A Reluctant Lesson from the Count
"I don't believe it," whispered Arraeya the blue Acara firmly.
Her friend nodded nervously, knowing that once
Arraeya had an idea, it would be a while before she let it go.
Laylah sighed, wondering how long this would
Arraeya stood up, and stared out at the sunny
horizons of Roo Island, deep in thought.
The optimistic and cheerful design of the island
was visible as far as the eye could see... except for the dark, mottled crypt
in one corner. Count von Roo's lair stood out like a bruise on a fresh apple.
"He's never awake," continued Arraeya, gesturing
towards the crypt.
"Yes," replied Laylah, trying to imagine where
Arraeya could be going with this discussion.
"So I think that Count von Roo doesn't even exist!"
Laylah let out a strangled gasp, and Arraeya
smiled at her solitary audience.
"Indeed! There is no Count von Roo! And why?
Have you ever seen anyone come out of that building other than the stray Neopian
that happens to wander in? NO!"
Arraeya's eyes took on her signature plotting
gaze, and her red Aisha friend squirmed anxiously.
"So, Laylah, what we're going to do is find out
whether or not von Roo exists. For the good of Neopia!"
Laylah rolled her eyes.
"You've been playing too many vide-"
"Avast!" shrieked Arraeya, and pulled her friend
by the arm. "All we have to do is wait... the legend says he awakens at midnight..."
Later that night, Laylah found herself standing
on top of the roof of her Neohome, staring out at the stars.
Her owner was sleeping, so she must be extremely
cautious. The full moon cast the complete glow of midnight over the land.
It was time to meet Arraeya... and the Count,
if he existed.
"But I know he does!" Laylah beseeched to the
stars. "Why can't Arraeya just go alone?"
The yard was silent, and the Aisha sighed, winding
herself around the drainpipe, and sliding down to the grass. As an Aisha, she
was very stealthy and could see well in the dark-but even tonight, Laylah felt
things going out of focus-and knew her vision wasn't to blame.
Upon arriving at Roo Island, Laylah wandered
cautiously over to the crypt, and sat down on a stone outside the mysterious
"Where IS Arraeya?" she murmured, nervously.
It was getting later and later-perhaps it was already midnight.
Even as these thoughts rolled in her head, Laylah
heard a creaking sound, that chilled her very essence.
"Ah-ah-Arraeya?" she questioned the night, softly,
but there was no reply.
The sound, she now realized, could not have been
Arraeya. It was coming from... the crypt.
"Hey, you!" called another, unseen voice.
Laylah stood up and looked around; finally noticing
what appeared to be a large, dark figure in the distance.
The figure, a hulking mass of pure muscle, clumped
forward, apparently searching for something, and additionally, not afraid of
the darkness that cloaked them.
It glanced at Laylah, finally noticing her.
"Kid, isn't a bit late to be-"
His sentence was never finished. The Aisha, terrified
of perhaps being arrested for being out too late, began to run blindly ahead,
searching for any sort of shelter...
Her eyes fell on the crypt, and, not thinking
clearly, Laylah stumbled ahead, pulling open the rusty door and sliding into
the home of Count Von Roo.
The door clicked shut behind her, and Laylah
could feel her eyes adjusting to the thick darkness that now surrounded her.
"Greetings, child," hissed a quiet voice from
the corner of the room.
Laylah could not suppress a muffled shriek that
arose as she noticed what appeared to be a coffin in the back of the room.
A shadow shuffled forward, and, instantly, Laylah
found herself looking into the eyes of the eeriest Blumaroo she had ever seen.
His eyes were bloodshot and empty, as though he had lost years of sleep, but
this could not block the fact that they held an irrepressible taint of... evil.
"C-c-count von Roo?" she stuttered, unsure of
what she should do to escape. Surely even the police would be preferable to
this... oh, if only Arraeya was here!
The Count chuckled.
"Indeed. And how exactly would you know that?"
He grinned, his fingers clicking together.
"It's so nice to have a visitor, it's been-what?
Weeks since I stole that Grundo's level?" He stared at the wall, where Laylah
could see a large patch of strange markings.
Count von Roo waved his hand dismissively.
"Doesn't matter. Now, little Aisha-you seem to
be rather young. Are you interested in... a game?"
The Count shuffled over to a corner of the room,
by the coffin, and retrieved a large box, holding six items that Laylah recognized
as dice, almost exactly like the ones the other inhabitants of the island used
to play Dice-a-Roo.
"I will have a die," he scooped two dice out
of the box, "and you will have one."
He placed the wooden cube in her quivering paw
"We will both roll. If your die comes up higher,
you will win a level."
"A-a level?" murmured Laylah, almost forgetting
her fear. If she went up a level, she wouldn't have to listen to Arraeya anymore,
who constantly bragged about how she was Level Three.
"However, there is a small catch," said Count
von Roo sadly.
"You see, if I roll the higher dice, I'm afraid
that you, well, you know, lose a level."
Laylah gulped. That would put her back on Level
One. Was it worth it?
She envisioned for a moment how she could be
the leader of the two now, she, Laylah, level 3, survivor of Count von Roo...
However, the image of Arraeya laughing and jeering
at her as a Level One stuck in the back of her mind.
Count von Roo was smiling absently, and tossing
the dice lightly from hand to hand.
Laylah continued to ponder. Was it really worth
just being able to lord over Arraeya? Why, she would just be sinking to her
"C-count? Count von Roo? I've made a decision."
The next morning, Arraeya stormed past Laylah's
owner and into the Aisha's bedroom, where Laylah was sleeping soundly, exhausted
from the night's endeavors.
"Where WERE you?" screamed the Acara, tossing
a pillow at Laylah, waking her up immediately.
Without waiting for a response, Arraeya continued.
"I waited all night for you by the merry-go-round,
and you never came! That was the plan, you were supposed to follow it!"
"WAS that the plan?" replied Laylah evenly. "Or
was that simply what you thought I should do?"
Arraeya remained completely silent, mouth gaping.
"Lah-lah-laylah, you said more than one word!!!"
The Aisha stood up, hands on hips.
"You can bet I did. Arraeya, if you want to continue
this friendship, you're going to have to be a little less... bossy!"
Arraeya remained completely shocked and silent.
"But-but-you never minded-that-I was bossy! You
were just so-weak!"
Suddenly, her eyes lit up.
"Wait a minute! Did you meet the Count? Did you
really go to the crypt? Did you gain a level? Did he possess you?"
"The Count didn't do anything to me," responded
Aisha firmly, "other than simply show me what was truly wrong with my current
Smiling slightly, she leapt out of her room to
go leave a little something at the crypt. After all, even if she hadn't decided
to play his game, Count von Roo had accidentally taught her an important lesson.