The Lost Tomb of Coltzan: Part Three
Helyn the Angelpuss flew across the desert as fast as her tiny wings could carry her. Even flying this fast, it would still be another hour or so before she reached the base. Helyn looked sharply at the descent of Neopia’s moon, Kreludor. She judged that it would probably be nightfall by the time she reached headquarters. She whipped her head about from side to side, warily surveying her surroundings. The wilds of the Lost Desert held many dangers at all times, but especially as night approached. She knew she must hurry, because if the desert was dangerous as night APPROACHED, imagine how dangerous it would be when night finally ARRIVED.
She subtly increased her speed a bit, just in case.
All around her she could hear the angry hisses of Cobralls and Wadjets, the bone-chilling howls of Anubises, the scritch-scratch of Selkets burrowing into the still-searing sands below, the flap of Horus’ wings as the sped by her face, and Magtiles which snapped at her wings as she soared past (Helyn rose higher to prevent this from happening again). The Scarabugs and Setis had all calmed down, however, because they slept during the night, unlike many of the other native desert petpets.
Half an hour later, Helyn had calmed down and almost grown complacent because nothing had attempted to attack her. She squinted in the growing twilight, and smiled to herself when she could make out a glowing light, which were the gas lamps that lit the archaeologists’ small tent. She even imagined for a moment that she saw Jewellya walking about in the tent, but she was too far away to be certain.
Almost there, she thought to herself, urging herself on eagerly.
As soon as the thought came into Helyn’s head, something whizzed past her head with an angry howl. She screeched to a stop, momentarily startled, then bared her razor-sharp teeth, ready for anything. The Horus that had attempted to attack her wheeled around, angered that it had missed the first time. Helyn growled deep in her throat, then the two petpets charged at each other, claws flying. The Horus caught Helyn’s wing on its first pass, scraping it painfully. She let out a yelp of pain, and her attacker screeched with victory.
But the fight was far from over.
Enraged by her vulnerability rendered by the Horus, Helyn turned on it ten times more viciously than she had before, shredding the air with her talons. She hissed and snarled as the Horus did its best to fight back against such raw fury. It soon gave up, however, and flew away into the night. It was a smart Horus, and had no desire to be Angelpuss food. Helyn grinned in self satisfaction and looked ahead into the growing dusk. The warm, beckoning light looked closer than ever. When she got there she could curl up on her favorite Fuzzy Pink Blanket - which was a bit torn up, she was embarrassed to say - and eat White Chocolate Cookies and tell stories with Jewellya.
As Helyn flew toward the camp, she felt her wing beginning to ache, then sting, and she winced at the pain. She had almost forgotten about her wound. She gritted her teeth against the growing pain, and reminded herself, I’ll have to drink half a Dewberry Reviver first thing when I get back. Cookies and stories later.
Ten minutes later, Helyn staggered into the huge tent, still miraculously clutching the neomail in her mouth. Sure, it was a bit clawed, and more than a little slobbery, but it was still a bit legible. When she crawled through the tent flap, Jewellya jumped up from her place at the table with a cry of disbelief.
“Helyn!” she exclaimed, shocked at her bedraggled appearance and pained expression. “What happened? Are you alright? How are the others?!”
Helyn smiled weakly, and shook her head, ruefully remembering the battle with the Horus. “The others are fine, just about to the mountain. As for me... well, let’s just say I ran into a little difficulty on the way back here.”
Jewellya gave her an uncertain and shaky smile, as she took hold of the neomail that Helyn held out to her in a fluffy paw. She opened it, still looking at the little petpet with trepidation, seeing how her wing drooped noticeably. Another glimpse at her wing, and let the neomail fall down on the table and hastened over to the cabinet in the next room.
“I can not look at that message until I get you in good health again,” she proclaimed. “And I will not just sit there being aware that you’re hurt and indifferently read a neomail!!” she fumed. She rummaged about inside the cabinet until she got hold of what she was looking for. She returned to Helyn’s side with some Soothing Bandages, a Mushroom Ointment, and a half-bottle of Dewberry Reviver. She shrewdly scrutinized the minor gash on Helyn’s wing, then set to work.
Ten minutes later, Helyn moved her wing from side to side before her angelic face, examining it carefully. There was nothing to show that the little petpet had ever been hurt. Jewellya had done well.
“So what happened?” Jewellya questioned after she was finished patching her up. “How did you get hurt, I mean?”
Helyn gestured with her halo-topped head toward the neomail lying, forgotten, on the green bamboo table. “I will gladly tell you what happened to me,” she replied in her silvery bell-like voice. “But first, please read the neomail I came such a long and dangerous way to deliver.”
It seemed as if Jewellya had forgotten about the neomail altogether. She swiftly spun around to the table where she had thrown it before curing Helyn, and scooped it up with her hoof. As you can imagine, she had considerable difficulty in opening it, but she did accomplish it. Her eyes swiftly scanned the watery, flowing handwriting which could only belong to Jynifer. Finally, she set the paper back down on the table.
“She writes that they are in the shadow of the mountain, and should be in the interior of the mountain in two hours. She says she’s not sure exactly when they’ll be back but it should be this evening sometime.” Jewellya lowered the note and glanced at Helyn. “When did you leave them, Helyn? How long did it take you to return?”
“Half an hour,” came the easy reply.
Jewellya nodded, as if satisfied with the answer. “Then that means they will be inside the mountain within the hour,” she murmured, half to herself. She proceeded to the next question. “How do they expect to get back so early, carrying all that treasure? As a matter of fact, how do they expect to remove all of it at all?”
“I believe they mentioned among themselves sending for more archaeologists when they returned,” Helyn replied thoughtfully. “Then all of them will excavate the tomb and donate the items to the Museum of Neopian History.”
“Oh, of course. That is much more sensible.” Jewellya looked pointedly at the little Angelpuss. “The neomail also requests me to keep you here, and not to let you run off and try to help them. That would just get you hurt... yet again.”
Helyn bowed her head submissively. “I will comply with Jynifer’s orders. If she would like me to remain here, then I will stay.”
“Good.” Jewellya visibly breathed a sigh of relief. “Now, tell me how you got hurt,” she continued, calling behind her shoulder as she got some cookies out of the cabinet.
* * * * * * *
Three hours later, Helyn curled up in her cage and tried to sleep. But no matter how hard she tried, her mind was remorseless and did not allow her to fall asleep. She tossed and turned, anxiously worrying over how the small group of archaeologists were doing. She wished that she could sneak out to check on them, but Jewellya was a light sleeper, and would wake up if she attempted to leave. And besides, Jynifer had given her an order, and she wasn’t the sort of petpet to pay no attention to her owner’s commands. She left that to the Meepits.
She gazed mournfully at the beams of moonlight sneakily slipping in through the tent flaps and bare places, and howled once, quietly, in her misery.
* * * * * * *
Meanwhile, the archaeologists were busy setting up their makeshift camp. They had walked all day, and they - Jaik especially - looked as if they were about to collapse. All of them were extremely tired from walking nearly all day. Jynifer had looked disappointed when she was outnumbered in her vote to continue hiking and set up camp on the mountain. But she had finally, albeit reluctantly, agreed, and they were now busy removing their blankets from the bag they had shoved them into. Jynifer carried the map and the pack with food and water - enough for two to three days, Jaik had carried some of the excavation tools and the blankets, Ukodus carried most of the excavation tools - he was great at heavy lifting, if nothing else, which left Aliah to carry the pack with the healing items. Jynifer hoped they would never need them.
She spread out her blanket on the now-cool desert sands and stretched out on her back. It felt good to relax after hours of hiking in the intense heat. She gazed at the stars curiously, and then was startled when she realized why she was so curious. She was used to going to school in bustling Neopia Central, with its street lights and busy atmosphere. Not only did she never have the TIME to look at the stars with all the studying she had to do, but even if she did have the time, it was impossible to see the stars with all the street lighting!
She laughed aloud at this sudden revelation.
As she concentrated on the individual stars, she could pick out a few famous constellations she had learned about in Astronomy class. There was the Sleeper! She traced it with her finger. And there was Kreludor, just a small sliver tonight, shining bright in its elliptical orbit around Neopia. She even thought she saw the glint of metal which was the Virtupets Space Station, high above the orbit of Neopia.
As she observed with wonder, she turned to her side to wake the others and share the beauty of the stars with them. But when she turned, they were all asleep, exhausted from the trying day. She sighed. But she couldn’t blame them. She was tired herself. There would always be other nights. She looked over at the Neopets’ sleeping figures, and decided that it was time to get some sleep like them. She rolled over and closed her eyes.
The space station gleamed, reflecting the light of Neopia’s distant sun.
To be continued...