noopy Moony and Truly Dooly were trudging wearily through the desert, in dire need for water. Snoopy had miscalculated how long it would take them to get to Darashia. She was so dried-out, that when she saw some lions near a huge rock up ahead, she felt no fear, but only relief. If there were lions, there had to be water. She decided to inspect this area more closely.
When she climbed up the rock, the first thing that caught her eyes was a gorgeous flower. Despite her fatigue and thirstiness, her druidic nature compelled her to pocket the plant that she identified as the famous lion's mane. When she turned around and noticed a beautiful well with a lion-like face sparkling with fresh water, she was awestruck. It seemed as precious to her as a chest full of gold. She and Truly hastily refreshed and filled up the ewers.
Having regained energy, Snoopy became curious. She wanted to explore this mysterious rock. When she found a way underground, she was happy to escape the heat. She felt relaxed. That changed quickly when she stumbled over a human skeleton on the floor. However, when she discovered an old parchment amongst the bones, the initial shock was gone, and she read it with utmost curiosity:
"Still it is hard to believe that I finally found the mystical rock formations near Darashia, known as Lion's Rock. According to ancient records there is a temple for an unknown, probably long forgotten deity, built in the tunnels deep below the rock centuries ago. This holy site was once guarded by mystical lions and they may still be down there. But yet I haven't succeeded in entering the inner sanctum. The entrance to the lower temple areas is protected by an old and powerful enchantment. I studied the inscriptions on the temple walls and thus learned that the key to the inner sanctum is the passing of three tests. The first test is the Lion's Strength. In order to honour the site's mystical cats of prey one has to hunt and slay a cobra. The cobra's tongue must be laid down at a stone statue as a sacrifice. The second test is the Lion's Beauty. One has to burn the petals of a lion's mane flower on a coal basin. In the sand at the rock's foot I saw some dried lion's mane petals. Maybe these flowers grow somewhere upwards. The third test is called the Lion's Tears. It seems one has to purify an ornamented stone pedestal with ..." At this point the records ended because the parchment was destroyed.
Inner Sanctum? Temple? Tests? Snoopy felt intrigued. According to the parchment, she needed a cobra's tongue to pass the first test. That was easy, there were cobras all around. She pulled out her rod, pointed it at a snake that immediately dropped dead with a last twist of its body. She cut out the tongue, and began looking for a stone statue. The amount of creatures Snoopy had to face beneath this rock surprised her. This rock seemed to be the home of the undead. She had no problem moving forward, though.
She had not been searching for long when she indeed found a statue. This must be it, she said to herself. She took out the tongue, laid it down in the ground, and waited. Suddenly a light began to flicker in a small pyramid nearby. She took this as a sign of success and ventured on.
For her next task she needed a coal basin. She had a lion's mane flower in her bag already, so this should be solved quickly, too. She looked around and found a basin indeed. She burnt one of the petals, just as she was supposed to. Once again, a light in a small pyramid nearby lit up. Easy as pie!, she thought. She already pictured herself entering the inner sanctum. She felt confident and had forgotten all about the dead explorer who had obviously been on this path before her and had written the parchment.
She moved forward and kept her eyes open for an ornamented stone pedestal in order to complete the third test. After she found it, she started thinking: Lion's Tears? That's tricky... That well on the rock had looked like a lion, maybe that water had actually been a lion's tears...? The thought felt awkward. Nevertheless, she carefully put some drops from her ewer on the pedestal and waited. Nothing happened. Had she passed...? She was in doubt.
Feeling all clueless, she looked around. She remembered passing a strangely shimmering flame before. It had not mattered to her then, but now she thought that maybe it was a sign of the enchantment the note had mentioned. A bit far fetched, but lacking any other idea, she decided to inspect it more closely. The second that she and Truly got close to the flame, they were pulled towards it and swirled around quickly. When they came to a halt, Snoopy heard a loud echo: You have passed the Lion's Tests and are now worthy to enter the inner sanctum! They had been teleported. She was baffled and she finally remembered the skeleton she had tripped over. It dawned on her that this mission could be quite dangerous. For a moment, she hesitated. She was anxious, and at the same time, really excited. The tension inside of her was immense. She could not resist. She moved on.
Carefully, she went down the steps in front of her. A huge bug-like creature came running towards her. At first, she wanted to follow her impulse to flee, but she decided to fight instead. With her eyes closed out of fear and expecting the worst, she fired her rod at the critter.
This was the first ancient scarab she had ever seen and luckily, also defeated. She continued her exploration of this underground temple with caution. She saw hieroglyphs on the walls, and several empty amphoras and sacophagi. Exciting at first, but slightly boring after a while. When she carelessly bumped into an ancient amphora, it tipped over and broke into several pieces. She was emberrassed and quickly looked around to see if anybody witnessed this blunder. But - she was alone. Amidst the debris, she spotted an old scroll containing mysterious signs. They seemed familiar. Then she understood: She could use this to decipher the inscriptions! Parchment in her hand, she started looking for further hieroglyphs, easily defeating the lions that had become aware of her in the meantime.
With the aid of the old scroll, she could indeed translate a couple of signs. She learned about creatures the mighty lion had defeated:
- a hyaena from which he took red blood as a victory sign,
- a lizard from which he stole a blue egg,
- a snake from which he took a yellow eye,
- and a treacherous scorpion from which he received violet poison.
Allegedly, the mighty lion created a precious treasure after each defeat. Snoopy enjoyed these stories, but could not make much sense of them. Wondering where all this would lead her, she moved on. When she had defended herself against more of the roaring lions in a really spectacular looking room of the temple, she noticed marvellous ornaments of the floor. She kneeled down, and upon further inspection, she spotted little sockets of different shapes in them. One socket reminded her of a scoprion's pincer, another resembled a nest, one looked like a mouth, and the other was hard to define, but it could be a maw, maybe.
Snoopy's thoughts were racing. A scorpion had been part of the stories, a nest could hold an egg - she knew she was close to a solution. She tried to remember all the information from the inscriptions: Red blood from the hyaena, a blue egg from the lizard, a yellow eye from the snake, and violet poison from the scorpion. She thought about the colours... Then the scales fell from her eyes! These were the same colours as the gems she had collected while fighting the lions! She had not paid much attention to them, but now she took the little stones out of her bag for a closer look. She regarded them in her hand. An amethyst, a ruby, a sapphire and a topaz. She decided to try out her theory. She placed the gems into the sockets she thought would be right. The touch of the blue sapphire with the socket resembling a nest immediately triggered a blue flame. She almost got herself burnt! Now being more careful, she place the violet amethyst into the socket that resembled a scorpion's pincer. A violet flame appeared. After she had placed the rest of the gems correctly, she stood there surrounded by four colourful flames.
She felt amazing. As she took that all in, she noticed a fountain that had magically appeared in the center of the room. When she saw something shimmering in the water, she went closer and pulled out an amulet that resembles a golden lion's head. A Lion's Heart.
Holding this treasure in her hand, she felt really proud. She had turned this day around completely. Having been so close to death in the desert, she had not given up. Instead, she had recovered, had solved riddles, had explored a mysterious temple, had seen creatures she had never seen before, had learned about the legend of the mighty lion, and had even received an extra reward. She had literally put her head in the lion's mouth and survived! Instead of a feeling like a failure, she now felt like a true Lion's Den Explorer. Feeling like this, she decided she was ready to face mankind again. The carpet back to Edron was waiting for her and Truly in Darashia. She made a promise to herself, though. She wanted to return to this rock in the near future. She felt like there was even more to explore...