The moonlight filtered in through the dirty windows as the sounds of creaking doors and rustling papers crackled in the night. The silent hallway stretched in front of the lone figure as his shoes clicked and clacked down the once-pristine tile hallway of Meepit Oaks. Not so long ago this place was filled with the screams and groans of its patients, muffled by the thick iron doors and treatments administered by the stressed out doctors and nurses. It had been a disaster waiting to happen; all it had taken was a little push. That little push, accompanied by the seeds Krawley had planted earlier had wreaked havoc upon the Haunted Woods's sole bright beacon of Neovia.
The Krawk smiled and whistled an old shanty to himself as he strolled around, admiring his handiwork. The doors had already started to rust, and dust collected in every nook and cranny. Spyder webs stretched over corners and open door frames, their small, numerous inhabitants making this once respected institution their home. The whistling turned to humming as he sauntered through the twisting passages, laughing in delight at the overturned chairs and tables and taking in pleasure from the destruction that was left in every nook and cranny of Meepit Oaks.
It had been so easy to set the madness in motion; it just had needed a little coaxing. Meepit Oaks had been a time bomb ticking away. It was a wonder a catastrophe didn't happen before Krawley's involvement. If it had, though, then the plan wouldn't have blossomed so beautifully. He had only spent a short period of time in this infernal place, but it had been enough to allow him to see into the door of madness.
The doors. Krawley ran his fingers over the scratches in the door closest to him, smiling at the thought of the mutant that made it. He walked slowly along the hallway, his smile growing wider as he took in the sight of all of the damaged doors. Each one held a story, much like the inmates that they used to shield from the world. He could read the story in each door, from the broken locks to the rust creeping up from the bottom. Every door held a scar of some sort, except one.
The lone metal slab at the end of the hallway stared at Krawley with its intact lock and clean surface. It was one of the only things in this entire building that was not damaged, and Krawley knew exactly why. He knew what lay behind the door, and as he approached it the memories started to come back. Planting the chaos seeds in Neovia and with the young Gelert had been too easy, but the one that he had planted here had taken longer and had taken more out of Krawley. It had not been very difficult, but the fate of one particular nurse had weighed heavily in his mind.
Krawley rested his hand on the smooth metal surface of the door, and through the tiny barred window he could see the faint glow of the flower that Lucy had treasured to her end. No noise came from behind the door, but the sullen Krawk could feel her presence behind it. He suppressed the urge to open the door and see what lie behind, instead pulling back his hand and turning solemnly away.
It was so easy in the beginning. Making the potions, selling them, not a problem, but it couldn't stop there. I had to destroy this place. Neovia wouldn't have learned its lesson if I hadn't, and the story cannot complete itself without the seed I planted here. It should have been simple, walk in, give her the flower, and allow them to destroy themselves. All I had to do was trap the staff in Neovia. Everything had gone perfectly, all the pieces had fallen into place, and the curse had fallen just as I had predicted.
He turned and looked back at the door.
Sometimes sacrifices just have to be made.
Krawley returned to his march down the hallway. The sight of the door had surfaced the memories that had taken place just a few months ago, though they felt like a lifetime away....
"The name is Dr. Alexander, and I have been sent from Neopia Central. They apologize that no one else could be sent, but I'm afraid my coworkers and I have been awfully busy with some rather bad business there, but its nothing to concern you." Krawley flashed a smile at the end of his greeting, and he could tell by the twinkle in the young Acara's eyes that this job would be easier than he had expected.
"Oh wonderful!" she chirped. "Please, please come in. I'm Nurse Lucy." She twirled on her heel and walked inside with a spring in her step, despite her obvious fatigue. Krawley shut the door and smiled, careful not to let her see it. One small slip could be disastrous to his carefully laid plans.
"Nearly our entire staff has disappeared, and Dr. Valus, Miles and I just can't handle this place on our own. The inmates are getting wild, and I fear that if something isn't done soon, horrible things will happen!" She stopped in front of Krawley and rolled up her sleeve, revealing several nasty looking bruises. "These aren't the worst injuries that-"
Her words were cut short as Krawley gently touched her arm, and a smile spread over her face. He smiled back, playing the character. "Don't worry, I'll be able to fix these troubles. Soon you won't have to worry about anything anymore."
Relief spread across Lucy's face. "So how are you going to help us? Did you bring a miracle in that satchel of yours?"
"As a matter of fact I did." Krawley smiled again as he pulled out a glass bottle, filled two thirds of the way with a glowing green liquid that refracted the light from the window, bouncing it around the room. Lucy's eyes widened.
Krawley's smile widened as he twirled the bottle, making the liquid spin in a little tornado. "Your miracle."
They had fallen for his act hook, line, and sinker. As he had gone around the asylum calming the inmates with his elixir, Lucy had followed him with her big eyes. He didn't mind; Dr. Alexander was doing his job perfectly, all he had to do after giving out the elixir was give the nurse the flower. After that, he could sit back and watch the asylum tear itself apart. Valus had played his role perfectly as well; after finding out that Dr. Alexander had give a token of affection to the beautiful Nurse Lucy, he fell into the mad jealously that Krawley had predicted. It was then only a matter of time before the ticking time bomb that was Meepit Oaks exploded.
The night chills had set in, and Krawley decided that his nostalgic visit should come to an end. He rolled his shoulders and headed to the front door, but once he stepped into the foyer he stopped short.
A Lupe stood in his way. From his dark, shaggy fur and tall, muscular stature, Krawley could tell he had Werelupe blood in him.
Krawley sighed. He didn't feel like dealing with locals right now, even if this Werelupe wasn't under the control of a full moon. "Get out of my way."
The Lupe smiled. "You don't remember me, do you?" He stepped closer, and Krawley could see the hungry look in his emerald eyes. Something about him was familiar, yet...
"Not in the least. Now get out of my way you mangy pile of fur." He went to push his way past but the Lupe blocked his way.
"Of course you don't remember me, but I remember you. Dr. Alexander."
Krawley took a step back as the memory hit him.
"You see my dear, all you have to do it mix the elixir into the inmates food, and ta-da! The once rowdy creatures are peaceful as kittens." An amazed Lucy watched as Krawley walked up to a restrained inmate and poured the elixir down his throat. Almost as soon as the strange mixture touched the Skeith's lips he stopped thrashing and calmed into an almost sleep like state. Lucy clapped, then stopped as she didn't want to wake up the Skeith again. Krawley chuckled.
"No worries, he won't give you any more trouble as long you give this to him once a day."
"And it will work for all the patients?"
Krawley nodded. "That's right."
Elation shone through Lucy's stress-lined face. "That's great! Oh, thank you, Dr. Alexander! This will make everything so much easier."
Krawley smiled. "Thank you, I'm quite proud of it myself." He put the bottle into his pocket, and when he withdrew his hand a beautiful glowing flower was in its place. Lucy gasped at the sight of it.
"Lucy... I'm very impressed with how you've been handling this whole situation, and I thought a little beauty might be a welcome break from all this madness." He held out the flower to the nurse.
"Oh Dr. Alexander, it-"
Both of them turned to face the doorway, where a thin yet stocky Lupe stood. He had on the hospital pajamas that all of the inmates wore, but something about him was different. His eyes were clear and his voice steady, like he had his grip on sanity. Every other patient in this place was little more than a mindless mutant. Why was this Lupe here, and even more... why wasn't he in a cell?
"Oh Menderlin, please let me introduce you to Dr. Alexander. He's come to help us."
The Lupe gave Krawley little more than a glance before turning his attention back to Lucy. "You haven't fed us since yesterday. We're all starving."
"Yes, I know, I'm sorry. We've all been so busy and-"
"We're hungry, Nurse Lucy." He gave Krawley a sideways stare as he slowly shuffled out of the room. Something about that stare made Krawley very uncomfortable. Lucy looked flustered.
"I'm sorry, Dr. Alexander... Menderlin isn't supposed to roam around. Dr. Valus must have let him out."
"Why would he let one of these crazed patients out?"
Lucy looked uncomfortable. "Menderlin is... different. He isn't mindless... always."
Lucy took Krawley's hand that was holding the flower. "Look, enough about the inmates." She smiled, and Krawley couldn't help smiling back.
"Right. Now where was I?"
Now he remembered. There had been one patient not in need of the elixir. While all the other inmates had fought and clawed the doctors, one young Lupe had sat quietly, watching everything with clear eyes from behind his door. Krawley had asked about the strange Lupe several times, but Lucy had always been tight-lipped about it.
"It isn't important, Dr. Alexander. Just please let it be."
"Ah, so you do remember me." The Lupe stepped closer, bringing Krawley back from his thoughts. "I had suspicions about you from the beginning, Dr. Alexander." He said that name as if were some sort of poison. "I knew you weren't what you said you are, but I had no way of making sure." He smiled a wicked smile. "But I know now. Your secret is out."
"Oh is it? And who are you going to tell, little Lupe? No one would believe an inmate from Meepit Oaks." Krawley was sure nothing was being betrayed in his voice, but that Lupe's smile unsettled him. "Just run home to your cave."
"Ha!" Menderlin threw back his head and laughed, long and loud. "That's right, we were just pawns in your game? Your sick, twisted game." He stepped closer. "The inmates might not have known that you were putting your elixir into their food, but I did. No one else saw you turning Lucy and Valus against each other, but I saw. After you abandoned us and left the inmates to overwhelm the only people that had every cared for us I knew..." His eyes darkened, and when Krawley attempted to take a step back he found that he was pinned against a wall. The Lupe went on. "I knew you were a fake and I knew that you were just setting this up! When everything went to madness I got away so that my knowledge would be safe, so that I could reveal the monster that you really are! And what do you know, it's a double win for me!"
Menderlin grabbed Krawley by the collar and held him up several inches off the ground. "Do you have any idea what the price on your head is? Anyone that lives in the Haunted Woods would give me a small fortune to turn you in for what you did in Neovia!" The greed and self-satisfaction shone in the Lupe's eyes.
"Sorry, kid, you'll never get that chance." The color drained from Menderlin's face as Krawley disappeared. He reformed himself behind the Lupe and sprinted out the door. The Lupe chased him, like Krawley expected, and all it took was a few whispered words to send his attacker tumbling to the ground. Krawley slowed to a stop and turn around.
"You think you know everything, kid?" Krawley menacingly walked over to the fallen Lupe and crouched down by him. The wind blew through his shaggy fur as Menderlin stared up at him with eyes filled with fear. The Krawk smiled.
"Funny, isn't it? All the knowledge in the world wouldn't be able to save you from a simple paralyzing spell."
Krawley pulled an empty vial out of his pocket and wagged it in front of Menderlin's eyes. "You seem to like knowing things. Maybe knowledge will come easier to an empty mind." He held the vial close to the Lupe's temple and uttered a spell. Menderlin's eyes slowly closed as a clear mist filled the vial. Once the vessel was full, Krawley tied the cork on and stood up, pausing before storing Menderlin's memories away safely in his pocket. As Krawley turned on his heel and left the past behind, he smiled.
Let it begin.