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A Royal Halloween


by dark_goddess_rising

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Halloween night. The ghoulies, ghosties, and Werelupes of Neopia were out in force. Of course, most of them weren't really ghoulies, ghosties, or Werelupes. Most of them were ordinary Neopians out hunting for those elusive Trick or Treat bags hidden in the darkest corners of the Neopian globe. One Neopet, however, refused to leave her home and join the celebrations.

     Crealiana, the young Aisha princess, refused to leave her stone fortress of a Neohome in the Haunted Woods. "It's too scary out there," she insisted. Her mutant Skeith bodyguard tried to assure her that there was nothing out there to hurt her, just some Neopians having a good time. She refused to listen.

     The guardsman was getting frustrated. Crealiana's owner was out with her Koi and some of his friends, no doubt stirring up mischief of some sort. Before she left, Demon asked Envysine to make sure her little girl had some fun.

     Crealiana didn't want to have any fun. She wanted to hide in her room until midnight or dawn, whenever the madness outside stopped.

     Demon will get back, the Skeith thought, and I'll go straight to the pound.

     Wandering around the house, Envysine passed the door to his owner's study. It was cracked open and a sliver of light spilled into the hallway. In the study, he knew, were hundreds and hundreds of books about hundreds and hundreds of things.

     "I wonder," he muttered to himself, "if she has any books with Halloween stories in them." Envysine opened the door slowly (it creaked something terrible) and tip-toed into the room. "Of course she'll have books with ghost stories. She does live in the middle of the Haunted Woods, after all." He started to look around, browsing the hundreds of shelves of books.

     Most of the spooky books were on the lone shelf behind Demon's desk. She kept them there so she wouldn't have to get up when she wanted them. Envysine flipped through a few of them. The pictures alone sent shivers down his prickly spine. No, if these scared him - a manly mutant Skeith - they would surely scare Lady Creal.

     He finally found a book he thought the royal Aisha would like. There were plenty of pictures and none of them looked too scary. The titles of the stories even seemed innocent: things like "The Esophagor's Quest" and "Adventures in the Witch's Tower."

     Envysine checked the cover of the book. That didn't seem scary, either. Ghost Stories was scrawled across the cover and there was a picture of the Esophagor himself.

     Lady Creal was in her sitting room when Envysine finally caught up with her. He knocked on the door and she bid him enter.

     "If you won't go trick or treating, my lady, at least get into the Halloween spirit with this." He set the book carefully on the Glass Coffee Table in front of the Aisha.

     "What is it?" she asked in her silky voice.

     "A book of moderately spooky stories. You might just decide to like them. Demon did ask that you have some fun, after all."

     Lady Creal leaned forward in her seat to get a good look at the cover of the book. Her spine stayed straight, her hands stayed folded in her lap, and her ankles crossed underneath the chair. She was immediately intrigued by the looming image of the Esophagor.

     "Where'd you get it from?" she asked.

     "Demon's study."

     "Really? Won't she get mad when she finds out you took it without asking her?"

     "I don't think so," he answered. "Now, if the lady will allow it, I shall take my leave," Envysine bowed and backed out of the room. Creal hated it when anyone turned their backs to her. It made her feel ignored. Princesses should never be ignored.

     Once the door to her sitting room was closed, Lady Creal opened the book, excited to delve into the stories. She couldn't let on that she wanted to read them. Not even Envysine.

     The Aisha paw ran down the faded Table of Contents. "The Esophagor's Quest" appealed to her the most, probably because Demon told her so many stories about hunting down those elusive Spooky Foods.

     Crealiana opened the book to the first page of "The Esophagor's Quest" and lost herself. It was a dark night in the Haunted Woods. She was hot on the trail of a Ruki and Bruce that volunteered to find some food for the Esophagor.

     The night got warm. The hour grew late. The story wore on:

     Time was running out. The Esophagor had given them two hours and seventeen minutes to find a Ghost Wrap and a Sun Dried Techo Claw. That was two hours and fifteen minutes ago. The Sun Dried Techo Claw was safe in the Bruce's backpack, but not matter how hard the duo looked, they couldn't find a Ghost Wrap anywhere. Not even Edna - with her vast storeroom of spare Spooky Foods - could help them.

     "I guess we can take this to the Esophagor," the Ruki suggested as he readjusted his bandages. The humidity shrunk them around his mummified body. "Maybe he won't be too mad."

     Lady Creal heard footsteps downstairs. Her delicate paw quivered over the corner of the page. It's nothing but my imagination, she tried to convince herself.

     She flipped the page over quickly, still listening for any sound that she wasn't alone. The house was quiet. The story continued.

     The Ruki and Bruce felt the ground rumbling as they approached the Esophagor's hole. They shared a nervous glance, wondering if he would punish them for not finding him a Ghost Wrap.

     Crossing into the open, the two Neopets stood in the shadow of the great beast. They were officially late by three and a half minutes.

     The Esophagor had been counting every second. He rounded on them, his eyes glinting red with malice. "Yoou'rrree lateeee," he moaned. "I mussst havveee fooodd-"

     Crealiana screeched and threw the book across the room. She didn't need to read the rest. She knew what the Esophagor was going to eat.

     The image of the Esophagor devouring those poor pets was still fresh in her mind when Crealiana's sensitive Aisha ears picked up the sound of footsteps again.

     Oh no, Lady Creal thought. Her sitting room door creaked slowly open. She dove under her coffee table, knocking her princess hat askew, and covered her face with her paws.

     Someone laughed. It was a familiar laugh.

     Lady Creal peeked out through her paws and saw a hand. It was waiting to help her to her feet. It was a familiar hand.

     She grabbed it with both paws and Demon pulled her to her feet.

     Darqon the Starry Koi, Creal's older brother, was on the other side of the room, picking up the launched book. Somehow it landed open to the last page of the story. Darqon snorted.

     "What?" Demon asked.

     "Of all the stories you could have picked from this book, Creal. 'The Esophagor's Quest.'" He snorted again.

     "How was I supposed to know?" Creal tried to defend her dive under the table, but the amused look in her owner's eyes made it impossible.

     "The Esophagor doesn't eat anything but Spooky Foods. That," she pointed to the open book, "is just a story, sweetie."

     "Like the ones you write sometimes?"

     "Exactly."

     "So, do you like Halloween yet?" Darqon asked.

     The Aisha princess thought about the question for a good minute.

     "You know, I think Halloween is okay. It is just a bunch of stories, after all." She smiled. "Hey Demon, can I go trick or treating next year?"

     Darqon and Demon both laughed.

     "You know, Creal, I think Darqon might be willing to share some of his tricks and treats."

     "Will you?"

     "I don't know about that," the Koi teased.

     "Awww... come on. Would you really make me wait a whole year?" she pleaded. "Oh, and can I have my very own costume next year too?"

     Darqon and Demon both laughed again.

     "Who do you want to be?"

     "I want to dress up as Vira because she's sooo pretty. And I'll have her lipstick and nail varnish and I'll carry a little black bag to collect candy in and..."

The End

Happy Halloween, everyone!

 
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