Helle enjoyed the cool breeze on her face as she sat in the shade of a palm tree in a small oasis in the Lost Desert. The Mutant Gelert felt no compulsion at all to continue her journey to the city of Sakhmet any time soon. She felt comfortable and completely relaxed. Besides, she had just managed to get through a tough couple of matches of Tug-O-War. She deserved to have some time to herself and do absolutely nothing at all.
With a proud smile she fished her newly earned Neopoints out of her pocket and moved them around in her hand, letting their sides catch the light.
So absorbed she was on this little joy that she didn't notice the sudden appearance of an uninvited visitor (though some Neopians might see it as just a random event).
Had the creature been more solid, its shadow might have alerted the Mutant Gelert.
Though, let's face it, she should just have been more observant...
Helle blinked as the shiny coins she had been holding were whisked away by a translucent hand and looked up where she met the two dark wisps of eyes filled with malicious mirth belonging to the ghost that had just robbed her.
The spectre grinned at the flabbergasted Mutant Gelert before disappearing into a poof of smoke.
Helle stared at the spot where the ghost had disappeared.
Then at her hand where her shiny Neopoints had been just a few moments ago.
Then back at the spot.
Air made a hissing sound as it was sucked in between sharp teeth as Helle's red eyes gained a feral glint.
"Those were MY Neopoints!"
The furious scream caused many local birds and a few Selkets and Scarabugs to scatter in startled fear.
Still grumbling slightly, Helle decided she might as well continue to make her way to Sakhmet since she could no longer enjoy the peaceful scenery without fearing the arrival of some meddlesome spirit. With a long sigh she flicked the sand off of her trousers and left the cool shade of the oasis.
I really shouldn't make such a big deal out of it. It's not as if that ghost stole everything I had. I can easily earn back what I've lost.
A smile appeared on her face.
Maybe I'll buy myself a scratchcard, just to lift my spirits a bit. The anticipation and the motion of scratching one of the little squares always manages to make me happy.
Giggling slightly with the thought of the treat, she reached a paw into her pocket to get out the rest of the Neopoints she had on hand to make sure she had enough to buy herself one of the desired scratchcards.
It looked like she wouldn't have to worry about coming up short as her little search was rewarded by a shiny pile of Neopoints.
"I can buy an entire stack of scratchcards with this if I wanted to." She giggled in glee. "Maybe I should do that once just to see the face of the kiosk-owner when I..."
The pleased Mutant Gelert's speech was cut short as a ghost materialised in front of her, grinned evilly, snatched the Neopoints from her and disappeared again into thin air.
Helle stared at the spot where the spectre had vanished.
Then at her hand where she had held her Neopoints just seconds ago.
Then back to the spot in the air.
The scream that followed next caused the already startled local wildlife to decide it might just be for the best to migrate to some more remote areas of the Lost Desert. Or at least somewhere where no Mutant Gelert would ever come walking by.
Helle, however, remained unaware of the stress she had caused to the little creatures in her vicinity and instead focussed on getting her rage under control.
This ghost had gone too far!
And how come it had struck her twice in such a short time? Was it doing it deliberately?
If so, she would need to be able to defend herself or she would never be able to hold a Neopoint ever again.
An evil grin curled the corners of her lips.
That also meant that if that ghost was indeed after her, she would get a chance to get some revenge.
Her mind quickly filled with one idea after the other, rapidly discarding the less effective ones and choosing between the best to get the ultimate ghost-stopping plan.
And it didn't take her long to find the perfect solution.
Letting out a slightly mad giggle she rubbed her paws together.
That ghost wouldn't know what hit it...
Preparations were minimal as Helle didn't want to seem too obvious or suspicious.
Slumping her shoulders slightly, she tried to make herself look as non-threatening as possible.
That done, she rummaged into a secret pocket where she kept her emergency funds and took out a handful of shiny Neopoints.
With a sudden poof of smoke, the ghost appeared again in front of her, its eyes fixed on the money.
"Think again, evil spectre!" Helle roared as she opened a small portal to her Safety Deposit Box and blindly grabbed a certain item she knew to be there.
The ghost stared in disbelief as the Mutant Gelert pointed the vacuum cleaner at it.
"You don't stand a chance, you fiend! Even the Auction Genie would not be able to escape the awesome power that is this vacuum cleaner!" Helle cackled madly while reaching for the power button on her weapon.
At the same time as she pressed the button, the ghost flipped the switch on the side of the handle.
The result was indeed a show of great power from the vacuum cleaner's part.
With a giant explosion of desert sand, the Mutant Genie was launched into the air like a rocket while clinging to the treacherous contraption for dear life.
When she dared to glance down, she could see the Lost Desert becoming smaller and smaller, the city of Sakhmet a tiny, barely recognisable fleck as she flew over the lands below.
In the back of her mind a little voice was nervously noting that things would not look very good if the force of her launch was strong enough to send her as far as the Space Station or Kreludor since she was not wearing a spacesuit.
But it seemed that would not be the case as a queasy feeling in her stomach let her know she was starting to lose altitude.
The green colour of the land below alarmed her that she wasn't in the Lost Desert anymore. Instead she saw a huge red-roofed building and an entire castle floating in the air not that far from where she was probably going to land.
She had made it all the way to Meridell!
Only one more coherent thought flashed through her mind before the terrified Mutant Gelert hit the ground.
Please don't let the King of Petpets think I'm edible!
With her eyes tightly shut and her body curled into a ball around her vacuum cleaner, she felt herself slam into the ground, only to feel it give way and cause her to drop down another few feet before the same thing happened all over again.
A sudden irrational fear overtook her.
What if she fell through Neopia and was launched into the deep space on the other side?
That thought was knocked out of her with a final thump as she hit soft soil that didn't collapse under the impact.
How it was possible for her to still be alive, she didn't know, and she wasn't going to question it either. But once Helle felt certain that, though slightly bruised, she was practically unharmed with all her limbs still intact and functioning properly, she finally dared to open her eyes.
She was lying on the bottom of a network of tunnels where her fall had cut a path straight through.
In one of the shafts she could see a Symol glaring at her before disappearing in the darkness.
Had Helle not just had a near-death experience, she might have remembered to ask it for an avatar.
She uncurled her body from the seemingly unscathed vacuum cleaner and sat up straight, her eyes flashing dangerously and her teeth gnashing together.
That meddlesome spectre was going to pay for this!
Remembering that she still had an open portal from the Lost Desert to her Safety Deposit Box, she quickly opened another to her stockpile of packrat items. If that ghost was still where she had last seen it, it wouldn't do to let it know she was coming. A surprise attack was much better!
Feeling quite proud of the plan she had managed to come up with, the Mutant Gelert sneaked into her Safety Deposit Box, closing the portal behind her.
As she got closer to the portal leading to the Lost Desert, Helle felt the anticipation grow. Hiding behind the piles of items as best as she could while glancing outside for a glimpse of the ghost, she spotted her target.
The malevolent thing was giggling loudly while holding its stomach and Helle had the feeling she knew exactly what had happened that it seemed to deem so hilarious.
Using the ghost's lack of attention to its surroundings, she rushed forward without her foe spotting her until she jumped right in front of it.
Without waiting for the shocked spectre to react, she pressed the power button of the vacuum cleaner while grinning.
"You won't escape me this tiiAAAAaaaaahhhhh!!!!"
In her hurry for revenge, the Mutant Gelert had completely forgotten to flip the switch on the side of the handle back to its normal setting. So once again, instead of trapping the ghost she was launched into the air, her scream of fear and surprise audible in multiple countries around Neopia.
This time her flight-path appeared to have changed as the gigantic market (still quite small when seen from high up in the air) and rainbow over a pond with a tree nearby were not located in Meridell as far as Helle knew.
Her suspicions were confirmed when she saw a green Skeith in a dark suit run away in fear as she zoomed at top speed towards a huge building with the name: National Neopian Bank.
She was going to crash into the bank in Neopia Central...
This time her landing was not as soft as she was catapulted through a few heavy walls.
If it hadn't been for the fact that she was a Mutant and that all Mutants were about the sturdiest, most endurable colour a Neopet could be, she would have been very badly hurt or worse. Now the only injuries Helle was suffering from were a few light scratches and the world spinning around when she opened her eyes for a minute.
As she patiently waited for her vision to clear, she started to recognise her surroundings.
She was inside a vault, a big pile of Neopoints glittering in the rays of light escaping the hallway through the huge Helle-shaped opening in the wall.
Helle was sure she had seen this vault before...
And then it hit her; this was her vault!
An evil cackling laugh made her turn her head and what she saw made her skin turn the colour of ash.
Floating inside with a huge smile filled with greed plastered on its face, the ghost entered the vault. Its eyes reflected the golden shine of the Neopoints as the spectre took in the sight of the Mutant Gelert's hidden cash.
"No..." Helle gasped. "Don't you dare!"
The evil leer became if possible even wider and with a wink the ghost stormed forward.
In seconds the spectre had gathered every single Neopoint in the vault and disappeared with its loot, leaving the Mutant Gelert in an empty vault.
"This can't be happening..." Helle croaked. "This is a nightmare!"
She felt the urge to pinch herself in the hope that she would be able to wake from this terrible dream. But as that would face her with the undeniable truth in front of her, she refrained from doing so.
Standing there rooted in place, she was finally woken from her shocked state by the sudden beeping sound of an alarm.
Getting her brain back into gear, Helle realised that the noise was coming from a small device she kept in her pocket and alerted her in the event of an unknown person entering her Safety Deposit Box.
The Mutant Gelert's eyes turned feral.
She might be unable to do anything to get her hard-earned Neopoints back from the thieving ghost, but she could still save her stored items from getting raided.
With a speed she had never before known she possessed, Helle made it to her inventory where the large metal door to her Safety Deposit Box was located.
Frowning she noted that the door was still properly sealed. If not through here, how had an intruder managed to get inside?
Going over the day's events in her head she felt her throat constrict as realisation hit her.
She had forgotten to close the portal from her Safety Deposit Box to the Lost Desert...
Now, most Neopians might alert the Chia police when something like this would happen to them. But Helle was not thinking rationally and instead felt it to be her responsibility to face whatever was inside herself.
Carefully, as to not alert the intruder to her presence, she opened the heavy door and took a look inside.
Helle's eyes went wide as saucers as she was faced with a familiar ghost spiriting away the last item still within the enormous room.
That ghost had just stolen the entire contents of her Safety Deposit Box...
Something snapped within the normally very friendly and docile Mutant Gelert.
A myriad of colours flashed across her face from a deadly pale white, to angry tomato red, to a furious aubergine purple.
"That's it!" Helle roared, startling the ghost. "That's the last straw! Now you'll pay!"
And with a mighty war-cry, she pounced.
Only thanks to its quick ghostly-reflexes was the spectre able to escape the incoming Mutant Gelert who snarled furiously at her prey.
Feeling absolutely no compulsion to stay and engage the other in battle, the ghost went for a second option and fled through the portal to the Lost Desert, the raging Mutant hot in pursuit.
"Come back here, you thieving phantom! Don't you dare run from me!" Helle growled.
But it was in vain. After all, a ghost can disappear into thin air.
Left behind on her own in the desert, the Mutant Gelert felt her rage make place for despair.
She had just lost all her Neopoints and items to that meddlesome ghost, and it was hitting her hard.
With tears blurring her vision, the Gelert crumbled to the ground, her body shaking with heavy sobs.
"What's wrong, young one?" A voice suddenly spoke, the low tones soft and kind.
Feeling as if the words were a balm for her grief, Helle looked up and gasped. The ghost of Coltzan was hovering in the air next to her, his eyes full of compassion. Without realising it, she had ended up next to Coltzan's Shrine.
"King Coltzan," she whispered as she wiped away her tears. "It's because of a ghost. It robbed me from all my Neopoints and items. Please, can you help me?"
The ghost of Coltzan's gaze turned serious.
"If I help you with this matter, you must promise to do something for me in return, young one."
Helle blinked. What could the ghost of Coltzan possibly want her to do that he couldn't do himself?
Seeing the questioning look in her eyes, the ghost of Coltzan continued.
"In exchange for my help, I want you to write me a story and post it in the Neopian Times. I have been trying to do so myself, but I always get denied. Think you will be able to do it?"
Helle gulped audibly. She knew from experience that it was not easy to get something published.
"King Coltzan, I will do whatever it takes!"
"Very well, young one, consider your little ghost problem solved."
The ghost of Coltzan snapped with his fingers and the thieving spectre that had haunted Helle appeared.
"You will give this Neopian all her items and Neopoints back and never steal from her again unless it is a little amount of Neopoints that is not safe in her bank vault and not more than once a day. Twice only in exceptional circumstances, you understand?!"
The ghost withered before the powerful Coltzan and nodded before disappearing again.
"Goodbye, young one, and don't forget your promise," the ghost of Coltzan said before disappearing as well.
When Helle returned home, she found that her Neopoints were back in her bank vault and her Safety Deposit Box was once again filled with all her items. Relief briefly washed over her before she remembered the difficult task she would have to complete in exchange for this miracle.
What kind of story would be good enough to honour what King Coltzan had done for her? He would probably not be amused if she wrote something silly, so what would be appropriate?
A mischievous glint appearing in her eyes the Mutant Gelert grabbed her waffle notepad and quill and started to write the title:
She hoped King Coltzan would be pleased...