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A Day for a Ghost to Triumph


by nut862

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"Halloween is coming!" Yilva cried, looking at her calendar with excitement. The small yellow Cybunny picked up a red marker and drew a circle around the box representing the last day of the Month of Collecting. She bounded out of the kitchen, her thoughts full of the celebrations that would take place soon. "What am I going to dress up as?" she pondered. "It has to be something unusual. Everyone on Ghoul Close was dressed as Edna the Witch last year."

     Yilva looked out the window of her house onto her front yard. The front walk was a narrow dirt path, and the lawn was a sorry patch of shriveled and dry grass. The familiar darkness of the Haunted Woods enclosed the area. It didn't seem spooky or out of the ordinary to the Cybunny. Her thoughts were occupied with choosing a costume to wear on the upcoming day.

     "Vampires and ghosts are too common," she mumbled to herself. A thought occurred to her, and she said aloud, "I know - I'll dress as a Light Faerie! No one does that around here!"

     Clapping her paws together and grinning, Yilva was obviously delighted with the idea. She ran into her room to see if she could find materials for her costume in her closet. Halloween was only a week away.

      * * * * *

     In another part of the Haunted Woods, someone else was looking forward to the spooky holiday, as well. Two Dark Faeries stood together under the heavy shadows of the trees. One leaned against the gnarled trunk of an old tree, a melancholy expression on her face as she examined her long dark purple nails. The other was kneeling on the ground, looking upon the dusty earth with a keen interest.

     Herya muttered some words under her breath, and immediately a dirty-looking coiled vine sprouted from the ground. In seconds, a thick patch of dark, ugly vines were growing there, their stems twining around each other in death grips.

     Lalon glanced at the other Dark Faerie's work with disinterest. She snapped her fingers, and the mass of vines crumbled away into a pile of dust. "You shouldn't be whiling away your time with those simple spells…"

     Herya glared at the older, more experienced faerie. The spell wasn't simple to her; it had taken weeks for her to master it. She stood up and brushed the dirt off of her dark purple leggings. "I have to stay in practice," she said shortly.

     Lalon nodded slightly, settling back against the tree. "Practice that all you want, but you still haven't taken anyone to us yet. You need to go out and find someone. Find a pet who's interested in evil and such, and go the final step to converting them to darkness. You aren't going to be much use if you don't learn to do that."

     "I don't need to be reminded," Herya said irritably. She sighed, shaking her wings in impatience. "I can't wait for Halloween. It's a holiday dedicated to us, dedicated to evil!" She smiled to herself, liking the idea of being celebrated all around Neopia. As an afterthought, she added, "There's going to be plenty of chances to find a victim then."

     Lalon shook her head. "There are victims everywhere, every day. You just don't know how to look for them." She straightened up, detaching herself from the wrinkled tree, and strode past Herya. As the older Dark Faerie walked off into the forest, she said, "Remember, you have to bring at least one pet to the darkness by Halloween, or you're going to fail this assignment. You're too slow, Herya."

     "Don't tell me that," the other faerie snapped, turning away in anger and irritation with her "instructor". Lalon was supposedly there to teach her, as a trainee Dark Faerie under Jhudora, the basics of helping the darkness spread through Neopia, but all she did was watch Herya and make comments - not all of them wanted - on her work. Lalon also gave her assignments, such as the one she was on right now: to find a pet and convince them to join the cause of the darkness. It was a skill she would need to use often later, but the Dark Faerie wasn't interested in carrying out the task right away, possibly because she wasn't quite sure how to do it.

     "Halloween," she mumbled to herself. "I'll find someone then." Herya frowned and concentrated on the ground again, putting her efforts into making a new group of twisted vines grow.

      * * * * *

     One creature that was not looking forward to Halloween was Zeva. She floated in the air of a misty graveyard deep in the Haunted Woods. Invisible to the majority of the living, the ghost of a Shoyru stared at the darkened tombstones, shaking her head in disgust.

     "Halloween," she mumbled. "The one day of the year when everything goes wrong. It is supposedly a holiday devoted to those of my kind. Instead, parades of innocent young pets go dressing up as goblins, and the real evil of the woods comes out and pounces wherever it can. I am always forgotten. I never have anything to do but watch in dismay…"

     Zeva sighed and floated away from the graveyard. Restlessly she went sailing through the rest of the woods, passing pets and various other living creatures on the way. Once again, there was nothing for her to do. No one saw her, and she did not feel it necessary to make her presence known to them. If she wished, she could surely create some sort of mayhem in their lives, but it seemed pointless. The ghost did not like to do things without a purpose, and yet her life - or her afterlife - was being spent wandering meaninglessly.

      * * * * *

     Yilva looked out her window with a thrill of excitement on the day she had waited for with eager anticipation. The sky was dark, even darker than usual, and the moon was full over the Haunted Woods.

     The yellow Cybunny ran into her room and quickly donned the costume that she had spent all week putting together. Yilva admired herself in the mirror. The pale yellow dress draped lightly over her white fur, and "wings" made of thin yellow fabric stretched over a wire frame attached to her back with a sash. She looked almost like a real Light Faerie. Yilva bounced up and down with excitement and glee.

     The Cybunny grabbed a lantern and a small paper bag to hold the candies she would soon collect from her neighbors on Ghoul Close. She bounded towards the door of her house, calling to her owner as she left, "I'm going trick-or-treating!"

     Outside, the cool fall night air swept around Yilva, causing her yellow dress to billow on the wind. She hopped down the lane, her lantern swinging and throwing its small light over the ground below. Shadows crisscrossed the earth, and Spyders scuttled over the dry ground. It was a perfectly spooky setting for Halloween, Yilva thought with delight. She headed towards her next-door neighbors' house and knocked on the door.

      * * * * *

     Herya stepped out from among the shadows of the trees. The large tangle of coiling vines, fruits of recent practice spells, bowed away from her as she passed. Smiling wickedly to herself, the Dark Faerie walked briskly along the darkened paths, searching for a pet. Any pet would do. It was Halloween night, after all, and this would make them more open to Dark Faeries.

     Herya came to a populated area of the Haunted Woods, where crooked houses lined the dirty road. Trick-or-treaters were already walking merrily along, all in costume, all carrying bags or buckets to hold goodies. Herya watched as a group of three pets came walking by, talking happily to each other. She shook her head. Groups were not good candidates. It was much easier to corrupt a single pet than to deceive two or more at once.

     Herya saw a Mynci dressed as Jhudora walk by. Perhaps she would be a good subject; it seemed that she had already chosen to support evil. If Herya were to educate her a bit more on the subject, maybe the Mynci would even agree to help the darkness. The Dark Faerie stepped out and intercepted the Mynci. "Hello," she said craftily.

     "Oh, hi." The Mynci looked at her nonchalantly. Herya didn't expect that; most pets were surprised when a Dark Faerie stepped out in front of their path. Nevertheless, she said, "That is a lovely Jhudora costume. Do you know her? Would you like to find out more about her and what she, and all Dark Faeries, does?"

     The Mynci shook her head. "No. I'm already serving as an apprentice to a nice Dark Faerie who lives around here. I help her with her spells regularly, and today is one of the few days that she lets me have off. Now if you don't mind, I'm going trick-or-treating."

     "Oh." Herya stepped aside in surprise and let the Mynci pass. So the pet was already in league with the darkness. Herya couldn't very well do anything more, at least not anything that would further her current assignment. Scowling at the fact that such a prime victim was no good, Herya walked on down the path, determined to find some young pet that the Dark Faeries could use.

     A shadow stepped out in front of Herya, and the Dark Faerie recognized her instructor. Lalon glanced up at the sky and smiled in satisfaction. "I got together with a group of Dark Faeries earlier tonight and we gave the sky special treatment for the holiday." Her expression changed abruptly, and she gave the younger faerie a disapproving look. "Today is the last day. It looks as if you're going to fail the assignment."

     "As a matter of fact," Herya said, scowling, "I'm going to look for a pet right now."

     "You remember how I told you to do it?" Lalon asked. "Try to talk them into it, tell them whatever lies you need to, and if they look like they'll be willing, give them some dark powers to use under your command…"

     "I know," Herya said in annoyance, pushing past the other faerie and walking on down the path.

     "She'd better," Lalon muttered as she watched her student stalking away into the night. Spreading her wings, she flew away towards a different area of the woods, intending to spend the holiday making mischief with the other Dark Faeries of the woods.

     Farther on down the path, Herya was fuming to herself about how dismissively Lalon treated her. She hardly paid attention to the pets she was walking by, many of which would be fine subjects for her assignment, until at last she stopped and took a look at her surroundings. She spied a small creature leaving a house; another trick-or-treater. But what caught her eye about this young Cybunny was her costume.

     Unlike the vampire and witch costumes that the other pets on Ghoul Close seemed to favor, this Cybunny was dressed all in yellow, in a dress that looked eerily similar to the attire of some of Herya's enemies in Faerieland. As the pet turned around to grin at the occupant of a house that she had just visited, Herya caught sight of a pair of large yellow fabric "wings".

     Herya was astonished. How dare this Cybunny dress up as one of those Light Faeries, and in the Haunted Woods, no less! As Herya watched the Cybunny, an evil thought occurred to her. How much credit she would gain if she managed to convert to darkness a creature that bore the costume of light! It would not look good for the Light Faeries, and Jhudora would most likely reward Herya. Not only that, but perhaps Lalon would treat her with a bit more respect, as well.

     Without another thought, Herya strode towards the young yellow Cybunny, already thinking of the tactics she would use to make the pet a willing servant of the darkness.

      * * * * *

     "Here you go! My, you are a cute little Light Faerie!" cooed the elder Nimmo as she dropped a lollipop into the Cybunny's bag of treats.

     "Thank you, ma'am!" Yilva said with a big grin on her face.

     She turned and headed down the front walk. To her surprise, a shadowy figure, clad in dark purple, blocked her way. The great dark wings and the evil-looking eyes could not be mistaken for anything other than a Dark Faerie. And it was a real Dark Faerie, not one of the many pets that Yilva had seen in that costume over the course of that night.

     The Cybunny backed up a few steps, clutching her bag of treats, but she wasn't particularly scared. Having lived in the Haunted Woods all her life, she was used to things that others considered spooky. That included Dark Faeries, since there were always one or two flying around the woods even when it wasn't Halloween. They were as normal as the Spyders and Slorgs that made their home in the area.

     "Hello," the Dark Faerie said with a sneer. "Your costume is quite unusual, isn't it?"

     Yilva beamed with pride. "Yes, that's why I wore it. I figured no one else would dress up this way, and I was right!"

     Herya raised her eyebrows. "Was that the only reason you dressed up as a Light Faerie?"

     Yilva looked confused for a moment. "Yes. Well…what do you mean?"

     The Dark Faerie's mouth turned up in a sinister grin. "I was just wondering if you actually…supported light or something like that. Do you know anything about the Light Faeries?"

     "No…not really," Yilva admitted. "There aren't a lot of them around here. I've never even met one."

     Herya considered telling the little Cybunny every derogatory lie she knew about Light Faeries, which she would have been happy to do, but instead she asked simply, "Do you like faeries?"

     "Oh, yes!" Yilva said with shining eyes, as Herya had expected. After all, what little girl didn't like faeries?

     "Would you like to have real faerie abilities to use as you wish, instead of merely pretending to be a faerie in dress-up play?" Herya asked.

     "Yes!" Yilva's face was aglow; her mouth was stretched into a wide smile. The young pet believed every word that the Dark Faerie said, little thinking of caution. Dark Faeries were the only kind of faerie that inhabited her homeland. She did not know not to trust them.

     Herya was amazed at how easy this had been. With a cruel grin, she told the Cybunny, "As you wish, I will give you faerie powers."

     "Really?" Yilva began bouncing up and down with excitement. "Will I be able to do things like real faeries? Will I get to make plants grow, and do stuff like that?"

     "Certainly," Herya said, making a mental note to herself to endow the pet with some of the magic that she'd been using to make the twisted vines grow earlier. Not that the Cybunny would care after she'd been taken by the darkness, of course. At that point, she would be a servant of their cause. All Herya had needed was the Cybunny's consent by her own free will, and then the Dark Faerie could do anything she wanted with her. First, of course, she needed to darken the pet's mind and soul.

     Herya began to murmur the words to a spell, raising her hands and waving them in the air as Yilva watched in amazement. The night wind blew cold, sending the pet's dress and the faerie's cape rippling in the breeze. Slowly, an unseen darkness began to settle over the Cybunny's mind. Her own thoughts whirled away, to be replaced with evil.

      * * * * *

     Not far away, a ghostly Shoyru was hovering, feeling lost as usual. She watched the trick-or-treaters walking happily along the darkened paths. They were in groups, pairs, or alone. None of them could see the Shoyru, but she could see them. If she happened to look at one of them, she could even see what they were thinking at that moment. It was an interesting ability that she had gained as a spirit, but she did not see many occasions to put it to use.

     "Carefree children," she sighed. "Only thinking about having fun, and getting Halloween candy."

     A ghost of a Moehog floated up to Zeva, smiling mischievously. "There are a bunch of pets telling scary stories around a campfire in another part of the woods," he said. "I'm going to go scare the wits out of them. Care to come?"

     Zeva shook her head, and the other ghost left. The Shoyru moved through the air, unseen, watching the costumed pets going along their ways. "Carefree," she said to herself again. "Completely oblivious to all the evil around them, ignorant of the darkness that is everywhere, only focused on enjoying themselves rather than making a change in the world. Yet I, who understands these things, never make a difference anywhere. How can I?" she lamented.

     An air of darkness penetrated the ghost's acute senses for what is invisible to the living. The Shoyru looked down and frowned at the source: a Dark Faerie, standing in the middle of the populated area of the Haunted Woods, acting as if she owned the forest by standing there and waving her arms. She could not be doing anything good.

     Zeva was startled to see a small yellow Cybunny near the Dark Faerie. But the Cybunny was not what surprised her; it was what Zeva saw of the pet's thoughts. An evil was being cast over her mind, fogging over her own being and filling her with the Dark Faerie's desires. Yet…the pet was not completely consumed by the spell. The Cybunny's own mind was fighting against the evil faerie's attempts to control it, but she was losing quickly.

     A sudden fire lit within Zeva. The ghostly Shoyru floated down to the young Cybunny and began battling along with her. The spirit's much stronger mental energy combatted the Dark Faerie's magic, driving away the evil and restoring the Cybunny's mind as her own.

      * * * * *

     Anger rose in Herya as she realized what was happening. Some other force was fighting off her attempts to control the Cybunny. "Who is that?" she yelled at the night, summoning all of her energy to keep the spell going. It struck the Cybunny's mind with more force, but the other power worked again to turn it away.

     Yilva was confused. Her thoughts were fading in and out, sometimes becoming very clear, and sometimes clouding over again. An intense struggle was going on between the ghost and the Dark Faerie, for Yilva. The Cybunny was frightened now. "Go away," she cried at a point when her mind was clear, only to have the Dark Faerie's influence take over again. The ghost fought back.

     "It's Halloween," Herya yelled at the unseen force in frustration. "A day to respect evil! You could at least let me win!"

     "Halloween is a day to respect ghosts such as me," Zeva's voice floated into the Dark Faerie's mind. "And if I choose to fight against you, which of us should be given the right of way?"

     Determined not to give up the Cybunny, both forces dueled far into the night, long after the other trick-or-treaters had gotten their candy and gone home. While on the streets, they hadn't paid attention to Herya or Yilva and the invisible ghost alongside her. They were only another Dark Faerie and Cybunny, but at the moment Yilva's fate relied on the ghost's voluntary help.

     Herya gritted her teeth in anger, her thoughts focused on nothing other than eliminating the unwanted power that was strengthening her otherwise helpless victim. She thought nothing of the time, focusing hard on keeping her dark magic flowing strongly into the Cybunny.

     A light tap on her shoulder broke her concentration. Immediately, the ghost's power swept through, clearing the darkness from Yilva's mind. The Cybunny, no longer locked in the middle of the battle, lost no time in racing away as fast as her legs could carry her.

     Herya whirled around, angry beyond measure at whatever had caused her to lose the Cybunny. She found herself staring at the familiar Dark Faerie that was always the source of her troubles - Lalon.

     "You!" Herya screamed. "You let that Cybunny get away! I was about to turn her to the darkness! She was the perfect pet for the job! Innocent, willing to help…"

     Lalon broke into the younger faerie's rant with a calm statement, "It is past midnight. Halloween is over."

     Herya's eyes bulged. "What?"

     "You failed your assignment."

     Watching from above, Zeva smiled. She no longer felt useless. Her abilities as a spirit had helped her save that young Cybunny.

     A ghost could make a difference.

The End

 
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