One Route to Altador: Part Three
"Wake up, Ab!"
Abernathe woke with a start. She sat up in her bed, thoughts buzzing through her brain as she tried to see through the black room. Everything came back to her like a lightning bolt as she remembered all that had occurred the other day. Abernathe peered through the darkness, and almost jumped when she noticed the dark figure of her baby sister, Sugarchick, sitting on Abernathe's bed next to her.
"Hallo, sleepyhead!" Abernathe heard her brother Region4 say in the darkness. "I was worried you would never wake up, and we might have had to drag you out of the hotel if you kept on snoring like a pampered snorkel!" Region4 said as cheerily as ever.
As Abernathe's vision became clear in the dark, she looked around, trying to make out everything she saw.
"Hey, where are Éclair and Climene?" Abernathe asked, worried.
"I'm right here, Ab!" Climene said cheekily as Abernathe jumped from the voice right by her ear. "Where Éclair is, well, that is what we woke you up for," Climene continued.
"What do you mean?" Abernathe asked, suspicious.
"She left this note," Region4 said as he handed over a small piece of paper, and then turned on a small lamp.
Wincing from the sudden light, Abernathe began to read the curvy handwriting on the note.
Don't be worried about my sudden disappearance. I have some business I have to deal with, and I'll have to meet you back at the Lost Desert. I have left with you the map of Neopia, 50,000 neopoints, food and water, the card to our room at the hotel, and some information on how to get to the Lost Desert and which ship is ours, just in case I don't make it in time. Please, Sugarchick and Climene: Obey Region and Ab's orders! They (somewhat) know what is best for you. I hope you all will have a great time!
Abernathe looked up at Region4 with despair.
"What happens if she doesn't make it to Altador?"
Region4 shrugged. "We have to go about by ourselves. It isn't that bad at all, if you think about it."
Abernathe smiled. "I suppose we should start to leave, if we want to make it to the Lost Desert by noon," she thought aloud.
Abernathe began to pack her backpack, staring at the goods Éclair left behind.
Once everyone was packed and ready to go, Abernathe began to give out orders.
"Once we hit the road, I'll hand out some food and we can eat breakfast along the way. Since we don't have much time, we can't wonder around Faerieland aimlessly. As much as I hate to say it, we have to leave as soon as possible. Let's go!"
When the group got to the lobby of "Queen Suites", Abernathe walked to the front desk, and checked out of the hotel.
As Abernathe stepped outside onto to cool stone path, she breathed in the chilly fresh air, looking through the mist for the path that led out of Faerie City. Busy faeries fluttered by, either smiling or nodding at the small group. As the Abernathe and her siblings walked out of Faerie City, the mist became thicker, and an occasional Carmariller would chirp and then flutter hurriedly away. The sound of rushing water could be heard everywhere, and above the city a faint glow of the sun stretched across the sky. Climene looked longingly at the Rainbow Fountain as they passed it, and she whispered a farewell to it fondly.
When they climbed out of the crater, the four siblings each looked back into the mist at Faerieland one last time, before heading off southwest.
Behind the group the sun started to rise and a tower of Fyora's Castle slowly fainted away from sight. Abernathe began to hand out a small but filling breakfast to her siblings.
As Region4 munched some toast with a slab of butter, he began to chatter and speak all his thoughts aloud.
"Mumf, Mm! This jolly toast is absolutely delicious! You know, in all the books I've read, none of them have mentioned burnt neggs! What a thing to dampen a poor chap's spirits! Anyway, I've been thinking recently, we've found a way to get to Altador, but how on earth are we going to leave it? Its downright silly to not have thought about such a thing!"
"We could leave Altador from the way we came to it," Sugarchick suggested sarcastically.
"I wonder if taking a ship from Shenkuu to Neopia Central would be faster than walking from the Lost Desert to Neopia Central," Abernathe thought aloud as she studied the map of Neopia Éclair left behind.
"May I see that map of yours?" Region4 asked, and when Abernathe handed it to him, he studied the routes between the group could have taken.
"You know," he said, "I think traveling from Shenkuu to Neopia Central would be faster! I guess we should have thought more clearly when planning this trip."
Abernathe shrugged, and then looked behind the group. To her surprise, the sun had covered a long distance since they left Faerieland, and all evidence of Faerieland's crash had disappeared in the distance. Although the Haunted Woods was still in view, the trees had begun to space apart, leaving room for sunlight to shine through. As Abernathe looked ahead of her, the long green grass slowly grew shorter and yellow, until there were only patches here and there.
Minute by minute the sun's heat became more intense, until the small group found themselves wiping their brows. Walking became more tiresome as heavy feet began to sink into the golden sand, leaving footprints.
"I believe we have entered the desert." Region4 chuckled grimly.
"I'm already regretting traveling this way," Climene whined.
"I wish Éclair shipped us ahead with the luggage," Sugarchick cried.
"Drink some water," Abernathe suggested. "It will help with the heat."
As the group trudged on, Abernathe began to wonder off from the group.
"Where are you going?" Region4 asked.
"I'm going to find some walking sticks. I'll be right back," Abernathe answered as she walked off.
Abernathe began to search, peering back at the group often to make sure she didn't lose sight of them. Close to the Haunted Woods, Abernathe found one last cluster of trees and to her delight found two perfect branches that could serve as walking sticks.
When she glanced back, the figures of her siblings were disappearing rapidly into the distance. With worry rushing to her head, she grabbed the walking sticks raced back as fast as she could, fearing that she would lose them. To her relief, she saw her siblings stop, and with a burst of newfound strength, she caught up with them and realized why they had stopped.
Ahead of the group, hundreds of small pyramids could be seen, and behind the pyramids an enormous sand dune towered over the pyramids, dwarfing them. On the right and left side of the enormous dune, a river could be seen stretching across the dusty land.
"I wager Sakhmet is just on the other side of that mountain of sand," Abernathe claimed.
"I hope so!" Region4 said. "As you can see, it is almost noontime."
Abernathe looked up at the sky, and sure enough, the sun was almost at the center.
"Yikes," she said. "We've gotta hurry!"
Abernathe handed Region4 the other walking stick she had found, and then turned to Sugarchick and Climene.
"Sugarchick, hop on my back. Climene, get yourself steady on Region's back. We're going to run fast!"
When Sugarchick and Climene had seated themselves on their sibling's backs, Region4 and Abernathe sped off towards the enormous dune.
Pyramids whizzed by as Abernathe and Region4 raced toward the dune, which was growing in size as the group came closer. Soon the sound of rushing water could be heard by the stream, which only made the siblings' mouths feel more and more dry.
Finally, the small group reached the left side of the dune, which completely dwarfed everything from its size.
To Abernathe's delight, the city of Sakhmet was right on the other side of the dune, and Qasala was right across from the desert city. The river ran right through the Lost Desert, and a bridge was built across the river. Where the river curved, Coltzan's Shrine sat alone in the sand. Farther on the right side of the dune, a couple of pyramids could be seen. Farther southwest, dunes rested atop of the sand.
After resting and drinking some water, the group raced off towards the entrance to Sakhmet. At the gate, a crowd of people waited beside their wagons, staring of into the distance.
"Excuse me, but where is this crowd going?" Region4 asked a nearby Lupe lady, who was dressed in white robes and golden necklaces, which jewels sparkled in the sunlight.
"We are going to leave the Lost Desert on a marvelous ship, and sail to Altador, once we reach the sea," the Lupe replied in a strange accent.
"Could that ship be called the Armana?" Abernathe asked after quickly reading the other note Éclair left behind, which contained the information about their ship.
"Why, yes!" the Lupe cried with delight. "You must be passengers too! You must hurry if you wish to come with us, for we will be leaving in just a couple minutes!"
"I run into Sakhmet and get some vittles!" Region4 said, then dropped Climene on the ground, and ran off to Sakhmet before Abernathe could argue.
"Huh. Good thing I landed on my bag, or I would have broken something," Climene said, annoyed.
"I hope he hurries," Abernathe mumbled.
Somewhere in the crowd a trumpet blasted a high note, and the crowd began to march off a bit east of Qasala.
"Oh, great!" Abernathe cried. "Where is that bunny?"
"He will catch up," Climene assured her. "In the meantime, try not to get trampled by one of those wagons."
Abernathe rolled her eyes.
As the crowd passed Qasala, Abernathe began to worry more than ever.
"Why is Region taking so long?" Abernathe said nervously.
"I say, leaving a poor chap behind to search for food! I thought you were more caring, Ab!" Region4's chattered behind startled Abernathe.
"It is about time you came back," Abernathe mumbled.
Region4 began to hand out the food he had bought from Sakhmet.
"Nevertheless, I found some fine grub in the Food Stall."
Sugarchick eyed her palm tree wrap with disgust.
"You call this 'fine'?"
Region4 shrugged. "It is good enough."
Climene bite into her tchea fruit, squinting at the strange taste.
"Nice... flavor," she commented.
Abernathe munched on some grilled ummagine chips, and blinked at the taste of the dry food. "I feel sorry for all these people."
As the large crowd trekked on, dunes appeared out of nowhere, making the going harder as they trudged uphill. When they reached the top of a slightly large dune, the siblings sighed with delight when they caught sight of the huge ship, which was docked on the edge of the beach. The sun was sinking over the sea, and its rays cast a blinding light over it. The air smelled vaguely of sea salt, and the splashing of the waves could be heard.
Abernathe felt the rush of excitement come back to her again as she watched sailors load the ship with luggage.
"We've made it to the sea!" she shouted.
"Oh no!" someone in the crowd cried. "The Armana is leaving!"
Sure enough, crew members of the ship started climb aboard, and neopets and owners started to shout and wave at the figures on the deck of the Armana.
The crowd rushed towards the ship, shouting and yelling to drop the anchor. Sailors began to stop the ship, and to everyone's relief the anchor was being pushed back into the sea.
When the small group of siblings had shown their tickets Éclair left behind, they boarded the ship, and followed a maid to their cabin; as excitement was building up in them as they gazed out to the never-ending sea.
"Your cabin is number B156, which means you are on the first base floor, and each room has its own mailbox. As you might already know, the Armana's voyage is only one day and a morning long. If you purchased meal passes, the dining room is room B223, and you will be served three meals a day. There are two bathrooms on every floor, and your other luggage is in the passenger storage room, which is room B330. I hope you enjoy the voyage!" the Usul maid said when she gave Region4 a small key and left them at their cabin.
The cabin was small but comfy. There were two bunk beds, a small wooden table with a cushioned chair, a drawer, and I small window next to the right top bunk.
The siblings were unpacking their bags, when the same Usul maid returned with a couple towels and a cheerful expression.
"I'm sorry if I'm intruding," she apologized. "But the ship is starting to lift the anchor, and a great party is being held on the main deck."
"I think we've had too much excitement today for a party," Abernathe said when the maid left, and her siblings agreed.
"I'm ready for a nice, long snooze!" Region4 announced, and then flopped on the left lower bunk.
"Me too," Abernathe agreed, and then looked up with surprise to find Sugarchick and Climene already sleeping on the right lower bunk.
As soon as Abernathe climbed up ton the right top bunk, she immediately fell into deep sleep, before you could even say "Altador."
To be continued...