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Troubled Past - Nox: Part Six


by karen_mckenzie

--------

I did not pay any attention to matters not concerning me, and thus with an air of blinding ignorance I managed to miss the huge, shattering event of the Faeries being turned to stone. It did affect my magic levels slightly – the Faeries represent a balance of power, so all mages found themselves fluctuating, sometimes becoming ten times stronger than their usual, sometimes unable to cast the simplest of spells. Somehow, somehow, I remained unconcerned.

     One day, not long after this had started, I was indoors, sitting searching for Magax's location via crystal ball.

     I did not yet know of the party of inquisitive do-gooders currently trailing towards my home, just as much as I did not know that this would be my final day alive. Nor did I know that the upcoming events had all been carefully planned out, weeks and weeks before.

     I stared into the all-telling sphere, oblivious. Not here, not here...

     A slight noise alerted me to the Ixi's presence. He seemed completely at ease, hands in pockets, smiling. From his clothes I could see he was a thief, from his aura, clear he was no mage. I glared at him, irritated by his intrusion and angry that he had been able to sneak in so easily.

     "How dare you trespass here! Be gone before I blast you so hard that Grundos will be finding pieces of you on Kreludor!"

     My harsh tone and violent word didn't faze him in the slightest.

     He replied easily, "No need to be cranky, Nox, old chum. I just dropped in to see how that artefact was working out for you."

     Artefact? Old chum? I'd certainly never laid eyes on this fool before, much less acquired an 'artefact' from him.

     "What in Neopia are you talking about?"

     Our conversation was cut short by one of my alarms springing into life –

     AAARRRRUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU!!!!!!!

     I cursed myself for setting them so loud. Then, curious to know what had set it off, I glanced back to my crystal ball.

     "What have we here...?"

     The surface showed a group of Neopians gathered right at my front gate. Two dim looking guards and their Kougra captain, a speckled and spectacled Xweetok lady, an aged blind Ogrin and...

     "Nox has been alerted to our presence! Storm the gates!"

     The tall Lupe, King, if I remembered correctly, of some place or another, was not the problem. Ooooh no. The Kyrii behind him, desert dressed and scowling, was.

     Without him, I could have probably taken them down. But factor in an ancient, once undead massively skilled Dark/Fire mage – same as myself, but with several centuries more experience, and I stood no chance. I made an effort not to let the Ixi know this.

     "I see you've brought friends."

     I turned, removed a specific book from a specific shelf, and watched a yawning passageway open up – one of many that riddled the Fortress. I swivelled back to address the intruder once more. "If you steal anything else, I'll know about it. So take care what you lay your sticky hands on, Thief."

     I tossed the ball at his head, missing but only just. For some reason, I kept up the monologue.

     "Well, my boy, I must be off. The Chia who fights and runs away, and all that, don't you know. Don't even think about following me."

     I gave a last exiting cackle, and disappeared down into the darkness, letting the shelf slide shut behind me. Just before it sealed I heard a new voice, female, shouting something about stopping me. Unlikely.

     I navigated my way along the tunnel, lighting my path with a globe of fire, and exited through the last hidden gate. I stood for a moment to inhale the thick, cold air of the Woods and let it out in a burst of triumphant evil laughter.

     "Mwahahaha!!!"

     I felt a little more monologuing coming on.

     "Once again I have made a cunning escape! Those fools, did they really think they could outwit me? In my own castle, no less!"

     It was funny. I laughed a bit more as I scurried away, before running headlong into someone... Else.

     "Oof!"

     I hit the ground, the wind knocked out of me. My eyes widened as I saw who – or what it was.

     "What?!?"

     I raised a hand in attempt to shield myself. It matched my gesture, in a way that was clearly not defensive.

     "Noooo!!"

     I gave a last cry, almost a plea, before the white heat of the spell hit me and I died.

     **

     Later, much later, I would discover that it had been Magax who had come looking for me, concerned that my absence meant I was up to evil things, and Magax who had found my body, unmoved from where I had fallen. It was he who chose the spot atop a hill where I would be buried, and he who dug the grave. On the headstone he carved a simple image of my face, stating clearly who was buried here but nothing else. It was Magax who, eventually, confirmed to the Neopian public that I was gone.

     When I, even later than that, found the identity of my killer, I did not understand. The Xweetok, her motives to remove the Faeries from power. I was no great fan of them myself; I had died simply so I could act as a decoy.

     I don't think that hurt me as much as it hurt Magax.

     However, however. Back to where I was, which was under the earth.

     When I awoke, I did not know where I was, what I was, why I was. I could not move. I could not breathe.

     I had no sense of self, or physical form. Did this mean I was dead? I did not know. If I was dead, where was I? Was this the afterlife? Was I buried, the silence and the darkness my tomb?

     No. If the darkness had been merely a lack of light, I would have been able to close my eyes. If the silence were merely a lack of sound, I would have been able to strain my ears.

     But I could do neither of these things, as I had none.

     I did not know this either. For a while I existed purely as thought, unaware. And then, in one moment of will, I opened my eyes.

     It hurt. The sudden light, my light, my bright blue-white glow of phosphorescence, reflecting off the flat lid of my coffin and back at me. I could see nothing else. I was unable to move my eyes yet, other than to blink. I closed them again.

     I was a ghost.

     I thought about that, tried to take it in. I wept, silently and without moving, for all I'd lost. Not in dying but in living, because once you are dead your memory clears up and you know everything you ever forgot.

     I had had so much potential. I remembered the ghosts I had naively promised to help, the mortals I had tried to show then teach then lead, and I remembered the peace and harmony I had once hoped for, in the co-existence of mortals and ghosts. I never found out why they were so hated. And by they, now, I supposed I meant we.

     Perhaps it was simply because ghosts are different. For some people, that would be reason enough.

      I was going to give the signal, I cried. There was just never the time. I shouldn't have let Magax get to me so. The ghosts should always have been my first priority. I failed them.

     I wondered if they would ever forgive me. Perhaps they would simply take me as one of their own, as I was, just another lost soul.

     I surprised myself by regaining the use of my mouth and letting out a quiet sigh, although whether it was of regret or resignation or relief I am still not sure.

     This simple act lent me determination. I would move , I decided, I would rise up, even if I could do nothing more than dog Magax.

     This was harder than it sounded. I tried to get up, strained to move, but reality was having none of it.

     So I went back to thinking, now on more practical subjects. Eventually it became clear to me that to move anything, I had to be aware of it.

     I attempted to visualize what I had been. Chia; legs, arms, moustache...

     I fought to raise my arm. My entire being, semi-existent as it was, protested. But...

     With a tremendous amount of effort, I moved. Only slightly. But as soon as I did, my supernatural form realized where everything was supposed to be, see, legs were attached to feet inside shoes, a cape adorned my back.

     My fangs reappeared too – I guess I'd gotten used to them in life.

     There was something missing though... It took me a moment to place it. Ah. Magic. I was drained of it, empty. Of course.

     I let myself float upwards. The ground offered no resistance which was slightly disconcerting, as was the lack of any physical sensations whatsoever. My head broke the surface of the ground, although I could only tell this through sight. There was no cool of air on my skin, nor scents on the breeze.

     It was the first view I got of my burial place. An open, wooded area, it could almost be described as beautiful. Certainly it was calm, remote, serene.

     The trees were leafless, their grumpy faces screwed up in what I guessed was cold. One of them appeared to be wearing a long, ivy scarf.

     It all seemed so normal.

     It had been what, the month of Storing when I had died? So it was perhaps the month of Celebrating now, darkest winter.

     I wondered what in particular I should celebrate.

     Glancing down, my eyes came across a small, plain bow lying forlornly below my transparent feet.

     What? But who...

     I leaned down, curious, and squinted at the small tag attached.

      Magax.

     That was all. I gave it a dubious look. Could it be a trap? Some form of revenge?

     No, I decided, he had no way of knowing that I would be a ghost.

     So what, then? Why? And more importantly, how do I open it?

     I spent some time attempting to convince my hands to 'physicalify' as I called it – to become solid, react with the mortal world. Again, it turned out I needed to think about it differently – I discovered that the mortal plane was actually a slightly different shade of reality, and if I moved into it, I became physical. It took several tries to hold this for more than a moment, but I got there.

     I lifted it, and hesitated. Did I really want to know what was inside?

     Of course I did. I carefully unwrapped it, and let the object inside fall to the ground.

     I stared in surprise.

      It was a thin splinter of his Darklight axe, glowing softly. I had no idea how he'd managed to separate it from the rest of the weapon, but here it was, left at my grave.

     I (after more attempts) picked it up, being careful not to touch the edge – I'd seen what it could do to ghosts – and managed to manoeuvre it into my pocket. I considered this carefully, and then smiled.

     I began to laugh. The noise echoed unnaturally around the shrove, loud and harsh as a ghost voice was.

     I laughed because here, now, I felt more alive than I ever had before.

The End

Note - I tried to have this finished before last October 5th, and as you can see, failed miserably. I'm pretty certain it shouldn't take a year to finish a story, but... Ho hum. I hope you like it :3

Comments / critique are very welcomed if possible.

 
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Other Episodes


» Troubled Past - Nox: Part One
» Troubled Past - Nox: Part Two
» Troubled Past - Nox: Part Three
» Troubled Past - Nox: Part Four
» Troubled Past - Nox: Part Five



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