Jake the Explorer and the Ruins of Pyre!: Part One
I, Jake the Explorer - a rather handsome blue Kougra - was tending to my own 'List of Adventures To Do' (which was probably longer than TNT's To-Do-List) when an unsavory character entered my den without even knocking. He was a blue Gelert with a nasty scar across the right side of his face; his eyes squinty. I stood up, ready to kick the guy out, when -
"Hey. Name's Kanrik, I'm here for some advice - just advice," the Gelert said, and immediately ignored me to rifle through my notes!
"What...? Where...? WHO!?"
"I said I need ADVICE. And WHERE? It's about an ancient ruined city called Pyre. And WHO? I already TOLD you who I am. Kanrik. Shall I spell it for you?"
I boiled with rage. "EXCUSE me, Scar Face, for being a bit shocked. This is MY home, and here you have just barged in acting as if its your home-away-from-home. And stop looking through my things, I have everything in perfect order!"
Kanrik finally looked at me. "Fascinating, I didn't know the definition of 'perfect order' meant a mess of haphazard piles."
I growled. "Every neopet has their own definition of what's perfect. NOW, sit down THERE, good, thank you. What is this about the Ruins of Pyre?"
"Have you heard of it?" Kanrik asked, sounding more interested in what I knew rather than what he knew.
"Yes. As you mentioned before, it's an ancient ruined city; legends say it is somewhere buried under Roo Island."
"Ah." Suddenly the Gelert was disinterested in the subject. "Anyway, I need advice on what kind of traps to expect and how to avoid them. I was told by a reliable source that you know all about ancient booby traps and such."
"You plan to go to the Ruins of Pyre?" I asked. "Have you actually FOUND it?"
Kanrik played with a little Neopian globe on my desk. "No," he finally answered. "But I WILL find it."
"And you came here to ask me about booby traps? That's it?" I was insulted, I am no advice guru - I'm an Adventurer! An Explorer!
"Well... you know all about 'em, right? What kind of traps it might have. All ruins have them. I want to be prepared when I eventually discover the place."
"YOU, discover the Ruins of Pyre? Ha! That city has been lost for eons! No explorer has ever fount it, though it's been searched for. And you think YOU, a mere THEIF, can find it?" I recognized his face from an old wanted poster - the scar, his garb - and I know I heard the name Kanrik from somewhere. "You plan to plunder the ancient city, don't you? I cannot allow that."
"I no longer belong to the Thieves Guild," Kanrik said.
"Likely fib. Okay, REFORMED thief, what do you plan to do when you find the Ruins of Pyre?"
Kanrik jumped up. "YOU'RE tiresome. I just need some simple advice. You don't want to give it to me, then FINE. But I WILL find that ruin, you can be sure!" He stomped out.
Oh, YEAH? We'll SEE about that!
I've dealt with enough thieves in my days, and whether they be reformed or not - I won't allow anyone to plunder an ancient site!
Forgetting my 'Adventures-To-Do-List', I grabbed an already-handy pack of supplies and a few books on Neopia's history and ran after Kanrik
The Gelert was walking slowly away from my house, but as soon as he spotted me he picked up his speed. "Why are you following me?"
"I'M the one who will find the Ruins of Pyre," I said.
"Tch! You're a nuisance. I never should have come to you," Kanrik said.
"I feel infinitely sorry for you," a load of sarcasm in my voice, "TRULY. Are you telling me that you no longer need my advice?"
"ADVICE, yes. Help? NO." He was heading towards the harbor. "Why are you interested, anyway? The Ruins of Pyre aren't a part of the history of Mystery Island."
"I've been to other historical places outside my home island," I told him matter-of-factly. "It's about time I ventured out again. You can't stop me. I follow you, or you'll end up following me - if our goal is the same."
"Ew, are you suggesting I'd TEAM up with you?" Kanrik said.
We came to a long pier where a magnificent ship was docked. Kanrik jumped aboard - and I found myself following him.
"It would be an excellent way for me to watch you; to make sure you don't PLUNDER Pyre," I said. "Did you, by chance, STEAL this ship? Or do you consider it a temporary commandeering action?"
Kanrik poked his face from around a mast, into mine. "I'm RENTING it, Jake the Exasperator. The captain is in the cabin. I'm not sure if he'll take kindly to stowaways."
The door to the cabin slammed open and out came a neopet garbed to the hilt in gaudy pirate attire. And instead of growling "Arr!" at me, he gasped in little boy delight. "Jake? Jake the Explorer!?"
I groaned. For I knew this particular neopet. And he was no pirate. "Hello, Orpheus Draco, fancy meeting you here."
"Yay! Yay! Jake the Explorer is on MY ship!" Orpheus danced around me.
Ah, yes, my own little fan club, all in one little blue Shoyru...
"I didn't know you owned a ship," I said. "This is impressive."
"Thanks! I recently purchased it. The previous owner said it was haunted~ So I got it really cheap!"
"I'm going to sail the seas of Neopia as a pirate king!" Orpheus went on. "It's my long-time dream. I'm gonna search for treasure buried in long-lost, forgotten islands!"
"As long as you don't STEAL from anyone," I said. "Where's your crew?"
Suddenly I was surrounded by neopets: a green Acara jumped down from the rigging; a cloud Aisha exited the cabin; and a yellow Xweetok came around a corner.
"My crew!" Orpheus said. "This is my first mate," he drew the Aisha over. "Mermaid-Isca, we all just call her Isca, though."
"How do you do?" Mermaid-Isca said. "I'm here to watch over Orpheus, he can get a little crazy and reckless."
Orpheus crossed his arms, not liking what was said about him.
"I'm Char," the Acara introduced herself, with over-the-top excitement. She, too, wore pirate clothing; but it looked to be made from a designer company.
"And I'm Arpheo - hey, I know you. You're Jake!"
I turned to the Xweetok - and frowned. "And I know YOU. You totally humiliated me when I was on an adventure in Altador." I looked Arpheo over, he looked like some kind of punk rock bookworm; wearing a bunch of cool earrings; a nerdy pair of glasses; and a book of maps under his arm.
"I did? I didn't mean to," Arpheo said. "I - "
"Hey, captain, are we ready to set sail?" Kanrik said.
"Ah! Aye! Onward to Roo Island!" Orpheus said.
"And to the Ruins of Pyre!" Char added.
Kanrik glanced at me and smiled an evil grin, but said nothing; seeing as how the captain didn't mind THIS stowaway - that is, ME.
Captain Orpheus' ship, 'The Blue Delfin', was a wonderful vessel; it sailed through the waters like a knife through butter. I was seriously thinking that the tale of a ghost was true, for no sailor would give this ship away at the price of dirt.
But I tried not to worry and busied myself with reading up on the Ruins of Pyre. Supposedly, though the city was buried during Roo Island's ancient past, the ruins still remain under the island in a state of preservation. Stories say the ruins are a treasure trove of gold, jewels, and unique artifacts.
Kanrik interrupted my studies by coming into my cabin. "Psst! Hey," he whispered. "Come out here a minute," beckoning me.
"Huh? What do you want?"
"Just follow me, already." He continued to whisper.
Reluctantly I put my pen down. I feared I was about to get mugged. "WHAT?" I asked.
"Shh, keep your voice down," Kanrik said. "And LOOK." He pointed towards the front of the ship.
Night had fallen and Kreludor was in its full moon phase, washing 'The Blue Delfin' in eerie light.
I peered around the tall masts and saw something glowing blue-white, standing on the prow. "What IS it?" I tiptoed closer; Kanrik followed.
It was a beautiful Lupe maiden, in bright flowing white. Her simple dress and long curled locks waved ceaselessly, not at all in harmony with the breeze. She looked sad, as she stared back at us - or THROUGH us, to someone only she could see. Then she pointed ahead and spoke, yet I couldn't understand; her words were low and garbled, like how voices sound underwater.
Kanrik walked passed me, slowly to the prow of the ship. The apparition quickly looked back - then vanished.
"I wonder who she was...?" Kanrik said, sounding far from present time. I gave him a weird look. He didn't remind me of someone who would care about anyone.
Shrugging, I said, "Orpheus told me the ship is said to be haunted. I guess that was no rumor. It might be interesting to know who 'The Blue Delfin' originally belonged to, but... I need to go back to my research."
Kanrik followed me.
"And how much have you found out?" he asked me.
"Ha! As if I'd tell you," I said.
"Tch. Why don't we make it a competition when we reach Roo Island?" the Gelert said.
"What are you talking about?" I've already been treating it like a competition.
"I have an old text that gives clues to where the Ruins of Pyre lie buried," Kanrik said, "I can give you a copy and we can set off on our merry way - APART. Because, you know, I don't need to be in a team to find the ruins. Maybe YOU do, but I don't."
I stared hard at him. Finally I said, "What are these clues? Where did you find them?"
Kanrik handed me a piece of paper, then left.
"Hmph!" I examined the paper. "Hm... these clues are based from Roo Island's old geography. Geez, none of these even exist anymore: the King's Castle; Water Faerie Reef; Quadrapi Lagoon; Coffer Lake..."
"I can help."
I nearly jumped out of my fur, thinking that ghost had appeared again; but it was only Arpheo. The Xweetok offered his book of maps.
"I have an outdated map of Roo Island, when long ago it was a wild plain of warring kingdoms and little villages. See? Here's where the ancient King Rufus's castle once stood - that's believed to be the castle Count Von Roo discovered a hundred-some years ago. And this little cove, here, where the new dock now stands, was Water Faerie Reef."
Arpheo and I stayed up almost all night studying the old maps and comparing them to the current ones. By the time we parted ways, for what little hours were left of nighttime, we had made something close to a pirate's treasure map; red 'X' and all. Captain Orpheus would've been proud - if he saw it, which he wouldn't; because then he'd follow me.
I was awakened in the morning at someone screaming his lungs out. Falling out of my hammock, I grabbed my trusty whip and ran to see what the matter was.
"You can stop all that yelling," Kanrik told Arpheo when I came out on deck. "It's not going to hurt you."
'It' was another ghost; this time a rascal of a sea captain, in almost as ridiculous clothing as Orpheus. This ghostly apparition of a Yurble marched along the deck flapping his mouth and waving his arms here and there and everywhere. Just like last night with the maiden ghost, his voice was low and the words fuzzy - though it was obvious he was screaming orders.
"Yes, calm down, Arpheo," Mermaid-Isca said, patting the Xweetok's shoulder.
"Ooh~ it's a ghost!" Char came bounding out.
"This ship is totally cool!" Orpheus said. He espied his navigator - Arpheo - and snickered. "Kanrik is right, Arpheo, the ghosts can't harm you. Think of it as a charming trait of 'The Blue Delfin'."
"It's not something I'd consider charming," Arpheo said. Char tried to comfort him.
"It's quite ironic, really," Orpheus said to me. "He's absolutely scared of ghosts - yet his favorite comic series is Ghostkomorichu's 'Spooky'."
Arpheo jumped up at that. "That's not a scary comic - it's FUNNY! And I can totally relate to the Uni Echo and Komo the Korbat!"
Suddenly Orpheus was wearing a band across his head with a triangle on his forehead, for some reason - I think I've seen them on Shenkuu paintings of wandering ghosts. "Then why don't you become one of them~ Ooo~"
"Stop that," First Mate Isca said.
"Yes, please. It's much too early for these childish games," Kanrik said. He went up to the ghost Yurble and it evaporated into mist.
"Look! Look! Roo Island ahoy!" Char said.
We must've had a good, strong wind to move us forward; or supernatural help - Roo Island is normally a two to three day trip from Mystery Island.
I was pretty surprised when Orpheus decided to set out on his own adventures with his friends, rather than beg to follow me. Of course, I was GLAD, too. He was a good Shoyru, but he was also a lot to handle.
"So..." Kanrik casually looked my way. "Did you figure the clues out that I gave you?"
I puffed myself up. "I certainly DID. And I know exactly where to go." More or less.
"Well, then, maybe we'll see each other at the gates to Pyre."
THAT sounded ominous.
"No. I've already decided to keep an eye on you," I told him. "I can't have you finding the entrance before me."
"Really? Now you suddenly think I CAN find the Ruins of Pyre? I'm flattered, Jake the Exasperator."
"Stop calling me that. Let's get going. YOU first."
We went all over Roo Island, going by the clues and the map Arpheo and I made; visiting such places as the Merry Go Round, Harbor, Coffee Shop, Spring Shop, Souvenir Store, and beaches.
But the clues AND map turned out to be useless! I thought that each clue was a step to the next clue; like going from point A to point B, and so on. I had marked where the entrance was with an 'X', figuring that's where the final clue led. But we had no luck!
As Kanrik bought iced coconut coffee at the Coffee Shop, I sat outside on a rock and went over all the clues again. "The gate to Pyre wasn't in any of these places... Maybe that thief is tricking me... or HE was the one who got tricked into buying - or stealing - these clues." I stared at the map. Stared and stared. Then I gasped. "Squinty-eyed Aisha! Of course, that's it!"
"What's it?" Kanrik asked, joining me. "And why are you yelling about an Aisha and their squinty eyes. That's kinda rude." He handed me an iced coconut coffee and shrugged, saying, "The shopkeeper recognized me and thought I was going to rob her, so she gave me a extra coffee."
"Naturally." I took the drink, anyway; I love coconut! "I think I know where the entrance to the Ruins of Pyre are."
"Do you, now?"
The King of Thieves didn't sound like he believed me, but I'd show him. "Yes. These clues are locations that sit on a parallel line across from each other at different angles. Putting the rules of math aside, because you probably wouldn't understand..." I took a pen out and drew from one point to the next; now there was a giant, uneven spyder web on my map. "The gate to Pyre lies right smack in the center where all the points cross each other. See?"
Kanrik had a look and nodded. "I guess you were helpful after all. However... now that I know where to go... See ya! You can keep the map, I know exactly where that is!"
"What...? Why YOU...!"
The chase was on!
"I think Count Von Roo's coffin is close by here," I said out loud. The area was creepy, an undeveloped part of the island of swampland and moss-covered trees. "It definitely suits him. All right, where's that entrance? And more importantly, where did Kanrik go?"
I saw a blur of blue to my left.
"Ah-ha! There you are..." I ran after him, avoiding giant magtiles and crocalu that splashed in the muddy waters. "Pardon me, Mr. Scar Face, I believe EXPLORERS, such as myself, should enter first."
Kanrik was about to descend into a gaping hole. He stepped aside and glared at me.
I now saw the remains of a staircase; the steps were carved from stone, but age and time had worn them down.
"Hmph! All right then, be my guest, Jake the Excavator," Kanrik said, crossing his arms. When I scowled at him, he innocently replied, "What? I had to make up a new nickname for you after you banned the other."
"It's JAKE the EXPLORER. Nothing else."
"This 'Scar Face' declines to understand what you just said," Kanrik replied.
Arg! The Gelert was infatuating! Although... he had a point. Ah well...
I brought a little lantern out and descended into the darkness. The darker and more ancient the steps and walls looked, the more excited I got. What would I find? A city stuck in time, pristine since the day it was buried? Or perhaps a ruin so destitute that nothing is left of it except broken walls and cracked foundations?
Either way, I didn't care. An historic find was still an historic find!
I heard Kanrik's footsteps behind me, and I hastened my own, lest he decided to ambush me with a club over my head.
Of course, he could have just as easily konked me on the noggin at the end of the steps, for I just stood there staring in wonder at the Ruins of Pyre. They were glorious! An Explorer's dream. The city may not have been in perfect condition, but most of the buildings still stood in a state of fossilized decay - as if they were silently waiting for someone, ANYONE to remember their forgotten history and bring them back to their former glory.
"Are you done 'oohing' and 'awing'?" Kanrik wrecked the moment. "Let's go find that treasure!"
"THAT'S how you react to the ancient wonder before you?" I asked. "Has anyone ever told you that you're annoying? Hmph!"
"Normally those that do don't last long enough to see the sun rise the next day."
Together we wandered through the ruined streets, swiping old cobwebs out of our path. I looked all around me, the ruins had that spooky atmosphere that invited dried up mummies to appear. I tried not to shudder in the presence of Kanrik at the fear that image brought up. Brr~
Curiously, I lifted my lantern up to see how high the rock ceiling was and inadvertently scared a nest of batterflies. They screeched and swooped down on us, causing a crumbling arch to break; almost flattening Kanrik and I. The Gelert glared at me, then marched ahead; leaving me behind.
I stopped a bit to examine the smaller buildings. All of the houses still had their furniture, including pieces of now rock-hard food lying about on the floor. One odd thing that stood out were the tables: they were long, made of stone, and ATTACHED to the floor. Things like candles and rocks were lying on top. WERE they rocks? They kind of had the shape of garlic. Well, garlic WAS a staple food in ancient times...
When I stepped out of one house, it seemed Kanrik was now waiting for me. It was in a nonchalant way, but still... very weird behavior for him. Wasn't he annoyed by me? Didn't he want the treasure before I could get to it?
Pyre was a large city, it took some time before we spotted any sort of palace where treasure might be hidden in a trove. As I laid eyes on a great building of domes and turrets I got excited all over again. It had to be a royal palace, and whatever it held - even if it was devoid of material items - would be a sight to behold! I began to imagine fantastic frescos, tiled floors, and gilded moldings! Dry fountains, mute statues, and stairways leading to secret nooks that even in its heyday were seldom visited.
"Hey, why are you going so slow all of a sudden?" I asked Kanrik - the Gelert was practically walking on Negg shells!
"Shh!" was all he said.
Did he hear something that I missed?
Well, whatever the reason, we cautiously approached the palace. I saw a wide flight of stairs, first, peeking out from a building we hugged. And then -
"What in Neopia...!?" I gasped.
Standing at the top of the stairs, before the entrance to the palace, was Count Von Roo; in his grips was Hannah the Brave; and in the shadows around them both were hordes of bat boy petpets!
"Hannah!" Kanrik spoke in an alarmed whisper.
"What is SHE doing here?" I said. "Wait. Wait just a minute..." I stared hard at Kanrik. There were obvious tell-tale signs now - signs that he had been LYING to me this entire time! "You KNEW where the Ruins of Pyre were all along! You and Hannah discovered it together. But Hannah got captured by Count Von Roo and so you tricked ME into coming here! But... WHY?"
"You sure are noisy," Kanrik remarked. "Hannah told me to find YOU. So I did. Though I have no idea why. What can YOU do to help her?"
I was about to reply, when -
"Ah, I hear guests," Count Von Roo said. "Go, my bat boys, and bring them to ME! I Haven't had a good meal in ages."
Kanrik and I exchanged looks.
BIG trouble in little Pyre.
Thousands of bat boys flooded the wide stairs and HEADED towards us...
What will happen to Jake and Kanrik!? Will they get out alive and save Hannah? Or will they be forever buried in the Ruins of Pyre!? And what is Count Von Roo up to!? Stay tuned for next week's EXCITING conclusion!!
To be continued...