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Letters to Goose


by chistise

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      Dear Goose,

      I hope you are well and enjoying your travels in Shenkuu. I heard the weather there in summer is nice and warm.

      I’m sorry that I haven’t written as often as I promised but I’ve been busy settling into my new home. My initial impressions of it were somewhat mixed but I’ve come to like it since. I’ve always wanted to live in an old, spooky mansion like this. I’m getting inspiration for my mystery novel every hour I spend here.

      I got rather a shock the first night I came here. You remember how awful the weather was just that evening. After you went off on urgent business, I went down the winding path to the house. I stumbled upon it just as I started to worry I had taken a wrong turn somewhere. I pushed open the gate with a tremendous creak and walked up the decrepit path to the house. Lighting flashed as I reached the door and I saw this great, bulky outline of the house looming over me. It looked like it could topple over at any minute. I almost turned back but by then I had already knocked on the door and it seemed impolite to retreat just then.

      I shouldn’t have worried for no one came to the door. I leaned up against it to listen for any footsteps. I thought that in such a big house it might take someone a few minutes to walk all the way to the front room from the attic or perhaps an old master bedroom. I couldn’t hear anything. I leaned in closer and accidently toppled into the mansion. I had pushed the door open while trying to listen in. You’ll never guess what I saw then.

      A fiery monster was sitting at the top of the stairs! He had black scales and red skin. He was like the Snowager only red instead of blue. He sat in a throne of deep oak wood with large red cushions. At that very moment he was blowing smoke up into the rafters. He looked at me and hissed horribly. I scrambled to my feet just as the door slammed shut behind me.

      “Did Goose send you?” the monster asked in a far too high-pitched voice.

      I will admit my voice trembled as I replied in the affirmative. He surprised me, I had expected him to sound deep like rocks on gravel but instead his voice was melodic and soft. The monster sat up and my suspicions were confirmed when I realized it was not a monster at all but a neopet, like you and me, a magma Bori to be exact. He stood up and tossed the umbrella I had mistaken for his head aside. As he did so, a series of raindrops landed on his head from a leak in the roof. The Bori flinched as the water sizzled on the red magma beside his left ear and steam rose around it. My new sibling hadn’t hissed at me at all or breathed flame. It had been an unintentional illusion.

      The Bori introduced himself as Volkan, the one you had written to about me. He didn’t speak very much that first evening, or has since really. He gave me a tour of the mansion’s main rooms and told me I could pick any bedroom I wanted. I was very tired that first night and quickly picked one on the third floor without too many leaks.

      I’d like to thank you again for finding me accommodation so soon after I asked you about it. I intend to write to you more often from now on. It was part of our bargain after all.

      Do come by if you’re passing through this neck of the woods.

      Your old travelling companion,

      Crytique

     

---

      Dear Goose,

      Volkan told me you left Shenkuu last night and are now heading to Krawk Island. I hope the ocean stays calm in your wake. I always found sea voyages the most disconcerting of all travel. You never seemed to mind it though.

      Recently I have taken to exploring the mansion and cataloguing all the repairs that need attending to. Volkan and I are slowly getting used to each other’s company. We’ve settled into an easy routine of late hours and shared meals. Despite allegedly coming here to do some light housekeeping in return for paying no rent, Volkan has assigned me no work whatsoever. When I brought up the subject he told me I was free to do as I pleased so long as I left the attics and the roof alone.

      That has limited my abilities with repairs somewhat. I found a closet full of old pots and pans and have put them under every leak I could find. The house is now quite sonorous whenever it rains, which is almost incessantly. There are many leaks and they seem to multiply with every floor I move upwards. I’m already using the more battered articles in the top floors where visitors hopefully won’t see them.

      Not that we get many guests. This confused me immensely on arrival and Volkan’s behaviour continues to bemuse me. Every evening after dinner Volkan dresses up in his best suit, places an old Halloween Bori skull on his head and carefully sharpens and whitens his claws. He then pushes the big wooden chair I first thought of as a throne out of a hidden compartment near the top of the stairs. He sits on the chair at the top of the staircase. He takes out the red umbrella that frightened me when I first arrived and angles it to stop the leak above his head as best he can. Then, he relaxes into the chair and stares down at the door.

      I asked him about it a few times and he explained that he was waiting for some guests to arrive. He wanted to impress them in his best get up. He chortled a little, remembering the fright I got the first time I saw him. It was the mansion’s atmosphere and the thunderstorm that put me in such a jittery frame of mind to begin with. I can’t imagine being afraid of this tame little Bori with his worn skull mask and frayed cloak under normal circumstances. It puzzles me that no guests ever come. Volkan spends most of the day up in the attics. I have no idea what he does there; all I hear is occasional footsteps. My new lodgings have given me a lot of spare time to write, thanks to the few responsibilities and little company. I have written almost one hundred pages since I arrived.

      I’ll send you a copy of the manuscript when I’ve finished it. It will give you something to do during those long sea voyages. Write to me about it or your travels when you have some spare time.

      Remember your welcome here anytime. Volkan would love a guest I’m sure.

      Your old travelling companion,

      Crytique

          

---

      Dear Goose,

      I don’t know what I should do! I’ve barricaded myself into my room but I don’t know how long it will hold if Volkan tries to get in. What if those masks come after me? They’re so creepy, they were whispering at me. I could hear them, asking me to wear them. I ran as fast as I could.

      …No one is coming. I can hear the wind howling in the eaves but no footsteps or whispers. I think I’ve just been unintentionally cryptic. I’ve calmed down somewhat so I’ll try to explain what happened.

      I’ve been spending the last month trying to get this house in working order – fixing creaky steps on the many staircases, replacing lightbulbs and tattered curtains, throwing out broken furniture and replacing it with the stored furniture. The one major repair job that I’ve been avoiding but would do the most to improve the mansions is of course fixing the roof. I’ve found a temporary solution with the pots and pans but I couldn’t take the constant “pling, pling, plong, plink, pling” any longer. I decided I needed to fix the roof the next opportunity that arose.

      Today was the first sunny day since I’ve been here. There wasn’t a single cloud in the sky and it was really cold. I got up and decided winter had finally come. Volkan rose earlier than usual too and went to the nearby village, Neovia, to stock up on supplies. He said he’d be home late and not to wait up for him before reminding me to stay out of the attic. This was my opportunity!

      Despite Volkan’s warning, I gathered some supplies and then went straight up to the attics when he left. The entrance to the attic is a trap door in the ceiling of one of the rooms. The trap door is locked but can be opened with a small brass key, a key that Volkan always carries on his person and never leaves unattended. Unknown to Volkan is the spare key to the attic I found while cleaning out an old wardrobe. I hadn’t had a chance to test the key on the trapdoor but I was almost certain it was the right one. It was identical to Volkan’s key.

      I went to the trapdoor and carefully balanced on the table that was always placed beneath it. I easily managed to fit the key into the lock and turned it smoothly. With a click the trapdoor unlocked and I pushed the flap up over my head to look around. The attic was completely dark and smelled of dust. I couldn’t see anything but the wooden floorboards with the small amount of light from the room below. I was a little disappointed by this anti-climax. I don’t know what I expected, certainly not such a plain room.

      I had come with a task to do though and now I gently lit the oil lamp. The flame took and I realized I was standing in a small, empty room with a sloping roof. There was a doorway with no door a few feet away. I walked through it, entering a long passageway. The floorboards creaked underfoot and I could see disturbances in the dust (and some ash) where a certain magma Bori had walked before me. It was cold in the attic and the passageway seemed to go on and on. Occasionally there were more doorways but they all seemed to lead to empty rooms. At first I checked every one of them thoroughly, looking for a way to the roof. But as the passageway went on I stopped taking notice. I focused on the floor, looking for the way Volkan had come.

      I came to the end of the dust-free path. The long corridor reached off into the distance, or so it seemed from the small circle of light the oil lamp created. To my right was another doorway. This time there was a sturdy looking black door in place. I pushed down the metal door handle slowly; worried that it might be locked. The door creaked open. A sudden gust of wind swirled around my ankles. The bottom of my dress pressed against my feet I only just stopped myself from tripping over the end as I stepped up into this new room. The wind didn’t let up but became stronger until I had to bend forward just to make headway. The candle in the oil lamp flickered. I held it up to survey this new room. The floor was spotless. The wind must blow away any dust or debris. It was another narrow corridor, leading off into the dusty gloom.

      My hand trembles as I write this to you, Goose. As I looked at the walls of that passage I saw masks hanging from nails on the wall. All the way from the ceiling to the floor, every inch of those walls was covered in masks. Each one of them was staring at me out of menacing, black eyeholes – making my fur stand on end. Then I heard it. The whistling of the wind was their whispering. Each mask was whispering at me without a mouth. I froze. The wind grew even stronger, taking my breath away.

      “Take us,” the masks implored, “wear us. Wear Us. WEAR US!”

      I screamed but the sound died in my throat. The room was spinning around me, the masks blurring into one another. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t speak. Their order rang in my ears, louder and louder. The wind grew even stronger. I felt like I was falling, the masks still dancing before my eyes.

      I woke up in near complete darkness. I was sprawled on the dusty floor. I was cold and my head hurt, my ears rang. I looked along the empty corridor and then my memories came flooding back. I remembered the masks just beyond the slightly ajar door opposite me. I scrambled to my feet and in the darkness, stumbled back down the corridor the way I had come. In my hurry I forgot all about the oil lamp. I half swung half fell through the trap door and into the soft evening light of the room below.

      I ran to my room, slamming the door behind me. Hurriedly, I started to stuff my clothes and other belongings into my bag. I planned to leave immediately. I couldn’t think straight. All I knew was that I had to get away from those terrifying masks. As far away as I possible could.

      As I was packing, I heard the door open below. Volkan was back. Why was Volkan keeping those masks? Why did he have them? A new fear came over me and I shuddered. What if Volkan realized I had been in the attic? I looked wildly around the room and my eyes fell on my writing desk. I started to push the writing desk towards the door. I heard Volkan stomping up the stairs. My heart skipped a beat as I wedged the desk firmly in front of the door. He was coming for me. He knew I had been in the attic, his masks had told him. I heaved the chair onto the writing desk and then heaped my packed bags against it for good measure. A quiet knock came from the other side of the door.

      “I’m back, Crytique,” Volkan said through the door, “Are you alright in there?”

      I stared at the door, willing it to stay shut.

      “Crytique?” Volkan asked confused, “Is something wrong? Do you need any help?”

      I remained where I stood. I watched in horror as the door handle slowly turned.

      “DON’T COME IN!” I shouted.

      “Crytique, what’s wrong?” he asked, turning the handle as far as it would go, evidently pushing against the door. He knocked again, more loudly this time. “Is it a spyder? Did something happen to your book?”

      My eyes landed on the scattered and crumpled pages of my unfinished manuscript. The pages were scattered all over the floor.

      “I-I’m just writing and don’t want to be disturbed,” I faltered.

      “Alright,” Volkan replied after a long moment, a note of relief in his voice.

      I took a deep steadying breath and tried to think of what to do. I immediately thought of you. You would know just what to do in a situation like this!

      Please, Goose, what can I do? How can I escape? I don’t think I can climb out of my third story window. Even my body of rock will shatter if I fall. I don’t know what Volkan will do when he finds out I’ve been in the attic. Maybe he’ll sit and guard the front door like he does every evening. He could walk up there any moment now and see the unlocked trapdoor. I’m going to send you this with William, my Weewoo. I know he can find you. Please look after him and send help and a reply immediately.

      Before it’s too late!

      Critique

     

---

      Dear Goose,

      You’ll be glad to know I’m safe. I hope this letter reaches you before my other letter arrives. If not, I’m sorry for any inconvenience I may have brought you. I was out of my mind with fear then and shouldn’t have written.

      Everything was one, big misunderstanding. Volkan has explained everything to me since. I’m still not feeling well. I’ll write you a longer letter when I have recovered but until then, please know that I am safe and well (with the exception of coming down with a case of sneezles).

      Your rather silly friend,

      Critique

     

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      Dear Goose,

      I heard you have found another neopet to join you on your travels. What is his name? Do you get along well? I promised you the conclusion of my rather unfortunate adventure into the attic.

      I’m sure you got my two letters by now since William returned yesterday (thank you for taking such good care of my fluffy Weewoo). After I finished that first panicked letter, I paced the room for some time trying to think of what to do but soon my exhaustion overcame me and I fell into an uneasy slumber.

      The next morning I found a note slipped underneath my door from Volkan. I dizzily got up, stubbing my paw against the bottom of the writing desk as I stooped to pick it up. I wasn’t feeling well at all. I did manage to read the note though. It was rather short, like most everything Volkan says. He explained that he found my broken oil lamp in the corridor with the masks (I still shudder when I think of that room). He apologised for not explaining himself earlier but that the attic was dangerous to go into when it was wet, especially for someone who didn’t know their way around. Some corridors and doorways have old floors or half broken planks that could easily break under the weight of a neopet and the rain made everything slippery. He said he makes masks for a living and hopes they didn’t scare me. He was worried about me and asked why I had been up in the attic and if I had seen the roof. He also wanted to talk to me about it and asked me to come out of my room. He finished the note by letting me know that he had put a plate of breakfast outside my door.

      I realized that I had skipped both lunch and dinner the previous day and should probably eat something. Maybe my hunger was making me feel unwell. I still didn’t trust Volkan, the whispering masks were too fresh in my memory. I listened intently but Volkan did not seem to be anywhere nearby. With all the strength I could muster I pushed my writing desk a little away from my door. I peeked through the keyhole. The hall outside was empty. I slowly opened the door a crack. The smell of bacon and eggs made me feel nauseous. I tried to pick up the plate right outside my door but instead I crashed to the ground with a thud.

      Volkan came running and helped me up soon after. I had a high fever and he brought the doctor to the house. I was delirious for two days, dreaming of giant masks chasing me. I woke up late on the third day feeling much better. Volkan was whitening his claws in the corridor just outside the room. He grinned when he realized I was awake. He brought me some soup a few minutes later and watched me eat it. The masks still haunted me and I saw them every time I closed my eyes. I mentioned this to Volkan and it seemed to worry him. He assured me that the masks couldn’t talk and that it was probably just the wind playing tricks on me. In the safety of my own room, it did seem quite absurd.

      I felt guilty, he had let me stay in the mansion free of charge and in return I had not followed his instructions and suspected him of foul play. I didn’t know how to make it up to him. I apologised after I had finished my soup but it felt like far too little. He was surprised, he had been waiting to apologise to me. He should have explained better or so he insisted. If he had just explained things, instead of trying to keep me away from the attic and roof, I would never have fallen ill. We talked it out after that.

      The next day I felt well enough to get up. Volkan was excited at breakfast and said he wanted to show me something. We went up to the top floor and he unlocked the trap door. At first I refused to enter the attics again but he promised we wouldn’t enter the mask room if I didn’t want to. I hesitantly agreed. When we were both standing in the first long passageway he flipped a switch and a series of candles lit up the bare space. They reminded me such a lot of Moltara, where I was first created, that I nearly cried. I now know he made the contraption just for me – he has a constant glow around him because of his magma color and so never uses a candle. That wasn’t what he had wanted to show me though.

      He hurriedly walked along the passage way, stopping by a newly installed door. He unlocked it using a silver key. Behind it was a short passageway with a rickety stairs at the end. At the top of the stairs was another door, this one was quite worn it had probably been there for years. A mask hung from it. He looked back at me worriedly and hurriedly opened the door. I let out a small gasp when I noticed the mask but it was quickly obscured by the sunlight streaming in from the door.

      I followed Volkan through the door. I was momentarily blinded by the light. When my eyes had adjusted I saw the most beautiful garden I had ever clapped eyes upon. Even on my travels around Neopia I had never seen such vibrant shades of greens, pinks, purples and every other colour imaginable. The garden was walled on all sides by the outer roof at shoulder height. Above it was a lightly clouded sky. A majestic willow tree with drooping branches stood in the middle of the garden. A grassy path led up to it. Flowers in all the colours of the rainbow spiraled out from the tree, waving gently in the light breeze.

      Volkan led me to the shade of the willow tree and gave me two keys – for the two doors leading to the garden. He promised he would fix all the leaks in the roof but if possible he didn’t want to uproot the poor flowers. I told him I would help with the roof and after some resistance he agreed.

      I now spend every fine day on the roof top garden, fixing the last few leaks or writing more of the manuscript. The masks play a big part in my story. I studied the one hanging by the door to the roof the other day. Once I got over my initial fear of the object, I noticed how well-crafted it was. I could imagine a princess wearing it to the Chocolate Ball. All the time I stared at the mask, it was completely silent.

      This will be my last letter for a while. The holidays are coming up and I’m organising a small party so Volkan can finally have those guests he’s always waiting for. I’d like to invite you to it too. It is on the 25th day of the month of Celebrating. Bring your new friend if you like. I’d love to meet him.

      Until then,

      Your old travelling companion,

      Critique

      The End.

 
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