Yours, Mayan and Ours
This TaleSpin story takes place in the spirit of the episodes, and I think would've made a fun little addition to the canon. This is our first TS fanfic, and we hope to offer a few more before it's over!
In a steaming jungle, a rather rotund bear and a vociferous orangutan used machetes to hack their way through the undergrowth. “Hey man, you sure that map you bought off that old fella from Sao Paolo’s the real thing?” Louie asked, swatting at the air. “These bugs’re eating me alive!”
Baloo pretended not to hear him. “Okay, we’re almost there. Oh, wait till we get back, and tell Becky and Kit about this!” Louie pointed straight ahead. “That this, assuming we get back!”
Baloo looked up from the map, and found they had about ten native warriors in front of them, dressed in raiment similar to the Mayans. They were holding spears, and weren’t looking to invite these newcomers to tea.
“These must be the guys from the tourist board,” Baloo said. “Real natives wouldn’t dress that tacky. Say fellas, we’re looking for an ancient pyramid filled with treasure, you guys happen to see one?”
The warriors didn’t respond, except to point the spears closer. Louie raised his hands way over his head, dropping his machete. “Whoa, don’t point those toothpicks at this chimp!” Louie gently diverted the spear in front of him toward Baloo. “He’s the one who led me out here on this wild treasure hunt!”
Baloo pointed the spear back to Louie. “He’d taste better with gravy.”
Louie pointed it back at Baloo. “Oh no, no, cuz! You should get all the glory on this hayride.”
Baloo pointed it back at Louie. “Hey, I have an idea. Why don’t you stay here and I’ll go get help?”
Louie spied the map case hanging around Baloo’s shoulder. “I’ve got a better idea. Why don’t you reach in there and give these pencil-pushers something to keep ‘em occupied...”
Baloo reached in and grabbed a string of fireworks he’d saved from their stopover at Carnival, lighting it. “Time to pick up your feet and dosey-do!”
The fireworks had the desired effect. The warriors ran all around, yelling and bumping into each other. Baloo and Louie were out of sight within seconds and on their way. An hour later, the map led them to what was supposedly the site of an ancient pyramid—only all they’d found was the side of a craggy mountain. This tended to make Louie craggy, too.
“Okay Livingston, I’m waiting for the punch line.”
Baloo rubbed his sore feet. “I’m a frayed knot? But seriously, it has to be here. The map says so! We just have to wander around for a while and I’m sure we’ll stumble across something somewhere around here. All these old cities are overgrown. We just have to hack our way to fame and fortune!”
Louie wondered where he’d heard that before. “Sure fuzzy, that’s what you said when we ran across Katie and all those robed goons at that Tinnabula place. I shoulda known better than to let me talk you into another treasure hunt!”
“But this one’s a sure thing!” Baloo retorted. “This time we’re not rescuing anybody and the place has been deserted for thousands of years. What could possibly go wrong?” Louie rolled his eyes. “Oh, he had to ask that...”
After searching for any possible entrance or sign of the supposed pyramid, night fell on the guys’ attempts so they made camp at the base of the mountain. It was Louie’s turn to cook, which suited him just fine. He never could stand burnt food, anyway.
With a flourish, he left the cook fire, carrying a covered dish. “Okay, prepare to feast your eyes on a culinary classic courtesy of the greatest chef in the world, Mon-soor Louie L’Amour!”
Louie uncovered the dish to reveal his famous Polynesian Paradise—a combination of roast pork, pineapple, and flaming ka-bobs with some sparklers on it for good measure. Baloo just stared, amazed. “Where’d you get all that out here in the middle of the jungle?”
“Sorry, my man, the great Chef Louie doesn’t reveal his gastronomic secrets,” Louie said, getting a serving for himself. It tasted great, so Baloo didn’t complain. “Just think, Louie, soon we’ll be up to our eyebrows in gold, gold and more gold! Supposedly they had so much they’d use blocks of gold as doorstops.”
“Yeah, yeah, I heard the old guy go on about it all. Thing is, why didn’t the dude come out here himself and get the gold? There’s gotta be something he didn’t tell us, and I bet those warriors ain’t all!”
Baloo went for seconds on the food. “Well, he’s just an old guy. How’s he gonna get out here and carry treasure back?” Louie looked around at the jungle. Something didn’t set right with him, but he couldn’t figure out what. “Maybe, but still I gotta wonder...”
Louie turned around in the direction Baloo was pointing. The moon shone through the high trees, highlighting a part of the mountainside. There was a symbol, carved large into the rock, and covered with moss and other lichens. Louie wondered how they’d missed it before, but then it occurred to him that they’d have only been able to see it from this angle and only with a full moon as it was now.
Baloo was already preparing his “best ways to spend a fortune” list. “Oh, baby! Looks like lady luck just gave us a kick in the backside! Let’s go take a look.” Louie grabbed Baloo’s arm. “Now hold on, man! We don’t know what’s up there, and it’s dark and all. Besides, I might stub my toe or something.”
“But if we miss it now, we’ll have to wait till tomorrow night to find that symbol again,” Baloo protested. “Come on! What are you afraid of?” Louie rolled his eyes. “Do you really want me to go through the whole list?”
“Okay, we’ll flip a coin for it,” Baloo said, taking one of out his shirt pocket. Louie shook his head. “Uh uh, not that trick coin you used last time! I’ve got a genuine coin of the realm here.”
Louie flipped the coin. “All right, call it.”
“It better not be your two headed coin either, buddy. Heads.”
Louie grabbed the coin in midair. “Aw, we’ll go if you’re gonna be that way.”
Louie pocketed his trick coin, and they headed up the mountain. At the base of the symbol, they found it was quite a piece of work. The medallion-shaped symbol stuck out about six feet from the cliffside, and if it were cleaned it would certainly have been visible from the air for miles.
“All right, we’re here,” Louie said, scrutinizing the monolithic stone cut-out. “My set of pipes won’t get us anywhere this time, cuz.” Baloo picked up a sledgehammer from their supplies. “Then we’re gonna have to do this the hard way, with back-breaking labor.”
Baloo then handed the hammer to Louie. “Maybe there’s a secret door behind it. You’d better get started.”
“The only back I’m breaking is the one attached to the butterball in front of it!”
Louie tossed the hammer behind him, and in a moment of ironic convenience it struck the bottom part of the symbol, breaking off the rock to show what lay below. Louie knocked on it, and it clanged.
“Well now, what have we here?” Louie mused. “Shiny and cold, looks like...”
Baloo’s eyes were shining with gold fever. “See, my leadership genius has got the us the treasure already! All that’s left to do is haul it outta here.” The view pulled back to emphasize the remoteness of the locale. “Oh yeah, and how’re we supposed to haul a hundred-ton gold symbol out of the Amazon jungle? I don’t exactly see any giant airplane or anything else to help out.”
Baloo blinked, then pointed over Louie’s shoulder. “Oh no? Then what’s that?”
Louie turned again, realizing he already could hear the source of the problem. It was the Iron Vulture, headed for them. The voice of Don Karnage came over a loudspeaker as the giant airship hovered overhead. “Greetings, my dimwitting dummies! I have pulled the steel wool over your eyes this time, yes-no?”
“Karny!” Baloo said. “He must’ve heard that old guy blabbin’ too. Well he’s not gettin’ our treasure! Where’d we leave the Sea Duck?”
Before Louie could answer, Karnage spoke again. “I have already taken the unliberty of appropriating your little duck into my eager clutches! I am also thanking you for finding the lost treasure of Montaña del Fantasma. I was the old señor who sold you the map. I have been seeking it for many years, and knowing you and your friend’s knickedyknack for finding things I said to myself, ‘I am betting they will find the treasure for me’!”
Baloo thought of a lot of responses, but decided to keep it civil in light of the situation. “I don’t suppose you’ll fight face to face for the treasure?”
“Don Karnage is a pirate of honor. If you are wishing to be the shishkakob, I will be obliging.”
Karnage and a bunch of his air pirates came down a rope ladder, brandishing their swords. “Now, you will dig for your new master, or we will dig your graves. Frankly, I am not wishing to sweat in the hot moonlight, so dig!”
Baloo took the pick that Karnage shoved in his face. “Okay, we dig, we dig.” He then leaned over toward Louie, who was also using a pirate-provided pick. “We gotta think of something, buddy. There’s gotta be traps or something still around here—there’s always traps, we just have to find one.”
Karnage broke up the huddle. “No making with the whisperings behind my back. There is gold in this here hill!” Baloo and Louie dug, uncovering more and more gold as they went. When Karnage at last allowed them to rest, Louie whispered into Baloo’s ear. “I think I found what we’re after. My last blow of the pickaxe uncovered what looks like the top of a door. One thing I’m wondering about though.”
“What’s that? Where it goes?”
“No, man. I just realized what this mountain’s name is. Montaña del Fantasma means ‘Ghost Mountain’.”
Baloo shrugged. “Oh well, out of the frying pan, into another frying pan. Can we get through the door?” Louie glared over at the pirates. “Better than slaving away on the chain gang.”
Karnage and his men finished up laughing and plotting how they would spend the gold. “Okay, breaking time is over! Back to the gold grind!” Louie began unearthing the door he’d mentioned, which turned out to have more of the mysterious writing on it. Ignorant as to what it said, Louie continued to uncover it until it appeared they could force it open. Baloo had been watching his progress, and more importantly an opportunity. It came when Karnage directed some of his men to go back up into the Iron Vulture for supplies.
“You do the honors, old pal,” Baloo said.
Louie raised his pick. “Open, sez me!”
Before the air pirates could react, Louie struck the door to force the pickaxe into it and open it. The clang resounded loudly, knocking Karnage and his men off their feet. Baloo held his head while Louie bounced and jounced from the vibrations, and the door opened.
Baloo picked up Louie and rushed inside into the darkness. “We’ll take our chances in here!” The door shut behind them before the pirates could react, and as Baloo and Louie felt their way around the first corner of the inner chambers they were momentarily blinded by a torch’s light
“Hey man, what’s with the third degree?” Louie asked, holding his hands up over his eyes. Baloo did the same. “My peepers are pulsing! Can’t see a thing!” From behind the torch, a surprised female voice spoke. “All right, now who do you think you are, invading my...oh, no…”
Slowly, Baloo and Louie’s eyes adjusted, and in front of them they saw the source of the upset voice. It was a lovely vixen, whose long red hair, pale blue eyes and svelte figure had captured their attention once before. Needless to say, the guys’ reactions were slightly different from the lady’s.
“Katie?” Louie said in surprise. “I knew you couldn’t stay away from me!” Baloo grabbed her hand to kiss it. “I see fate has brought us together again, mad-mo-selle. It weren’t chance this time. It has to be destiny!”
Katie pulled her hand away. “Yeah, my destiny to keep meeting bozos out in the middle of nowhere. What’s all that noise out there, and don’t even think of ruining my study of Montaña del Fantasma! I’ve had to wait three years to get the funds to come here, not to mention the time spent on deciphering the Uktarpian language.”
Baloo ducked his head a little. “Oh it’s nothing to worry your stunningly beautiful head over...uh, it’s just some pirates that want all the treasure for themselves.”
“WHAT! No way am I letting some low-life scum take away the priceless artifacts it’s taken me...”
Louie interceded in his sensitive way. “Whoa, you’re beautiful when you’re angry. Of course, you’re beautiful the rest of the time, too.” Katie grimaced at the two of them a moment or two more, then allowed herself to smile. “Okay, I guess I’m glad to see you guys, too. Just don’t press it, and please tell me these pirates don’t have giant scarabs or something like that.”
Baloo grinned, remembering. “No, but they have an Iron Vulture and they carry guns and cutlasses. Don’t worry, Louie would gladly lay down his life to protect you.” Louie pushed Baloo aside. “He was just leaving, Katie baby. What say you and I count the treasure and head off for parts unknown together?”
Katie moaned in frustration. “Give it a rest, and follow me.”
Katie led them through a labyrinth of adjoining tunnels, apparently made from lava flows in some ancient time. They emerged into a huge cavern, filled with stone monoliths and the walls covered with the strange symbols like the one that Baloo had seen outside.
The archeologist gestured to the whole of the room. “This is the last remaining part of ancient Uktarpia. They were a powerful city-state in the pre-Columbian era, and dominated every tribe they met. Their art and carvings are legendary among the archeology community. Then suddenly, for no apparent reason, they simply dropped off the historical map. No one knew what had become of them, but now I think I’m beginning to piece it together from the carvings here. Everything in here indicates one central area, and I’m hoping it’s an archive.”
Baloo took it all in. “Well, we better be indicating one central area really fast, since Don Karnage is hot on our heels. Katie, do you know of any way to block the way in? Aren’t ancient temples supposed to have lots of traps and stuff?”
“Baloo, this is a very old temple. Do you really expect to find something simply by putting your foot on a certain spot?” Katie accentuated her spiel by placing her foot on a particular square of the stone floor. It sank into the bedrock, and a secret door in the side of the carved stone wall opened.
Louie rubbed his hands. “Secret doors means treasure’s around. Last one in’s a rotten mummy!” Louie started ahead, when Katie grabbed his arm. “Wait! Over the door’s mantle—there’s some more writing that was concealed before.”
Katie put on her reading glasses. “Be-ware all who enter here, for you will...share in the curse of the Uktarpi. On-ly the bearer of the ancients can give Queen Mesalonie rest, and peace to the Uktarpi.”
Louie stepped aside. “Baloo, you’re a bear, so you can help the queenie. I’ll look after dear Katie.” Baloo pushed him forward. “Nice try, Louie. What happens if we go in there? What’s the curse?”
Katie removed her glasses. “All tombs traditionally have some sort of curse involved with them to keep anyone from defiling it. Strange though—I wasn’t aware of any queens in the Pre-Columbian world. We should check this out.”
“Good idea,” Baloo said. “Let’s check it out real fast and lock the door behind us.”
“And for why would you be wishing to lock the door?”
The three of them turned to find Karnage and the air pirates standing there. Karnage’s eyes flashed when he saw Katie, and he bowed low. “Allow me to be making the introductions, señorita. I am the great chief of plunder, Don Karnage—hold your applause.”
Katie frowned. “And I’m Katie Dodd, archeologist. And you have no right to be here!” Karnage whiffed his sword through the air. “I am thinking that right is coming from might, yes-no? In any case, we wish to be seeing what the queen has to welcome us with!”
The air pirates nodded greedily, and Baloo and Louie put themselves protectively between Karnage and Katie. “Lay off the lady, Don Garbage!” Baloo said.
“Yeah, she’s a friend of ours!” Louie added.
Katie pushed them aside. “Are all men idiots? Look, there’s a curse that will be activated if anyone disturbs this place!” Will caught the captain’s ear and whispered into it. “Nonsense!” Karnage replied. “Do you think the great Don Karnage will let his apple cart be upsetted by an ancient curse? Forward! But the lovely señorita will remain at my side.”
Forcing Baloo and Louie ahead of them, the air pirates headed in, followed by Katie and her escort. When their torches lit it up, they found to their surprise that there was daylight—or rather moonlight—coming in from high above. To their further surprise, the room was devoid of any treasure. The only adornment was a large stone sarcophagus with more writing on it.
Louie looked at the writing on the stone. “Uh well, it’s Uktarpian to me. You better let the foxy lady take a look at the groovy squiggles on the rock, cuz.” Karnage let Katie go, and she put on her glasses again. “It says, ‘whoever would attempt to free the queen and earn the reward of the Uktarpi must bring the light to shine on this, the queen’s resting-place’.”
Baloo pointed at Karnage with a sweeping motion. “You want the treasure, Karny, then get the light to shine here, buddy.” Karnage raised his sword. “I am thinking that my polished blade will do the trick or treat—and for me it will be a treat!”
Karnage angled his sword to catch the moon’s rays coming in, which bounced them toward the sarcophagus. Within moments, the symbols on the stone edifice began to glow, and in a burst of light it opened. Everyone rubbed their eyes, and when they were able to see again, they found they weren’t alone. A female hippo, dressed in queenly raiment, stood before them ominously.
“Who has wakened me from my sleep? Who deserves the reward of a grateful queen? Queen Eeeka demands an answer!”
General panic set in, as the finger-pointing began.
“It was the fat one and hairy one!” Karnage shouted.
“No it wasn’t, Karny!” Baloo said. “It was you all the way!”
“Who are you going to believe, the plump bear or the suave air pirate, myself?”
The queen looked on Karnage with disdain. “A true hero would never seek honor for himself.” She smiled and walked up to Baloo, giving him a seductive look. “I would like to honor my rescuer with a royal kiss. Surely you wouldn’t defy a queen’s desire?”
Baloo wanted to. He really wanted to. “Uh well, that is, your royalness...” Before he could come up with anything, she picked him up—hippos are very strong—and smooched him. Louie and Katie both reveled in the sight. Eeeka giggled as she set him down, and Baloo’s brain caught up with him.
“You know, queenie, my friend here did as much for you as me. I just can’t take all the credit,” Baloo grinned, pointing at Louie. Before Louie could even utter a protest he received a bone crushing bear hug from Eeeka and a kiss. “Now that the customary greetings are taken care of, what has brought you all to my lair?”
Katie stepped forward. “We’re here to explore the ancient mysteries of the Uktarpi. But on the door, it said your name was Mesalonie.” Eeeka laughed, snorting a little. “Oh, that’s my name, but I liked Eeeka better.”
Then Eeeka took on a sadder countenance. “There is little left of the Uktarpi to explore. Our very civilization will soon be nothing but a ghost of the past, lost forever in the endless flowing of the sands of time.”
“But you’re here!” Katie said. “If you’ll take a few days out to speak to me, I’ll record whatever you have to say for posterity.” Eeeka looked up at the moon. “Oh, for a few days to walk this world again…but there is little time for me...a time for all things to become the past...”
She appeared faint, and swooned—her fall being cushioned by the bodies of Baloo and Louie. Katie covered the derisive smile on her face with her hand, and helped the queen regain her feet. “To become the past? Is this all part of the curse, then?”
Eeeka looked on all of them with despair. “Why did you have to come here? The curse of the Uktarpi was our unbearable burden alone, now it has become yours as well. Shining the light in here has now brought you all to ruin!”
“Ruin!” Baloo and Louie shouted. They stood up quick, not liking the sound of this.
Louie faced the queen. “What’s this burden stuff all about, your largeness?”
“We don’t like stuff that’s unbearable...like Becky’s workload,” Baloo added.
Eeeka held her hands in front of her. “It was my own vanity that brought about all of this. I didn’t always look this way—once I was the most beautiful bear in all the kingdom. A woman of my beauty obviously could have any man she wanted—men were my playthings. One day a suitor came calling, a strange, dark man. He professed his love for me but I rebuffed his advances.
“He grew bitter and swore to bring ruin upon me and my people. Well, eventually I found someone that was able to tame the wild temptress within me, but on the day we were to be wed, the dark man returned. He was a mighty wizard and he called down a terrible curse upon our whole civilization, destroying everything, and it is yet still strong enough to draw others to their doom.”
Louie whistled. “So how do you un-cursify what mister tall, dark and jealous did?” Eeeka pointed to a pictogram of a crown on the wall. “The only way to break the curse is to restore to me my crown, stolen by the wizard. I have a map that will show you the way. Only that will free us all from the curse, or else you’ll join me in my endless waiting.”
Karnage’s eyes showed his interest at the mention of the crown. “Well, of course, your highnessness. Um, might there be any valuable knickedyknacks at this wizard’s place?”
“He was very wealthy. Keep whatever you like, just return here with the crown.” She gazed into Karnage’s eyes. “If you don’t return with the crown before sunrise, you and I will have a great deal of time to get to know each other.” Even for Karnage, the look gave him room for pause. “Very well.”
Baloo took the map from Eeeka. “Don’t worry about a thing, queenie. We’ll get that crown back to ya!” Louie shot a suspicious look at Karnage and his group. “Yeah, as long as something expected doesn’t happen...”
“Don’t talk like that Louie, you’ll jinx us,” Baloo said.
“Jinx? Man, this place is already the jinx capital of the world! And don’t forget, we’ve got precious here to make sure we don’t get bored.”
Katie’s eyelids narrowed. “Precious, huh? I’ll show you precious!” Katie grabbed a clay urn and aimed for Louie. The orang knew it was coming and ducked. Katie wiped Karnage out before he knew what hit him.
“Katie baby, you missed your calling,” Louie said, admiring the damage. “You oughtta’ve been in the majors with that kind of heat!” Baloo had other matters on his nervous mind. “Why don’t we make like a tree and get the heck outta here and get this curse thingy outta the way before we end up here with her roundness for eternity?”
Katie grinned at Baloo. “Why Baloo, I never knew you were such a gallant soul! You see, Your Majesty, he really does care about you.” Eeeka smiled knowingly. “How can any man resist me? The beauty of a goddess and the charm and bearing of a queen are mine, of course.”
Eeeka squeezed Baloo tightly, while Louie covered his mouth to keep from belting out with laughter. Eeeka grabbed him up too, not wanting to leave him out. Katie took charge of the map. “I think if our time’s as limited as you say, we’d better get going now.” Baloo extricated himself from Eeeka’s grip and zoomed up to the archeologist. “Wherever you go, I’ll be right behind you, Katie dear.”
The procession gathered outside around Katie and the map. She put on her glasses, and studied the ancient parchment in the moonlight. “Okay, we’re here on the mountain. It looks like the wizard’s stronghold is about five miles to the southwest. That’s all grown-up jungle now, almost impossible to traverse by any way other than air.”
Baloo turned to Karnage, still recovering from Katie’s strikeout. “Okay Karny, time to give us a first-class trip on the Iron Vulture. I want a window seat, next to the lovely lady of course.”
Karnage crossed his arms. “I am the fierce pirate, not the Captain Stubing! Why should I go out of my self-important way to help you?” Baloo thumbed back at the door they’d first entered. “‘Cause if you don’t we’re all gonna spend thousands of years together under a curse and Louie and I will do our best to annoy you as much as possible every day of it.”
Karnage laughed, as only an egotistical pirate can. “You do not seriously think that there is some curse? That was likely some cohort of the charming lady here, sent to do the bamboozling. Oh no, it would take something much more convincing to make Don Karnage help the unlikes of you.”
Suddenly storm clouds gathered over the night sky, covering the moon and leaving only the group’s eyes showing. Lightning flashed, the ground rumbled and the wind blew in horrific velocity. “Then again, it never hurts to be the helpful sort once in every blue moon or so...” In a few moments, all was peaceful. “Well, don’t stand there like the bumps on a log cabin! Let us be going!”
Baloo took Katie’s arm. “Allow me to escort you to the plane.” Louie took her other arm. “No, allow me!” The two began tugging Katie back and forth. “Oh, for crying out loud!” Katie shouted, tugging herself free and grabbing an ear of each of her victims. “Now let’s get in this metallic monstrosity and get this over with!”
Karnage followed them up the gangway. “Mmm, forceful and gorgeous. I might have to be making the proposal to this one...”
Once they were all in the Iron Vulture, the beak closed and Scotty…er Jacques… fired up the engines to full power. The great airship headed southwest, and soon they spotted a large clearing in the jungle with ruins.
“There! That’s got to be it,” Katie said.
Baloo didn’t like the looks. “You mean that clearing where there’s no living thing within it and the castle sorta shaped like a skull?” Louie sighed, “Looks like we’re going for broke.” Katie was too excited to be distracted. “That’s what the map shows, all right. And there’s writing on the back as well. It starts out, ‘beware...all who would enter...the forbidden...castle...of the evil...that never..sleeps’.”
“Maybe he should switch to decaf,” Louie quipped.
“Wait, there’s more. ‘To defeat the evil one you must...turn back...time—I think it’s time, anyway—and seek the beginning’.”
Baloo briefly wondered why all ancient people wrote so cryptically, but decided it wasn’t worth the effort. “Okay, you’re the expert here, Katie. What’s all this magic mumbo-jumbo?” Katie rolled up the map. “Well, assuming that the queen was who she said she was, maybe the wizard’s still around too. He obviously wouldn’t want her getting the crown, so I guess we’ll have to turn back time—however that’s done.”
“Does anyone have a watch?” Baloo asked.
Karnage pointed at the skull-shaped fortress. “We aren’t going to turn anything back until we are making like the parachutes and dropping in!” Baloo never was good at taking direct suggestions. “Hey, this thing can hover! Why don’t you just land us vertical right down there? I could mess up my roguish good looks, otherwise.”
The Iron Vulture moved nearer, and set down in the clearing. Soon, the group gathered outside the skull entrance to the fortress. There were lots of stone ruins in the area, most of them large stone pillars that formed a circle similar to the one at Stonehenge. Katie was fascinated, as any good archeologist would be. “According to the map, the fortress is mostly underground. We can’t chance getting lost, so we’d better all stick together.”
Karnage crossed his arms. “As a non-trusting pirate, I would have it no other way.” Baloo stuck close to Katie. “Don’t worry, Katie, I’ll never leave your side.” Louie was one the other side of her, as usual. “Hey cuz, didn’t we just do this routine?”
Entering through the mouth of the skull, the exterior light diminished as the entryway angled downward. Wisely they’d thought to bring torches, and now the fire from them revealed ornately-inscribed walls. When they reached the bottom of the entryway, it dead-ended.
“Looks like mister wizard doesn’t like party-crashers,” Louie said.
Baloo brought his torch near the wall in front of them, looking for a way in. “Well, we gotta find this calendar thingy, so everybody start lookin’ for a secret door or something. There’s always a secret door.” Louie began running his hands across the flat stone wall. “You said that already, too.”
The group gasped as a loud voice spoke. “Who wishes to enter the domain of Rescateth?” Karnage took a step back. “I am thinking that possibly we should be making like the hasty puddings and getting ourselves away...”
“No way,” Baloo said. “We gotta save our hides and that of her largeness and break that curse!” Louie nodded emphatically. “Yeah, so step aside and let Baloo answer the big bad boogey man!”
Everyone obliged and let Baloo take the lead. Again the voice sounded. “Who wishes to enter the domain of Rescateth?” Baloo cleared his throat. “Me, Res...cat... whatever your name is.”
A door opened in the wall in front of them. Now the voice was louder. “You may enter, but only one other may come. Choose, and come forward.” Baloo looked around at the others. “Uh, okay, let’s draw straws.”
“I stink at drawing,” Louie said. “I say Katie should go, man. She’s the one with all the smarts.”
“Now wait a fat farm minute, here!” Karnage protested. “I am the terror of the skies, the prince of pirates! I think I would be as much use as this charming young lady.”
Karnage tried to kiss Katie’s hand and she slugged him.
“Hands off, creep!” Katie said, as Karnage peeled himself off the floor. The pirate leader wobbled back to his feet. “She is so forceful...” Karnage plopped back to the ground in a heap, and Baloo brought out the straws from somewhere.
“Nothing like picking your own poison,” Louie said, taking a straw. They all drew, and Louie won. “Yep, the streak’s still in place.” Baloo cleared the way. “Well, the better man won. Go in there, defeat the wizard and we’ll just wait out here for you.”
“Oh no, fuzzy!” Louie said, grabbing his arm. “He said both of us, so let’s make with the moves and get this visit to the house of horrors over with!” Katie intervened. “Good luck, you two. I’m counting on you guys.”
Baloo calmed down. “Okay, Katie. But how come we have to be the ones to go?”
Louie started walking for the door. “Because if we don’t, we’re gonna be shades of ourselves in a couple of hours.”
“That’s a good reason.”
Baloo and Louie entered the doorway, which immediately closed behind them. It was dark at first, but their eyes adjusted to the point where they could see they were in a large structure that appeared to be the interior of a Mayan pyramid. Dankness covered everything as they noticed light in a room off to their right.
As they entered, they found the light was coming from a small window in the high ceiling overhead, similar to the one in Queen Eeeka's crypt. In the middle of the stone room was a throne, and sitting on the throne was a spectral being that quickly became solid as Eeeka had. He was a tall but gangly-looking llama, who gave the appearance of a guy that spent most of his time trying to explain himself to others.
Rescateth stood up. “Well, what did you expect, a giant mummy with hordes of evil minions?” Baloo thought about it. “Well, yeah, now that you mention it.”
“It’s kinda anti-climactic,” Louie said. “Say Rescat, your voice sounds sort of familiar.”
“Yeah!” Baloo. “You sound like that wacko scientist that shrunk Molly and kept complaining about the jelly on his sandwiches. Come to think of it, you also sound like that crazy electrical villain from DarkWing Duck.” Rescateth grew testy. “What do you want? A new voice artist for every character!”
Baloo held up his hands. “Okay, okay. So how do we break this curse and get to go home? And don’t try to start trouble or Louie will have to rough you up.” Rescateth jumped off his throne and walked forward. “Curse? So Eeeka finally sent someone! Tell me, did she mention my sparkling eyes or my delicately-shaped ears?”
“She said you were an evil wizard that destroyed her entire civilization just for spite because she didn’t like you.”
Rescateth shouted in frustration. “She would remember that! I bet she didn’t bother to tell you it was one of her own people who cursed me first, did she? It was fair payback!” Louie could see where this guy would be a curse magnet. “Well, maybe she just forgot to mention that.”
“Maybe she had a good reason for doing it,” Baloo added.
Rescateth threw up his hands. “Okay, okay! So I got a little carried away one day and turned her parents into statues because they said I couldn’t take her out on a date. I did change them back after a year, but how people hold a grudge! She had her shaman turn me into this hideous llama! For good! And just because she said I was clinging to her like a giant fruit bat—well okay I was, but forgetting that—you see my point!”
“The only point I see is on your head,” Louie said.
Baloo decided to take a different approach. “So what’s it gonna take to make this all go away? You gotta be tired of waitin’ here forever. Don’t you wanna rest?” Rescateth threw up his hands in frustration. “Rest! When all the guys said, ‘Rescateth can’t get a girlfriend’! Look, I’ll make a deal with you. If you help me get a date with Eeeka, I’ll help you get that crown. Okay?”
Baloo looked at his friend. “What do you think, Louie?”
“Maybe it’s worth a try, but we ain’t got much time left. Speakin’ of time, Rescateth man, what day is it?”
Rescateth looked over at the far wall. “17 Zotz.” He took in at the blank stares. “That doesn’t mean much to you, huh? Well, we’ve got our own way of keeping time here that goes all the way back to the beginning of recorded time.”
“Really?” Baloo said, remembering the words on the back on the map. “That sounds real interesting, could you explain a little more?” Rescateth was elated at the interest. “Oh yeah! Come on, and I’ll show you.”
He pulled Louie and Baloo back into the main room, which was pitch black with the entrance door shut. “Can you shed some light on the subject, cuz? Our peepers don’t do well in the gloom and all.” Instantly, Rescateth produced a burning torch. “They used to ask me to do that at all the parties. From some reason, they threw me out after that. Oh, here.”
Rescateth indicated the wall in front of them, filled with Mayan symbols. “The Mayan calendar’s really neat because it’s ultra-accurate. We have 18 months of 20 days each, and then five extra special days. According to legend, time began on 8 Cumku—that symbol right there.”
Rescateth pointed out the symbol, which was contained on one entire stone block. Baloo walked up to that stone and looked at it closely. “That’s pretty neat.” Baloo caught Louie’s attention, then shouted and pointed. “Hey! Look over there!”
Rescateth began looking all around. “Where? Where?”
Baloo and Louie pushed the stone with effort, and it moved inward about six inches. A small panel opened to the left of the stone, and the hidden golden crown was revealed. This of course drew Rescateth’s attention again. “Oh, so that’s where I hid that thing. I knew I should’ve written that...hey! You were trickin’ me, weren’t you?”
Baloo put on the innocent act. “Uh no, we were...I was just going to sit down and it moved.” Rescateth raised his hands, and Baloo and Louie’s eyes got big as saucers. Then he dropped them and plopped to the floor. “Oh, I don’t care anymore. Go ahead, take the crown and make Little Miss Rejecter happy. It’s not like she couldn’t have come here and asked for it herself. She’s had ten shots in the last millennium at least! She just hates me!”
Rescateth began to bawl, which didn’t do anything for his reputation as a fearsome specter or wizard. Baloo put an arm around his shoulder. “Look, it’s nothing personal. We got caught up in this curse business and we don’t want to be stuck here forever. But think, when we give the crown to her it will end, the curse will be broken.”
“Oh sure, she’ll be just peachy,” Rescateth said, irony all in his voice. “But I won’t! I’ll still be here, lonely and unwanted for the rest of time. All she has to do is kiss me. That’s it, one little peck on the snoot and I’d be out of this. Is that too much to ask!”
Louie considered it. “Maybe we can get her to do that. Can you leave this crazy place and come with us?” Rescateth nodded. “Yeah, I can come and go just like she can until the sun rises. Do you really think she’ll change her mind? It’s been since the last fourth of Yax since she’s said a word to me.”
Baloo stowed the crown away safely in his map case. “Well, what are we waitin’ for? Let’s get out of here and get to Eeeka’s place before the sun rises or we’re gonna all be spending a lot of time together.”
Outside, Karnage had awakened. Katie had been studying the inscriptions on the wall, and the wolf (ironic, isn’t it?) decided to try once again. He cleared his throat. “I was thinking, miss archeologist, that I could use someone of your—shall we say unique talents about the Iron Vulture. With your knowledge of ancient history and my obviously overpowering presence, we could live like the king and queen, yes-no?”
Katie walked over to him. “Don’t take this the wrong way, Karnage, but drop dead.” Karnage balled his hands up, shaking them. “You are so spiritful! I would be willing to share the profits 60-40...”
“It’s kind of you to offer to take only 40 percent, but I’m not interested. You’d cramp my style, flyboy.”
Karnage did a very rare thing for him. He got down on his knees. “Don Karnage is not the begging type, but for one so glorious he will make the exception. In addition to all else, you can be keeping all the things that are not gold or silver or jewels, like all the precious artifacts we are sure to find!”
Katie decided to be frank with him. “Sorry Karnage, but it just wouldn’t work out between us. I’m academic and you’re a pirate—you steal and destroy and I recover and preserve. You’re just moved by my looks, you’ll get over it.”
“Oh, intelligent and perceptive!” Karnage said. “Okay, an equal share, but that is my final offer.”
“Sorry, Karnage, the answer’s no. It just wouldn’t work. I’m sure you’ll find a pirate queen out there for you some day.”
Karnage stood up, dusting himself off. “Well, let it never be said that Don Karnage was the pirate to beg twice. Perhaps if we end up the spirits you will reconsider in a century or two.”
“If she’s anything like my problem, I wouldn’t count on it!”
Katie, Karnage and the reticent Air Pirates turned to find Baloo, Louie and the erstwhile wizard standing there. Katie was instantly intrigued. “Wow, a genuine Mayan wizard!” Rescateth drew back instantly. “Please, don’t ask me to the flying serpent bit! I hate that!”
Louie brought Rescateth forward. “Karnage, you better get that ship of yours flyin’ cause we ain’t got much time left!”
“Yeah, get the lead out, Karny!” Baloo said.
Karnage crossed his arms defiantly. “Excuse me, am I hearing Baloo and his party-going sidekick ordering the great Don Karnage around? I demand a better tone of respect, or perhaps I will allow my pirates to demand it from you!”
Louie wasn’t impressed. “Okay, so how many of you pirates want to wait around here and become cursed to spend the next few thousand years as ghosts just because your boss wants to be talked to like he’s important?”
The pirates started talking among themselves, which was actually a bad thing because they didn’t have an ounce of smarts in the lot of them—well, except for Will. After a full minute of bickering, Katie solved the stalemate. “Karnage, you get your pirate butt up that gangplank, now!” Karnage was mesmerized. “She is magnificent! At once, my vision of sugarplums dancing in my head!”
Katie groaned in disgust but followed with Baloo and the others as they headed for the Iron Vulture. When they reached Eeeka’s secret enclosure, it was fifteen minutes until sunrise. “Hey, queenie baby!” Louie called out. “We got your crown, so make with the appearing act!”
Eeeka did so, but immediately drew back. “Rescateth!” Rescateth bowed. “You noticed! C’mon, I’m sorry already. Isn’t 1,500 years of fleas and eating grass enough?” Baloo walked over to Eeeka. “C’mon lady, give him a kiss already and then everyone can get their curses broken.”
Eeeka shook her head. “Sorry boys, but he turned my mother and father into statues!” Rescateth stamped his foot. “They know about that, and I did turn them back! Eeeka, we’ve only got five minutes and I don’t know about you but I don’t want to wager that someone else will find us again. Please? I promise I’ll behave.”
Eeeka mulled it over in her mind. “Do you promise not to pinch my cheeks, call me ‘my little temple goddess’ or terrorize anyone else ever again?” Rescateth rolled his eyes. “All right, all right! Boy, the things you do for love…”
Eeeka marched over, picked up the llama boy, and kissed him on the nose. In a poof, he changed into a rather-handsome bear in Mayan apparel. “Yes, back in the uncursed set!”
Baloo reached into his map case. “Eeeka, take the crown now, before we join the other set!” Eeeka did so, and placed it on her head. She changed in a poof as well, also becoming a bear—a cute one, in fact. Rescateth grinned at her. “Eeeka, if I may say so, you look...”
“No, you may not! Remember your promise!”
Rescateth grimaced. “Oh, okay. But can I at least stay and spend the next eon here on evaluation?” Eeeka shrugged and sighed. “Oh, all right.” She then turned toward the others as the sun rose, and Rescateth came to stand next to her. “Thank you all for your help. If not for you, I would never have been free.”
“It’s no problem, queenie,” Baloo said. “We’re glad to have helped and if you don’t mind we’ll be fleeing very quickly now before anything else happens.” Karnage waved goodbye. “It was nice not knowing you!” Rescateth and Eeeka waved goodbye as they faded into the pages of history.
Katie led the way out as the sun rose over the mountain range on the horizon, circumspect about it all. “To think, we actually met two people from the Pre-Columbian era! I wish we’d had time to interview them. The knowledge they had would’ve been invaluable. I guess it’s up to me now and the other archeologists to find the facts.”
“And it’s up to us to get our hands on anything valuable and get out of here!” Louie said. Katie stopped at that. “Now, hold on! This place is a treasure trove of knowledge! If you go carting it off, no one will be able to tell who lived here or how they lived.”
Baloo tried to reason with her. “Well, there’ll be plenty left over from when we’re done…” The guys started to pick up some things, when Katie grabbed each one by the ear. “Hey now, Katie! Easy with the merchandise!” Louie protested. Then she spied Karnage and his crew with their arms full. “You do that, and I’ll never speak to you again!”
Karnage gasped. “Don’t just stand there, put it all back!” Dumptruck looked at him, dumbfounded. “But I thought you said...”
“Never mind what you thought I said, I am thinking something else! Put it back!” The Air Pirates put the treasure back reluctantly, and Katie dragged Baloo and Louie outside. When they all got there, Katie released them, for there was a new sight that caught them all off-guard. The giant gold medallion that the dynamic duo had seen was now fully uncovered, complete with several golden pillars supporting it, and a note that read: Take this for your trouble, and thanks again--Eeeka and Rescateth.
Louie pointed at the gold bonanza. “Well, can we take that at least?” Katie stood back, admiring it. “I guess so, but how are we going to get it back?” Karnage grinned and spoke in mock pity. “Too bad—I guess the lowly pirates will have to take it all...”
Baloo started thinking, then he heard a familiar sound. “Not this time, Karny. Look up, and re-joice!” Baloo pointed toward the rising sun, and from thence the Sea Duck appeared. Baloo signaled the plane and it landed near the mountain. Wildcat and Kit got out.
Wildcat walked up to Baloo. “Hey, we got tired of waiting for you and since nothing was happening back at Cape Suzette we decided to come down here and we heard from these native guys that you were out here and we saw the Iron Vulture and there was the Sea Duck so we got in and we finally got the new clockenheimer working and I brought the duck over to show ya! Hey, that gold’s neat looking. We could melt it down and make statues of ourselves!”
Louie, ever the businessman, led the negotiations. “How about we call it a draw, Karnage? We each get to take some home.” Karnage sheathed his sword. “Karnage is a pirate of mercy on occasion. Besides, even the Iron Vulture could only handle so much.”
Katie laughed sarcastically. “You’re all heart, Karnage.”
Karnage twisted around to look upon Katie. “You wouldn’t happen to have reconsidered, would you?”
“Not on your life, Karnage. You’ll just have to keep dreaming.”
Karnage bowed low, and he and the Air Pirates proceeded to take the oversized gold medallion. Even with the Iron Vulture’s help, it wasn’t easy. Then they helped load the smaller supporting pillars aboard the Sea Duck—mainly because Katie asked Karnage, and she agreed to let him kiss her hand. Once the treasure was aboard, Katie joined Baloo and the others on the plane.
“As soon as we get back to civilization, I’ve got to bring a full research team back to document this find. And with my share of the treasure, I can afford the best! I’ll be able to keep up my research for at least the next ten years. What about you guys? What’re you going to do with your share of the booty?”
Louie leaned back in his seat. “I’m gonna start serving all 32 flavors of ice-cream at Louie’s!” Baloo followed suit. “I’m gonna upgrade my record player to Hi-Fi!” Katie laughed again, this time warmly. “Well, you two always did think big.”
Kit tapped Baloo on the shoulder. “Hey, Papa Bear, maybe now you can buy the Sea Duck back! It’s what you always wanted, isn’t it?” Baloo snapped his fingers. “Yeah, that too! Then again, something always happens whenever I try to do that. How much you wanna bet we don’t get back to Cape Suzette with this stuff?”
“Fuzzy’s right, all that we ever get outta these little adventures is a funny story,” Louie said. Wildcat finished securing the gold pillars. “Well, I dunno about that. There was the time when we saw all the neat dinosaurs and I fed them jellybeans! And the time where I met that neat girl Clementine, and the time you two thwarted that little guy named Douggie who was trying to take over Louie’s, and...”
“But we never got any cash outta those deals,” Baloo retorted. “We never end up with more than chump change when these adventures are over.” Wildcat patted Baloo’s shoulder. “Money isn’t everything, Baloo.”
Louie watched the Iron Vulture disappear over the horizon. “Well, we did get outta there alive, so I guess that’s something.” Kit took his seat behind Louie. “Yeah, and Miss Cunningham wants us back yesterday.”
Baloo started up the Sea Duck. “Well, I’m sure Becky won’t mind us stopping at Louie’s for a little celebrating before we get home.” Louie gave out a laugh. “Talk about a guy who likes cheating death.” The view pulled back to the Sea Duck flying north as they headed for Louie’s and what was sure to be more adventures to come.
Rescateth and Eeeka are copyright Indy and Chris Silva. Louie, Baloo, Wildcat, Kit Cloudkicker, Katie Dodd, Don Karnage and Dumptruck are copyright Disney and used without permission, but with the utmost respect