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Chapter 32

–Krokotopia– I stood there on the deck of the Manders’ ship, staring blankly at the foreign world that I had arrived at. In a word, I was: shocked. Krokotopia reminded me of ancient Egypt back on Earth. Only with a little less of the “ancient.” There was a huge sandstone pyramid, almost as big as Bartleby. Only, unlike the pyramids on Earth, this one appeared to be in pristine condition. It wasn’t like I was about to go around kicking it to see how well-preserved it was, though. There was another, smaller pyramid on the other side of the Oasis, about the size of the Minigame tents at the Fairegrounds. There were tents, too, camping tents with dog bones embroidered on them. A sandstorm swept across the sand. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, the main feature here was sand. The place was full of it. I hopped off the boat and onto the dry, arid ground. I bent down and sifted some sand through my fingers. It was warm to the touch, caused by the relentless desert sun beating down. Speaking of the sun, the back of my neck was getting a really good tan. Or a sunburn. Whichever you prefer. I needed a new hat. But I didn’t have any money, and I didn’t even know if they sold hats here. If there was one thing I had learned about Krokotopia so far, it was that it was nothing like Wizard City. So I went to explore. I walked a little farther, tripped on a small rock, and did a full-on faceplant into… A pond! There was water here! This little pond was surrounded by green palm trees. I guess that was why this area was called the Oasis. I got to my knees and began slurping the water. A voice behind me said, “You know, Lass, that’s not the best water around here. Not in the slightest. It’s all salty and sandy. The best water in this desert is from that well over there, over by the shops.” I spun around, and discovered a large dog pointing towards a cluster of small buildings. By ‘a large dog’, I didn’t mean a German Shepard, either. I meant a canine standing upright that was a good two feet taller than me. And he was wearing clothes. Where had I seen something like this before? Oh yeah, in the headmaster’s crystal ball. Only that doggie had been dressed like a policeman. This one looked more like an explorer, with a pith helmet and boots. He was holding a striped baton. “I’m Sergeant Major Sylvester Quimby Talbot the Third, at your service!” he said, giving me a winning salute. “H-hi!” I stammered. “I’m Elizabeth Iceblossom. I didn’t know dogs lived in Krokotopia too.” the sergeant major replied, “They don’t. I am the supervisor of a team of archaeologists from Marleybone. We are working to excavate the Pyramid of the Sun. We have found some remarkable relics already!” “Great. Hey, did you say shops? There are shops here?” “Why of course! Right over here.” He walked over to the edge of the chunk of land. He stopped at a collection of planks held together by rope. “I prefer not to cross those rickety bridges myself, but any Marleybonian would. We are simply not used to Krokotopia… Good day!” He returned to his post near the pond. I tentatively took a step onto the bridge, holding the rope with my hand. I didn’t want to slip and go tumbling into oblivion. I crossed the bridge carefully, then leaped the last few feet onto another part of the continent. I stopped to drink some water from the well Sergeant Major Talbot had told me about, then headed into the nearest shop. I was greeted by the shopkeeper, who was an orange Mander. “May I sell you a wand? You appear to be a wizard…” I frowned sadly, and said, “I would love to buy a wand. Mine was stolen from me. But so was my money. I don’t have a penny. I need to save up money to get back to my home in Ravenwood. So I would love to buy a wand, but I can’t.” the Mander said, “Oh! That is most unfortunate! I do know a way for you to make money, however. You can help the Marleybonians, in the Pyramid! And even some Manders there! They will pay you if you help with their troubles. But their troubles involve the Tuts… And to help them, you will need a wand. I also sell boots. I shall give you a wand free of cost, young wizard, if when you get the money, you purchase a pair of boots from me.” my boots were starting to get worn-out anyway, so I accepted. I thanked the Mander profusely. He handed me a wand made of gold metal with red feather-shaped decorations on either end, and I left to hopefully earn some gold. But as I was about to head towards the pyramid, I saw a sign with a hat on it. A hat shop. I really needed something to keep me from roasting in the Krokotopian sun. I strolled in, then remembered I didn’t have any money. Too late. “You look as if you are very hot!” said the shopkeeper. “I don’t have any money,” I asserted, before he could try to sell me anything. “That is perfectly all right, Effendi! I shall give you a hat to protect you from the heat, free of charge!” “Thank you!” I cried, as he went to the back of the store and got me a hat. It was a classic ancient Egyptian headdress, complete with a decorative little bronze scorpion affixed to it. Gee, these Manders were some of the nicest people (lizards?) I’d met in the Spiral. I shook the Mander’s hand, promising to return later, and headed for the pyramid. I was going to get home, if it was the last thing I ever did.

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