A Roo Island Halloween
"You know where we should go for Halloween?" Eviamnora bounded down the stairs, her Ixi hooves crashing against the wood.
"I wish you wouldn't do that," Skyleur complained. "I think the stairs are going to shatter every time. Couldn't you just, you know, walk?"
"Where's your sense of alive? I don't understand how you walk anywhere, my sweet lady sister. Anyway. You know where we should go for Halloween?"
"Uh... the Haunted Woods?"
"No! Where's your sense of adventure? Everyone is going to be in the Haunted Woods for Halloween, so many Neopians looking for a scare that there won't be enough ghouls and ghosts and devilish monsters in the entire forest to scare them all. We should go to Roo Island."
Skyleur put down her spoon and stared. "Roo Island. You know what's on Roo Island? The Storytelling competition. Dice-A-Roo. Docks and a board walk with a carnival atmosphere, and—and warm, happy fun!"
"And Count von Roo. Deadly Dice. That's there too."
"You have to be joking me. I want to celebrate actual Halloween this year," Skyleur turned back to her cereal. "Terror Mountain would be better."
"Terror Mountain is way too cold. That's definitely not happening. I heard that King Roo decorates the whole Island for Halloween, and gets his jesters to dress up as monsters and jump out and scare Neopians, and everything. They have trick-or-treating on the water by jack-o'-lantern. The whole works. Just like the Haunted Woods," Eviamnora entreated.
"If you ruin my favorite holiday...." Skyleur turned back to her cereal, a smile creeping over her usually stoic face.
The boat docked on Roo Island and Eviamnora tumbled onto the dock. Skyleur walked down the gangplank behind her, much more dignified. She had stood up to the choppy water much better than her sister had.
"Just... just a minute." Eviamnora ducked behind a fish and chips vendor, but half a second later screamed and reemerged, followed by a Blumaroo in a dark suit and mask with his arms raised over his head.
Skyleur burst out laughing.
The Blumaroo took off his mask. "Welcome to Roo Island!" He retreated back to his hiding spot.
"Well, so much for seasickness."
"We should wait here for a few minutes," Skyleur said.
"Because I want to see him scare someone else! The look on your face was priceless. I wish I could have hung it on the wall in the kitchen for everyone to see forever. You're so lucky."
"You're such a good sister, aren't you." Eviamnora shook her head. "You just remember that when I tell embarrassing stories about you."
The Aisha would have stuck her tongue out, if she hadn't decided to play an actual princess for Halloween.
"Over here." Skyleur dragged Eviamnora under the half-down awning of a closed game stall, where they could peer out at the docks but not be seen.
The masked Blumaroo didn't scare the next group of Neopians off the boats. Instead, he walked out and greeted them with a handshake. They were clothed the same way, and Eyrie, a Skeith, and a Lupe. From the distance, it was hard for the sisters to make out what they were saying, but they caught the gist of it:
"You've made preparations?" the Eyrie asked. He seemed to be the leader of the new group.
The Blumaroo held out an object that neither Eviamnora nor Skyleur could see. The Eyrie smiled, but the pleasure on the faces of his companions was much more pronounced.
"Patience," he counseled them. "Things could still go wrong."
"But we have it," the Lupe said. "As long as we can wake the Count, and give it to him before midnight, our mission is complete."
Eviamnora looked at Skyleur. Skyleur looked at Eviamnora.
"We have to stop them!" they both whispered. They waited in the shadows until the quartet disappeared into Roo Island proper, and made a beeline toward the Dice-A-Roo Tournament Hall, where they were most likely to find King Roo.
Their progress was incroodibly slow. Once they made it off the board walk, they entered the woodlands of Roo Island, sliced by quick-moving rivers. On every other day, the scenery was pleasant, refreshing. Today, the trees were covered in cobwebs and had eerie orbs positioned in odd places to cast the scariest possible shadows. The river rocks had been splashed with silver and gold plaint that caught the lights from the trees, and the moonlight overhead, glinting in the corners of the sisters' eyes and making them jump with every other step.
There were hundreds of Neopians venturing through the woods along with them, some moving slowly and taking in every detail, others fleeing toward the closest building they could find—buildings that harbored no safety from the frights of the Island.
The last thing Eviamnora and Skyleur passed before arriving at the gates of the Dice-A-Roo Tournament Hall was the little peninsula that was home to Count von Roo's coffin.
Eviamnora took one look and kept going. Skyleur stopped, and reached for her, pulling her into the shadow behind a tree. "Look." She pointed to four cloaked figures at the base of the monument. One by one, they disappeared into the Count's crypt. "What time is it?"
The Ixi looked up, but the night had grown cloudy and she couldn't find the moon. "We can't have a lot of time."
Skyleur glanced between the elaborate entrance of the Tournament Hall, the many steps and Neopians between her and King Roo, and the crypt. "We can't wait. We have to stop them."
Eviamnora nodded. They followed the last cape swish into the crypt, and moved slowly down the ancient stairs. The Ixi struggled to mask the fall of her hooves, a stark contrast to her exuberant bounding steps from earlier in the day.
She peered around the last corner ahead of Skyleur. Each one of the quartet had taken a side of the coffin, with the Eyrie at the head and the Blumaroo at the foot. The Eyrie held an object over the coffin and was chanting.
Eviamnora squinted, cursing all the hours she'd spent reading in dim light for weakening her vision.
"It's a ring," Skyleur whispered at her shoulder.
"We have guests," the Lupe said.
Eviamnora looked at Skyleur. Skyleur looked at Eviamnora. They both stepped around the corner.
"You have to stop right now!" Eviamnora said. "We won't let you finish waking the Count like this!"
Before either of them knew what was happening, the Skeith had circled around behind Eviamnora and Skyleur.
"Tie them up," the Eyrie said. "And take them to you-know-who."
"No!" Skyleur screeched. A burlap sack was pulled down over her eyes. "Eviamnora!"
Silence answered her.
Light. Light pierced through the heavy burlap, and dozens of voices. One was louder than the rest.
"Let us see who thought to interrupt the return of the Count!"
Skyleur squirmed, but she couldn't go very far. But that voice...
A large blue figure hovered over her for a moment, then bent down to de-sack another Neopian—Eviamnora.
It look Skyleur a moment to realize that the figure was King Roo, and the voices chattering around them were excited, not terrified. The Eyrie, Lupe, Skeith, and Blumaroo from the docks stood not far off, grinning.
King Roo helped them to their feet. "Ladies, what are your names?"
Eviamnora looked at Skyleur. Skyleur looked at Eviamnora. They were both confused.
"Unfortunately, only one of you can have the honor of playing the first round of Deadly Dice tonight."
"I'm sorry," Skyleur spoke up. "I don't understand. I thought they were trying to wake Count von Roo so he could take over the island, or something."
"'Trying' is one way of putting it. Every Halloween, a group of four Neopians must attempt to restore Count von Roo to his full powers. But, as long as someone tries to stop them, Count von Roo's power is diminished, and for another year, he can only wake at midnight. My hand-picked quartet, and you, have performed beautifully! So, one of you has won the honor of breaking in the new year of Deadly Dice. Which will it be?"
Skyleur shook her head and took a step back from the king. "It's all you, sis."
The Blumaroo bounced up to them. "Were you terrified? I hope you were terrified when we captured you! Not too terrified, of course. We never would have actually hurt you!"
Skyleur laughed. "I was terrified. Truly terrified. Eviamnora wasn't, though. She's never afraid."
"ONLY four levels," Skyleur mocked her sister.
"You have to admit, that wasn't a bad idea."