Petpet Adventures: Entombed - Part One
Kintyre sighed and prodded her companion for the umpteenth time, marvelling at his ability, above all else, to stay asleep. Rain bucketed down in torrents around them, drenching her fur to the very skin, and restricting movement by dragging her down. The impatient Antwerph finally yelled at the top of her voice.
"Lithiarre! If you don't wake up this instant, I'm going to leave you out in the rain!"
The Slogmok attached to the tree above her fell with a start and a curse, falling into a crumpled heap at her paws. His eyes were wide with confusion, and he said, typically for a petpet that spent a good two thirds of his day sleeping and in utter oblivion to anything around him— "It's raining?"
Kintyre sighed, trying to fluff out her rather bushy tail, but failing miserably.
"Come on," she grunted, starting through the trees of the forest.
Mystery Island was full of dense forest vegetation, and while the Antwerph was quite adept at traversing the undergrowth, Lithiarre was not. After all, he spent most of his time up in a tree, and he hardly moved at all. Now he was grumbling about too much exercise.
"Nonsense," Kintyre said in response. "I'm doing exercise and I'm not about to collapse into a furry heap. You just need stop hanging upside down and learn how to walk the right way up."
The Slogmok glared at her. Then he looked around them. "Where are we going, anyway?" he asked. "I woke up from my nap just to follow you. The rain wasn't bothering me at all."
Kintyre snorted. "A few hours is hardly a nap," she quipped. "And as to where we're going; it's a surprise. I found it the other day when you were, uh, napping."
Lithiarre began to look suspicious, but he made no comment, plodding along. He seemed determined to keep up with Kintyre. She led the way confidently through the trees, sure that she could find the burnt out shell of a tree that she had discovered only the day before. It would provide much needed shelter. Plus, it looked good, towering high above the other trees of the island.
Her paws were sucked into the mud as she walked, and she dragged them out in irritation with every step. She was so absorbed inn her task that she didn't look up, stumbling away from the path. She paused when Lithiarre's paw came down on her shoulder. The Slogmok was squinting through the waist-high mist that had been slowly forming as they walked.
"Are you sure this is the right way?" he asked, nodding to the ground just ahead, barely even visible. "I don't think I've been into this part of the forest."
Kintyre answered him with a scowl, not yet ready to admit that she was lost. She scanned through the heightening mist for some clue as to where she was. But she had nothing. Lithiarre watched with amusement, forelegs folded across his chest, a smug grin on his face.
"Wipe that smile off, now!" Kintyre growled.
The smile disappeared, replaced by complete innocence. "What smile?"
Kintyre poked him in the stomach, and then paused to investigate a rustle in the trees.
"Did you hear that?" she hissed.
The Slogmok had already paused in the act of prodding her back. "I think so... there!"
With one swift movement the Slogmok dived into the undergrowth, displaying remarkable agility for one of his species. Slogmoks were not known to move fast. They hardly moved at all if they could help it. But being born in the wild changed that. The only thing they relied on now was instinct. And it never failed.
As Kintyre went to investigate what was happening, Lithiarre strode out of the mist, his looming shape looking like something out of a dream. He materialised in front of her, clutching something thin and bright orange in his right forepaw. Kintyre gaped.
Then suddenly the tail was wrenched from his grip, and the petpet spun around, spluttering in indignation. There was a stunned pause from all three of them, then the petpet spoke.
"Indeed. Pouncing on me as if I were a beast," the Quetzal said huffily as he fluffed out the feathers crowning his head.
"Quaz?" Kintyre asked incredulously.
The Quetzal glared at her with narrowed eyes. He was rather large for a Quetzal, and his flame-coloured scales glittered despite their coating of mud. The rain made metallic plopping noises as it landed on his back. Cresting his head like a royal crown was a dozen or so blue feathers, stark contrast to his scales. It was a fearful combination.
"Sorry, Quaz," Lithiarre muttered. "But we haven't seen you for so long. How could we tell what you were? You told us that you were going... there."
The Quetzal paused and leaned back, eyes widening with surprise. "Well, surely you must know where you are right now?"
Lithiarre shot Kintyre a look. "Actually, we don't. That one over there got us lost."
Kintyre choked. "I was not lost," she denied. "I just..."
"Never mind," Quaz interrupted. "But why you are so close to the Lost City is beyond me."
Kintyre felt a shiver run down her spine. "We're what?" she asked.
Quaz cocked an eyebrow. "Indeed you are. You must be extremely lost not to notice the signs."
Kintyre looked down at the mist cushioning her paws and shivered again. The rain did not help much either. But she found that it was more than the rain that responsible for the chills running down her spine.
She forced herself not to think of the Lost City, breathing deeply in an attempt to calm herself. Quaz turned around to face the mist, which was by now at shoulder height.
"If you had walked a few more paces you would have been able to behold it yourself," the Quetzal commented.
A chill wind knocked Kintyre forward a few steps, and when she looked up she gasped.
As if by magic the mist parted and cleared away to leave her with a view of the lost city she was trying to forget. The Tomb stood in the very centre, a pyramid of mouldy stones and crumbling walls. Not much else stood around it, only the few scattered remains of what once could have been dwellings.
"And now you can behold it," Quaz said dryly, eyes blank.
He motioned to Lithiarre with his tail, and the Slogmok came willingly enough to gaze at the view. He did not seem as perturbed as the Antwerph next to him, but his muscles were bunched tight with tension.
Kintyre forced herself to breathe deeply before turning away from the sight of the massive pyramid shaped building that was the Tomb. She had once thought the Lost City to be a faerie-tale, but in truth it was not, as she could clearly see.
Quaz smiled grimly at her. "You seem to be lost, as Lithiarre here so kindly pointed out. It may be of use to find some shelter for the night." As he spoke, the sky darkened and the rain began to pelt down more vigorously.
"Do you live here? Lithiarre asked, both surprise and horror in his tone.
"That I do," Quaz replied. "Though it's really because I have to rather than want to."
Kintyre looked at him. "So you have to stay here? Why?"
Quaz stared at her like she had said something extremely stupid. "Pets, of course. What else? Always meddling, they are. Take a look at that house on the left. It was still standing before they came. But their clumsy, oversized limbs knocked it clean down. And if that weren't enough, they just gallivanted off and left it to rot."
There was a short pause following his words, then Lithiarre opened his mouth.
"So how do you plan on stopping them?" he asked.
The Quetzal gave him a sly grin. "The mist is hindrance enough. But for those who camp anywhere near the Tomb I was surprised at how many pets were afraid of shadows of a plumed serpent." He chuckled and his face took on a graver look. "But they just keep coming back."
Kintyre shivered. "How do you stand living here? It gives me the creeps."
Quaz waved his tail airily. "Oh, it's not quite as bad as you might think. These," he paused to point a ramshackle hut, "provide much more adequate shelter than the open forest. And tricking pets is an amusing pastime."
Lithiarre looked sceptical. Then a particularly large droplet of water plonked itself on his nose, and he shook out his wet fur, only to get it soaked again within a few moments. The Slogmok groaned and stretched his rapidly stiffening muscles.
"So about the shelter you were offering us?" he began hopefully.
Quaz chuckled and nodded, his blue plumes waving to and fro. They had not yet managed to plaster against his scales, and Kintyre found herself wishing that her fur wasn't quite so thick.
"This way," the Quetzal ordered pompously, sliding smoothly over the rain-churned ground.
For an instant Kintyre thought they were being led towards the Tomb, but at the last moment the Quetzal veered to the left, where a stone hut stood. It was made of rocks built against a wooden frame, and one wall had fallen in where the wood had rotted. But, Kintyre reflected as she peered through the rain, it was a lot better than some of the other shelters around.
Kintyre was grateful for the shelter against the rain as she stepped inside, even if she was in one of the creepiest places on Mystery Island. She huddled in the corner furthest away from the collapsed wall, trying to forget where she was. No one, not even the Natives pets and petpets on the Island knew what had happened here. And no one was really that willing to find out. It was only the greediest and most ignorant of pets that came and went into the Tomb in search of false riches.
Lithiarre set about finding a place in which to occupy himself in his favourite pastime – sleeping. Kintyre sighed. But there was really nothing to do as a wild petpet except eat, sleep and battle it out against the elements.
Crack! Lighting forked the sky, impaling a murky grey cloud. Kintyre jumped, Quaz twitched and Lithiarre dozed peacefully on a bed of ferns. Kintyre glared at him. How on Neopia did he always manage to sleep during things like this? The Antwerph shuffled around in the dark, which was only occasionally illuminated with lightning, trying to get into a comfortable position.
Quaz suddenly lifted his head, his tongue flickering out instantly to taste the air. "Someone's out there," he hissed. "But I can't tell through all this rain."
Knowing how weak his eyesight was, Kintyre peered through a sizable hole in the wall where rock had fallen away. At first she only say the vague, murky shapes of the storm, but then they solidified into two beings. Two very large, very clumsy beings who looked liked pets.
She leapt back from the hole, eyes narrowed. "Pets," she growled.
Quaz nodded. "We should leave. "They've probably spotted the hut and want to shelter here."
"Like us," Kintyre commented as she proceeded to wake Lithiarre up.
"Like us," Quaz agreed dryly, coming over to lend her some help.
The Slogmok did not budge when Kintyre prodded him. She sighed in exasperation, then noticed that a wooden beam close by was almost like a ladder. Grinning, she climbed up as far as her weight would allow and tore a stone out of the roof. Water slowly seeped in, and Quaz moved Lithiarre so that it fell into his open mouth.
The Slogmok woke up spluttering and glaring. But Kintyre ignored him and ran to the collapsed wall. "We have to leave. There are pets coming."
At that Lithiarre was on his paws and following her. Quaz was not far behind. The pets were so close that Kintyre could hear them talking as they crawled into the hut. Then there was a loud crack, and the entire structure collapsed on top of them. The three petpets laughed until they heard the shifting of rubble and the growl of an angry pet reached their ears.
To be continued...