Sebastian's Spirits: Part One
Thank you to my real life Roger, whose adventures are still with me to this day.
"And that's how I survived the mighty wrath of the ruthless Krawk Island Band! I'll say, I almost didn't make it out alive, but I used every bit of strength I had to get back home. Let this be a lesson to you all to never give up, even in the face of danger! You never know what will come about your courageous acts!"
The dramatic end of the story was met with several squeals of delight in addition to a few gasps of horror. The younger members of the family, about a dozen in total in all shapes and sizes, sat in captivation by their grandfather's story as they did with every other twisted tale he recited so jubilantly.
"That was amazing!" a little Blumaroo named Mitzy piped up. "Please tell another!"
"Excuse me." A blue paw shot up and waved from behind the cluster of tiny Neopians. The grandfather squinted in confusion before realizing that the arm was from the lone Lupe sprawled out behind the others in the back. He was older than the others by quite a few years which gave him unwritten entitlement to abruptly speak up, all while pompously ignoring the various pairs of tiny eyes that would drill through him in protest for interrupting the master storyteller. "Why did you end up seeking refuge on Krawk Island in the first place if you said your ship and crew were first stranded at Mystery Island? It's not entirely logical for you to swim from one shore to the other without any form of safety equipment, or a small dingy for that matter."
A smirk appeared on the grandfather, and soon his toothy grin began to show. "What're you saying, Sebastian? That your old gramps never swam across the sea to Krawk Island?"
Sebastian's pointy Lupe ears rose in interest. He refused to pass up the opportunity to once again be proven right, even if the victim of his obnoxious intellect was his own grandfather. "No, what I'm saying is that you never even sailed to Mystery Island. I'm fairly certain that you never had a crew or a ship, and you never once possessed a magical box that had 'voices' in it that told you what silly adventures to go on. Why don't you just tell all the cousins once and for all that your stories aren't true, and that they should stop wasting their time dreaming of going on fake adventures similar to yours and should start focusing on reality?"
Sebastian's grandfather's smile fell and his gaze lowered from his eldest grandson's stern face to the floor. All of Sebastian's cousins sat in silence, a few with tears streaming down their faces. Once a week, the family would get together at their grandfather's house to listen to stories and play in the spacious backyard, usually reenacting the descriptive, hair-raising tales their grandfather would tell. It was here that they could be carefree and unmindful of the real world. But Sebastian, being the oldest of his cousins by quite a few years, had grown to the realization that their grandfather's stories, in his opinion, were a waste of time. He despised the supposed fictional stories not braced with cold, hard facts. He guaranteed that all of his grandfather's were loopy fictions despite the Kougra's many claims that everything spoken was completely genuine.
After a brief moment of stillness, their grandfather broke the silence. "Little ones, why don't you go and play in the backyard? I'll be outside in a bit."
The youths obliged, each filing out of the cozy living room with some drying their tears, while others glared at Sebastian. They had tried to grow accustomed to their eldest cousin and his overly portentous attitude, but his ruthlessness was too much for their young souls to handle.
"Sebastian," the Kougra whispered once the room was empty, raising a trembling paw and placed it on his grandson's shoulder. His voice was so strained that Sebastian thought he was on the verge of tears. "You think that I'm lying about my adventures?"
Sebastian frowned, never having received the definite answer to the source of the Kougra's odd dialect. It made him sound like a polished scholar belonging to the research sector of the Brightvale castle, but his appearance was quite far from that. His grandfather was very frail and could barely get up from the cushioned chair without assistance. His green fur went unkempt and his claws were dull and tarnished with age. Thin-wired spectacles rested on the bridge of his nose, unable to hide his sickly yellow eyes that held the faintest glisten of hope. He was hanging by a dwindling thread. A while ago he was healthy and strong, but now it was as if his spirit was lost.
"All these years I've known that you were lying." Sebastian answered flatly.
The Kougra's face fell, and he could feel his heart begin to sink. "Oh, but Sebastian, I'm telling the truth..."
"Stories don't have to always be true, and you don't need to keep pretending that they are. Remember that time you told me about when you got trapped in that snow crevice on Terror Mountain and were freed by the Negg Faerie after surviving for a week on ice? How accurate was that?"
"That old story is true!" he insisted. "You see, the truth is something that I speak and everything that I tell you is real. Nothing is exaggerated, it's just how I lived it," he wheezed, a smile slinking across his face. "I swear, you are too insightful for your own good."
"That can't be right. You just have an extraordinary imagination."
There was a moment of silence before Sebastian saw an idea flash in the Kougra's eyes.
"You know what? I say that it's time."
Sebastian stepped back at his grandfather's sudden remark. He's growing more delusional by the hour, he thought bitterly. "Time for what?"
The old Kougra glanced to the side of his chair that he had built himself years and years ago. According to him, the wood used was from the actual Cyodrake's Gaze stern that he took after winning an epic sword battle against a skilled Shenkuu warrior. As he grew older, however, the chair began to hurt his frail body. He had covered it with a large green cloth and propped pillows around to ease his aching joints. "There's a box under this seat. Could you get it for me? My bones and muscles don't bend that way anymore."
Sebastian sighed as he lifted up the cloth and reached under the chair, pulling out a box that he had never seen before. Lifting it up, he scrutinized the outside of it; it was made of mahogany and was the width of one of his grandfather's prized dictionaries that he collected over the years. The top was attached by black hinges that could flip back. Etched in the upper right hand corner were the letters "CR."
"Do you remember the special box that I would tell you about?"
"Of course." The Lupe blinked absentmindedly, trying to analyze his grandfather's actions. They always were sporadic and very rarely could Sebastian comprehend what points his grandfather would try to make.
"The box is real," his grandfather murmured as his eyes lit up with excitement. "I have it right here. It's a jewelry box that you won't find anywhere else."
The line had been crossed. For so long Sebastian had listened to these fabricated lies and now his grandfather, the delusional old storyteller that he was, was trying to pass off a plain wooden box for something extraordinary. Sebastian merely shrugged. "Look, I'm just going to go home..."
His grandfather placed a paw on the side of the box. "Not yet, boy. Open it first."
Sebastian rolled his eyes. "Fine. Whatever."
Hesitantly, the Lupe raised the top of the box. It creaked with each movement and Sebastian was actually curious to look inside. But it turned out to be a disappointment, as there was black felt, but other than the lining the box was empty.
"I don't see anything." Sebastian glanced out the window to avoid his grandfather. He had gone along with one of his grandfather's stupid tricks and felt embarrassed once again.
His grandfather grinned and sat back in his seat. "Or do you? Look again."
Just as he spoke, tiny specs of white began to gently float out of the box. The specs quickly multiplied until they formed a cloud, which crept out of the box and sank to the floor, slithering across the carpet and around the chair which the grandfather sat. Sebastian stumbled backwards to his grandfather's side, watching in disbelief as the cloud began to rise into four distinct parts, until it was no longer a giant mass but a distinct outline of four figures. The figures began to form transparent bodies, arms, necks, and faces, until four figures stood in the living room of his grandfather's house.
The box escaped the weak grip of Sebastian and fell to the floor, emitting a crash throughout the room. "Grandfather..." Sebastian mustered any remaining courage he had to speak. He raised a trembling finger and feebly pointed towards the ghastly sight that he could not comprehend. "T-there's... g-ghosts..."
"I know that, Sebastian," his grandfather looked behind him and beamed, brushing the situation off as if it happened daily. "And use the word 'ghosts' lightly. I'd like you to meet the spirits of the box."
Much to Sebastian's surprise, the lean red Gelert was glaring at him, even as he talked to his grandfather. "Roger, what is going on here? You know what has to happen now!"
The Kougra chuckled. "Fredrick, calm down. This is my grandson, Sebastian. Sebastian, these fine spirits are the voices that I've told you about in my stories. These are my friends Fredrick, Jerome, Viktoria, and Ava!" he motioned down the line as he called their names, oblivious to Sebastian's extreme discomfort.
Sebastian shook his head. "N-no... there's no way this is h-happening..."
"They're not going to hurt you, Sebastian! They're quite the friendly folk!"
"Except for Fredrick when he doesn't eat," the lanky shadow Hissi chuckled, nudging the Gelert named Fredrick in the rib.
The adorable pink Wocky dressed in a rosy milkmaid dress had pressed her delicate paws to her face in anguish. "Roger," she said with a heavy heart. "It's not time, is it?"
"My lovely little Ava, what's wrong?"
"Is this the end of your time with us?"
To be continued...