The Cursed Carousel
"Urasina, look at this," my owner, an adult man named BG, said to me one afternoon.
I took the piece of paper from him and looked it over.
"They're going to renovate the Haunted Fairgrounds?" I asked, not sure I believed what I was reading. "They're adding new attractions and cleaning things up to try and attract new customers?"
"Seems like it," BG replied. "They've put out a call for anyone who wants to help with the work. I saw a few adverts about it on the bulletin board in the Sakhmet marketplace."
I wasn't sure that this renovation plan would do anything for the Haunted Woods. Everyone knows the story of what happened the first time the Haunted Fairgrounds opened, and as a result, hardly anyone goes there anymore. BG and I have been a couple of times, but we just go to look around, and we make sure it's daytime when we do.
BG came back from running some errands the next day with another surprise.
"One of the Sakhmet Royal Guards spoke to me," he said. "He said that two Neopets specifically asked him to ask you if you'd be willing to help with the heavy labor at the Fairgrounds."
I snorted. Being a Speckled Uni, and a well-known gladiator/mercenary/heroine, I wasn't the least bit surprised that someone had sought me out like that.
"There aren't enough Neopoints in this world to get me to help out with a building project in the Haunted Woods," I announced dryly.
My owner chuckled and rubbed the sweet spot between my ears.
A few weeks passed quietly. I kept up with the news coming from the Fairgrounds renovations, and so did my guardian Light Faerie, Kouren. But she seemed a bit concerned, as if something wasn't quite right. It didn't take long for her to decide she was going to go check things out. Of course, I wasn't going to let her go by herself, not into the Haunted Woods at night.
So one night, we took off and flew from our home in the Lost Desert to the Haunted Fairgrounds. The front gate was locked, but we just flew over it and landed inside. It was about a half-hour to midnight.
"They're certainly trying," I admitted. "Lots of new things are being built."
"If this is for real, then the Fairgrounds may very well become popular again," Kouren responded.
We split up to check everything out. As I wandered around, I gave everything I found a thorough magic "scan." The first thing I encountered was a bumper car ring. The cars looked like Feepits and Meepits.
"Nothing out of the ordinary here," I thought to myself. "The cars are cute."
Not long after that, I passed the old spooky roller coaster. It had been partially dismantled, and I was pleased to see that the workers were putting in a new track with better safety features.
"If they can reduce the amount of accidents, this might become popular," I thought again.
I completed my circuit of the Fairgrounds and turned to meet up with Kouren. I found her near a brand-new carousel.
"Look at those Unis," she said to me. "They look so life-like."
The carousel had space for twenty four wooden Unis. There were twenty already there. And my guardian was right; they looked like they could gallop away at any moment.
A distant sound of a clock going off in Neovia signaled that it was midnight.
And suddenly, things got really, really weird.
The carousel shuddered, almost as if it was alive. Kouren and I promptly raised shields of Light magic, in case something was about to happen. Then we both felt it: dark magic swirling around.
"You were right," I hissed to the Faerie. "There is something VERY bad going on here."
Kouren didn't answer. Instead, she stepped forward and rested one hand on one of the wooden Unis. To both of our shock, it turned to look at us!
"Get away!" the Uni, a white stallion, cried, looking panicked.
"What happened to you?" I responded.
"We answered a call for Unis to help with the construction work," he began to explain. "But once the carousel was complete, the two Neopets in charge of it cast some spell on us, turning us into the carousel Unis."
Kouren and I exchanged looks.
"We're going to get you guys free," I said firmly. But the stallion shook his head, the only part of his body he could move.
"We can't be saved! There are twenty of us here now. Once there are twenty four, we'll be trapped forever! Only for one hour, at midnight, can we speak to others, and to each other. But there is no way we can be saved!"
He truly looked panicked.
"And if the Neopets who trapped us find you, you'll join us! They only need three more Unis; they'll add the next one tomorrow!"
Kouren and I looked at each other again, then nodded.
"You're wrong," she responded. "We'll free all twenty one of you, and we'll do it tomorrow night. Have faith."
She pulled her hand back, and the Uni went stiff, reverting to its cursed form.
"You have a plan, eh?" I asked her.
"Yes, but we'll need BG and Titance to pull this off," she answered. "Let's get out of here."
The next night, BG and I climbed into his Virtupets starfighter, the Desert Guardian, and took off for the Fairgrounds. Titance, my gigantic Tyrannian Uni brother, followed us on the ground.
We reached the Fairgrounds about ten minutes before midnight. As BG brought the fighter in for a landing, I bailed out and unlocked the gate to let my brother in. Then he and I headed for the carousel.
But someone, or two someones, were waiting for us.
There were two sinister-looking Poogles standing in front of the carousel, grinning in an evil way.
"Ah, so Urasina AND Titance came to try a rescue," one of them snickered. "You'll be the centerpieces of this magical carousel!"
"You wish," I retorted. "You seem to forget that my magic is far stronger than anything you can dream up."
The Poogles' grins faded a little bit. They had clearly underestimated both me and Titance.
"But guess what? I'm not here to fight you..." I snickered, grinning a bit meanly myself.
"...That guy is."
Laser cannon fire pounded the ground as BG swooped in to attack. The Poogles were vaporized in an instant. The Desert Guardian flew away, but a minute later my owner came walking up to us.
"Execute the plan," I ordered my brother and owner.
The plan was simple. Once midnight came around, we'd have one hour to free the twenty one Unis. BG would use a sword made of Light magic to cut down the wooden poles attaching them to the carousel. Titance would then pick them up and place them in a "safe zone" I would create with my Light magic, where they'd be safe and they would slowly come back to life.
I summoned the sword and tossed it to BG, then raised a dome of Light magic to create my safe zone. Only a few seconds later, the clock chimed, and the carousel shuddered.
"GO!" I yelled.
My owner lunged, slashing hard to the right and slicing through the upper part of the pole holding the white stallion I had talked to the night before. Then he slashed back to the left, cutting the lower part of the pole. The stallion tumbled to the ground. Titance picked him up and placed him gently in my safe zone.
As the two of them turned back to the carousel, I watched the white Uni. Cracks arced across his body, then the magic holding him shattered and was absorbed by my shield, leaving a live Uni lying there.
He scrambled to his hooves, looking himself over in disbelief.
"You did come back!" he cried as Titance placed the next Uni in my safe zone. "Maybe now we have a chance...!"
After freeing fourteen Unis, I could see that BG was getting tired.
"BG! Toss the sword back! I'll give you a stronger one!" I yelled to my owner. He responded by flinging his sword at me, which dissipated as it hit my magic dome. Then I summoned one with more power and a sharper edge and threw it back to him.
It didn't take very long to free all twenty one Unis. Soon they all stood under my safe zone, and the carousel was empty.
"You're safe now," I told them.
But they still seemed scared.
"You freed us from the carousel, but unless it's destroyed, it will be for nothing," the white stallion said. "We're bound to it, and when 1 AM rolls around, we'll be pulled back and trapped once more. And if it is destroyed, everyone here, including you and your brother, will be pulled into it."
I was pretty sure that the Uni was simply too scared to think straight, but what if he was right?
BG had the answer.
"I'll be right back," he said. "Where magic fails..."
He turned and ran off into the darkness. The Desert Guardian flew overhead a minute later.
"...Technology can provide," I finished as my owner opened fire again.
"He has to hit the base of the central column," the white Uni said.
I mentally relayed that information to BG, who promptly focused his fire there.
"Titance, get under the safe zone!" I yelled up to my brother.
He did so.
The carousel's center column was beginning to crack and split from the laser barrage. After another minute of pounding, it broke, and the carousel top fell over. Where the column had been was a jagged purple crystal that promptly began to send out tendrils of darkness that lashed out in all directions. But they bounced harmlessly off my Light barrier and couldn't reach BG's fighter.
My owner focused his attack on the crystal, and maybe 30 seconds later, it crumbled and the magic dissipated.
We had won.
"You shouldn't have doubted," Titance warned the freed Unis, who were looking stunned, ashamed, and overjoyed. "When we work together, we can do the impossible."
I giggled and rubbed my head on his legs.
I kept my barrier up until I had escorted the freed Unis out of the Haunted Fairgrounds and safely to Neovia. They would head back to their homes in the morning, and they promised to spread the story of what had happened far and wide.
With our mission a success, BG landed the Desert Guardian and I hopped in for the flight home. The trip was quick and uneventful, but I was so tired that I slept until 2 PM the next day!
A few days later, BG brought home more news.
"The carousel has been torn down, and Faeries have arrived to oversee the rest of the renovations, and to make sure that something like that doesn't happen again," he told me and Titance. "Fyora even sent one of her personal advisors to oversee everything."
"It seems that the carousel was an isolated incident, then," I mused aloud.
"According to what I'm reading here, yes, the carousel was the only thing that was cursed like that," my owner went on. "There were no plans to even HAVE a carousel, but the Poogles in charge of it managed to get permission. And as you probably guessed, Urasina, they were the ones who made that request for you to work for them."
"And as I said before, there aren't enough Neopoints in the world to get me to work at a fairground in the Haunted Woods!" I teased playfully.
We all started laughing.