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Animus, Chapter 9: "Discovery"


"So," said Luna. "Just what are you planning in Scaraba?"
Skulryk didn't respond right away. Instead, he pulled out an ancient map.
"This is a map of southern Scaraba," Skulryk said. He hit Poo's hand away as he reached out to grab it. "Be careful! It's extremely old. Thousands of years."
Poo whined a bit about his hand, but Luna cut him off. "Be quiet Poo! Go on, Skul."
"Alright..." Skulryk pointed to the map. "As you can see, there are four pyramids out here." He pointed to one. "This one is called Kabraou. It was the first known Scaraban pyramid built. It's been looted by theives long ago, and there isn't anything left in it." He pointed to another one. "This is Sacra. It was the one that was mysteriously opened during the war against Giygas. It's also the one that recently collapsed for unknown reasons." He sighed, then pointed to a third pyramid. "This is Hassano. It has been searched and excavated long ago, and there isn't anything more there. It was the one where my parents worked on an expedition." He then pointed to a fourth pyramid. "This one is unnamed. It's the one that was recently discovered, and the one where all the recent shipments came from. It's where this knife came from, but according to sources I've recently heard, it was not found inside the pyramid. Workers say it appeared inside the King's tomb, and they didn't know how, because they had searched it from top to bottom, and it was sitting right in the middle on a pedestal."
"Alright..." Poo said. "That's four pyramids. Now where's your mysterious 'fifth' pyramid?"
"Well, you can't see anything here, but look at this..." Skulryk took some sand out of a sack, and sprinkled it over the map. "This sand was broken down from the ancient stones which form the pyramids." Skulryk looked at his watch and held the map under the sun. "Watch closely; this can only be seen at high noon."
The sand which stuck on the map began to sparkle and shine, and for a brief instant, it glowed in the sun, shimmering. The sand seemed to form a fifth pyramid, far south of the other four. However, all of a sudden it disappeared.
"Whoa!!!" Poo exclaimed. "That's amazing!"
"Is... is that the fifth pyramid?" Luna said. "With this map, how come no one has found out about it?"
"Well, I wasn't too sure about that until I saw this knife. Workers have gone there before, and almost dug the entire place up. They haven't found a thing. Now the holes are filled with sand, and after an almost year-long expedition they figured the map was a fluke and my parents, who were in possession of it, gave it to me. Now that I have this knife, I think this is the key to revealing the pyramid."
"Wow..." Mike said. "That's amazing... I just hope we don't just waste our time."

Mika was a bit confused on just exactly what had happened here. She frowned for a moment and then set off on her own through the swampy marshland. Along the way, she hit something hard. In pain, she held her toes and watched the spot, where she hurt herself, rise to her level. Startled, she jumped back and watched the water pour off the mysterious figure to reveal a Manly Fish. Once he appeared, Mika jumped back and whipped out her spear. The Manly Fish held his hand up and said, "Wait! I came in peace!"
Great, I'm stuck in a poorly made B-movie. Mika giggled quietly.
Smarting up, she stuck the spear into the ground and demanded to know what its intents were. The Manly Fish said, "I only wanted to help."
Mika was a little bit uneasy, since she just encountered this creature seconds ago. Was he something to be trusted?
"I'll show you Beetles," said the Manly Fish.
"Beetles?" Mika asked.
"Yes, Beetles." The Manly Fish smiled and pulled out a tape recorder and played, "Yellow Submarine".
Mika caught on and said, "Oh, you mean 'The Beatles'!"
The Manly Fish nodded and took her out of the Deep Darkness and past the Monkey Hotel, to a beach. The Manly Fish dived into the water, and a few minutes later, a yellow submarine popped out of the water. Mika, however, stared in disbelief.
She closed her mouth and said, "Thanks... but why are you helping me?"
"The Animus in me was gone. I had to help your friends, but they left. So, I decided to help you instead. Oh! I almost forgot, here. This might be helpful," The Manly Fish said as he passed a book to Mika.
Then an announcer's voice boomed out of nowhere, startling the two.
Mika got the Mysterious Diary!
The voice disappeared. The Manly Fish stated that Master Belch had one, but he knew that they wouldn't accept it, since the book was a tad bit... disgusting to touch. Mika nodded and said, "Thanks for your help."
The Manly Fish stamped his spear and said, "No problem. Good luck, and I hope you'll find your friends."

"With the lights out, it's less dangerous! Here we are now, entertain us!"
The Kraken listened with interest to the indistinct mumbling of the walkman SimonBob had pulled out of his trenchcoat. You say people listen to this kind of music?
"Well, I sure do." SimonBob glanced across the ocean. Seeing Scaraba coming into view gave him a real sense of adventure. Not since his days in Twoson had he enjoyed himself so immensely. Ahh, back in tha' day, the good times... SimonBob indulged in his nostalgia, when he suddenly saw a shadow cross the Scaraban view. "What's that?" he said, straining to try to see it.
As it came closer, he saw it: another Kraken. "Hey," he whispered to Skulryk. "Are Krakens territorial?"
"Nobody knows," replied Skulryk.
"Because nobody's ever seen two at once?"
"Because nobody's ever survived long enough."
The second Kraken swam over, and Luna suddenly recognized it. "It's the first Kraken we saw! He gave us a ride, remember?"
The Kraken they were riding spoke up. Not he, but she... as in, she's pretty good looking. He smiled at the She-Kraken. Goin' my way, baby?
The She-Kraken smiled back, then shyly dove underwater. Now she's my type, said the Kraken. I'm gonna drop you guys off and follow her.
"Wait a second," said Poo. "We're still a ways away from shore, and I hate this water, and..."
The Kraken flicked his tail, launching Poo to the shore. "Cool!" commented SimonBob, who jumped onto the tail and was also launched to the shore. Everyone else took their turn getting flung to Scaraba: Mike, Dan, Skulryk, and finally Luna.
Sulami chose to fly over instead. He found the others waving goodbye to the Kraken. "Y'know, we could've just gotten SimonBob to call his jetcar."
"Hey, yeah," said SimonBob. "My jetcar. I forgot about it in the excitement of the the whole monkey-chase thingy."
"Do you think it's gonna be okay?" asked Luna.
Mike, who was looking in the opposite direction from the rest of the group, chose not to mention the joyriding apes he could see across the desert. "I'm sure his car's just fine," he said. "C'mon, let's go find this mysterious fifth pyramid."
The group stood up, looking around.
"Geez..." Mike said. "It could be a while before we get anywhere... how far would it be to the approximate location of that pyramid, Skulryk?"
Skulryk shrugged. "I'm not too sure. It's definately south of the other pyramids, I know that... but it's north of the alternate exit to Sacra. Since we can't even see the alternate exit to Sacra... we have about 10 miles to go."
"Whaaa?!?" Poo said. "How are we going to get 10 miles! It's pouring rain out, and I don't have any more food!"
Luna sighed. "Don't worry, Poo, I have more food in my pack for when we get hungry."
"No!" Poo said. "That's what I mean. I already ate all that food in your pack on the Kraken."
Luna took a look in her pack and began twitching, then glared at Poo. Mike managed to stop her before she brutally attacked him.
"Don't worry, Luna," Skulryk said. "I have an idea." Skulryk withdrew a rather strange object from his bag. It had 2 curved parts which ended in horns. The other ends met together and joined at the front. Skulryk took the object and lifted it to his mouth, then blew into it.
"Jeez!" said Poo. "That's gotta be the most disgusting noise I've ever heard! Man, Skul, you need to practice!" Poo laughed at his own joke, but let out a scream when a camel tapped its nose on his shoulder. "AAAH! Just... what did you do?"
Skulryk laughed. "It's a camel caller, I guess you could say... Too bad there aren't too many around; we'll all need to fit on one. Anyways, climb aboard!"
Mike, Luna, Dan, and SimonBob all climbed on. Poo stayed back a second. "Hey, just what do you have in that bag?" Poo reached for his bag, but then heard a shattering sound. Skulryk went pale in the face, as Poo nervously jumped on the camel.
Mike was forced to hold yet another person back from brutally attacking Poo.
After all was settled, Skulryk jumped on the camel and lead it north. They had passed the alternate exit to Sacra, but the pyramids were still beyond view. Suddenly, Skulryk jumped off his camel.
"I think we're here."
Skulryk reached for his knife, and held it out. Nothing appeared to happen.
"Hey!" Poo said, not really paying attention. "What do you think will happen if I punch this camel on the hump?"
"Poo, don't..." said Mike. He was unable to finish his sentence, though, as he fell off from the camel as it charged forward. Luna and SimonBob also fell off, but Poo was stuck on the back. He screamed as the camel charged towards Skulryk.
"Hey," Skulryk said. "Can you keep it down? I'm trying to con..." Skulryk was suddenly knocked forward by the charging camel. He spit out some sand as he landed. "Great, just great... uuuuh!" Suddenly Skulryk felt himself lifted by a great force. The knife had taken on a life of its own, as it shot to the sky, held back only by Skulryk's firm grip.
Poo had fallen off the camel, which had charged away, and ran back to the others, who were watching in awe. Skulryk began screaming as he felt power surge through him. The rest of the group had to shield their eyes as a shaft of light enveloped Skurlyk.
"Just... what is that?" SimonBob said. "I can't see a thing!" The light pulsated, before it expanded, covering Mike, Luna, Poo, Dan, SimonBob, and Sulami. As the light faded, they could see a giant pyramid several feet above Skulryk, hovering in the sky.
All of the assorted travelers looked up in awe at the great structure hovering above them. Nobody spoke for a minute or so. Eventually, the silence was broken. "It must have anti-gravity technology or something," Poo said.
Skulryk, appearing distant, shook his head. "No.... it's ancient magic. It must have been hidden from outsiders, but now.." His hands hung at his sides, staring helplessly up at the pyramid.
Dan, who hadn't spoken for some time, finally voiced his thoughts. "Okay, judging from the floating, this pyramid is obviously special. But how are we even going to get in? I might be able to get this Game Genie to help me, Sulami and SimonBob can fly. But what about the rest of us?" He began thinking of useful codes while waiting for a response.
In one of his rare moments, Poo made a suggestion. "Well, that dagger of yours made a floating pyramid appear," he reasoned to Skulryk, "so couldn't it beam us up to the pyramid or something?"
Skulryk looked at Poo dumbfounded, then stared at the dagger. "Ah... maybe..... if it holds the king's power in it... this must be the king's pyramid, from the hieroglyphs I read. But I don't know how I could get it to work."

Back at the area some miles from Sacra, the other group was assembled. Everyone started to walk forward, but Siris' shout halted them. "Wait! It's not them! I'd recognize their auras..." He felt for all of the auras that he remembered. While he directed his attention on the figures, nothing came to him. Turning away, he began to faintly detect something. "They ARE here... but that group isn't them. They're off that way." He pointed to the south.
"So who are they?" asked Tracy.
Siris continued to stare. Paula rubbed her temples. "I have a bad feeling about this..."
"I expect they're more enemies," said Cyan. "I can't imagine what anyone else would be doing out here. Especially in this weather."
"Well, are we entering this pyramid or not?" shot Anna. "Either we go after these people, or find the others. Everybody better decide now." The party of twelve mulled over the problem.
"I'm for finding the others, I think they're on to something," spoke Siris. "What can we find in this wreckage?"
Anthadd shook his head. "I don't know what we'll do about these strangers... Aside from that, I was in the pyramid, and I didn't get to finish searching it, so it might have had more information about the Animus. It would be hard to find anything aimd that rubble, though. And if those people are guarding it, I'd have to say that finding the others would be better." A small memory came back to Anthadd. I sensed a temple back near the forests in Onett.... but it wasn't there... I wonder if that has anything to do with this?

Poo took the dagger from Skulryk's hands and scanned it over. "It appears to be..." he started.
"Be what?" Luna asked, anxiously.
"It has to be a dagger!" Poo declared, grinning.
"Poo, you're an idiot," Mike stated, simply. All around, heads nodded.
"Well," Skulryk said, taking back the dagger, "we'll have to figure out a way to get this dagger to beam us up."
"Gimme a break," Poo said, chomping down on a sandwich.
"Poo, where'd you get that sandwich?" Mike asked, curiously.
"From that group of angry looking Great Crested Bookas over there that're charging towards us right now," Poo replied.
"Ahhhh!!! What the heck?!" SimonBob screamed as the sounds of hundreds of Booka feet drowned out whatever else the group had to say.
Luckily, it was just 5,963,350 petite Bookas running through, imitating the sound of three hundred Bookas. While the others were running around in panic, Poo jumped up and pointed something out.
"Guys, it's 5,963,350 mini-Bookas!" Poo exclaimed, with a large grin on his face.
The group stared at him, in disbelief that he could count that much that quickly. Dan stepped forward and asked, "How did you know that?"
Poo, however, was standing there with a puzzled look on his face and said, "You know... I have no idea. Must be one of those omnipotent thingys."
Dan could only nod. Suddenly, the ground shook. A small periscope poked through the sand and following it was a rather large yellow submarine cliché. The group stared in disbelief as Mika popped out from the top.
"Um... I think I took a wrong turn here," Mika said a small grin.
"I knew you couldn't stand to be away from me," Poo said, with a rather large grin.
"Oh, but I did." Mika giggled and then looked up. "Um... what's a prymaid doing floating above us?"
"No idea. Hey, what's that book there?" Skulryk queried, as he noticed a book in Mika's hand.
"Oh this? A Manly Fish gave it to me. I can't seem to decipher this. Does anyone in here read encoded messages?" Mika asked.
Poo shouted out and yelled, "I can read pig language!"
Luna couldn't resist by saying, "Of course. It must be your first language..."
"Seriously, I don't think it's pig language either." Mika laughed quietly.
Mike stepped forward and said, "I'm a bit of a hacker. Pass the book to me, and I'll look at it later."
Mika threw the book to Mike, who caught it gracefully, while SulamiTea felt a bit left out in the conversation.
"So, SimonBob, do you think your jetcar can take us up there?" SulamiTea asked.
SimonBob shrugged his shoulders and murmured, "It's worth a try."

Anthadd shivered again, and looked over at the ruins of the pyramid, slowly becoming blurred as a result of the precipitation.
"No!" he screamed. "Not again!"
He fell to his knees, clawing at his head.
"What's wrong?" Anna asked, uncharacteristically polite.
Anthadd's eyes looked bloodshot.
"The temples..." he moaned. "They're everywhere."
"What temples?" Siris asked.
Anthadd slumped to a prone position.
"I'd... much rather not talk about it..." he reported.
Why do I see these things? Anthadd thought to himself.

Lucille grinned evilly.
"This is perfect!" she cackled.
She lounged back in her chair, having recovered from the mishaps which had befallen her before.
"Sphinx of the Pyramid!" she echoed through time.
She inserted a fork into a regular cake, not a Magic cake, and took a bite of it.
"Mmm... chocolate."

"Mmm... chocolate," the Sphinx' head roared.
"What in the world?" the people on the Scaraban islands cried.

Lucille hissed quietly.
"Sphinx of the Pyramid!" she echoed once more. "Thieves have come to pillage your pyramid, already destroyed! They have no morals! You will grow and advance to the southern island to destroy them for the Animus they have torn you with!"

Abdul, the water vendor near the pyramid, enjoyed plying his trade in the vast desert that was Scaraba.
But he despised what had just come about.
"A rainstorm?" he complained. "This will ruin my business!"
He began to walk back to the city of Scaraba, but was surprised by what felt like a strong earthquake. Perhaps 6.8 on the Richter scale.
He fell, his water spilling into the desert.
"No!" he screamed. "My livelihood!"
He looked to the south for some reason.
"The... the Sphinx? Alive?"
Abdul lay in horror as the disembodied Sphinx stood up from where it lay.

While the others stood around, Skulryk took a look at the pyramid in awe. A floating fortress of ancient magic. Unknown warriors will become the protectors of the earth.
Skulryk snapped out of his trance. Whoa... where did that come from?
Luna looked over to him. "What happened?"
"I don't know..." Skulryk said. "I just had a flashback... or something. A message came to me... Maybe I've heard it before."
"Well, what was it?" Mike said, joining the conversation.
"I was standing here, staring at the pyramid, and heard the words 'A floating fortress of ancient magic. Unknown warriors will become the protectors of the earth.' I don't know what it means."
Mike rubbed his chin in thought, then shrugged. "Well, I can't read this book at all... Maybe it's hieroglyphs. You try, Skulryk." Mike handed the book to Skulryk.
Skulryk opened it up, and flipped through a few pages. "It... It looks like heiroglyphs, but I've never seen some of these before. Some I know, but some are completely different..." Skulryk opened up the book and showed it to the others. He pointed to one symbol. "This one is life." He pointed to another one far across the page. "This is Death." He then put his finger under a sentance. "This says 'The magic is...something.' The rest is a lot like that... I can make out words here and there, but almost the whole thing is new to me... it must be really old."
Skulryk gave the book back to Mike, then turned his attention to the pyramid. Since the dagger opened this... I wonder...
Skulryk grabbed the knife by his side. In the light of the hovering pyramid, the jewels seemed to be glowing. However, he didn't pay attention to that. He pointed it at the pyramid, and closed his eyes. He concentrated very hard, then snapped his eyes open. "Pyramid... descend!"
The bottom of the pyramid emitted a glow. Skulryk felt the knife trying to escape his grasp, and the blade went a pure white. The jewels stood out, glowing their respective colors; the emerald stood out by shimmering green, the ruby pierced the white glow with a deep red, and so on. Skulryk wasn't sure if this happened before; he was so overcome with feeling when the pyramid had appeared that he closed his eyes. This time, however, he wanted to watch the entire thing.
He tightened his grip on the knife, feeling power surge through him, and the pyramid slowly descended. It continued this until it hovered a few feet above the ground. Once this happened, the knife stopped its glow. Once he had placed it back in its sheath, Skulryk collapsed on the ground, gasping for air. The others had stopped what they were doing and gasped in awe.
Unknowing of the trouble headed their way, Skulryk weakly stood up. "Let's... Let's enter the pyramid!"
"Now THAT was cool..." Dan said, jaw somewhere on the floor. He picked it up only after noticing the others had already gotten inside the ancient tomb. "Hey, wait for me!"
After letting Dan catch up, the group explored the dimly lit corridors. Paintings, most still in excellent condition, decorated the stone walls.
"You know, I bet if we just took a few of these stones, we could sell them and make a fortune on eBay," Poo offered.
Luna rolled her eyes. "You have no shame, do you?"
"Really isn't a bad idea..." Dan mused, as the dim light flickered off. An audible gasp was heard throughout the group.
"Okay, that's okay, really. We're just in the dark."
"Alone." Dan added.
"Inside an ancient pyramid haunted by the spirits of the dead," Poo offered.
"...Okay..." Mike said, this time with a twinge of nervousness.
Dan felt for his Zapper. Aiming blindly, he shot the top of one of the torches that lined the wall. Luck was on his side. Fire jumped up, but strangely...
"Nice shot, but hey... There isn't any light eminating from that torch..." Skulryk said.
"Uh oh... I don't think we're dealing with normal darkness here..." Luna said, nervously.
Poo shrieked. "We're DOOMED!"
Skulryk sat down on the stone floor and concentrated to himself. Whoever receives this message: We are lost inside a pyramid in Scaraba; Animus has us surrounded.

Meanwhile, about 20 minutes from the pyramid where the group lay stranded, Anthadd jumped with a start.

Mike, not being able to see much of anything, just stood there. He sat down, waiting for any event to break the tediousness of standing around in the dark. Skulryk spoke up.
"Well, we can just sit here for a while. I don't know if-" He was interrupted by a large booming voice.
"IDENTIFY YOURSELVES." The disembodied voice was followed by a slight glowing to the right of the group.
Poo screamed. "Oh please, don't hurt me!! I'm too young and cool and everybody likes me!"
Mike spoke up. "We are just a group of people. We didn't mean any harm by intruding in here. We were just looking around..."
The voice boomed. "SO, YOU THINK THAT ONE CAN WALK AROUND HERE AT WILL? NO, THERE IS A FORM OF PROTECTION IN THIS AREA. A SERIES OF TESTS LINE THE PATHS IN THIS PYRAMID. ONLY THOSE THAT PROVE THEMSELVES WORTHY MAY EXPLORE IN HERE." The room brightened. A stone guardian materialized. It was wielding a sword. The voice started speaking again, this time from the direction of the guardian. "IF YOU CAN DEFEAT ME, I SHALL GRANT YOU THE ABILITY TO SEE IN HERE. OF COURSE, YOU WILL NEED A MUCH LARGER PARTY TO EVEN THINK OF ACCOMPLISHING THE TASK OF EXPLORING THIS PLACE."
Skulryk stood up. "Very well. We accept your challenge." His dagger started to glow. Dan stood up, and readied his weapon as well.
Poo started to run away, but decided against that. He picked up a stick from the ground and brandished it. Mika pulled her book out, readying it for use as a weapon.
Luna searched the vicinity and found a hefty staff to use in defense, as well as attacking.
Mike stood up beside Skulryk and looked around. "Well, looks like we're ready to fight, eh?"
Skulryk nodded. "Yes. Are you ready? You don't have any weapons."
"Pssh, I'll be fine. Let's do this."
The guardian then spoke up. "VERY WELL. PREPARE YOURSELVES!" It let out a cry, and charged the group, sword spinning.
SimonBob turned on a flashlight so he could see. Spying the Guardian, he leapt in front of it. "Word," he said as a means of greeting.
"WHATEVER YOU DO, DON'T KICK ME IN THE HEAD," intoned the Guardian.
"SimonBob only falls for the same trick once, fool." Pulling a C2 bomb from his pocket, SimonBob leapt over the Guardian and attached it behind its head. A few seconds and a large explosion later, it was reduced to rubble.
"HEY!" shouted the rubble. "THAT'S NOT FAIR, I'VE NEVER SEEN THAT TECHNIQUE BEFORE!"
"Want some cheese with your whine?" mocked SimonBob. "C'mon, you promised light, let's have some shiny-time."
Mumbling inaudibly, the Guardian's remains rattled and hummed. Torches began to light up along the hallways, revealing the insides of the ancient pyramid. They also revealed Poo trying to pick Mike's pockets.
Poo got to "Uh..." before an explosion came from the group's left. A giant boulder came rolling down the corridor. Everyone turned to run except SimonBob. Another C2 blast, and the boulder became a pebble.
"OKAY, WHOA, THIS IS GETTING RIDICULOUS." The Guardian's remains shooks with rage. "YOU'RE NOT ALLOWED TO DO THIS. NO MORE TECHNOLOGY, OR I'LL... UH..."
"You'll what? Face it, if you were gonna kill us, we'd be dead. All this proves is you can't match up to progress."
The remains were silent for a few moments. Then, they began to rattle and rise into the air. A shining gem materialized in their midst, and floated towards SimonBob.
SimonBob's eyes glazed over, and a smile appeared on his face. "The Rallets gem..." He snatched it out of the air and carefully examined it. "With this, I can do anything! I'm unstoppable! Mwa ha ha!"
"GLAD YOU LIKE IT. HEY, GIVE MY REGARDS TO THE POKER GANG, EH?"
"Wait, wait, wait," demanded Luna. "You know each other through a floating poker game? How does that work?"
"YOU TRY GUARDING A PYRAMID FOR THOUSANDS OF YEARS, AND TELL ME YOU'RE NOT BORED."
SimonBob adressed the remains. "Thanks for getting that to me, man. I'll see ya later. Go easy on these guys, okay? They're a good bunch."
"Wait," Luna said again. "Are you leaving?"
"I've got what I wanted, I'm not gonna hang around all day. Outta Here!" SimonBob's figure faded to black, then disappeared.
"Doesn't that figure," said Poo. "He's so selfish." Then he went back to trying to steal Mike's wallet.

The Sphinx stood up from where it had rested, looked around - almost as if to get its bearings - and started to move, slowly at first, then increasing its speed. It was not the most graceful creature, lacking its head after all. It was sure of where its target lay, though, guided by Lucille from the future.

Anthadd was still prone from seeing the mysterious temples again as the rain continued to pour down relentlessly.
"Come on Anth, you okay? Let's go," said Cyan, trying to sound as sympathetic as possible while standing out in the rain.
"We should try to get out of this rain as soon as we can," agreed Siris.
"I ... think I'm all right, now," said Anthadd, unsuredly.
Tracy thought she heard something. "Does anyone else hear something? It sounds like something coming."
"I don't hear anything," replied Ness. The sound suddenly became louder and everyone could hear it easily. "Now I do!"
"That's loud enough to be the Sphinx running after us!" shouted Paula.
The form of what was approaching them became clearer through the rain.
"I think it is the Sphinx coming after us!" exclaimed Anna.
"We have to go now, Anthadd!" shouted Cyan. "Can you transform to Anthdragn?"
"I think so..." replied Anthadd from the ground.

"Incredible..." Mike murmured. "There are people in this world that are greedier than Poo is." Poo looked up from his sandwich to look at Mike.
"I'm not greedy... just curious," Poo replied.
"Of course," Luna said, in a mocking tone.
"Well, how do we get out of this creepy pyramid?" Poo asked. As he said those words, the walls seemed to come to life. Coughing could be heard all around.
"Wha... what's that?" Luna asked, grabbing on to Poo. Then she shoved him the other way when she realized what she had done.
"Geez, be more gentle next time," Poo said, brushing dirt off his shirt.
"There won't be a next time!" Luna yelled.
"We are the Guardian Hieroglyphics," said a series of deep voices. "You have disturbed our deep and long rest. This shall not go unpunished..." As the voices finished, a shower of ice flew at the group.
"DUCK!" screamed Skulryk.
"Where?!" said Poo, excitedly as he looked about. However, the shower of ice fell upon its target, as it froze Poo into a block of cold, unfeeling ice.
"Your journey ends here!" the voices continued. "Lethal Asps, go forth!"
A multitude of ghostly serpentine outlines dropped from the walls where snakes had been carved. They began to advance on everyone in the party.
Mike stared with a degree of panic at the figures, then entreated Skulryk, "Okay... any ideas, Skulryk?"
Skulryk shook his head.
"We have to try something," said Mika. She dashed forward with her spear and tried to stab a Lethal Asp. It fell back slightly, but numerous others were advancing. Dan fired, but there were simply too many.
Sulami chanted under his breath, and released a wide-range water spell. The crowd of Asps stopped momentarily, but then continued slithering towards the group.
"Looks like the best thing to do is... RUN!" said Luna, finishing with a shout. No one disagreed with her statement.
As he dashed down the hall, Mike smacked himself. "Darn, we forgot Poo!" He had momentarily forgotten that Poo had been frozen in ice and couldn't move.
When he looked back, he could see the block of ice moving forward. He did a small double take and looked closer, and then saw that Sulami was pushing the block. "Can someone help? This is heavy!" he whined.
Mike rushed back and helped in pushing. The group managed to stay ahead of the Lethal Asps, but as they reached a turn in the hall, a loud thunk was heard, and a solid stone plate began to descend in front of them.
Mika rolled her eyes. "Great, the B-movie gets even cheesier," she moaned.
"Speed it up back there!" cried Dan to the two people pushing the perfectly cryogenized Poo. Mike and SulamiTea strained themselves to move faster.
Skulryk dashed under the plate. Luna had to lower her head slightly to make it. Mika and Dan ducked, the latter hunching over, to make it. The others peeked under the slab at the other two. "Hurry up!" yelled Skulryk.
Mike began pouring his energy into his feet. SulamiTea wasn't quite ready for it, and charged the block of ice to keep up. It fell over, but as it was slowly melting, it slid across the ground. It was stopped as the lowering stone slab pinched it against the ground. Mike and Sulami were a bit taken aback, but used the opportunity to dive through the remaining space.
Eventually, the stress was too great and the ice broke in half. When he saw what was going on, Poo screeched and clambored onto the side where the others were. The slab finally touched the ground, and the Asps who had been a few feet behind were cut off.
"Some stupid tests," grumbled Luna.
They are not over. Panels opened up on the walls. Sand poured out of them and covered the floor, then started to fill the room.
"Do we get something for these tests?!" complained Poo.
Freedom to roam the pyramid and discover its secrets safely. IF you can survive the tests.
"Life or death," Dan mumbled. "Seems fair enough." The group searched for a way out of the room.

"Ke Bao Dragon Armour Infuse!"
Anthadd hurried through the transformation into Anthdragn.
"Get on, everyone!" he hissed, his large wings shielding the others from the rain.
Rusty, Siris, Paula, Tracy, Ness, Cyan and Anna all quickly piled onto the rather large dragon.
Anthdragn spread his wings and took to the sky.

"There's the pyramid!" Ness pointed.
"I could have sssworn it was lower before," Anthdragn noted.
"It probably was," Ness commented, Tracy snuggling up to him.
"It's going higher!" Siris reported.
"As if this couldn't get any worse," Cyan muttered.

Lucille pounded the keyboard.
"Stupid Sphinx!" she shrieked. "Leap! Leap and strike down those insects!"

"Anthadd!" Tracy warned. "Dodge!"
"What?" Anthdragn looked at the airborne Sphinx.
"UP!" Rusty ordered.
"Hold onto my back ssspikes then," Anthdragn snapped.
Anthdragn began a very dangerous ascent. Going nearly straight up, he evaded the Sphinx, the Sphinx's headless neck just barely below the tip of his tail.

"That was close..." Anna breathed out a sigh of relief.
"Too clossse," Anthdragn amended.
"We're almost at the pyr'mid," Rusty reported.
"That's good." Paula sighed.
Anthdragn stayed in a holding pattern in front of the pyramid's entrance while Tracy debarked and entered.
Ness, Paula and Rusty soon followed her in.
Anna, Siris and Cyan then jumped onto the foyer.
Anthdragn reverted, and alit smartly beside Anna and Siris.
"Ke Bao Dragon Armour Defuse!"
"You ready?" Anna asked.
Anthadd nodded.
"Well," Siris began, "we should be going. We wouldn't want to leave our friends alone too long, would we?"

SimonBob found a convenient house in Threed to examine the properties of the Rallets Gem more closely. Pushing aside something called a "Perdson Account", he sat down at a desk and began looking it over.
After a few attemps to equip, energize, or otherwise use the gem, however, SimonBob felt as though he had found a dud. Nothing was happening. It wasn't increasing his power or anything. But he knew it was the gem, he knew it would give him immeasurable power, he knew...
He pounded the desk in frustration. "What am I doing wrong?" His head slumped against the ink blotter. What kind of house was this, with an ink blotter...
When he looked up, there was someone sitting across from him. Someone about his age, but with longer hair, and wearing a red striped shirt.
"Good lord," said SimonBob. "It's me."
"How's it going," said Alt-Simon. "I like the Matrix-style, very funky, but why did you cut your hair?"
"Had to get it cut sooner or later," replied SimonBob. "Hey, do you know how to work this thing?"
Alt-Simon picked up the Rallets Gem and bounced the light off its edge. "Never seen one of these before. What does it do?"
"It's called the Rallets Gem... it's supposed to power up my Rallets abilities, but I can't get it to work this time."
"Rallets, eh? I suspect Anthadd has a few choice things to say about that."
"You have Anthadd in your universe?"
Alt-Simon leaned back in his chair. "I've been watching several different universes ever since I knew about the existence of multiples. This one's been especially interesting, since it's split off my own. You're just about the closest version of me in any universe."
"But you don't know about Rallets."
"Never needed to. I use pseudomagic, it's highly effective." Alt-Simon reached around his neck, pulled an odd stone on a string over his head, and gave it to SimonBob. "This will help you get back into the pyramid. Your friends will help you find the secrets to the gem. I want that back, so no dying or losing it in a poker game or putting it in a safe deposit box. Deal?"
"Word."
Alt-Simon smiled. "Using 'Word' as a greeting is out of fashion in my universe." He winked and disappeared.

Anthadd & co. were inside the pyramid, when the door slammed shut behind them. Anthadd glanced around.
"Now how does a door slam shut when we're hovering and there's nowhere for it to slam from?" he questioned. But only silence answered.

With the amulet that Alt-Simon gave him securely around his neck, SimonBob returned to Scaraba. The pyramid was floating off the ground again, but now it was rising into the air. SimonBob could only see one entrance, a small hole on the northern side. He landed next to it.
My complement copy said I could get in using this, SimonBob held the amulet in his fingers, and felt a tiny surge of power. He enclosed his fist around it, and was awed to see himself glow bright orange. His eyes closed and his head snapped back.
When he opened his eyes again, he was surprised to be inside the passage, sliding downward. He popped out of the passage and fell into a room, landing squarely on Poo's head.
"Yikes!" said Mike. "A wolf?"
A wolf? thought SimonBob. Where? He turned around and saw a bushy grey tail, right behind him. He kept turning, but the tail followed. Then Luna giggled, and he looked up.
The realization dawned on him: He was the wolf.
No sense in getting anyone confused; SimonBob concentrated really hard and turned back to his normal handsome self. He stepped off Poo's head (which he had stepped on several times in the course of chasing his tail) and announced, "Just thought I'd drop in."
"How'd you turn into a wolf like that?" asked Mika.
"Would you believe I gave myself something to help me from another dimension?" grinned SimonBob.
"Right now, I'd believe almost anything," said Dan, slightly bemused.
Skulryk brought the group back to where it was. "Good to have you back, SimonBob. Now let's keep exploring."