The Draik in Black: Pictures of Darkness - Part Nine
The yellow cloaked and red masked figure was in the room. He had been going through Troy's bags, judging by how all of his clothes and belongings were strewn across the room. The figure didn't notice that they had entered the room at first. It wasn't until the door slammed against the wall that the red masked figure looked over to them.
"What are you...?" Troy started to say before he was suddenly grabbed from behind by the grey cloaked figure.
"Troy!" Jack shouted before he was caught from behind too. The black cloaked figure had him in his grasp.
The Lupe struggled in Ashton's grip, knowing that it was the Skeith behind the mask and under the cloak. Likewise, the Kyrii was the one keeping Jack subdued in his grip as he fought to escape as well.
"Marco! Ashton!" Troy shouted to them. "Please! Let us go! I know it's you in there!"
The figures held their grip firm and they were unable to break free from their grip. The lights in the hallway were still flickering, as the Draik in Black was still nearby. The yellow cloaked figure still stood in silence and watched as they struggled in his companions grip. As Troy fought, he noticed that he had something in his grip. After a moment, he realized that the masked figure was holding his journal.
"What... why do you have my journal?" Troy demanded.
The masked figure remained stoic and silent. However, Jack seemed to be more panicked and struggled harder to get out of Marco's grip.
"Troy!" Jack shouted. "Did you write down anything about the Draik in Black?"
The Lupe looked as best as he could to the Zafara. "I... wrote down everything that happened after I got your letter. Everything I did and what happened to me I wrote down. Even... about the Draik in Black...."
"Troy! No!" Jack shouted. "If someone reads that, it's just the same as telling them about him! He'll go after them too!"
"That's the point."
The pair stopped fighting once they heard that. It was a muffled voice, but it was coming from the red masked figure. The figure was flipping through the pages almost casually as it was speaking.
"Once this gets out, more will be aware of his existence."
Troy was getting a very strange feeling that he had heard that voice before, even if it was muffled. Jack started fighting harder to free himself once the figure said that.
"Stop this!" the Zafara shouted. "No one else should suffer like I have!"
"You should embrace it. It's so much easier when you follow of your own will..."
"That voice..." Troy muttered, before the realization hit him. "I know that voice! Show yourself!"
The figure was silent for a moment before it reached up and took off the red mask. There was a pink Lenny under the mask. She had a crazed look in her eye and a dark grin on her face.
"I hope you found what you needed in the archives," she said, holding up his journal again. "Because I have everything I need right here."
"Troy!" Jack said, "Who is that?"
"She works for the Neopian Times," the Lupe growled. "I thought she was just the receptionist, but apparently I was mistaken..."
It was all starting to come together. The picture that Troy had found that was blacked out entirely was covered in ink. The solvent Delina had to use to remove it was the kind they used to clean up ink spills in The Neopian Times, so it had to be paper ink. She would have had access to the paper ink to mark out everything. She could have also used the delivery records of The Neopian Times to determine where Jack had moved to. It also explained how she had managed to move down the steps in Jack's old house without making a sound. She had been flying just off the ground. She hadn't been at the desk when he left the archives, because she had been down there with him in the basement as well. Not to mention, someone who worked there wouldn't need to sign in, or have the others sign in either.
"It's a very nice read, what you have written here," the Lenny said. "Once I give it a few edits, it'll be ready for the front page. I can see the headline now. 'Mysterious Journal Chronicles Encounters with Draik in Black!' So many more becoming aware of his existence..."
"Don't do this!" Jack pleaded.
"Let us go!" Troy demanded.
"It's not up to me..." she said.
The lights in the hallway went out and Troy's ears were suddenly assaulted by the sound of a swarm of Unidentified Petpetpets. He started to cough violently again as the Lenny put her mask back on. Troy began to fight again to get out of Ashton's grip, and he suddenly let him go. The Lupe fell to the ground, still coughing hard. He rolled onto his side as he lay coughing and could see the feet of the Draik in Black standing just past the doorway in the hallway.
Troy's vision was starting to blur and his head began to spin. He couldn't pull himself away from staring at the Draik in Black from his prone position. He didn't know what was about to happen, but whatever was caused the Draik in Black to take a victim was about to overcome him as well. At least, he felt that, until Ashton fell over, coughing hard under his mask, his large body blocking his line of sight vision of the faceless Draik.
The Lupe's mind raced to figure out what had just happened. But there was no time to waste. Troy reached out and pulled the mask off of Ashton's face. The Skeith was still coughing hard and his eyes were still glazed over. Troy's coughing fit was getting stronger as he looked up and saw that the Draik in Black hadn't moved.
A sudden wave of nausea hit Troy as his gaze returned to the faceless Draik. The room started to spin around him. It took a great amount of mental effort for Troy to tear his gaze away. His eyes found the door to the room.
Troy had an idea, he grabbed at the doorknob and slammed the door to the room shut. The Draik in Black might have still been out there, but he felt his dizziness passing and the sound of the Unidentified Petpetpets ringing in his ears fading.
"That won't stop him for long," the Lenny said flatly.
The Skeith was still lying on the ground coughing. Troy ignored her and his attention to the still-masked Marco. He had his hands full trying to keep Jack subdued and was unable to get out of the way before Troy ripped his mask off. The Kyrii had the same glazed, white-eyed look on his face that Ashton had; he too, broke into a massive coughing fit. Marco let the Zafara go and fell to the ground, coughing hard.
"Jack! Make sure they're okay!" Troy shouted, which the Zafara nodded and checked on his two roommates. Their coughing fit seemed to be easing up with the Draik in Black behind the door.
With that taken care of, Troy turned his attention back to the red-masked Lenny.
"You can't stop him," she said, taking a step backward. "He will always be here. He's like a force of nature. You should just accept it."
"I might not be able to stop the Draik in Black," Troy growled. "But I can stop you from spreading his presence!"
Troy lunged toward the masked figure. He reached for his journal as he charged. The Lenny lifted her hand up to keep it away from him as she dodged to the right. The lights in the room started to flicker. Marco and Ashton started to cough harder. Troy looked up at the flickering lights and realized he didn't have much time.
"You've already been afflicted," the Lenny said. "It's only a matter of time before you're one of us."
Troy charged for her again, and once more, she stepped out of the way. She seemed to be toying with him, moving his journal just out of reach every time he lunged for it. His mind was racing with how he could possibly get his journal out of her grasp while still trying to escape once the Draik in Black would inevitably appear.
"They still are who they are. If you take their masks off, they return to normal." Jack's words from before were echoing in his mind. "But she took her mask off to reveal herself. So even without it on, she's like this. So why put it back on? She did that... when she realized the Draik in Black was about to appear. What if... there's another reason to wear a mask? What if it's used for protection as well?"
The lights in the room flickered again as Troy made another lunge for the Lenny. However, once she side-stepped him, he quickly turned on his heel to grab around her waist. She gasped in surprise as Troy caught her. The Lupe quickly hooked his arms under hers to keep her locked in his grip. Just as he did so, the lights in the room went out.
"Let me go!" she demanded and struggled to get out of his grip.
"Why don't we ask him what to do?" Troy growled as the lights to the room turned back on.
The Draik in Black was standing in the corner of the room. Troy saw him standing there and then pulled off the Lenny's mask and pointed her towards him.
He could hear the storm of Unidentified Petpet's hit his ears again as his vision blurred. However, he could also tell that the Lenny was struggling even harder now.
"No! No! Let me go!" she screamed out.
Troy mustered the last of his willpower to turn his head to avoid looking at the Draik in Black while keeping his grip on her steady. She began to flail and fight more in his grasp.
"Stop this! Please!" she pleaded. "Don't do this! Don't let him take me!"
The lights in the room went out again, and Troy's grip was suddenly empty. When the lights turned on again, both the Lenny and the Draik in Black had vanished.
Troy slumped down to his knees and started breathing hard. His journal was on the ground. Apparently, at some point while she was fighting and struggling with him, she must have dropped it. Troy picked up the book and flipped through it. It was still all there. Everything he had written down to find Jack.
"Is it over?" the Zafara said, looking towards the Lupe.
Troy flipped to the last page in his journal. There was writing there that he didn't put in.
"It's never over. Found you forever."
It was the same calm style of writing that he had seen on some of the previous pictures. Troy coughed for a moment after reading it, and realized what it was. It was a message from the Draik in Black.
Troy shook his head. "It's never over. But at least we stopped her."
"We need to destroy that journal," Jack said.
"We need to get them to a hospital first," Troy replied, pointing to Marco and Ashton. They had stopped coughing, but they were still unconscious.
"Okay," Jack said. "I'll stay here. You go get some help."
Troy nodded and got back to his feet. His legs were still a bit wobbly as he took a few steps forward. It took a moment for him to get his balance back, but he was able to get across the room and to the door. He took another second to get his bearings straight as he opened the door.
The Draik in Black was in the doorway.
Both Troy and Jack screamed...
I'm still not sure what happened.
One day, I was with my friends Jack, Marco, and Ashton just before they were about to go on a year-long trip around Neopia, and the next day, all four of us were in the Neopian Hospital. None of us knew how we got here, or why we were all in the hospital. The doctors said that we were all found unconscious in the middle of the night in the streets of Neovia. The strangest part is the date.
It's been over two years, and I can't remember anything that happened. None of us can. The last thing we all remember is hanging out together the day before they went on vacation. Something happened to us. Whatever it was, it made us lose two years of our lives and memory.
The doctors suggested it might have been a traumatic event that caused it. I'm not exactly sure what it might have been. Maybe it has something to do with Jack's house burning down. They were all pretty upset to find out that they had lost everything. Marco was upset that he would have to buy all new clothes and beauty products. Ashton is still grieving over the loss of his beloved chair. Jack... Jack seems a bit lost by the whole thing. He's mostly upset over the loss of his scrapbooks and any pictures they might have taken on their trip.
Well, at least they're all safe. We have each other. I'm letting them stay with me until they can get back on their feet. Marco offered to help and picked up a new job as a receptionist at The Neopian Times. Apparently their last one just vanished without a trace.
It is weird how we've all lost that amount of time. But if it really was a traumatic as the doctors say it was, then maybe it's for the best that we don't remember.
At least we have each other.
Troy closed his journal and placed it in his desk drawer. It was almost dinner time, and Jack had told him that they were going to try and plan a whole new trip around Neopia. After all, a lot of things can change in two years. The Lupe shut the lights off to his bedroom and walked through his house until he got to his dining room.
Marco, Ashton, and Jack were already seated around the dining room table. Troy joined his friends there just as Jack was going over everything he wanted to do on their vacation.
"Check it out!" the Zafara said happily. "I even got a brand new camera to take a lot of pictures with!"
The lights in the dining room started to flicker.
The group looked up at them, but they soon returned to normal.
"Odd," Ashton said.
"Eh, I'm sure it's nothing..." Troy said.