'The catacombs below Neovia are full of treasure, with the danger to match! Savvy adventurers are advised to train Petpets to seek out glorious riches in their stead. Everyone knows that Neopet curses don't work on Petpets. Pfft.'
The painted Xweetok drew back her head away from the sign, khol-lined ruby eyes rolling in disinterest, sharing the same sentiment as the last sentence did. Neovia, contrast to it's neighbouring area, the Haunted Woods, was a bright spot, yet it always seemed perpetually lined with fog, even so far out to the entrance of the catacombs. Glancing down, it took a while of scanning before she caught the navy blue of her Petpet.
"Shu," commanded the Neopet, head tossed up and mane falling gracefully, with distant sounds of bangles jangling with the motion. "Come here."
Shu, the Anubis Petpet – fitting for a desert one such as the Xweetok, scampered up on command, black beady eyes shifting suspiciously at being called. He barked in affirmation; head tilting up and tongue lolling out, much to the ire of his owner, who had a much more.. refined palette.
"You are to go in there and bring me back the finest treasure your little paws can get a hold of," she started, nudging the little pet forward with her head, pearly teeth glimmering in the moonlight in a greedy grin.
"Something... befitting of a queen. Like myself. Do you think you can handle that?"
Shu's head turned towards the ominous, eerie entrance of the catacombs, a whine escaping the Petpet and ears falling back. Rachel – the Xweetok – decided that he merely needed some encouragement, and nudged the pet closer and closer, until shoving him in.
"Remember – something really good, okay?"
With that, the doors to the catacombs slammed shut.
Despite the damp, moist area, lit by ghostly torches that flickered with every movement, Shu wasn't at all scared.
...Okay, that was a lie. Shu was very scared.
Paws slapped silently on the wet tiles, scampering down random passageways and corridors when it came apparent to the Petpet that he was going in circles, because that pebble he passed looked suspiciously the same as the one he passed two minutes ago. A yap of nerves escaped him, the sound carrying through the lowlight and echoing. He felt truly alone.
His pace slowed as he halted in front of some steps, carrying him down lower in the levels and beady eyes glancing about in search of the nearest treasure he could pick and leave, yet each corner remained barren or things far too old, covered in cobwebs, that'd turn to dust on first touch.
As he descended to the lower levels, the Anubis lowered his head to the ground, little nose snuffling to try and pick up a scent of.. something. But sadly, the only thing that assaulted the poor creature's nose was mouldy tiles – yuck! He squashed his face in disgust, snorting and stamping the ground, much to the amusement of whatever that laughter belonged to--
A startled yelp escaped the pup, scrambling up and away as the giggling grew. Finding refuge behind a crumbled down pillar, Shu peeked the top of his head out to nervously search what awaited him. Gleaming red eyes – hundreds of them, menacingly staring back, the giggling getting louder.. the Petpet began to shake in fear, shuddering until the thing that lurked stepped out into the light.
They carried a ghostly visage, but when they allowed their aura to glow, the Meepit ghosts didn't seem as threatening as before. Several of them approached, waving happily.
"Hey, kid!" the first Meepit said, presumably the leader. "You wanna play?"
Ears perking up and jumping over the pillar, he yapped cheerfully and joined the pack of ghost Meepits. Within moments, they had formed a circle, bobbing up and down and around, as Shu stood up on his back paws and hopped from one paw to the next, spinning around with their movements until he just got so dizzy, he couldn't take it any more, flopping to the ground and dissolving into a fit of giggles along with the ghosts.
They played like this for a while until the lead ghost pointed forward.
"Say, we kinda like you, kid, so.. if you go through the second door there, not the first, you can go deeper and find the really cool stuff. You come back here again next time, yeah?"
With a nod and a promise, they said their goodbyes. Shu felt less afraid than he was before, and he realised maybe appearances were not all that seemed. After all, passing through the first door and entering the second, he found some bacon along the way. Mmmm, catacombs bacon. His favourite.
Time didn't really become important to the Petpet, but Shu was starting to miss his owner. As rough around the edges as the admittedly greedy Xweetok could be, she really did care for him, even if he wasn't the regal Anubis she had wanted. The pup thought of returning back to the Meepit ghosts, but as he glanced over his shoulder, there was none of their light that told him they were there anymore. Shame.
The further he delved, the more worried he was becoming. There didn't seem to be an end to this maze-like underground, and as he stopped to rest his weary paws, his ear twitched at the sound of.. of.. banjo.. playing?
Curiously, Shu set to investigate, following the source of the noise and peeking his head in to witness the event.
Oh yes, there were certainly a banjo being strummed, two in fact. Figures garbed in thick robes belted out notes on their banjo as the duel took place, similar clothed pets centered around them, cheering them on or booing accordingly. Drawing his back paws down to sit, Shu observed with mild interest, front paws patting the tiles along to the beat.
Unfortunately, the music was not amused by his playing along, and unbeknown to the Petpet, his soft paws slowly applied enough pressure to activate the switch on the tile. It was a trap!
The fake stone caved away, revealing to be a trapdoor, and Shu plummeted downward. One of the cultists by the crowd glanced nonchalantly behind his shoulder, tutting. "That's the fifth one this week."
Falling down.. down.. down.. the Anubis covered his eyes and wailed as he fell, fearing for the worst, when..
It wasn't the most softest landing he'd had, but it was certainly better than rocky tiles. Drawing his paws away, Shu blinked a couple of times, finding his vision looked like he was staring through a bowl of jelly. Speaking of jelly, it smelt of cinnamon, too. Floating aimlessly in the pink goop, it wasn't long before he was spat out, now covered in slimy pink grossness. Ew.
The gelatinous non-cube wobbled threateningly in his presence, apparently annoyed to of being woken up after being well fed. Shu cowered in it's mighty wibbling, and being unable to speak Slime, could not communicate with it. The.. thing seemed to be in a good mood, so Shu gathered he was being let off with a warning. Despite now being filthy and in desperate need of a good bath, he scampered off through the nearest exit.
Alas, all good adventures must come to an end, and the poor Petpet was quite tired. He made one final turn, into one of the rooms. And there it was. The most beautiful prize he ever laid his tiny eyes upon. His mouth watered at the marvel and glory – surely yes, this was befitting of the Queen. Even Fyora herself would be humbled by its... beauty.
Rushing up to his prize, he grabbed a hold of it between his teeth and headed off to the exit.
Silent paws paced as Rachel awaited, the allotted time finally ending and the sealed catacomb doors opening with a mighty creek. Fluffing up her frazzled sandy mane, the Xweetok tried to appear royal and not at all like she had just spent the last hour or so frantically pacing and tearing her locks out in worry. It wouldn't do good for her image.
The Anubis emerged, prize hidden away and was promptly tackled by his own, hugging Shu close to her.
"I was so worried! I knew I made a mistake! Shu, you... you..." Sniff. "...are absolutely filthy and totally grounded for getting this... pink... stuff on me. Eww!"
Drawing away from the Petpet and wiping off the gunk gingerly, the Xweetok's ruby eyes glinted expectantly. "So, what did you get me?"
The prize was presented, and she gasped loudly.
"It's... it's...! AN OLD BOOT!? I WAITED SIX HOURS FOR AN OLD BOOT?! YOU'RE DOUBLE GROUNDED!"
Needless to say, Rachel and Shu did not return to the catacombs after that, but the Anubis' memories were always fond, and did sneak off sometimes to play with his new friends. Beggars can't be choosers after all.