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Tales of the Plot: Lost Desert Plot


by triarthrus_eatoni

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     "Are ya done yet, Pepper?", A Werelupe called across the frozen expanse of the cave to a lone Shoyru.

      "I'm getting there!", The Jelly Shoyru yelled back, firing her Virtublaster 3000 at a lone Ice Skeleton in the distance, shattering it to pieces.

      The Werelupe jumped up into the air and crashed down against an Ice Skeleton which he was fighting. Though he did not side with the Thieves' Guild, he did appreciate the rewards they had for helping them. He carried with him a pair of Iron Lupe Swords which he brandished at his back in the shape of a crossed X when they were in their scabbards. Besides that, all he had worn was a tattered pair of blue pants and a Lupe Moon Charm given to him by his mother.

      The Ice Skeleton shattered into thousands of pieces at the impact which were sent sliding across the icy floor of the cave. He raised his head and turned to look at the Jelly Shoyru who had been zapping the different Ice Skeletons with dead-eye precision. The sound of ice shattering and clinking to the ground was heard all throughout the cave as an echo. She turned and smiled to him, which was her way of letting him know that she was done.

      "That ought to do it for today.", The Shoyru yelled out to the Werelupe, "You all done over there, Maxie?"

      "It's Maximilien.", The Werelupe replied flatly, "And yes, I'm done fer today."

      The Shoyru had been a Purple Jelly Shoyru who had been about four feet tall, though still maintaining all of the features of a normal Shoyru. She wore at her neck a Disco Neopet necklace which had the distinct letter N inside of it, as well as a white poet's jacket and a pair of blue jeans. At her sides were a pair of holsters which were capable of fitting her Virtublaster 3000s, as well as a large weapon sported at her back carried on a strap. It had been a QX-92 Neutrino Blaster. She had fixed it up so that it was a lot more durable and packed much more of a punch than a normal version of the weapon. Just beneath the blaster on her back had also been a tan backpack.

      Despite her looks, Pepper had also been an engineer -- capable of working on even the most complex of machines or technology. She had been about twenty years old. The Shoyru also had a love of riddles and puzzles, which she had been much better at than Maximilien, despite his education and intellect.

      Maximilien was very large, even for a Werelupe. He had been a staggering six and a half feet tall and had a tremendous girth. He was broad at the shoulders and narrow at the hip. Outside of his tattered blue pants and Lupe Moon Charm adorned at his neck, he had no other pieces of clothing. The only equipment he wore was his dual Iron Lupe Swords, which had criss-crossed at his back. There had also been a little leather strap between the two scabbards which was designed to hold a spear like weapon under the event he needed one.

      Despite his brute appearance, he had actually been a gentleman with a high intelligence and a good education. He had been older than Pepper, though she did not know his age. He had secretly been forty two years old. Despite the way he talked (as his father had been a pirate Lupe,) he had only the most astute things to say. When he stood up tall, he nearly hit the ceiling of the ice cave. His reflection had been everywhere on the side of the cave he was staring at, with many smaller and thinner and wider and taller reflections of himself wherever he had walked. When he moved, he almost slid across the slick icy caverns surrounding him.

      "Let's call it a day, eh?", The Werelupe called to the Shoyru, his words echoing across the cave.

      "That sounds like a plan!", Pepper replied excitedly, carefully walking across the floor of the cave to prevent from slipping.

      The ice caves themselves had been a swirl of mist which coalesced into the form of sheer sheets of ice which cascaded its brilliance and sheen all across the surface of the many different portions of the cavern. Thousands of reflections of everything which had been within the caves patterned themselves at the surface of the frozen liquid, which showed many different variations of what had been inside of it. Maximillien and Pepper had both been some of those objects, as the many different shapes and sizes of their own bodily reflections were seen dressed against the ebb and flow of the cavern's inner layers.

      A gentle trail of snow fell from the surface of the caves, which had been opened in certain parts to expose an outside blizzard which had been raining down snow heavily in the outer potion of the caves. A delicate mist rose from a lone section of the caverns which had held a hot springs within them, which Maximillien was tempted to drink from before Pepper gave him a look which told him that they should both continue onwards to make their way out of the cave. They needed to return before sundown to collect their part of the prize for their participation in fighting the enemies of the Thieves' Guild and it was not long before that time came.

      "That was fun, eh?" Maximillien grinned.

      "Not too fun.", Pepper replied coldly, "It's very frigid in here. I'll be happy when we finally get to leave the Ice Caves and get to someplace warm."

      "If the Thieves' Guild pays handsomely enough...", the Werelupe laughed, "We'll spend the rest o' our days relaxin' atta tropical isle, jes like dad got ta."

      "You always say that!", Pepper protested, "You always say how we'll get to retire and spend our time on an island, but we always end up right back where we started!"

      "Well....", The Werelupe started to ponder, "I think it'll be different this time. We'll definitely be findin' someplace warmer, eh?"

      "I hope you're right.", the Shoyru frowned, "I don't like this cold at all."

      The crystalline halls of the refracting icy caves resonated all around them with a glistening sheen found at the ceiling of the caverns. Different holes had been exposed at the ceiling which revealed the light of day. The entire host of the dens themselves had appeared like a mirror which had shone every single image surrounding itself, including other sheets of ice.

      The faces of the walls of ice appeared like a magnificent diamond which had many facets of the reflections of other parts of the cave all around it. Maximillien and Pepper walked through what appeared to be hundreds if not thousands of feet of ice caves to try to find their way to the outer reaches of the mountain. A corona of light appeared at the surface of the cave through the powdered snow which managed to fall through the tiny cracks in the ceiling, which concealed the fact that there had been a massive blizzard in the outside world.

      They eventually made their way to the exit of the caves, only to find that everything in the outside world seemed to be magnanimously different than it had been previously. As opposed to the raging blizzard they had expected as they walked down from the edge of the cave's entrance, they found that it was strangely sunny and that everything instead had been hot and dry.

      The moisture in the air suddenly disappeared, and before they could turn around and see what may have happened to the ice caves they just walked outside of -- they found that there was no caves to be seen at all. Instead of the majestic view of the mountaintop which would show them the whole of the village below, instead, they found that there was nothing but desert for miles and miles surrounding them. Maximillien tried to contemplate about how this could have happened, while Pepper just blurted out how she felt.

      "We're lost!", The purple Shoyru shouted, "How did we end up in the desert!?"

      "I don' know, Pepper.", The werelupe shrugged, "But it seems that we'll haveta look fer some form of civilization."

      The sky was dim red with a lighting similar to that of the crimson nocturne of the endless sun, coalesced in a shroud of clouds which wisped through the sky with a hushed hiss of the wind. The auburn cast of boundless sky carried off into the distance while the moon started to rise.

      It had indeed been the same time as it was when the pair had left the ice caves, though instead of it being Terror Mountain like they had expected -- instead, it had been the lost desert. As opposed to the brilliant sheets of ice which cascaded their hue across the spiraling walls of the caverns -- instead, there had been a vast emptiness littered across the sands which etched themselves nothing but the tide of the current of air which carried across the dunes.

      There had been many cacti of various shapes and sizes which were sprinkled across the approaching darkness of the night sky. Some had been short and stout while others were large and tall. In the distance, spires of sand rose up into the sky and swirled in the wind as several whirlwinds danced across the flats of the desert itself.

      "It sure is lonely here.", Pepper frowned, scuffling along the sands in her mountain boots, which had been quite uncomfortable in the deserts surrounding her.

      "I'm sure we'll find our way.", Maximillien nodded, trying to appear confident in front of his friend.

      The Werelupe and the Shoyru trudged through the thick sands of the barren desert and made their way through the night. Several scamanders scuttled through patches of brittle grass which appeared every so often as they burrowed their way into the ground and disappeared from sight. A family of wild Kepru pranced through the sands and left tiny pawprints behind them as they yapped and barked and ran off into the distance. One of them peered its head at a slant towards Pepper and gazed at her quizzically before darting off with the rest of its family.

      The Werelupe nearly stepped on a Pyon which raised its tail at him and hissed before crawling off into its nest which had been nearby. He winced as he realized what a nasty sting it could have left him, and sighed that he had been alright. Several Taweret had been standing silently as they imitated trees which had been surrounding them. The trees themselves were a sign of a nearby Oasis, which the pair eagerly ran to and drank from. It had been hours and there was no sign of civilization.

      "Maybe we should set up camp here.", Pepper turned to the Werelupe and nodded agreeably, "I think it would be best if we stayed close to the water for now."

      "Agreed.", Maximillien smiled, "We don't have any camping gear, so we'll have to make due with the soft grass."

      The Werelupe laid on his back and stared up at the many twinkling stars which had shone down from the sky above as Pepper laid on top of him. Though he appeared menacing, she knew he had a good heart and that he was similar to a great big teddy bear. She rested next to him and a little on top of him, as his thick fur made for a nice pillow and drifted off to sleep.

      Maximillien knew that if he had slept, he would disturb her and wake her up. Instead, he had simply watched the night sky and the many scarabug and Djuti and Horus which flew by through the air. He sighed deeply, it hadn't been a problem for him because he was nocturnal and he was used to staying up at night.

      The Werelupe watched the moon and reached towards his Lupe Moon Charm which hadn't been beneath the sleeping Pepper and clasped onto it. He started to think about his family, his mother and father. As he thought about his parents, he rested his hand across the Jelly Shoyru's back and held her near to him. It had been a long time since he had seen his mother and father, ever since they had mysteriously vanished.

      He remembered it like it had been yesterday. He had arrived home from the Krawk Island Academy, having been accepted for several years of training which would earn him a title similar to that which his father had. It would be a long time before he was as strong as his he had been, but he knew it was the start he needed. Not everyone was accepted into the Krawk Island Academy, and when they were; they usually needed to have an exuberant amount of dubloons to get in. Because he worked hard and showed what he was capable of, he was given a scholarship.

      He had been so excited to tell his mother and father about getting into the Academy, and he had felt for the first time that he would make his mother and father truly proud of him. He entered into the house and found that no one was home. He waited for hours, though night fell and his parents were nowhere to be seen. He began to worry, and searched all around the house. All he was able to find was a piece of tattered black and red cloth and a note which had been scrawled quickly. It simply read "Sloth."

      Maximillien's eyes shot open and the daylight had already been upon them. Pepper smiled and stood up, stretching out and poking her finger on the Werelupe's nose.

      "Morning, sleepy head.", The Shoyru giggled, "You've finally woken up!"

      "I didn't realize I'd slept.", Maximillien blushed beneath his fur, "How long was I out for?"

      "A couple of hours from what I can tell.", Pepper smiled, "It's okay. I didn't want to wake you."

      "Did you take a look around, aye?", Maximillien shook his head as he tried to wake himself up, "See anythin' worth lookin' at?"

      "No...", Pepper trailed off, "But I did find...this!"

      The Shoyru held out her hand and revealed what appeared to be a scroll, which had the emblem of blue reeds on it.

      "Keep it safe, eh?", The Werelupe nodded, "We may need it."

      Pepper nodded and placed the scroll inside of her backpack which she had worn to keep things safe inside of, which had a lot of space inside of. It had been ingeniously designed by an Earth Faerie so that whenever she placed an item inside of it, it would be held in a temporal state of energy which could be willed in and out of the bag. She could hold 50 or so such items inside of the backpack, though it seemed to only be able to carry just a few things.

      The Werelupe yawned widely and stretched out his arms, his back cracking in several places while he stretched out his tail as well. His appearance was quite foreboding to anyone else except the Shoyru, who knew that he was in fact a good Werelupe. Maximilien immediately dove towards one of the lone palm trees and started to shimmy his way up it as though it were a pole, making his way to the top and looking around with his hand over his eyes to block out the glaring sun in the sky.

      "There!", The Werelupe shouted down to the Jelly Shoyru, "I see it. Off in the distance. There's a city."

      "Wonderful!", Pepper shouted back to him, "Now come down from there. I don't want you to get hurt!"

      "Ha!", Maximilien leapt from the top of the tree and did a front flip, landing safely on the tips of his toes in a bow against his foot and his knee. "They don' call me Maxi the Nimble for nothin'!"

      "Yeah, yeah, showoff.", Pepper chuckled, "Let's go find that city. You lead the way."

      The Werelupe nodded and started to lead Pepper into the direction of the city he had seen. It had taken only a few short hours until they had finally arrived at Sakhmet. In the distance had been an obelisk which was etched in hieroglyphics and had a brilliant crown set in a gap in the middle of it. There were large pyramids out in the distance, some had been step pyramids with platforms between each scale of stone while others were normal pyramids which simply got smaller and smaller towards the tip.

      Sakhmet itself had large walls which were the same color as the sands and kept the inhabitants safe within. Pepper and Maximillien made their way towards the gate, which was open and allowed them to safely enter inside of it. The city was bustling with many different Neopians who were coming to and fro amidst the various shops which were present there. All manners of tents and stands of vibrant colors were standing at the side of the main road where Neopians talked and made their way around through in a large crowd.

      Pepper quickly darted past Maximillien as the Werelupe called out to her, but she had already disappeared in the large crowd of Neopians who had been walking in every which way. She had run into several stalls and picked up some items which she had wanted to purchase with some spare Neopoints she had and ran back over to Maximilien, displaying her dazzling new Lost Desert Tail Ornament as well as a Crook and Flail.

      "Looks nice.", The Werelupe cracked a smile.

      "Thanks!", Maximilien darted back into the direction of the market stalls.

      The Shoyru ran over to a stall entitled Sutek's Scrolls and walked inside, finding her way to the front of the counter and pulling out her scroll which she had found earlier. There had been a tan colored Nimmo standing behind the counter adorned in all kinds of Egyptian attire, which had been especially noticeable with the fancy eye shadowing that he had used. He had all sorts of gold jewelry as well, and was quite the sight to behold to the Shoyru who had never seen a Lost Desert Neopian before.

      "Pardon me, Sir!", She called out to the Nimmo who worked the stall, "Would you care to take a look at this? I found it in the desert."

      "You came all the way from the desert?", The Nimmo tilted his head, "You must be exhausted! Let me look at that while you take a seat."

      "Thank you.", The Shoyru bowed her head politely and sat in a nearby wooden chair which the Nimmo had gestured her towards with his hand.

      "Let's see here...", The Nimmo examined the scroll, "This symbol...It is named Djo! This is very important."

      The Nimmo walked over to Pepper and placed the scroll securely in her hands.

      "No one quite knows where these scrolls have come from, but you should be able to find information from the Mysterious Kau Fortune Teller outside of the city. She only comes out at night, so you will have to find something to do until then."

      The Nimmo closed the Shoyru's fingers over the front of the scroll and held her hands securely.

      "Take this to her. She should be very interested in it."

      "Thank you very much for your help.", Pepper smiled, "I'll tell...wait, Maximillien. I must have left him behind when I ran off! Thank you again."

      Pepper ran out the front of the stall without so much as looking back as she ran into the distance and bumped into the front of the cumbersome Werelupe who had been searching frantically for her. She fell onto her tail and gazed up at him as he helped her back up to her feet.

      "There ya are!", Maximillien brushed the back of his head, "Thought ya were lost!"

      "No, no.", Pepper smiled, "I found out what the scroll means! We can figure it out if we talk to the Kau Fortune Teller at night. She's outside of the city walls at that time."

      "Wait...why?", Maximillien gave Pepper a look, "Why do we need to know what this scroll does? Can't we just find our way back to Happy Valley?"

      "Perhaps this is a clue to why we're even [i]here[/i].", Pepper exclaimed, "Besides...I have to know! It may be very important. Why would you want to miss out on that?"

      "But...th'reward!", The Werelupe sputtered, "We've gotta find th'reward so we can find my..."

      "We'll find them...", Pepper smiled and embraced the Werelupe in a delicate hold, "I promise. But for now, we have to find out what this means. I just...have a feeling about it!"

      "Will do.", Maximillien smiled, "If ya think it's that important...I'll help ya."

      The pair walked through the different stalls and occupied themselves for the duration of the day until finally night fell and they found themselves walking to the outside of the city to look for the fortune teller. They walked through the gate at the front of the city when the sun had set and everything was darker and quieter. Very few people had been walking and the sound was silent. As they walked around, there was an air of something that had been peculiar. As though something major was about to happen. Maximillien could sense it with his keen lupe senses, but he did not want to alarm Pepper. They searched around the darkness with lone torches lit around the walls to guide people. In the distance, in the dimly lit caliginous umbra set between the weakened light of two torches had been a tent. It was dark in color and appeared a shade of blue as they walked inside of it.

      As they entered, they found a sleek pink kau who had a violet veil over her face who had instantly looked up into their direction. The ball she held in front of her was blue and swirled with an effervescent hue which seemed to constantly motion and swirl within itself with a radiance which appeared almost like that of a second sun. Mist seemed to coalesce from the ball which had been planted firmly within three brass prongs. Her hooves worked around the edge of the ball as though she had been guiding the energy within to find the solutions to her answers. The Kau herself had two gold rings around her horns and wore faint red lipstick. The Kau had also whad two pairs of earrings at the tip of her either ear. She had long pink hair which flowed past her shoulders and wore a purple linen which covered the whole of her body. Though she stared right at them, she had been sitting.

      "I've been expecting you.", She replied coolly.

      "Who are you?", The werelupe tilted his head curiously and gazed into the deep eyes of the Fortune Teller.

      "Who I am is unimportant.", The Kau smiled, "It is you, I feel, are important."

      "Me?", Maximillien asked curiously as the pair took a seat in front of the Fortune Teller.

      "Both of you.", The Fortune Teller nodded, "There is more to you than meets the eye. You are not from around here, are you?"

      "No!", Pepper blurted out, "We're not! We were just at Terror Mountain and ended up here! Did you guess that because you are a psychic?"

      "No.", The Fortune Teller laughed, "I saw your boots as you walked in."

      "What does this mean?", Maximillien took the scroll that Pepper had just taken out of her backpack and placed it on the table in front of the Kau.

      "Ahhh!", The Fortune teller remarked, "This is indeed Djo. It is one of twelve. Come take a look."

      The Kau Fortune Teller reached underneath the table and grabbed what appeared to be a large tablet with many pieces of it missing on the front. Several symbols had been present, including that of the reeds - Djo.

      "But what does it mean?", Pepper asked hesitantly, "Why did we find this scroll at the Oasis, and why is this symbol on the tablet?"

      "I cannot explain everything to you.", The Kau Fortune Teller shook her head, "I can only tell you that you must seek out the Temple of One Thousand Tombs. It is very dangerous, and it is deep into the desert."

      The Kau Fortune Teller reached under the table and pulled out what appeared to be a map, which she handed to Maximillien as she took the scroll out of his hands and tucked it away.

      "Be sure to bring a canteen of water for both of yourselves, and drink it only every hour or so. Travel only at night -- the desert sun is too bright and the heat will sap your strength!"

      "We will be sure to do that." Maximillien nodded, "We will leave tonight. Thank you for your help."

      The Werelupe and the Shoyru sat up from their seats as each gave a polite bow of their heads and started to walk out of the tent. Before Maximillien could fully leave, the Kau Fortune Teller called out to him.

      "Wait!", The Fortune teller shouted, "You will....you will find them again, Maximillien."

      "Find who...?", The eyes of the Werelupe suddenly shot open to their fullness, "Wait, do you mean...!?"

      Before he could fully turn around, the Kau -- as well as the tent which surrounded her and everything within it, vanished in a puff of smoke. They had been out in the open in the darkness of the night time sky between the torches as though she had never even been there.

      "I suppose we'll need a canteen.", The Werelupe nodded, "Let's go back into the city before the shops close.

      "Will do.", Pepper nodded, "I'm excited to find that Temple of One Thousand Tombs."

      The pair made their way into the city of Sakhmet and used what little funds they had left to purchase a set of canteens, which they filled with water from a large jug at the side of the stall. They also purchased a tent and camping supplies as well as food rations from various vendors. Maximillien made his way through the city in an attempt of finding the Fortune Teller, his curiosity piqued and his determination strong. Though he could not find her, and the pair instead made their way to the gate of the city again.

      "According to the map.", Maximilllien began, "It will take approximately three days time to be able to make it to the location in the desert.

      "We should get moving, then.", Pepper nodded, "It will take a lot longer if we don't get moving."

      The pair started their trek through the night of the desert with the familiar light of the moon resting upon them and casting its illumination like an aura against the shifting sands of the constantly moving desert. Winds brushed sand up against the pair as they used special scarves to keep their faces free of any of the dust which blew up against their bodies. The Incandescent sheen of the full moon above resonated like the Fortune Teller's crystal ball as it stood in its lonesome against the crest of stars situated up in the skies above. It had been late at night and only a few creatures had been seen scurrying about through the sands surrounding them. Every hour, just as the Kau Fortune Teller had suggested, they drank from their canteens as well. The canteens themselves had been very large and were capable of storing multiple day's worth of water for the pair. The glorious display of the iridescence of the rising sun rose into the sky like a fiery dance dressed across the sky which cast its flowing sheen against the redness of the sand. Many of the creatures stirred and started to peek out of their burrows as the sun had finally risen to its height. It was daytime. It was time to rest.

      Pepper and Maximillien took their backpacks off which had carried the much larger set of supplies and tent pieces inside of them and started to put them together. It took less than an hour to set up camp, and the Werelupe prepared a fire so that they could cook themselves some rationed food before they went inside to sleep. They fried themselves some Lemon Swirly Neggs which had a tart flavor about it and then quickly found themselves falling to sleep. Pepper had a harder time falling to sleep than Maximillien had, considering that the Werelupe had been nocturnal by nature and it was easier for him to fall to sleep during the daylight hours. While she attempted to slumber, the Shoyru started to contemplate something which had bothered her most of her life. She thought about whether or not she would ever fall in love, and who it would be with. She had a crush on several different species of Neopet which she had kept to herself, but she knew that when she met the right Neopian -- it would be from a place and a species totally unexpected to her.

      "I wonder...", The Shoyru yawned and closed her eyes, falling to sleep in mid sentence of her thoughts.

      Pepper found herself stirred to alertness when she was suddenly gently spoken to by Maximillien, who had been awake for several hours before she had been. She looked around and noticed that there was no light shining through the front of the tent and it must have been night time. She yawned and stretched out, looking around the insides of the tent to grab some food rations and lazily start tearing apart a wrapper to get some breakfast.

      "Hungry?", The werelupe chuckled.

      "Yeah.", The Shoyru blushed a little and started to eat the contents of the wrapper, which had simply been beef jerky.

      "We'll need to start heading out, soon.", Maximillien nodded, "Are you prepared?"

      "Of course!", Pepper beamed, "This is exciting!"

      After the Shoyru was done eating her breakfast, she and Maximillien exited the tent and packed it up into their backpacks as well as the other supplies before heading out. Though he did not mention it, the food that she had eaten was visible on the outside of her body which had been transparent. The werelupe's pack had been much larger than the Shoyru's, but Pepper had the special backpack which could store items within it through the magical compaction which allowed for the items to stay tucked away inside of it.

      The pair had travelled through the desert sands for what had been three days and three nights time exactly, the clouds above bustling their way across the heavens and the winds blasting them with pieces of dust now and then. It seemed to take a lot longer than it actually had, for the heat of the desert and the difficulties carrying their packs through the depths of the barren flats. On their final night of the journey, they came across what appeared to be a massive structure in the middle of the desert. The Kau Fortune teller had not misguided them in the wrong direction. Pepper dropped her pack from her back, separate of the backpack which she always carried alongside of her; the Shoyru's jaws dropped as she gazed on the massive structure in the middle of the desert. Maximillien had also dropped his pack just besides her own, realizing that it would be too difficult to carry the packs with them through the temple.

      Several spires of dilapidated stone stuck out of the pastel orange sands which surrounded the temple itself which had crumpled away with age and had been completely destitute. The structure in the center of the sands themselves had been broken away in many different places, etched with the erosion of the sandstorms which had eaten away through them. Though the structure itself had been attacked by thousands of pieces of dust which rocked against its surface in a tiny patter of a million tiny cuts; the Temple of One Thousand Tombs had been a sight to behold nonetheless. Magnanimous gray stone blocks and carvings were adorned on the outside of the building, at one time it surely must have been a magnificent sight. As though it had been sinking into the mire of the sands themselves and nearly collapsed under the weight of the eternal entropic design of the sandy world around them; the temple was half buried as well.

      Maximillien cautiously approached the temple and looked all around it, taking several inhalations of his nostrils to smell the surrounding area to detect any would be danger. Though he was unable to sniff out any trouble, he knew that there must have been something within. He looked at the front of the temple to see if there had been any clues, and he was only able to see the words etched above the doorway:

      "The waking dawn on the dunes, mouth of the river."

      "That's strange...", The werelupe thought aloud to himself, "Pepper! Come on, it's safe!"

      "Alright.", The Shoyrul yelled back to him, "I'm on my way!"

      The Werelupe pulled out a torch that he had taken out of his pack before he dropped it and lit it with some flint and tinder he had in his pocket. They carefully walked through the entrance of the Temple of One Thousand Tombs as they watched everything within it as cautiously as possible. There were many cracks on the various tiles and bricks which they walked through on the ceiling and the floor and the walls as well. Many Spyders crawled through the cracks of the walls and there were many scarabs crawling about behind the tiles as well.

      Their trek through the long passageway eventually led them to a foyer which had many separate doors. Some of them were opened already, while others were shut tight. There were all kinds of doors in front of them, of many shapes and colors and sizes. Some doors had only been large enough for Pepper to enter inside of if she had crawled inside of it, while others were enormous and allowed for the Werelupe to enter through with ease.

      "We shouldn't split up.", Maximillien nodded, "We should only head through doors we'll both fit through."

      "I understand.", Pepper nodded, "I don't want to get lost anyway."

      The Werelupe walked towards a large pentagonal doorway with a brilliant red orange sheen. The door itself could be seen through as though it had been made of the finest crystal, the many faces of the crystal reflecting different shapes and sizes of the werelupe in front of it. There had been a tunnel behind the door, and it was dubious where it had led -- the only way to figure it out would be to try. The Werelupe pushed open the door as it slid open and entered into the wall.

      "Let's hurry on.", Maximillien nodded confidently as he took a stride into the direction of the hallway. The Shoyru followed closely behind him.

      They walked through the hallway to find the skeleton of what appeared to be an Eyrie on the floor. They did not know whether or not there was danger up ahead, or if he had simply gotten lost. The Werelupe realized that he probably should have brought some rations with him in case the temple had been much larger on the inside than it appeared on the outside, but it was much too late for that now. The pair eventually found their way to a much larger room that had been far larger than the rest of them so far. Many Hieroglyphs of all shapes and sizes were adorned across the walls of the room, depicting many different bizarre shapes and symbols. Some had been the images of Neopians standing, while others were clearly the language of a long lost civilization. There were images, too, of wavy lines, Petpets, and all kinds of various animals as well. Maximillien walked over to one of the hieroglyphs and placed his large bulky paw against the wall, causing a tile to press inwards and a hissing sound to escape.

      "What did you!?", Pepper shouted, but before she could finish her sentence water started to rush into the room.

      "Run!", Maximillien shouted, "To the exit!"

      Maximillien and pepper ran as quickly as they could to the exit of the room where they had just entered from inside of it, only to find that a door had been starting to seal them both in. Water was rising as high as their knees even though it had been escaping through the passageway they entered inside of. Just before the door completely closed, the Werelupe threw one of his Iron Lupe Swords and managed to wedge it between the collapsing doorway and the ground. Pepper dove for the exit and found that she was able to roll underneath the door, while Maximillien did the same. He had to roll from his side and make his positioning with the walls perfectly symmetrical to fit inside, but he had done so. Before he left, he grabbed the handle of the sword and gave it a strong tug, causing the door to crash down and the water in the room to rise completely to the ceiling. It had been a close call, but the two managed to narrowly escape with their lives.

      "Are you okay?", Maximillien gazed at Pepper with a concerned look in his eyes.

      "Yes, thank you.", The Shoyru reached over and hugged the Werelupe, "You did wonderfully."

      The Werelupe realized that he had dropped his torch in all of the excitement, and he was only able to use the night vision afforded to him from his keen lupe senses to make his way back out to the outside of the room. As though some mysterious force had been aware of their need, he discovered a torch at the foot of the doorway that he had just entered from in the foyer of the many different doors. He used his flint and tinder to light the torch and decided to try a different doorway. This time there had been a large blue oval door which he gazed upon from the outside of it. His reflection on the front of the polished crystalline door seemed to reflect himself at different sizes based on the rounded edge of it. The door slid with a clack and pushed inside of the wall, disappearing as though it had never even been there.

      "We'll try this one.", Maximillien gestured to Pepper with his paw, a little less certain of himself than he had been before.

      "I'm not so sure I want to do this anymore.", The Shoyru demanded, "Why can't we just go back?"

      "I need to know.", The Werelupe nodded, "I need to find out what the Fortune Teller was referring to."

      "Okay.", Pepper smiled a little, "I'll try."

      The hallway had been far more dilapidated than the previous one, showing many more cracks and pieces of debris which had fallen off of the walls and ceiling. There was a nest of Pyons which had to be carefully avoided in order to make their way all the way down into the room. They eventually found their way into another room, this time it had appeared to be a smooth walled room with two walls which had large mounds on them. The Werelupe walked inside and started to look around, this time careful not to trigger anything in the room.

      "It appears to be a dead end.", The Werelupe frowned, "Let's go back."

      "I don't know what we're even supposed to be looking for!", Pepper replied while walking as she stepped obliviously onto a stone tile which set into the ground.

      The entire room started to buckle and creak as the walls with the grooves started to press inwards towards the center of the area.

      "Run!", Maximillien shouted, running past the Shoyru and trying to make sure he could secure an exit for her.

      Though instead of being able to find the way to the exit, the floor had completely fallen through. There was a large pit in front of him which had elongated spikes with several skulls perched against them at the bottom of it. Maximillien caught his footing at the edge of the floor where the tiles had still stood, but he found himself falling forward and into the waiting pit of spikes below.

      "Pepper!!!!", The Werelupe shouted out, flipping himself in mid-air to gaze to her as he fell.

      "I'm coming!", The Shoyru shouted, jumping into the air and using her wings to fly towards the pit.

      She had zipped towards the werelupe as quickly as she could as she managed to grab onto his paw and start to lift him back into the air using the inertia of the speed of her flight. They both fell dangerously close to the pit of spikes on the floor beneath them, but she managed to pull up instead and lift them both out of the pit and onto the ground safely above it.

      "That was close.", The Werelupe shook his head, "Thank you Pepper."

      "Don't mention it.", The Shoyru brushed her head modestly, "I'm just repaying the favor!"

      "We'll try one more room.", Maximillien gave Pepper a stern look, "But I won't let you get put in anymore danger."

      "We'll keep going if we have to.", The Shoyru replied, "This is important to you. We can't just give up now!"

      The Werelupe nodded his head, this time making sure that he had held onto the torch as they made their way back through the tunnels and into the main room of the doorways. They tried a doorway which did not have any specific door on it as they walked through several more rooms. They managed to pass through various doors of many shapes and sizes which seemed to keep bringing them to new rooms with new doors. Finally, Maximillien was certain that he had found the right door. He made his way through it proudly and pushed the door aside, which had been a green rectangle without any particular features of interest. They made their way through the passageways as they finally came to what appeared to be a large tomb. The tomb itself had a row of hieroglyphs on the wall towards the ceiling and in its center a large sarcophagus which seemed to have something inside of it.

      "This might be what we were looking for.", Maximillien turned to look at Pepper, "Let me open it."

      "Will do.", The Shoyru sat back and waited cautiously, holding her Virtublaster 3000s in their holsters under the event of an emergency.

      Maximillien started to unseal the front of the sarcophagus, which had been molded in the form of King Coltzan himself. He expected to find Lost Desert royalty inside of the tomb, but instead had been a hideous mummy which suddenly reached its hand out and grabbed the Werelupe's Shoulder

      "You never should have come here!", Eyrieki screeched, "And now you are going to pay!"

      Maximillien grabbed his Iron Lupe Sword with his free paw and sliced at the mummy's arm, which had severed completely in the process. It screeched with pain and shouted words at him in an unknown tongue, only to re-grow its arm again and climb completely out of its sarcophagus.

      "You cannot defeat me!", The mummy laughed boldly, "I am already dead!"

      "We'll see about that!", Pepper shouted, pulling both of her Virtublaster 3000s out of their holster and firing away at him. Several holes were riddled inside of the mummy which quickly filled back into place, leaving only holes where there had once been bandages. Maximillien jumped back and did a back-flip, kicking off of one of the walls and diving head first into Eyrieki's chest. He pressed both of his Iron Lupe Swords into the mummy and cleaved him clear in two. The mummy turned to gaze at itself, each half completely independent of the other. The either half gazed dumbfoundedly at one another and pulled themselves back together, charging at the Werelupe and the Shoyru. It pulled out a yellow scimitar which had a golden sheen about its blade, the hilt being adorned in the color purple. It slashed several times in the direction of the Werelupe who skillfully dodged every swing and motioned his body to make sure that not only had the mummy missed its strikes -- but that he was able to swing back with his Iron Lupe swords in tandem.

      The battle ensued for several minutes as Maximillien struck at the mummy as Eyrieki managed to re-grow whatever had been sliced away. Pepper eventually pulled out her QX-92 Neutrino Blaster and started to charge a large blast.

      "Keep him busy!", The Shoyru yelled out, "I think I have a plan!"

      "Understood.", Maximillien shouted back, striking with one sword and guarding with the other.

      After several seconds, a large ball of plasma formed at the front of the weapon and fired in the direction of the mummy. It had appeared as a miniature sun which slowly shot across the room like a ball of lightning. Maximillien grabbed the mummy and threw it into the direction of the blast, causing it to disintegrate into thousands of pieces of char.

      "Do you think he'll survive that!?", Pepper yelled out to the Werelupe.

      "Let's not stick around to find out!", Maximillien gestured with his paw and picked up the torch which was still alight on the ground; he started to run into the distance of the corridor.

      Pepper had been tempted to take the scimitar with her, but she knew that it may have been best to leave it just where it was. The last thing she wanted was a mummy hunting her through the tombs as though she had been carrying a scarab.

      Pepper and Maximillien had run through the distance of the corridor, past the tomb and into another hallway. It did not take long, however, before another threat blocked their path. There was a massive gelatinous non-cube which had been in the middle of the room. The skeletons inside of it indicated that it had indeed devoured other wanderers, and they did not want to join them in that fate.

      "Run past it!", Maximillien shouted out, "Jump on the wall and leap past it!"

      "Got it!", Pepper nodded, yelling back as she jumped to one side of the gelatinous non-cube as the Werelupe jumped to the other side.

      The pair had managed to skillfully evade the beast which did not know which Neopian to devour, and instead just followed them through the passageway as they ran through it. The passageway eventually led to another room. This time it had been filled with gases which seemed designed to make them fall to sleep.

      "Hold your breath!", Maximillien yelled out, "Don't breathe it in!"

      The Shoyru covered her mouth as the Werelupe looked all around the room for an exit. They tried to press different tiles all over the area and they stepped all over the floor in an attempt to find something which would allow for them to escape. Finally, Pepper pulled out her QX-92 Neutrino Blaster and simply positioned it towards the wall and charged it. The resulting blast blew apart the wall and caused them to both fall forward into a slide of sand. Like a water slide of dust, they completely slid across it through many tubes until finally they landed in a pile of sand. Though Pepper had leapt forward at the right time, Maximillien had landed in the pile as more and more of the sand covered over him. All that could be seen was the Werelupe's eye, as Pepper could not help but laugh and chuckle at the display. Maximillien shook the sands off of his body and shook his fur clean of it, giving Pepper a goofy look as he had been embarrassed.

      "Where to now?", Pepper asked curiously.

      "Let's try to move ahead.", Maximillien smiled confidently, "I think we've finally beaten this."

      They walked through a distant hallway out of the room filled with the enormous pile of sand as they eventually walked to what appeared to be four separate rooms. Three of the rooms had been a snake pattern, which had different designs depicting the snake in different ways -- a constellation, a blue snake, and a maze. The final door was a red triangular crystal which had a brilliant sheen against it as though it had been crafted of the dawn itself. Maximillien remembered the riddle outside of the temple and realized that this must be the room they had to enter. He nodded to Pepper who nodded back to him as he opened the door silently, making his way inside as they eventually came across a large Faerie statue. The statue depicted Nuria, the FIre Faerie, and had stood proudly in the center of the room. It had been a spectacle to behold, at the beauty of the Faerie herself. Beneath the statue had been yet another riddle, which read:

      "Whosoever shall speak the prophecy here, shall be rewarded with treasures beyond compare."

      "This room may be important.", Pepper nodded, "I don't know what's going on, or why we ended up here from Terror Mountain. I have a fresh set of teleporters which I had been working on. They're still prototypes, and they may be dangerous." The Shoyru nodded boldly, "I know they'll work. I'll leave one here so we can quickly come back to this room as necessary."

      "That sounds good.", Maximillien nodded, "Let's head back to the Fortune teller. While I was falling, I managed to grab...this."

      The Werelupe reached his hand into his pocket and pulled out what appeared to be a dirty piece of tablet. It looked like the same tablet which the Fortune Teller had inside of her tent.

      "Well....", The Shoyru shook her head, "I'll use my digital cartography device. It should be able to map our energy signatures and tell where we've been. We should be able to use it to find a way out, and to find our way around the tomb again should we need to come back."

      The Shoyru pulled out a device from her backpack which seemed to indicate something immediately. She grinned.

      "It seems that the way out is just beyond this room.", The Shoyru chuckled, "Right in front of us."

      "Let's go.", Maximillien gestured with his paw towards a doorway at the back of the room. It appeared to lead back outside.

      Maximillien doused the torch with his canteen and placed it carefully on the ground in front of the statue, in case he had needed to use it again. The pair made their way through the catacombs which eventually led them to the light of day. The luminous rays of light became stronger and stronger as they eventually reached the end of the dank and twisting tunnel. It had been daytime again, though, they had to walk around the entire tomb in order to find their packs and make camp in front of the temple. They circled around the temple and eventually found their way in front of it once again, though the temple appeared different at the moment they stood in front of it. Instead of its normal view of gray and yellowish sand; the sands themselves appeared to have been a brilliant orange gold and the sky was alight with a tapestry of magnificent auburn with various shades of pink. Maximillien could not tell if this was because of the setting sun of the desert, or if it was because of the mystical nature of the tomb itself. They walked away from the Temple of One Thousand Tombs, deciding it was late enough where they could walk without making camp. The Werelupe turned one last time to gaze upon the luxurious display of orange, pink, red, yellow and gray which permeated from the front of the temple. He turned back and started to follow Pepper, who had been quite eager to make as much distance away from herself and the temple as possible.

      Pepper had discovered an oasis on their journey, using her electronic equipment to detect a nearby source of water. They filled their canteens and drank their fill before heading on their journey back to the city of Sakhmet. Maximillien was starving and made sure to purchase as many pieces of desert food as he was able to stuff inside of his pack, while Pepper only had a few things. Being a Jelly Shoyru had its perks, one of which was that she had a much different metabolism than other pets. Though she needed to eat, she had done so far more seldomly than the Werelupe had. Night eventually fell and they waited again for the Fortune Teller to make her appearance. They waited several hours before they noticed in yet a different position outside of the city of Sakhmet that the tent had been placed in the same area nestled between the caliginous grip of shade between the weakest point of the torches.

      Maximillien quickly entered inside of the tent, where he gave the Kau Fortune Teller a stern look.

      "I need to know.", The Werelupe nearly snarled at her, "I need to know what you know about my parents."

      "I cannot tell you that.", The Kau Fortune Teller explained, "That is a destiny you must pursue on your own. For if I told you anything about that, the circumstances would change; your fate would be forever changed, as would the fate of Neopia."

      "Well....", Maximillien nodded, "That sounds reasonable."

      The Werelupe reached into his pocket and pulled out the dirty piece of tablet.

      "We discovered this on our trip to the Temple.", The Werelupe explained, "is this what you were looking for?"

      "Yes!", The Fortune Teller exclaimed, "This is exactly what I was looking for. Here, let me see that for a moment."

      The Fortune Teller quickly took the object out of Maximillien's paws and placed it on the table, reaching over and taking the Werelupe's canteen at his side and washing the object free of any dirt. It showed the symbol of Djo, which were two reeds. She placed the object inside of the tablet and it fastened completely into a similar sized hole. She then placed the tablet back under the table where she kept it safe. Looking back up at the pair, she started to speak.

      "This is the symbol referred to as Djo.", The Fortune Teller explained, "It was used many generations ago by a long lost race of peoples who no longer dwell in these lands."

      "...But what does it mean!?", Pepper exclaimed, wide eyed.

      "It means that there is a much greater prophecy at hand than what I can find in my crystal ball!", The Kau Fortune Teller laughed to herself, "Though, I can assist you in your next task: I see ancient pharaohs laid at rest."

      "I think I know what that means.", The Werelupe replied excitedly, "We were just at the Temple of One Thousand Tombs, and came across a sarcophagus shaped like King Coltzan the Third."

      "Then you must go there.", The Kau Fortune Teller nodded, "Be on your way, and good luck."

      Pepper and Maximillien stood up quickly and made their way out of the tent. In the same way that it had last time, the tent simply vanished from view entirely.

      "Would you like to just use the teleporter that I designed?", Pepper grinned proudly, "It should help us get back to the temple lickity split."

      "If ye say it works, Pepper,", Maximillien smirked, "I'll trust ya."

      Pepper pulled out a device which whistled and crackled with electric noise as she pressed a few buttons and moved a few dials. Suddenly, the pair started to disappear into a wave of light energy which coalesced around them and rose towards the sky with a plume of vertical illumination. They disappeared at the base of the movement of the light as it rose up into the air and they both instantly appeared at the base of the Fire Faerie statue of Nuria. There was a loud hiss as the light disappeared around them and dissipated into the nearby walls. Maximillien placed his paws on every part of his body to make sure that he had been in tact, as Pepper chuckled at the display. She had, of course, tested them on herself long before she would even suggest trying it to her friend. However, she had not been a normal Neopian and she did not realize that Maximillien's cellular structure may have been a danger to the process.

      "Everything still there?", Pepper chuckled and gave the Werelupe a once over to make sure he had teleported properly.

      "Yes.", The Werelupe sighed in relief, "I think so."

      "If we're going to make our way back out of the way we came...", Pepper trailed off, "We're going to need to find a way to get rid of that...that [i]thing[/i]"

      "You mean the thing that looks almost just like [i]you?[/i].", Maxillien couldn't help but laugh softly to himself as Pepper's face grew red.

      "That thing has nothing to do with me!", Pepper demanded, "I come from a long line of prestigious Neopian! That's a...a [i]THING![/i]"

      "Well...", Maximillien shrugged, "We still need to get rid of it."

      "I think I have a plan.", Pepper nodded, "Follow me!"

      The pair carefully set down their packs before Pepper started to reach into her bag and pull something of significance out of it. The Shoyru pulled a grappling hook attached to a rope out of her pack and flew up into the sky while Maximillien picked up the torch where he had left it. She swung the rope at the wall at the top of the room which had broken to reveal the long slide and then carried the ropes down to the ground where Maximillien could grab hold and climb up. The Werelupe started to make his way to the top of the room whereas Pepper was simply able to fly up and reach it herself. It took several minutes of the Werelupe's constant climbing to make his way to the surface, his paw pads acting as a natural set of rappelling gloves. They entered into the room which was no longer filled with any form of gas as they looked around, finding no sign of the gelatinous non-cube. Maximillien noticed a piece of tablet on the ground and picked it up, placing it in his pocket and carrying it off with him. They walked into the nearby hallway and heard a groaning sound coming from further down the corridor. They paused to take a listen before Maximillien broke the silence.

      "So what was that plan o' yer's?", The Werelupe asked Pepper cautiously as a large looming shadow filled into the room down the hallway towards the end of the light's reach of the torch.

      "We lure it towards the slide of sand.", Pepper nodded confidently, "If we can get it to take the slide, it may get itself buried in the sand like you were."

      "That's yer plan!?", Maximillien coughed, "Who's the bait!?"

      "You are!", Pepper grinned, "You jump down the slide and I'll wait towards the top of the room. Make sure to get yourself out of the way while I stay at the edge of the room. I'll suddenly start to fly, leading it towards the slide."

      "Well...if ya say so.", Maximillien shrugged, "Don't go gettin' yerself hurt, aye?"

      "Here it comes!", Pepper watched anxiously as the large form of the gelatinous non-cube came through the passageway.

      The creature groaned as it slowly made its way through the hallway, the bones and weapons and tools of other travelers still inside of it as it slowly made its way towards them. Even though she had been made of Jelly, similar to the Jelly Blobs of Doom game, the much larger Jelly creature had wanted to engulf the smaller one in the same way that the large pieces of Jelly tried to engulf the little Chomby. Maximillien waited just long enough for the creature to get close to them before he dove head first onto the slide of sand and did a belly-slide across the many separate half pipes which eventually led to the pile of sand below. This time, the Werelupe had performed a front flip with his forepaws and landed safely on his feet in front of the pile of sand instead of within it. He looked up and watched Pepper at the top of the room who had still been waiting patiently for the creature to come after her.

      "Come on...", Pepper whispered to herself, "Come on..."

      "Grooooooooooaaaaaaaaaaaannnnnnn", The Gelatinous Non-Cube bellowed as it slowly approached the lone Shoyru.

      Finally, the creature came close enough to her where it attempted to engulf her. Instead, She dove backwards and did an aerial back flip in mid-flight, flying around the room as the Gelatinous Non-Cube fell onto the slide and was carried down the passage of sand. Pieces of the creature broke off from the many pieces of sand as it was pulled further down the slide, causing it to grow smaller and smaller as it tumbled downwards; finally, it landed in the pile of sand where the falling sand fell on top of it and broke it into smaller and smaller pieces until it had been no more.

      "We did it!", Pepper flew down to Maximillien who had stood just before the puddle of Jelly which had dissipated from its normal form.

      "What's this...?", Maximillien walked over to the creature, picking up a piece of crystal and brushing the jelly off of it.

      "I don't know...", Pepper shook her head, "It looks kind of useless."

      "I'll take it anyway.", Maximillien nodded and placed the object in his pocket, "Who knows if we'll need it?"

      "Yeah, yeah.", Pepper chuckled, "Let's go explore the rest of the temple."

     To be continued…

 
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