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The Battle of the Lucky Coin: Supplemental Text - Part One

by kublakhan27


"Hush," the Wocky warned in a harsh whisper to his partners. "We may not be alone here."

      The job of Ghoul Catcher is every bit as stressful as it implies. So why, after countless close encounters with Neopia's most dubious spirits, and as many revivals of his fainting cohorts in the aftermath of these encounters, did brave Bren (the Wocky) still insist on doing it? Well, he's never actually said so explicitly because he's never been asked, but if you were to ask him, he would say it was in fact the thrills that went along with that very stress. His job is one that most Neopians would be unwilling to undertake, and with that bravery there comes a sense of pride in what he and his two partners do, for even though they fainted on the job constantly, Bren was nonetheless aware of their unwavering loyalty to him, and he admired their peculiar kind of courage in doing so.

      "If we happen to be not alone, Mr. Bren," whispered Dr. Boolin the Kiko, "let us hope that whoever else is here is sleeping,"

      The other member of the party was Professor Vinsjin (a Kacheek), who at that very moment had been asking himself how anyone, or anything, could sleep amid the howling Haunted Woods wind bullying its way through the black trees taking dead leaves and dust with it in the process. Were he listening more carefully to the exchange between Bren and the Doctor, the Professor would have realized that they were not whispering as quietly as they believed they were, in their attempts to hear each other over the relentless breeze.

      Bren had been advising his cohorts to stay close together when Professor Vinsjin's eye caught a gleam of metal generated by the moonlight and persevering through a tight tangle of branches a short walk away from where the trio were conversing. Vinsjin was squinting his eyes and leaning towards the gleam to verify its presence when Bren turned to him and asked what it was he saw.

      "Oh I wish I hadn't been the one to see this," thought the Professor. "We have certainly been in some frightening spots before but I reckon this is certainly the worst. I mean, how many places in Neopia are actually called Haunted? And what terrible things could we hope to find out here, or even worse, what could find us? Oh, what could Mr. Bren have been imagining when he..."

      "Professor," Bren snapped, "what is it you see?"

      Vinsjin, brought back to his senses, pointed meekly in the direction of the shining metal. "Excellent, Professor," said Bren. "There is something in behind those trees. With a little luck, we may have come across an old tomb. Let's investigate."

      Bren's experience in such matters served him well, for when they arrived at the source of the light, it in fact turned out to be a casket that caught the Professor's eye with its reflection of the moon's rays. Bren wiped away the debris revealing a shine that was surprisingly intact despite the harsh weather conditions of the woods. This was nowhere near surprising, however, as the discovery of an inscription on the casket's lid. In bold lettering it said: TELL ME WHAT THIS OBJECT IS, BOLD TRAVELLER, AND WAKE ME FROM THIS ACCURSED SLUMBER: THE MAKER DOESN'T WANT IT, THE BUYER DOESN'T KEEP IT, AND THE OWNER DOESN'T SEE IT.

      After several seconds of silence, Dr. Boolin was the first to speak. "Well," he said, "a riddle. Unfortunately riddles are not our business, so let us carry on with ghoul catching, shall we?" And with that, they turned to leave.

      "Now hold on, Doctor," said Bren, guiding him back with his hand. "The business of ghoul catching depends just as much on the wits as it does the eyes, if not more. And if our experiences have taught us anything, it's that the uncovering of spirits rarely occurs without the involvement of obstacles. As this unfortunate fellow speaks of an accursed slumber, I feel it is our duty to try and help him, so we shall remain here and attempt to solve this riddle that has been left behind."

      The Doctor and Professor both groaned to themselves. "A most noble and excellent idea, Mr. Bren," said Professor Vinsjin.

      The trio stood in silence for some time afterward, as Bren set about the mental task of deciphering the riddle that apparently would free the tomb's contents of its curse. Dr. Boolin, meanwhile, set about the task of disregarding the flickering crow's wings and owl's hoots that descended on his ears from the trees above. His head swivelled from one direction to the next as swirling objects all around him constantly caught his eyes. "Please, oh please, let it be blowing leaves I keep seeing, and not the tails of vicious and malicious little animals scurrying past me," he thought.

      Professor Vinsjin was also preoccupied. "Oh I hope Mr. Bren knows what he is doing," he thought, "for what if the spirit turns out to be less kind than he believes? What if this riddle is a trick meant to wake some vicious and malicious creature from the past and set him free..."

      "Professor," snapped Bren, "you and the Doctor here look scared out of your wits. This is a time to be strong and hopeful, for not only do we have the chance to communicate with a spirit, we have the chance to perform a good deed by breaking his curse. I feel a strong connection to whoever is in there. I feel he is a good soul in need of our assistance."

      As was often the case with the Professor, he was spooked by Bren's apparent ability to know what he was thinking. "My thoughts exactly, Mr. Bren," he said.

      Hours passed, and the Ghoul Catchers - now quite cold but spurred on by Bren's enthusiasm to solve the riddle - continued to pace around the metal casket, for even Bren himself was unwilling to sit on the ground for fear of contact with dangerous insects (his partners remained on foot for fear of contact with any insects). Then the sun came up, the winds died down, and the ominous birds above flew elsewhere. The breaking of day proved to be a source of inspiration for Bren, for he was suddenly hit with the realization that the answer to the tomb's riddle was right there in the wording itself.

      "It says to tell him what the object is!" exclaimed Bren, startling the Doctor and Professor, who were looking skyward and admiring the silhouettes of the beautiful black crows against the sunshine. "What this object happens to be is the item described in the riddle: THE MAKER DOESN'T WANT IT, THE BUYER DOESN'T KEEP IT, AND THE OWNER DOESN'T SEE IT. And that item is a casket!"

      Suddenly the item in question began to shake. It started as a low rumble but was soon bouncing off the ground with such vigor that even the Doctor's Kiko eyes grew bigger with astonishment. Then the lid slammed open and up rose a figure clad in bandages that cast its eyes upon the amazed Ghoul Catchers. From the shape of his head and the four legs that emerged, Bren determined that it was a Ruki, just before being knocked over by the fainting Professor, who took both his partners to the ground with him.

      The Ruki's stare remained fixed upon the grovelling trio struggling to their feet. Bren's eyes met the Ruki's eyes again and there was a moment of heavy silence as the Ghoul Catchers sized up the bandage-laden creature before them. Who among this fatefully assembled group would speak first?

      Suddenly the Ruki's eyes tightened in a look that froze the curse breakers right through to their very breaths. His jaw, long inactive in his sleep, quivered and cracked as it spread wide open for the first time in who knows how long. With his long arms raised triumphantly over his head, his image underneath the strengthening sun's glow was grimly menacing. Then his mouth emitted a howl that seemed to shake the very ground below the Ghoul Catchers' feet. The Doctor fainted.

      When the Ruki lowered his arms and head to meet the saucered eyes of his petrified wakers once more, brave Bren was the first to speak. "Good spirit," he said, "we surmised you were entranced by a sleeping curse and sought to free you from it. My associates and I mean you no harm."

To be continued...

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