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The Adventures of Jake the Explorer!: Part Three


by aisha_enchantress110

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The Lost Desert

I have trekked miles over the hot, sandy expanse that was the Lost Desert; following the path that the Seti statue showed me.

      During my time in Maraqua my stash of Islandberries got very soggy, so I decided to make juice out of them - it was just as good and just as filling. I was running low, however, of the Islandberry juice AND water. "I should have been more prepared," I said bitterly.

      But alas! my goal was in sight. I squinted. The path of light that radiated from the Seti statue shone its beam on what appeared to be a ruined village. It wasn't Qasala; no, it looked even older than that city. "Jerdana's orb!! It must have been buried for THOUSANDS of years!" But what caused it to be uncovered NOW? By a small sculpture that I found in a hoard of the Drenched?

      Hm... no, that just can't be. There was a reason why I was drawn to that statue: Because the city it originally came from had risen from the dust - the Seti wanted to go back.

      I wonder how it got into the Drenched's hands to begin with...?

      Soon I stood before the opened doors to the long-buried city. I walked cautiously up to the entrance and stared inside. It's never good to rush into a dead village - which is what the place looked like to me. Ghosts and mummies could be lurking just around the corner.

      I took a step in, then another, and another, and then I was in the forsaken city.

      BOOM!

      And I was stuck there.

      “Oops... Well, now I’m in a pickle.”

      The doors suddenly closed on their own and I could see no way to open them. I'd have to climb over the city wall. But not now, there was an ancient village to explore, and treasure to find. (Might as well make a sandwich out of a pickle.)

      The intact adobes still had their furniture, and some even had bowls on the tables with food in them. "Did something sinister happen here?" I wondered; picking up a plate of dusty dates.

      Most of the houses were in disrepair; roofs caved in, chunks of wall missing, some completely flattened.

      "Ah, a market bazaar." The shops weren't any better than the houses, but I DID come across jars of interesting contents: scrolls, petrified Ummagines, exploded Baggusses (eww~) and a dark liquid of an unknown source.

      But what was the most interesting - AND puzzling - was that every single wall - standing or fallen - had writing on it. The very same dead script on the Seti statue. What Neopet would take the time to chisel writing on the entire walls of a large city? Not one space was free of it.

      I looked to the palace overlooking the city. The answer may lay within its halls and rooms. I weaved my way through the rubble and debris, heading for the royal structure.

      That's when I tripped. I picked myself up, yet when I glanced to see what I stumbled on, I gasped. It was a bleached-white skeleton. This place could still hold ghosts.

      I heard something like a loose rock falling.

      Or there could be mummies. "Mummies, I hate mummies." Even the thought of eating a Mummified Banana gave me goose bumps.

      I ran towards the palace. Perhaps I was going to a trap - full of mummies - but there was that prospect that maybe I was heading for safety. I skidded around a corner and suddenly fell back.

      "What?" a voice cried with anger.

      I steeled myself for whatever danger I had rammed into.

      The creature, garbed in princely attire, turned around and glared straight at me. It was a mummy after all! Okay, it HAD been.

      "Prince Jazan!"

      "Who are you?" the prince demanded.

      I dusted myself off. "Jake. I'm an explorer and adventurer. What are you doing here, if I may ask?"

      Jazan put his nose in the air. "I had hoped you were Tomos - " He was going to say more, when a lovely pink Ixi dashed up to him.

      "Jazan! THERE you are. I was wondering where - Oh?" She saw me then. "Hey! I know who you are!"

      I bowed. "Nice to meet you, Princess Nabile. What is this about Tomos? Isn't he that red Lupe thief?"

      "He's a very good friend of mine," Nabile said.

      "Why are you looking for him?" I asked. "Is he lost?"

      "We are all lost," Nabile said. "Even you. For you see, this city - "

      "Is cursed," Jazan finished forebodingly. "And I know a cursed city when I see one."

      "Cursed? Like how?" I asked.

      "We don't know the whole story, but once you come into this city, you can't get out," Nabile said.

      "Ca-can't get out?" I slapped my forehead. "And here I thought I could simply climb the wall - wait, have you tried to do that yet?"

      Nabile nodded.

      "We attempted to scale the city's wall," Jazan said, "However, we came to an invisible barrier."

      "Like a bubble or dome," Nabile added.

      "It is somewhat like what I did - shamefully - to Sakhmet; yet instead of this place disappearing and going to another dimension, it just stays right here. It's puzzling."

      I thought a moment. "Not as puzzling as you might think. In my travels to uncover Neopia's many secrets, I have come across temples and other structures that lead a Neopet in - but doesn't let them out. Of course, a village is a little bit different; but whatever it is, it's most likely caused by a magical object. We find the item, we break the spell."

      "It can't be that simple," Nabile objected.

      "Definitely not," Jazan agreed.

      "Either way, we still need to locate Tomos, that rascal," Nabile said.

      Prince Jazan snorted. "He is the one that got us into this."

      Nabile laughed. "Oh, Jazan, you know that's not true." She turned to me. "Five days ago Jazan and I got a report about an old city that had recently revealed itself under the sand. As soon as we could, we set out to investigate. I decided to take Tomos with us because we had always been a good team: first as thieves, then as puzzle-solvers. We had every intention of going into the city, but Jazan felt something abnormal about the place. He wished to check around the outside first. Tomos saw a ruby pebble sparkling in the ruined street before the gates, though, and immediately dashed for it. Jazan and I ran after him -"

      "And we have been stuck in this place ever since," Jazan said.

      "And you haven't found Tomos?" I asked.

      "Oh no, we didn't lose him then," Nabile said. "It was just a while ago - he went after something shiny again, but this time - POOF - he disappeared. I'm very worried."

      "Excuse me," a new voice said.

      I turned around and almost screamed. "It's a mummy!"

      "I beg your pardon!" snapped the undead Uni.

      "That is Nightsteed," Jazan said. "He may have a gruesome appearance, but he is my loyal friend."

      "Ah, the curse you and the whole of Qasala were under." I nodded. "So why didn't you change?"

      "I didn't need to," Nightsteed said. "I was - and am - quite happy the way I look. Changing wouldn't matter a bit. Now, Lord Jazan, about Tomos. I believe I know where he is."

      "Show us the way then, please!" Nabile said.

      ***

      Nightsteed led us right up to the steps of the grand palace. There Tomos stood, eating an apple and staring up at the edifice. Nabile gasped with relief and Jazan strode up to the Lupe and said: "Is that one of our rations?"

      Tomos looked up at the Kyrii. He gulped; though maybe not in fear. "Yeah, you want it back?" He offered the apple to the prince.

      Jazan eyed the chewed piece of fruit with passionate disgust. Not only did it have a slimy bite out of it, I heard Kyriis absolutely hate apples - for some reason or another.

      Tomos shrugged, ate the rest, and turned to me. "Oh, hey, who's this?"

      "This is Jake," Nabile said. "He's a well-known explorer. I'm hoping with the brains we have now, that we can figure a way out of this city."

      We took a seat on the steps and I asked Nabile all that she knew.

      "I'm really good at solving riddles, but I can't seem to understand the strange script on all the walls - only that it APPEARS to be a spell. If it IS a spell, then that could be what has cursed this city, or it could be a protective spell that either didn't work - or worked TOO well.

      "There's a tablet up by the doors to the palace. It's a riddle, but it's driving me mad that I can't figure it out.

      "Jazan might know more - in the sense of what he feels in the city. If we can't find the answer, our fate is doomed to be the same as the white skeletons that litter the streets."

      "Geez, Nabile, loosen up," Tomos said. "We won't die here."

      "True." Jazan stood. "As long as you stop chasing after pretty, sparkly things."

      Tomos growled. "The habit saved my life a couple of times - it may have gotten me in trouble, but it has definitely helped me out once or twice. It still might."

      I stepped in. "Let's see this tablet."

      The tablet, carved to look like an unfurled scroll, was by a large statue of a long forgotten king.

      "You can read this?" I asked Nabile.

      "Nabile has always been good at reading weird writing," Tomos said. "And now that she has a royal library to study in, she knows even more."

      "I'll read it for you," the Ixi offered. She stepped up to the statue and read the old script with great ease:

      By purple stones and tiny clouds,

      Bring to sky gems you vowed.

      The Anubis stands guard by day,

      The Seti hides in shadows black.

      Time is still during the moon's ray,

      Eternity glides round, going back.

      By shards of yesterday, seeded in truth,

      Bring to me the tears of youth.

      Nabile looked at me. The expression on her face said ‘lost’. “At times it makes sense, but then it throws in nonsense. It’s like a part of what we need is missing.”

      I thought about the riddle. But what was really bothering me was the statue of the nameless king. On one side of him was a silver Anubis. To its left was a rectangular indent where it looked like something had been. If that was true, though, where was it now? Someone couldn’t have stolen it and got away.

      Or could they?

      I took my Seti statue out. Its base was the exact shape as the indent. Did this figure let whoever had taken it escape the cursed city? No. It didn’t let me leave. Hm, curious.

      I placed the Seti in the hole.

      That’s when I noticed the missing amethyst eye.

      Nabile gasped. “We WERE missing something! Where did you find that, Jake?”

      “The Drenched - three evil water faeries. I have no idea where THEY got it.” Maybe whoever got a hold of it went to sea and the Drenched sank his ship... “The purple stones could be the Seti’s eyes - one is gone, however. Did anyone find an amethyst lying around in the streets?”

      The others turned to Tomos.

      “What?” Tomos asked. Yet he dug into his pocket and produced a purple gem.

      Tomos, grudgingly, put the eye in its rightful place. “Now for the ‘tiny clouds’. What could those be?”

      “Probably more stones,” I said.

      Nabile nodded. “Opals.” She pointed to the eyes of the Anubis. “When the sun shines through clouds, sometimes they sparkle like opals.”

      “It’s true in the Lost Desert,” Jazan agreed.

      “So now we need gems we’ve vowed,” Tomos said, “and bring them to the sky. None of us have wings, how do we accomplish THAT?”

      “I am sure it doesn’t mean to bring the gems to the real sky,” Jazan told the Lupe.

      “Gems we’ve vowed...” Nabile murmured. “Ha! My wedding ring!”

      “What!?” Jazan turned to Nabile with alarm.

      “My wedding ring is a vow,” Nabile said. “We can use that.”

      “But...” objected Jazan.

      Nabile placed a hand on his. “It will be all right. Trust me.” She took her ring off. Its small jewels caught the light of the sun. “Now, what is considered the sky?”

      “I believe this statue of a king is what the riddle is all about,” I said. “So...” I looked for something that could represent the sky. I found it: the staff the king held, etched with stars and suns, pointed towards the sky. It looked like it once had an ornamentation atop it, but it was gone, leaving a dish-like indentation. “Here, put your ring here.”

      Nothing happened.

      “Now what?” Nightsteed asked.

      “Now it gets confusing,” Tomos remarked. “We have the Anubis, and now the Seti, but what’s this about time and eternity?”

      Nabile began to walk back and forth, thinking.

      I examined the statue once more. I believed the first part: ‘Time is still during the moon’s ray’ meant you couldn’t get the magic to work at night. So the key was to find what represented eternity and turn it - whatever IT was - back round. Nabile and I both put our hand on an hourglass, whose top and bottom had the symbol for eternity: a figure 8 fallen on its side. We exchanged looks and nodded.

      “Before we start the sand moving,” Nabile said, “we should figure out what the last part means. I have a feeling they need to be done at the same time.”

      Good idea, Nabile.

      “Seeded in truth, we need some youthful tears,” Tomos said. “So who’s gonna cry?” He looked at Jazan. “It definitely can’t be you, you’re two hundred-some-years too old.”

      “I never volunteered!” snapped the prince.

      However, the idea was an intriguing thought. ‘By shards of YESTERDAY, seeded in TRUTH; Bring to me the tears of YOUTH.’ Prince Jazan must’ve had a sad childhood, what with a father like Razul... Hoping not to be banished, I voiced my opinion: “Actually, I believe it SHOULD be Prince Jazan.”

      Everybody gave me shocked or angry looks; especially the Nightsteed. I inched away from him.

      “Hear me out, please,” I said. “Think of the riddle. The shards of yesterday could be Jazan’s past - when he was YOUNG, when the curse was placed on him by Razul. By this, from the TRUTH of the HEART, these tears from his youth should be shed.”

      “I will not cry,” Prince Jazan said. “That is all past; there is no reason for such an act.”

      “Your pride is getting in the way, Prince,” I said. “I am sure the past still haunts you. Facing that fact could set not only your SOUL free, but us as well - from this dreadful place. Please reconsider.”

      “I cannot reconsider,” Jazan said honestly. “You are wrong. My old past does not haunt me. It is nothing but distant history; I don’t even feel as if it was MY past. I am happy now. I truly have nothing to cry over. I am sorry, Sir Jake.”

      I sighed. Oh well, it couldn’t be helped.

      “Wait a minute.” Nightsteed stepped forward. We all turned to the Uni. “I will do it.”

      “HUH!?!” all of us uttered at once.

      “Perhaps it is why I never fully recovered from Razul’s curse, but I have a bit of my past that I wouldn’t mind crying over,” the Nightsteed said; laughing, I think. “I was, and am, Jazan’s friend. I suffered all those years along with him; his pain was MY pain. Which is why I will cry FOR him, as well as myself.”

      “Nightsteed...” Jazan said. “You don’t have to do that.”

      The Uni shook his head. “Yes. Yes, I do. I WANT to. This is my chance to really put the past behind me. I don’t mind, Jazan.”

      “...All right. Nightsteed, you are a TRUE friend,” Jazan said.

      Nabile nodded. “Ready, Nightsteed?” She put a hand on the hourglass.

      “Yes,” Nightsteed said.

      “This is going to be weird; the gruesome Nightsteed crying,” Tomos remarked.

      The undead Uni snarled in the Lupe’s direction. Tomos backed off.

      Nabile tipped the hourglass and the sand began to fall.

      The Nightsteed just stood in front of the king’s statue. I suppose he was trying to capture those sad memories of long ago; but if he didn’t hurry up, the sand would reach the bottom.

      “Maybe I should kick him,” Tomos suggested. ‘That might make him cry.”

      “Don’t you DARE,” Nabile and Jazan warned.

      Finally, though, the Tears of Youth were shed upon the offering bowl set before the Forgotten King.

      Suddenly the hourglass began to spin: backwards, forwards, backwards, forwards. Faster and faster and faster. Then -

      CREAK~

      “Did that do it?” Tomos asked.

      Only, it was the palace doors that opened.

      “All that work just to get into the palace?” Nightsteed was appalled.

      “I’ll go check to see if the gates have opened,” I said.

      They were still closed.

      “Ooh, hey, I see something shining in there,” Tomos said as I reported back with the bad news. The Lupe was about ready to dash inside the palace when Nabile grabbed him.

      “Oh, no, you don’t,” she said. “I may not blame you for getting us trapped in this cursed city, but I’d for certain blame you for setting any more traps off.

      “We can’t just barge in.”

      “Why not? The way out of here is probably in THERE,” reasoned Tomos.

      “I have to admit,” Prince Jazan said, “that Tomos is most likely right in this instance. Opening the way into the palace was only the first step.”

      Nightsteed sighed. “Curses of the Lost Desert must have SEVERAL steps. Why can’t they ever be simple?”

      There was no answer to that, except to brave the palace for whatever would be next. Thankfully the doors didn’t close on us. Still, inside was dark and the strange blue, glowing pool up ahead didn’t shed much light. Tall columns, on both sides of us, could be seen, but it wasn’t until we lit the torches that we saw we were in a vast throne hall.

      I immediately went to examine the hieroglyphics on the pillars; Tomos frowned at the pool (it wasn't the shiny treasure he had hoped for); Nabile and Jazan went over to the throne; and the Nightsteed wandered the room.

      "There's another tablet here, with another riddle!" Nabile exclaimed.

      I ran to join her. In the shadows I saw two monster-size Setius (a Zafara in a Seti-inspired mask) on either side of the gilded throne; and there, in the throne's seat, was a small tablet.

      "Of course there's another riddle." Tomos sighed.

      Nabile read:

      Do you seek knowledge, lost?

      Then battle the guardians for the cost.

      Dive deep into the pond,

      Gather what is bond.

      Bring to Moon, the pieces scattered,

      Find the word that mattered...

      "And then there's this really strange word," the Ixi told us. "Neo-xurof-fatou-tonno-reiyei..."

      "THAT'S a word?" Tomos asked.

      "It could be an incantation," Jazan proposed.

      "Then perhaps it's the word that 'mattered'," Nightsteed suggested.

      It all, somehow, sounded wrong to me. The words were too foreign to be of the Lost Desert, and it made no sense as a single utterance...

      "We should figure out the first part," Nabile said.

      The floor began to shake, and a sound, like stones and rocks moving came to our ears. We all looked up at the Setius. Yheir eyes were aglow - and they were staring at US!

      "Uh-oh..." Nabile's and Tomos's thoughts were the same.

      "Maybe it WAS an incantation," I said, "to call forth THEM!"

      Jazan leapt in front of Nabile. "Run, Nabile. I will dispose of them."

      I took my whip and dagger out. "So will I!"

      "As if I'm going to just leave you, Jazan," Nabile said stubbornly.

      "Yeah! We can help too," Tomos said.

      The Setius took their staffs and aimed their sharp ends at us. My whip snapped the air, and as one statue fell, Jazan shot it with a blast of his magic. One down, one to go.

      "Ahh!" Nabile let out a small scream.

      Jazan swung around. "What is it, Nabile!?"

      "We couldn't leave if we wanted to," Tomos said. He pointed to two more Setius guardians that had come to life by the palace doors.

      What would be next? That statue of the ancient king coming to life?

      No, it was a lot worse.

      After the five of us worked together to defeat the Setius, from hidden nooks... THEY came. Moaning and groaning, and trailing their dusty wraps behind them.

      "Those are REAL mummies, aren't they?" I asked Nightsteed. We were back-to-back.

      "Mm, I'm afraid so."

      "I hate mummies..." I muttered.

      Tomos readily tackled one; Nabile grabbed one of the mummy's cloth and unwrapped it 'til it was a broken skeleton; Nightsteed trampled on others; and Prince Jazan zapped away. And what was I doing? Just standing there, frozen in fear AND disgust.

      I mentally slapped myself. "Come on, Jake the Explorer, face your fears like a brave Kougra!" I ran around yelling wildly, but there was no one to fight - except the Nameless King.

      There he stood, wrapped up in not only bandages, but a rich robe of blue- and red-trimmed white linen. On his head was a Khnum-style mask. Taking the mask off revealed a surprisingly handsome face of a Gelert.

      "You have defeated my guardians," the Gelert said, stunning us all. "And so you are worthy of your questions asked."

      "All right then, who are YOU, and how do we get out of this city?" Tomos stepped forward.

      "Not so rude, TOMOS," Nabile hissed in the Lupe's ear.

      The Gelert came right up to us. "I am King Pajah. I ruled this kingdom over two thousand years ago - give or take. You cannot leave, for the spell my brother put on this city. He was a great magician in his time; yet I blew him off. I was having some problems with a greedy lord of a nearby city, Ranni offered to help, but I was too proud - too full of myself. I banished my brother from the kingdom for even suggesting I needed his powers. Ranni came back, though, and in his anger he placed a spell on my kingdom: a No Escape Spell. Those who came in could never go past the city gates. The kingdom promptly fell as word spread of the cursed city.

      "And as the last of us passed away to be forgotten, the city was covered by the sands of time..."

      "And brought back to the surface because I found that gold Seti," I said.

      "And so we're stuck?" Tomos stated more than asked.

      King Pajah considered something a moment. "Well- there is a WAY. To not only escape, but to free my kingdom - though it be lost anyway. Ranni created a loop hole in his spell, if you can solve it then you are free to go. Unfortunately, I could not figure the riddle out - but YOU might..." He put his mask back on and vanished into his crypt.

      Nabile turned to the thrown, where the tablet still rested. "Well, we've already finished the first part of the riddle." She looked, then, to the glowing pool. "Now for the second part."

      I wondered if we could really solve a two-thousand-year-old mystery. Then I chided myself. Of course we could. We HAD to. Our very lives depended on it.

      At the bottom of the pool were various objects: an Osiri-style urn (they had those 2000-years-ago?), a puzzle box, a figurine of a desert princess, and a big crystal gem.

      "Which one is it that we dive for?" Nightsteed wondered.

      Tomos naturally grabbed the jewel, but Nabile told her friend it had to be 'bonded.'

      "So? What does that mean, exactly?" the Lupe questioned.

      Jazan kneeled down at the edge of the pool, to get a better look. "The small statue could be considered 'bonded', because some of the pieces appeared to be glued on... But - " He pulled one of his long sleeves up and reached into the blue pond. "I wager it means THIS." He held the puzzle box. Drops of glowing water dripped from it, and I wondered: WHAT was IN that pool?

      "Remember the third verse?" Jazan said then. "'Bring to Moon, the pieces scattered'? It wants us to break the bonded object up - and wouldn't it feel odd to bring shattered pieces of an urn or figurine?

      "Not only that, each of the cubes of this puzzle box has an ancient letter etched into it, once scattered they probably form a magic spell that could break the No Escape Spell."

      "Oh, Jazan, you are BRILLIANT," praised Nabile. She got down and hugged him; and the prince looked very pleased with himself.

      Tomos snorted. "We would of figured it out soon or a later. Right, Jack?"

      "That's JAKE." And yes, I am sure I would have guessed what Prince Jazan had. Though treasure-eyed Tomos? Maybe.

      Back to the prince and princess, Jazan was staring oddly at the puzzle box.

      "What is it?" I asked.

      Jazan sighed. "It's a puzzle box, all right - I can't figure out how to take it apart."

      "Throw it on the ground?" Tomos suggested.

      "Definitely not! It could break!" Nabile said.

      "Don't we WANT it to?" Tomos inquired.

      Nabile looked to Jazan, Jazan looked to me.

      "It MIGHT work." I shrugged.

      Jazan lifted the box high up.

      "You better hope this works, little Lupe," Nightsteed said to Tomos.

      Tomos made a face at the Uni. "King Rajah - whatever his name was - probably tried to figure the box out intellectually. He most likely never thought about throwing it. Smashing it, maybe, out of frustration, but he never did. And so he never solved the riddle."

      Jazan then threw the puzzle box on the smooth, marble floor. CRASH! And the pieces definitely scattered. Nabile at once scrambled to gather the cubes up. She laughed. "It really DID work!"

      But now was the hardest part of the riddle left: finding the 'word that mattered', and making sense of Neoxuroffatoutonnoreiyei. It was a good thing I had my Islandberry juice. For three days we poured over the clue, pulling our fur out for the answer. And yet, though I know it was low, my Islandberry juice never went down; and there was always enough for all of us. Though not everyone appreciated it...

      "Ick! Get that stuff away from me, I need something more substantial than that sticky, gooey juice," Tomos told me, on the third day of our Riddle Ordeal.

      "Well, just take a look at my tongue," Jazan said, "it's purple! And I fear I have lost all my taste buds."

      "It can't be helped," Nabile said. "Without Jake and his juice, we'd be starving by now."

      "I don't think I have taste buds anyway," Nightsteed remarked.

      Ungrateful Meepits! They act like Islandberries are horrid!

      "Let's just face it," Tomos said, "we're never getting out of here..." He sat on the floor - like all of us - in the vast entrance hall of the palace, hugging his knees.

      "You are giving up?" Prince Jazan asked.

      "Nothing more to do - the riddle is impossible!"

      Nabile shook her head. "It is not. The answer is probably simple, just like the puzzle box. Some things are harder to see when they're right under your nose."

      Ever since King Pajah told us his story I've been thinking of it. The 'word that mattered' must be related to the time his brother set the curse in motion. It mattered THEN, in King Pajah's and Ranni's time, but it was never said, and thus the curse never broken.

      But what did that have to do with the strange and REALLY long word?

      By the light of the lamp that Nabile had found and lit, the answers came to me: simple, yet complex. And I cried out in a hoarse whisper of awe: "It's an anagram!"

      The others stared at me, then at the jumbled sentence.

      "And the 'word that mattered' was 'forgiveness'," I said.

      "I don't see a 'G' in there, or a 'V', nor any 'S'," Nabile said.

      "I know. What's another word for 'forgiveness'?" I honestly asked.

      "'I'm sorry'?" Tomos tried to guess.

      "Pardon?" Nabile said.

      "Let bygones be bygones." That was Prince Jazan's shot in the dark.

      "Exoneration," Nightsteed stated.

      A light turned on in my head.

      "That's it!" I sang out. It made perfect sense. Exoneration means to make blameless, to lift a burden, to forgive. And best of all, all the letters in 'exoneration' was in the anagram. Now to see what letters were left, and unscramble THEM.

      "What an amazing Kougra you are," Nabile remarked, watching me work out the anagram.

      "Thanks." What else was I to say? I was too busy to be eloquent.

      "It is a full moon tonight," the Nightsteed said. "It would be a perfect night to offer something to it."

      I think he was gently hinting that I should figure the riddle out quickly. I could use some help then.

      "I see 'offer' in there," Tomos said. "And 'unto'."

      I blinked. He was RIGHT. The letters left would be I, O, Y, U.

      I jumped up. "I got it!"

      The others cheered.

      Jazan picked up the cubes to the puzzle box and we ran outside.

      Kreludor was high above us.

      "May I have the separated cubes," I asked of the prince. "Thank you. Follow me!"

      In the middle of the city I raised the scattered pieces to the moon, and shouted: "I offer unto you, exoneration!"

      The symbols of ancient script began to glow. Then the writing on the walls followed suit. Suddenly the cubes spun in the air until they were a circle of a blurred edge.

      "Oh my... Look!" Nabile exclaimed.

      We all did. The script was peeling off of the walls, becoming symbols made of light. In one, long, continuous rope of words, the ancient script rose up and spun around the circle of cubes. Faster and faster both circles - small and large - went, until - BOOM! Thunder roared, the air wavered, the ground shook, and then all was calm again.

      The five of us studied one another, wondering if we had been set free from the cursed city. Without a word we dashed off for the gates, as if escape would only last but a minute.

      The gates were opened!

      Nabile hugged me; Jazan nodded approvingly in my direction; Tomos winked; and the Nightsteed snorted happily.

      As soon as we left King Pajah's kingdom, the ruined city turned to dust, and all that was left of it was a sand dune.

      Dang! I lost the gold Seti statue!

     ***

      To thank me, Princess Nabile and Prince Jazan hosted a party in my honor. I was very flattered, but it was hardly my sole contribution to escaping the cursed city of King Pajah. We - the smart Nabile, the wise Jazan, the observant Tomos, and the sensible Nightsteed - all worked together.

      "You are so modest, Sir Jake," Senator Barca told me. (All the important Neopians of the Lost Desert were at the party.) "If it was ME, I would drink in the praise. And those who slighted me...? Well, I would have to tell them who is the boss."

      "Um... yeah..." I inched away from the Acara.

      I found myself touring the long tables of exotic, delicious Qasala and Sakhmet food dishes.

      "Ah, Jake the Explorer," a fair voice said.

      When I turned around, I was face-to-face with the beautiful Princess Amira. I was not - nor ever will be - surprised that men from all over flock to ask the fair Aisha for her hand in marriage.

      "Yes?"

      "The king of Brightvale has been searching for you," Lady Amira said. "His messenger couldn't find you on Mystery Island, so King Hagan has asked the rulers of Neopia to keep an eye open for you; and if we came across your presence to tell you that you are needed in Brightvale."

      "King Hagan? Brightvale?" I asked. Lady Amira nodded.

      Well, then, I'd be off again, on a new adventure.

      However, to get to Brightvale... I will have to traverse the Haunted Woods...

To be continued...

Come back next time for another installment of "The Adventures of Jake the Explorer"!

 
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Other Episodes


» The Adventures of Jake the Explorer!: Part One
» The Adventures of Jake the Explorer!: Part Two
» The Adventures of Jake the Explorer!: Part Four
» The Adventures of Jake the Explorer!: Part Five
» The Adventures of Jake the Explorer!: Part Six
» The Adventures of Jake the Explorer!: Part Seven
» The Adventures of Jake the Explorer!: Part Eight



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