History of the Vampire: Part One
"Aw, come on, Lessee!" a pale green Blumaroo shouted in dismay. "We'll never be able to reach it now."
The beautiful yellow Blumaroo across the clearing frowned, and held her chin in thought. She was scrutinizing the spot of red stuck up in a fork between two tree limbs. In an unfortunate freak accident, their kickball had bounced high enough to wedge itself right in the highest branches of the tree.
"Sure we can. We're Blumaroos, aren’t we? We can jump just as high, if we try."
"Yeah, if we practice for, like, three years," he retorted. “So, what are we going to do now? It’s getting late, and you know how Mom doesn’t like us to stay out late.”
That was true for nearly every Neopian family. Almost nobody wanted to live in the Haunted Woods after dark, unless you were the proud owner of a Malevolent Sentient Plushie Poogle who could defend you should the need arise. Or if you had a death wish.
“Venue, come on. Don’t give up. Watch this!” Lessee exclaimed, bunching her tail into a spring. With astonishingly great force, she launched herself into the air. Venue could only stand in awe, jaw agape, as she flashed through the air towards their kickball with unbelievable speed.
Within seconds, Lessee plucked the red ball from the tree, and then fell back towards the earth. She landed with a gentle spring-like motion as she bobbed on the ground by her tail. Smiling, she dusted off her plain lavender shirt, and curtsied to him.
“That was amazing, Lessee! How did you learn to do that?”
Lessee smiled. “My owner trained me to be a Battledome pet for a while, before I told her to knock it off.” The smile vanished from her face quicker than mist on a sunny day, and was replaced by a frown just as quickly. “I didn’t like it – having to fight other pets, and be forced to beat the stuffing out of them or be crushed. Not even Punchbag Bob – that seems incredibly cruel, to literally beat the stuffing out of a guy who won’t fight back for no reason except to win a trophy. It’s sad, really.”
Then the smile returned. “At least one good thing came out of it. I have 200+ movement points.”
Venue had stood staring at her the whole time, saying nothing. She had the kindest heart – that was what made her the best friend he ever had. Walking over to her, he gave her a shoulder-hug. “That’s not the only good thing that came out of it. You learned; you grew into the person you are right now. Right now, though, we need to be more concerned about getting home than whether or not you can outrun a bullet.”
Her smile grew.
The sun was sinking below the horizon, and the way home was quite a walk – bouncing off of trees was hazardous in the Haunted Woods, even though it was faster, as you didn’t know which ones could suddenly open their mouths and swallow you up.
Lessee walked confidently down the dark, dusty path through the Woods. Venue padded silently behind her, clasping his hands together nervously. The sun had sunk beneath the horizon just a few minutes ago, and they still were not home yet. The moon hung in the sky like a round, silver coin, shimmering faintly in the cloudy half-light. No stars were there to guide them in the Haunted Woods.
“Lessee, do you know how much longer it will be until we get home? I don’t like this. It’s too... silent, out tonight,” he muttered, just loud enough for her sensitive ears to hear.
Lessee stopped for a moment, her ears perked. Venue was right – it was too silent. In the Haunted Woods, the night was not filled with the soothing sound of Moaches chirping. It was normally dominated by the howls of Werelupes as they scrounged for food, the cackling of witches mixing their potions, even the close-to-silent moans of Neopets that had passed from this world. This told everyone in the vicinity that all was as it should be.
Yet there were none. The profound lack of noise chilled Venue to the fibers of his bones.
“Umm,” Lessee stammered, alarm growing in her stomach like the sprout of a Bad Seed. Something didn’t feel right, and they both knew it. “We should hurry home. It can’t be much farther.” Venue wasn’t sure if she was trying to convince him, or herself.
Suddenly, Venue felt the fur on the back of his neck prickle, as if he were being watched by an intense gaze. Slowly turning his head, he saw a pair of unnatural, glowing yellow eyes staring at him from the darkness behind them.
With a squeal of fright, he dashed up to Lessee, who had turned at the sound of his fear. He grabbed her hand tight, and her eyes widened with alarm. She opened her mouth to scream, but only a high-pitched squeak escaped her throat.
“Now, now, is that any way to address a stranger?” the slick voice oozed like oil from the direction of the eyes. The hiss came in an undertone that was more frightening than the loudest roar. Slowly, a Blue Krawk wearing the tattered outfit of a Carney and a small top hat full of holes stepped from the shadows. His black cloak stretched to the ground, brushing it slightly.
Venue and Lessee visibly relaxed. At least it wasn’t some demon Zombie of the night come to devour their brains and leave them to become Zombies themselves. Just some Blue Krawk. And a well-dressed one, at that.
Gaining confidence, Venue let go of Lessee’s hand. He took a step forward, slightly in front of her, as if to shield her. “Who are you, and what do you want? We don’t want trouble – we just want to go home.”
Venue was briefly taken aback by how calm and cool his voice sounded. He let his eyes slip to Lessee’s face for a second. She was staring at him in surprise, as if she could not believe that he was not falling apart at the seams in front of this stranger.
“Oh no, I’m not looking for trouble.” The Krawk’s voice slithered through the air like a tar-slicked Cobrall. “I was just wondering if you could help me with something.”
“Like what, mister?” Venue asked suspiciously. Not many people, not even creepy Krawks, wandered around in the Haunted Woods followed by silence for nothing. As he thought about it, Venue was sure that the Krawk had been the reason behind the paranormal stillness of the night.
“I have a product that I wanted a person’s opinion on. I need to get it to my boss by tomorrow, and he has a strict schedule. I have to get it to him by midnight tonight. As you can be sure, no one in the right mind would go wandering around these woods alone at night. Still, one can always hope.” The Krawk’s tongue flickered in and out of his jaws as he spoke, giving his words an almost mesmerizing feel.
Yeah, except you, Venue thought tartly. How do we know this creep isn’t lying?
“Those reasons sound all well and good, but how do we know we can trust you?” Lessee asked bravely, putting a voice to Venue’s worries. It was the first time she had spoken since the Krawk had emerged.
The Krawk smiled. It was not a pretty picture – it looked more menacing than bright. “Because I happen to have it with me,” he hissed, reaching into his tattered pocket.
He produced a flat wooden object that looked like a stick, then widened into a broad rectangle. The broad end was covered in bristles, like hair. Venue realized that it was a paint brush, much like the ones his parents had used to paint the living room in a fresh coat of grass-green paint to match his own fur coat. Which he hated.
Only, this paint brush was different. The bristles were covered in a deep black paint, the color of shadows, and were adorned with two bright yellow eyes, not unlike the Krawk’s. They seemed to stare at him alone, piercing his soul with an icy glare. The wood itself shimmered with a faded black glow.
“W-what is that?” Venue stammered.
The Krawk chuckled. “Do you not know? It is a Paint Brush. Not the kind you paint walls with – this kind is magical. It can paint a Neopet into a different color, and stay that way permanently. I wanted to present this idea to my boss a long time ago, but he was busy.”
Instantly, Venue was fascinated. A new color other than the basic change of hue? He looked down at himself, then over at Lessee. He was a boring, pale green, like freshly-mowed grass that pricked your feet with the tiny bristles. And Lessee – well, she was a beautiful, buttery yellow, like the sun on a cloudless day.
But still, she was just yellow. What special new color had this mysterious Krawk invented?
To be continued...