Jake the Explorer and the Ruins of Pyre!: Part Two
Hello, Dear Readers, it is I, Jake the Explorer. On a recent treasure hunt for mystery and adventure, I made the mistake of following after a thief named Kanrik and finding myself in quite a mess. The Gelert tactfully tricked me into coming to an ancient city, under Roo Island, to save Hannah the Brave from the bloodsucking evil-doer Count Von Roo. Continuing the streak of bad luck, the undead Blumaroo sent a horde of killer bat boys after Kanrik and me.
"Ah! We have to get out of here!" I told Kanrik.
"No, I did that already before. We HAVE to save Hannah," Kanrik said.
Chubby little bat boys tackled us to the ground, trying to nip at our necks. I sprang up - and so did Kanrik - and the bat boys scattered to the ground.
"FINE. We'll retreat," Kanrik said. "But we are not leaving until we rescue Hannah!"
The bat boys attacked again, but I took out a dozen snow garlic and tossed them at the little vampires. Kanrik struggled to free himself from the clutches of the fanged parasites. It was actually rather comical; like watching someone wrestle with a plushie, since bat boys had cute little faces and (let's get serious) they're supper small. But they were vicious little monsters. I had to throw a bunch of snow garlic at them for us to both escape.
"How do you keep those from melting?" Kanrik remarked, as we ran for our lives.
I could hear Count Von Roo laughing in the distance.
"I keep a few ice packs in my pockets," I told Kanrik.
The Gelert stared at me funny. "That's weird."
"It saved our tails, didn't it?" We ducked inside a building. "Here, take this, you need a weapon."
Kanrik stared at the wooden stake I handed him. He slipped it through his belt. "We need to go back."
"Hmph! YOU need to. I don't," I said.
"I thought Hannah was your FRIEND?" Kanrik was angry.
Well. I was angry, too.
"You tricked me into coming here!"
"Who cares about that!? Hannah needs our help. NOW. When she was captured by Count Von Roo, she told me to seek YOUR aid. Though I honestly can't see WHY. You're no use."
Grr~ "You lied to me. This entire time. We didn't even need those clues to find this place. And I bet you really ARE still the king of the Thieves Guild."
"If Hannah was in danger, you could have just TOLD me the TRUTH," I said.
"Would you have BELIEVED me?" Kanrik asked.
"I didn't think so," Kanrik said.
More silence between us. Though outside our hiding place I could hear the flapping wings of hundreds of bat boys flying by. They'd find us soon enough.
"Are you going to help, or not?" Kanrik spoke again. "With or without you, I need to save Hannah. Putting OBVIOUS reasons aside, Count Von Roo plans to sacrifice her in order to raise the Ruins of Pyre to the surface."
Kanrik nodded grimly. "It's a ceremony Hannah and I learned of while we were exploring the royal palace - where Count Von Roo is now. If a maiden is sacrificed during a Blue Moon, this city can be brought to the surface. I don't know what his plans are and why he'd want to do that to begin with - but I will not let him sacrifice Hannah!"
"But it was a full Blue Moon last night!" I said.
Kanrik shook his head. "Not last night. TONIGHT. It will officially be a full Blue Moon tonight."
Either way I looked at this situation, it wasn't good. It didn't matter what Count Von Roo's reasons were for bringing Pyre back from its buried past. Sacrificing a neopet life in an archaic pagan ritual...? Not on my watch!
"All right," I told Kanrik. "Let's DO this."
First we needed a plan. A GOOD one. Sneaking in and approaching the palace from the front was NOT a good plan. I had Kanrik tell me all he and Hannah saw and explored in the Ruins of Pyre before Count Von Roo appeared and Hannah was taken.
"...the city is a wreck, but the royal palace was able to survive countless years barely touched," Kanrik told me. "Aside from a few things that fell and ransacking, probably done just after Pyre fell, the palace is intact. Hannah and I came across a lot of booby traps, ones mostly triggered by stepping on the wrong floor tile. We quickly came to learn that stepping on a tile with a sun symbol on it was a big no-no. We had explored almost all of the palace, but there was one hallway we didn't dare pass because all the tiles were the same; the infamous sun tiles, to boot! Hannah was sure they were booby-trapped just as sure as I was that it led to the throne room - a place we had yet to find. That's when we got caught by Von Roo. I narrowly escaped. Hannah yelled after me to bring back help in the form of YOU - Jake the Exterminator."
Gah! Not more nicknames. And why'd he call me that particular one, anyway?
A bat boy found our location, but I easily disposed of him with a snow garlic.
"So what exactly were the traps?" I asked. "Arrows shooting out of the walls? Swinging swords? Poison darts? Walls moving in to sandwich you flat?" Yes, I had seen them all - and more!
"All of the above," Kanrik said. "We were lucky, though, since the traps are so old they're kind of rusty and give you enough time to move around them."
"All right. Here's what we do..." I said.
On our way towards the palace, avoiding the swarms of bat boys, Kanrik talked about the ritual Hannah and he had found painted on a wall.
"No words were used, and it looks like someone - whoever they were - painted it in a hurry," Kanrik said. "Hannah thinks it was done after Pyre fell, as a warning to those who defiled these ruins in the past. It shows the ruins underground; followed by a Blue Moon - we knew it was a Blue Moon because the scene shows a cycle of the moon phases, having TWO full moons. Under the Blue Moon is a maiden on an alter; after some kind of voodoo king sacrifices her, the newly restored city of Pyre emerges from the ground - like some undead zombie sticking its hand out of the earth. Count Von Roo confirmed the rest."
I nodded, since most of my attention went to lone bat boys I had to exterminate.
Thinking on it, it now made sense to me that Kanrik was up late last night to see the ghostly maiden; he was probably watching Kreludor, to make sure it had not reached its full moon phase yet.
We reached the side of the Royal Palace, where a door was hanging on its hinges.
"That painting of the is just in there," Kanrik informed me.
Nodding, I entered.
The painting of the ritual was exactly how Kanrik described, though happily he omitted some of the ghastly parts about the sacrifice.
"I thought the Ruins of Pyre were buried through a long period of time," I said, thinking out loud. "This looks like it was buried right away."
"I think it was," Kanrik said. "Somehow. You know how history records are, sometimes they have inadequate information."
"Hmm, the Ruins of Pyre hold a mysterious secret. I'm starting to dread learning what that might be."
"I've ALREADY dreaded what we've learned thus far," Kanrik remarked.
We went deeper into the palace...
We passed over many booby traps, and I saw what Kanrik said about the sun tiles being triggers. I studied each one to see any variation or small difference; so I'd be prepared for the corridor of sun tiles - that's where we were headed. If it truly led to the throne room, it couldn't be completely set with traps.
Unless there was another way to it.
Or the neopet could fly. That was possible.
But not all neopets can! So what about them? No, there had to be a safe way through it.
I was pretty sure the ritual would be performed in the throne room, archaic rituals are like that. Kanrik and I just needed to get there; surprise-attack Count Von Roo; and save Hannah. I'm not entirely sure what we'll do after that, but I still had plenty of snow garlic!
We passed several rooms on our way and I noticed those weird stone tables again. I stopped to examine one more.
"Hey, what are you doing?" Kanrik said. "You can't just stop - Jake the Examiner. This is no time to study or excavate the ruins."
I simply ignored him.
Why were these weird tablets in the royal palace as well as the commoners' homes? Albeit, these were more fancier, with lots of carved and molded embellishments. In fact, THIS one had writing going along the edges. "...the fallen ones... that rule... the night," I read.
"Huh? What's that your mumbling?" Kanrik asked. He had this tone of voice that said, 'I'm interested, but I still don't care.'
Before he could call me Jake the Mumbler, I quickly thought. In a second I recalled a legend about a city whose inhabitants holed themselves up by day and roamed about at night. In another second or two I remembered something quite unpleasant about them and their city. A fifth second a tale of that place came to mind about ash and waves destroying it - and BURYING it under Neopian's soil for all time.
"Come on! We have to go stop that ritual!" I told Kanrik.
"Well, duh~ that's why you're here."
"No, no, you don't understand," I said. "I mean we HAVE to stop the ritual. This is FAR bigger than Hannah, you, or I. If Count Von Roo succeeds - ALL of Neopia will be in grave danger!"
Kanrik gave me a questioning look, but I had no time to explain.
Everything made sense now: the strange tables, which weren't tables at all; Count Von Roo's presence here; and why there were so many bat boys! This was bad. Very bad.
"This way!" Kanrik told me, "the corridor is over here!"
We rounded a corner and had to stop.
"Oh yeah, this is definitely booby-trapped," I said, staring at the floor of sun tiles.
"What can we do, then?"
"Let me study the tiles. There has to be some way to tell which ones are and aren't triggers."
"You sure? Maybe the ones who lived here in the beginning knew by heart what steps to take."
It was possible. But I would still look for any small differences.
"Ah ha! Here. See that?" I pointed at a tile.
"Yeah. I see it. And?"
"Pssh! Amateur explorers." I shook my head. "This particular tile is raised slightly. So is that one, and that one, and... THAT one. Also, there is a wider crack along the edges of the raised tiles; while the others come together smoothly. Really, I'm surprised Hannah couldn't figure that out."
"We were CAUGHT here. She had no time to 'figure it out'." Kanrik sounded disgusted in me.
"Fine, fine. Don't get yourself tied in a knot. Okay, we - "
"Step on the raised ones?" Kanrik said, his foot poised above the closest raised tile.
"Ah! N-no. Not that one! The RAISED ones are the TRIGGERS."
"Tch! Why didn't you say so sooner? Geez..."
"I'll go first to make sure I'm not wrong," I said.
"Be my guest." Kanrik crossed his arms and backed away.
I tried not to think that HE was the main trap here, as I stepped on the first tile, and then the next. "So far, so good..." I motioned for Kanrik to follow.
In no time at all we had reached the door and opened it.
Being JAKE the EXPLORER, I steeled myself for anything that might lie behind the door.
Of course, I didn't expect Kanrik to push me forward, into the pale torch light, in order to enter the room.
"Hey!" I whispered harshly.
"Sorry... but you were just standing there," Kanrik said.
"I was scoping the place out!"
I guess the King of Thieves didn't scope things out, he just barged in and took whatever he wanted. Humph!
Thankfully Count Von Roo wasn't around at the time.
"There's Hannah!" Kanrik said.
The Usul sat in the throne, her paws tied to its armrests.
"Wait!" I said. "Just wait..." I fished through my pockets - and brought out a nova. Tossing it in the air, the nova lit the entire room up.
Growling, Kanrik said, "Was that a GOOD idea? I mean, really?"
Yeah... maybe it wasn't.
All around us, once hidden in the shadows, were bat boys; and among them was Count Von Roo. Before my nova rudely spread its light over them, they had been sleeping soundly inside unsealed and wide open stone coffins - like those things I previously saw that I thought were tables.
"Whatever will be will be!" I replied. What else was I supposed to say?
I armed myself with snow garlic and ran wildly into the fray - my main objective being to get to Hannah. I hoped Kanrik would eventually follow suit.
Hannah looked like she was awake, but she just sat there dazed out; not even bothering to struggle to free herself. Finally reaching her, I saw that she had been brought under some kind of spell. Did Count Von Roo turn her into a vampire!? Hm... no... I don't think so. The ceremony to raise Pyre probably wouldn't work if the maiden sacrificed was a vampire, that would defeat the purpose of extracting revenge on those of the Daylight.
"Hannah, wake up! Snap out of it!" I said. My dagger out, I went to cut her bindings - when I was grabbed from behind.
"I can't allow you to do that," Von Roo told me. He threw me into Kanrik - who, a moment before, was doing an excellent job in keeping the bat boys at bay with the wooden stake I had given him earlier.
The vampire probably would have sunk his fangs into my neck, in order to stop me, and I would've been a goner if I didn't reek of garlic - what a happy accident!
"Raising the Ruins of Pyre to their true place in Neopia has become my dream," the Blumaroo said.
I couldn't help but snort in disgust and let out a good, strong, "Tch!"
"And why is THAT?" Kanrik asked, snarling.
Count Von Roo grinned; showing his long, sharp fangs. "Because, the neopets of Pyre were my ancestors. Long ago, when Roo Island was ruled over by King Rufus, Pyre existed in all its glory. Every kind of vampiric neopet lived there. By day they slept away from the cursed sun, but by night they rose and Rufus was the commoner and THEY were the kings.
"But my ancestors were feared! There was such an uprising that Rufus took the Golden Die of Roo and challenged the High King of Pyre to a game of Deadly Dice. Pyre lost and the city was first destroyed by a tidal wave, then buried by ash from a now extinct volcano.
"The citizens of Pyre - MY ancestors - perished, one after the other. The few who survived crawled into their coffins in hopes that someday Pyre might be revived. But they had been doubly trapped! Rufus came down and put wards on all the coffins and sealed the Gates to Pyre! The fiend...
I gasped. Those candles and... garlic! Now I'm sure those weird rocks were petrified garlic. Those had to be the wards Count Von Roo was referring to!
"...Countless years passed," Von Roo went on, "the entrance to Pyre was lost to time. However... after that fiasco with those stupid purple bugs and Roo Island was cleaned up, I discovered the entrance to ancient Pyre - and its past. These lovely bat boys, remnants of my ancestors' souls who eventually became dust through cruel time, warmly welcomed me.
"It was a sign! I was meant to find Pyre to raise it from it's tomb!" He thrust his hands out to show us a set of dice - one gold, the other silver. "And THEN, I shall challenge King Roo and WIN. Pyre shall rule over all!"
"Ha! Not on my life - OR Hannah's!" I said.
Recently vampires have become quiet popular with kids, I'd bet a ton of 'em would be stoked to have a city like Pyre rise from the dead. But they don't know the true ugliness that is Vampire. Sure, vampires know how to dress, very classy I must say - but they drink blood for Fyora's sake! How gross is that!? How can that be attractive!? Blood tastes like metal, yuck. (I've been socked a few times in the jaw in my explorations, so I should know.) We normal neopets would be sucked dry as a bone!
You might as well eat nuts and bolts and worship mozitoes and moquots if you're into that!
But, anyway... Back to present.
Count Von Roo was now holding a sword and about to strike Hannah.
"We gotta rush him!" Kanrik said.
I was fresh out of ideas - and snow garlic - so I nodded in agreement; even though I thought it was a horrible idea.
However, as we charged for the vampire, I got a brilliant idea. I had completely forgotten about my trusty whip! While Kanrik continued his plan, I stopped and whipped the sword right out of Von Roo's hands.
"What...!?" The Blumaroo was bewildered; and soon he was out like a snuffed candle thanks to Kanrik's tackle. "Aaah - " THUNK.
Kanrik immediately went to work in binding Count Von Roo up, and locking him in a coffin; while I cut the ties around Hannah's arms. "That was fairly easy. Really, I'm seriously wondering why I needed your help."
"Let's see... there's the wooden stake I gave you; the snow garlic I happened to have on me; AND my whip that unarmed Von Roo so YOU could more easily tackle him," I told Kanrik. "She's still not waking up," I pointed at Hannah.
Kanrik looked her over. "I think she was bit by a bat boy. Their poison isn't strong enough to turn a neopet vampiric, like a full-blown vampire bite would, but it can incapacitate its victims."
"Like a spyder bite," I nodded. "Do you know low long the effect will last?"
Kanrik shook his head. "Hannah told me she read tales about bat boys, that in some legends their bite can permanently comatose your brain."
"We have to do something, then," I said. "There must be an antidote."
Kanrik picked Hannah up to carry her out of this cursed city.
Turning to leave, we found a large group of bat boys blocking our path.
"Oh, come on, aren't you guys tired of us?" I said. "I know I'm tired of YOU."
"They aren't attacking," Kanrik said.
"Hm, yeah... maybe they're waiting for their master to command them." I took a few cautious steps forward; the petpets shifted a little, but made no other move.
"Let's just get out of here," Kanrik said. "I'm sick of Pyre."
"Yeah, this is one ruin that needs to be stayed buried. Ah! Wait a second." I turned around and searched the floor by the throne.
"What are you doing?"
"Found them!" I showed Kanrik the Gold and Silver Dice of Roo. Both items were extremely rare. Only one book I ever came across mentioned them. The Silver Die of Roo was a relic created and blessed by a Dark Faerie. The Golden Die of Roo was made by a now extinct race of faerie, and was said to right the wrongs of the world.
I glanced over at Hannah. Could it work on a bat boy bite? But how? Someone has to be the opponent and use the Silver Die... The dice draw from the pure feelings in a neopet's heart. If we both have a kind soul, then the outcome should be in Hannah's favor, right?
On the other hand, if a neopet has darkness in their heart, the Silver Die will draw from that power and the outcome could end up either way: good or bad.
I stared at Kanrik. Hannah couldn't play this game of Deadly Dice, she was too much out of it. Kanrik and I had to play.
"No questions," I told Kanrik. "Sit down, we need to play a game."
"What? Right HERE? NOW? With a hundred bat boys watching us?"
"I said no questions! And yes, NOW. Here, you take the gold one."
I know what you're thinking, why am I giving Kanrik the Golden Die of Roo and not the Silver Die? It really doesn't matter who holds the Silver Die, it will draw from whichever player that may have a bit of darkness within them. But its better that it's out of Kanrik's hands, and the Golden Die in them. I believe he wants to save Hannah much more than I do, and I hope those pure feelings reach the Golden Die of Roo and reacts to cleanse the poison.
"Ready?" I asked.
Kanrik didn't reply, he shook the die and dropped it on the floor. A two.
Not caring how useless a two was in a dice game, I shook and dropped the Silver Die. A ONE. Never had I been so happy that I had lost.
The Golden Die of Roo began to glow bright, and then -
"Hey, Jake... long time no see, huh?" came Hannah's voice. Her eyes were clear, and she was smiling.
And the bat boys? They all but disappeared.
Back at the Roo Island harbor, 'The Blue Delfin' was docked, its crew looking tired.
"Ahoy, there, Captain Orpheus!" I said. "No luck in your quest for treasure, eh?"
The Shoyru sighed. "Nay..."
"And we got chased by a giant squid to boot!" Mermaid-Isca remarked.
"I thought it was fun," Char said. "Oh! Hannah! Hello!"
"Hannah? Really?" Mermaid-Isca perked up. "Hannah the Brave? It IS you! I'm a big fan. I've read all your books. Care to autograph one? Or two? Or three, or four?"
Laughing, Hannah said, "Sure!"
"Are you guys coming aboard?" Arpheo asked.
I looked to Kanrik, he shook his head.
"I know someone here," Hannah said, "who knows a pawn dealer who sells treasure maps."
"Treasure maps!?" Orpheus jumped up. "Where? Where?"
I boarded 'The Blue Delfin'. "How about you take me back to Mystery Island, Captain. On the way, I can figure out who's haunting your ship; it might end up being our greatest adventure yet."
Orpheus looked a little sad, but he quickly got over it. "Arr-right, me hearties, liven up! We be heading to Mystery Island - and from there? Who knows!"
Mermaid-Isca thanked Hannah and hurried onto the ship.
"Hey, Jake the Explorer," Kanrik said. There was a long pause. "Thanks."
"Yeah, next time maybe we can enjoy the adventure together - without me being comatose!" Hannah waved goodbye.
"Perhaps. Until we meet again, Hannah the Brave; Kanrik, King of Thieves."
'The Blue Delfin' sailed off, as the sun hailed a new day.