Coronation: Part Three
Also by bookworm7
On the second day of our seven-day journey together with Saskia, we disembarked the ship as it sat in the Mystery Island Harbour. The heat and humidity of the island were in stark contrast to the wintery weather that the rest of Neopia was having during the month of Celebrating. Even Saskia rolled up the sleeves of her Haunted Woods tunic to forestall heat exhaustion. We hopped into the shelter of a rickshaw being pulled by a Coconut JubJub and paid the small fee to be taken across the island to the Geraptikan Jungles.
"I don't like where this is going, Sin," Yuruyuki said worriedly. "Last time we went to Geraptiku, we had to stop Zaira from detonating the Ultimate Neggs of Destruction."
"I know it's a bit uncomfortable, but we need to meet up with the Ghost Lupe. I need to know what he thinks of the Masks of Dread."
Saskia, who was sitting next to me in the front seat, turned to face Yuruyuki. "Neggs of Destruction? I heard the faeries talking about that in the courtroom, but I didn't quite catch the whole story."
During our ride, Yuruyuki and I explained to Saskia what had happened just several months before. After Neopians had teamed up in Y14 to locate the Clockwork Negg in Shenkuu and defeat the Neggbreaker, we had teamed up with Zaira and searched for the four decoy neggs that were lost elsewhere in Neopia. We eventually succeeded; however, Zaira betrayed us and stole off with all four of the decoy neggs. She threatened to use their powers to detonate the Ultimate Neggs of Destruction and harm unsuspecting Neopians everywhere. With Kari the Negg Faerie's help, we were able to stop Zaira by reuniting the four mysterious neggs and sending the Clockwork Negg into another dimension.
"And now you see why the faeries are on my side, Saskia. We are heroines," I said as I climbed off of the stationary rickshaw.
Saskia followed me off and said, "No need to be overdramatic. Keep that head of yours small, or we'll have to roll you home like a bloated Coconut JubJub."
The JubJub pulling the cart gave no heed to the obnoxious comment and left us at the edge of the Geraptikan Jungle. Yuruyuki hoisted my bag onto her shoulder, and we headed into the dense foliage.
Not soon after, the Ghost Lupe emerged and stood his ground a distance in front us. "What is wanted?" he said gruffly.
"Thank you for seeing me. I have a request."
Yuruyuki unzipped my bag and pulled out the Spiky Glowing Mask. She walked forward and placed it on the ground near the Ghost Lupe's feet.
I continued, "Tell me, is there a ghost in this mask?"
The Ghost Lupe bowed his head and began sniffing the mask. After only a few whiffs, he took two retreating steps and growled, "No, there is no ghost in this mask."
Saskia muttered from behind me, "Y'see? You're wr—."
"Wait," I quickly hissed at her, noticing the Ghost Lupe's strange reaction.
He continued, "There is an excessive concentration of ghost matter in it."
I paused to try to figure out what he meant but did not understand. "What is ghost matter?"
"Ghost matter is the physical residue that wandering spirits inherit to give themselves existence in this world."
Saskia interrupted, "Aye, we have a lot of that in the Haunted Woods. I don't quite understand it, but there's a rumor going around that Hubrid Nox took more than his fair share of it out of the atmosphere when he revived as a ghost."
The Ghost Lupe locked his eyes onto Saskia. "You dare mention his name to me? Hearing the name of that delicious, powerful Chia makes me..." He took a step forward and licked his lips. "Starving."
A quick rush of fear made me feel uncomfortable. "Wait, please tell me about how you became a ghost."
The Ghost Lupe again stood still and recollected his thoughts. "I was once First Mate Sylva. After my death, my spirit refused to pass on for I had not yet rescued my bride, my one true love, from the dangers of this world. My lingering spirit harnessed ghost matter from the surrounding atmosphere and created the immortal body which you see standing here before you. It allows me to do as I please even as a spirit trapped in a physical world." He turned away to leave. "This mask possesses more than enough ghost matter required to harness a wandering spirit."
"One last question!" I called. "Where does ghost matter come from?"
His body stiffened. I could not see his face, but I could tell he was eager to leave. "It is a byproduct of physical death. Now begone! Leave this place!" he barked as he disappeared into the dense jungle.
The wind picked up speed and rustled eerily through the trees. Yuruyuki grabbed the mask from the earth, and we hurriedly exited the creepy jungle the way we had entered.
"Are your masks looking suspiciously dangerous yet?" I said as we stepped back into the warm sunlight that bathed Mystery Island.
"No! In fact, I just thought of a perfectly good explanation for it. I make my masks using tree bark from the Haunted Woods. Those trees absorb nutrients from the ground. And what do we bury in the cemetery grounds of the Haunted Woods?"
I made the connection and nodded my head submissively.
"Ha!" she scoffed. "Y'see, this trip will be wonderfully short at this rate."
"That is a very good point, Saskia, but I definitely heard the Ghost Lupe use the words 'excessive concentration of ghost matter.' And I'm still wary of the fact that you could very well be plotting something evil against Neopia."
Yuruyuki sighed deeply to show how much she disapproved of our bickering.
"Don't worry, Yu," I said. "We're just a couple minutes from Jhuidah's Cooking Pot."
During our brisk walk, Saskia and I continued to remind each other of how displeasing the other's company was. We passed the Cooking Pot to get to Jhuidah's hut and knocked on the door.
"Come in," the Island Faerie said, expecting a patron. We pushed the wooden door aside and entered into the cool shelter of her house. "Oh, it's you three. I know exactly why you are here: you wish for me to counter the indestructibility potion used on your masks?"
"Precisely," I said with gratitude. Saskia rolled her eyes and folded her arms.
Yuruyuki softly dropped my shoulder bag onto the ground and found a comfortable seat to rest in. Saskia and I followed Jhuidah as she searched for ingredients through cabinets and closets.
"It shouldn't take long at all to make, but the ingredients will cost you." As she collected various jars, Saskia and I took some of them outside while she searched for more.
Jhuidah soon came out with the rest of the ingredients. She extracted exact amounts of what she needed and added them to the pot, taking mental notes of how much each ingredient cost. Soon the bubbling mixture changed colors. The smell was pleasant, yet so strong it made me feel dizzy. We called for Yuruyuki, and she brought with her the bag of masks.
She removed the Theatrical Split Mask and handed it to Jhuidah. Jhuidah placed it onto her mixing spoon and lowered the mask underneath the surface of the bubbling mixture.
After a moment, she lifted her spoon out of the mixture and let the liquid drain. The mask sat unchanged in the spoon.
On an impulse I stepped up to the cauldron and grabbed the mask. I felt the need to see for myself if the counter potion had done anything. Yuruyuki instinctively reacted and tried grabbing the mask from my hand, but I turned away from her.
Nothing had changed? The wooden mask felt like flesh in my hands. It started quivering and yelling.
"KILL!" it screamed as its eyes darted left and right.
I needed to rid myself of this curse! I grabbed it with both hands and began pulling it in opposite directions. I was sick of hearing them, sick of being the only one who could hear them! Why could only I see the Masks of Dread for what they really were? The more I pulled on the mask, the more it screamed, but I knew I was going to be victorious. The stitches that held the two halves of the mask together began to loosen. Yuruyuki began pushing me fiercely, trying to knock me over, but I stood my ground.
I tugged and tugged until the mask split in half with a satisfying rip. My arms flew in opposite directions and one forcefully hit the Cooking Pot, nearly knocking the pot over.
The scream from the mask escalated in my mind, and it would not stop even though the mask was no more. Whatever unseen spirit was seeking refuge in the mask refused to let me get away with what I had just done to its vessel. I dropped the halves of the mask to the ground, fell to my hands and knees, and fainted...
To be continued...