Desert Journey: Part Ten
Noel panicked. The mutant Skeiths were excellent trackers and could easily catch up to them. Without thinking, he pulled out his dagger and cut the rope from the rock. Holding on tight, Noel instantly fell forward as the rope swung to the other side. He slammed into the rocks with a loud thud. Large pieces of snow began to rain down on Noel from the impact.
Aria screamed, "Noel, are you okay!?"
"My shoulder hurts a little bit but I should be fine," he replied.
Noel began to pull himself up the rope, supporting his legs on the rocky cliff. He knew he had to hurry in case the Skeiths were fast approaching.
"Noel, you'd better hurry. The ice is cracking up here! The hook could fall off any minute!"
Not wanting to plummet off the mountainside, Noel quickened his pace up the rope. He finally reached the edge as Aria came over to help pull him up. Exhausted, Noel grabbed his hook from the ice and tucked the rope back under his cloak. The roars of the Skeiths were getting closer. They needed to move fast.
By then the sun had already set. The mountain was shrouded in darkness as snow began to fall. The brutal wind swirled back around the mountain, further intensifying the snowstorm and obscuring their sight.
"Noel, I know you are hurt, but we need to keep moving! The Skeiths have the advantage with their night vision and we cannot delay!" Aria pleaded.
The worn out Zafara sighed, "You are right. Hopefully this snowstorm will slow them down."
I hope luck is still on our side.
They quickly began to climb the path again. The night snowstorm furiously impeded their path as they scrambled up the mountain. Snow quickly covered the small stone carvings they had been using for guidance. No longer able to find the path, the Neopets stopped in despair.
"What are we going to do? The sun won't come up for hours and we cannot see where we are going," said Aria. "The Skeiths could be anywhere but staying would make us easy targets!"
Noel sighed. He didn't know what to do. Nothing had prepared him for this situation. The beautiful mountain he once admired from afar had now turned into a raging monster ready to bring the Neopets to their demise.
"Maybe we can find some shelter to protect us from this snowstorm and hide us from the Skeiths until morning?" he finally said.
Aria replied, "I guess. After all what other choice do we have?"
They continued forward, trying their best to stick near the mountainside. Another hour passed and as they came around the corner, the mountain began to diverge. Sharp snow covered rocks began to surround the duo from either side as their path grew wider. Eventually they found themselves in a large, steep ravine. Noel and Aria searched the edges for any caves or niches but found nothing.
"I can't go on anymore. I'm cold, tired, and we need to get out of this storm," whimpered Aria.
"Don't worry. We can build a makeshift igloo for shelter and hopefully the storm will pass by morning," said Noel.
They began to carve out snow from the ravine's edge, tightly packing extra snow to form a crude looking igloo. It was small but contained just enough room for the exhausted Neopets. Once inside, Noel began to pack more snow around the entrance to seal them from the elements.
Aria I'm sorry I dragged you into this.
Noel couldn't sleep. He was afraid the Skeiths would discover their shelter. Every so often, he could hear their roars but the changing winds made it difficult to determine their location. Not wanting to think about the monsters, Noel turned and looked at Aria.
She was shivering. The freezing temperatures were beginning to take a toll on her as she strived to get some sleep. He felt bad for her. She could be back with her tribe in the warm desert but instead she was with him grasping for survival. He should have never asked her to come.
What if the lost treasure doesn't exist? Then it will be all for nothing!
Closing his eyes, Noel tried to stay positive.
We are going to make it. We are going to find the treasure!
He continued to repeat those thoughts in his head until sleep finally came.
The storm had finally passed but it was not yet morning. Feeling somewhat rested, Noel dug a hole in their shelter and peered out into the open ravine. Stars glimmered in the night sky as Kreludor reflected moonlight off the snow. Across the ravine, Noel discovered another temple.
"Aria, wake up! Come look outside!" Noel shrieked with excitement.
Still groggy from the lack of sleep, Aria got up to join Noel. Her eyes widened as she spotted the temple.
"Excellent! Perhaps we will finally discover the treasure there!" she replied.
Before Noel had a chance to speak, the wind carried in more roars through the ravine. But this time, the roars were much louder. The Skeiths were finally closing in on them.
Aria looked up at the moon in fear. "There is still another hour or two before the sun rises. We are never going to make it!" she cried.
Noel knew she was right. The temple was just too far away and judging by the sound of the roars, the Skeiths were too close for them to escape. There was only one thing he could do.
"Aria, run. I want you to run as fast as you can towards the temple. Whatever you do, don't look back!"
Shocked, Aria replied, "But what about you? Aren't you coming with?!"
Noel lowered his head. "I will stay here to distract the Skeiths while you get to safety. If we both try to run, then the Skeiths will surely catch us."
Aria started crying. She knew the dangers of facing the mutant Skeiths. The roars grew ever closer.
"But this is your dream, your journey! You are so close to finding the treasure. You cannot give in now! I'll stay instead."
Noel shook his head. "No you are the much faster runner. Besides, I might be able to hold them off just long enough for the sun to rise. Go now before it is too late!"
Not wanting to argue anymore, Aria took off running. Tears flowed from her eyes as she fled towards the temple. After watching her slowly disappear, Noel turned back towards the mountain path and waited. He looked around the ravine. Near some steep rocks of the mountainside lay another sharp cliff obscured by mounds of snow. He quickly ran over. As he inched towards the cliff's edge, he noticed a small alcove just before the edge of the mountain dropped off again.
I could lure the Skeiths over this cliff...
Snow began to fall again. Noel ran back towards the path. He knew he had to act fast as the roars of the Skeiths grew even louder. As the snowfall picked up, three large Skeiths appeared around the bend. Noel quickly yelled in their direction.
"HEY! OVER HERE! COME AND GET ME!"
The largest Skeith roared in fury and began to barrel towards Noel. The others followed suit as Noel ran towards the cliff. Time was of the essence. He knew the Skeiths were much faster than him. Soon the monsters were closing in on him.
I must run faster!
The cliff was just a few feet away but by then the Skeiths had nearly caught up. Noel could feel their fiery roars down his neck. The largest Skeith swiped at Noel's red cloak. It ripped from the monster's claws as Noel dived for the cliff. At the same time, the Skeiths leapt in the air towards Noel. He rolled into the alcove and pressed hard against the cliff's wall. Unable to stop their momentum, the Skeiths plummeted off the cliffs into the depths below.
I did it. It's over!
Noel peered over the edge. The Skeiths had landed some hundred yards down. Soon the snow stopped as the sun started to rise above the horizon, leaving the Skeiths to whine and crawl away in defeat. The Zafara got up and walked back towards the temple.
The temple slowly inched closer as Noel made his way through the ravine. He could feel his heart beating faster and faster. This was it. He knew the end was near. Finally, he arrived at the temple's entrance to find an elated Aria waiting for him.
She ran over and hugged him. "You did it! I'm so glad you're okay!"
Noel smiled in relief. "We won't be dealing with those monsters anymore! Have you already gone in and explored?"
"No. I wanted to wait for you so we can find this treasure together. Hurry up so we can get inside!"
This temple was also carved in the mountainside but lacked the size and detail of the previous temple. There were no columns, no carved symbols. Only a small entrance graced the temple's facade.
The two walked through the archway. They came across a long, narrow staircase that twisted through the mountain. With no light to guide them, the Neopets relied on following the walls adorned with a few carvings. Walking up the stairs seemed to take forever as they anxiously made their way to the top. Finally, a small light grew from the darkness as they approached the end of the staircase.
Noel and Aria entered through the doorway. As their eyes adjusted to the light, they saw a grand room plated in golden embellishments. Solid gold and silver statues were scattered throughout the room. Numerous chests of gold, silver, and precious gems were filled past capacity. A burning fire pit in the center of the room reflected light off of the golden ceiling.
Noel began to cry tears of joy. He had completed his grandfather's legacy and now the journey was finally coming to an end.
A faint voice rang out from the room. "Well, well, well... looks like someone has finally discovered the lost treasure!"
Noel and Aria looked up. From behind a gold statue came an old desert Xweetok.
Aria raced towards her grandfather Geothel. He smiled and welcomed her into his arms.
"I am so happy to see you. It has been years and I shouldn't have left you," he said.
"Don't worry about it, Grandfather. I'm here now thanks to my friend Noel!"
The old Xweetok turned towards Noel. "So I have you to thank, eh? I ran into a blue Zafara once when I was still a protector of the tribe!"
The three Neopets laughed. Aria asked Noel what his next plans were.
He paused to think. Satisfied with the end of his journey, Noel finally responded.
"I think I am going home. I must pay a visit to my grandfather and tell him all about my adventure... our adventure!" he said. "But don't worry, I'll come back to visit. Who knows, maybe we can go on another adventure!"
I have reached the mountain. I have finally found the lost treasure...
A young yellow Kacheek made his way towards the old red Aisha's stall.
"I have come to find the ancient city in search of the lost treasure and I need supplies!" squeaked the Kacheek.
Amused by this new traveler, the old Aisha laughed and got up from his chair.
"My, aren't you a confident young lad. Well, you're a tad bit late! The ancient city Qasala is being rebuilt by the tribe of desert Xweetok and the lost treasure has already been found."
Stunned by this revelation, the Kacheek frowned. Noticing the look of defeat in his eyes, the old Aisha continued.
"Don't be upset! You can still visit Qasala and have your own adventure. But before you go, let me tell you a story about the white Zafara who discovered the lost treasure..."