The Piece to a Larger Puzzle
The sun was beating down overhead, and my owner was just lying there by the river, her feet dug into the sand as the desert’s sun beat down overhead. My owner always had these bright ideas of adventures. One week we were going to climb to the top of Terror Mountain. The next we were swimming to the depths of the water off the shore of Krawk Island hoping to find buried treasure that some pirate had dropped off the side of their ship in a last ditch effort to escape. These crazy trips had never accomplished anything, well, anything of value. I had gotten some good nicks out of the ordeals; one spear from Geraptiku had given me a nice hole for an earring. So where did this leave me? Well, I had a cool earring and now I was basking in the sun in the Lost Desert where my fur was getting drenched in sweat, and my new jacket was getting ruined from the sand.
“Why are we even here? I don’t exactly think sun bathing in desert temperatures is a very intelligent thing to do. Don’t people die from sun poisoning in these conditions?” My tail was swishing back and forth as my gaze rested on the slowly moving waters of the river. I avoided looking at her in her relaxed, carefree position where she had her arms behind her head and her eyes half open as she stared at Coltzan’s Shrine.
“Serneumy, I think you are the most paranoid Xweetok I’ve ever met. We’re by the cool water, and it isn’t that far from the city. If you want to go back, you can go back without me.” Her voice sounded so cool as she sat up to take a sip of the water she packed in our canister. “Maybe you should take a dip. I’ll hang your coat up by the tree and then we can just enjoy the day.”
It wasn’t a bad idea. I dipped my paw in lightly; it felt so cool. “I’ve been wondering, why exactly have we been trekking all over Neopia? You never cared about being an explorer before.” I looked back at her, wiping my damp paw across my forehead to wipe the sweat away.
She smiled widely at me. “I wondered why you hadn’t asked sooner. I know how much you’ve hated our adventures, but I know in the end it will pay off! We’ll make millions and move into the castle of Brightvale itself!”
This was a lofty goal, of course. Was she running a lottery ring behind my back? Maybe she was rigging the tombola raffle, or predicting the outcome of the fruit machine. I narrowed my eyes at her. “This is completely legal, right? Because I don’t particularly follow your drift.”
“Oh well, I didn’t think you would exactly. Well, remember that one trip to the Space Station to get an outfit for Maana?” Maana being the Grundo that we had adopted a while ago. She had sometimes missed her hometown, though to me it seemed a little odd to want to go back to a space station where she was once a minion. My thoughts drifted, but came back to her my owner’s voice still rambling on the topic. “...I never really enjoy the atmosphere, it’s so unnatural..” She could see the impatience growing on my face as I just lay there with both my paws in the water. “Oh yeah... well, anywho... I stumbled across this piece of paper.”
She dug into her cargo pants to pull out a small crumpled piece of paper that seemed to have been torn off of a larger piece. It looked really old, and hand drawn. Was it a map? It seemed like a crudely drawn map.
“What is that thing?” I jumped almost in front of her face. If there was one thing I loved it was geography. It was reading, books, studying, learning. I would much rather prefer to be indoors and my desk looking over this to discern where it was exactly from. Was it a scrap from Geraptiku’s lost civilization? Was it a map to some great pirate’s treasure?
“Well, it’s obviously a map. I don’t know to what exactly, but it’s a small piece of a larger thing. I figured that if we just wandered around I would stumble across it based on the area surrounding this X.” She pointed at the small red x to the bottom corner of the scrap of paper.
“So we’ve been going on a wild goose chase in the hopes that you will stumble across this red x? This map is a crude representation; no wonder you haven’t known where to look.”
She frowned at me, like I had crushed her idealism; her dream of millions of NP, of Brightvale Castle. “I mean... what was I supposed to do? Just throw this out? There has to be something more to this piece of paper... and it has to mean something that it just fell into my hands.”
I had to give it to her. What was the likelihood that someone would just come across a map like this anyways? I had to give it to her, this had to mean something. What exactly did it mean, though?
“It seems like it’s a smaller piece to a whole. Maybe if we found the other pieces it would be able to solve this mystery.” These adventures seemed to be growing on me. It wasn’t just about trekking across the globe to see the sites that could get me eaten, I had heard about the Snowager. What if he had awoken in our exploration of the caves in Terror Mountain, and he ate us? Worse than that, what if he ate my beloved Evil Fuzzle plushie!?
“What is the likelihood of us coming across the rest of this map, though? It seems really old, and what if it’s one of a kind? The market won’t have it. Nobody would auction off such a valuable piece. All we have is this piece of paper, and this is all we have to solve it.”
There was a look of resolve on her face I hadn’t seen since I caught Fuzzy Fungus and my red hair started to turn purple. I was too tired to move or eat, and she carried me all the way to the hospital and stayed by my side till my color returned to normal. I think she would have searched the whole world to find the cure if she had to, and I think she was going to search the whole world till she knew exactly what this red X was pointing to. I knew then that I should do everything in my capacity to help her find this answer. I would ask every neopet I came across, every living creature, even make my Fire Werhond Salazaar scope out the small places I couldn’t get into, well, that was if he agreed to do it. He’s a pretty hot blooded pet pet.
I smiled widely. “So, we’ve looked in Terror Mountain, and we’ve looked on Mystery Island, and we’ve been to Krawk Island, and currently we’re sitting on the bank of the river in the Lost Desert now with no sign of it. How about we go back into town, and you can show off your nice tan while we ask the shops if they have any clue about this piece of paper? It’s a start, right?”
She glowed radiantly as she smiled at me, or maybe it was the sun behind her back as she folded the paper carefully and put it back into her pocket. “Yeah it’s a start. Maybe I’ll get you a new jacket while we’re in town. I think the sand ruined that one.”
We padded off to Sakhmet together, leaving the river in the distance. “I don’t think that really matters.. I’d ruin a few jackets if it made you happy. That’s what friends are for, right?”
She rubbed behind my ear lightly, and I thought over this whole treasure hunting business. Maybe we would make millions off of it, or maybe we’d just find a broken Dipni cup, but in the end I don’t think that really matters. I think it’s more the journey that we’re taking. I don’t care where we end up, as long as we’re in this together.