The Quest!: Part Two
Lunia and Jex had walked for hours until they reached a glade near a waterfall. There they camped and stored their backpacks with forest fruits and filled their canteens with fresh water. They still had a long run ahead before reaching the Lost Desert.
Three days had passed, Lunia and Jex had traveled following the map instructions and soon enough they started noticing the floor under their feet was changing. From earth to sand, the ground was drying out at every step. Yes, a deserted area approached, but the city was still at no sight. They kept going on with their journey and though it took them a long time, they finally found a sign.
"Hey, look over there! It's a piece of ceramic near that dune! We shouldn't be too far from a city," Lunia said.
Lunia and Jex had been walking for such a long time that they didn't realize when they were completely surrounded by sand. The sun was setting by the time they decided to camp, and when they finally settled the tent, a terrible sandstorm took over the area. The two neopets rescued themselves inside the protecting tent's hard sheets, but it didn't take long until the tent got taken away by the storm. Lunia and Jex luckily managed to escape before getting hurt inside the adrift rolling tent. They grabbed their belongings and provisions and ran away as fast as they could, protecting their eyes with their arms. Jex tried to fly over the storm, but he ended up falling brutally as the sandy wind pushed his wings down. It was night when the two finally gave up running from the storm and stopped to breathe fresh air and drink some water.
"I-It's f-frrrreezing here!" Lunia said as she tried to catch her breath with difficulty.
"And y-you t-told me not to b-brrring those g-gloves!" Jex replied angrily.
"B-But it's a d-deserrrt! It sh-shouldn't be c-cold!" Lunia stammered, confused with the desert's coldness.
Just as they were about to freeze, a group of Desert Unis showed up about 10 feet away from them, running down a dune and lifting sand up on the air.
"Hey, who are those two over there?" asked one of the Unis.
"Do you guys need any help?!" another Uni screamed.
"Yes, please!" Lunia and Jex answered, in unison.
The Unis approached them and guided them to a small refugee village nearby, where they set a bonfire and handed them blankets they had brought along with them. A couple of the Unis managed to get the neopets two hot soup bowls they bought at the only stall on the village.
"What are two neopets like you doing in the extremities of the Lost Desert alone?" asked the one who seemed to be the oldest of the Unis.
"We were going to the big city," Lunia answered.
"Oh, Sakhmet? We are coming from there. I should tell you, though, you're still pretty far from getting there," another Uni said.
"I'm Kelpo, leader of Sakhmet's fastest Neomail Delivery group. We grew up here so we know the entire area. Luckily this village was just around the corner... or... dune. We are heading to Shenkuu right now, do you two want to come along?" Kelpo asked, smiling gently.
"Well, we actually need to get to the Neopia Central. It's an emergency. But thanks for the help! We could be frozen by now if you hadn't shown up!" Lunia said.
"Oh yeah, about that, don't you two know you should always carry a coat wherever you go? This may be the Lost Desert, but this sand frees the heat at nighttime as fast as it accumulates it during daytime! Be more careful!" Kelpo tried to warn them.
"We will!" Jex said, as he faced Lunia with a firing gaze.
"Well, we can't leave you alone in here, so I suggest we take you as far as Qasala and then you two can find your way to Sakhmet. What do you think?"
"Oh, that would be lovely, thanks a lot for the help, guys!" Lunia smiled and seemed to regain some hope.
Lunia then hopped on Kelpo's back as Jex followed them while flying, and before they noticed, they could observe the city of Qasala emerge on the horizon, along with the rising sun. When they finally got there, Kelpo headed to a fountain to drink some water and. He then said goodbye and flew away, sine he had to meet with his group and finish his mission on time.
"That Uni was so sweet to help us! He could've ignored us and let us freeze in those dunes!" Lunia said, as her face turned into a worrying frown with the terrible thoughts taking over her mind.
"Yeah, but instead he brought us here, which is almost as useless."
"You're so ungrateful, Jex. Can't you just appreciate free kindness for a bit?" Lunia cried, disappointed with the Shoyru's ingratitude.
"Well, okay. He was nice. But we have to keep going."
Lunia and Jex wandered through Qasala's tight streets along with its rushed citizens. A variety of fruits and scrolls was sold at every corner and the heat was unbearable.
"This city seems like it's been ill by the years," Lunia said as she found herself mesmerized with the forgotten aspect of the place.
"Well, maybe it's been hurt by erosion. It's a desert, right? It's windy."
"Erosion? To me it looks more like abandonment," Lunia replied as she tried to scan the whole area with her curious eyes.
After buying some provisions on a stall, Lunia and Jex were managing to find Qasala's exit.
"Great! Where do we go now? Those Unis could've at least gotten us some directions"
"We have a map, remember? Just use it," Lunia suggested.
Jex proceeded to open his map. "Well, according to this map, we should keep walking forward until we find a river and..."
Just as Jex pronounced those words, a wind came to take away his map away and out of sight.
"Oh, no, come on! Not now! Is there a more cliché way for us to get lost?"
"Lost in the Lost Desert? Well, that was unpredictable." Lunia giggled.
"Oh, now you're miss funny shoes, right?" Jex asked, facing Lunia with an incredulous look.
"Relax! At least we know where to go. Let's just keep walking. We should try to get there before sunset."
By the time the sun set, Lunia and Jex had already sighted the river.
"Look! There's a bridge! It'll probably take us to Sakhmet!" Jex exclaimed in excitement.
"Hold on there, I'm coming," Lunia replied, seeming exhausted from the walk.
It was twilight when the two finally reached the gates of Sakhmet. After entering the beautiful city, Lunia headed east to buy food, while Jex headed west to try his luck at the Fruit Machine. Lunia had barely set foot on Sakhmet by the time she reached the market area, where she immediately got welcomed by a citizen.
"Hey you, madam. Would you care to hand me that NP bag?"
Scared by the sharpness of his dagger, Lunia promptly handed her bag to the Chia beside her. The thief smirked and ran away really fast. Lunia, not knowing what to do, searched through Sakhmet's streets trying to find Jex.
"WHAT? You got robbed by a Pea Chia? How humiliating!" Jex shouted. "How much money do we still have?"
"Hey, he had a dagger, okay? And an eye patch! At least we have enough neopoints to reach the Neopia Central alive and buy the plushie. Well, that is, if we're lucky enough to be able to close a good deal with the seller."
"And how will we return to Altador?"
"Relax! We'll find a way. If we end up having no other choice, I can paint myself faerie and fly along with you until Altador, okay?"
"Oh, Lunia, I really do hope you know what you're doing." Jex sighed.
Two hours had passed. Before leaving Sakhmet, Lunia searched the whole city along with Jex for a store that sold maps, and they managed to find one selling them for a very high price, but they didn't really have a better option, apart from dealing with the thieves in town. Since Lunia didn't want to meddle with those neopets, she decided the best thing to do was buying the expensive map.
"This is ridiculous! This map is incredibly bad drawn, and it cost more than the one I lost! I can't find the rainbow connecting the Neopia Central and the Roo Island anywhere!" Jex said, unresigned with the whole situation.
"C'mon, no rainbow is ever permanent, Jex. You should know this."
"That rainbow is. It's everlasting! It's been there for as long as the very own Roo Island. It defies the laws of physics, and that's what makes it so cool. I read a whole article on it on the Neopian Times once. It said the scientists got mad trying to decipher what they call 'the Roo phenomena'."
Lunia and Jex kept chatting as they reached Sakhmet's square to have a meal. By the nightfall, they were searching for a ride. After substantially paying a guide Eyrie to take them to the end of the Lost Desert safely, they finally found themselves standing on grass again. They both walked for hours, enjoying the beautiful meadow landscape, until they found a wooden sign in the middle of a road bifurcation.
"Well, what now?" Jex asked, as he hoped Lunia had a plan.
"Let me see that map again," Lunia said, as she grabbed the map from Jex's pocket. "Hm, crossing Faerieland would probably take us three or four days, let alone the time spent on reaching it, on the first place. There's a shortcut through the Haunted Woods that might get us to the Neopia Central sooner. What do you think?"
"What I think? I think there's got to be some conspiracy going on, how could it be possible that taking shortcuts ALWAYS involve crossing dark, scary and haunted places?"
"Oh, you and your conspiracy theories! Sooner or later you'll end up blaming it on the Meepits!"
"Well, that seems reasonable enough for me! Meepits are mean, everyone knows that!"
Lunia and Jex followed the long path ahead of them, which seemed to get darker and darker as they went forward...
To be continued...