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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 22nd day of Eating, Yr 23
The Neopian Times Week 143 > Short Stories > Eliv Thade Masquerade

Eliv Thade Masquerade

by maipom

On a dark and stormy night in the Haunted Woods (which is pretty much like every night in the Haunted Woods), a small group of Neopets is seen crawling ever closer to a large, dilapidated mansion at the top of a hill overlaid with weeds. The weeds sparkle with a mysterious light from an unknown source; the scraggly shrubs cluster together bravely, trying desperately to resist the fury of the wind. The Neopets each pass by the undergrowth without taking much notice of their desperate battle to stay rooted; they don't take much notice of anything for that matter, except for what is directly in front of them. Nobody has time to pay attention to what's in the woods, trying to move forward while staying balanced is the main concern.

     At long last, the Neopets reach the top of the hill where the fearsome castle stands in front of them in its full glory. All of the Neopets stop to look at the nightmarish landscape with terror, all but one. This audacious Neopet continues forward at a steady pace without even noticing the others. The rest of the group hurries to catch up, and because of this sudden rush, almost all of them slip and fall on the wet grass. The Neopets quickly collect themselves and, when they do, begin running again. The moment the group manages to catch up to the fearless Usul, she turns around so suddenly, the others almost collide into her. Yet, she seems completely calm, not even blinking an eye even though a large Elephante almost crashes into her like a bowling ball. As a matter of fact, it seems the Elephante DOES actually hit her; it seems like he almost goes THROUGH her -- for a moment... but apparently it was just a hallucination. The large Elephante backs up awkwardly, pushing the other Neopets away as he apologizes to the Usul for sort of, almost hitting her. The Usul gently raises one of her paws and motions for the crowd to quiet down and come closer, completely ignoring the Elephante. The crowd huddles around the blue-eyed Usul's gaslight, trying to absorb as much warmth from the tiny illuminating flame as possible.

     "This..." Gilly the Usul pauses dramatically, "is the formerly haunted Castle of Eliv Thade."

     A small chubby Bruce with a pink umbrella raises his camera to his eyes and begins taking photos of the iridescent castle. Suddenly, a powerful gust of wind erupts from the forest below and rips the umbrella out of the Bruce's grasp. The sound of metal twisting is loudly audible as the umbrella is carried over the mansion by the wind and out of sight. The Bruce looks at the castle's towers in disbelief.

     "Do not worry about your umbrella. I highly doubt it will ever be found again. Lost objects are usually picked up by the Pant Devil or Swamp Ghoul," Gilly says matter-of-factly.

     All the tourists gulp and look around nervously. A green Shoyru raises his hand like an obedient schoolchild. Gilly looks at the Shoyru and nods, urging him to speak.

     "The castle... isn't haunted now, right? It's safe, isn't it... could we go inside?" the Shoyru asks timidly.

     Gilly shakes her head. "The castle is very dangerous and should never be entered by anyone. It's not because of the spectre of Eliv Thade; his tormented soul has been laid to rest, it is because of the condition of the castle. It is liable to collapse at any time. The floorboards are very weak as well, if you stand on them, you could risk falling into the basement and never being heard from again."

     Gilly then picks up a golfball-sized stone by her feet and tosses it over her head onto the roof of the castle. Everyone is completely silent as they listen to the stone actually falling through a weak part of the roof, into the house, and possibly breaking a few things that sound like glass objects. Gilly, satisfied, raises her head, awaiting the next question.

     A tall Lenny in a grey parka now speaks up, "You... you are the one who laid Eliv Thade's spirit to rest?!"

     Gilly nods. "Yes. I shall describe what happened that night and everything else I know about the history of the castle and Eliv Thade. It is why we are here after all. Just keep close."

     These words created a peaceful repose amongst the tourists as they waited for Gilly to speak, and, after a slight pause, Gilly began to narrate the story in a very deep tone; a tone, some of the Neopets would later describe to be otherworldly...

     "Everything ended on a windy, freezing night, much like tonight about 200 years ago. The castle back then looked almost identical to the one you see looming before you today but the magic of Eliv Thade kept the castle from completely falling apart.

     "There was a solitary light coming from the den that fateful evening. The flames in the fireplace were dancing merrily, casting sharp blinking shadows on the walls and ornate furniture. A cloaked figure was hunched over a desk in the far corner of the room, slightly rocking back and forth in his seat. With a feather quill in hand, the ghastly form was angrily scribbling nonsensical words and phrases on a pile of papers. The desk was covered with filth and dust; pencil shavings and pages torn out of encyclopedias were strewn across the floor. The figure lifted its head and sighed. Its first sign of life.

     "How can I allow being so downtrodden by my own self...?" The possibly-alive creature said out loud.

     "It turned around and stood up, facing the flames of the fire on the opposite side of the room as if expecting an answer to its question. The light of the fire brought life to the creature's face, although it still seemed frightening and inhuman. The face was distinctly that of a Kacheek, a Kacheek by the name of Eliv Thade. THE Kacheek who had supposedly been driven mad by a puzzle a simple-minded servant of his had given to him. THE simple-minded servant, who had stumped the greatest mind of all Neopia, one so brilliant that not even the feared Brain Tree could comprehend?! Yes, it was a terrible situation, but one that could have been easily avoided if not for the deadly PRIDE that had infested my... I mean, Eliv Thade's mind.

     "Eliv Thade shook his head furiously as if trying to ward off an evil spell. He slowly crept out of the den not bothering to put the fire out. The delusional Kacheek kept talking to himself as he walked up the creaky staircase to his bedroom chamber. As Eliv Thade laid his head to rest that night, he imagined seeing the disgruntled face of his former servant once he had figured out the answer to that good-for-nothing puzzle. That useless lousy puzzle!!!

     "However... he never did solve the puzzle--he passed away that very night in his own lotus land. But because of Eliv Thade's undying desire to KNOW, his spirit remained, an angry and vengeful apparition bent on terrifying and trapping wandering travelers. For over a hundred years the squalid mansion remained a deadly trap for anyone who dared to enter....

     "Until... I found MYSELF lost inside the mansion of doom exactly four years ago to this day. I was coming from the Spooky Marketplace and while I was on my way home, I had foolishly forgotten my way. At first I wasn't bothered by being on a different path; I figured the path I usually took was parallel to the one I was on. I kept walking.... and walking.... until hours later, I was STILL in the woods. I was naturally beginning to panic and in my disoriented state I started running blindly down the shadowy trail. After another long stretch of time, I came to a small clearing at the base of a large hill. Atop the hill I saw the pointed spires of a large castle. I could almost SEE the aura of evil around the mansion, even though the mansion was shrouded in mist and surrounded by the swarthy branches of trees. A demonic air seemed to float towards me from the top of the hill, beckoning me forward in hushed whispers. I began to shiver uncontrollably; a terror like no other crawled up my spine and into my head, ringing a bell in my mind.

      I knew I had to get away from that castle as fast as possible, but when I tried to move my feet, I found that they were cemented to the ground. With my eyes closed and my fists clenched, I managed to turn around and run. But suddenly, a bolt of lightning had stricken a gnarled and scraggly tree nearby, lighting it and a few shrubs and dry pieces of debris on fire. The deafening thunder seemed to anger the clouds, for they opened up and began to pour down rain at an alarming rate, drowning everything in a matter of moments. I then changed my mind for a reason that I never did understand and climbed the hill towards the castle. It seemed that the lightning had scared away my original fear of the castle and replaced it with the fear of getting soaked and lost in the forest at night. I stopped in front of the gigantic iron door and surveyed the property more closely. I figured going inside the house and standing right by the front door, which I would leave open of course, would do no harm. But the longer I stood before the door, the more frightened I became.

     The evil aura I felt before was now stronger than ever. Every fur on my body was standing on end due to a combination of incredible fear and cold. Yet, somehow I managed to gather enough mental strength to touch the iron door and push it slowly. The door didn't budge. I then put both my paws on the door and slowly, ever so slowly, pushed as hard as my shaking body would allow me to. With a chilling CREEEEEAAAAKKK, like the sound of a thousand knuckles cracking simultaneously, the door opened, revealing black nothingness. A warm foul stench invaded my nostrils as I stepped into the completely silent darkness. And then..." Gilly looks at the frightened expressions of the tourists, "Then..."

     And exactly when Gilly opens her mouth to continue, a black cloud with glowing red eyes blasts out through the front door of the castle with the force of a cannonball being fired. The old and rusted door is torn off of its hinges and crashes down onto the slippery grass right next to one of the wide-eyed tourists. The cloud hisses and screeches in a way that nothing living could ever replicate. It grows and spreads over the tourists, its screams becoming louder and more violent. The cloud then slams down onto the ground, swirling around and twisting, still becoming larger in size. The tourists stand silently in their spots for a moment, with an extreme pallor in their faces, not sure what to do. Then, they all spring into life suddenly, like robots being turned on, and do the only logical thing they can -- RUN.

     "AAAAAAAAAAAHHH!!!!!!!!" The tourists whose vocal cords aren't yet paralyzed scream. The bewildered Neopets bump into each other like a box of malfunctioning Clockwork Grundos while trying to turn around. Eventually they manage to face the right direction and run back down the hill faster than they ever would run down a hill while playing Cheeseroller. The green Shoyru's shoes are even left behind.

     After all the commotion is settled, the mysterious black cloud quiets down, shrinks in size, and hovers harmlessly in Gilly's paw. Then, with a sound of sizzling bacon, the cloud fizzes out in a small puff of smoke. Gilly looks at the sky for a while with a slight smile on her face. She then begins to laugh as she turns to face the castle, which is now glowing in an eerie light. The front door is magically back in its place; in fact, the whole castle seems entirely renewed. The windows are no longer smeared with ages of dust; the roof's shingles are neatly and sturdily laid down, and the green moldy color of the castle has changed back to the slick black and grey of new stone.

     Gilly's image then becomes blurry as the colors of her auburn fur and crimson clothing mix together, much like the way different colors of paint would swirl into one another. In a matter of moments, a very different creature is standing where Gilly once was... It is none other than the spectre of Eliv Thade!

     "Hey, that whole story about some Usul beating me sure brings in a lot of income! I've even got my own merchandise, Hidden Tower novelties, and game!" the zombie-like Eliv Thade laughs to himself as he turns around to face his home. "Pah... anyone with one grain of sense would realize my anagrams are impossible to solve, but it's only fair to keep up with the myth... and perhaps to scare the occasional group of tourists... Well, anyway, I better light the fireplace. It's cold tonight." Eliv Thade laughs maniacally as he floats through the front door and towards the den.

Eth Ned.

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