The Found CIty:Part Two
"Would you like something to drink?" Jake asked.
Eliss and Jris were sitting at Jake’s kitchen table, and the Gympu was roaming around the kitchen, exploring all the pots and pans and the spice cabinet. The hut was decorated with various artifacts and newspaper clippings of Jake’s discoveries.
"No, thank you," Jris said. He looked uncomfortable, and hadn’t said a word since they entered Jake’s home. Eliss knew he was out of his element, but she thought he could have made at least a little more effort to be social.
"I’ll take some, thanks," Eliss said.
"So who are you? What’s your story?" Jake sat down next to them, holding two glasses of juppieade, a drink that was a tropical twist on lemonade. It was Jris’ favorite, and by the look on his face and the way he was licking his lips, he looked like he regretted not asking for a drink.
"We’re from Tyrannia, and we are on vacation," Eliss explained. "I like to travel, but Jris prefers to stay home in Tyrannia. But this time he came with me. He has a weakness for the beach."
She smiled and looked at her brother, hoping to include him in the conversation, but his expression remained the same, and he still said nothing.
"I see," said Jake. "So you think you’ve found Geraptiku again, eh?"
"I do," Eliss said. "And just so you know, I believed you the first time."
Jake looked touched.
"I’ve been called crazy myself sometimes," Eliss said. "Back in Tyrannia, everybody else but me seemed happy to be there. I always wanted to see more, explore more. Nobody understood why. I always felt so weird, like an outcast."
Jake nodded. "I’ve definitely felt a similar way," he said. "I knew there was so much to discover out there. Staying in one place never felt right. My hearts always wanted more. The thrill of the chase, the adventure, the discovery. I felt like I just had to have it."
He sighed. "Which is why I don’t know why I’m here right now. Stuck in the same old hut, talking to two kids and boring them with my life story. I always wished I had been able to adventure more. I felt like I wasn’t finished. But after what happened with Geraptiku, I’ve been too afraid."
"You don’t need to be afraid anymore," Eliss said eagerly. "We will go with you. I believe in Geraptiku. I’ll take you to the spot we found the Gympu. We can find it again! We can go back to the lost temple. This time, we will find the treasure!"
"You’d do that?" Jake asked.
"Absolutely!" Eliss exclaimed.
Jake, looking excited, opened his mouth to speak, when suddenly, Jris slammed his hand down on the table, standing up abruptly. Jake and Eliss jumped, and the Gympu whimpered, hiding behind a chair.
"Ok I’m sorry, but are you two crazy?" he asked.
Eliss stared at him in shock. "Jris, you’re being very rude," she said, her eyes sidling towards Jake, who looked taken aback.
"No Eliss, I’m serious," he said. "What you’re talking about is dangerous. If Geraptiku is real then you are facing a lot of danger. The temple? It has terrible monsters and traps and poison and it’s impossible to get out of there safely. And for what? So you can help this washed up explorer relive his glory days? It’s ridiculous! I won’t let you go."
Eliss looked enraged. She stood up to face her brother. "I don’t need your permission for anything. For your information, I want to do this too. And he isn’t a ‘washed up explorer.’ He’s somebody who understands what it’s like to want more out of life. And for once I finally have met somebody who gets it, no thanks to you."
"What’s that supposed to mean?" Jris said.
"You know exactly what it means!" Eliss yelled. "You’ve never understood why I want to do the things I do. You’re so happy to just do the same old things in Tyrannia all the time. Yeah Tyrannia is great, and I love it there, but I want more out of life! I want excitement. And you’re boring!"
"Boring?" Jris said, raising his voice as well. "I’m not boring, I’m responsible, which is something you know nothing about. Anna worked so hard to start that furniture shop, and she did it for us. You, me, Chili and Mae. She wanted to give us a good life in a nice place, and how do you repay her? By quitting he furniture store to chase your fantasy worlds. You need to grow up!
"Anna supports my dream," Eliss yelled defensively. "She only wants me to be happy. Which is more than I can say for my own brother!"
Jris glared at her angrily but said nothing. He knew he had no defense. Instead, he huffed, "Fine. Then go be happy without me. I won’t hold you back anymore."
He stormed out of the hut, slamming the door behind him. Eliss stood there, shaking, trying to ground herself. All these years of unspoken disagreements and misunderstandings with her brother had finally boiled over. A part of her wanted to chase after him, but a bigger part of her wasn’t ready yet, needing time to heal from the wounds.
Suddenly, she remembered where she was. She whirled around, noticing Jake sitting awkwardly in his chair, drinking his juice and avoiding eye contact. The Gympu was still hiding behind the chair, shaking.
"I-I am so sorry," Eliss stuttered. "I don’t know what came over me. My brother and I…Don’t always agree on things," she said slowly.
Jake barked out a laugh. "That’s an understatement!" he said.
Eliss paused. "My two sisters, Chili and Mae, they always seemed to ‘get it’ more than him," she explained. "Chili likes to play pranks on people. She’s fun and exciting. One time she even stowed away in my purse when I traveled to Kiko Island and jumped out to scare me when I trick to pay for some rock candy. She’s a fruit Chia, so she is only a couple inches tall," Eliss added as she noticed Jake’s confused expression. "And she loves to read, just as much as I do."
"And Mae, where do I get started on her," Eliss said, chuckling. "Mae isn’t even from this planet. She’s seen a world I have only dreamed of seeing. But she is very distant, always off in her own little world. Nobody can ever really reach her.
"I just get so frustrated at Jris sometimes. It’s like he doesn’t even try to understand me. And I can’t believed he called me irresponsible and crazy."
She grew silent, realizing she might be oversharing. But Jake didn’t seem to mind.
"Eliss, let me tell you, as a Neopet with a little more experience in life, I can tell that your brother cares about you," he said. "People don’t have to agree on everything to care about each other. As a matter of facts, sometimes our differences are what can really unite us. And when two people who care about each other are fighting, somebody has to be the one to take the first step towards forgiveness and understanding."
"Maybe," Eliss said, after a pause. She was silent as she considered this idea further. Maybe she should try to forgive her brother and see his point of view. Maybe there was some more validity to his perspective than she originally thought.
"But anyway, enough about that," Jake said, standing up and putting his glass in the sink. "I think it’s time for some adventure."
Eliss brightened, immediately forgetting her troubles. "Yes! Let’s do it!"
x x x
They stood at the entrance to the deserted tomb, holding torches. The tomb was old and decrepit, made of stone that was fallen apart and overgrown with weeds. In its height, the temple was probably very impressive. Now, not so much.
Eliss marveled at how they had managed to actually get here. The second they stepped out the door, the Gympu had run away from them. They chased after it, only to find it stopped short in front of a certain tree. It pawed at the tree anxiously, trying to send them a message. The tree opened a secret pathway to a tunnel. Once they emerged, they had found themselves in the lost city of Geraptiku.
The city was exactly how Jake had remembered. The huts were old and abandoned, they saw mysterious creatures roaming around the foliage, and there was evidence of ancient rituals and customs everywhere. Looking at it again for the first time in over a decade, he had started to tear up a bit. "I knew it," he had whispered to himself.
Jake had given her the rundown on the dangers and obstacles of the tomb. It all sounded very intimidating to Eliss, but she also knew that she had an experienced explorer by her side, which gave her some confidence.
"Ok, well, let’s go then."
Jake stepped forward into the darkness. Taking a deep breath, Eliss followed him into the unknown.
To be continued…