The Secret of Geraptiku: Part One
The sky outside my window was stormy, and dark enough to be called night, even though it was morning. I could see the rain fall down and hit the grass below in sheets of grey, and could hear it tapping softly on the roof. I sighed wistfully. What I would give to be in warm, sunny Mystery Island already.... Oh well, I only had to wait a few more minutes until I finished packing all my things, and wait for the Eyries to get here.
I picked up a plushie, a Blue Hissi Plushie to be exact. My paw caressed the wing hesitantly. I wasn’t entirely sure I should bring it... But oh well, I was going to bring it; who cared if Xaea had pleaded for me to pack less than three suitcases and I was already at four... I picked up a Green Xweetok Plushie that looked remarkably like me. I was definitely going to bring that one; it was my one hundred days birthday present Luna picked out for me. Luna saw me placing it in my suitcase, barked cheerfully and licked my face. We both laughed.
I glanced at the overcast sky again. I was in my room, packing. I hadn't started yet; I was such a procrastinator, so I was packing my things now. Luna was jumping around our room, barking and jumping over my fluffy green Xweetok tail every once in a while. My Sandan was always full of energy and so hyper and happy. If someone found out one day how to bottle her energy and cheerfulness, and then it would be enough for the whole world of Neopia to be happy for a very, VERY long time.
"Akee, are you done yet?" I could hear my owner holler. “The Eyries are almost here!”
“Yes!” I lied innocently. Luna barked something loudly to Xaea that sounded like a no.
“Traitor,” I muttered. Quickly, I zipped up the suitcase, ignoring Luna’s protests as she handed me several Petpet toys.
"The Eyries are here now! Come on!"
I dashed out the door with Luna right behind me at my heels before Xaea could start hyperventilating.
"Geez, Xaea, don't have a heart attack." I laughed at the teenager as I darted around her out the front door.
"Well, sorry if I don't want the Eyrie to leave because we take so long.” She sniffed sarcastically as she put her hood up. Xaea had to be sarcastic because she could never get truly angry at anybody, no matter how hard she tried and how much I got on her nerves.
“Okay, you think he’s going to leave? Watch this,.” I walked over to one of the Eyries, who were patiently waiting in the rain, ruffling their feathers every few seconds to remain partially dry. “Hello, sir-"
“Ma’am,” she corrected.
“Oh, sorry, I mean hello, ma’am, will you leave us if we take five minutes more than expected?”
The expression on her face was beyond offended; it almost looked mad. “Of course not, why would we do that?”
I shrugged. “Okay.” I turned around to look at Xaea, and I gave her an I-told-you-so look. She seemed surprised.
“Well, fine,” she muttered. “Just don’t do procrastinate too much.” She glanced up at the Eyrie nervously. Xaea hated heights. Luna and I leaped up on the red Eyrie and Xaea went on the yellow one. The red Eyrie grabbed all four of my suitcases with a slight incredulous look at me, and a sigh of jealousy at the yellow Eyrie's easier burden of only one. Then the Eyries swept out their long, brilliantly colored feathery wings, and jumped up and soared, reaching twenty feet above the ground before I could hear Xaea's shriek of exhilarating fear. I couldn’t see much because of the rain, but the ride was seriously NOT fun. It was like taking a shower with the risk of falling from a height of who knows how high and going at who knows how fast. The Eyrie's feathers were slick with water, so I was clinging to his neck-fur for dear life and poor Luna was sitting behind me and had to clutch my tail so hard I lost feeling in it halfway there. The rain cleared up gradually as we got closer to Mystery Island, so pretty soon, it was a light drizzle, where you could see patches of blue peeking out behind the rain clouds, and the dazzling bright yellow where the sun was in the sky. I couldn’t relax my grip, though; the Eyrie's feathers were still dangerously wet with rainwater. I tried to shift Luna to the slightly more sane position in front of me, but when I let go of the Eyrie, my legs slipped, and I could just barely hold on. After much screaming that the Eyrie took no notice of, I regained my hold, and clung to him for dear life again. He actually started humming blissfully. I ‘accidently’ pulled out a few glossy scarlet feathers. He stopped humming after that.
After about four hours (four REALLY unpleasant hours), Mystery Island was below me and the rain was gone, but there were still a lot of clouds, however; they filled up the entire sky. But they were nice clouds, the white and light grey ones where you find fantastic shapes and pictures that only you can understand, when someone else says it's not an omelette, but a Tchea Fruit, or a book. I gazed at Techo Mountain under us, the dark smoke billowing out from the churning red hot lava, and the scorching hot dirt packed together on the outside of the Mountain, with just a few tufts of grass here and there that had managed to survive. Mystery Island had many distinguishing features, but Techo Mountain stood out the most.
“See the island, Luna?” I whispered quietly to my Petpet, so quiet I wasn't even sure if she could even hear me, let alone understand me. It was hard to tell with Luna, we'd found her lonely and abandon, living in the forest or hiding in the shadows of Neopia Central. Most of the time she seemed like she understood me, but there were moments she would look puzzled at me. “That’s where we’re going to be for the next seven days.”
“Okay,” declared Xaea sometime later in our Neolodge room. “That is your bed.” Her hand gestured to the straw bed by the window. “This is mine.” She dragged her feet over to the straw bed nearer to the door and collapsed on it. I looked around our cheap Neolodge room. There wasn't really anything else in it other than two straw beds, Luna's Moon Petpet Bed that she brought along, Xaea's suitcase, all four of mine, and a Cream Rug that looked really out of place on the dusty straw-strewn rock.
“Wow, Xaea, I never knew four hours on the back on an Eyrie doing nothing but looking at clouds and not thinking about the ground could be so exhausting to you," I laughed. She didn't answer. I didn't really expect her to. I involuntarily yawned, and the straw looked as soft as pillows to me. My eyelids each weighed a thousand pounds, and suddenly, sleep seemed like it was the best feeling in Neopia. I stumbled over to the bed and fell over, almost missing the bed. In the corner of my eye, I could see Luna already curled up and fast asleep. I was tired...
“Come on, Xaea! It's bright and early! I’m up! Luna’s up! The sun is... almost up! Up, up, up, up, up, up, up, up! UP!!” I shrieked the last ‘up.' I then took a deep breath and screamed, "Uuuuuupppppppp!"
It was 5:30 NST in the morning; the sun wasn’t even over the ocean yet! I was gleefully singing/shouting in Xaea’s closed-eyed, frowning face, and Luna was jumping up and down on Xaea. I was so hyper! I had got PLENTY of sleep; so had Luna, but she’s always hyper anyways. The Mystery Island Neolodge beds were so soft and comfortable, which was weird because they were made of straw, but it had put my bed at my neohome to shame.
“Akee! It’s too early! Go back to sleep! Normal people wake up AFTER they’ve had enough sleep! Not BEFORE!”
“Enough sleep?” I snorted. “It’s been what, seventeen hours? Eighteen? Are you STILL tired? Normal people wake up AFTER a dear, loving Neopet wakes them up, not uh... before?” I frowned.
“Akeelyla,” sighed Xaea in her "I really think you should be quiet now and get your insane Petpet to stop jumping on me" voice. “Fine, I’ll get up. Just stop yelling at me.” I shrugged and stopped. Luna hesitated, but then leaped and landed on my head. Xaea sat up in bed and blinked at me sleepily. Her waist length dark brown hair was a tangled mess. Then she glanced out the window at the view of the scenic shoreline. Xaea sighed and dug in her unpacked bag to find a brush. I handed her my Soft Rainbow Brush.
“You need it,” I told her solemnly, making her roll her eyes. She ran the brush through her hair. “Your head looks like a fur ball that a Kadotie ate, spit out, got dried up in the sun and eaten again by a huge Grarrl, then got spit out again and dried up again. Yeah, then it-”
“Okay,” she laughed, ruining my fun, “I get the point, I look terrible. I am going to take a shower before we go because I look so bad.” And before I could protest she reached into my suitcase and snatched one of my favorite shampoos, Herbal Shampoo.
“Hey!” I shouted at her back as she went in the bathroom. I sighed. I could only hope she wouldn’t use the entire bottle AGAIN.
After Xaea finally finished her hour-and-a-half long shower, she, Luna, and I went outside to look around. The sky was still almost all cloudy, but the sun shone luminously, it took my big Xweetok eyes a while to adjust, even to just look at the sand, let alone the clouds. It was warm too; the sun warmed my fur comfortably, but not enough to make me sweat. I glanced back at Luna, who was perched on Xaea’s damp hair. Xaea and Luna were gazing up at the sky mesmerized. I snorted. You’d think they’ve never been outside before the way they were staring!
“Hmmm,” muttered Xaea. “Where should we go first?”
“How about the Tiki Tack Tombola?” I suggested.
We all walked over to the Tombola guy. The ticket I picked said 270. He handed me a Mau Codestone, and a Bottled Dark Faerie.
“Wow," he said, smiling at us. "How lucky."
Next we went down to the beach. There were some Myncies playing beach volleyball, and I joined them while Luna cheered and gasped at the right times. Xaea wandered off bored after about half a minute and I could see out of the corner of my eye her drawing pictures in the sand with a stick. She pouted a little when some other tourists trod inadvertently over them, but then she started drawing a picture by the blue green ocean, in the dark wet sand. It was so like Xaea to forget momentarily that the water washed over the sand every ten seconds. I couldn’t stop my smile as I saw her bemused expression when the sea swept over her bare feet, almost up to her jeans rolled to her knees, and away went the picture of a Nova she’d drawn. I jumped in surprise when the volleyball hit my head. I realized I wasn’t paying any attention to the game when I was focused on Xaea.
“Sorry ‘bout that!” a green Mynci called.
“It’s okay,” I called back.
We had a nice morning in all. Around lunch time, though, I got tired and sore of volleyball, and I had fallen down over fifty times. I asked Xaea when she got back where she thought we should go next.
“I’m not sure, Akee. Where do you want to go?”
“Xaea, that is why I asked you. I don’t know.”
“Hey.” Xaea grinned. “How about we go climb Techo Mountain?”
“What? That giant mountain we passed over on the way here? You’re kidding, right?” But I could tell from Xaea’s eagerness that she wasn’t kidding.
“Come on, let’s go see.”
“Sure,” I muttered to myself sarcastically. “Let’s just go see and maybe climb up a giant volcano full of lava waiting to erupt at any time. Why would that not be any fun?”
When we got there, a blue Kougra wearing a flower necklace and a grass skirt walked up to us with a humdrum air.
“I wouldn’t get any closer,” she told Xaea in a self-important condescending voice when she tried to get nearer. The Kougra adjusted the pink flower on her ear, barely glancing at Xaea. “It’s quite hot up there.”
“Says who?” asked my owner.
The blue Kougra narrowed her eyes at Xaea, and put her paws on her hips, but didn’t say anything else.
“So... why is that mountain so famous?" I asked her.
She directed her attention to Luna and me instead of Xaea. “You throw codestones up there and get special red codestones that come back out. You can use them to train yourself beyond anything at the Training School. But you don’t seem to have any-"
“Yes, we do!” interrupted Xaea. “We have a Mau Codestone right here-”
“So the volcano won’t be happy with your current offering,” she finished, looking like she was getting more annoyed with Xaea at every second. “I guess you can just go now,” she sniffed, abandoning her dull "talking to tourists" air, and looking like she wanted to stick her tongue out at Xaea.
“Okay,” I agreed. “Come on, Xaea, let’s go.”
Xaea rolled her eyes, looking annoyed, but turned around anyway. Once we were out of earshot of the blue Kougra, she said we should go over to the other side and try to climb it.
“Are you crazy?” I whined. “You heard what she said, it’s hot up there!”
“But it’ll be fun, though,” she pleaded. “Please, Akee, for me? We can look at the mountain, and it’ll look really cool. Please?” Her brown eyes widened even more than usual, which was saying something because everything that interested her made her eyes widen, and just about everything interested her.
“Xaea! Don’t look at me like that!”
“But Akeelyla, please?”
I sighed angrily. “Fine.” Her sad, desperate, begging face brightened at once. The three of us carefully walked all the way around the mountain, out of sight of the blue Kougra, who was now talking to another owner and his two Neopets.
“Okay, now let’s try to climb it!” Xaea said cheerfully. “It’s going to be fun!”
I let her lead me to a more deserted side of the mountain where there were only a few other Neopians within our sight. "Okay," Xaea said cheerfully. "Let's go." I got Luna to stop clinging to the fur on my back and made her climb with me. Luna was reluctant, though, trying to turn around every time I wasn't looking at her. Xaea was a few feet further up the mountain than me. "Come on, Akeelyla, you're so slow."
"Yeah?" I challenged. "Well, you don't have an obnoxious pet who's scared of everything that you're trying to persuade to climb up this mountain!" Luna barked and darted ahead of me to prove me wrong.
I sighed. "Never mind," I muttered.
After what felt like an hour, but was probably fifteen minutes of fast climbing, which was very hard because the mountain was so steep, we were about halfway up. Xaea, Luna, and I rested for as long as Xaea could stand for us to, which was for about a minute, and then we kept going. Oh joy. Wahoo.
Despite myself, I actually began looking forward to getting to the top. It must be something amazing for Xaea to be dragging me up here for, even though Xaea was fascinated by just about everything, but when I glanced behind me at her (I was in front now, muhahaha) her eyes were shining and she was all but jumping up and down. Luna was panting from exertion, well, not every day you clamber up a mountain on Mystery Island.
"We're almost there!" Xaea squealed behind me.
"Yippee," I muttered, trying to keep my voice sarcastic. My owner quickly darted around me and ran, yes RAN, the entire rest of the way to the top. I could hear her catch her breath as she stared down into the middle.
I felt like slapping myself. This entire time, I'd been referring to it as a mountain; after all, it IS called Techo Mountain, but Techo Mountain is really a volcano. Very suddenly, I felt scared, which made no sense, but there was lava up there! And lava burns you, not to mention being incredibly hot.
My walk turned far slower when I realized that. Luna was far ahead of me and barked at me when she realized that there was quite a bit of distance between us. I picked up my pace and met Xaea at the top. She was staring enthralled, absolutely captivated, into the liquid fire.
"Xaea," I moaned, staring at her feet, which were mere inches from the edge. "Step back." It was hard not to keep going forward myself; the lava was so beautiful, it must've been several steps beyond hypnotically dazzling at night when it shines so bright against the night sky. Too bad tourists weren't allowed up here; the natives could charge thousands of neopoints per visit for Neopians to see that. It was a bit like looking at clouds, except there was a range of colors from burning crimson, to fiery gold. The hot swirling colors were stunning, and always shifting, always moving, so you could imagine pictures and designs, and different ones would show up just long enough after you hold your breath because it's so transfixing and intoxicating.
Luna barked out of impatience.
"Oh," Xaea said, snapping out of her gaze. "Sorry, Luna, I guess we should go back now." Xaea didn't sound terribly eager to leave, however. She stared for a little longer, but Luna started tickling her, so Xaea had no choice and was forced to turn around.
"Yeah," I mumbled, not tearing my gaze away from the lava until the last second. Xaea noticed and grinned.
"Aren't you glad you came up here, Akee? Just think about missing that; horrible, wouldn't you think?"
"Alright, Xaea," I grumbled.
"I mean, what a pretty sight, and you might have missed it."
"Just because you might feel a bit scared of something, doesn't mean you shouldn't try it, because what if you might have-"
"Okay!" I hollered. "I know, I know. You don't need to get all 'I told you so' on me."
After we finished walking down the volcano, I glanced around as if someone other than Xaea would answer my question. "Where do you think we should go next?"
“How about we visit the Lost City of Geraptiku?” she asked after a pause. An Island Ixi that happened to be walking by heard her.
"Did... you... just.... say... the Lost City of Geraptiku?" she whispered.
"Are you deaf?"
"Akeelyla!" Xaea hissed. Then, to the Island Ixi, she asked uncertainly, "Is there something wrong with that?"
"Well, if you don't value your life, there's nothing wrong with that, but-"
"Okay," I interrupted, "I don't know about Xaea here, but I personally value my life. We won't go there."
"So what's wrong with the lost City of Geraptiku?" Xaea HAD to wonder.
She glanced side to side quickly, then, very hesitantly, told us. Her voice lowered even further. "Legend has it that long ago, Geraptiku was a beautiful, populated city, and had a lot of wealth, but when the people of Geraptiku became conceited, the ancient spirit from above destroyed the entire population in one night. Thousands of Neopians, all gone forever." The island Ixi glanced over in the direction of what I assumed was the City of Geraptiku. "No one has ever lived there since." The island Ixi shot a look behind her. "I have to go, and whatever you do, don't go there. Bad luck is all around. The rumors have gotten even odder lately. There is a tale of a strange being there who no one knows anything about. But we do know that she is bad. Very bad. The ancient spirit from above doesn't like her. That is why the weather is like this." The island Ixi gestured up to the light grey clouds. "Usually, at this time of year, it is all blue, and much, much warmer. But it looks like it may rain any day." Her voice was a whisper now, I had to lean forward to catch every word. "From the old stone that our ancestors used to write on, a day before the ancient spirit from above obliterated the entire city, it was written that the sky was cloudy, unusually cloudy..." The Ixi glanced behind herself again, and with a last, sad smile, darted off.
"Xaea," I pleaded. "Whatever you say, please, please, PLEASE don't say-"
"Let's go visit the Lost City of Geraptiku!"
“This is a bad idea, Xaea. A REALLY bad idea.”
“Don’t be such a bad sport, Akee. It will be fun.”
Once again, I sighed. I glanced around at all the leaves and plants. There were leaves smaller than Luna's paw, and leaves bigger than my whole body. There were smooth trunks of wood, and twisty little branches that interlaced with others. I saw exactly one flower; it was small, yellowed, with just a few streaks of pink, but withered so much that it looked like it just collapsed on the dirt, too tired to stand erect. The green was too deep, too wild, to make it feel normal, and it was as if it were too alive. It was like behind my back, the greenery was moving, and it knew what was going on. It knew that a girl, her Xweetok, and a Sandan had wandered in, unaware of the deep magic all around them, and grinning in anticipation of what was about to happen, while they watched our uneasy expressions.
You could tell instantly that no one had lived here for hundreds of years. Overhead, a cloud passed over the sun, and it got noticeably darker. Luna leaped up on my back and clung to my fur.
"Luna," I complained. Xaea turned around.
"Luna won't get off my back. See? We shouldn't be here. Can't you tell?" I lowered my voice. "They don't want us here."
Xaea raised an eyebrow and glanced around. "Who are you talking about? There isn't even anyone around here. We haven't seen anybody since we passed through that gate."
"Which proves my point even further."
"Alright, Akeelyla, if you're going to be that childish, why don't you just go back to the Neolodge?"
Xaea sighed impatiently. "Then will you stop complaining? Ever since we came down here it's been nothing but 'This is so stupid,' and 'I can't believe I let you drag me into this,' and 'Why me?! Why did this have to happen to me? Why do I have to have such a reckless owner?! Why does she have to be so-'"
"Okay! I'll try to stop complaining." We kept walking forward, and I saw a worn brown table with a broken dirty green jar laying on top. There was a sign that said "Please leave money in jar." I couldn't see anything for sale, though. Brown leaves littered the ground, and crunched with each step.
"AAAHHHH! HELP ME, XAEA!" I shrieked, feeling something touch my leg.
"Awww, it's so cute!"
I stared around in disbelief. Was Xaea really crooning about the little monster that had almost got me? She bent down and gently picked up the little monster.
"Xaea, that thing is a rabid monster; don't let it convince you it's harmless."
"This little guy? No, he's absolutely adorable!" Xaea smiled and cuddled the thing closer to her. The pest purred and snuggled closer to her.
"What is it?"
I rolled my eyes. "What kind?"
Xaea shifted the thing in her arms to look at the tag on its hoof. "It's called a Vacana." Luna whined and I could feel her bury her head into my mane.
"Xaea, don't you dare even think of buying it."
"Oh, he's harmless, just look at him," Xaea crooned. Luna whimpered again.
"Just set that thing down and walk away." Xaea pouted a little, but set the Petpet down. I could feel Luna noticeably relax on my back. Xaea and I kept walking, looking around the entire time.
It took me a moment to realize that with each step, we got closer to the deserted tomb. "Xaea," I sighed.
"What?" she asked nonchalantly. I gestured towards the deserted tomb.
"Don't even think about going in there."
She stared around in confusion. Then her eyes widened when she realized the conclusion I'd come to.
"What? I'd never make you go in there," Xaea insisted, making eye-contact, her eyes wide to prove she wasn't lying. "Why in Neopia would you think that?"
"Let's see," I mocked. "Maybe for the fact that you made me climb up that volcano? Or how about coming to the Lost City of Geraptiku?"
Xaea smiled sheepishly. "Yeah, but I would never ever for ever NEVER-"
"That makes no sense."
"I wouldn't ever make you go in there." I stared her full in the face. I sighed.
"Okay, so why are we walking this way then?"
"Fine," Xaea grumbled, "Let's walk a different way if it's bothering you so much."
We never got a chance to walk a different way.
The second we both turned around, we saw the deep purple light that shattered the silence, and cackling, mocking, sadistic laughter. All three of us screamed, and I was drifting away... far away... drifting... away...
To be continued...