Reaper or vampire? That was the choice that Roarki found himself with. On the one hand, reaper costumes were far cheaper. On the other, they left you lugging around a scythe all day.
Eventually he went with the reaper. He was a Mynci, albeit a blue one, so it might make him seem like the real thing if he was lucky. And the scythe was made from lightweight metal anyway.
Roarki paid for his costume, then took it home. He still had a few hours before the Halloween celebration party.
His friends, or perhaps colleagues would be more accurate, had told him not to go to the party. He could remember the discussion perfectly, not surprising as it had been mere hours ago. It had been right after their Defender training for the day.
“It’s too dangerous,” Campbell had said. “You get all sorts turning up at that place. Zombies, Witches. There was even a Werelupe once.”
“Just because I’m a Mystery Islander doesn’t mean I can’t handle stuff like that. There are dangerous things on the island. I’ve been into the temple in Geraptiku, so don’t tell me to avoid witches. Besides, I bet most of you are going.”
Most of them didn’t answer, but they looked guilty enough to satisfy Roarki. They certainly were going.
“Alright then, so we are. But we’ve been before. We know what happens and we know what not to do or say. You’ve hardly been in the Haunted Woods three minutes and all of a sudden you think you’re an expert on this stuff!”
The Captain, a bulky green Elephante that somehow managed to get around everywhere without a single notice, had then chosen his moment to intervene and calm everyone with a lecture about not arguing with people on the same side as you. Sure, it was sensible enough, but they’d heard it all before. Too many times before.
Roarki had then been called over for another lecture about being cocky. But he’d already made up his mind to go. The Captain probably knew he wouldn’t change his mind, too. The only point in the lecture was to sow seeds for the future.
And now it was time. Roarki put on his costume and took one final glance at his map to make sure he knew where he was going. He figured that if he took his map with him he would seem like a tourist and would be quite an attractive target. To everything.
Really, he shouldn’t have worried. The party was so huge and noisy that you could be in Neopia Central with a blindfold on and not have to worry about directions. Although you would probably have to worry about other things, like sentient trees that don’t like to be bumped in to.
In fact, it was more than just a party. It was more like a festival. There were thousands of stalls. Mostly they comprised of food, but there were also spell books and the occasional gypsy caravan.
Then he spotted Campbell. Not that it was hard, as he simply looked for the only blob of rainbow in a cloud of much darker colours. Smiling, he made his way over to the Skeith.
“Hello, Roarki. You decided to come, I see.”
“Of course,” he replied. “Why would I want to miss something like this?”
“If you’re unlucky, you may just find out. Where do you think the others are?”
“Oh, they’ll be around. And you aren’t exactly impossible to spot, so I say we go about our own business and let them look for us.”
Campbell nodded, and they made their way around the stalls. Roarki bought some fake blood from one of them, to try and make his scythe more fearsome.
Then they made their way up to the stage. A comedy act was on. It wasn’t very good, comprised mostly of lame jokes.
The act was rounded up with a horribly corny one about Chet Flash and a Werelupe, and then there was music from The Dribblets. They weren’t very good either, so Roarki and Campbell made their way back through the crowd. None of their other colleagues had found them yet.
“Maybe they decided not to come,” suggested Roarki.
“That would be like one of you islanders not going to the Gadgadsbogen celebration. They probably just didn’t see us because we were near the stage and it’s quite bright over there.”
Roarki shrugged, making his scythe drop a little. There was a distinct tearing noise, but he didn’t make anything of it until someone behind him whose voice he didn’t recognise said his name. He suddenly stopped and turned around. He noticed Campbell keep walking, and realised that perhaps he should too, but soon decided that it might make things worse.
“How did you know my name?” he asked the green Usul in front of him.
“I’m a witch. I know all sorts of things. For example, I know that that scythe of yours just ripped this cloth. Which, incidentally, cost me precisely two and a half thousand Neopoints.”
Typical. The first time he ever goes to one of these parties, he accidentally causes a problem. But of course all the others could go all their lives without a single slip.
“Oh. I’m sorry about that; it was an accident.”
“It was an accident,” mimicked the witch. “Well, that accident has cost me money. What are you going to do about it?”
“I... I don’t know. I wouldn’t mind paying for it, but I haven’t got the Neopoints right now. Maybe we could arrange some sort of deal; I’ll pay you over time? With interest, of course.”
“Oh no. You aren’t bargaining your way out of this one. This cloth is only available at the Halloween party; if I don’t get money for it now, then there’s no point me getting it at all.”
“So... I can just go?” Surprisingly, the witch nodded. Roarki turned around, and then heard the witch say something. Turning again, he asked, “Sorry, what did you say?”
“Never mind. You’ll see. Tomorrow.”
And that he did. When he woke up the following morning, he could feel something different about himself. He quickly checked the mirror and discovered the problem. He had changed colour, to Ghost.
He took some time to come to terms with this. Sure, Ghost was quite a rare and expensive colour. But... he had grown so used to his blue that he wasn’t sure he wanted the change. And being Ghost also had the disadvantage of manoeuvrability. He could feel things when he was close to them, but when he finally touched them they felt no different. It would take forever to get used to.
But, he soon realised that he had little choice in this. He couldn’t afford a paint brush. He would just have to stay Ghost.
Realising the time, he rushed off to work. Everyone had a little smirk at his colour change, as it had proved their point. He really shouldn’t have gone to the party.
At the same time, however, there was a spark of pity. Certainly they were much friendlier to Roarki that day.
Once everyone had left, the Captain thought about the day. It hadn’t turned out too badly. Roarki had learnt his lesson about showing off, and everyone had learnt a little about arguing with people on the same side as them. The more he thought about it, the more he liked it.
There was a cough from the entrance to the cadet’s classroom. Captain Merlo looked up at the newcomer. She was carrying a small black bundle.
“Morlie! Good to see you!” Morlie was the Captain’s sister.
“You too, although I only came to return your things.”
“Ah, yes. Of course.” Morlie handed over the small bundle and left without saying goodbye.
The Captain took the bundle over to his open locker, and put them in individually to make sure everything was there. A black robe. A ripped piece of equally black cloth.
And a used Ghost Paint Brush.