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Petpet Name: Meek
Pet Name: Fierce
You scurry through the marketplace. The sand seems to be subtly conspiring against your progress, working its way into your sandals to hinder and annoy you. Your neck tingles, and a shiver scuttles its way down your back; the sun's descent over Sakhmet brings with it an eerie chill. You knew you shouldn't have lingered at Sutek's Scrolls... the remaining sunlight is fading swiftly.
It's creepy in Sakhmet at night, to say the least. Ill-lit and full of maze-like streets and winding alleys, the city covered in darkness is enough to make one's stomach turn. Seeing your last chance to make it to your tent on the outskirts before total darkness, after a slight hesitation you take a shortcut through an alley. A few short minutes later a Horus, perched high upon an awning, lets out a series of melancholy hoots, signalling what you've dreaded: night has fallen. You lose no time in doubling your pace. For a while, the only sound you hear is the pulse in your ears and your breath coming shorter and shorter; an uneasy silence has come over the city. You carry on for another few rows of houses and then start to feel the slow onset of panic gripping your stomach. You are realising, as much as you may have wanted to deny it, that you should've reached the outer part of the city by now. Where are you? You stop at a weakly burning torch mounted on a wall and sit down hard on the crate underneath. You try to gather your wits. If you carry on, you could be wandering the maze of streets all night.
As you cast about for any signs with which to catch your bearings, all of a sudden a bright glimmer catches your eye. You blink, not believing what you see. On the edge of the alley immediately facing you, there appears to be two bright emerald eyes staring directly at you. You blink again. Sweat begins to creep down your neck, as you can only imagine what sort of sinister creature is staring at you from the darkness. Slowly, deliberately, the eyes grow closer, and into the circle of light cast by the sickly torch steps a small, black creature. To your confusion, it simply sits down and begins licking a paw, a low purr rumbling from its tiny chest. It seems to be waiting for you to speak. You clear your throat, which feels as dry as the sand under your feet.
"What... what do you want?" You stammer. The creature's eyes focus right between yours; its gaze is intense and unfaltering.
It turns, gesturing with its head for you to follow, and makes its way down a narrow eastern corridor. You pause, wondering what this creature wants with you. You arise from the crate and begin to follow. The creature's swift, steady pace forces you to hurry. You want to ask so many questions, but the creature remains a solid distance ahead of you. You scurry along through the maze of tiny pathways. The creature seems to glide effortlessly through the streets, never once pausing to look back. Occasionally, you lose the tiny black form in the darkness, and the only thing guiding you is starlight glinting off the brilliant gold collar around the creature's neck. You carry on for what seems like forever. Eventually, the buildings get farther apart, and the city begins to sprawl lazily into the desert. Gasping for air, you almost trip over the tiny creature, who has come to a stop. You survey your surroundings and quickly realise you have made it successfully out of the city's heart and are standing on its periphery. You can see plainly before you the small cluster of tents where you belonged, merely a few stone's throws away. You turn to the creature, who is sitting on a rock, tail curled around its feet.
"How can I thank you enough?" You expound as relief washes over you. The creature looks at you and blinks slowly, as if to say, "No need to thank me."
Then, to your shock, the creature speaks. "It's what we do; we are the guardians of this city," she says. Her voice is low and raspy, and her tone is even and calm.
"So there are others, just like you?"
"There are indeed, many others. We Maukets are cuddly and playful Petpets when the sun is shining, but by night, we protect this city. Which is why anyone who owns a Mauket can tell you that naps are a large part of our day."
"And what exactly do the citizens need protection from?" you ask.
A slight smile flickers across the Mauket's face, like one of the many waning torches you passed on your way to this spot. "That, my friend, is better left to legend." With those cryptic final words, she turns and disappears into the blanket of darkness.
You are left with a strange, queasy feeling as you scurry toward your tent. "I suppose," you mutter to yourself, "that what roams the streets of Sakhmet by night will always be a mystery." Finally arriving at your tent, you throw yourself into bed and are asleep in an instant.
When you awake the next morning, you stretch, wondering if it was all a dream.
From that memorable night on, you have always been in your tent by nightfall.
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