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Week 630
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Week 632

Every week we will be starting a new Story Telling competition - with great prizes! The current prize is 2000 NP, plus a rare item!!! This is how it works...

We start a story and you have to write the next few paragraphs. We will select the best submissions every day and put it on the site, and then you have to write the next one, all the way until the story finishes. Got it? Well, submit your paragraphs below!

Story Six Hundred Thirty One Ends Friday, November 8

"Welcome boils and ghouls... to the House of Horrors!"

The Halloween Scorchio then let out a vile and evil laugh to the assembled group before him. Said group consisted of Taro, Tito, and Tina. The three Hissi siblings looked incredibly bored, with Taro actually yawning as the Scorchio.

It was Halloween night, and the three of them had wanted to go trick-or-treating, but they had to wait for their friend Ari. The Poogle was working as a volunteer for the haunted house act and, unfortunately, couldn't leave until his shift had ended. Fortunately, there was only one more tour group until then, and the three siblings figured that they would take it, then pick Ari up on the way out.

"So, my children..." the Scorchio said in an incredibly fake Neovian accent, "have you heard the true tales of terror that exist about this house? They say that there were seven families who lived here, and all of them perished horribly. Every year, on Halloween night..."

Exactly on cue, a pair of Aishas dressed as horrible rotting zombies burst through the front door of the haunted house. The pair were greeted not by screams of terror, but of dull boredom from the Hissi trio.

"So now, my children..." the Scorchio said, "dare you take a trip into the House of Horrors and experience the terror and nightmares inside of the seven slain families?"

"Let's just get this over with," Taro said, leading his brother and sister past the front door to enter the Haunted House tour.

Once the three Hissi siblings had passed the front door, it closed behind them. As soon as the trio were out of sight, the three volunteers instantly got a sour look.

"What's their problem?" one of the Aisha zombies said.

"If they're not even going to act scared, then why are they here?" the other Aisha asked.

"Oh, they'll be scared all right," the Scorchio said. "Tell the rest of the house to give those three the real horror tour..."

Author: dr_tomoe
Date: Nov 4th
The Aishas nodded, grinning slyly. "Right away," they whispered back, slinking into the shadows.

***

Tito thrust his watch-wrapped wing in front of him, impatient. Ari just had to take this volunteer job to advance to the next rank in the Faerieland Employment Agency, but did that Poogle realize just how much his friends had to suffer for it? As if reading his thoughts, Taro sighed and put a wing around his shoulder, giving his younger brother a knowing look.

Tito nodded, understanding. The three Hissi siblings had known Ari for years and were practically in his debt for his services. The least the three of them could do was endure the sheer boredom of another dime-a-dozen haunted house.

Tina screamed.

Both boys whirled around. It wasn't a scream of terror or horror. The youngest was always the bravest when it came to unexplored places or ghosts, so her scream came as a surprise to her brothers. As a matter of fact, that was almost exactly what was in her scream: it was more surprised than anything else, and it was more of a yelp than a scream.

"Tina!" Taro exclaimed, searching for a trace of a shadow Hissi. He squinted and cursed the traditionally dim candlelight. Tina would be hard to find in the darkness, even if she hadn't screamed. Through his peripheral vision, Taro realized in mild horror that he could barely see his brother in the consuming blackness.

Well, that wouldn't faze him. Nothing would.

Taro marched forth into the hungry depths -- or rather, slithered into another room, with Tito gliding right behind him.

"Well, the tour will be over as soon as we come back here, so let's get through it and then regroup here."

Tito said nothing.

Taro glanced at each corner of the room, barely taking in the Spyders, webs, skeleton displays, and sudden white sheets dropping down from the ceiling. His expression of apathy from ten minutes prior was mixed with a drop of worry. "Tina?" he called out.

Silence.

"Tina," he tried again. How like his sister, to try and sneak up on him to make this awful experience more fun. Taro smiled. "It's not going to work this time; you've played that trick on us over and over. Right, Tito?"

Taro turned to his brother -- or who he thought was his brother -- but it was actually nothing but a skeleton display beside him.

"Wha--"

Taro had no time to reflect on the disappearance of his younger brother as the ground beneath his tail dropped below him and he was plunged into complete darkness...

***

A few floors away, an Aisha sauntered over to another Aisha, evidently pleased with himself.

"Did you give them the surprise?" the Aisha sitting at the control panel asked. The Halloween Scorchio next to the sitting Aisha sipped his borovan, expectant.

"I sure did! Trapdoors number five and seven, just like you asked," the Aisha replied smugly, knowingly folding his arms over his chest.

The Scorchio's brows furrowed. He slammed down his drink, sending borovan onto his smart jacket, the Aisha next to him, and the buttons on the panel. "Five and seven?!? Those were specifically the trapdoors we told you NOT to activate! Those children are in terrible danger..."

Author: flufflepuff
Date: Nov 4th
...The Aisha shrank back under the Scorchio's burning glare.

"I'm sorry, sir. I thought you said to activate five and seven." He glanced at the other Aisha, who was wiping Borovan off of her zombie suit. "I don't think they're in too dire of a situation, however. After all, we were going to give them the real horror tour." The Scorchio's anger diminished as he picked up his now half-empty Borovan cup.

"You don't understand the entire picture, Milo. The 'real' horror tour is just a spookier version of the normal horror tour, with more ghouls and whatnot. You were supposed to open trapdoors two and nine, which would've led the kids to the haunted game room." The Scorchio noted the Aisha's sheepish expression. He sighed and continued his explanation.

"Trapdoors five and seven, on the other hand, are gateways to the catacombs lying beneath this place. The catacombs happen to be the resting places of the seven families that lived here long ago... some say their ghosts still haunt the catacombs, waiting for 'pets to wander to them. Then, they're never heard from again." He took a long sip of the Borovan before continuing. "I knew I shouldn't have put you in charge of such a complex assignment; now those kids are going to be abducted by ghosts or cursed or something. That's not going to look good on your employee record, you know."

"Sir..." Milo began, looking at the Scorchio. "Is there anything we can do?" The Scorchio locked eyes with Milo, a serious expression crossing his face.

"The only thing we can do now is wait... and hope."

***

"Aaaaahhhhhhhh!" Taro screamed as he plummeted. All sense of time and distance left him as he dropped through the seemingly endless darkness. He extended his arms out around him, feeling frantically for a crevice or crack he could cling to, but he could feel no wall, just empty space.

He finally landed with a bounce in a large... Spyderweb?

"Ewww!" he exclaimed, rolling off of the web. Luckily, it hadn't been sticky, so it was a fairly simple task. The room (he assumed it was a room he was in) was pitch black, but luckily the Hissi had decided to bring a small, handy flashlight with him to the haunted house.

Flicking it on, his mouth dropped open in terror at the sight before him, for what he saw in front of him was...

Author: tttxyv
Date: Nov 5th
...a dainty Kyrii wearing a shredded emerald dress and dirt-stained white gloves. Though short, her mesmerizing eyes made Taro cower. The color of her skin and garments was dull, however, and Taro finally realized that it was because she was transparent.

"A hologram? Down here?" Taro scanned around him for the source of the hologram that was now glaring at him. "That's definitely among the cooler aspects of this place..."

"Taro," the Kyrii whispered, glowering eyes piercing into him, "Leave this house as quickly as you can."

"Hmm..." Taro mused. "The hologram knows my name."

"Taro, leave! Do it, before they find you and your siblings!" the transparent figure hissed. "You're going to free all of us from here, and believe me, there are some of us that are too dangerous to go back up to the main grounds."

The Hissi froze in disbelief. With every ounce of power he could muster, he managed to utter, "You're no hologram."

"TARO! HELP ME!"

This voice did not come from the Kyrii, and though faint, it caused Taro to jump in surprise. It was his sister's voice that had echoed against whatever walls held him captive. "Tina!" he shouted back and began to slither in the direction of Tina's call, breaking his sight of the Kyrii for a moment. "I'm coming, Tina! Where are you?"

"I don't know where I am, Taro! Help, please!" Tina's voice was now coming from the opposite direction. Taro stopped and glanced over his shoulder in disbelief, seeing that the Kyrii had vanished. "I'm coming, Tina!" he yelled, but froze at his sister's scream that was now coming from every direction of what felt like a dark cell. His mind began to spin, and it took every muscle in his body to keep from collapsing.

***

Inside the house's main living room, Ari sat in one of the matted chairs surrounding a small wicker table. Ari always sat in that chair so he could watch the old grandfather clock in his line of sight; its arrows indicated that there were only two minutes until his shift was up. He desperately wanted to leave and take off his ridiculous ghost costume that he had been wearing for hours.

"It's just you and me, Linda," he said, chuckling at a faded painting placed over the white marble mantle adjacent to the grandfather clock. It was the portrait of a Kyrii dressed in a blue satin dress and white crown placed perfectly atop her curly sapphire hair. The silver plaque below read "Miss Linda Hannel," and Ari was not sure if the painting was of a real individual or just another phony item like nearly everything in the dingy haunted house.

"I must be off, but same time and place next Halloween?" Ari asked, waiting for the painting to respond. When the portrait's faint scowl went unchanged, Ari shrugged and stood up. "Suit yourself. I've got some friends to meet up with, who actually should have been through this part of the house already..." he said, then continued with smirk, "What have you done to them, Linda?"

The Poogle laughed to himself and was about to make his way out of the living room when he heard a deafening crash come from the mantle. Ari watched in horror as the painting slid off the wall and clattered face-down onto the floor where the top of the silver frame became split. In a huff, Ari rushed over to the portrait and lifted up the canvas to try and prop it back up on the mantle. Just my luck, he thought grimly. With one look at the painting, however, Ari dropped the canvas in horror.

There was no royal Kyrii in the picture.

How could this be? Ari frantically looked the painting over, trying to find some trace of Linda's portrait, but there was only a blue background and all traces of the Kyrii had vanished. Was his mind playing tricks on him? Linda had always been in the portrait, he was sure of it.

Ari suddenly felt a cold breath on the nape of his neck. In the reflection of the silver frame, he could make out a blue figure standing over his shoulder, tousled turquoise hair strewn over her face. He could neither move nor scream as a soft voice whispered in his ear.

"Ari, you need to come with me," the ghost pleaded, only to be met with bloodcurdling screams from the Poogle. "Hush!" she snapped. "Do you want to draw more attention to yourself?"

"M-Miss... Linda H-Hannel..." Ari stammered and clutched the picture to his chest. He had read up on these situations; some ghosts thought they were still alive, so it was a good idea to talk to them as if they were living. "I'm... so-sorry for the outburst. Might I ask... how you did that thing with the p-picture?"

"Your friends have found their way to trapdoors five and seven of this house." Linda ignored his plea for forgiveness and headed for the door. "We need to find them immediately."

Ari had heard rumors about the trapdoors from previous volunteers at the haunted house. "Is that where you're buried, Linda?" He gaped in horror, still not understanding how he was freely speaking with a ghost and not running for the hills.

"Yes and no," she replied tiredly. "It's difficult to explain, but I'm the only spirit here who can wander freely. You're lucky that it's me and not the other lunatics I'm buried with."

Ari gulped, then asked, "What will happen to my friends?"

"If they stay down there any longer, they can become gateways for the other spirits to leave the catacombs, where they will be bound for eternity," Linda explained. "We can't let that happen."

Ari's frozen limbs managed to move as he nodded his head.

"First, take off that sheet... you're giving us a bad name," Linda muttered as Ari ripped off the sheet. "Now that that's settled, we need to do one thing before we go down there..."

Author: crazy_4_sushi
Date: Nov 5th
...Ari followed Miss Linda Hannel down a portrait-lined corridor, him shuffling along with his oversized Poogle feet and her gliding gracefully ahead of him, emitting a soft, bluish haze.

Ari glanced at the various Neopets in the portraits; some of them looked quite friendly and normal, while others looked downright scary. All of the eyes in the images seemed to be following the pair as they walked.

"I always thought these were just put up as creepy decorations. Do... did all of these Neopets actually exist?" Ari asked.

Linda stopped in front of a painting of a particularly nasty-looking Grarrl. He was older, and wearing a scowl of such distaste upon his face that Ari actually shifted uncomfortably.

"Yes. This is just one example of a spirit that must be kept in the catacombs." She frowned for a second in the Grarrl's direction and then turned to continue down the hall.

"What are you looking for?" Ari asked, hurrying to keep up.

"A book of spells," Linda replied without turning around.

Ari couldn't help the nervous laugh that forced its way from his mouth. "There's always a book of spells."

Linda turned, giving him a curious expression.

"I mean," Ari continued, "it just seems every good ghost story has something to do with a book of spells."

To his surprise, Linda smiled. "I wouldn't know too much about ghost stories. I've been trapped here so long that I've forgotten what a good story is like. I suppose that, now, I'm a ghost story myself."

Ari felt a wave of pity for the Kyrii. "So, you're cursed?"

It was now Linda's turn to laugh. "Not cursed, no. This particular spell was supposed to put the seven families to rest, yet I think something happened and the spell was never fully finished -- which is why I can move about while others can't. I believe, though, that since it was not fully completed, it has started to unravel and weaken. I fear the presence of the living might be enough to coax the spirits from their resting spots."

Her face darkened as she said this. "We need to get the book."

"Where is it?" Ari asked as he hurried along, again in Linda's wake.

"Unfortunately," Linda said, "a rather crude Scorchio has it..."

***

Taro had his eyes closed and was trying to calm down his speeding heart and ragged breaths, yet the silence seemed rather oppressive and the thought of hearing his sister's cry again kept his adrenaline pumping. He couldn't remember ever being this scared.

He finally forced his eyes open, then scanned the flashlight around the room, trying to take in every detail.

The room was small, bare of the cheap Halloween decorations. There were plenty of Spyder webs in the corners, and a few boxes lining one wall. He expected to see something hiding in every dark corner of the room, and exhaled each time his beam of light showed nothing but an empty space.

"Tarooo."

He inhaled sharply. Not only because he'd heard his name, but because, this time, the coarse, groggy voice sounded nothing like his sister.

"Taro, helllp."

This time, the voice was lighter. Was it his sister, or was it just drifting? He slithered forward until the tiny light from his flashlight showed him a rather small opening in the wall, which led to a crawl space.

"Tarooo."

It could be his sister. The voice sounded muffled.

"I'm coming, Tina!" Taro cried. Bending down, he slid himself into the tunnel...

Author: treeword
Date: Nov 6th
..."Tarrooo," it came again, almost in a whisper.

The tunnel opened into a small corridor lined with rooms. As he passed the doors, he read aloud the names engraved on their rusty surfaces. "Greenwich M. Yakobs... Samuel Victor... Linda Hannel."

"Helllp meee," the voice wailed in an almost alluring manner.

Taro grinned. He could easily follow the source of the sound and locate his sister... if it was his sister moaning. The Hissi frowned, but not -- so he had convinced himself -- due to his heightened trepidation.

"Oveeerrr heeerre."

There! It was the door belonging to... "Collosius Peters," he concluded as he set down his flashlight and navigated toward the door. Taro rested his wing on the old iron handle and pulled.

The door heaved open and he shone his flashlight into the blackness. Was that... a portrait of a Grarrl on the opposite side?

Before he could process everything, however, a shape stirred in the shadows and his beam quickly darted toward it as it quickly moved in his direction.

Fear rose.

It was a Hissi.

It was his sister.

Her fiery red eyes seemingly stared through his soul and her skin lacked its usual vibrant hue. "Yooou've foound mee, Tarroo," the Hissi started limply.

Anxiety bubbled in the brother. "Er... are you... feeling alright, Tina?"

"Better than alright," she continued, adopting a more regular pattern of speech. "You could say... I'm feeling the best I've been in a hundred years." She began to giggle.

Taro laughed along nervously.

"Now," his sister started, "before I got locked in that room, I had navigated these catacombs fairly well." She grinned. "Follow me..."

***

Ari's face lit up. "My boss is a Scorchio!"

"It couldn't be the same one," Linda started. "This Scorchio bought the house only to get his hands on that book, and he'd be long dead by now."

The Poogle frowned. "My boss could be one of his descendants."

The transparent figure shrugged, her decrepit clothing falling listlessly over her ethereal figure. "It's worth a shot."

"Stay here, though," Ari directed. "We don't want him... getting spooked, per se."

Linda smiled sarcastically, but did as told.

***

The Poogle knocked on the door of the control room. An Aisha answered.

"Milo," someone called from behind the door, "who is it?"

"A low level ghost from sector 7-F," Milo answered.

"Send him in."

The Scorchio was evidently stressed. His brow was furrowed and he had Borovan stains in his otherwise dapper jacket.

"Sir," Ari started, "what's wrong?"

"Some kids are in terrible danger," he answered absently. "Terrible, terrible, terrible..." he repeated, gradually tapering off.

"Are you a descendant of the owner of this house?" Ari blurted.

The Scorchio looked up at him. "Well, I own this house, but it's been in my family's hands for a few generations now--"

"What do you know about the book?"

The Scorchio's eyes went wide. "You don't mean... The Spellbook of Ages, do you? THE spellbook?"

The Poogle nodded. "Sure... yes," he added more confidently, "that one."

"By Fyora, that could work," the Scorchio replied, rubbing his chin in contemplation. "However, the grimoire has been lost for decades."

Ari's face fell.

"Although," his boss interjected as he slowly removed a piece of paper from his pocket, "while that heirloom is gone, this document has replaced it." He set it in Ari's hands. "It is the only clue we have as to the book's location."

The Poogle slowly unfolded it...

Author: rielcz
Date: Nov 6th
...their hearts were pounding and their thoughts racing. The paper was yellowed, faded, and slightly ripped from mid-page, horizontally about 1/4 into the document. It read:

I, Collosius Peters, a resident of Neovia, being of sound and disposing mind, memory and understanding, do hereby declare this to be my last will and testament...

Ari stopped reading, the word "testament" lingering on his lips. His eyes rose from the document and locked with those of his boss.

"Collosius Peters? Last will and testament? I don't understanding. What does this have to do with the book?"

The Scorchio swallowed hard before he began. "Everyone knows this city was once cursed, but then Neovia was saved and its buildings restored. This place is the closest that the otherwise-grim Haunted Woods come to having a bright spot..." He paused for a moment, scratching his head with his long, wrinkled, scaled tail. His eyes drifted from the Poogle to what was left of his Borovan cup; he poked at the remaining contents.

"Collosius Peters was my father; he restored this place himself, refusing to let the citizens of Neovia contribute. While rebuilding he literally hid the book inside the house. He died a few years ago. It could be in the walls, the floor... no one has the slightest clue. I do know, however, that he wanted to be buried beneath trap doors seven and five, as you can see in his will. He was aware of the seven families buried below, but this didn't bother him."

Ari's ear twitched as he stared dumbfounded at the Scorchio. His eyes slid down to the will and scanned its contents, hunting for a hidden message... something that would pop up between the lines and scream to him, telling him the answer.

"Everything in this will seems normal; nothing stands out other than his unusual burial location. Why would anyone want to be down there on purpose?" That's when it hit him like a hard smack in the face -- the kind of smack your grandmother would give you if you dared talked back to her.

"I know where it might be!" the Poogle blurted, feeling extremely satisfied with himself. Ari knew exactly what had to be done. If the Faerieland Employment Agency only knew what he was about to do, then Ari would advance to the next rank in an instant.

"Linda!" Without thinking, Ari blurted her name, immediately regretting that he had summoned her.

"What the?!? Is everything alright?!?" Her transparent figure suddenly appeared, her expression panicked as she looked for the cause of Ari's outburst.

The Scorchio instantly wrapped his wings around himself in an effort to hide as Linda appeared before him. "Ahhhh! What in the world is that thing?!?"

"GHOST!" Milo declared. He also jumped so high that he almost crashed into the ceiling fan, and then hurried under his boss's desk and started hoping for the best.

Linda smiled slightly, enjoying her enthusiastic welcome. She turned to the Poogle and laughed, then said, "So much for him not getting spooked, per se."

***

Taro followed his sister, or what he thought was his sister. Something didn't feel right. If it wasn't obvious enough with Tina's slow slithering across the floor (as if she was tracking down her prey), then her continuous giggling that sent chills up Taro's body from his tail to his nose certainly seemed suspicious.

"Tina, where are we going? Let's get out of here!"

Tina snapped her head in Taro's direction. Her tongue flicked at him, her hiss elongated, and her scorching eyes burned into him. She tilted her head, as if contemplating something, but Taro just found the whole thing downright terrifying.

"I know where brother is, Taro." She suddenly smiled a fangy smile.

"Taro... T-t-tina, I'm scared, I--" Tina cut the Hissi off, her lips curled up in a snare.

"Do you want to find him or not?" she snapped. "Now, remember how the door belonging to Collosius Peters led you to this very place, led you to me? Well, isn't funny how there was a picture of me... I mean, the Grarrl on the wall? I need to find Collosius Peters's burial place, retrieve something from it, and bring it to where that Grarrl is buried. Do you understand that? It's the only way... to save our brother. You play a very important role in this task. Do EXACTLY what I say."

Tina's voice deepened on the last command, her pitch bordering on demonic. She took a deep breath.

"Come on.." she said, her tone suddenly smoothed over and a little too nice as she disappeared into the shadows of the corridor.

Taro stood there for a second, staring blankly into the darkness. His wings were shaking, and beads of sweat were forming on his forehead. He proceeded a few feet and stopped again. He couldn't do this, but he had to. Something was wrong with Tina, and the only way to help her was to follow this thing that Taro knew wasn't his sister.

"Time is wasting!" he heard it call to him from the shadows, and he found the courage to continue forth. He needed his family back...

Author: misschibious
Date: Nov 7th
...And Tina was the first on his list.

"So... Tina," he said slowly, slithering over to the Hissi. “What... exactly do you need?" He chose his words carefully. The Hissi turned her head toward him carelessly.

"I need something of Collosius's. A book, simple as that." Her explanation done, she continued to move toward a large, menacing-looking hallway in the corridor. Stopping once more, she waited for Taro to catch up to her before speaking.

"This, Taro, is where Collosius is buried. Now, hurry and get the book. I need it before midnight." Taro slid toward the hallway entry slowly. Pausing at it, he asked the questions that had been burning in his mind.

"Why couldn't you just get the book yourself? Also, what... if I refuse to fetch it for you?" He could feel the Hissi staring daggers at him, even though he wasn't facing her.

"Because," she said, her voice lowering into a threatening tone. "That blasted fool Collosius put a spell around his tomb, which prevents anyone not of the flesh from entering. If you refuse, I'll make sure you -- and your siblings -- never see the light of day again!" The last sentence was spoken with such a forceful tone that Taro turned and looked back at the now-unfamiliar Hissi behind him.

"You're not Tina!" he exclaimed, staring the Hissi down as bravely as he could. She began to giggle.

"Of course I'm not! You fool! I may have taken her body, but in spirit I am the great and powerful Tiriana Arjinx!" The giggles turned to cackling.

"You're the Grarrl, the one whose portrait I saw at the end of the corridor!" Taro proclaimed, still staring the Hissi down. She slithered toward Taro.

"Exactly, and you'd better get that book if you know what's good for you."

***

"Okay Milo, it's alright. She's not going to hurt you," the Scorchio consoled with an annoyed expression.

"He's right. I wouldn't hurt a Buzzer," Linda said softly. The Aisha peered at her questioningly from under the Scorchio's desk. After a few moments of silence, he crawled out from the space.

"Uh... I'm sorry, ma'am. I've just, y'know, never seen a real live ghost before!"

"You mean real dead ghost?" the second Aisha said weakly.

"Mia, I don't pay you to make bad puns," the Scorchio scolded. "Milo, you'd better clean up this office by the time we come back with the book."

"Yes sir," Milo exclaimed. He then saluted the Scorchio. "First, though... woahhh!" He stepped backwards and tripped over his own feet, accidentally disrupting a basket of papers on the Scorchio's desk. Papers floated around the room like it was a blizzard.

"Milo! You little--" the Scorchio yelled. He stopped mid-sentence and inhaled deeply. "Just... clean this up." Milo nodded hurriedly. Turning to the Poogle and Kyrii, he sighed.

"Anyway, if those two are done making messes, I think it's about time to head into the catacombs. Hopefully we'll get there before any trouble befalls your friends..."

Author: tttxyv
Date: Nov 7th
***

...Tito clicked the button on his watch again. Its face lit up, and he and the room were momentarily bathed in color. About 30 seconds later, it faded and the Hissi returned to the dim lighting present in the corridor, barely being able to see a foot's length in front of him. He clicked it again.

Like his siblings, he had a flashlight with him; however, its battery had run out several hallways ago.

"29... 30," he counted aloud before he fell again into the disorienting darkness.

***

Ari, Linda, and the Scorchio navigated through the catacombs. Each had a powerful lamp and the corporeal wore clothing designed "to be resistant to ethereal mental takeovers," as the boss put it.

"My grandfather," the boss started, "was the one who bought this house -- if only for that so-sought-after book of spells. His name was Fredrick Peters, and he passed the artifact to his young son, Collosius. While Fredrick was buried in the cemeteries outlining Neovia, his son -- later part of the rebuilding effort -- was put to rest here." He paused. "My father, in his later years, often thought about death... he came down to these catacombs often, using the book to protect himself from 'the dangers here that lurk,' as he would say. Taking one of the empty rooms, he prepared a place for himself, even engraving it with his name. When he passed, all I had to do was place him there." The Scorchio smiled wanly. "He was very secretive as to his book of spells, and I had no clue which passage he used to protect himself. So, I wore a similar suit to the one I -- and you two -- wear today. I didn't want to be possessed."

Ari frowned. His friends did seem to be in danger.

"So, you can't use the grimoire?" Linda inquired of the Scorchio.

"I was never taught."

The Kyrii grinned. "It's lucky you have me, then. The Spellbook of Ages was originally a Hannel family relic."

There was an awkward silence.

"Er... sorry," the Scorchio mustered.

"The past is the past... until it enters the realm of the present," Linda said, pointing at herself.

They walked on.

***

Taro absently followed the beam cast by his sister's flashlight. He didn't dare interfere with whatever sinister plans she had for him.

The corridor opened to a large crypt.

"Go," his sister demanded.

Her brother did as told. Helplessly, he entered the tomb and opened the coffin. The bones of an old Scorchio sat perturbingly inside.

The Hissi thrust his wing into the coffin and retrieved what he was looking for -- a dusty, rotted book.

"Now, hand it over..."

***

Another click of his watch and Tito found himself in a room lined with doors. He gradually walked by them and noted the names of the individuals on them. He came upon an open door; "Collosius Peters," he read.

Well, someone must have been in here recently. He entered...

***

Following the Scorchio, Ari and Linda came upon the room with the many doors.

"Here we are," Linda said upon entering. She read the names aloud. "Eliza Thorton... Shaylee Victor..." She paused at a door inscribed with the name "Claire Hannel" and briefly bowed.

She then came upon the door labelled Tiriana Arjinx. She became visibly apprehensive, especially over the fact it was slightly ajar. "We have to hurry," she demanded.

The three located the door inscribed with the name of Collosius Peters and entered.

***

"So, what if I refuse?" Taro inquired with a smirk. "You can't come in here. You can't do anything!"

Tina frowned. "You little brat!" she scowled with intense fury. "Give me the book!"

"What're you going to do about it?" her brother responded, beaming condescendingly. "I've won!" He started rifling through it, looking for a spell to defeat Tina.

He then he froze.

She grinned.

"Taro, Tina," somebody called from down the hall. "It's me, Tito!"

"Now you'll know exactly what I'll do..." his possessed sister trailed ominously.

***

Ari, Linda, and the Scorchio entered the room.

A portrait of a Grarrl hung there.

"Never, under ANY circumstances, let this dastardly Neopian enter my crypt," Linda said, reading its inscription.

They then heard a scream from down the hall...

Author: rielcz
Date: Nov 8th
...To be more specific, it was a scream that contained no fear. Rather, it was a scream of anguish and rage. "I have had just about enough of you!"

The initial question that no one spoke of ("That's odd, his name was on the door, so how come Peters wasn't buried here?") quickly turned into a frantic "That can't be good!" Ari ran toward the scream, the Scorchio and Linda running and floating, respectively, behind him. Linda sighed. "Oh, Tiriana..."

Tito stopped in his footless tracks. That had to be Tina, there was no mistaking it. He turned around and nearly leaped out of his Hissi skin to see not only Ari, but the Scorchio from the haunted house and... a ghost! A very pretty one, to be sure, but nonetheless a ghost... and they were all going to run him over if he didn't move out of the way!

"Ari?!? Wha--"

"Tito! Thank Fyora we've found you! Here..." Ari said, grabbing the Hissi around the waist and stuffing him into his jacket, reminding the Hissi of a time when the Poogle did the same thing when Tito was just a hatchling. "There's no time to explain. We've got to get to your brother and sister."

Tito gasped. "Was that really Tina just now?" The Hissi blinked, almost not wanting to believe it.

Linda frowned as she floated, her ethereal hair and dress floating as if she was underwater. "Not exactly..."

***

Taro blinked and saw not one, but two beings in front of him. One was a very livid Grarrl, her tattered remains of a forest green dress hovering with angry energy, and the other was a tiny, but equally furious shadow Hissi.

"You saw all three of us together and sensed I was the smallest. You thought I'd put up the least resistance. You threatened my brothers." Tina flew so close to the Grarrl's face that it made Taro too uncomfortable for him to remember that he was supposed to be searching for a spell that would help.

"You do not... I repeat, you do not. Hurt. My. Brothers." she hissed, sticking out her tongue fervently.

The only answer Tina got was a claw mark on her cheek.

"I don't have the time to waste my breath on you," the Grarrl curtly sniffed.

"Tina?" Taro's eyes grew wide in horror at seeing his bold sister crumple to the floor like a discarded Grundo plushie. He looked down. There was only one way to help her now. Taro frantically leafed through the book, quickly scanning each page for a spell, any spell, that could help.

The Hissi on the ground stirred. "So... tired..." She collapsed again, unconscious.

"Stop looking for a counterspell! Do you want me to do anything else to your sister?!?" The Grarrl hovered over her, almost smiling with the prospect of punishment barreling into her head.

Taro was paralyzed.

***

A voice that was practically a whisper found its way through the tension-charged air. "Tiriana. Enough." Linda glided in front of the corporeal Neopets.

Tiriana hissed. "And what are you going to do about it?" she barked, jabbing a claw in Taro's direction. "I've got him wrapped around my finger, perhaps literally, if it should come to that. That oaf Peters cast that same protective spell around his real crypt and you, the only one beside me who can interpret anything in that book, are unable to go inside." A smirk tipped half of her lips.

"Taro!" she commanded. "Spell 394."

Taro turned to page 394. Mad With Power, the title read.

"You can't do this!" Linda fumed, all of her ladylike mannerisms lost to ghostly adrenaline. She tackled the Grarrl next to her with such ferocity that all the group could do was watch, stunned at her uncharacteristic behavior. As the noblewomen scuffled and pulled each other's hair, Linda cried out, "Reverse it! Spell 600 should... ouch... put her to rest. If you can--" here she yelped in pain and whacked Tiriana with her worn pocketbook, "read it, that is."

The Scorchio, Ari, and Tito bustled into the crypt, but the Scorchio didn't take more than a few steps. "Father..." he murmured. He turned away.

Tito and Ari peeked over Taro's shoulders. "Perhaps if we all say it together?" Ari suggested. His face fell when Taro turned to the 600th page and found it was written in...

"Ancient Neopian!" Tito exclaimed.

Ari was bewildered. "You know about these strange runes?"

"I've taken a class or two to learn some of the more difficult words, but not much beyond that..." Tito said proudly with a nod. "Let's finish this."

Taro's wings felt warm under the book, as if the book was getting hotter by the second. "What is this?" he whispered.

"Hold it much longer and your wings will burn right off!" the Grarrl declared with a sneer. "You'd best to read page 394 while you still can."

Taro tried to drop the book but found his wings wouldn't move. "We'd better hurry! I don't think I can stand it much longer!" Taro gritted his teeth in pain. The book was as hot as a fresh cup of Borovan at this point.

"Together?" Tito nodded.

The two chanted the words on the book and, luckily for Tito, Ari did pick up the difficult words Tito couldn't understand.

Slowly but surely, the specters began to fade, with Tiriana becoming angrier and angrier as the book Taro held increased in temperature. This time, the Hissi could not contain a yelp of pain.

"No... No... NOOOOOOOOOOO!"

The Grarrl faded completely from view.

Linda stepped into the crypt and yanked the book from Taro's wings, muttering something unintelligible while she did. "Well done...."

The Kyrii closed her eyes and vanished.

"Well..." Taro murmured, rubbing his still-too-warm wings together. "They're gone. Tito, are you okay?" The other Hissi turned on his watch's light and chuckled. "Yeah, I'm all right. What about... oh no." The brothers turned toward Tina, trying to wake her up from her sudden slumber.

Suddenly, a voice echoed through the crypt. "She's at rest now. Thank you. As for you... you secretly claim you did nothing, but you were the one that led your friends here. To help us. Good work, son...." There was no ethereal being that accompanied the voice this time, but the skeleton in the room seemed calmer than it did before.

The Scorchio looked down at his father and nodded, too overcome with emotion for words.

Ari looked up at the ceiling of the room. On his face was a small smile. "Same time and place next year?" he asked.

A torch on the wall lit up, almost as if in response.

***

Tina was never quite the same after the whole ordeal.

After four hours of her strange fatigue curse, she stirred, as full of energy as ever, bolting past the Scorchio out of the house. "Ari, you're here! Come on, let's all go get some candy!" She wrapped her tail around the Poogle's waist and struggled to keep them both aloft. Tina stopped in her flight, momentarily putting down the Poogle.

"That... down in the Catacombs... that really happened, didn't it?"

Taro, Tito, and the Scorchio glided and walked, respectively, behind Tina and Ari. The three of them exchanged glances.

It was the Scorchio who spoke up at last.

"They don't call it the House of Horrors for nothing."

The End

Author: flufflepuff
Date: Nov 8th



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