Invisible Paint Brushes rock Circulation: 126,511,783 Issue: 256 | 8th day of Gathering, Y8
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The Pianist's Quandary: Part Two

by micrody


Nevan said nothing as he pondered Ellamara's question. Nevan, she had just asked him, do you think you could find out if I am dead or alive? Another moment of silence passed over the two Neopets. Ellamara's eyes begged for a response.

     "How would I even do that?" Nevan asked sadly, but Ellamara did not answer. Instead, she stared at the window and the growing light from the horizon that it let in that signaled the rise of the Neopian sun rose over Faerieland.

     "I have to hide," she said quickly, "and you have to go--thank you for visiting, but I cannot touch the light--ghosts cannot touch the light! Well, then, farewell, Nevan." She jumped up from her bench and jumped into a closet, ignoring the door entirely and slipping right through it.

     Having nothing better to do, Nevan whispered a goodbye and left the house. As he went home, he pondered about how one might find an answer to the question that Ellamara had asked, but nothing came to mind. When he finally did get home, he got ready and went to work. That day he didn't have to deal with any more Slorgs, but instead he had to clean up a trail of Slorg-slime after someone else had gotten rid of the Slorgs themselves.

     All day long, however, until he was home, taking a bath and washing up, he thought about Ellamara and her piano, and even more so of her baffling question and request.

     That night, after washing off the Slorg slime, he waited until Ellamara began playing her piano and then he went to the abandoned house. He opened the door as he had done before and entered, quickly walking into the ballroom. Ellamara didn't notice him enter.

     "Ellamara," he whispered and the Xweetok gasped in surprise, her song coming to a sudden halt. After she had turned around to see Nevan standing in the doorway of the great room that had once been a ballroom, she smiled happily.

     "How are you tonight, Nevan?" she asked.

     "I'm doing alright, and you?" He was not thrilled with this small talk of theirs, but he knew that he could offer the Xweetok nothing else.

     "No better than yesterday, and no better than the day before that, I would assume." She sighed, her ghostly aura rippling as she did so. "It is so boring being a ghost. One would think that it would be fun--to be honest, it was at first! But flying through walls and being only half-seen are amusing for only so long... and the constant fear of sunlight... It is no longer fun to be a ghost." She paused, gazing hopefully towards her guest. "Nevan, do you know how to tell if I am dead or not?"

     "N-no," he stuttered. "I'm sorry, Ellamara, but I have no idea at all how to tell." He looked away, feeling ashamed.

     "Oh, Nevan," the Xweetok said compassionately and floated towards him with a sigh. She tried to grab his hand in hers, but she failed miserably and whimpered quietly. "Nevan, I have asked too much of you." It was now her turn to turn away, feeling ashamed. "You do not even know me. I should be the one who is sorry. I am sorry, Nevan, for asking so much of you." She longed to give him a comforting hug, one that conveyed her apologetic feelings, but she knew that she could not.

     Instead, she turned around silently and floated back to her piano, where she sat down, placed her paws upon the keys, and began playing her haunting tune once again.

     Nevan walked up to her side, though, and said, "But I'd like to know you."

     Ellamara stopped playing and turned to face him. The sadness in her red eyes seemed to turn to tears that ran down her ghostly face, nothing more than faint, grey lights that rippled across her shadowy aura. "You would?" she asked with a longing hope.

     "Yes, I would," Nevan said. Since he had moved to Faerieland, it seemed that the Neopets all wanted to act for fun and fun alone. No one in Faerieland seemed as serious as he did, no one, that is, except for Ellamara. He had instantly fallen in love with her charm and he knew that they would one day be great friends.

     "I can come here each night," Nevan continued, "and we can talk. I can tell you about my life, and you can tell me about yours. We'll become great friends. And then, I promise you I'll figure out if you're dead or not, Ellamara."

     "But..." the Xweetok whispered, "but you must live during the day... and I must live during the night. And if you spend all your nights here, how will you ever rest enough to be happy during the day?"

     Nevan thought for a moment before answering. "I might not be able to visit very long each night, but I'll be able to visit for a while. That way, I'll still be able to visit and I won't loose out on any sleep."

     "Do you mean that, Nevan, would you truly visit me each night?"

     "Yes, Ellamara, I would."

     The next night, after a long, sweaty day of cleaning up yet another Slorg-infested garden, Nevan found his back to the old house in Faerieland. As he stared at it, the paint peeling and faded and the shutters falling off and most of the windows broken or simply nonexistent, he decided that the house would have looked simply beautiful in its heyday.

     As he entered the darkened house, his curiosity and adventurous nature seemed to tug at a weak spot in his mind as he took everything in. It was his third visit to this house, and yet it was the first time that he truly looked at it and admired it for what it truly was: a masterpiece reminiscent of the distant past and still beautiful in every aspect.

     The first room he stepped into in the Neohome was not exactly small, though neither was it large. The hardwood floor was grey with dust, though his previous imprints still existed upon it, and they still reminded him of treaded-upon snow. The cobwebs were just as big as before, if not bigger already. A chandelier, which he assumed was once golden and magnificently beautiful, hung glumly from the tall ceiling. To the right was a door leading into another room; to the left was a staircase that led upstairs.

     The next room was a simple hallway. Dust-covered art lined the long pathway and he assumed that some of the greatest artists in all of Neopia had painted for this one room, yet all of that art was now covered in dust and grime and cobwebs.

     Finally, he reached the large room where Ellamara played her piano each night. At least a half-dozen chandeliers hung from the ceiling, their golden branches still covered with the last remnants of the candles that had once lit them many years before.

     Unlike in the rooms prior to this one, the floor was not hardwood. Instead, it was an intricate pattern of tiles. Sliding his shoe through the dust, Nevan revealed that the tiles had been burgundy and deep-blue. He tried to picture the room in his mind without a hundred years of neglect, yet as hard as he tried to, he could not fathom a place of such beauty and antiquity.

     This time, as he walked towards Ellamara, the ghost Xweetok stopped playing and turned to him. "Hello, Nevan," she said with a quaint smile. "How are you tonight?"

     "I am doing well, thank you," he said. "Work was hard today, but I enjoyed it anyways. How has your day been?"

     Ellamara was reluctant to answer. "I hid from the sunlight in a different closet today," she said sadly, feeling embarrassed, "so that was interesting. I found an old box of books I had once read. Unfortunately, though, I could touch none of them anymore."

     "Ellamara," Nevan asked, "how can you not touch books or me, but you can play the piano flawlessly, all night long?"

     Ellamara smiled with a hint of confusion and shook her head to indicate that she had no answer. "I would assume that it is simply because the piano was my favorite thing in life, and that that love for it has been carried over to my grave."

     "But you're not in a grave," Nevan reminded her.

     "Yes, well," she sighed, "I am sure you know what I mean."

     Nevan nodded though said nothing. Instead, he wandered around the room, constantly feeling Ellamara's red eyes following him as he gazed towards the ceilings, stared at the walls, and marveled at the dust-covered floors.

     "Ellamara," he asked, turning back to face his new friend, "have you ever considered restoring this house?"

     Ellamara looked around, confused, though finally answered. "No, I never have. Why?"

     "Because," Nevan said, getting excited already, "I think it'd be wonderful to restore it. It would be so beautiful again. That way, you could hide from the sunlight anywhere you'd want to in the house, and it would be pleasant to hide there!"

     "But..." Ellamara said weakly, "I could never restore this house..."

     "What do you mean, this is your house, isn't it?"

     "Yes, it is, but I can only touch the piano..." Ellamara swallowed sadly and played a few notes of her somber song.

     Once again, the two were draped in silence.

     "I can do it," Nevan said. "I make plenty of Neopoints working at the Employment Agency, so money wouldn't be a problem. And I could do a little each night, and in no time at all this house would be beautiful once again!"

     "Oh, Nevan," Ellamara said with a sad smile, "I could never ask you to do all of that for me. The closets might be dusty and dark, but I am all right with them that way. After all, I have been here for a hundred years at the very least. I could never ask you to do this."

     "You aren't asking," Nevan said, "I want to do this on my own. I've always had the desire to restore an old house like this, and now that I have the opportunity to do it for a friend, I want to do this! What do you say, Ellamara, can I restore your Neohome?"

     The ghost Xweetok smiled. "Nevan, I would love nothing more than to see my house beautiful once again."

To be continued...

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Other Episodes

» The Pianist's Quandary: Part One
» The Pianist's Quandary: Part Three

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