Shortly after Prom the school year ended and summer break began. For about half that year Basil’s head had been buried in books about folklore and stuff like that in reaction to a strange call he’d gotten from the science lab asking him to bring a rainbow gem and 2000 simoleons to the lab. According to my mom it hadn’t been the first time they got a call like that. As mentioned before he studied chemistry a lot too, desperate to find something that could turn Mystery into a human. From that research he learned that such a gem could be found in Shang Simla, China. On top of all that he somehow managed to build a compelling case for just He, Oberon and me to go on a trip to Shang Simla. I was all for an adventure like that and with some convincing Oberon decided to join us as well.
“We have to go early in the summer though.” Oberon said. “Starting July 1st, I'm taking extra classes at a local community college to get rid of some of the Basics I need for my future pre-med degree.”
On June 2nd our plane landed in the Shang Simla right next to a commune for adventures like ourselves, it was about the only thing we could afford, even after combining all three of our allowances.
In front of the commune building was a sign covered with part time jobs and other “adventures” that residents of the estate could take on for a little extra cash.
Basil ripped the first piece of paper from the board that caught his attention. “Come on, we’re going to a place called the Hall of the Lost Army.”
From the tone of his voice, Oberon and I realized there was no arguing with him and we followed obediently.
During out bike ride to the tomb Oberon asked, “So, what’s she like?”
“Who?” Basil answered.
“Mystery of course.”
Basil blushed. “She’s sweet, but determined and really ambitious. She wants to be the world’s greatest ghost hunter once she’s human and a good mom too.” Basil went on and on about his imaginary friend, but I tuned him out pretty quickly, firstly to prevent myself from barfing and secondly because my mind had drifted to peppermints, brown hair and witches.
Basil asked a fellow adventurer if he knew where the entrance was, but he didn’t. Thanks to the countless hours I spent reading pulp stories about adventuring archaeologists I couldn’t help but wonder if there was a secret entrance somewhere and started to look around for anything remotely suspicious. Eventually, I spotted cement square with footprints engraved in it. Curious I put my feet in the prints and the Hall of the Lost Army started to shake. A few minutes part of the floor opened to reveal a staircase and I experienced my first rush of excitement and adrenaline that I could never get from anything else besides exploring.
I ran towards the staircase taking the lead and Basil swiftly followed. Oberon on the other hand opted to stay on the first floor.
“I’ll um.. Keep watch.” He said, but Basil and I both knew he was simply afraid.
Instead of teasing him though I simply said, “Suit yourself Little brother.” Okay, maybe I teased him a little, a couple minutes hardly counted as younger, but he was certainly acting like it.
Once inside I forgot all of that and simply took in what would become my favorite scent, musty earth. There was also the slight hint of being watched, but the experience was intoxicating. A few feet in Basil and I came across our first obstacle, something that would become a common sight after a few more adventures. In this particular instance there was another cement marker, but this one had a symbol on it instead of footprints. There were also several gargoyle-like statues lingering around and a locked door across the room. It was a little startling at first, but it didn’t take long for me to figure out what needed to be done next. I walked over to one of the statues and started to pull it towards the marker on the floor. It was unexpectedly light. Basil looked at me like I was crazy, until part of the floor moved to reveal another one of the footprint markers, then he looked impressed.
I pointed to the marker. “Go stand on that so we can see what happens next.”
Basil did just that and the chain on the door hit the ground and the sound of clattering chains filled the room.
“Who the heck sets up contraptions like this?” Basil asked.
“My guess is the people who built the tomb, in order to discourage grave robbers” I said.
Basil just shook his head. “Who knew all those Appaloosa Rones movies we watched were based on some truth.”
“Write what you know or can research, I guess.” I said.
The next room was smaller and the only things in it were a strange, circular indent in the wall and a stone pool about the size of a small hot tub. I decided the indent would be easier to inspect and tried to put my hand inside without so much as a glance.
Basil grabbed my arm before I could do that though. “Are you an idiot? There could be snakes in there or a poisonous spider. “
I pulled my hand away. “I’m a fairy. I’m pretty sure I could heal a little snake bite.” After that I stuck my hand right back inside and pulled out a small bar of copper covered in colorful beetles of sort. I shook them off easily and turned to Basil. “I told you there was nothing to worry about. We can sell this metal in town and make a little money.” I tucked the bar in my shorts pocket and moved towards the pool.
Basil stepped in front of me. “Either give me the copper or I’ll explore the pool and you stay here.
I smirked. “Okay, go dive in the pool then.”
Basil rolled his eyes and mumbled what sounded like, “Damn, mischievous fairies.” He looked before he jumped in, but he did swim through it until I heard him on the other side of the wall. “There’s a treasure chest in here!”
“Cool, wait there and I’ll meet you on the other side.” I said through the wall.
I was halfway in the pool when I heard Basil say, “No, stay out there and I’ll bring out the treasure. It’s really tight in here and I’m not sure how stable this room is.”
I reluctantly climbed out of the pool and sulked against the wall. A few moments later Basil emerged with a cracked vase made of some sort of metal. I complemented his find and then he glanced down at his watch. “Dang, it’s already 6:00 pm.”
“So, it’s not like we have parents here to tell us to come home for dinner or anything.” I said.
“Yeah, but the sun is about to set and it’s a full moon tonight.” Basil said.
I rubbed the back of my head. “Oh yeah, we probably should find somewhere to camp then, since I doubt to commune wants a werewolf running around.”
A sad expression dusted Basil’s face for a second, before it was quickly replaced with his usual serious expression. “I think there’s a guy in the marketplace that sells tents. “
It took longer to get out of the tomb than we expected and so, the moment we emerged the light of the full moon hit Basil and he immediately transformed. Thankfully, Oberon greeted us as soon as we got out and he had armfuls of tents and other supplies.
“I got bored waiting for you guys.” He said with a supply-laden shrug. “I figured we needed camping supplies since tonight’s a full moon and we don’t want a repeat of the Egypt trip when we were kids.”
Basil howled to say thank you and I gave Oberon a grateful pat on the shoulder. “Brother, you’re a life saver.”
The rest of the trip went by without incident and a lot of exploring the gorgeous countryside and its tombs. No matter how much we searched though, we didn’t find a single rainbow gem.
“Tough luck, Basil,” I said as we were claiming our bags back in Moonlight Falls.
“That’s okay, I’ll just have to double up my chemistry efforts and save up money for another trip,” Basil said.
“Just keep trying and Mystery will be all-human before you know it,” Oberon said.
I’m not sure how much our words helped, but Basil did just as he said he would, although it would be a little longer before any of us(Besides Basil) saw Mystery for ourselves