Master of Ceremonies
Yuruyuki flew through the air at incredible speed, passing the thousands of trees beneath us. I held onto her red feathers tightly as she carried me eastward from Gorunda’s swamp to our next destination, the Deserted Fairground. The blood-red sky met the mountains behind us in a jagged, haunting horizon. Halloween night was approaching fast.
I spoke into Yuruyuki’s ear. “Gorunda is probably right. Vira is playing a role in the matter, and tonight’s our only shot at figuring out what that role is. We need to find the old funhouse immediately.”
Yuruyuki chirped obediently, but I could tell that she was completely frightened about visiting the faire after hearing Vira’s account of that fateful night twenty years ago.
“There’s nothing to worry about, Yu. According to the Neopedia article about the Deserted Fairground, we’ll be safe as long as we leave before midnight. Even then, we can fly out if we need to.”
We continued our flight through the chilling air and descended as we came upon our destination. The fairground was a large clearing in the middle of the vast woods. Not even the numberless trees surrounding its iron fence dared venturing into the fairground.
Yuruyuki swooped over the iron fence and landed along one of the long, barren pathways. I climbed off her back and looked in all directions to make sure that no strange, shady characters were watching us.
The fairground was rather vacant as usual. A few daring Neopets were near the front gates at the Coconut Shy, so desperate for an avatar that they would risk their own safety to come here on Halloween just for another twenty chances.
Other than them—and a few Spooky Food restockers—we were alone…
My Pteri and I walked toward the center in search of the old funhouse where Vira had supposedly chased after her animated reflection. Yuruyuki held my hand as we passed by dozens of decrepit booths and torn-up tents, and only the calm breezes broke the oppressive, fearful silence.
The large Chia Clown at the distant Carnival of Terror stared at us from the far side of the fairground. It lurked menacingly above the other amusement rides as if it was slowly devouring everything from one end of the fairground to the other.
We wandered the labyrinth of vacated shops and sideshows in search of the funhouse, but the task was formidable without a map. Turning in circles, we became disheartened and nervous as the Halloween sky swallowed up the sinking sun’s rays. It was becoming harder and harder to see.
Shadows lingering behind cracked-open doors spied on us from all directions, and the cold winds took up speed, seemingly whispering haunting messages into our ears. The nearby carousel screeched and moaned as the wind turned it in its place; the ridable Unis slowly moved up and down to the cacophony of rusted metals scratching their poisonous nails against each other, striking panic in our hearts. The discomforting noises swelled as the carousel turned faster and faster.
Wait. Was that… music?
Off in the distance the floodlights suddenly lit up, shooting light through the miserable darkness. They began to warm up and illuminate different sections of the fairground. Quickly following suit, machinery of several amusement rides began whirring loudly, setting the tall silhouettes into motion. The carousel next to us lit up as well and began playing its eerie tune.
The fairground was coming alive once more.
We hurried our pace and roamed the lit up pathways, desperate to find our destination.
“Sin, look over there,” said Yuruyuki.
I looked to where her extended wing was pointing and saw bright spotlights shining against the top of a large structure. They were highlighting words that had become hardly legible, for the paint had worn off without its upkeep.
It read “Magic Maze.”
“I bet that’s it,” I said. “Let’s go inside, quick!”
Yuruyuki and I entered through the funhouse’s small entrance into a long hallway. As we came around a corner, some distortion mirrors greeted us, but only Yuruyuki’s reflections showed. We walked toward them and saw that there was a doorway to our left that led into the next room.
Stepping into the doorway, I caught a glimpse of bright light shining down on someone that stood not 15 yards away inside the large chamber. With a delayed reaction, I put my hands behind me and stepped backward into Yuruyuki to push us both out of sight. We hid behind the wall and waited to see if the distant figure had spotted our presence.
We heard a low voice grumbling, but there seemed to be no movement or footsteps. We listened in.
“I have recruited the villains you’ve requested,” a female informed. “They are all gathered tonight.”
A breathy, sinister male replied, “Good… We will give each a portion of the army.”
“Teach me the origination spell,” she demanded.
“Of course. Everything in due time, my queen.”
I slowly realized what was going on. That word… queen. And that voice? It was him!
“Enchanter!” I shouted, stepping into the doorway of the mirror maze.
Up ahead in the center of the room, I had a direct line of sight of the twisted, Wraith Draik that was bound to me by destiny. He was back with another malicious plan to destroy us all.
I rashly strode forward into the maze, stepping amongst the shards of shattered glass that lay scattered throughout the room, but kept my eyes focused on him. As I approached, I realized that he was inside one of the floor-to-ceiling mirrors as though he were a reflection—or someone trapped on the other side of the glass.
Vira, another servant of evil, stood next to the mirror in which he resided and glared at me as though preparing to strike.
I pointed a finger at the enchanter and shouted. “We’ll destroy you. Get out of Neopia!”
He burst out laughing maniacally; his cackles deepened into a haunting laugh. “Sin Hui, the reporter! It’s so nice to see you.” Leaning forward, he put his claws to the glass and narrowed his watchful glare. “You’ve been so kind to me.”
I stopped my approach about halfway into the room to keep my distance. “Me? Kind to you? I’ve saved Neopia twice from your maniacal schemes, and I’ll do it again.”
“You have no idea, do you, Sin?” the enchanter jeered. I carefully watched Vira, who was standing by and supposedly awaiting his commands.
“I know that you’re using Vira to steal our reflections.”
The enchanter chortled once again. “No, Sin! Look at what you’ve done to me. You made me immortal!”
I narrowed my eyes, surprised by his statement. “What?”
“You thought you could send me through the black hole, but you made a fatal mistake. You trapped me inside the looking glass, and now I can travel freely through this world as I please! I’m untouchable where I am, and no one can stop me now.”
“I don’t care what you think you can do. This world isn’t yours, and I’ll find a way to stop you!”
The enchanter snickered. “Vira, destroy her.”
Suddenly, Vira lunged at me with her Winged Dagger! I jumped to the side and hid behind one of the mirrors for protection.
Yuruyuki swooped in from behind me and knocked Vira’s sword aside with her talons. I backed up as much as I could to avoid the fray.
Vira swiped at Yu twice more, but she dodged both attempts. Yuruyuki beat her wings fiercely, pushing herself into the air and sending a whirlwind of dust and glass particles into Vira’s face.
Blindly, Vira returned the attack by tossing her Battle Bats, which easily sliced through the opposing wind and struck Yuruyuki in the chest. She crashed to the ground with a cry, landing amongst the glass shards.
Hoping to divert Vira’s attention away from Yu as she recovered, I grabbed a sizeable shard from the ground and threw it at Vira like a frisbee, though I missed miserably.
“Vira, stop this attack! Whatever the enchanter is promising you, it’s a lie!”
Vira looked at me with disgust. Putting her left paw out to one side, she began charging a magical energy in her hand. Now that I had distracted Vira, I had a chance at keeping her away from Yuruyuki if I ran.
“Yuruyuki, run for it!” I shouted as I dashed into the maze. With my hands outstretched, I turned left and right down the corridors, hoping to find sanctuary deep within the maze. Vira was close behind me, but the mirrors helped me in my escape.
When she was no longer in sight, I hid around a corner and pressed myself against the glass. I tried to keep my breathing to a minimum to conceal my location.
Why was Vira working for the enchanter? What was he promising her in return?
Suddenly in the mirrors around me, large, twitchy eyeballs appeared. They looked straight at me with their dilated pupils and swollen blood vessels.
It was the enchanter’s Scary Eye Staff! There was nowhere in here where I could hide from him.
Shortly thereafter, the enchanter appeared before me as well, striding between mirrors as though he were a shadow on the wall.
“Why are you dragging Vira into this mess?” I asked him. “Why aren’t you after me like last time?”
From the other side of the glass he said, “I have no more need of you, Sin. Vira will make the perfect queen for me—so vindictive and fueled by hatred! Together, we’ll make this world the most vile place to live in.” He paced around me, but he did not strike.
“You’re powerless where you are, aren’t you?” I taunted. “Without her, you’re nothing. You can’t even touch me.”
His smile faded, and he glared at me through hostile, glowing eyes. “Nothing, you say? Ha!” he snorted. “I have an army at my fingertips just begging to destroy your world. When Vira casts the final enchantment tonight, all of Neopia’s reflections will come out of the mirrors, and we’ll seize control of this world!”
I jabbed my fist at the mirror right where his wretched face was. I knew that my knuckles would hit nothing but rigid glass, but I wanted to make him fear me, even if for only one second.
Unflinching he continued, “It’s too bad you won’t be alive to see it, Sin.”
Vira finally stepped into sight.
Backing up into a corner, I said, “Vira, you’re being used. He’ll get rid of you, just like how we wants to get rid of all of us!”
Vira smiled as she approached me with a ball of magical energy growing in her paw. “You’re just jealous that it’s too late for you to be queen.”
“Kill her!” the enchanter hissed.
Obediently, Vira shot the magical energy right at me. It struck me with such great force that electricity shot through my entire body. I lost all control of my limbs and fell over.
As I fell face-first toward the ground, hundreds of eyes stared at me from the various shards that lay scattered around me. The eyes twitched and rolled around excitedly as I fell down to my death. My consciousness faded before I could even hit the ground…
To be continued...