Enter the Snowflake's lair... Circulation: 124,888,518 Issue: 252 | 11th day of Hiding, Y8
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Royal Stain


by stargal145

--------

Ivy_Druidess was spring cleaning her room when the first incident occurred. She was folding a pile of blankets when she noticed a damp patch on the wall across from her. It seemed to almost be watching her. It was rather unnerving.

     Ivy was a green Lupess, well groomed, quiet, and rather unshakeable. After all, with a brother like hers, it was hard to surprise her anymore.

     It wasn't like it had a face or anything... Wait... Did it? She peered closer, but kept a safe distance. She could just see it, the pupils, mouth, and, was that a tooth? She shook her head but the image refused to go away; the patch on the wall made up a perfect face.

    The Lupess shook her head, and she dismissed it as her imagination, but still moved the pile of blankets in front of the 'face'.

     It never occurred to her until much later to wonder how the water had seeped through a solid stone wall.

    * * *

    DaemonBane was the next victim. It was a couple days after Ivy had found the face, but Daemon didn't know that; she hadn't told anyone. Daemon was a yellow Lupe, pretty normal, no odd scars, except for that one where he'd fallen down the stairs last week, but that was healing nicely. In fact the only thing that separated him from any other Lupe was the iron Lupe sword on his belt, which he'd affectionately named 'Blade', as in, 'my faithful Blade'.

    He was sitting in the living room, well, sprawled out in front of the fire really, asleep, when something dripped onto his nose.

    Now, if it had been anything else, a paw, his tail, Daemon probably would have gone on sleeping. But a Lupe's nose is very sensitive, believe it or not.

    He woke up with a yelp, and probably woke up anything else that was sleeping for the next block.

    Paw covering nose, he turned his gaze upwards to the ceiling. It looked darker then normal, or it seemed so to Daemon, but he couldn't be certain; he didn't generally take much time to study ceilings.

    Drip.

    It was the culprit! But, Daemon paused, weren't ceilings supposed to stop you from getting wet?

    There was an awkward silence; neither Daemon nor ceiling knew what to do. Then the ceiling made its move.

    Drip.

    Drip. Drip.

    Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip.

    Then it was pouring rain, cold and heavy, extinguishing the fire and soaking Daemon to the bone.

    If there's one thing you can say about DaemonBane, it's that he knows when he's beat.

    He ran faster than most would have believed possible, out of the room, then up to his War Strategy Room, where he planned his counter attack on the ceiling.

    He ran into several problems, like how to keep his plans secret from his own ceiling. But soon enough, hiding under a table, he was so caught up in his plans to steal weapons from the Hidden Tower for the attack, that he was having a hard time remembering if it really had happened. Despite what people may think, he wasn't hopelessly stupid, and in his heart of hearts, he knew ceilings didn't rain on you.

    * * *

    When Stargal got back to Brightvale from her trip to Neopia Central the next day, she found DaemonBane hiding in the courtyard. Odd, she hadn't even figured out what he'd done yet.

    She sighed; she'd rather liked that bush.

    'What happened?' she asked, scanning the garden for Ivy_Druidess.

    'Me and Ivy were playing-'

    Ok, thought Stargal, translating, he was bugging Ivy...

    '-when the couch slid across the room and smashed into a wall-'

    ...He smashed my couch, probably sliced it with his sword...

    '-and the fireplace exploded with, a fire, and nearly took off my eyebrows, and everything started shaking, and some stuff smashed-'

    ...He jumped back and smashed something, probably expensive...

    '-then this face came out of the fire, yelling at us to get out, so I slashed at it with Blade-'

    ...What else did he break?...

    '-but Blade went straight through the face, so I ran. The face was cheating! How do you fight something you can't hit?'

    ...Then he knew he was in trouble so he ran away-

    Hang on a second, Daemon ran away? He thinks running away is a crime punishable by death! You know, fight to the finish? Something must have really scared him...

    She looked her pet straight in the face. He was busy defending his honour.

    'I can deal with things I can hit, but things I can't hit-'

    'Daemon, where's Ivy?'

    '-but that was cheating! I can't fight magic! In my own house too! I ought ta-'

    'Daemon!'

    He looked up. 'What?'

    'Where's Ivy?'

    He paused, frowning while he recalled the day's events. His brow creased in concentration. 'I... I don't know...'

    * * *

    'I'm not afraid of you,' declared Ivy, to the world around her.

    A vase flew at her head in response. She ducked, and cursed the, well... Whatever it was. That had been a birthday present from one of her old friends, back when she used to live in Neopia Central.

    'Who are you? What do you want?'

    A log flew off the fire and onto the floor. Twisting and turning, splitting and merging before her eyes, she saw the fire snake round into a familiar symbol.

    Just as the window smashed, probably a fireman, reasoned Ivy, she realised what it was. It was a coat-of-arms.

    * * *

    'Ivy? Ivy_Druidess, are you awake?'

    Ivy shook her head to clear her vision and looked at the source of the voice. It was a blue Ixi... The local doctor.

    'What happened?' she asked. Her tongue felt like it had swollen up and grown hair. Her ahead ached, and her left side itched terribly.

    'You were in a fire. No damage done, but you'll smell of burnt for the next week or so. As soon as you're well enough to go to the healing springs you'll be as good as new; you inhaled a lot of smoke. I've seen worse.'

    Ivy sat up a little, and took in her new surrounding. She was in a wooden building, and the room was square, like all buildings in Neopia. Little furniture that she could see, the bed, a table, something that was probably a rug (Ivy couldn't see much over the doctor) but several huge windows. After all, this was Brightvale.

    'When can I go to the healing springs?'

    'As soon as you've eaten; we've just been waiting for you to wake up.'

    'Right...' Ivy nodded weakly.

    'Here,' the Ixi proffered a bowl of soup, 'my specialty. It's been said that this stuff cures more than my medicines do.'

    'Thanks...'

    * * *

    'Stargal, do you know the history of our house?' asked Ivy on their way back from the healing springs. Her side was healed wonderfully, and she felt as good as new. She didn't even have a scar or anything. Not that she'd had one to begin with, but still.

    'What history? Our house was just an empty field before we bought it. Don't you remember?'

    'Yes, but something must have happened, I mean, ghosts don't just suddenly move in. Oops.' Ivy covered her mouth, hoping Stargal hadn't caught what she said.

    'Ghosts?' asked her owner, 'Ivy, who said there was a ghost?' She glared at her pet.

    'Umm... '

    'Ivy?'

    'I think there's a ghost,' Ivy said timidly.

    Stargal sighed visibly. 'Why?'

    'The fire...' faltered Ivy, then she started again more confidently, 'The fire burnt in the shape of a coat of arms, one I recognised.'

    Stargal nodded; it made sense. Well, Ivy knew virtually everything about the royalty of Brightvale. For example, she could tell you what everything on anyone's coat-of-arms meant and why it was there. She seemed to know more than the nobles themselves. Why had always been beyond Stargal, but it kept her out of trouble, so she didn't argue.

    Stargal wondered vaguely whether now would be a good time to tell Ivy. It's not like she wouldn't find out, but...

    'Ivy, the fire didn't leave any marks on the floor. In fact, if people hadn't seen it with their own eyes, there'd have been no proof there ever was a fire.'

    'I told you it was a ghost!'

    'Ivy, all we know it that it wasn't a normal fire; it could have been a faerie or something.'

    'The only faerie living nearby is Illusen, and she's not that gifted in the fire department.'

    Stargal sighed, and hoped that Illusen hadn't somehow heard Ivy's comment. 'Well, whose coat-of-arms was it?'

    'It was the royal one. Like, the king's, for a couple differences.'

    'Like?'

    'Instead of the lines in the upper left quarter running vertically, it was horizontal.'

    'In plain Brightvalian?'

    'It was the coat-of-arms of the second royal family; they were cousins to the originals, but they all died in a mysterious accident, except for one, Sir Thomas.'

    'Who?'

    Ivy sighed. 'He was a royal Grarrl, he lived in the house down the street, never spoke to anyone, and he would snarl at them if they came to close after his family died. Eventually he died of old age. They buried him where they're building that new market.'

    'I think, Ivy, you just came up with the what, why, and who, which is mostly all that really matters with a ghost. Then again, this case is special. We need the where. As in if the house down the street is where he lived, what's he doing at our house? It didn't even exist back then.'

    * * *

    DaemonBane wasn't at home. He'd been really shook up, and muttering something about cheating; he'd taken an immediate dislike to all ghosts. Stargal, rather than leave a jumpy Lupe in a house full of breakable things, had sent him to stay with her friend Milkshake214, out on Mystery Island. Poor Milkshake; how long before the phobic Daemon found out about the ghost Lupe?

    The two girls faced the stone house alone. Well, as alone as you can be when there are two of you.

    'So, what do we say?' asked Ivy bitterly. 'Excuse me Mister Thomas, sir, but what are you doing here?'

    'That's the plan,' said Stargal, with no emotion whatsoever.

    'Great...' motioned Ivy sarcastically.

    The door swung open easily to the touch.

    'Don't worry,' hastily revealed Stargal, after seeing her pet's expression, 'the ghost didn't do that. I just never bothered to close the door properly.'

    * * *

    'H... Hello?' Ivy called, warily.

    Nothing.

    'Maybe he left?' tried Stargal.

    'I don't think so.'

    The two crept up the stairs.

    'Let's try the living room; it's where you got attacked,' suggested Stargal.

    'Ok, but if we get eaten I'm blaming you.'

    * * *

    The living room was a wreck. The sofa still lay against the wall, splintered and broken. The floor was covered in bits and pieces of glass, and Ivy found herself in severe want of shoes.

    'The firemen broke the window to get you out.' Stargal waved a limp hand at the floor.

    They were both looking down. Some sixth sense had told them not to look up.

    Ivy was the first to risk it. The stone had become discoloured, pink and brown in colour. There was a pattern, or wording more like. 'GET OUT'

    'He's not here,' sighed Stargal, wrenching her gaze out the broken window. Ivy wouldn't take her eyes off the monstrosity.

    'Ivy? You ok?' Stargal said, thinking, It's possession. He's possessed her. What now?!

    'Yeah, I'm fine.' Ivy looked back at Stargal. 'I know where he is.'

    'Where?'

    'You'll see.'

    * * *

    Ivy's room looked the same as normal, neat, tidy, almost creepily so. Well, except for the wall.

    There was a discoloured splotch on the wall, or it looked like a splotch from a distance.

    Now you could see it clearly, the face was that of a grinning Grarrl, every tooth visible. It had grown.

    'Hello?' called Ivy, almost inaudibly.

    A cold wind blew around the room, knocking things about. Pet and owner drew closer.

    'Sir Thomas? I know it's you,' Ivy stated.

    Stargal blinked and shook her head; did the face just move?

    'Sir Thomas, what are you doing here? Your old home is down the street.'

    The wind hastened, several things broke and papers flew every which way. Pet and owner grew closer still.

    'MY NAME IS SIR THOMAS-' came a low voice, hoarse and raspy. It seemed to emanate from the walls themselves.

    'Yeah, we know already,' muttered Stargal, cowering.

    '-AND THIS IS MY HOUSE-'

    'No it's not!' yelled Ivy, trying to be heard over the din.

    '-GET OU- WAIT, WHAT DID YOU SAY?'

    'This isn't your house! You lived down the road!' Ivy motioned out the window.

    'DID YOU SAY I USED TO LIVE DOWN THE ROAD FROM HERE?'

    'Yes!' squeaked Ivy.

    'OH. MY MISTAKE. COULD YOU PLEASE NOT MENTION THIS TO ANYONE? ONLY, I'D NEVER LIVE IT DOWN, IF YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN. MOTHER ALWAYS SAID I HAD A HORRIBLE SENSE OF DIRECTION,' chuckled the ghost.

    Ivy just looked around in disbelief.

    'OH, SORRY ABOUT THE MESS; I'LL HAVE IT SET RIGHT IN A JIFFY!'

    The wind dropped, nearly causing Ivy and Stargal to fall over; they been leaning heavily into the wind.

    Ivy gasped as the face disappeared off the wall, like an explosion, only backwards. Turning around she saw all the knickknacks she'd heard fall and break back where they belonged, without so much as a crack on them. The papers were all piled up neatly on the desk, and everything was back to the neatness, and order she was used to.

    Her window opened itself, and she swore she could see a glimmer of blue fly out with the sudden rush of air.

    The two just stood solemnly for a moment. Was that for real?

    Ivy turned and looked at Stargal.

    'That was weird.'

    Stargal145 nodded her head in agreement. 'Who says 'jiffy' these days?'

The End

 
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