Lair of the Voodoo King
A hazy moon dimly lit the forested swamp below. The sound of croaking mortogs and buzzing bumbluz resonated across the entire area. Heavy clumps of moss hung lazily in the towering trees, occasionally swaying in the gentle autumn breeze. This night seemed like any other early fall night; the remnants of summer not yet washed away by a sea of crispy fallen leaves, yet too chilly for frolicking in the still water.
Not far away from the edge of the swamp stands a grand, old mansion, with magnificent columns and a wrap around porch. Though the dwelling is statuesque in size, time has ravaged the facade. Peeling paint covers most of the exterior walls, which are swollen and rotting from exposure to devastating wind and rain. Numerous windows lining the front side of the home are broken, and the ones that remain are covered in thick dust and cobwebs. You could tell no one has shown this place any love or care for many years. The grounds were so overgrown that you would need a scythe to chop your way through the growth from the front to the back yard. Only various types of varmints and vermin would brave travelling the terrain in this condition. The stench of rot, mould, and mildew are so thick in the air, it would make you gag. No, no one has loved this place in a long, long time.
Far up in the top window of the mansion a dim light can barely be seen. Inside sits a lone figure rocking back and forth in an old wooden chair. Candles rest on various surfaces in the room, casting a soft light on the large creature. Upon closer inspection, it is obvious he is a darigan draik. His immense purple wings brush the dusty floor as he sways hypnotically in the chair. Off in the distance, a crokbek squawks loudly, startled, the draik abruptly stops humming and looks up from what he is doing. Fiery reddish orange eyes peer out from a face covered in charred, white, bone dust. It appears the dust was used to fashion a skull upon the skin. A small bone protrudes from each side of his flared nostrils, and his lips are pulled back in a sneer. After a moment, he relaxes his shoulders, and sits back in his seat, pulling the black hat he's wearing back down. The crown of the hat looks worse for wear. Red stitching has been used to patch various holes on the worn fabric. Wrapped around it are a set of sharp incisors, and tucked behind the teeth is a red feather. This is no ordinary hat. This is the hat of a being who practices Voodoo.
Scattered around the room are items reinforcing the fact that the dark arts are in practice here. The rickety shelves and tables filling the dank room are littered with books on Voodoo, along with potion bottles, bones, vials, buttons and scraps of burlap. Ritual markings cover the filthy wooden floor that candle wax had dripped upon heavily. In a dark corner, on the left side of the room sit two empty steel cages. Decaying rags lay within the confines of the cages, along with a dirt-filled bowl in each. One can only surmise what was once held inside.
Raspy breathing can be heard from across the room as the draik shifts his weight in the creaky chair. Held in his right hand is a tiny object he repeatedly jams into the item he has clutched in the left. Crazy laughter fills the silent room, and echoes down the empty halls and chambers of the mansion. The withering structure groans as if to say whatever is taking place is unsettling. Rising to his feet, the horrifying creature reaches down to a table sitting next to his chair and gathers articles laying on the surface. His long claws dig deep into the fabric-covered possessions. Pure hatred radiates from the draik's eyes as he glares down at his clenched fingers. Clutched within his hands are the effigies of six unsuspecting beings. Candlelight shimmers across the surface of the cold button eyes. The twisted mouths of the rag dolls are stitched tightly closed, and piercing through each heart is a single silver pin.
Moving to various areas around the room, the draik begins to chant magical words in a language very few understand. He deposits each doll in a different place, well hidden from obvious view. Walking to the door of the room he pulls a small red velvet bag from his hip pocket. He gently unties the corded rope closure and reaches inside. Pulling his hand from inside the bag, he opens it, and silver coloured dust covers his palm. He begins to sprinkle the dust across the threshold of the crooked doorway as he carries on chanting. After a few moments pass, the reciting stops, and he turns to peer back at the empty room. Satisfied with his work, he crosses the threshold, closing the door behind him. Reaching to his neck, he grabs a chain and brings forth an ancient skeleton key. After inserting the key into the lock below the doorknob, he twists, and the tumblers make a clicking sound. He places the key back around his neck, and turns toward the shadowy hallway. Softly muttering, "It is done", he walks into the darkness.
Across the different Neopian lands, unsettling whispers are taking place. Soldiers are out on the streets urging citizens to return to their homes, and unrest is rising in the communities. No one is being told what is happening, and everyone is frightened.
Outside of the gates of the Brightvale Castle, a group of worried civilians are gathered to express their concern over what is taking place. The crowd is displeased with the secrecy, and demands answers about why they are being forced to remain in their home. Vexed voices become louder and louder, until the sound is deafening. A roaring, "OPEN THE GATES!!", is shouted over and over. After a time, the gates are lifted, and out walks a royal squire.
Nervously, he looks at the massive crowd that has accumulated, and realizes he must provide them with the knowledge they seek. He clears his throat, and begins his story.
"Good citizens of Brightvale. Dark times have come to our land. Last night, King Hagan fell into a deep sleep, which he cannot be awoken from. We have spent the last few hours trying to figure out what has taken place, but we have no conclusive answers. Before this happened, he was his usual wise self, then suddenly after providing council to a few foreign ambassadors, he fell asleep in his throne room. We tried to wake him, but we were given no response. Various doctors have been called in, and after a thorough exam, they have given him an outstanding bill of health. Sadly, they are uncertain what is wrong with him." Pausing, the squire tries to decide if he should continue. After a long moment, he decides he must.
"Furthermore, we have sent word to other regions of Neopia to see if we can find answers in other kingdoms, and have learned this is not an isolated incident. Five other kings have also suffered the same ailment."
A loud gasp escaped from the crowd as they began to understand the severity of what was taking place. A brave yurble made his way to the front of the crowd, and asked the question everyone was wondering.
He shouted, "What are we supposed to do now?
The crowd looked at the perplexed squire, waiting for his answer, hoping to gain some comfort in his words.
Bowing his head, and trying to figure out what to say to help the situation, he looked up and said, "We wait." With that, he turned and walked back inside the castle entrance. The gates began to lower, making a heavy thud as it dropped to the ground.