Still thwarting Sloth's mind control... Circulation: 117,885,008 Issue: 236 | 21st day of Eating, Y8
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Shad and Saura: The Old Neolodge - Part Two


by ssjelitegirl

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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 closer.

     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 in quietly.

     "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 to it.

     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 you going?"

     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 to herself.

     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 asleep soon.

     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 snack?"

     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."

     CRASH!

     "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...

 
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Other Episodes


» Shad and Saura: The Old Neolodge - Part One
» Shad and Saura: The Old Neolodge: Part Three



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