Never Wish to Fly: Part Four
The address led Glia through a twisting and rocky path in
the dark woods. The path seemed to stretch on forever, and she was just about
to turn around to go back, when the house came into view. If you could call it
a house. It was massive, and almost looked like a castle from the distance, except
that it was made of wood (black wood!), not stone.
Even though Glia had decided not to turn back
upon the sight of the house, she was now having second thoughts, seeing it up
close. The wood was pitch black, almost blending in with the many surrounding
trees, smelling somewhat rotten, and splintering at the mere touch. The shutters
were made of the same black wood, falling apart and missing many slats. A few
of the windows were uncovered, though most of them were boarded up (with black
wood. What a shock.). Dirt and dust completely caked the remaining windows.
Trampled and dead flowers and bushes were all that remained of the small garden.
The whole place seemed abandoned; it gave Glia the creeps.
Mustering up almost all of her courage, she
walked up the barren path to the house. She couldn't help but feel like something
was watching her through the trees. Through some of the sad remains of the garden's
bushes, she could swear she saw some eyes. It seemed to take hours to reach
the door to the eerie house, but she knew it couldn't have been nearly that
long. Now standing on the stoop of the house, she was very tempted to turn around
and fly straight home. Strangely enough, as much as she would love to do that,
her legs refused to obey. Sighing, Glia looked around for a doorbell. There
didn't seem to be one, but there was a large bronze doorknocker. Just as she
was about to go ahead and knock, she heard a twig crack, as if stepped on, somewhere
behind her. Instinctively, she wheeled around. But no one was there! Concluding
that it was just a stray petpet, she raised her paw to the ominous knocker.
One barely audible rap on the door. Glia made a second rap on the door, this
time louder. She stood there, waiting for something to happen. Nothing. She
made a third and final knock on the door. This time, the force of the knock
made the door creak open an inch. Deciding not to think about what would happen
if she was caught breaking and entering, she pushed herself into the house.
The front room was almost exactly as she had
expected. There was dark, gloomy wallpaper and the floors seemed to be made
out of the same dark wood that covered the house's exterior. As Glia stood gaping
at the room, which had many doors and hallways adjacent to it, a hunch-backed...
creature... came into the room. She wasn't sure exactly what it was,
but it looked like a cross between a werelupe and a faellie.
The creature's right eye twitched as he addressed
her. "Maaaster haaas been excepting yoou!" he warbled in an insane way, sounding
like he had gone mad. She wouldn't be surprised if he had! "Coommmmee!" His
path led her through one of the hallways connected to the front room. The hallway
was barely lit, except for the single candle held by the... the thing in front
of her, and she had to squint just to see where she was going. As they traveled
down the low-ceilinged hallway, they passed many closed doors, and Glia couldn't
help but wonder what went on behind them. She could just imagine the howls and
screams of tortured neopets. But would this visit end up adding her screams
to those she imagined? She hoped not.
Finally the two stopped at the end of the hallway
in front of a big oak (and not black) door. "Maasterr will seee yoou nooww!!
Ennnterrrr!" The creature turned his back and started back down the hallway,
leaving more footprints in the deep layer of dust on the floor. Glia sucked
in her breath and turned the knob. Expecting cobwebs to hang in the doorway,
she frantically attempted to knock them down. And her plan would have worked,
had there actually been any cobwebs to knock down!
An elderly Ixi with a long gray beard gave her
a quizzical look as she entered. Glia blushed. "Just, err, practicing some dance
moves," she mumbled. The Ixi gave a warm and hearty laugh, and for the first
time, Glia realized that the room was NOT what she had expected. Gone were the
dust covered floors, along with the dreary wallpaper. In fact, the atmosphere
of the room was quite inviting! Just like any other home she'd ever been in!
The Ixi watched her staring around the room
in shock, and commented, "Yes, it's quite nice, isn't it? I just inherited this
old house, but have only gotten around to redecorating this room. I must get
some decorators in here soon, though, the rest of the house looks almost like
it's been abandoned!"
Glia was much more comfortable now. "If you
don't mind my asking, what's with your... umm... butler?"
"Heh, my butler! Yes, I suppose that is what
he functions as! I haven't quite discovered what it is about him, but there
is something odd about him, isn't there?" Like, you mean, other than his
appearance and the fact that he calls you master? thought Glia. "He is a
bit creepy, but don't worry, it wasn't I who hired him." The Ixi walked to a
large brick fireplace where a fire was softly crackling. "He came with the house,
and I haven't the heart to kick him out. He probably has no where else to go!
Besides, he has his own wing of the house, where he customarily stays, so he's
out of my way most of the time. So," he said, finally getting to the point,
"There is information you seek?"
"Anything specific? Oh, and would you like a
cup of tea?"
"Yes, please!" She watched him pull a black
pot, most likely containing boiling water, from the fireplace.
"I must make my tea this way...This house is
so old that it's never been wired for electricity, nor for plumbing. It's going
to take a fortune to get those utilities put here..." He trailed off, turning
his back and placing tea bags into the two mugs of steaming hot water. "Lemon
"Both, please." He handed her a mug of the hot
tea, taking a brief sip of his own. She took the mug and took a long gulp. Mmmm....
"So, as I asked earlier...What would you like
"Well, I'd like to know if you've... you've...
heard about..." Glia stumbled. Why was the room getting darker by the second?
And why was it spinning? What was happ-
The Grundo blankly stared forward, transfixed.
Just seconds after the pet had found them hiding there, the robot had shot a
defensive (and probably hypnotic) beam straight into the Grundo's eyes. Well,
now that he was hypnotized, now what? And how long until he would wake up out
of his "sleep", on a frantic search for the Kougra and robot he had seen hiding
in one of the space station's storage rooms? And now, after hearing the robot's
tale about the fate of Neopia, she was lost. Where to begin? She had not the
slightest clue! But whatever she had to do, she had better do it quickly! The
planet, without knowing it, was counting on her!
"Well, robot, you said that these Grundos might
know the whereabouts of these map pieces. So, how do we get information out
of this one?"
"Just-go-a-head-and-ask." Pangra almost felt
silly asking something that looked so lifeless questions. If she hadn't been
standing these when it happened, she would be half-convinced that this Grundo
was a life-size statue!
"So, err, Mr. Grundo..." Then she remembered
that he was hypnotized and became more assertive. "Where are the space map pieces?"
she snapped with a new form of boldness in her voice.
"They... are....they are...separated."
"But where ARE they?"
"Mystery Island, and..." The Grundo stopped
for a second, and Pangra thought she saw the hypnotized gaze in his eyes flicker
for a second. He stuttered a few more times, and then appeared to wake from
his trance, alarmed and having no idea where he was. "What?! Where'd my dinner
go? I was just eating it a second ago!" He continued to spurt off comments about
his missing "Beef Rouladen", and then left, not noticing Pangra or the robot,
to find the one who had dared to steal his food.
"That was close," said Panrga, breathing a sigh
"What?!" This was unbelievable! It seemed like
nothing more could happen to make this mission harder!
Becoming ruthless, Pangra ran out of the door.
Sprinting down the endless steel hallway, she frantically searched for any rooms
to investigate that could contain this moon-machine. As she ran, she thought
she could hear another set of footsteps behind her, but she was sure she was
just imagining it. Besides, the hallway was quite large; it had to be an echo
Her uncertainty made her turn around. Suddenly,
her fear of being discovered was confirmed. Five large, strong, green Grundos
were behind her, and quickly gaining distance!
"GRUNDO MASTER MUST FETCH NEOPETS FOR MASTER!!"
Pangra wheeled around to start running again, but she ended up turning around
smack into another wall of Grundo soldiers! Not only was she terrified, but
now she was trapped!
To be continued...