Shad and Saura: The Old Neolodge - Part Two
The next morning was just as windy and stormy as the previous
day and everyone felt rather depressed. Meronius's empty spot by the table made
everyone feel uncomfortable and Sweetie hadn't showed up either. When the breakfast
had been finished, the maid took a tray with some food up to the Cybunny. "She
may be so scared that she doesn't want to come out but that doesn't mean that
she has to starve," the Acara claimed, going up the stairs.
"This house probably has many secrets to discover,"
Shad guessed, looking around in the sitting room where they had all gathered
after breakfast. "I think I'll go and sneak around a little."
"Just don't run into any undiscovered secrets,"
Saura suggested, leaning against the wall to take a nap - he always took a nap
when he didn't have something else to do. "Those always cause some sort of troubles."
The Lupe glanced at him. "You're kidding, right?"
He trotted upstairs and climbed the ladder that led to the attic. The lodge
only had two floors and the attic didn't add to that much. It was small, dusty
and naturally filled with junk. Shad couldn't see in the dark too well but he
had a good nose and the attic, even though rather dusty, still had something
in its corners, the Neopet could tell that on the doorway already.
There was a dusty mirror by the opposite wall,
near the equally dusty window where only a few rays of grey light managed to
get in. Shad only gave it a quick glance before sniffing a box near his paw…
and then glanced at the mirror again. There was something odd about it. He sneaked
There was so much dust on the mirror's surface
that it had practically fossilized. Regular wiping wouldn't have taken it off.
Even acid wouldn't have taken it off. Shad could only tell that it was a mirror
because of the ornate frame and the object's general shape. And there was something
written on the dull grey surface, scribbled with the tip of some long lost finger
so long ago that a thick layer of dust had formed on the writing too, making
it readable only because the writing was a little bit lighter.
GET OUT!!! it read.
It wasn't scary. It wasn't even funny. It was
the scribble of someone who had discovered that mirror years ago and left the
message into the dust just because they had read stories about mysterious messages
appearing on mirrors. Shad spent a minute thinking of that mysterious someone
who must've visited that same attic so many years ago… and then caught himself
thinking: "How old is this house then?"
He decided that he really didn't want to think
about it and turned back to the box. There were a few books in it, also old
and dusty. Shad took the first one out and wasn't really surprised to see an
old diary. The pages were yellow and the ink was so bleached that it was almost
unreadable. The Lupe put it back and looked around again. Old toys, some broken
furniture - nothing but a regular old attic. And still there was something strange
about it, Shad just couldn't tell what exactly. Suddenly he got chills. The
Lupe turned around and scampered out. His brother had been right - sticking
one's nose into old secrets is hardly ever a good idea.
When Shad got back to the sitting room, it was
empty. For a terrifying moment he thought that whatever had taken Meronius had
taken the others too but then his nose picked up the scents of the others and
he trotted back up to the second floor.
The corridor was very cold and the door to Sweetie's
room was wide open. Everyone was sitting inside with a very concerned look on
their faces. When Shad appeared on the doorway, they turned their heads with
a gasp and then relaxed again.
"Something took her too?" Shad asked, sliding
"The window was open, the door was unlocked,"
Ash replied, rubbing his forehead, "and I remember her saying that she'd lock
the door before going to sleep yesterday. This is getting serious." The Aisha
stood up and frowned. "All right, listen. Tonight we'll all sleep in the sitting
room. Nobody walks around alone. And if that thing shows up…" His eyes flashed.
That day was grim and nervous. The maid wept
almost constantly, Mara the Gelert dashed around in the sitting room yelling
at everyone and Ash just sat on the couch, glaring into the fire while his huge
Aisha ears registered every little sound there was. Only Shad had curled up
in front of the fireplace and Saura was once again asleep. The two shared their
whole family's general view on life - if it's not poking you, pay no attention
Mara stopped in front of the window, glared outside
at the storm that had faded a little but was still quite strong, turned around
and dashed out of the room. Ash's ears twitched as he shouted: "Hey, where are
Mara's eyes narrowed when she turned around.
"To the little Gelerts' room, got a problem?"
"Going around alone like that is dangerous,"
Shad interrupted calmly, seeing that the two were about to explode - the tension
was growing over their heads and had to burst eventually. "Here, take this."
He took the poker and handed it to Mara who trotted off, muttering grumpily
Shad's ears weren't as good as Ash's or Saura's
but even he could hear a loud yelp about a minute later. The three ran out of
the room instantly and found Mara in another hallway sitting on the floor panting
frantically. She was holding a half of the broken poker. Apparently it had been
too old and rusty. Shad caught himself pondering the age of the house once again.
"What happened?" Ash demanded.
"Nothing, nothing…" Mara got up and tried to
get her dignity back. "I just spotted that curtain with the corner of my eye
and it was dark in here…"
The others nodded with relief and Saura looked
at the curtain. It had been fragile and holey enough but now it had a long rip
in it. The wall behind it had a deep scratch in it as well, the poker had done
a good job. Mara sighed and went on down the hallway clutching two poker pieces,
the other went back to the sitting room and continued doing nothing.
"Dinner's ready," the maid suddenly called, poking
her head into the room. The three started. They hadn't even noticed that the
time had passed so quickly. But it was indeed dark outside.
"So where's Mara?" Shad asked, getting up. "She
should've been back by now."
Saura and Ash exchanged quick glances. "I didn't
hear anything," both said in unison. The Lupe bit his lip and galloped out of
the room. The cold breeze was expectable enough and by the time he reached the
door to the bathroom, he already knew what awaited him. The small window was
open, the mirror was smashed, bars of soap and shampoo bottles were thrown on
the floor. And he couldn't smell Mara - there were no scents but those same
shampoos and soaps. Shad looked at the bathroom and then sat down with a sigh.
He barely noticed the others when they stomped in…
The dinner was quiet and gloomy. When the four
remaining Neopets dragged their blankets and pillows into the sitting room preparing
for bedtime, they didn't talk much and were constantly peering around. The maid
was close to a nervous breakdown. Ash was grim and grumpy. Saura didn't seem
different from his usual look but his eyes were full of concern. Shad could
feel his usual happy energetic self flowing away. That house was eating his
nerves. They all pushed some furniture in front of the windows and left the
fire burning in the fireplace. Shad curled up in front of it as usual and fell
Someone was watching him. Two yellow eyes flashed
open and the Lupe glared around, only to see his stepbrother leaning against
the wall. Nobody could stare you awake better than Saura. The maid and Ash were
asleep on the sofas but the Zafara didn't seem sleepy at all.
"What?" Shad whispered, sniffing the air. He
couldn't sense anything unusual.
"I've been thinking," Saura replied as quietly,
stretching his long legs. "Sitting here for hours, thinking all the time. It's
past four," he added, seeing that the Lupe glanced at the old massive clock.
"I slept today so I can stay awake for quite a while now. There is something
weird about those disappearances. What do we know so far?"
Shad sat up. "I can never smell anything except
for the house itself… the windows are always open and there has been struggling.
Someone has taken them away, that's for sure."
Saura frowned, his blue eyes were shining in
the dimness. "Aha, but that's what's bothering me. Remember Mara? The bathroom's
window is relatively small. And Meronius was a rather big Skeith. It had to
be slim enough and strong enough, you know."
"A Hissi?" the Lupe asked, gazing around. "But
that doesn't explain the missing of all scents."
"Yeah, and there are other things that are making
me worry," Saura agreed. "There are too many questions. Why is this house so
old, what happened with Meronius's plate, how come whatever took them all managed
to avoid everyone else… and I bet there's something else, something we've been
missing and what's still very important." His eyes narrowed. "Tell me, what
did you see at that attic?"
Shad told him about the junk, the mirror and
the dusty window. The Zafara didn't say anything for a while but seemed confused.
"That message on the mirror may mean so many things… no, no, I believe you're
right, it must really be a scribble of a child but that wasn't my point. If
even that writing was so very old…"
Shad got his point and nodded. "And you're saying
that we've still missed something, some little important thing in this mystery?"
"There is some pattern, that's for sure." Saura
agreed and got up. "I should've done some sniffing around as well. Want a midnight
Shad followed him to the kitchen. He knew his
stepbrother well enough: Saura didn't care much about eating but cooking always
helped him think and calm down. Right now he was rather nervous and unsure even
though he didn't show it. The Lupe sat down by the humongous oven and looked
around curiously as Saura lit the lamps. The kitchen was old-fashioned and not
really welcoming but Saura's presence calmed Shad - he remembered the kitchen
of their tiny light Neohome where you could see Saura by the stove at least
fifteen hours a day. He enjoyed cooking and somehow managed to turn every kitchen
cozy just by being there.
"Was that barrel there before?" Shad asked, looking
around. "I came to the kitchen today to look for a sna… look around a little
and I don't think I saw it then."
"That Acara probably brought it from the pantry,
you know how fast supplies run out," Saura replied, taking the pan off the fire
- he always worked fast - and grabbing two plates from the cupboard. "This is
still a Neolodge."
Shad munched on the mixture Saura had come up
with using rice, apples and some strips of dried meat. He peered at the barrel.
"Yeah, but… it looks pretty dusty."
"Now what?" Saura muttered, galloping out of
the room. Shad knew that he should follow but the food was just too tasty and
he was about to finish anyway. The Zafara came back shortly with a frown.
"Just Ash, he wanted to go to the bathroom and
stumbled into that big vase in the dark, sleepy as he was. Nothing to worry…
about…" his eyes turned wide as the point of his sentence struck him. Shad had
gotten the same thought at that same moment. They gazed into each other's eyes.
To be continued...