Undead Rising: Part One
"Bernard, you know it’s not safe to play in the graveyard at night! Momma said so!” A little blue Lupe begged the larger yellow Lupe.
The yellow Lupe grasped the bars of the graveyard fence, staring intently at the gravestones that dotted the dark green landscape. Ever since Bernard and his family arrived in the Haunted Woods, he’d become incredibly curious about the area’s graveyards, wondering what sorts of gross zombies and creepy things lurked in the shadows. Why other pets feared the areas, he didn’t know. He was clueless. The Haunted Woods didn’t seem all that scary to him. Maybe there was some kind of dark secret that was hidden in these graves.
“Come on, it’s not that scary! Don’t be such a baby, Molly!” He pulled his paw away from his sister, who was struggling to tug him away from the fence. Bernard yanked on the fence as hard as he could, barely pulling the old gate open a foot. It looked barely passable, but he could squeeze through if he tried hard enough. The yellow Lupe pushed his torso through the gate, landing on the ground with a loud “oomph!”
Molly anxiously jumped up and down, shivering as she glanced around the creepy forest. “Bernard, we’re gonna get in huge trouble if we get caught!”
Bernard stood up, dusting himself off and flashing a grin at his younger sister. “So we don’t get caught then.”
“You get out of there right now, Bernard! Momma’s gonna be mad if she finds out!”
Bernard ignored his sister’s pleas, shuffling through the tall grass and running his fingers along the weathered gravestones. Many of them were so worn that their graves were illegible. Some were surprisingly recent. It made the Lupe wonder what sort of demise each pet met in the past. Fights in Neopian Wars, mishaps in the battledome… the possibilities were endless. Some of these pets could just have been petty thieves, but others could be heroes. Bernard could only imagine the history lost on these simple gravestones.
It wasn’t long before Bernard came across a rather interesting gravestone that stood out among the rest of them. It looked normal enough in shape, but the item attached to the stone caught his eye. It was an amulet of silver with a golden yellow jewel in the center. He’d never seen anything like it before, even in the many Neopian shops that his parents had taken him to before.
Molly shrieked, shrinking back a little at the loud moaning noise that came from the graveyard. It was then that a blue-grey light began to glow around the gravestone her brother was standing in front of. The blue Lupe frantically squeezed through the fence, rushing towards her brother at blinding speed. Bernard was too distracted to move, completely fascinated by the ghostly aura emanating from the gravestone.
Molly grasped her brother’s paw, dragging him back towards the graveyard entrance. They fled back in the direction of their home, not daring to look back…* * * * *
It wasn’t until the next morning that Bernard was able to venture out into the forest again. He jabbed his finger in his ear, remembering that he had received quite an earful from his mom last night… He bore the brunt of the punishment, defending Molly and convincing his parents that it was his idea. Even though it had been a rough night, that didn’t stop him from going back to that graveyard. He had to find out what that amulet was… He couldn’t just leave it alone. If it had been left out there in the forest untouched for Fyora knew how long, then it had to have some sort of purpose.
The Lupe finally arrived at the graveyard, only to find that the gate had been pushed open entirely. His eyes widened in curiosity, confused. It was just as rusty as last night, and didn’t look like it had been oiled… it must have taken a very strong arm to open it.
Bernard walked through the now open gate, eyes searching for the gravestone from last night. He had to find that amulet… it had to serve some sort of significance. He tried to retrace his footsteps from last night, yet again running his fingers along the same gravestones. He couldn’t see last night just how dusty they were… some of these stones looked like they’d been around since year one.
Finally, Bernard could see it. The worn gravestone that he had come across the night before…
…with one less amulet to its name.
The Lupe’s eyes widened, and he searched around the gravestone, pushing away the unruly tall grass. Maybe it just fell after they ran away last night… it had to be around here somewhere. It just had to be!
After at least an hour of searching the entire graveyard, Bernard finally felt like it was time to give up. No matter where he looked, the amulet didn’t seem to be anywhere around. He sighed. Maybe he was too hopeful. Maybe he was just looking for a little adventure while he was here in the Haunted Woods, but that adventurous spirit had been quickly crushed by the feeling of defeat. That amulet had probably been stolen by some grave robber or restocker looking to make a quick buck. No one would just leave an amulet like that alone in a graveyard. Anyone in their right mind knew that something that rare would probably sell for millions on the trading post.
The Lupe sighed. “I’m just gonna go home… maybe the Brain Tree has some quests that he needs completed…”
Just as he was about to leave the graveyard for good, something struck him. “Wait… The Brain Tree!” The Brain Tree knew nearly everything about every undead creature in the Haunted Woods. Maybe he knew something about the mysterious grave… and the amulet that came with it.
Bernard rushed off in the direction of the Brain Tree, eager to learn more about the strange gravestone and mysterious amulet… * * * * *
“What business have you with me, mortal?” The Brain Tree gargled in an eerie voice that most would cower at. Bernard didn’t even flinch, his drive to solve this mystery too great for him to even fear the colossal tree.
“I need your help finding a record on someone in the Haunted Woods… A graveyard hidden deep in the forest.” Bernard explained. “It’s one that my sister and I found when we were walking the woods the other night. We um… We weren’t really supposed to be there, but we were.” He twiddled his thumbs nervously. “It had an amulet draped over it, like it was some sort of special grave. I dunno what that amulet was for… I thought you might know.”
The Brain Tree’s brain pulsed, practically shaking the ground Bernard stood on. “A nameless grave that has been lost to time… not even my records of the dead can remember as far as the forbidden graveyard. I was but a sapling when those graves came to be…” His branches quivered for a moment. “You may be able to gain more information from the Esophagor…”
The Brain Tree narrowed his eyes. “He is a glutton… but he knows more about the dead than I am able to keep track of. He is the one who obtains information on the deceased and passes it onto me through what you mortals call ‘quests’.” He shifted his focus away from Bernard. “Now GO! You have bothered me for far too long, mortal. I must rest my cerebral muscles.”
Bernard flinched at the Brain Tree’s loud voice, but backed away as he was told, heading in the direction of the Esophagor’s swamp. It seemed odd that the Esophagor knew more than the Brain Tree about the dead, but he wasn’t going to question the logic of the old tree. He had his reasons.
It wasn’t long before Bernard came across the Esophagor, just accepting a large amount of food from a fearful looking Shoyru. He was about to approach them when he caught a bit of their conversation…
“Goooooood. Youuuu have done weeeeeell. Barry Kyrii died in 26 BN……”
The Shoyru paused for a second, glancing around and moving his paws slightly. “Uh… and where did he die?”
The Esophagor hissed. “Foooooooolll… you musssst bring me more FOOOOOD if you wisssshhhh to knowwww moooooorrre!”
Bernard groaned. He didn’t want to scour the Haunted Woods looking for food for that monstrous Snorkle… It would take hours and too much effort, and by then he might have lost the motivation to even try and figure out the mystery behind the amulet. The Lupe decided it was probably best to stop for now and head home… He’d figure out the mystery eventually.
On the way back, Bernard decided to take one last stop by the old graveyard. Maybe there was a tiny chance that something had turned up…
With a sigh, he brushed his hand over the gravestones once more, patting the grave that once held the amulet.
“Whatever happened to you or the others here… I hope you rest in peace, friend.” * * * * *
Later that night, Bernard found himself unable to sleep. He had given up on his search for the amulet and its owner, but something in the back of his mind couldn’t let it go. It didn’t even look like there were footprints near the grave or broken branches, or anything vandalized like a grave robber or thief would have done. It just didn’t make any sense…
Bernard sat up. What in the world was that? Could that be…?
He jumped out of bed and flung open the windows of the small cottage. Outside an eerie fog was hanging in the air, but otherwise it didn’t look like anyone was there.
Bernard quickly shut the windows as a cold breeze blew through. He was just hearing things…
Just as he turned around, he was met with a large, grey beak, red eyes, and blue-green feathers. He was about to scream when his mouth was cuffed by the ghostly Lenny that now hovered in his bedroom. He didn’t struggle, but rather, his eyes drifted downward to the Lenny’s torso: he was bearing the object that he had been searching for.
The mysterious golden amulet.
To be continued…