Invisible Paint Brushes rock Circulation: 105,101,325 Issue: 206 | 2nd day of Gathering, Y7
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When the Ghosts Come Out: Part One

by lavendergoddess79


The dry, brown leaves on the path crunched under Princess's feet as she walked. She had to be getting close by now, but she didn't know for sure. The red Usul had a map, but little good it did her in the dark. It was always dark in the Haunted Woods, no matter what time of day it was. Princess tightly clutched her aunt's note as the howling wind blew her fur around. She had memorized the letter from reading it so many times. She went over it again, this time whispering out loud.

      "Dear Princess, as you are my sister's only pet, I am sorry that I have never gotten to meet you. But Nicole has told me so much about you that I feel like I know you already. I would like you to come and stay at my neohome in the Haunted Woods for the weekend. I am sure you will enjoy the company of my many pets.

     -Your aunt, Alicia"

     When Princess first got this note from the aunt she had never heard of, Nicole, her owner, had not wanted her to go. However, after Princess begged and begged her, she finally agreed. Nicole, always overprotective, had given Princess many rules to follow while visiting Aunt Alicia.

     "Now Princess, remember to never leave Alicia's house alone, especially at night. Be polite to your cousins, don't play any games at the deserted fairground, and most importantly, never take any gifts your aunt offers you." Princess could easily remember her owner saying this. Now, Princess could understand most of these rules, but the last one made no sense. Wasn't it polite to accept people's gifts?

     Then again, Nicole had always been a little strange. For example, sometimes she would be telling a story of something that happened before she adopted Princess a year ago, and she would mention a name Princess had never heard. When Princess asked her owner who this was, she would answer that it was a pet she used to have. The Usul would ask why she didn't still have it, and Nicole would get quiet and refuse to answer. Princess had often wondered if Nicole had put those pets in the pound, and would do the same to her. But her owner seemed too nice to do that, so Princess tried to forget about it. Princess had hoped, though, that Aunt Alicia, as Nicole's sister, might be able to explain her owner's strange behavior.

     But now that she was on her way to her aunt's neohome, Princess was beginning to wonder if she should turn back. She wasn't sure where she was, and was getting scared. It felt like there was someone watching her. Then Princess heard a voice behind her and jumped.

     "I oiled the machine this morning," the voice said, "It should be easy to beat."

     Princess let out a sigh of relief. It was only the Test Your Strength Mynci. If she was in the Deserted Fairground, she was far from where she had to be. She decided to ask him for directions.

     "Turn to your left and keep on going," he told her, "That's where they build the neohomes. So do you want to play or not?"

     "No," Princess said, remembering Nicole's instructions. "But thanks for the directions." She then started walking to the left. Her feet were sore by the time she reached the neohomes. Seventy, she repeated in her head, she was looking for number seventy. She had to get close to the neohomes to read the numbers on their walls. Fifty, fifty-one, fifty-two… she wasn't that far off. She just had to walk a little further. Sixty-seven, sixty-eight, sixty-nine, there it was- seventy.

     Princess took a deep breath as she approached the neohome that was much larger than she had expected. She walked up the creaking steps to the porch and pressed the button for the doorbell. A moment later the door opened wide. Standing at the door was a girl, slightly older than Nicole, who had dark hair and very fair skin. Behind her were five neopets- two fire Acaras, a Halloween Aisha, a faerie Kacheek, and a rainbow Ixi.

     "Come in," the girl said, smiling, "I am your Aunt Alicia. Welcome to my home."

     Princess stepped inside the neohome. "So are these all your pets?" she asked, pointing at the five pets behind Alicia.

     "Yes," Alicia said. Princess wondered how her aunt could have five pets. Weren't people only allowed four? But Princess decided not to ask about this. After all, she hardly knew her aunt. One thing she could tell was that Aunt Alicia was rich. She could afford this huge neohome and five painted pets. If only Nicole could have this many neopoints. Princess wanted a royal paint brush more than anything. It went so well with her name. But, as Nicole was always reminding her, that cost more neopoints than they could ever hope to have. Alicia's pets probably never had that problem.

     "Pets, introduce yourselves," Aunt Alicia instructed her pets. First, the fire Acaras stepped forward.

     "I'm Devil, and this is Angel," said one of them. "We're very pleased to meet you."

     "Are you twins?" Princess asked.

     "Yep," said Devil. "It's going to be sooo much fun having you here!"

     "Sure," Angel said, lacking her sister's enthusiasm. "But if you think I'm doing anything with a not painted pet like you, you're crazy. What if people think we know each other or something?" With that, Angel stepped back into the line. Devil offered Princess an apologetic look before following her sister.

     "I'm Red," the Halloween Aisha said. He didn't even bother coming towards her. Next, the faerie Kacheek flew forward.

      "My name's Daisy," she said. "I'll give you a tour of the neohome later."

      "That'd be great," Princess said. Daisy stepped back into the line. Then, the rainbow Ixi moved towards Princess.

      "My name's Cloud," she said quietly. "Welcome to our home."

      "Hi, everyone," Princess said, smiling at her cousins. "So Daisy, can you give me that tour, now?"

      The faerie Kacheek nodded. "First I'll take you upstairs," she said. Princess followed her up the wooden staircase and into a long hallway with doors on both sides.

      "This is where the bedrooms are," Daisy said, walking down the hallway. She opened the first door.

      "This is Angel's room," she said. Princess looked around it. A bed was in the center of it, and it was surrounded by nice furniture. The walls were covered in posters of Vira and the Pant Devil. Princess closed the door, following Daisy to the room across the hallway.

      "This is Devil's room," Daisy told her, opening the door. The room had light blue carpeting and the bed was covered with cute plushies. The walls had pink and green stripped wallpaper on them. Daisy moved on to the next room.

      "Here's Red's room," she said. This room was very plain. Everything was a shade of grey. "Nothing much to see in here," she said. "Let's move on."

      "My room is next," Daisy said, opening the door to the room across the hall. Most of the furniture in this room was painted a light blue to match the carpeting. On one of the dressers, there was a small collection of faerie school supplies.

      "Do you collect faerie stuff because you're painted faerie?" Princess asked Daisy, pointing at the collection.

      "Actually, I always have," Daisy said. She closed the door to her room and moved on to the next one.

      "This is Cloud's room," she said. This room was very bright and cheerful. It seemed to have every color in it. Daisy shut the door to this one and crossed the hall, where there was one more door.

      "And this," she said, opening the door, "is your room."

      Princess gasped when she saw the room. All the furniture was so nice and the room was so well decorated. The main colors in the room were violet-red and pale green- two of her favorite colors. Everything matched so well. It all must have been so expensive.

      "Wow," was all Princess could say. As she studied the room, she heard footsteps behind her. She turned around to see Cloud standing behind her, carrying the backpack she had brought.

      "Alicia told me to bring up your stuff," the rainbow Ixi told her. "You sure didn't bring much."

      "Well, I'm only staying for one weekend. I figured I wouldn't need much."

      Cloud shrugged, setting down the backpack. Then she went over to Daisy and whispered something to her.

      "Uh, Princess," Daisy said, "There's something we should probably tell you."

      "Alright, what?" Princess asked.

      "Why don't we go in the room and talk there because-" Cloud saw Alicia coming towards them and stopped in the middle of her sentence.

      "I think we'd better let our guest go see some of the sights in the Haunted Woods," Alicia said.

      "Great," Princess said. "Can Cloud and Daisy show me around?"

      Aunt Alicia smiled.

      "You know these two so well already," she said, "Why don't my other pets take you instead? But you'll have to hurry up and get back before night. You definitely don't want to be out in the Haunted Woods at night- that's when the ghosts come out…"

To be continued...

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