Come dance with the Wanderers... Circulation: 130,067,293 Issue: 259 | 29th day of Gathering, Y8
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Not a Ghost: Part Two

by moonshadow711


When I woke up, I was greeted by a sight that my eyes had never seen before. The only way I can describe the place is by saying that I was "somewhere." Somewhere that didn't have walls or a floor, although it somehow didn't seem like an endless open space, either. Floating shapes shimmered in and out of sight. I walked around, and more shapes appeared. Concentrating on keeping one of them visible, I walked up to it. I nearly let go of the image as I realized that it was another Neopet. A Kyrii, I think, but it was hard to tell when it flickered out of my vision every few seconds.

      I spoke to it. "Excuse me, but where are we?" I asked.

      "I don't know where we are," it replied. "It doesn't matter. This is where pets go after they die. I don't care where it happens to be." Indeed, everything about its voice said just that: it no longer cared where, or why, or how.

      "I'm not-" I began, then stopped. Against my will, my brain began to sort things out. There had been the strangely familiar Wocky in the Pool, and Kauvara's words echoed in my head: It only shows ghosts... What if that had actually been me? And I had just left it... But no, there was nothing I could have done. Still, it wasn't fair. If only I had looked more carefully at the paint brush...

     Life isn't fair, said a voice in my head. I knew it was right. But I couldn't just let go of my life. "I know this must sound weird," I began, "but I need a way to get out. This sounds stupid, but I really shouldn't have died." That was true. Wasn't it?

      "Look, I know you're upset, but there's nothing you can do about it," said the Kyrii. It left. It annoyed me a bit how rude it was, but if you thought about it, it was probably tired of answering questions like that. Newcomers to this place must ask things like that a lot. But I was too concerned about myself to think about that for long.

      I was pretty sure I was on my own now. I doubted very much that anyone here could give me a better answer. The first thing to do was to think of a plan, which I managed very quickly. Unfortunately, like most of my plans, it was not a very good plan. I chose a direction that looked good, and started running. (Ok, so it didn't actually look any different from the other directions. Still, I'm sure it was as good a choice as any.)

      In a few hours, or what I thought was a few hours (my watch was still with my body) I hadn't gotten much of anywhere. I had seen several pets, some of whom were whispering under their breath, some of whom looked bored. A few, especially the younger ones, were crying. I could see what looked like a wall maybe an acre away, but it had been that distance away when I had started. I wasn't tired at all. Not physically, anyway. But I was tired of walking to nowhere.

      I stamped on the ground, hard. It shuddered for a moment, slowly coming to a rest. (Several pets shot annoyed glances at me.) I stomped harder. And harder. And harder.

      The ground gave the biggest vibration yet. I tripped and fell into thin air, and then landed on the ground. Humiliated, I pulled myself back to my feet, and then threw myself at a wall. I was sure I was falling through thin air, but I thought I felt something hit me, just for a second. But now I was past the 'wall', and no further.

      I walked up to where I thought the wall had been, and stomped on the ground. It vibrated. Nothing.

      Angry, I stalked off, my face burning red under my fur. I brushed off the few drops of water remaining on my fur. The sense of moisture seemed so out of place here. Come to think of it, how had water gotten onto my fur anyway?

      As they hit the ground, it shivered slightly, and as the water pooled, it seemed to dissolve. I thought I could see something through it, but I wasn't quite sure.

      Before I could look really close at it, the floor disappeared, and I fell with it, landing on something very hard. A few drops of water landed on my head. Shaking them off weakly, I forced myself to get up.

      Everything seemed more real now. I was in a small stone room. Where I had entered was now a solid stone ceiling that I could not pass through. There was no furniture, but this place was still much more welcoming than the world of the dead had been. All the walls but one were made of stone. That one I first thought was a window, but then I realized that there was no frame, and after close examination realized that there was no glass either. It was exactly like the other walls, except that I could see a place from my world in it, a grey mountain almost hidden by heavy rain. I could just make out a large cage on a cliff. In the cage was a small grey figure.

      Someone walked up behind me. Startled by the movement, (I was sure I had been alone a moment ago) I spun around. In front of me was what could only be a faerie...

      "I'm sorry," I said quickly. "I didn't mean to bother you. If you could just tell me the way out-"

      "It's all right," said the faerie. She laughed, reluctantly. I had never heard a faerie laugh, and just so you know, it didn't sound like a bell chiming. It was a normal laugh, but it sounded halfhearted. "As for the way out, well, I've been looking for ages upon ages... and I still haven't found it."

      "Who are you?" I asked. All the faerie tales I had heard said that faeries never died.

      "I'm not sure who I am, really," she said. "The last time I checked, I was Baelia, but then that was ages upon ages ago... and I haven't really checked since then..."

      Baelia. The name stirred something in my mind. Something about faeries, I was sure... Of course! Baelia was the name of the grey faerie I'd heard of in legends. But I'd never thought she was real... Then again, I never thought any of the faerie tales were, after all. "But, if you're here, then who-"

      "In the cage?" asked Baelia. "I don't know. Maybe she's Baelia and I'm not, or maybe she's someone else. Or maybe we both are. I don't know. It's been a long time since I knew anything for sure." She looked at me apologetically. "It happened a long time ago. I only remember a dark faerie, Jennumara. She was angry. And she pushed me into something. Then... I wasn't in Neopia any more..." She pointed to the faerie in the cage.

      "I- I think I know where we are," I said. "I came from the world of the dead. I thought faeries never died, but..." I trailed off.

      Baelia's face became completely blank, as if she didn't know whether to smile, frown, or neither. "Yes, that explains it. I wasn't sure where I was... there were pets all around me, and all looking afraid of me... but then I fell through..." For the first time, I noticed that her hair was soaked through. "And all of them were gone..."

      Suddenly I realized what had happened. The water - it didn't belong here. And she had fallen into this prison, just like me.

      I stared for just a moment before looking down, embarrassed. And then... I decided to tell her my story. I skipped as much as I could, after all, I didn't want to bore her. She just looked at me, clearly thinking.

      "I know what happened to you, " she said suddenly. "I wasn't sure what was going on before, but now I understand. Jennumara couldn't stand the way I ignored her. I was well thought of, and my family had great influence. Well, one day she decided she'd had enough.

      "Jennumara couldn't do anything to me where anyone might be watching, or where she might be detected. She must have spent a long time figuring things out. For a while, I'd thought she'd just decided to have a better attitude on life. One of my stupidest assumptions ever. She was a dark faerie, and spiteful. And she didn't release grudges easily.

      "I was on a holiday in Neopia Central. Just me alone. Like I said, I had influence, but I wasn't the most popular person in Faerieland. So anyway, one day Jennumara showed up. Or one night, actually.

      "I was sleeping, when she came in and woke me up. I was still sleepy, and somehow, she managed to make me follow her outside at midnight, on an errand. Well, she took me straight to the Rainbow Pool, and stopped there. Before I could do anything, she pushed me in.

      "That was all I remembered, until now. But your story reminds me of a detail. Something I didn't notice. In her hand was a paint brush, just like they used on Neopets. It must not have seemed important to me at the time. But as she pushed me in, I saw her put the brush in her pocket.

      "Esci, that brush wasn't just a mistake. It wasn't made by accident. Jennumara made it to get rid of me. And now, she's lost track of it and let it fall into innocent hands, and you've been trapped by its magic too."

To be continued...

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Other Episodes

» Not a Ghost: Part One
» Not a Ghost: Part Three

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