The Haunted Mansion
"I have already told you the story of Neovia, little Usul."
The gypsy Elephante's eyes glimmered in the shadow-light and a small smile played
on his face.
"Yes, but please tell me another! Your stories
are so wonderful, Mister Elephante," she begged him, a smile also on her face.
"Alright then." He opened his book to a blank
page. "What kind of story would you like to hear?"
"One about a brave Usul!" she said happily, hands
shaking with glee.
"Oh?" He turned the page once. "And what is this
"Gilly! Gilly is her name!"
The pages of the book filled with color.
"What's taking you so long, Gilly?" The other
Usuls pushed and laughed at her. "Afraid to go into the Haunted Mansion?"
Her sister looked on in disgust. "I can't believe
my baby sister is too chicken to even go into the Haunted Mansion! It's probably
not even haunted, anyway. Those are just rumors." She pulled Gilly away from
all the other Usuls.
"Aw, come on, Starbright! Don't take Gilly away!
The ghosts might get us!" They all burst out laughing and Gilly's bottom lip
trembled and her eyes got watery. Her sister pulled her along down the road
by her arm, until they were right in front of the Usul Boarding School that
the Haunted Woods housed.
"Gosh, Gilly. You couldn't have even gone in
there for me? You are so selfish." Starbright started walking through the large
doors of the school and towards her dorm. "It's so embarrassing having a sister
like you! I get an unpainted, loser sister."
Gilly, desperate, shouted back: "Being painted
Star stuck her head out the door and smiled wickedly.
"Yeah, well, you're a chicken too!"
Her sister was heartbroken. All her life, ever
since they had been adopted from the pound and got a scholarship to attend the
Usul Boarding School - guaranteed to give a good training in Faerieland jobs
- she had tried to please her sister. But she just couldn't do it!
She had heard what those people down near the
Spooky Marketplace said - that at night they could hear scary noises coming
from the mansion, and the lights flickered on and off. If anyone went in, they
would always come out afraid and claim to not remember what had happened. But
at night the spookiness still ensued.
Kids down at the boys' dormitory of the Usul
Boarding School liked to tease the girls about it and dare them to go in, but
they never actually wanted them to. They wouldn't do that. Except to Gilly.
Poor, poor Gilly didn't have any friends, and sat all by herself at lunch. She
did well in her classes and her teachers told her when she grew up and left
the school that she would do great - but Gilly herself wasn't so sure of that.
Now Gilly sighed and went to bed, wishing she
could be someone else.
Wishes can be horribly misleading.
That night Gilly woke up, right at 12:00 NST,
and looked outside the window. She felt a sudden compulsion to go outside, to
prove them wrong. To prove to them that little Gilly wasn't a coward, and that
she could be a brave Usul, like her hero, Hannah.
She wished she could be Hannah so very much.
This wish was not said aloud, however. She kept it in her heart, unlike her
wish to be someone else. Keep this in mind, because it will come in handy later,
when everything gets more interesting.
She pulled on her overalls that the other Usuls
laugh at, pulled on her red hood and took out her lantern. A whining from the
bed stopped her. Her Puppyblew whined again.
"Sorry, old boy," she said quietly. "But you
can't come along this time." She walked through the door and down the stairs.
The front door was propped open a bit and she slipped through outside. She breathed
in the fresh air and smiled lightly. She started off towards the mansion on
Gilly skipped along the path up to the mansion
and whistled quietly. The night-flowers around her were in full bloom - the
glow was so bright that she barely needed her lantern, and she turned it off
to enjoy the natural light of the moon and stars and night-flowers. No one lived
around this part of the Haunted Woods, where the trees seemed to move and it
was always dark.
But to Gilly there was all the light in the world.
She reached the mansion. The door creaked open
and she walked right in, unafraid. Because she was a brave Usul, that's right.
Those boys in the dormitory could kiss their reputations goodbye - because Gilly
went inside the house and they didn't!
Gilly turned around to leave, to get out as quickly
as possible, but she couldn't.
The large doors closed quickly behind her and
Gilly was left in darkness. Meekly she turned on her lantern, only to find herself
in an ornate showroom with a large staircase. Gilly needed to find another way
out - she tried to look for the kitchen. There was usually a way out in the
kitchen, so deliveries from the Shoyru Bakery could get through. This mansion
was old enough where it would have a door there.
She walked through all the downstairs rooms but
found no kitchen - only books upon books upon ancient artifacts and such. Mysteriously,
there wasn't a speck of dust anywhere. But this house had been abandoned for
Gilly went into the last room, filled to the
roof with artifacts. In the corner she could see a burst of light. She stumbled
through the mess over to the small corner. From a lamp planted in the ceiling
a beam of light filtered through the air, only to reveal a plush pillow and
a Royal Paint Brush just lying there, waiting for someone to reach out and pick
And that is exactly what Gilly did.
"You can't take that with you, you know." An
accented voice came from behind her. He spoke the old language - the one that
was spoken before the Haunted Woods became haunted. The shadows covered him
but Gilly could make out the physique of a Kacheek.
"I found it," she said defiantly. "It's mine."
"No," the Kacheek said, moving forward. One eye
opened and the light flashed off of a brilliant red color. "It's mine."
Gilly ran for her life. She jumped out a window
- her last hope - and kept running until she reached the pond halfway to the
Usul Boarding School.
"Gilly?" She startled at that. But her heart
started to slow down. That was when she realized the paint brush was still jammed
in her pocket that she had shoved it in while she was running.
She turned around. "Star? What are you doing
Her sister sniffed haughtily. "I could hear your
Puppyblew barking. It wouldn't be quiet. When I saw you weren't there I came
looking for you."
"Oh, you won't believe it, Star!" she gushed
"Believe what, Gilly?"
"Well, I went into the Haunted Mansion and -"
"Did you really go in?"
" - there was this evil Kacheek, and goodness,
Star, I found a Royal Paint Brush!"
Her sister's smile turned into a frown. "I thought
you were serious at first but now I realize that you were just joking. Not funny."
Her sister turned around and moved across the grass.
"But, Star, look!" Gilly held out the paint brush,
but it was in vain. Starbright would not turn around.
Gilly started the long walk home.
"That wasn't a very happy story," Gilly stated
to the Elephante.
"Why, of course it was!" The storyteller looked
surprised. "She got a Royal Paint Brush! How exciting."
Gilly looked sympathetic with the Gilly of the
story. "Yes, but now no one will believe her about it."
"The Haunted Woods have many mysteries." The
mustachioed Elephante says quietly, jerking his head toward the hill looming
in the distance. "You better be on your way, now, Gilly. Your sister will be
expecting you home soon."
"Thanks, Mr. Storyteller, even if your stories
weren't happy ones."
Later that night, before going to bed, Gilly
looked out at the hill not too far away. A light flickered in the corner of
the room on the first floor. The Kacheek in the darkness smiled and Gilly hid
herself under the covers.