Spells, Flames, Illusions
Henry laughed in a sarcastic sort of way, scoffing. "There's no such thing as ghosts! Why, I went to that graveyard outside of town and I certainly didn't see any ghosts."
"Not every graveyard is haunted, Henry," Charlotte said, her voice high-pitched yet calmer than most kids are. The others nodded in agreement – either on the side of Henry or Charlotte, their support was cloudy at best. "In fact, Neovia's graveyard is rarely active. It all depends on the time you go there and how reckless you are," she said matter-of-factly.
"Whatever," Henry replied, slumping into the chair a spectral was sitting on whilst listening to the nonsense, the Wocky fading into her gas-like figure. A shiver passed through his spine for a brief second, quickly ceased by crossing his arms under his chest, which proved to be quite effective. But it was, in any way, awkward. "Even if there is such a thing, I wouldn't be scared!"
"You're sitting on one now, kid," the red-eyed Zafara whispered hoarsely. She smiled in amusement as his eyes widened roundly, resembling a white negg with a black dot painted on it, trembling. He launched off of the rocking chair, spinning himself around so he could glare at it. "Who said that?!" he inquired, his voice betraying the urge to keep calm.
The spectral placed an elbow on the arm of the chair, leaning her head over the palm of her gloved hands. "Well, it could be a ghost. But, then again, you couldn't possibly believe in such things; I mean, they don't exist," she mocked, her smirk cut glass deep. The brown Wocky jumped slightly, backing away from the chair.
"Hen's? What's up?" Charlotte walked closer to the boy slowly, landing a hand on his shoulder. "You look you've seen a..."
"Oh, I wouldn't advise using the 'g' word. He looks rather taken aback of it." It was Charlotte's turn to look terrified. The Aisha's eyes, naturally closed for reasons even she doesn't know, fluttered open like Pteri's wings. The other kids that had entered seemed to follow, backing a few steps away whenever the two does as well.
The Zafara stood up from her place, walking slowly over to the group. Her glowing blue tail swung over her chest, letting her stroke a paw on its rigid spikes in a way that looked somewhat playful. She leaned her head forward, and muttered in a harsh, clear voice: "Boo."
Like a choir singing perfectly on cue, the group screamed in unison, staying on the same flat tone as they rushed down the stairs, fighting to fit through the closed door. The red eyed Zafara hovered down the stairs, watching with much amusement as they finally learned how to open a door like proper minded pets should, failing to understand that ten children cannot fit into one rectangular hole on the wall.
After the group managed to dust out of the house, the spectral being laughed, the other paw that wasn't busy on her tail pinching the hem of her light green dress, the smell of a century old closet dispersed into the room as she swung it from left to right. "Oh, that was almost too good," she remarked to herself, walking out the conveniently opened door, noting the continuous melody of screaming children. A frown came to light at the thought of it. "For them. Dear me, I've had better pranks than this."
She looked around the cobblestoned roads, stepping out from the small staircase, absorbing her surroundings. The abandoned home she had stepped out of was painted a darker shade of gray than the rest of the town, a lamppost a quarter taller than her stood firmly rooted to the ground in front of the house, its light as dim and eerie as every lamppost in Neovia. "Ah well," she sighed to no one in particular, "I suppose it would be good enough for the record."
She stopped at her steps, a sudden chill climbing through her wispy white hair. Her hair. It was something that struck her strange, considering how she's supposed to give pets the cold shoulders. But it had happened before, and it could happen again. The only question is...
"You can stop hiding now," she said, refusing to turn around as her red eyes rolled over to the narrow gap between the house and its neighbor. "I know you're in there."
Yellow eyes emerged from the black darkness, reminding her somehow of the stories about a big ball of yellow light that lingered over kingdoms and lands such as Brightvale, that had always been scared of the woods itself. She thought of yellow as the most disgusting color that flashed into what was left of her rotting mind, for reasons only because it didn't fit a ghost's bluish hue.
"Goodness, could it be?" she said, dropping the hem of her dress as she slowly spun herself around to face the figure. The eyes motioned closer to the dim light, revealing a shady figure of blue, a heavy brown coat covering an attire which made her grin in a way that could only point out the bad in it.
"It is, isn't it?" she cheered, regarding the devious smile on the Krawk's face. "I have the most unbelievable fortune, haven't I? I get to scare children for all of eternity, and meet the famed Mr. Krawley!" She clapped rather childishly, knowing that no one would've been able to hear her. But by the way Krawley was staring at her, she knew he could.
"Thank you, milady," he said, tipping his top hat forward, "I myself am surprised to meet a Neovian like you that doesn't recoil in fear from the sight of me."
"Ah," she laughed, rather loudly. "Well, I'm not your average Neovian, Krawley dearest." She looked to her sides, catching sight of a few ignorant passersby. "But let's not talk here, shall we?" she said, smiling, "I wouldn't want anyone to be eavesdropping." Despite her careful words, she had no fear in getting caught herself; it was the blue Krawk that made her worry.
Krawley, who appeared to have deciphered the look on her face, nodded. Without another word, he shifted slightly away from the dark gap he came from. It seemed much deeper than she had thought; like it could've gone for quite some time. "Don't mind if I do." With two small steps, her blurred figure transported itself in front of the entrance, willingly walking into the darkness.
"Well, I believe we've established who I am," Krawley said, walking along side the glowing Zafara, the dim light catching the eeriness in his face. "But I'm not quite sure what to say about you."
"Elusive," she answered, smiling proudly at her meaningful name. "Elusive Kraft. Silly name, really, but it certainly didn't discourage my parents from using it." She looked out into the blank darkness, a narrow road of translucent white set on the black alley. "I've actually found it rather fitting, though."
Krawley stole a glimpse of her face, noting the touch of youth drawn with great details –resembling much like a child's face—sharpened by her eerily enticing blue glow. The only thing that he found displeasing were her eyes; the color of a crimson red jewel, an unpleasant feeling closing in as he stared deeply into the yellow dot inside it. "I'm sure many can vouch for that."
Elusive laughed, echoes trembling through the dark alley, breaking as she continued to speak. "Yes, I believe they would," she said, glowing steadily in the black darkness. The walls that closed up on them began to widen slightly, growing in length in an endless run, the small light on the other side that had indicated the end of the alley shrinking the farther they went. She didn't seem to notice. "Of course, that was some time before you came in; perhaps a few centuries ago. I'm not entirely sure."
"Oh really?" he said, his tone struggling to refrain from betraying his disinterest, hoping to get the troublesome ghost on his side. "I assume you have little awareness of your death?"
Elusive laughed, despite the depressing content. For some reason, she'd always found amusement in agony and dread; even if it were her own. "Well, no, I was very aware of that moment," she replied, her solemn statement missing its gray tone, "In fact, I had expected for some time."
"You see, when I was a young girl, I found the fun amongst the generous shades of gray in this old town. Plain mischief, really. I enjoyed playing pranks on people, refused to read any books anyone had offered, and sometimes wander out of Neovia to venture through the graveyard. But I never had the chance to go farther than that." She gazed up into the sky, wistfully, as if a sudden longing had returned after years of inhabiting the town. "They say that's a true blessing, to be trapped like a crokabek in a cage; I say it's a curse I'll forever endure."
Something dull hung over his soft grin, unusually daunting in every way. Although it didn't show that much, boredom had already started taking over.
"Even I've little idea how I died," she said, her tone low and yearning, as one would've used if it were to recall a pleasant memory. "Some have suggested a sort of disease, or perhaps one too many jumbleberry pies. In this place, no one can really be sure. And no one seems to care." She sighed, a softer glimpse of her longing briefly showing, vanishing instantly as a smile came to light. "But that didn't stop me from learning a thing or two from being dead."
Krawley's bored expression lit up like a candle, as predicted. Elusive had always guessed he was waiting for this moment; every pet that would dare approach her and act so coolly had waited, after all. Of course, she'd always turned down the chance to tell them, taking an excuse of it being too dangerous. But she was feeling slightly more spiteful than any other day.
"It's just an ordinary ability," she said, flipping her paw over, displaying her empty palm. "But it's very effective, as you can imagine." She needn't actually have any concentration to do it, for she didn't lie about it being simple. Slowly, surely, she closed her eyes, absorbing the dim blue glow around her. A glimpse of a pale, drab blue Zafara flashed; only to disappear again as the color drained into her wrists, meeting with the open paw.
A light blue fire burned in its place, fitting the color of its beholder. Krawley gazed at the blue fire, watching as it flickered without effort, an aura that struck fear straight through any sensible Neovian. Considering Krawley wasn't sensible, his reaction resembled the look on one's face when they watch something new and awaited for, like it had been expected for some time.
"I've never thought I'd see the day," Krawley remarked in amazement, stopping at his tracks to watch the fire in motion. Elusive laughed, the fire dimming slightly as she did. "I don't display this old spell to just anyone, you know." She looked at him, rather inquisitively. "You do know what this spell is really for, right?"
"Of course, of course," he stated, backing away from the flame. "Why wouldn't I?"
She narrowed her eyebrows. "Considering that you were the one that was able to concoct that brilliant potion of yours, I have no reason to distrust your words." She closed her palms shut, the fire that sparked in it escaping through the sides of her paw, burning no more. "But that all depends on what you want to do with it."
Krawley smiled, his hands sinking into the pockets of his heavy brownish-red coat. "What is it that makes you assume I want anything to do with the spell?" he inquired.
"You're not the first one who's asked me about this spell, I assure you," she replied snappily.
"Of course I'm not," he said, continuing to walk forward. "Knowing the effects of the spell, I'm sure the most destructive of the Woods villains must've requested your permission to use it --"
"Most of them hadn't done their research," she cut in.
"Yes, well, you have to understand," he said, his voice surprisingly pleasant to the ear. "With the rumors floating about its powers, they needn't actually research anything about it." The Zafara's mouth twitched into a smirk, as they neared the end of the narrow alley. "I was surprised what it could really do when I learned it, as well."
"I find it believable," he said, rushing back to the ghost's previous question. "As for your inquiry, yes, I was meaning to use that unique ability of yours for... something."
"And what may be that something?" she asked, sparking interest.
The ghost stepped into the dim moonlight, her bluish glow defeated by the moon's by barely, a shadowy figure leaning against a wall of a house in the background. Krawley halted where he was, sticking to the shadows. "Just another scheme I concocted," he answered, his voice filled with pride, "Call it a sequel to the last."
"Really now?" She smiled deviously. "Do tell."
The blue Krawk swept through the shadows, his shoes tapping to the beat of a hollow heart. As he passed the tall, metal lamppost out on the last corner of the street, he stuck a piece of parchment on it, dusting away in dark whispers of satisfaction.
A small, ink-black sketch graced the dirt-colored parchment, a circle with a triangular mark drawn inside a circle of symbols orbiting it.
"Dear me, that was fast," Elusive said, appearing just a few feet in front of him by a wave of white, forming into her own slender figure after a mere few seconds. Krawley slowed his pace rather dramatically, smiling proudly. "That was the last of the scribbles, am I correct?"
"Gates," she corrected, "And yes. If the Gates are truly in its proper places, the spell should work just fine. Marvelously, if you're the perfectionist sort. All there is left..." She reached for something underneath the folds of her dress, pulling out a light brown bag. "Is the spark."
"I don't quite understand how you require ashes for this project," Krawley remarked, looking back at the dimly lighted lamp he stuck a Gate to. "You didn't need it the last time it was executed."
"To make such a fire that is able to engulf a whole town isn't as simple as creating a small one over a paw," she answered, pouring out the contents of the bag. White powder poured out, glimmering grayish silver. She walked towards the last lamppost, passing straight through the Krawk. As she neared the lamppost, she blew the powder from her paw, watching with a bored amusement as it peppered the parchment pinned on the cold metal, smiling broadly as an eerily blue fire burned on it.
The blue flame treaded down to the bottom of the metal lamppost, reaching its gray cobblestoned sidewalk, running down to the next lamppost – and the next, and the next, and the next...
"We need to retreat," she said without turning to look at the Krawk, closing her eyes to gain a perspective above the town. Streaks of blue continued to connect themselves, slowly forming into an unfamiliar shape. "My dear Elusive," Krawley replied from behind, "What exactly did you expect me to do in the first place?"
Elusive turned away from the sight, running out into the old Neovian graveyard with the Krawk, hovering slightly faster than Krawley had been (perhaps it was because of that heavy coat of his; he looked like he was carrying a few pounds of weight over his back). Surprisingly, he wasn't actually panting like a normal runner should.
"By the branches of the Brain Tree," she said to particularly no one, "this must be the best prank I've pulled in my entire afterlife."
Krawley stared at her, as if to correct the word 'I've'. But he didn't actually want to spoil the moment. "Indeed it is," he instead said, not bothered a bit by the small amount of credit he was given.
Looking back at the town, blue fire ran through the streets, the few passerby's glaring at the flame in astonishment. A shadow Ogrin shifted away from the flame's path before it could hit the toe of his taint black shoes, tipping his hat forward as it headed for its first victim.
A brown Lupe and a pink Acara mistress walked alongside each other, busily conversing about the normality's of Neovia. Unnoticed, the flame slid over the brown Lupe's trousers, slithering under his thick jacket, bursting into cold blue. Replacing the gentleman's panicked cries of help, the young Acara screeched, clasping two paws against her cheeks.
"Oh, what a melody," Elusive praised, listening from a distance as the screech echoed, the sound of frantic reply of the incident following. Mixed with screams and cries, the symphony cheerful to the ghost's gentle ears. She sighed, looking back at the blue wall of cold flames, slowly devouring the old town. "I never knew that the terrified shrieks of Neovia can be so... enticing."
"Oh, but I do," Krawley remarked, a way of referring to the curse that he had put a long time ago. The reasons why were an enigma even she couldn't understand; but he obviously held a fairly big grudge. She smiled. "Then you should know exactly what we are to do now."
"Done and done," he said, stuffing his pockets with his hands, turning away quickly. "I suppose your job is done here as well, am I correct?" he asked after managing a few steps, peering over his shoulder. Elusive stood, smiling. "Are you inviting me to come with you?" she inquired, her tone high and somewhat teasing.
"The gypsies would love to hear what you've done," he replied, "In fact, I know a certain Elephante who could use a few more stories like yours."
She laughed. "They hate Neovia, don't they?" Krawley gave an expressionless smile, and replied wryly: "Too calm for their senses, I suppose."
Elusive stood beside a tombstone, a blurred inscription scribbled on it. "I think I can manage a few days out of that accursed place," she said with a content sigh, "But, of course, I have to return to see what the aftermath is." She walked over to the Krawk, chaining her arm with his. For a moment, she peered over her shoulders to stare idly at the unfortunate town. "How long do you think it'll last?" She asked.
"Long enough, I hope," Krawley replied subtly.
Xadum bent over to touch the burning blue flame, disregarding the screams of help in the background. Letting it slide up his sleeves, the fire burned intensely, but in vain. He felt nothing but icy cold, like the harsh winters on the top of Terror Mountain. "Belle," he called out to the back of a white Usul, snow white hair casting over the collar of her taint red coat. "These aren't real flames."
Belle turned away from a certain brown Lupe who had appeared to be burning under the flames, his jacket and fur refraining from changing into ashes like... anything would, really. "I can definitely see that, doctor," she replied wryly.
"Ghost flames." The zombie Aisha sighed eerily, shaking off the flame that danced on his white sleeves. "Merely illusions." He paused, a blue Techo running by screaming as a flame gripped on his brown hair. "Unless you're stupid enough to believe in them, of course."
Bella Chorsicks sighed at the overwhelming, if not annoying, predicament. "Neovia can be absurdly gullible, doctor," she remarked, looking out into the scared crowd. "But for now, we'll have to cast off the illusion."
Xadum nodded, expressionless, noting a piece of parchment on one burning lamppost. He detached the small piece of dirt-washed paper, watching in amusement as the flames decreased in size for just a moment, growing back up after a few minutes of astonishment. "Gates," he uttered. "There must be more of this around town, probably sticking on lamppost, by the looks of it." He looked back at the piece of paper, deeply concerned.
"And?" Bella inquired, familiar with that look on the zombie's pale face. "It's nothing," he said, almost smiling. "It just seems peculiar to me how a ghost could possibly do such a thing; I mean, to cast an illusion over a whole town seems like a job that only the strongest sorcerers can do, and considering that ghosts tend to have a problem with holding onto things... It just seems improbable for it to do it alone."
"So you're saying the living joined in?"
"Possibly," he replied. "Possessed, foolish, or just willing – it's very possible." He looked out at the flickering flames, sighing. "Who in the right mind would do such a thing?"
"Pets who have all of eternity on their paws," Bella sighed. "That's who."