Not Quite Deserted
Excitement flows through my veins as I prepare for my journey. Not only am I going to the Haunted Woods, but it is the month of Collecting, the spookiest month in the year. I don't want to bring more than I can carry so it is hard to be totally prepared. I fill my black bag with a change of clothes and some gourmet food. I grab my Spyder Staff on the way out the door. My mother found this staff especially for my journey. She was worried about me and thought the staff, along with the fact that I am a Stealthy Draik, would help me blend in with the residents of the Woods.
I make sure to leave late enough that I arrive a day later at dawn. I know I am getting close because the dense fog clouds my vision. Ghost petpets scurry past without paying any attention to me. I am very grateful for that, since I've never seen a ghost ANYTHING before. I can see the gate vaguely through the fog so I hide behind a tree to change. As I straighten out my Spyder Costume, I hear a sound I've never heard before. It sounds almost like a heartbeat, pulsing and pulsing. As I walk toward the entrance of the Haunted Woods, the sound grows louder. I look around as much as I can through the fog and see that none of the ghost petpets seem to notice the sound. There is no one at the gate as I pass through. As soon as I am through the gate, the fog clears and the pulsing stops.
What a sight! Straight ahead I see this giant blue monster. I can't figure out just what he is, but I can see that he is hungry. His red eyes pierce me as he opens his gigantic mouth so wide that I believe he could swallow my whole house in one bite. "II AMMM HUNGGRRYY!. Feeed mmeee annndd I wwilll reeewwaardd yoouu!" he says in a disturbing voice. I have no intention of going near him so I say, "No, I will not feed you." Wanting to put as much distance between us as possible, I turn down the path. His moans and growls echo behind me as I continue my journey.
As I follow the path, I see a HUGE castle. Words cannot describe the beautiful horror of this place, but I will try. The walls are made out of solid stone and the windows are barred. The roof is painted blue as if to try and make it look more inviting. Gold trim and statues curve around the roof and windows. The castle is so tall that I can barely make out the large statue on the top. I squint my eyes and see that it is a foreboding Korbat statue. I decide this is another place I should avoid so I continue walking.
I start to hear the pulsing sound again. This time it is twice as loud as before. The further I walk, the louder the sound becomes. I feel myself being pulled toward the sound. Every bone in my body wants to run. My muscles tense as I try to step backward. It is impossible. I can't break free. The pulsing grows even louder. I see movement in front of me and I somehow know that this is what is causing the sound. In front of me is a tree, at least I think it is a tree. Not only is it alive but instead of leaves it seems to have an enormous brain.
Suddenly, in a booming voice, the tree speaks to me, "I have a job for you, Weakling!"
"Who are you?" I ask in a shaky voice.
"I am the Brain Tree and I seek knowledge. Will you accept my quest?"
"I am sorry, Brain Tree, I am on a quest of my own," I say with a cringe. I am very afraid to anger this massive tree.
"Be gone, then!" the tree booms.
I don't need to be told twice. I turn and walk, very quickly. As I pass a tall stone stadium, I hear the sounds of battle cries. I think I'll skip that area as well. I continue walking and once I am far enough away from the tree, the pulsing sound stops. I realize how lucky I am that I was able to walk away from the Brain Tree. The area around me is not silent, however. I hear soft, fast footsteps behind me. I quicken my pace without looking back.
"Meep!" squeaks a voice behind me. I freeze. Could it be? I had heard stories about a species of petpets called meepits. The stories always seemed so far-fetched that I didn't believe they truly existed. I turn around slowly and look down. Sure enough, there is a small pink petpet with large googly eyes staring straight at me. I remind myself not to look in its eyes. Instead, I stare at its tiny feet.
"Meep?" it squeaks again. I can imagine it is cocking its head to the side while it studies me.
"Shoo! Scat!" yells a voice. The meepit runs and I look up to see a transparent Hissi in its place. She is wearing a cloak that looks like it could belong to the late Hubrid Nox and a top hat that matches my costume. "Never let them get that close to you," she scolds. "And check your bag, they like to take things."
I look in my bag; thankfully nothing is missing. "Thank you." I sigh. "I didn't know those really existed. I wasn't prepared for that."
The Hissi shakes her head at me. "You obviously aren't from around here. What are you doing here?"
"I have always dreamed of visiting the Woods. All my life, I have been rather obsessed with spooky items. My mother finally gave me permission to come here for a few days. I choose this month because I thought I would get the most out of my trip during the spooky month." I try not to stammer. "It wasn't what I expected," I confess.
"You just need to know where to go," the Hissi says with a grin. "My name is Izrii..." She looks at me expectantly.
"I am Vladiana." I smile.
"Well, Vladiana, why don't I show you where the real fun is?" Without waiting for an answer, she turns down a path that leads to a black iron gate. As we walk (well, I walk and she slithers) through the gate, I hear eerie music. We go over a small hill and my jaw literally drops in amazement.
"The Deserted Fairgrounds," the Hissi proclaims. It doesn't look deserted to me, there are neopets everywhere! As if she read my mind, the Hissi explains, "This month is the only month where it is this busy."
I stare in wonder as I take in the scene in front of me. I see a game with a tall pillar. It has lights all along the pillar and markings at intervals up the post. A large Elephante holds a mallet and slams it on the base of the pillar. Something shoots up the post and a loud dinging sound echoes. The Mynci who seems to be in charge of that game looks very upset as he hands a paint brush to the Elephante.
Near the mallet game is a large rickety wheel. Some type of shadow seems to be in charge. Neopets spin the wheel and leave with horrible prizes; piles of sludge, headless plushies, some even look like the wheel made them ill. I decide to avoid that one.
Next to the wheel is a crooked orange house. I can see through the window that a creature inside is handing out what looks like scratch cards. The creature laughs at neopets as they scratch their cards in vain. Outside the house, someone pushes a cart full of food. At least, I think it's food... I see eyeballs and slime and most of the food is moving. I am suddenly thankful that I brought my own food.
I also see a large dartboard with shelves on it. No one seems to be playing that game and I can see why. The 'prizes' seem to be moldy and rotten. The Aisha in charge of the game looks very kind though. There is a creepy tent next to the dartboard stand. They seem to be selling furniture. I see coffins, pumpkins and spyder-themed furniture set.
I see a cave with a soft orange glow coming from within. The cave is shaped like a spooky creature and has an axe on top of its head. I can only assume that is where they sell weapons. I see another stand next to that. This one has a very creepy Quiggle manning it. It seems that you throw a ball at a set of coconuts and try to knock one down. I watch for a few moments and notice that no one seems to be able to knock one down even if they hit it. Even from this far away I can see the smirk on the Quiggle's face and I would bet anything that he is cheating.
Finally, I see a large roller coaster. There seem to be clowns running around the base of it. They are throwing pies at passersby and cackling madly. Some even randomly... explode? It takes me a moment to realize they are robotic clown Chias. The lights along the roller coaster are beautiful.
I almost forget about Izrii, until she clears her throat. I look at her and smile. "This is what I came for," I say. She nods and walks into the mist.