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The Enchanted Isle

by toffee_choc


"It's amazing what images such a title evokes - misty lakes, green forests, rolling hills. You'd be surprised, perhaps, to know the location of the isle of which I speak. No-"

     The Acara jumped suddenly, dropping her quill. Glancing around, she let her sharp eyes and ears work overtime. She decided it was just the wind. Sighing, she reached for the quill and dipped it in some fresh ink.

     "-no," she repeated to herself, scanning what she'd written. "No, it isn't the fabled Lutari Island, or even the mysterious Mystery Island - nor the pirate-infested Krawk Island. The isle of which I speak is none other than-"

     She paused again. This time she had definitely heard something. Blowing on the ink to dry it, she hid the book under a pile of others, and had just moved away from the desk when the door burst open.

     In walked a young Kougra, and beside him trotted a nervous Ruki. The Kougra paused and looked around suspiciously. The Ruki glanced over his shoulder and scuttled closer.

     "Um…" he whispered, "Guy, I really don't think-"

     "Don't be wet, Sticks," growled the Kougra. "There's nothing to be afraid of here."

     He kicked a pile of books derisively and watched in satisfaction as the loose leaves tumbled onto the floor. In her corner the Acara sighed - more mess to clean up later. The Ruki seemed to hear her, for his antennae twitched, and he looked more nervous than ever.

     "Guy…" he began again uncertainly.

     The Kougra made a warning noise in his throat and turned to go.

     "There's nothing her but old books," he snarled. "Let's go!"

     After they had gone, the Acara slid back into her seat. She reached for her quill, opened the book and continued writing.

     Outside, the Kougra and Ruki watched in amazement as an old, tattered book's pages turned, apparently by themselves, and a quill coated itself in the thick, black ink before scratching slowly across the page.

     "I told you I heard something," hissed the Ruki to his friend, who was watching, transfixed, as the quill made its way steadily over the tattered sheets.

     The Kougra shook himself and glared at him. "And I told you it was haunted," he replied sharply. "What more proof do you need?"

     The Ruki shrugged, watching the quill thoughtfully. "But surely," he countered, "you can normally see ghosts. I can't see anything." He paused for emphasis. "Maybe it's just an invisible pet."

     "An invisible pet!" cried Guy, scornfully.

     The quill stopped abruptly, poised over the inkpot. The Kougra hastily slid away from the window. He turned back to the Ruki, with a strange look in his eyes.

     "Okay, Sticks, I'll make a bet with you," he said, suddenly friendly.

     "Oh?" asked the Ruki, suspiciously.

     "Yeah!" said the Kougra. "I dare you to go and find out what that is. I bet you…I bet you my petpet's Mootix that you won't have the guts to go in there and get that book!"

     Sticks hesitated, looking through the window at the desk, where the quill was now lying quietly.

     "And if I lose?" he asked carefully.

     The Kougra grinned his widest. "Then I get Meggie."

     Sticks' eyes widened. Meggie, his Mazzew, who he'd worked so hard to get, who'd waited so patiently for her Halloween paint brush. He couldn't risk her… could he?

     Guy was watching him in amusement.

     "Of course, if you don't feel up to the challenge…" he added, significantly.

     Sticks groaned. He couldn't avoid it now.

     "Don't be ridiculous," he said, "you know I am. I'll go tonight."

     As the two pets moved off, neither noticed the net curtain fall softly back into place, or the quill begin to write once more, this time with more energy.

     That evening, Sticks was unusually quiet. Even Meggie seemed to notice, and brushed against her owner several times, as if to rouse him. However, she only succeeded in knocking her hat askew.

     At 9pm, Sticks made his way up to his lofty attic room. Meggie followed him, prepared to go to bed early and hope that he was in a better mood the next day.

     Imagine the Mazzew's dismay when, instead of going to bed, the Ruki fetched a backpack out of his closet, and began to pack a torch, a bottle of water and a warm scarf.

     "Mraw?" she asked enquiringly.

     Sticks stopped and smiled at his pet. "Don't worry, Meggie, I'll be back soon."

     He wrapped the scarf round his neck, and turned to say goodbye to the Mazzew; however, she seemed to have wandered off in disgust. Sticks shrugged and shouldered his pack, taking a last look at his warm room before making his way out into the night.

     Back at the old house, the Ruki reached behind him for his torch. Instead, he grasped a small pointy hat, and a large quantity of fur and green hair.

     "Meggie!" he exclaimed crossly, "what are you doing here?"

     "Mraw!" mewed the cat lovingly, and clawed her way to her favourite spot on his back. Sticks sighed and rummaged for his torch.

     Once inside he quickly made his way to the library. The book was lying open at the last page, and all the preceding ones were covered in fine, flowing script. His antennae twitched, but he was pretty sure no-one was there. Meggie scrambled down from his back.

     "Meggie!" he hissed, finger to lips. "Shhh!"

     "Sssss," she hissed back merrily, paw on nose.

     Sticks rolled his eyes and turned back to the book. He was about to put it in his pack when the title on the last page caught his eye.

     "The Enchanted Isle," he mused.

     In spite of himself, he sat down on the chair and began to read.

     "The island of which I speak is none other than…"

     "Roo Island?" he muttered to himself, "how is that enchanted?"

     Suddenly he no longer felt as if he was alone in the room. A chill ran down his spine, and he quickly scooped up his Mazzew, making as if to leave.

     But as he got to the doorway, he found that the room he was looking towards was in fact the room that he had just left.

     "What the…" he murmured, walking boldly through the door anyway. Confused, he stared at the book in front of him, that he had just turned his back on.

     "What the…" he repeated, dropping into the chair once more, while Meggie started scampering around the room again.

     "Perhaps if I read it to the end it'll let me go," Sticks said to himself, and began to read.

     "There on that island," continued the story, "I lost myself. It was not in the literal sense - oh no, far worse than that. I made the decision to visit the Island much later than usual, just after midnight. It was deserted; King Roo was sleeping, and even the Merry-go-round was sluggish and uninteresting; I was just thinking about making my way home, when suddenly I spied a door I hadn't seen before.

     "I felt drawn to it, in a way I can't really explain… it was as if some force was pulling me down the dark, musty stairs and into the small chamber, cobweb and dust covered as it was. You may have already guessed it. In front of me stood a Blumaroo, tan in colour, but with demonic red eyes.

     "'Welcome,' he hissed, 'welcome to my humble home.' He surveyed me briefly before continuing.

     "'I hope you haven't come expecting the usual level up, level down game. I find it so... monotonous. I thought we could have a more interesting bet. What do you say?'

     "Despite myself, I nodded and waited expectantly - with a touch of excitement - for him to propose this new and fascinating game.

     "The Count leered. 'Excellent. Well, here are the rules; if you win, you get a free spin on the Merry-go-round - if I win, I get your colour.' He paused. 'Here, you can roll first.'

     "I stared at the Count's extended hand for what felt like the longest time. Of course, I was very proud of my shining silver coat, but that night a free ride on the Merry-go-round sounded like the best treat in the world. I took the dice from him, and rolled. Then all my breath left my body. A one. The Count smirked as he revealed his roll - a five.

     "'Bad roll,' he sneered. 'Silver always was the favourite colour. And now the night sky over the Island can be decorated much better than with measly stars.'

     "I watched in horror as my silver shading was cast over the Island. The sky turned a soft shade of silver; the castle and Merry-go-round shimmered with unnatural light; and the sea lapping the silver shores glistened under the brightness of the sky above. Looking down, I realised that the Count had done what he had promised, to the letter - I was entirely devoid of colour, of anything. Where was I? Where am I? I still don't know."

     Sticks sighed softly as he finished the story. It was so vivid - but also frightening. What was the magic connected with it? He didn't want to know.

     Snatching both Meggie and the book, he shut his eyes tightly and fled the house. This time, he felt the breeze on his face and knew that he had made it. He laughed in relief.

     "Come on, Meggie," he said to her, "let's go and show Guy this book!"

     Inside the house, the invisible Acara chuckled softly to herself as she watched him go, before turning to her equally invisible Miamouse.

     "Kids'll believe anything these days."

The End

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