Coronation: Part Eight
Also by bookworm7
While Yuruyuki and Saskia were enjoying Deviled Eggs for breakfast on the fourth day of our journey, I snuck outside to the back of Saskia's house and located the Steam Respiration Mask. It was covered in a thin layer of rust from sitting in the rain all night. I took it with both hands and cracked it with ease over my knee.
Three masks to go.
I washed my hands of the rust and joined the others at the kitchen table. I informed them that I wanted to visit Coltzan's Shrine to investigate the connection between the Clockwork Negg and the present mystery. After relaxing for a few hours, we packed food and tents for our excursion and set out; although the Lost Desert was close, we weren't going to reach the shrine until the next day since we were traveling on foot.
After several hours, we reached the edge of the shady southern forests and began crossing the desert. Though it was dreadfully torrid during the early afternoon, the wintery weather rolled in unexpectedly as the nighttime drew closer. The sun set early in the day, and the dry desert air was quickly beginning to cool. It was going to be a cold winter night in the desert. Once it became too dark to wander, we set up our tents and rested.
I awoke early on the fifth day of our seven-day journey and quietly left my chilly tent. The Solar Flare Mask that I had left outside my tent was chilled to the marrow from the midnight sands. Before it had the chance to warm up in the morning sunlight, I shattered it with my fist.
Two masks to go.
We finished the remainder of our trek early in the day, arriving at Coltzan's Shrine. We were alone. I approached the shrine and called, "King Coltzan III, I request your knowledge and assistance."
Coltzan's ghost appeared in front of the monolith. "What troubles you, young Neopian?"
I took the Fairest of Feathers Mask out of my shoulder bag and held it up. "These masks contain evil spirits that only I have been able to see. We believe that this is so because I came in contact with an amulet that drew some of its power from the Sand Negg. I want to know if you can also see these ghosts."
"I will do what I can to help you..." Coltzan's ghost closed his eyes for a moment. "Yes, I can see the ghost. It is hideous, vile, and bloodthirsty. It is lost, hated, and unwanted."
"Then I am correct in my decision to destroy these masks," I said resolutely.
"No, Sin, you are wrong," replied Coltzan. "I am seeing the ghost that is within you."
"You mean to say that the ghosts of the masks have already possessed me?"
"Sin, you must listen. I sense that the ghost within you is a violent hunter. It is seeking to overpower you and hunt down the innocent ghosts that dwell within the masks."
I shook my head. "I have seen the ghost in this mask. It is menacing and monstrous. How can you call it innocent?"
"The ghost in the mask that you are holding is a beautiful creature. It is both ancient and new to this world. It is neither good nor evil. It is hunting for light and being hunted by darkness."
"I don't understand, King Coltzan."
"Then let this be of aid."
The sand beneath my feet felt warmer than usual. I knelt down and parted the sand, revealing the Kings Lens. I picked it up and awaited Coltzan's instruction.
"Look at the mask through this lens. The lens will mitigate the curse that has been placed upon you and let you see the truth."
Hesitantly, I secured the Fairest of Feathers Mask onto my face. With my free hand, I removed Fyoras Looking Glass from my pocket and looked into its truth-revealing illusion. The mask's reflection once again transformed into a hideous monster. My face felt hot and sweaty beneath the living mask; I started feeling nauseated.
I quickly held the Kings Lens in front of the mirror and was astonished by the sudden alteration in the mirror's reflection. In it, I beheld the most fair and beautiful Faerie Lenny I had ever seen.
"At last I may speak with you, Sin," she said. "I have urgent news."
Surprised and relieved, I asked, "Who are you? Why are you and your friends haunting these masks?"
The Faerie Lenny closed her eyes and parted her exquisite feathers. "I will do my best to represent my race. Be assured that we mean you no harm. We are merely spirits who have found sanctuary in the masks. Pay strict heed and do not reveal this information to anyone but those closest to you.
"We are refugees from a planet in a parallel dimension. We come from a wicked, war-torn Neopia where darkness had worked its way into our hearts and minds. The source of the darkness was a young enchanter who traveled the world and left behind him seeds of chaos. Wherever he went, his presence awakened within us our weaknesses: pride, greed, sloth, and envy. His goal was to become a king over all and purge the world of goodness.
"Our kingdoms were falling one by one. The righteous kings and queens united their forces against the hypnotist and his followers, but none could fight in the unseen battle that took place in our hearts and minds.
"When the world sank into darkness and could not be redeemed, the remaining righteous citizens decided to abandon the world. Using the mysterious powers of the Dimensional Paint Brush, we escaped by traversing time and space, but doing so meant leaving behind our tangible bodies of flesh and bone.
"When we came into this parallel Neopia, we could be nothing more than watchful spirits. We wished to take form, but we could not; physical bodies are only granted to those who are born into the world, and ghost bodies are only offered to those who die in this world.
"After a thousand years, we were finally given an opportunity to become alive once again. The Swamp Witch's spell fused our spirits into the vast amounts of ghost matter found in the Haunted Woods. We celebrated our newfound existence, but our joy lasted mere seconds.
"Our spirits had been drifting in abeyance for a thousand years; during that time our spirits had deteriorated into broken, hideous entities. When we became one with the ghost matter and looked upon our new forms, we were ashamed and fearful of our monstrous deformities. We veiled our existence by melding our ghost bodies with the trees of the haunted forest and wanted nothing more than to be cured of our cursed existence.
"There lived a Cybunny in those woods, a craftsman and woodworker. We watched her as she tried time and time again to create beautiful masks that could make others happy, yet she could not succeed on her own. We appeared to her in her dreams. There, we could take shape as our original selves, walk with her, and inspire her creative mind. Using what she had seen in her dreams, she fashioned our trees and other natural materials into beautiful creations.
"We were ecstatic. The Neopians that we had watched over for a thousand years began to wear us proudly on their faces. We thought we had found our final sanctuary... until you appeared.
"The spirit of that enchanter, the one who had persecuted us in our past life, manifested himself unto us through you. Somehow his spirit, still determined to eliminate the good in us, had followed us into this dimension. We feared his return and could not believe that he had managed to survive a thousand years steeped in loneliness and hatred.
"As ghost bodies, we are unable to overpower your physical body which he now resides in. We cannot assist you as you rid yourself of his spirit, but we plead that you abandon his malicious influence. He is planning on overtaking you and destroying us all.
"Sin, this is an important matter. His presence in this dimension is worse than you can imagine. As powerful as he was as a mortal in our old dimension, he is now infinitely more powerful as an immortal soul split between two dimensions. As long as his spirit lingers here, the two dimensions will continue to try to merge together as the two parts of his spirit gravitate toward one another. Unfortunately, the force of the dimensions colliding together has ripped tears in the fabric of space.
"The black hole that your friend mentioned will engulf Neopia. You must find a way to banish the Enchanter from your mind and from this world before his presence destroys us all. He will continue to affect the space around your world and drag everyone from both of our worlds with him into the abyss."
The image of the Faerie Lenny began to fade from the mirror.
I implored, "How am I supposed to rid myself of his spirit?"
Gravely, she responded, "I do not know of a way that does not involve your death."
To be continued...