Invisible Paint Brushes rock Circulation: 135,120,768 Issue: 263 | 27th day of Collecting, Y8
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The Haunted Mansion


by fireblazer77

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"I have already told you the story of Neovia, little Usul." The gypsy Elephante's eyes glimmered in the shadow-light and a small smile played on his face.

     "Yes, but please tell me another! Your stories are so wonderful, Mister Elephante," she begged him, a smile also on her face.

     "Alright then." He opened his book to a blank page. "What kind of story would you like to hear?"

     "One about a brave Usul!" she said happily, hands shaking with glee.

     "Oh?" He turned the page once. "And what is this Usul's name?"

     "Gilly! Gilly is her name!"

     The pages of the book filled with color.

     *

     "What's taking you so long, Gilly?" The other Usuls pushed and laughed at her. "Afraid to go into the Haunted Mansion?"

     Her sister looked on in disgust. "I can't believe my baby sister is too chicken to even go into the Haunted Mansion! It's probably not even haunted, anyway. Those are just rumors." She pulled Gilly away from all the other Usuls.

     "Aw, come on, Starbright! Don't take Gilly away! The ghosts might get us!" They all burst out laughing and Gilly's bottom lip trembled and her eyes got watery. Her sister pulled her along down the road by her arm, until they were right in front of the Usul Boarding School that the Haunted Woods housed.

     "Gosh, Gilly. You couldn't have even gone in there for me? You are so selfish." Starbright started walking through the large doors of the school and towards her dorm. "It's so embarrassing having a sister like you! I get an unpainted, loser sister."

     Gilly, desperate, shouted back: "Being painted isn't everything!"

     Star stuck her head out the door and smiled wickedly. "Yeah, well, you're a chicken too!"

     Her sister was heartbroken. All her life, ever since they had been adopted from the pound and got a scholarship to attend the Usul Boarding School - guaranteed to give a good training in Faerieland jobs - she had tried to please her sister. But she just couldn't do it!

     She had heard what those people down near the Spooky Marketplace said - that at night they could hear scary noises coming from the mansion, and the lights flickered on and off. If anyone went in, they would always come out afraid and claim to not remember what had happened. But at night the spookiness still ensued.

     Kids down at the boys' dormitory of the Usul Boarding School liked to tease the girls about it and dare them to go in, but they never actually wanted them to. They wouldn't do that. Except to Gilly. Poor, poor Gilly didn't have any friends, and sat all by herself at lunch. She did well in her classes and her teachers told her when she grew up and left the school that she would do great - but Gilly herself wasn't so sure of that.

     Now Gilly sighed and went to bed, wishing she could be someone else.

     Wishes can be horribly misleading.

     ---

     That night Gilly woke up, right at 12:00 NST, and looked outside the window. She felt a sudden compulsion to go outside, to prove them wrong. To prove to them that little Gilly wasn't a coward, and that she could be a brave Usul, like her hero, Hannah.

     She wished she could be Hannah so very much. This wish was not said aloud, however. She kept it in her heart, unlike her wish to be someone else. Keep this in mind, because it will come in handy later, when everything gets more interesting.

     She pulled on her overalls that the other Usuls laugh at, pulled on her red hood and took out her lantern. A whining from the bed stopped her. Her Puppyblew whined again.

     "Sorry, old boy," she said quietly. "But you can't come along this time." She walked through the door and down the stairs. The front door was propped open a bit and she slipped through outside. She breathed in the fresh air and smiled lightly. She started off towards the mansion on the hill.

     Gilly skipped along the path up to the mansion and whistled quietly. The night-flowers around her were in full bloom - the glow was so bright that she barely needed her lantern, and she turned it off to enjoy the natural light of the moon and stars and night-flowers. No one lived around this part of the Haunted Woods, where the trees seemed to move and it was always dark.

     But to Gilly there was all the light in the world.

     She reached the mansion. The door creaked open and she walked right in, unafraid. Because she was a brave Usul, that's right. Those boys in the dormitory could kiss their reputations goodbye - because Gilly went inside the house and they didn't!

     Gilly turned around to leave, to get out as quickly as possible, but she couldn't.

     The large doors closed quickly behind her and Gilly was left in darkness. Meekly she turned on her lantern, only to find herself in an ornate showroom with a large staircase. Gilly needed to find another way out - she tried to look for the kitchen. There was usually a way out in the kitchen, so deliveries from the Shoyru Bakery could get through. This mansion was old enough where it would have a door there.

     She walked through all the downstairs rooms but found no kitchen - only books upon books upon ancient artifacts and such. Mysteriously, there wasn't a speck of dust anywhere. But this house had been abandoned for years, right?

     Right.

     Gilly went into the last room, filled to the roof with artifacts. In the corner she could see a burst of light. She stumbled through the mess over to the small corner. From a lamp planted in the ceiling a beam of light filtered through the air, only to reveal a plush pillow and a Royal Paint Brush just lying there, waiting for someone to reach out and pick it up...

     And that is exactly what Gilly did.

     "You can't take that with you, you know." An accented voice came from behind her. He spoke the old language - the one that was spoken before the Haunted Woods became haunted. The shadows covered him but Gilly could make out the physique of a Kacheek.

     "I found it," she said defiantly. "It's mine."

     "No," the Kacheek said, moving forward. One eye opened and the light flashed off of a brilliant red color. "It's mine."

     Gilly ran for her life. She jumped out a window - her last hope - and kept running until she reached the pond halfway to the Usul Boarding School.

     "Gilly?" She startled at that. But her heart started to slow down. That was when she realized the paint brush was still jammed in her pocket that she had shoved it in while she was running.

     She turned around. "Star? What are you doing here?"

     Her sister sniffed haughtily. "I could hear your Puppyblew barking. It wouldn't be quiet. When I saw you weren't there I came looking for you."

     "Oh, you won't believe it, Star!" she gushed on.

     "Believe what, Gilly?"

     "Well, I went into the Haunted Mansion and -"

     "Did you really go in?"

     " - there was this evil Kacheek, and goodness, Star, I found a Royal Paint Brush!"

     Her sister's smile turned into a frown. "I thought you were serious at first but now I realize that you were just joking. Not funny." Her sister turned around and moved across the grass.

     "But, Star, look!" Gilly held out the paint brush, but it was in vain. Starbright would not turn around.

     Gilly started the long walk home.

     *

     "That wasn't a very happy story," Gilly stated to the Elephante.

     "Why, of course it was!" The storyteller looked surprised. "She got a Royal Paint Brush! How exciting."

     Gilly looked sympathetic with the Gilly of the story. "Yes, but now no one will believe her about it."

     "The Haunted Woods have many mysteries." The mustachioed Elephante says quietly, jerking his head toward the hill looming in the distance. "You better be on your way, now, Gilly. Your sister will be expecting you home soon."

     "Thanks, Mr. Storyteller, even if your stories weren't happy ones."

     Later that night, before going to bed, Gilly looked out at the hill not too far away. A light flickered in the corner of the room on the first floor. The Kacheek in the darkness smiled and Gilly hid herself under the covers.

The End

 
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