Undead Rising: Part Two
Bernard and the Lenny stared at each other for a few moments before either of them reacted. The Lenny was not much to look at: tattered clothing and a ghostly tail replacing his legs, similar to most ghosts that wandered around. The amulet was the one thing that stood out on him… but was he really the one he’d been looking for? He had to be sure.
“You- That amulet- it has to be…!” Bernard had a hard time finding the words to speak. He took a second to take a breath and lower his voice. He didn’t want to wake up the whole household while a ghostly Lenny was in his room… “Are you… the one whose grave I saw in the graveyard?” he whispered, his tone brimming with curiosity.
The Lenny nodded. “Indeed I am.” He placed a wing on his chest. “I apologize I could not come to speak to you earlier… I could not come out in the sunlight while you were searching…”
“…why?” Bernard asked in a confused tone.
The Lenny cleared his throat. “Ghosts cannot come out in the sunlight… their forms are completely invisible in the bright light.”
Bernard scratched his chin. Come to think of it, it was unusually sunny the other day. Normally in the Haunted Woods there was a cloudy overhang and eerie fog. Lately the woods seemed somewhat lively and bright, leaving many of the residents frustrated and grumpy… Maybe that was the reason the Brain Tree was so angry the other day.
“So then… who are you?” Bernard asked. “Or I should say who were you?”
The Lenny’s gaze drifted to the ground, and he began to rub his wings together. “I… I do not know.”
“Huh?” Bernard took a step closer. “How do you not know?”
“I cannot remember.”
Bernard gave the Lenny a quizzical look. “Did you just… forget who you were? How does that even happen?” Now that was something that really didn’t make sense to Bernard. How does someone just forget who they are?
“Not all ghosts are fortunate enough to retain their memories after death… Some use magic to even take away the memories of others…”
“Do you think that maybe happened to you?” Bernard shifted his focus to the amulet around the Lenny’s neck. “Maybe it’s this-“
The Lenny immediately pulled away, guarding the amulet with his wings. “Stop! Do not touch it!”
Bernard jumped, shocked at the Lenny’s reaction to his curiosity. “What’s wrong? Is that amulet special to you or something? Is it filled with a powerful magic?”
The Lenny was looking nervous now, gripping the amulet as if it were the very thing that gave him life, yet his only answer was the same. “I… I don’t know.” He slowly released his hold on the amulet. “I do not know why it is so special to me… but it is. It is something very important… but I do not know why.”
Bernard raised his hands slowly. “Okay, okay… I understand. Relax, I’m not going to take it from you.”
The Lenny felt more at ease at this, and lowered his wings back to his sides. “My apologies… it has been many years since I have had any interaction with other beings… living or deceased.”
Bernard’s eyes grew wide. “Wait… how long has it been then?”
The Lenny shrugged. “What is the current year?”
The Lenny gasped. “Oh my… it has been far too long…” He started to glance around frantically. “I feel as if there was a reason I was awakened… but I cannot remember what it is.” He squawked in irritation. “Curse my memory… If only I could remember!”
“Awakened?” Bernard repeated. “What do you mean awakened?”
The Lenny groaned, as if he was getting tired of explanations. Perhaps this was too much for him to handle. “My soul has been in asleep for eons… Having suddenly come back to this world in the form of a spirit is nothing less than shocking, as you might imagine.” The Lenny leaned back against the wall, remembering that his ghostly form could slip through walls.
Bernard couldn’t help but feel pity for the poor Lenny. He was probably just as confused as ever, waking up in a world unknown to him, years after all of his friends and family have been long gone…
Bernard clasped his hands together. “Hey, listen. If you need someplace to stay, do you want to stay here?” He gestured to the ceiling. “There’s an attic space in the cottage… You can hide out there during the day and I can get you anything you need.” He tapped a finger on his chin. “It’ll be a little difficult to try and hide any food or anything if you need it…” Did ghosts eat, he wondered? He’d ask that question later. “Anyway… You’re welcome to stay here. I don’t mind, and hey, maybe we can find out the secret to that amulet of yours, and help you find your lost memories.”
The Lenny seemed touched that Bernard even offered these suggestions at all. “Thank you. I am truly grateful for your help. I apologize for being such a bother.”
Bernard smiled. “No trouble at all.” He paused, realizing something very important. “Hey… do you remember your name, at least?”
The Lenny tapped a feather to his beak and pointed his gaze towards the ceiling. It took him a minute to figure it out, but he nodded when he did so.
“Edward.”* * * * *
“So do you remember any of this scenery?” Bernard asked. Edward had said that ghosts were invisible in the sunlight, but he stayed close to Bernard so that he could speak to him. It was fortunate that he didn’t disappear completely.
“Things have greatly changed since I was here last… But I do remember a few things about this place.” His tone was a mixture of confusion, curiousness and nervousness all rolled into one. “Is this really truly the Haunted Woods?”
Bernard nodded. “Positive. My family and I come out here once a year to visit our cousins. They live in that cottage you saw before. It’s small, but it’s kinda nice.” He shook his head. “Anyway… the Haunted Woods have become more of a tourist attraction than anything. The Brain Tree and the Esophagor are probably the oldest residents here, but even they hadn’t heard of the graveyard you belonged to… or why it exists.”
Bernard paused for a second. Hmm… did Edward know who the Brain Tree was? The Brain Tree did say he was a sapling when he found out about the strange graveyard… “Ever heard of the Brain Tree? Or the Esophagor?”
Edward sighed. “No. The names mean nothing to me unfortunately…”
Bernard’s shoulders slumped. This was getting them nowhere. If they were to find out the truth behind Edward’s past, they needed something to go off of. Right now they had little to go on besides his name and the fact that the amulet he wore was special to him somehow. They had to ask someone who knew more about the Haunted Woods than anyone else…
He had to go see Sophie, the Swamp Witch. True, she hadn’t been around as long as the Brain Tree or Esophagor, but she knew enough about magical amulets and curses laid on undead and living Neopians. After all, she’d saved Neovia from the curse from so long ago, so why wouldn’t she know about someone like Edward?
Bernard turned in the opposite direction, heading in the direction of the deep woods. “I have an idea. It might get kinda dicey where we’re going… but there’s no use staying around here and wondering what we can do next. We have to take action if we’re going to get to the bottom of this.”
Edward didn’t say anything for a moment, and it was hard to read his emotions when Bernard couldn’t see him. “If you say so…” The Lenny mumbled.
For the entire time that Bernard walked towards the deep woods, the two remained silent, except for the occasional “You okay?” from Bernard, to make sure Edward was still following him. Eventually it had gotten so dark around them that the ghostly Lenny was visible again, and Bernard didn’t have to check on him anymore.
As the foliage around them grew thicker, Bernard was having a hard time brushing past all the tangled branches and muddy ground. Edward felt a twinge of guilt for Bernard having to go through all this hardship just to find out his past. Was it really worth all this trouble?
Finally, the two of them arrived at the small shack in the woods- one that seemed a little more dilapidated than either of them had anticipated. It had thick moss growing on the roof, loose floorboards on the bridge leading to the door, and overall the house just had an eerie feel. There was smoke billowing out of the chimney on the roof, indicating that Sophie was probably home brewing potions in her little hut.
Bernard brushed any leaves off his arms, confidently approaching the door. He reached to knock on the worn wooden door-
To be continued…