The Attempted Pillage of Altador
It was an early Altadorian morning. The Vaeoluses were still asleep in the trees. Eudoxia, a yellow Ruki, was up early at her job, which was to manage trade deals with other Neopian empires. She was out walking along the docks, the early sun turning everything a tint of orange, from the walls of the city, to the great tombs set on high in the cliffs, to her white toga dress, fluttering slightly in the chilly breeze.
As she pondered the quietness of morning, a ship came into view on the horizon, and so began her work. Eudoxia got out her spyglass and focused. The vessel's design suggested that it came from somewhere foreign; it ran a large black mast with a strange symbol on it. It arrived on shore; the group who stepped onto the docks looked confused. Probably greenhorn travelers, lost in navigation. She set off towards them.
"Name and business, please," she asked. The leader stepped forward. He was a grayish looking Meerca with a red bandana and an eyepatch. A couple of teeth were missing. If needed, Eudoxia knew how to fight. It was part of her line of work.
"Uhh... where be this place?" he said.
She hadn't expected his bashful attitude. "Name and business first, please," she said, beginning the ritual of trade.
"I be Captain Clyde, legally registered pirate under Krawk Island's new management... do you need me papers?" She shook her head. "All righty, lass... We be here on no business, I swear on me crew. We're just... a wee bit lost, that's all." He shrugged.
She'd never heard of Krawk Island before. She had never seen an accent like that in her life, even as someone who regularly came into contact with most of Neopia's seafarers. This was starting to smell suspicious. But she pressed on with her business attitude. "This is the port of Altador," she said.
"Altador? I've never heard of this here 'Altador' before." One of the crewmates, a Kyrii, whispered something in his ear. "What?" he whispered back. "Ye be sayin' that this place is ancient history?"
"May as well be," said the Kyrii. "I've only heard hearsay about this place bein' from the oldest of old, and one day, they up an' vanished..."
"What a great discovery this is," he said back. "We could make a fortune offa these guys, if we be real careful about it." He smiled widely and turned back to Eudoxia. "Well, my navigator 'ere has cleared up the matter. We be in the right place, sure. We'd like to get some grub 'n' rest, if ye got that here."
"We do," said Eudoxia. "But you'll have to pay a fee for keeping your ship here." The Meerca sighed and pulled a couple of gold coins out of his pocket. "This oughta cover it." He didn't wait for her response, and sidled down the docks with his hands in his coat pockets. The crew followed him.
She turned over the coins in her hand. They were gold coins with a symbol of bones engraved on both sides. On the bottom of one side was engraved some symbols: 'Y7'. What was Y7? Regardless, she had never seen this currency before, much less a proper value. For all she knew, these guys could have just ripped her off.
Upon entering the city, the band of pirates had taken up the entirety of the nearest banquet hall. They had ordered the best food possible.
Clyde sat around a table with the inner crew. He took a drink of some punch. "Arr, this place sure has some taste, if y'ask me... Maybe a little too much." He swirled around the drink in its chalice. "Just maybe." Some of the other crewmates sitting near nodded in agreement.
"Captain, I hate to alarm you, but there's some grousin' goin' around in the ranks," said Scar, the Kyrii first mate. "About how we ain't got a clue where we are, and that it might be some sorta actual concern."
"Why'd ye think that all this be a problem?" He set down his cup. "If nobody's been around here in a while, we're due to make some good coin off their stuff."
"Here, lemme show you what I mean." The Kyrii spread out a map in front of him. "See this spot? That's where we're supposed to be. We've been right here before, an' it was just empty shores. This whole city just popped up in the middle of our trade route. "
"Get to the point, lad."
"Y'ever read those books where a ship gets lost in a storm and gets sent back in time, Cap'n? What if we're in some sort of ancient era?"
The captain crossed his arms crossly. "I ain't got time for fantasy books. If anything, this could be right pinned on ye makin' a simple navigational error, that's all. We've gone and discovered this ancient city right up the coast, and you scallywags are worrying about time travel?" He took a decisive bite of his steak. "Amateurs."
"I... see," said the first mate. "What do we do now, then?"
"Once I'm done fillin' up, we're goin' straight for wherever they keep their prized possessions," said Clyde, sneering. "I doubt a highfalutin place like this has any sort of army or anything. Probably think they've advanced past the need for one. Landlubbers and their crazy ideologies." He stood up. "Get your land legs on, crew, we're takin' a field trip."
"So, ye ain't got any museums?"
"None," said the pink Scorchio.
"I could'a sworn this pamphlet said so," said Clyde, motioning to a piece of scrap paper. "We're tourists, ye know. We're curious about yer... cultural history, and such."
"I guess if you want to hear how this city was founded, you can just go to the Hall of Heroes," said the Scorchio. "It's that big building in the center. See you." He walked off.
"They're not big on history, are they?" said the Kyrii. "I mean, they are the history, after all, y'know."
"Well, someone out here's gotta have the gold," said Clyde. "I'd bet a fine wager that it's stashed in that building."
The troupe of pirates shambled off in the direction of the Hall of Heroes, some splitting from the group to pickpocket an unaware citizen or two.
"By the pickled toes of a Mortog!" said Clyde, who had just walked into the entrance to the great hall. "This place's as empty as the Lost Desert." The Hall of Heroes, big as it was, was ninety-nine percent polished floors and giant pillars. "Awfully disappointin', if ye ask me."
"Where exactly do they keep the treasure in an old city like this?" said the first mate. "Just toss it in the sea?"
"Wouldn't blame the poor scallywags," said Clyde, shoving his hands into his pockets. "They've got no idea what to do with the stuff."
An imposingly large hand tapped on Clyde's back. He turned around to see its owner. A huge gray Lupe with an impressive beard towered over him. "Would you mind repeating that statement?" he asked calmly.
"I, er... Yarr..."
"Just as I thought," said King Altador. He crossed his arms haughtily. "I'm afraid that you fellows will have to leave this city..."
The pirates put their hands in their pockets guiltily and began shambling towards the exit. "But not before you tell me what is going on."
They turned around. King Altador was holding up one of their doubloons. "Now, would any of you mind telling me what exactly this means?"
Clyde stepped forward. "Well, y'honor, that's just our method of payin' on Krawk Island."
"Krawk Island, you say..." Altador shrugged. "I've never heard of a place like that. And this "Y7" on the reverse side..."
"Don'tcha know what year it is? We're smack dab at the bow-end of Year Seven. I thought all of Neopia used this newfangled calendar these days."
"I don't understand any of this," said Altador.
"I'd like to offer an explanation, if ye please," said the Kyrii first mate. Altador nodded, and motioned for them to climb the winding steps to the sitting-room at the top of the tower.
And a story was told, and as it spread, all of Altador gradually became aware that they were the single remaining refugee of an era long gone. It was a frightening and humbling realization. They were alone.
But as time passes, things become normal again. Altador reopened its relations with other places. They had things to offer, and newfangled things they wanted that had not been present a thousand years ago. But there was still one troubling issue: the citizens of Altador, for all that remained intact through their time-sleep, couldn't remember a thing about what or why it had happened in the first place...