Tea with Nox
Yanli sighed; it had not been a good day. She was sitting on the wooden steps of the Wheel of Misfortune being bored. The Christmas Zafara flapped her rainbow wings and ran a finger through her messy hair.
Her family had decided to go to the Haunted Woods for the day. Yanli had expected to spend the day with Eliv Thade, but he hadn't answered when she showed up. She figured he was either away or busy. She decided to make the best of it and go to the gypsy camp while her siblings were playing games at the Fairground. However, the gypsy storyteller was sick.
She pouted. It was so annoying, all the games were rigged, and her friends weren't available on the one day she came to the Haunted Woods. There was nothing to do.
"Want to spin the wheel, little girl?" the spectral wheel keeper asked.
"No thank you. Knowing my luck today, I'll get sick."
"You have a cute pout and you didn't even lose. You should go buy an Almost Gummy Rat. That'll cheer you up," he said.
"Kristy said no candy; she let me have small soda on the boat over."
"You should go play in the castle up there. It is abandoned; you can go right up and have all the fun you want." He pointed towards Castle Nox.
Yanli looked up at the castle; she hadn't really noticed it there before.
"Is it part of the Fairground? I was told not to leave the fairground. My mom will have a fit if I get lost in the Haunted Woods again."
"Yes, of course it is. Just follow the path up."
Yanli jumped up, her usual good cheer restored by the prospect of an adventure. "Okay! Thank you, you're really nice. Bye!"
She raced up the path towards the deserted castle, the spectral wheel keeper grinning malevolently after her.
Yanli skipped up to the front doors of Castle Nox. She looked up at the imposing place, a grin on her face. It looked like there was a lot to explore. Even though the wheel keeper had told her it was abandoned and she could go in she knocked first. Then she opened the door and skipped in.
The castle was pretty impressive, she decided. Immediately in front of her was a grand staircase. There were two doors to either side of the staircase on the ground floor. She decided to go up the stairs. When she reached the top, she stopped to look at the giant painting hanging there. It depicted a Chia with red eyes flying and holding a sword. She smiled; it was a pretty cool picture.
"Hey, what are you doing here?" a voice demanded.
Yanli turned to look. Standing a few feet away was a Chia. He looked like the Chia in the painting, only she could see through him.
"Hi there!" She glanced back up at the painting. "Huh, that's weird. You look just like the guy in the painting," she told the Chia.
"I am him. I am Hubrid Nox!" Hubrid Nox said it like it should scare her.
"Your picture is wrong. You don't have any color and I can see through you," Yanli informed him. "I'm Yanli."
"It was right when it was painted." Hubrid sounded grouchy.
"How come you are see-through?" Yanli asked, and then cried, "Wait, I know! You're a ghost, right?"
To test her theory, she tried touching him. Her hand went through him.
"You are a ghost!" she cried gleefully.
"You're quick," Hubrid shot back.
Yanli giggled as she wiggled her fingers around in him.
"Stop that!" Hubrid shouted, indignant.
Yanli pulled her hand back. "Sorry."
They were silent for a moment, Nox hoping she'd go away, Yanli trying to resist the urge to stick her hand through him again.
"So, whatcha doing here?" Yanli asked.
"This is my house! You're the one who should tell me what you are doing here," Hubrid cried.
"The wheel keeper told me this was part of the Faire and I could come up and play here. He said it was abandoned. How can it be yours if it is abandoned?" Yanli asked.
Hubrid sighed. "It used to be mine, when I was alive. I just can't seem to move on. I keep finding myself back here."
"What happened to you?" Yanli asked.
"You really know nothing about me, do you?" Hubrid asked.
"Nope, never heard of you before today. Actually, I think my brother and I beat up a piñata that looked like you once. My mom wanted the avatar. I got some candy!" Yanli giggled at the memory.
"That's a lovely story," Hubrid said flatly.
"Don't worry; I can't beat you until you drop candy. My stick would go right through you," Yanli told him.
Hubrid Nox looked at her hard. "Are you for real, kid?"
"I'm not the ghost here," Yanli pointed out. "Ooh, I know. Why don't you tell me all about yourself?"
"That's not a bad idea," he conceded. "Follow me."
Hubrid led her into a room that looked a study. He pointed over to set of drawers, below it was a tap and a small one burner stove. Yanli opened the cabinet and found a teakettle and loose tea leaves.
"Make yourself some tea. It will be a long story," Hubrid instructed.
Yanli filled the kettle with water and set it to boil while she prepared the leaves and got a cup. Once the tea was finally ready she poured herself a cup. She then sat down on a futon. Hubrid asked if she was ready and she nodded.
Hubrid Nox began to tell his own tale from the time when he and Magax were friends, through Magax's redemption and their endless battles, up until Xandra destroyed him to keep him from being able to spoil her plans. Yanli listened attentively.
"So, now I'm here. I don't know why I can't move on, but I just can't," Nox finished.
Yanli thought hard. "Maybe, maybe because you haven't done something. Like say goodbye to someone or something like that. Maybe that Magax you talked about. He was your best friend and enemy, right?"
Hubrid nodded slowly. "The idea makes sense."
"Well, you need to go see him then!" Yanli cried, springing to her feet. "Come on, where is he?"
"Well, I think he still haunts the graveyards where we used to do battle. If we head down there, we might find him."
"Oh." Yanli's face clouded over. "That's out of the Fairgrounds. My mom told me not to leave the fairgrounds. She'd be so upset if I got lost in the Haunted Woods again."
"It's okay," Hubrid reassured her. "I'll make sure you don't get lost, and then Magax will bring you back to the Fairground. You'll be perfectly safe. Your mother would understand. You're helping a lost soul find peace."
"Well, that does sound like something she'd let me do. So long as I don't get lost, I guess she won't mind."
"Splendid! Onward." Hubrid hurried out of the room, Yanli in tow.
Yanli followed Hubrid out of the castle and down into the dark forest. It was a bit of a walk, and Hubrid was really putting on the speed, but Yanli managed to keep pace. They soon reached a graveyard. Their paced slowed as they walked through it. Yanli looked around for the Wocky, but she couldn't see him anywhere.
"I guess he isn't here," Yanli said sadly.
"What are you doing with that child?" a harsh voice demanded.
Yanli turned, grinning. It was Magax. "I'm okay. Hubrid here has something he needs to tell you."
Magax looked taken aback. Hubrid took a step forward and cleared his throat.
"Magax, you've been my best friend and enemy. I've come to tell you that so I can move on. Goodbye."
Magax raised an eyebrow. "Well, goodbye then, Hubrid."
Hubrid Nox smiled then slowly faded away. Yanli and Magax were silent for a moment.
"Hubrid said you'd show me the way back to the fairground?"
"Oh, sure. Come on," Magax waved for her to follow him.
Yanli walked behind him quietly, thinking about Hubrid Nox. "Magax?"
"Do you think Hubrid was able to move on?" she asked.
Magax laughed heartily. "No, sorry, little girl. Hubrid has no intention of going anywhere. He's bored now that he is a ghost, though. His only source of amusement is scaring the people who venture up to his castle. He clearly couldn't scare you, so he found another way to amuse himself with you. You've probably given him the most interesting day he has had in the last two years, though. He's probably up there laughing his head off right now."
Yanli thought about that for a second, then smiled.
"I was pretty bored before I bumped into him, too. This was a fun day after all."