Wrath Unbidden, Wrath Forgiven
Lord Kass is not the only victim of temptation...
It started when I was strolling the woods, looking for a Clawmatoe tree to harvest and store the fruit of for further usage. Never did I find what I was looking for, however, because in my strolls the trees seemed to rearrange themselves. As part of the Haunted Woods, trees tend to do that, but for an experienced Neopet such as myself, their patterns are fairly predictable and easy to bypass by clever means of my wings. Still, I was not inclined to launch myself into the air, as I would usually do in such situations as I would be a Halloween Kougra, as curiosity drove me forward. I could feel a tinge of some force that tugged me forward, some unidentifiable intuition compelling me to the scene, like the archetypical curiosity of a Kougra. Crawling behind some foliage, I spied a Halloween Acara, the bizarre form of disconnected bones and colorless face netted by a black void standing in front of a cave of some sort. How unusual... I thought to myself. Finding other denizens of Haunted Woods’ night was not rare, but to find a Halloween Acara in particular seemed to be, for never before did I meet one of its kind.
I felt the intuition, the feeling, increasing slightly in volume and tone, rising to become just barely audible. Instinctively, I tried to grasp some pattern of the melody, but no matter how I tried it stayed elusive, seeming to slip from the collection of my ears by a taunting hair’s breadth.
“Excuse me.” I managed to ask the Halloween Acara, “Could you tell me some things about the song you seem to be... singing?”
The Halloween Acara did not respond, not even inclining with a nod or shake of its head, seeming to ignore me, staring straight forward, unperturbed and stoic. Something about their visage hinted that they were male, although I am not quite sure what or which features. I felt the volume of the song increase. I could start to feel that it came closer and closer to my detection, as if the times I almost caught it were closer than before, but still it evaded me.
“It would be impolite for you not to respond,” I told the Halloween Acara, starting to become frustrated. Still, he continued not to respond, and only seemed more persistent with continuing the elusive tune. His mouth moved, as if whispering, but even with no breath seeming to emerge, the apparently disembodied sound continued.
How dare he... a thought floated by in my mind. Impolite, I thought, adding to my mental opinions. I resumed my efforts at trying to capture the sound, but even the keen ears of a Halloween Kougra such as myself were not able to detect them.
I shifted forward to the Acara. There was the slightest change of expression on his face before he resumed the tune, even more strongly than before. Attempting to restrain my frustration-driven rage, I asked him again.
“Please inform me of the nature of your song.”
The Halloween Acara again did not respond, again increasing the volume of the tune. The song started to vibrate in my bones now, but still I could not capture it, and it seemed to actually stay in my grip for the briefest of moments before slipping out, as if immaterial, to taunt me. I placed a claw threateningly on his shoulder.
“Tell me now,” I commanded him, my patience now gone. Impetuous, a thought came to me. Only in the midst of my frustration, it seemed so fitting to agree with.
There was another flash of emotion across his face, now lasting longer than the last one. I could not stand their humming any longer. “Last... chance,” I told him, nerves frayed thin, and possibly not even intact at this point. “Tell... me... the... song.” Only now did the Halloween Acara make any sort of gesture or movement, slowly shaking his head no, closing his eyes as if pain.
No? I thought. You... you...
I promptly clawed him, across his shoulders, across his body—in hindsight, I suppose I meant it merely to be a warning as to be more mindful of the power my claws possessed. But then, it did not seem to harm him, exactly. Only a vaporous pouring, a gaseous rend of the intangible netting that kept his ethereal bones together. The vapor seemed to slither into my mind, by what means I cannot recall or know. Unbidden---or hoping that it was that now---my claws swiped forward, again and again, but only the first hit I vaguely remembered. The netting expanded, floating like a thick, smoggy haze, floating like the disembodied black covering of the night sky, devoid of stars. Every hit made the Halloween Acara recoil and close his eyes tightly against the pain, and all the while I felt the tune increasing. The tune was now vivid, seeming to reverberate through the black substance floating about, but I seemed possessed with some unearthly drive, uncaring of its evasive tunes. It became a crescendo, matching with my increasing powerful blows.
Then... it stopped.
There were only faint wisps netting the body of the Halloween Acara now. Slowly, he smiled. “Thank you...” he whispered, before the sparse covering of void he possessed dissipated, his body vanishing with it.
I looked at where the Halloween Acara was meant to be. It was truly gone. Impudent fool, a thought addressed him, with some fierce voice. Befitting a punishment.
Punishment? I thought. I was merely highly irritated. I would have thought that he needed to be taught a lesson, but to call it punishment put it into eerily clear perspective. What have I done?
I stood to be judged by those present in another clearing. The clearing was full of rows of trees, appearing to stretch out at me with ill intent yet recoil in repulsion. “Do you know,” asked a voice, from a hooded Neopet at the front of the arrangement, “what you have done?” If the Neopet’s chalky voice carried any emotion, it was negligible, as if merely asking what I did as casually as noting a knothole in a tree.
“I do not think that I have.”
“But it cannot be said that that you are innocent.” The Neopet spoke again, for some reason seeming to have his voice layered with some unidentifiable tune. It may have been the same song that lured me into this, but it was so elusive, as ever, that I could not be sure.
“Please, spare them,” the taller figure seated next to the hooded Neopet pleaded. It seemed to be some sort of Faerie---perhaps a Grey Faerie, as I would infer from her pitiful tone and grayish garb.
“What would you suggest otherwise?” the hooded Neopet addressed the Faerie. The Neopet’s voice seemed without emotion, but the layering in it seemed angry.
“I suggest that they take the place of the one... that vanished,” the Faerie replied somewhat haltingly.
“We cannot force this process.”
The Faerie turned to address me. “Either you can take the place of the Neopet that... vanished at your claws, or there will be... more severe consequences.”
Weakling, a voice in my mind retorted. I was not sure what the voice addressed, whether the Neopet that... vanished, or the Faerie, or myself. Myself? I thought. If that thought belonged to me, why would I call myself by such derogatory and unfounded things?
Wrath accrues, the voice continued. Anger. Avarice...
What thoughts are these? I questioned to myself. What were they? What am I? What is becoming of me? I felt so unsure and unsettled on what this was about.
“I sense a presence... uninvited,” the hooded Neopet stated, with the voice emotionless as usual but with layers of biting coldness. They flipped back their hood, revealing themselves as a Halloween Mynci.
Weak, the voice spoke again. They are... No! I yelled in my head. I will not listen to you! I addressed myself. Unfortunately it appeared that I had yelled these things aloud.
“Unbecoming of you,” the Mynci stated, voice undertones dropping to the disparaging tone of an elite. “What a danger you present. I doubt it would benefit anything to give you the treatment my... colleague would advise.”
“I have the inclination that our... uninvited person... or should I say, persons... do not take a more corporeal form.” The Faerie addressed to the Mynci. “They are a danger regardless. The Three are only facilitating manifestations of malice... Revenge, Greed... Ambition... for the Kougra present to fall prey to their tantalizations, it would only mean they are susceptible to the evils that seem ingrained in their own destiny eventually.”
The Faerie turned back to me.
“Weakling. Cannot have any ambition...” The words rolled unbidden from my mouth. “Foolish, seated at power. Pompous... ” I could not stop them. I could not know whether some manifestation of my desires was present, or if it was The Three... whoever they were... that the Mynci referred to.
“It is all I can do,” the Faerie told me with some kind resignation, “to let you purge yourself of your own desires... or manifestations that would take advantage of such desires so well hidden.”
What have I done? I thought. Remorse roiled within me like the churning black seas of the Haunted Woods. Was there nothing I could control?
I felt a phantasmagoric montage of scenes and emotions: I was there, I was here... she was there, and a Halloween Acara there... like the ranks that so surrounded me when judged, as the scene changed to reflect that. Was I someone else in this montage? From some event in the past, what seemed to be a memory was dreamlike... I was lunging forward... begging that they spare her life... my... precious daughter...
What have I done? I thought, thinking about the full extent of that mistake for the trees to change just as I came through, and for me to enter the clearing.
I, or whichever Neopet I was in this haze, recounted when that binding spell of silence was cast upon me... a Halloween Mynci was there, watching... another scene, when I donned the robe of void that was meant to utterly consume such mortal things as emotion, to quell such lowly things... as I disintegrated, at least, I thought, my daughter was in better situations...
I then realized, with some horror, the Neopet I was now or whose memories I was reliving in this state. These must be the memories of the Halloween Acara... that vanished beneath my claws, I thought. How cruel for my claws to be so possessed.
Possessed by nothing but your own volition, three voices told me. There were never three before, or if there were, I never noticed.
No! I... regret such actions now... Fury boiled in me. Dispel! Be gone! I dispel you evil things; you are nothing!
Even as the presence seemed to fade, I still remember those haunting last words. You are never alone... we are always within you, and whenever we come, you shall no longer be nothingness as you accuse us...
Please forgive my absence. It was all for the best. I can tell you that I am now at rest. I hope we are well---and in fact, I believe there is someone waiting for you outside that shall ensure this.
Your Father—such secrets cannot separate us
The red Aisha held the letter in her paws. Her recollections of her father were vague but delighting, as if they were some half-forgotten memory; she was astonished at this serendipitous turn of events. Upon receiving the letter from her father, who she remembered had vanished in the Haunted Woods long ago, she obeyed what seemed to be her father’s last wishes and walked outside of her house to find a Halloween Zafara awaiting her.
“ ‘Such secrets cannot separate us,’” I quoted. How merciful and unexpected the arrangement was. Andromeda rushed out to me and embraced my skeletal self. Even if she knew that I was not who she thought I was, still she was grateful that she could fulfill the long-unknown wishes of her father---or just to have someone that may be able to comfort her as no one else could.
If this is in... thank you, cpmtiger, for giving critique.