No Height, No Weight, No Problem: Part Four
Dinner was over, the table was cleared, dishes were washed, and the family was gathered in the living room. Ruach_2002, a lovely starry Peophin, was floating a foot or so off the floor tickling her Pikis's tummy. The tiny floating bear was so ecstatic that its little heart design glowed red on its chest.
Blueberry, Splash_Shaolin's Puppyblew, was being bounced up and down on Splash's strong Peophin tail.
"Splash, don't bounce him so hard," Mama warned. "He'll hit his head on the ceiling."
Splash took one gold-colored front hoof and raised it to his gold-colored Peophin faceplate in salute to his owner. Then he eased up, but Blueberry looked disappointed.
Jewels8888888888 was lying down on her soft pink stomach reading My First Faerie until Thistle, her light blue Boween, grabbed her coiled, ivory-colored horn. Jewels' bright blue eyes widened and crossed and her soft wings fluttered. "Stop that," she insisted, but the Petpet wouldn't let go. The baby Uni puckered up her lips, wrapped her hooves around the little troublemaker, and began to kiss the freckles on Thistle's nose. Thistle's spines quivered in joy; she'd gotten her mistress's attention away from her book and onto her.
_Galadriel__Lady_ and Starlight, her white Ona, were cuddling happily on the sofa with Mama. Gala was a sweet and gentle Christmas Peophin. Just now her ivory-colored mane was nestled against her owner's shoulder.
"Are we going to read from Peo's journal tonight?" their owner asked contentedly.
They'd been reading portions of it for the last three nights. She couldn't imagine them saying no.
Immediately, Ruach floated off to retrieve the journal from its place of safe-keeping. Soon, the book was in Mama's hands and everyone smiled when their beloved owner started to read...
4th day in the month of Storing
Peopeo447 here. Sorry you can't see my pen write this entry in my journal guided by sheer magical Peophin willpower. Get ready to read about the weirdest day of my entire life -- stranger than saving a trapped Faerie... stranger than making friends with a wild, venomous Spyder... stranger even than being a ghost.
As planned, Rachna spun a strong, silk thread attaching Faerie Fae's wrist to a buttonhole of my wildlife jacket. We decided the thread might slip off if it was attached anywhere else. I put the water Faerie backpack with everything I thought we might need around my neck and willed it to stay in place. After breakfast, friends and family wished us well and waved as we set off. Mama was really brave about it all. She kissed both our foreheads and forced a sweet smile as Fae's true wing and artificial one picked up the wind and the little Faerie began to fly.
We floated north over the Training School and around the eastern side of Techo Mountain. There was a steady, pleasant breeze that kept Fae afloat most of the time. When there wasn't any wind, she dangled from my buttonhole. She loved every minute of it either way.
Finally we landed on the thatched roof of a stone building where Petpets were being sold.
Obviously the Lost City of Geraptiku wasn't devoid of visitors. I couldn't imagine why no one was around the day I came and saw the poachers and their treasure. Today several young Neopets were coloring on a wooden table inside one of the huts while their owners toured the City. Evidently there weren't enough blue crayons to go around and someone wasn't willing to share. Down the road, an entrepreneur was attempting to sell a bleached skull to either an Eyrie for his shoppe in Neopia Central or a Kacheek from the Haunted Woods; the skull would go to the one who offered the most for it.
Even the Deserted Tomb wasn't abandoned. There were at least half a dozen owners and twice as many Neopets lined up at the bottom stair. They were on a special Tiki Tour. The tour operator had hired Zak to guide the group safely through a few of the least lethal chambers and employed a few natives to man the shoppes and huts for the day.
Zak stood at the door of the tomb. Slowly, the tomb door began to rise from where the Lizark stood until it was over his head. Before he could motion for the tour group to follow him, he spotted a large ship entering Geraptiku's harbor. He froze on the spot. Faerie poachers, thieves, and cut-throats were never a good omen on a day when he'd planned to earn a sackful of Neopoints.
Suddenly a series of loud shrieks blared from the tomb. The screeching echoed from chamber to chamber until its intensity magnified into a deafening cry. The Tuceets in the jungle added their ear-splitting roars. Then a disembodied high-pitched voice echoed from the tomb:
"Leave my City NOW. Owners, if you stay, I will suck the very breath of life from your sweet little Neopets. I need companions to stay with me for all time. I can give you an eternity full of misery if you stay. Look up here." The Ghost Faerie appeared in the circle at the top of the tomb and cackled maniacally. She was dressed in seaweed and moss. Her hair was matted. Her expression was of the purest evil.
The crowd began to panic. Owners pushed each other in order to gather their Neopets out of harm's way and away from the tomb entrance. Fae and I pushed through the crowd in the opposite direction in order to get the irrational Faerie's attention. The noise was deafening.
"Fae, call out to the Faerie the way we practiced," I shouted, "before the pirates from that ship get here."
"Hello," called out Fae as loudly as she could. "I'm a Faerie too. I was trapped in the jar beside yours. Do you remember me? It was terrible in that jar. I know how much you wanted to break out of yours. Please let me talk to you. No one will harm you. I want to take you with me to somewhere safe and happy." Fae looked at me and shrugged her shoulders. "Now it's your turn, Peo."
"Hi there, Ghost Faerie! My name is Peopeo447 and I'm a Ghost Peophin. My motto is No Height, No Weight, No Problem. I lead an extraordinary life and you can too. My family doesn't mind my being a ghost. They love me just the way I am and they'd love you too if you'd just let us help you. I'm the one who set the other Faeries free. I barely saved Fae here, but I couldn't save you. I'm really sorry about that. Please let me help you now."
"Fae, Fae, stay and play," the Ghost Faerie taunted derisively. "You'll never live another day." She then flew at our little Faerie with an expression of utter hate, raised her hand, and slapped Fae across the face as hard as a ghost ever could before flying back to her perch on top of the Deserted Tomb. She did this so quickly, I didn't have time to interfere.
"You're evil and hateful," Fae shouted at her from the ground where she'd unceremoniously landed on her little Faerie bottom. "I hope you rot here forever and ever."
The Tiki Tour guide had gathered up his sightseers and shepherded them at full speed back to their rickshaws and away from the ruins. The natives he'd hired disappeared into the jungle. I was going to float away and let Fae hang by Rachna's silk tether behind me, but it wasn't necessary. Fae and I caught the first breeze and sailed on home.
What I didn't realize at the time was that as the Ghost Faerie watched us disappear, her heart ached to fly away with us. She saw the pirate ship. She knew that ship meant death to anyone who got in its way. She knew it meant certain capture for Fae. She knew her efforts against such poachers were futile. She could only do what she could do.
Friends and family were gathered on the lawn when we returned. Mama heard the shouts and came running. Rachna approached us cautiously and severed the silk thread that held Fae and me together. It didn't seem at all strange for the large Spyder to crawl on either of us, but we wouldn't make any sharp moves while he was in such close proximity.
Fae began to recite the story of our trip and had the rapt attention of the crowd. She held no good feelings in her heart toward the Faerie ghost anymore and was immensely grateful that violent thing didn't follow her home.
After a few minutes, I stopped listening to Fae and got lost in my own thoughts. There was something about the Ghost Faerie that bothered me. While she was threatening us, there were tears in her eyes. It wasn't my imagination. Then, when we lifted off to leave, I saw her sigh. I watched her make a conscious effort to contort her face, shriek, writhe, and moan before she set out at tremendous speed toward the pirate vessel. All at once I understood; she was acting. She had to get Fae and the tourists to leave before the poachers arrived.
Mama told me to use my head; it was telling me that either there were more stolen Faeries hidden away in the Deserted Tomb or those pirates were bringing Faeries trapped in jars into the tomb. I had to stop those poachers. It was as simple as that. I wished I could bring Rachna with me. Would he come?
All I needed to do was ask. He crawled into my backpack and I lifted off. There is no end to what a willing, large, poisonous Spyder could accomplish on our behalf.
"Where are you going now?" Mama called after me.
"I'll be back in a little while," I shouted back and smiled.
By the time we reached Geraptiku, the pirates were inside the tomb. They'd been there countless times before. They knew how to avoid the tomb's deadly traps. The Ghost Faerie was standing on top of the tomb raving witlessly at the top of her non-existent lungs.
I floated over to her. "Shhhhh," I motioned. "My Faerie friend isn't here. Let's us ghosts put an end to these poachers!"
"I don't know what we can do," she told me with her wings hanging down limply and her shoulders hunched over. "I gave them my 'I'll suck the life out of you' speech, but they don't seem to frighten easily. Being a ghost doesn't come easily to me. I watched you open the jars and let my sisters go, but I can't do that. I can't move objects even though I try. It's taken me many, many months of practice just to learn to talk so that someone can hear me. It's not enough to be dead; I have to be pathetic too!"
"Your scary speech to us was brilliant and so was your slap. Fae believed every word. If I hadn't seen you crying, I'd have believed it too."
The Ghost Faerie smiled shyly.
"The trouble is that they know you're not dangerous because you threatened them, but didn't follow through. They won't believe I'm a threat either. I don't know if you and I together can make things happen, but I hope we can. I have a secret weapon in my backpack. Don't get scared. I'm going to bring out another friend of mine. His name is Rachna and he's here to help." Slowly and deliberately, the fat Spyder poked his head out of my backpack and surveyed the situation. "Hello, Faerie." He grinned and went back into hiding.
I motioned to the Ghost Faerie to follow me inside the entrance. A muscular Elephante pirate was standing guard in front of the open entrance, casually braiding some vines he'd pulled off the tomb. We floated around him and stuck close to the ceiling. The Faerie led me through chambers and passageways teeming with camouflaged snares, lures, and other pitfalls.
After a while we came upon a group of thoroughly nasty thieves standing in front of a boulder that had been shoved tightly into one of the chamber walls. Funny, but I didn't remember that boulder being there when I'd passed through that room months earlier.
The captain of the vessel was a large, horned Mutant Skeith. His arrowed tail moved angrily from side to side and spit spewed out of his mouth as he bellowed, "I'll murder you Poogles for losing my Faeries."
"But Captain, they were safe where we left them," answered the most verbal of the thieving Poogles as he cowered and cringed before his boss. Sweat oozed from every one of his pores. The smaller of his brothers stood slightly behind him and shook in fright each time the Skeith spoke.
"All healthy those Faeries were," the Poogle continued. "All lined up nice and pretty. We were waiting for your ship to come with bottles and corks so we could get the merchandise ready for transport. When we returned, the jars were open and the Faeries were gone. I hate thieves!"
I held the Ghost Faerie back from dive-bombing the Poogle, but couldn't stop her sticking out her tongue to him. "We are NOT merchandise," she whispered to me.
"We've been working real hard to restock," the younger Poogle brother said in a shaky voice. "We've got you at least 30 Faeries now, but there's lots of competition in the Faerie-nabbing market."
I watched the Ghost Faerie's eyes fill with tears.
"The treasure we found should more than make up for your loss, sir," the elder Poogle added. He tried to muster a smile, but failed and looked down at the floor. His brother nodded and then looked down too.
"Yeah, don't we all hate thieves," the Skeith snarled at them and laughed mockingly. "I'd have been able to sell 100 Faeries, but now I'll only be able to bank Neopoints for 30. Isn't that wonderful?" He spit on the ground an inch from the Poogles whose bodies shook in fear. "That's what I think of your so called treasure.
"Tell me again how you Poogles got that boulder stuck in there in the first place."
The Skeith reached down and picked up the anchor chain his crew brought with them. He motioned to a couple of Grarrls to throw the chain around the boulder, but the rock was wedged in too deeply.
"Well," the braver of the Poogle brothers said, pausing for a moment and drawing a deep breath, "we've carried Faerie jars past this room a lot of times. The room has always been empty. You know that."
"Don't tell me what I know!"
"Sorry. This time, there was a big hole right here." The Poogle walked over to the stone wall with his shoulders hunched over. He pointed to the spot a large boulder now occupied. "We looked in and saw gold... lots and lots of gold nuggets. Big ones! It's the treasure of the tomb. We found the treasure. It's ours, all ours."
"Whose treasure?" the Skeith shouted angrily.
"Uh, actually all treasure is your treasure, captain sir."
The Poogle continued on with his tale. "My brother Pete crawled into the hole. It surprised him how big it was in there. He was really excited. He couldn't believe how much gold was inside. He'd found the hidden treasure of the Lost City of Geraptiku. Then we began to worry. There was too much to carry back with us. It would have sunk our little boat, you see?"
The captain didn't move his eyes off the Poogles for an instant.
"Sorry. Anyway, we had a problem. Here was all this gold and anyone could come and steal it. That Faerie thief, the one who stole the Faeries we poached... he'd come back and steal our – YOUR – treasure. We had to do something. "
"Get to the boulder in the wall," the Skeith snarled impatiently. He had walked over to the rock and pushed against it with his fat, clawed hand. It wiggled ever so slightly, but he couldn't budge it.
We could see that the Poogle had reached his maximum discomfort zone. He wanted to run, but knew he'd never get past the Guard-Elephante. He definitely didn't want to continue explaining what happened. "My brother Pete is a strong seaman and a quick and agile thief. Unfortunately, he doesn't always think things through to a logical conclusion."
"He's got the intelligence of a bagguss. I'm losing patience with you, Poogle."
"Sorry. Anyway, there was this great big rock inside the hole near the pile of gold. Pete figured he could use the Poogle sword he always carried in his belt as a lever to move the rock and block the entrance. We put the Faerie jars in the hole with the gold for safe-keeping."
"Where's your brother Pete now?" asked the incredulous Skeith already knowing the answer.
The Poogle sighed and pointed at the wall sealed by the boulder. "He was real strong, but not too smart."
"We're going to have to come back with explosives. You Poogles are going to be the ones to put 'um around that rock and light 'um," the Skeith captain snarled. "Everyone, back to the ship. Watch out for the traps."
"We don't have much time," I stated flatly to the Ghost Faerie once the thieves had gone. "Is there any other entrance into that small chamber?" There didn't appear to be any. For the record, neither I nor the Ghost Faerie had mastered the art of walking through solid objects.
The Ghost Faerie and I were both irritated and angry. With her beside me, I thought I might be able to use some of the Abilities the Faeries had bestowed on me by making a Faerie / Ghost link similar to the one I'd established with Fae. I started with Fiery Roar; I thought maybe if the Ghost Faerie and I both shouted at the same time, the noise might start a vibration and shake the rock loose. Our roar was deafening. The rock wiggled, but didn't budge. Water Jet made the rock wet, but didn't help. Think a ghost can't feel pain? Try using your tail to activate Thunder Tail. Maybe it's just a Peophin-tail thing.
The Ghost Faerie had an idea. "If that Poogle used a lever to push the rock into the hole, could we use a lever to pull it out?"
"Brilliant!" I shouted. The Ghost Faerie smiled for the first time since her death.
She took me out of the tomb to a place near some rocks where a fishing boat had capsized. It was far enough away from the pirate vessel that they wouldn't notice what we were doing. The hull of the boat was rotted away, but there was a large piece of rusted metal we thought might work as a lever. The Ghost Faerie hadn't honed her object levitation skill, but got a crash course right there. "Close your eyes," I directed her. "Imagine the metal rising up out of the water."
It took all my thought power to move the metal a few feet. It kept falling and I kept trying. When we reached the entrance to the Deserted Tomb, Rachna poked his head out of my backpack. "Forgot me, didn't you?" he murmured and winked several of his eyes.
I explained about the thieves and the rock and what we planned to do with the piece of metal.
Rachna crawled out of the backpack and down my body. He walked the length of the metal and raised his head deep in thought. He pushed his body under one end and lifted it up. The metal wasn't really all that heavy. "I'm going to spin a strong line on each end of this thing. Peo, I'll attach the front end to your jacket and Ghost Faerie, Ma'am, I'll attach the back end to you somehow. You two do what ghosts do to move it up the tomb stairs, through the door, and past the booby- traps. Then we'll figure something out."
It was a good plan. The Spyder wove the strongest of silk and tied one end around the rusting piece of metal. He tied the other end to a buttonhole in my jacket. (Mama is going to have some sewing to do when I get home.) The Ghost Faerie closed her eyes when Rachna climbed up on her and wove the silken threads around her ethereal body. He instructed her to imagine that her body was solid. He warned her that if she didn't, the Spyder silk would fall off. The Ghost Faerie puckered up her little face and intoned "solid, solid, solid" all the way to the boulder. It was her first lesson in levitation and she was a motivated learner. She didn't want to incur the wrath of anything with eight legs.
Rachna climbed up the wall and inspected the boulder from all angles. He chose the place he determined was the best area in which to put the lever. The rock was strong; the lever wasn't. He knew it would take all the Peophin, Faerie, and Ghost magic we possessed to move it. The Ghost Faerie and I raised the lever. This time, Rachna positioned himself on the metal at my end. "You bring it up. I'll stick it in. Then we'll all push."
Up went the metal. Rachna directed us to move it up, down, closer, farther until he stuck it in the space he'd selected.
"Think about pushing that lever," instructed the Spyder. "Think hard and get really angry. That rock is a poacher, a thief, all the evil in Neopia is in that rock. We have to destroy it. Concentrate. One, two, three,...PUSH UP THAT LEVER!"
The Ghost Faerie and I psychically pushed the lever while Rachna put his back into it. The rock began to inch its way out. I'd been afraid that the rock, wedged from the inside, was bigger than the entrance it protected. If that had been the case, we'd never be able to lever it out. To my delight, it started to move out ever so slowly until it fell to the ground and shattered with a loud thud.
The lever held long enough to do its job. The entrance was open. None of that mattered. Rachna was missing. I started to levitate the pieces of boulder up from the pile where they lay, afraid with each rock that I would see eight squished legs underneath. "Rachna!" I shouted at the top of what would have been my lungs had I had any.
The enormous Spyder stuck his head out of the open hole and yelled for us to come in. I was tempted to jump in there and kiss him, but ghosts don't kiss big hairy things. Or so I thought. The Ghost Faerie flew into the chamber, wrapped her arms around Rachna, and planted a kiss on his leathery cheek.
Have you ever seen a Spyder blush? "You feel just like a soft breeze touching my face," he told her gently. "I attached a safety line up above the rock. When the rock started to give way, I climbed up the line and into the empty hole."
We looked around the little room. It wasn't airtight, but there was more than one skeleton on the floor. Poogle Pete lay curled up unconscious on the floor. There was an empty rum bottle and numerous Draik egg shells beside him. Those eggs were priceless. There was a sack of them. Someone had set an elaborate trap. As for all the gold, it wasn't gold at all. It was pyrite, better known as fool's gold. I know because my sister Ally once bought a nugget from a shoppe in Neopia Central and pretended it was gold. There were thirty Faeries in the tomb as well, all neatly lined up in six rows of five jars each.
We shoved as many Faerie jars into my backpack as we could, but there were still lots more. Racha spun a large, sturdy net around the remaining jars and the sack of Draik eggs and attached them to the backpack. He wiggled himself inside. I levitated the pack onto my back and fervently hoped I could carry it until we exited the tomb and found a place of safely. We floated as close to the ceiling as possible so as not to activate any booby traps. By the time the pirates had located explosives and returned to the Deserted Tomb, we were gone. We floated carefully with our precious treasure to the outskirts of Geraptiku, and then set the pack, sack, and net down under a palm tree. Rachna removed each of the lids from the Faerie jars with his strong Spyder legs. When the last captive smiled at us and promised to tell Queen Fyora about our heroic efforts, the Ghost Faerie's eyes filled with tears.
I headed for home with a wild Spyder in my backpack, a fortune in Draik eggs, and an apprehensive Ghost Faerie by my side.
Mama closed Peopeo447's journal for the evening and handed it to Ruach to put away for safe-keeping.
"We'll continue the tale tomorrow," she promised. Mama always kept her promise.
To be continued...