The Puzzling Voyage to Geraptiku: Part Five
Captain Sam, Professor Lenny, Scrap, and Rax stared up at the ghostly image of an ancient (and quite dead) king. While Scrap’s first impulse was to run as fast and far as his feet could carry him, he realistically knew that no matter how fast or far he ran, a ghost would be able to keep up with him. The others seemed to have reached the same conclusion because they stayed.
Captain Sam’s expression turned from fear to resentment. “Wait, what? You’re going to stop me from taking anything in this pyramid? And how are you going to do that? You’re a ghost.”
The late King of Geraptiku looked down upon the sneering captain and returned her with a sneer of his own. “Yes, that is correct. I’m a ghost, so I can do things like this.” The ghost waved his arm through the air and a chute suddenly appeared out of thin air beneath the feet of everyone in the room.
All three explorers and their robot petpet Rax slid down the chute, towards darkness. Both the captain and Scrap had lost their torches, so it was pitch black in the chute. But they were moving fast as the wind hit Scrap in the face. They screamed and fell for a minute or so before the slide curved, and they shot up and out of the pyramid into the night sky.
Gaining their surroundings, the professor stood up and dizzily looked around. “We’re outside.”
“Really?” the captain replied sarcastically. “Are you a detective or something. I’m sure the moon gave it away.”
“Uh, guys,” said Scrap. For it was not the moon that had caught his attention. Rather, it was the sight of the village they had walked through about twenty-four hours before. Then, the village had been empty of any living creature. The same could be said this time, but instead of being barren, the village was filled with ghost Techos dancing around a bonfire. There were ghost Techos eating a rancid feast. There were ghost Techos beginning to realize they were not alone anymore as more and more of them noticed the strangers who had just been ejected from the deserted tomb.
“Umm... hello there,” said the captain in a faux genial tone. “We’re just passing through. No need to worry about us.”
But the ghostly villagers had become angry and were no longer celebrating around bonfires or eating from fetid feasts. They were storming the group quickly.
Scrap looked around at the captain and the professor, but they were already running in the direction of the beach. Quickly, Scrap scooped up Rax from the muddy ground and began running after them, hoping to outrun the ghosts. He knew it was nearly impossible, but they were angry, and he didn’t have much of a choice. Rax whirred as if to tell Scrap to quicken his pace, but there was no way he could move any faster. Luckily, he was catching up to Professor Lenny and Captain Sam. And it sounded as if the villagers were not quick enough to compete with his speed.
The trio burst through the jungle, avoiding trees and low-hanging vines. Professor Lenny even took flight a few times, using his large wings to vault over pitfalls or fallen logs. Scrap could tell that the other two were exhausted as he was, but they neither stopped nor slowed until they found themselves running on sand.
The professor took a spill and landed beak first into the sandy beach. The captain and Scrap took that cue to slow down, bending over and trying to catch their breaths. The professor pulled his beak from the sand and sat back on his haunches, breathing as loud and hard as the rest of them.
“Well, that was fun,” the captain announced between gasps. The others nodded. “I think we should continue walking down this beach until we find someway to get off the island. I am not venturing back into that jungle, especially at night.”
“I quite agree,” said Professor Lenny as he used the talisman to wipe his sweating brow.
“Wait, you still have that THING!” yelled the captain, staring at the talisman. “I thought we lost it when we went down the slide!”
“Of course not,” said the professor. “I have searched for this artifact for almost a decade. I am not going to lose it because of some ethereal monarch.” He clutched the talisman behind him so that Captain Sam couldn’t see it or take it from him.
“But he’ll come after us until we give it back,” said Scrap, coming to his senses. “He’s a ghost, and he must need that talisman. Don’t you get it, professor? Ghosts are real, and they are dangerous. Or else, we wouldn’t have run back there.”
Professor Lenny relented. “I agree that it’s a shame they won’t have it anymore, but this is science. And we traveled all this way for it. And we have it now. We must study it further before returning it.”
“Now what is that you islanders have there?” came a voice behind the captain. Everyone jumped, including Rax. However, instead of seeing some other bloodthirsty ghost, the group saw a large man wearing a tiki mask on his face.
“Who goes there?” called the captain, her hand on the hilt of her sword.
“Oh, me. Haha. Just call me the Tombola Guy. And who might you be?” The Tombola Guy was a portly man with a belly laugh that was immediately comforting. He also seemed fairly laid back in his tropical shirt and grass skirt.
“Captain Samantha Snitzfritz, Professor Lenny von Grubbentrapp, and our swabby Scrap here. Oh, and Rax the robot. We shipwrecked here about a day ago..”
“Ah, well, I might be able to help you out there. But first, my other question. What’s that you’ve got there, Professor Grubenfrap?”
The professor’s feathers ruffled at the strange man’s mispronunciation. “It’s von Grubbentrapp actually. And it’s a talisman of sorts. A golden necklace. Why do you ask?”
“Oh, I don’t know. Looks familiar. Anyways, why don’t you all join me to my shop? It’s right down the beach.”
The captain shrugged and began to follow the Tombola Guy. The professor and Scrap followed her example and strolled along the beach. “Not many outside people we get on this island,” the Tombola Guy said conversationally. “We are in the middle of the ocean, after all. And we don’t have any big cities or anything. Just the village and the dojo. You guys were shipwrecked, you say?”
“Yes,” replied the captain. “About a day ago. Do you know of any ships for sale?”
The Tombola Guy chuckled. “As a matter of fact, I do. At my shop, I have an old pirate ship I found yesterday. I spent all day fixing it up. Looks good as new and ready to sail.”
“Wait, a pirate ship,” the captain said, stopping in her tracks. The others stopped as well, stunned that their ship had been found. “That’s my ship. The one we shipwrecked in.”
The Tombola Guy laughed his belly laugh with much enthusiasm. “Well, isn’t that something? I guess I can give you back your ship then, but I wouldn’t mind some repair fees. I spent a lot of money from my Tombola shop to make the repairs. I’d have to close it temporarily until I could get donations or something.” He continued walking, and they followed.
“Of course, we would pay you for your troubles, but we don’t have any Neopoints or doubloons or anything. We lost everything.”
“Ah,” said the Tombola Guy, sounding downcast. “Yes, well. How about that necklace the professor had earlier. Could you guys part with that object?”
“Absolutely no-” started the professor, but Captain Sam cut him off.
“Of course, good man. We need that ship desperately to get back home. Don’t we, Professor Lenny von Grubbentrapp?” She eyed the professor who eyed her back fiercely. But after a moment, he relented. It seemed he had come to his senses as well. They needed to get off this island, and for some reason, Scrap had the nagging feeling the Tombola Guy wouldn’t let them off the island without some sort of compensation.
“Excellent,” the Tombola Guy replied as they turned a corner around the beach and a small village came into view. The shop was near the beach and tied to a dock near it was Captain Snitzfritz’s ship, red sash fluttering in the night sky from its mast.
“Professor, give the nice man here who repaired our ship and is letting us go home the worthless necklace you picked up,” the captain said pointedly as she shook the hand of the Tombola Guy. The professor grudgingly gave up the artifact and silently boarded the ship. “Thank you, sir. We’ll be heading off now.”
“Have a wonderful trip!” the Tombola Guy shouted to the group as they loaded the ship. He returned to his shop and entered the stall, taking the talisman and placing it upon the table. He sat there staring at it for quite some time before the ghostly hand of the late King of Geraptiku materialized through the table, snatched the talisman, and disappeared as soon as it had arrived. “Yes, yes, that’s right. Take it back, and this time, don’t let anyone take it. I don’t want to have to deal with you any more than I have to,” the Tombola Guy said as he flipped the sign on his stall to OPEN.
Meanwhile, on the ship the trio (plus Rax) were moping about. Captain Sam was obviously joyous that she had her beloved ship back, but everyone was downcast that their voyage had been in vain. The artifact was back on the island with the Tombola Guy, and they were setting sail empty-handed.
“Look, professor,” Scrap said. “I’m sorry about what happened back there, “But we needed the ship back.”
“Yes, I know,” said the Professor irritably. “That’s why I gave the man the artifact that we rightfully took.”
Scrap sort of disagreed with the ‘rightfully’ part, but he nodded anyway to console the poor Lenny. “There must be something we can do to make it up to you.”
The professor began to shake his head but stopped, a light bulb coming on in his head.
“Actually, my boy, Scrap, there is something. I heard recently about a mysterious scepter in the ancient sunken city of Maraqua...”
Both Professor Lenny and Scrap looked up at Captain Sam who had one eyebrow cocked and Rax on her shoulder. She rolled her eyes. “Oh, alright. Swabby, man the crow’s nest. We set sail immediately.”
“Oh, yes!” exclaimed Professor Lenny. “Oh, but let me check the Faerieland Rulebook of Traveling first for any entry it has about changing missions without authorization.”