The castle was cool, dark, and damp - just like it always was- as Saya the Acara snuck quietly down its long, winding, and seemingly never ending corridors. Carefully, she reached out to touch one of the immense grey stone blocks that made up its walls, and to the touch, it felt like it had been doused in water recently - presumably by an old, underpaid maid who threw water on the stones daily to wash them, or by some random passerby like Saya who just decided, "What the hey! My water bottle is full, and this wall is dry! Let's perform a 'science experiment' and see what happens if I throw water at it!"
Or, Saya thought subconsciously, the walls are sweating. The thought actively entered her mind and caused her to yell a loud "eww!", which echoed through the corridor that she was standing in and presumably that others connected with it as well.
All of the moisture on the walls had caused thin but slimy-looking green moss to grow in certain cracks in the stones and near the ceiling. As she stared upward, she noticed a small black shadow traveling across the hallway's ceiling. It was moving closer at a considerable pace, and at first she was completely unable to identify it. But soon enough, she could make out two black, leathery wings attached to a black torso, and she finally realized what - or who - it was.
Count von Roo had returned to his castle.
Saya stopped and paused in fear, contemplating for a moment whether she should run and hide from him or not. That's right, the Count thought as he picked a particular spot on the ceiling and stared down to watch her upcoming moves. Run from the inevitable. Make it all a game. Shall be more interesting for me - and possibly you as well - that way. Whatever you do, just remember that I know I remember what you did, and now I've got you just where I want you. There's no way you can escape my maze of a castle, but feel free to... explore a little bit. Serves you right for deciding to trespass into and snoop around my castle in the first place!
But of course she couldn't hear him, and in the amount of time that it had taken for him to think of all that, she still hadn't made her first move. Still, she was standing at the same spot - that same block in the stone floor - with both her arms outstretched from her body as if she knew she'd have to run, but she couldn't decide in which direction to go. Finally, she picked a direction and ran, her feet loudly hitting the stone floor and causing a noise that echoed back down the long and high corridors of the castle. The Count watched, a smile of pure satisfaction playing across his lips as he thought yet another smug thought to himself. I knew she'd run in that direction. They always do seem to want to run toward the kitchen. Why did they always do that? Didn't they know that the kitchen, with only a single door leading into or out of it, was one of the easiest places in the Count's entire castle to be cornered?
But Saya was still running down the hallway and was well past the door leading into the dead end that was Von Roo's kitchen. She had heard her fair share of stories about pets trapped in Von Roo's kitchen, and only a handful of them didn't end in the kitchen. What were those pets thinking anyway? I mean, wouldn't they at least know, when entering a kitchen, that if they'd be cornered, Von Roo would have his pick out of the drawers and could easily grab an item that could double as a great battledome weapon? The pet might have a chance to grab something too, but not knowing the placement and organization of objects in the drawer, the pet could just as easily grab a package of paper plates as a plastic butter knife!
Now that Saya had passed the kitchen, however, she wasn't quite sure where to go. Before, when she had first spotted Von Roo, the hallway mostly just contained a lot of intersections and connections with other hallways and didn't appear to have many rooms. Here, in this part of the hallway, large sets of wooden doors were everywhere. All the doors look identical, she thought, sweeping her head from the left side of the hallway to the right. How on Neopia could anyone ever learn their way around this place when everything looks the same?!
Oh, your indecisiveness has betrayed you, thought the Count as Saya stopped to consider her options once again. Not wanting to end his game of chase so soon, he stopped and perched on the ledge near the ceiling. "One more moment!" he yelled out to her, and his words echoed loudly.
As if with a sudden burst of inspiration, Saya started to run again. She wasn't sure where she was going this time, but it was clear to her that standing still would, quite literally, get her nowhere. Her feet pounded the floor as she sprinted, blind to direction, down the various hallways of the castle. After an event like this one, assuming she got out alive, she'd never again do what she had done to anger the Count.
One day, perhaps a year or so ago, Saya had spotted the Count perusing some of the stands of fruits and vegetables in the market where she worked. The Acara had never really been fond of vampires, so she quickly formulated a small joke to play on him. At that exact moment, she happened to be free of customers, so she grabbed some produce and went over to greet him.
"Welcome to our market, Mr. Von Roo!" she had said cheerfully.
"Hello," was his quick response. He didn't even bother to lift his head to look at her when he replied.
"All of our produce here is extremely fresh," she said next.
"Mmm hmm," was the reply. Again, no eye contact was made.
"For example," she had gone on, "we have this absolutely great-"
"Great what?" he asked finally, lifting his head up to look at her.
"Great garlic!" she had shouted, throwing it at him.
"You puny, worthless little neopet!" he had spat back at her, already starting to break out in hives. Von Roo had grabbed her necklace then, intending to draw her head in closer to his so he could make a more impressionable rant at her. The necklace chain, however, snapped, so the Count instead held it in his paw a moment before taking off into the air, taking the jewelry with him.
"My necklace!" Saya had shrieked, one paw at her throat where the necklace had been. "Bring that back! It's been in my family for generations!"
But, of course, the Count had ignored her, and he had soon vanished. Not being one to just give up, Saya had vowed at that exact moment that somehow, she'd get her necklace back. Even if it required trespassing in the Count's castle. Anyone could see that that had been a foolish move, but now, more than ever, she was determined to make it out of Von Roo's castle alive. However, as important as escaping was, she still prided herself for having completed half her mission. The family heirloom hung from her neck.
Suddenly, coming up on her left, Saya could see a hallway that seemed to be slightly more lit than the rest. She hadn't seen it until nearly too late but somehow miraculously managed to turn down it, just barely missing hitting the wall. Looking up ahead, Saya could see two enormous glass-paned doors leading out onto a balcony, and she muttered celebratory expressions under her breath. The sun wasn't quite up yet, but she'd be able to escape anyway.
There had only been one small flaw to Saya's plan. The doors were locked when she finally reached them. Using her new found sense of determination, she did everything in her power to try to make them open, even as the Count started to catch up. Then, she pulled her Virtupets Discount Card out of her wallet, and it was all over. The set of doors swung open, allowing Saya to rush onto the balcony just as the sun peeked above the horizon.
Von Roo halted in his tracks near the doorway, seeing that one of his greatest enemies was starting to appear. "How clever of you!" he yelled in obvious disgust. "You managed to trespass in my castle, stay just outside my grasp, and get...that," he yelled, pointing at the necklace around Saya's neck, "but you've forgotten one thing! My castle is on a hill with a gigantic lake below it. There's no way to get off this balcony and escape, unless you can fly, which you can't."
Saya paused, now at the end of the balcony. She glanced into the water for a second, then back at the Blumaroo. Then, she was hit with a sudden burst of inspiration.
Her eyes widened as she stared at a nonexistent neopet standing behind the Count. She made an effort to gasp as realistically as possible. “Von Roo!” she shouted in pretend urgency. “Who is that behind you?”
“There’s no one behind me,” snarled the Blumaroo in response to the tactic. “What do you think, that I was born yesterday?”
“But... but... that pet...”
“Not falling for it.”
By a stroke of luck, a sudden gust of wind happened to blow the doors shut. With a loud THUMP! they closed, causing the Count to spin around hurriedly.
Saya wasted not a second, seizing the moment immediately. She closed her eyes and clenched her fists, trying to work up the power to do what she needed to escape. After a moment, she could feel it, a warm surge of energy pulsing throughout her whole body. A split-second later, the battledome ability went into effect, silently allowing her to slip into the ground.
Von Roo turned around just after she slipped underground. “What?!” he shouted, running over to where Saya had been standing. “This is impossible!” He confusedly walked over to the side of the balcony, which was exactly what Saya needed to escape. As quietly as she had vanished, she appeared again. The door was now unblocked, and she sped through the doors and down the hallways as fast as she could. Adrenaline provided the strength to allow her to sprint down the corridors at top speed, and she found the castle’s real exit before the Count even could figure out what had just happened.
Now outside the castle’s high fence, Saya grabbed her bicycle and pedaled like never before.
She would never throw garlic at him again.