minutes of begging the Tonu to come down passed. Just when Coltzan was so impatient, he wanted to climb up there and drag Milton down himself, the Tonu stepped awkwardly onto the first rung of the ladder and slid the rest of the way down.
“Good job, Milton!” Talina exclaimed, hugging the Tonu tightly.
Coltzan’s face turned red with embarrassment and jealousy. He quickly changed the subject.
“Who wants dinner?”
They gathered around a lit candle supplied by Talina and chowed down on Tchea fruits and Ummagines, supplied by Coltzan, while sipping purified water bottles, supplied by Milton.
The only sounds audible to them were their own chewing... and a weird clicking sound they had been enduring for the past thirty minutes. Coltzan wondered what it was, but didn’t want to ask and appear afraid or something to the others. Besides, it was probably nothing.
They set up their sleeping bags and began to settle down when Coltzan realized he had left Garrett over by the tomb door. Not wanting to lose him again, he declared, “Oh, I gotta go get Garrett...”
But Milton beat him to it. He slammed his giant book on the ground and shouted, “I’ll d-do it!”
The Tonu raced off into the distance. It was a kind gesture, but sort of unnecessary of him. Coltzan prayed he wouldn’t notice the tomb door.
“Isn’t he sweet?” Talina asked, curling up into her sleeping bag.
“Why do you like him so much?” Coltzan grumbled.
There was a pause, and Talina finally answered so quietly, Coltzan had to lean in to hear her, “Milton’s my... my brother.”
Coltzan was struck with surprise. Her brother?
“I... I thought you were an only child,” he murmured.
“Well, I was...” Talina responded. “My owner adopted him last month from the pound.”
Oh. He was a pound pet. Guilt swarmed in Coltzan’s heart. He had been jealous for nothing, thinking Talina preferred Milton as a friend. He had been rude to the Tonu, too. Milton really deserved an apology from him.
“I’m sorry,” Coltzan whispered to Talina.
Coltzan cleared his throat. “I-”
Footsteps scurried toward the two before Coltzan could say another word. Milton appeared with an Anubis in his arms.
Garrett leaped out of the Tonu’s grasp and curled up next to the Shoyru.
“No p-problem, Coltzan,” Milton replied, sliding into his sleeping bag.
There was a small pause as Coltzan tried to word his apology.
“Look, Milton, I just wanted to say that I’m –”
The Tonu snored and rolled over under the covers.
“Sorry,” the Shoyru finished, even though everyone else was asleep.
Or so he thought. As Coltzan too drifted off to sleep, Talina closed her eyes and smiled, knowing she wouldn’t have to worry about her brother anymore.
To be continued...