The Tower of Unexplainable Phenomena
Also by precious_katuch14
"Why, thank you, madam!" said Nolan, looking rather enthusiastically at three Candy Kiko Apples which found their way to his Halloween bag.
"Happy Halloween, kids!"
Nolan, Eranthe and Magnus were, like every other Halloween night, visiting the residents of the so-called Haunted Woods. Was it a desire to keep the custom alive or, perhaps, a technique to fulfill a never-ending craving for candy? No matter what, the three friends had been there, every year, dressed in costumes and carrying jack-o-lanterns.
"Where should we head to next, Magnus?"
"I suggest we take that path down there, Eranthe," a young Starry Gelert replied, pointing at a trail surrounded by rotten, seemingly lifeless trees that bowed and created a canopy over it. "We‘ve never gone that way and almost everyone we know has paid their toll, if you know what I mean."
Walking down the eerie path that Magnus had noticed, Nolan started shivering. Not a whisper could be heard in the vicinity and Kreludor’s light was not adequate to permeate the thick woods.
"What's the matter, you scared?" Magnus taunted.
"I'm not scared!" the plushie Hissi interjected, throwing the Gelert a dirty glare. "It... just doesn't look safe." He stared ahead, following the cobbled path that disappeared into nothing but eerie darkness.
"And to think, you're the one dressed as a Meridellian knight. Knights are supposed to be brave and strong, remember? Don't you start - "
"Let's just go back and give it a rest, clown boy!"
"I'm not a clown, Nolan! I'm a jester!"
"Will you two put a sock in it?" Eranthe interrupted her friends' quarrel and sighed. Adjusting the wig that was supposed to make her look like a witch, the faerie Korbat said, "Maybe... we could poke around for a bit and not take any random turns so we can easily find our way back..."
Releasing a hollow sigh, Nolan followed his friends to the “path of darkness”, as he mumbled, cursing his fate. Soon, there would be no turning back. Having Magnus in the lead and Eranthe lighting their way with her jack-o-lantern, the terrified Hissi was slithering hopelessly behind them.
“Do we still have a long way to go? This path seems to lead to... nothingness,” the Meridellian knight cried.
“Oh, will you shut up? See? There’s light at the end and where light is, there is candy on this night!”
In fact, a mysterious tower was located at the end of the cobbled path, so high that its peak would be lost within the dark clouds. Apparently, not all its lights were on; only the ones on the welcoming hall. Some sort of bizarre mist was slowly announcing its appearance around the tower, to be followed soon after by an unanticipated rainfall.
Having no other shelter as far as the eye could see, the children ran off to the tower’s door. The knob, resembling a Darigan Krawk in an attack pose, could not help but make Nolan even more uneasy. Nevertheless, the plushie Hissi gathered courage and knocked the door twice, hoping to prove to his friends that he could be brave, whenever the situation would require it.
“Huh? Anybody in there?” he shouted. “It’s raining all over and we’ll get wet, please help us!”
The door opened slowly, emitting a loud screeching sound. Magnus jumped inside and closed the door shut once all three of them were inside.
“Thanks for the...” Eranthe stopped, realizing that nobody else was in that room, apart from three wet, costumed children. How did the door open? Was it the wind... or was something amiss in this tower?
"What's wrong?" asked the starry Gelert, who didn't seem at all fazed by this supernatural phenomenon.
"There's nobody inside!" Nolan whimpered, cowering behind his friends. "That's what's wrong!" The faerie Korbat nodded in agreement.
But their friend just arched his eyebrows and folded his arms. "It's just another Halloween gag. Haven't we seen this a million times? Listen, I bet this is just a game. Maybe the candy's somewhere in this tower...and even if there isn't, we could explore this place and stay dry! It'll be fun!"
"Fun for you, but not for me," grumbled the plushie Hissi, gripping his toy sword.
* * *
"Shreyas, your tricks are getting old. Not that I like your tricks."
"It's not my fault that kids like to pop into our tower," a zombie Buzz answered, guffawing as he flew back up into the single room on the top floor, glancing over his shoulder at the spiral staircase before shutting the door behind him.
The ghost Zafara looked out of the window and observed the inclement weather. Without even turning around, she continued condescendingly, "Honestly, you're the reason why no one ever comes to visit our place anymore on Halloween - or any other day, for that matter. Your tricks always go too far. In fact, I've completely given up on stockpiling candy for the kids. They're always too frightened to even pass by, so I've heard. And now you want to scare away the few that finally knock on our door?"
"Lighten up, Natalya. They call it 'trick-or-treat', don't they? So where's the fun if you don't get to pull a trick or two?"
"I prefer the treat part myself," the Zafara replied, shutting the curtains. "Can't we leave them alone for once?"
The zombie Buzz pretended to consider this, putting on his most thoughtful face. Natalya half-expected what he would say next.
"No way! I'm just getting started! This is what Halloween is all about!"
* * *
“Hello, dining room!” Eranthe chanted, feasting her eyes upon an extensive regal table at which even Fyora herself would marvel. Over her head, a dusty golden chandelier was set, as a remnant of the glorious days in the tower’s times of yore.
Magnus took a match box out of his costume’s pocket and lighted some candles, positioned on the shelf of an antique bookcase. Underneath, a massive collection of vintage geography books, maps and naval notebooks was boasting its presence. It was Nolan’s turn to note in a self-righteous tone that this was supposed to be a fortune-hunter’s dwelling or a place where a sailor would take a seat to narrate yarns about his expeditions.
All of a sudden, the bookcase started shaking, only to fall in front of the knight’s feet some moments later. Before they had the time to grasp what was happening, a minor fire was spreading on the floor, reducing a Mystery Island map to cinders. Acting without thinking, the Faerie Korbat covered the fire with a carpet, extinguishing it.
“Phewwww. That was close.” She flapped her wings gently so that the smoke would be gone and revealed a –possibly long forgotten- corridor where the bookcase used to be.
“Someone pushed it! The wacky ghost of the sailor, I say! I’m outta here right now,” Nolan screamed, shoving Magnus aside. “And where did you get those matches? Did you bring them along or something?”
“Never mind that. Zip it, smarty-pants,” the jester interrupted. “Look, a Lady Blurg colony’s there. Some of them must have been gnawing on the bookcase feet. See? There’s always a logical explanation –”
“Off to explore it, mateys!” the witch giggled, becoming more and more eager for a Halloween night adventure.
Nolan sighed once again, knowing what was yet in store for him.
* * *
“For Sophie’s sake, you fool! Had it not been for that clever Korbat, our tower would have been burnt down now! When will you learn to behave, Shreyas? I’ll –”
“Oh shush, you. I wouldn’t let that happen. Can’t you trust me for once? Besides... the real fun starts now! That corridor leads to the rooms around the spiral staircase; every single one has different tricks for them. Muhahaha!”
* * *
There was indeed a spiral staircase behind the bookcase, and it wound up and up, with rooms all around it. Magnus and Eranthe craned their necks to see how high it went and simultaneously whispered, “Wow.”
"I don't like the sound of your 'wow'," the Hissi whispered. "Don't tell me - "
"Race you to the top! Bet all the candy's up there! And no flying!"
"Are you sure?" asked Eranthe. “I mean, about the candy...”
But the starry Gelert had gone on ahead, sprinting up the stairs. The faerie Korbat exchanged a look with Nolan.
"Magnus needs someone to keep him out of trouble, and to make sure he doesn't hog all the candy," was her explanation before following Magnus and calling, “You’re on! Bet I can still beat you!”
There was no arguing with that logic, but Nolan still hung back, watching two tiny spots of color ascend the stretch of dark gray overhead. He glanced around, and it dawned on him that if he didn't hurry, he would be left behind in the dim corridor...
The plushie Hissi hurriedly flew upward, tailing his friends. He flew so fast that he didn't stop in time and collided with them, just as they managed to open the first door they passed. The three pets fell in a heap at the side of the doorway, which was home to a giant mutant Draik that popped out, baring its teeth and raising its claws in a classic menacing pose.
Nolan opened his mouth to scream, but quickly closed it as Eranthe remarked, "It's only a huge dummy. Maybe I should get one of those for next Halloween." She nodded, adjusting her witch hat and wig.
Meanwhile, the starry Gelert had already disentangled himself and continued on, and by the time the other two caught up, he had discovered another room which was also unlocked.
"Okay, now those are just sheets hanging from a clothesline," Magnus groaned. "Most pathetic 'ghosts' I've ever seen, right guys? They're not even moving."
This time, even Nolan wasn't fooled. "Is that supposed to be a prank, or someone's laundry?"
“We got two more chambers to check for treats and potential tricks, awaiting us. Woohoo!” The witch figure hurried out of the room to check the next one.
“No more Neocola for you, lady!” proclaimed Magnus in a paternalistic manner, which was odd coming from him. Nolan wondered if those two had swapped spirits on impulse, but remembered that Eranthe would always toss her hood for old-fashioned tricks.
Eranthe’s cackling turned into a hysterics burst, as soon as she opened the door to find a black, gargantuan silhouette staring at her. “The combination of lit candles and passing petpetpets is so Year Three! Hahahaha!”
Needless to say, the last room was no exception to the rule of bad tricks, surrounding this floor. Nolan was offered the privilege to access it first and face a frighteningly... purple plastic skeleton of an undersized Pteri.
“Meh,” all three nodded gloomily, as they found no candy whatsoever. Nolan’s “I-told-you-so” phrase was interrupted before even commencing, by some violent steps on the stairway, followed by a muffled racket. The figure of a ghost shortly announced its emergence, floating over their heads.
“Sorry for the fright, kids. That was Shreyas; he was coming for you but didn’t notice a broken step. Let me introduce myself, I’m Natal-”
Before she had time to complete her sentence, the three Neopets vanished; Magnus ran, while Eranthe and Nolan flew. Little did they know that Natalya was the one on their side, caring for their physical –and mental- health.
“Great,” she grumbled. “Shreyas, darling! It’s your turn to clean up.”