Shad and Saura: The Old Neolodge: Part Three
“Dude, the fire was burning when we left,” Shad stated.
Saura looked like someone had put the lights on in his brain. “Let’s go!” He
dashed out again and the Lupe followed him. A small part of him was thankful
that he had finished his meal before going because a relatively bigger part
told him that they would leave this lodge that same night, storm or not.
The sitting room was indeed dark. The windows were still sealed, pieces of
the vase had been shattered all over the floor and only the maid slept on the
couch, curled up under the blanket. Ash wasn’t there and both Neopets just knew
that he wouldn’t be coming back any more.
“Maybe we can still get him,” Shad hesitated.
“Maybe we can still get out if we make it fast,” the Zafara hissed, shaking
the maid. “Come on, get up!” The Acara opened her eyes and was awake at once,
terrified and nervous. The last few days hadn’t been good for her.
“We’re leaving.” Saura looked around. “Now. Get your blankets,” he grabbed
his own blanket too, “I believe Taelia will happily let us stay at her place
until morning. It won’t be an easy trip but I’d much rather be out there than
spend five more minutes in this house.”
“But… but…” the poor Acara stammered as they hurried to the hallway and pushed
the door open. Saura hissed: “Move it!” and plunged into the dark storm. Cold
wind whipped against their faces and they couldn’t see much but they waded on,
led by Saura’s fierce energy and some dark fear the house was now causing in
all of them. Shad pulled his blanket over his ears and tried to see the road.
It was no use but they more or less knew where they had come from.
“But the Snowbeast!” the maid finally managed to yell out, desperately trying
to keep up with the Zafara.
“There were no Snowbeasts, or even if there were, none of them attacked the
house,” Saura hissed. “I’m pretty sure that they’re afraid to approach that
lodge.” Speaking was hard because of the storm and so they shut up for the rest
of the journey. Shad paid no attention to his freezing nose and paws but just
went on, hidden under his warm thick blanket and forgotten in his thoughts.
Saura had obviously realized something. The threat had been inside, somewhere
among them, between those dark old walls… that dusty attic, all those mysterious
disappearances, the plate, the vase, the old rusty poker, the open windows,
the barrel… suddenly the answer hit him, unlikely and unbelievable but the only
possible solution there could be.
“Saura!” he yelled over the roaring of the wind. “The house!”
“Yes,” Saura shouted back without turning his head, “the house! The farther
we get from that house, the better for us!”
They strode on for hours – no, days, or maybe weeks. The storm and the night
seemed to last forever. It wasn’t that cold but it was hard and the Acara maid
was about to fall for many times. Shad and Saura used all their senses to find
any sign of someone living there. But it was all dark, so very dark. They didn’t
talk, they didn’t even think but concentrated all their will on getting to good
old Terror Mountain. And finally Shad saw it, only because morning was coming
and it was a little lighter.
“The Toy Repair Shop!” he shouted over the wind. “We’re almost there!”
Taelia’s little house loomed there in front of them like the tower of all hope
and Taelia herself, though forced to wake up because of the three, was very
kind and understanding. She gave them some hot borovan and then asked what had
happened. The pets told her the story and then glanced at Saura who seemed to
have gotten the nearest to the solution of that mystery.
“I haven’t heard of such a lodge,” the Snow Faerie said, leaning back in her
armchair. “Sounds like an evil place. Tell me what you came up with then, Zafara.”
“It was the house,” Saura repeated Shad’s earlier point. “I saw the pattern
when Ash stumbled into the vase in the dark. Meronius broke the plate, Sweetie
broke the painting’s glass, Mara broke the poker and Ash broke that vase. They
all destroyed something that belonged to that house. And it didn’t tolerate
that. The house was so old that it had developed its own mind, I believe, especially
seeing Neopia’s magical past.”
“So the house took them?” Shad asked. “I thought of something like that. It
wanted to punish them for hurting it. Good thing we didn’t stay, I’m still surprised
that I didn’t break anything during those days there…” Saura chuckled, knowing
his brother’s ability of causing chaos everywhere he went. “And that also explains
why I didn’t smell anything but the house, because, well, by the time we got
there, the guys already were the house.”
“Yeah, the barrel was most likely one of the three,” Saura agreed a bit sadly.
“And something tells me that the plate Meronius broke tried to warn us, to scare
us out of the house so that nothing would happen to us. We should’ve done that
too, then the escape would’ve been a bit lighter… Well, I don’t think we should
worry about them too much. Items are just another way of existing. And you have
to admit that it was their fault.”
Shad glared at his brother; philosophy wasn’t really his thing. “And the mirror?
Also some… former guest?”
“Could be, but who knows? The house had to be built sometime… and lived in.
The dust shows nothing, of course, the barrel was also dusty. As the lodge was
old, the items had to look old as well, I don’t think the house had a problem
with that.” Saura stood up. “Thanks for the borovan, Taelia. Could you find
us some warm and dry spot where we could spend the rest of the night?”
Taelia didn’t seem satisfied just yet. “Some things are still a bit confusing.
Why did the house put the fire out? How come it became a Neolodge after such
a long time? And more importantly, why were the windows open?”
“Why don’t you go back and ask it, maybe it’d love to explain,” Shad grumbled
as his brother sat down again.
“Yeah, there’s no telling. Maybe it didn’t like fire. After all, it’s empty
most of the time. Maybe it disliked the fire burning when there was nobody watching
it. We all know that fire shouldn’t remain unwatched, it’s dangerous and it
was still a wooden house. As for the Neolodge part… I have no idea, really.
Perhaps some adventurer found it empty and decided to make a nice little profit.”
“The windows were probably just to distract us,” Shad added – he had thought
of that during their long journey. “The house wasn’t really evil… it only wanted
revenge on those who hurt it but it didn’t want us to panic because of some
inside evilness so it made the whole thing look like it had been something from
Saura nodded in agreement. “My thought exactly. Of course, we’re all just speculating
here… but I believe we got most of that old lodge mystery covered.” He yawned.
“And now I’m sleepy.”
Taelia gave them three little beds and made them a nice warm breakfast when
they finally woke up, fresh and pretty optimistic about the whole adventure.
When the three pets left the hospitable cabin after thanking Taelia, they would
almost have thought that it had been just a dream if there hadn’t been for those
three blankets they had brought along while escaping. Taelia had promised to
examine them to see if there was any magic in them and if so, to see if it was
possible to turn them back into Neopets. “If it is magic then it’s very old
and powerful but I’ll see what I can do and I’ll make sure to notify Fyora about
that house,” she promised when she waved goodbye to her guests.
“Now what?” Shad asked his brother when they went down the snowy path. “Shall
we try with another Neolodge?”
“I’d much rather sleep in our half-demolished Neohome,” the Zafara grunted.
“The evilest thing you could find there is our owner and the worst she can turn
you into is a Neopet with more bumps on the head than usually… I think we’ll
just go to her gallery down at Neopia Central. It may be crowded and filled
with ancient spellbooks but at least they won’t suck you in.”
“Actually…” Shad began while his brother turned to the Acara. “And you? Are
you going to be okay after that adventure?”
The former maid had been pretty quiet ever since they left the lodge but now
she smiled, though weakly. “Yes, I believe I’ll be fine. My aunt lives in Happy
Valley, I’ll go see her and then maybe get a job at King Roo’s castle. It should
be fun.” Suddenly she looked a lot happier. “Thank you for your help, guys.”
“Yeah, no biggie,” Shad grinned widely and Saura nodded as well: “Take care.”
The Lupe and the Zafara turned down the path that led to Neopia Central and
gazed at Neopia’s panorama in front of them. There were so many mysteries out
there, many of them would be unsolved forever – but that’s what Neopia’s magic
is all about, or what?
“I think we’ll still pick Ye Olde Ship Inn the next time,” Shad remarked.
“Dunno, with all those stories about those ghosts of some pirates showing up
there once in a while…” Saura grinned.
“Heh, ghosts are nice and solid, at least there you know what you’re dealing
with,” the Lupe grinned back and trotted down the path. “Move it already!”