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I searched a few places to satisfy the greedy witch, Trina and went to collect my meager earnings. Her tasks really didn't pay well for what she asked for. Maybe I should string her up over the cliff like I had done the gnome. No, it wouldn't work. It would still be the same old, same old. It didn't matter how much Midnight Castle changed there were things that always remained the same. The next task she gave me was for 300 Steering Wheels and 200 shards. Yup, never changes. I would hold on to that for a few days. She could stew for a little while, it didn't matter to me. I heard the achievement payout wasn't that great anyway. Mmm, Trina stew! Would that be tasty?
The inhabitants of the Castle were less talkative since the rumble. They were more focused on getting me to finish their tasks and giving me those blue keys. I found myself chanting that saying over and over again by the time I got to the Iron Knight. There was the possibility that I was going about this all wrong. I had collect far too many of those Destiny Keys and for what? What was there purpose?
"Patience is a virtue," I chanted over and over as I climbed the stairs to the Laboratory.
"Is it really," Arabella asked when I entered.
"It is what I've been told since I can remember."
"Patience is a virtue," she laughed, "Uh huh and the road to a really hot place is paved with Good Intentions."
"It's paved with handcuffs," I blinked in surprise.
"You know what I mean," she laughed.
"I do but still," I shrugged and smirked.
"That's better," she patted my shoulder, "You look a little more like your old self today."
"I have patience today so I'm virtuous," I said with a wink.
"Yes and I am a saint!"
"A saint of what?"
"Wicked witches," she laughed. Her laughter bounced off the walls of the Laboratory, echoing out into the Guest Room and down the Hall.
"What's so funny," the Iron Knight called from his place downstairs.
"Patience is a virtue," we both screamed and fell into a fit of giggles.
I woke up far too early! I knew this the moment I cracked open my eyes and saw moonlight still streaming in through the makeshift curtains of my house. I rolled over hoping for a few more minutes of peace but my mind was already fast at work. I threw off the covers and tiptoed through the house. I didn't want to wake any of my pets early. They got a little grumpy when I did that and usually gave me wooden chests for days. I quickly made a cup of coffee, packed my backpack and headed out towards the Tavern.
Salty waved when I entered making his way to the dice table. We sat down and let the dice fall where they may. Unfortunately the dice favored him more than me today. I won once which put me at 51 more times before I could move on to Lord Chamberlain. I sighed and rolled my eyes at the Hooded Figure. He just shrugged and waited for the next person. I went out to sent the airship off and noticed tumbleweeds rolling by. Was I dreaming? Had I ever seen tumbleweeds in the Castle before? I brushed it off and went about my rounds. I was close to three million coins and I would get it before Spring! This was my vow!
I ran around searching all the places I could. The first go round I came up with 15 coins 33 times, shards 11 times and items 22 times. Sadly, most of the items I got with the exception of the Sword of Law I already had 60 of. I sent off extra to friends and sold some to the merchants. The Evil Gnome Trio found me in between rounds and slipped me a daily task I refused to do! How many times did I have to tell them I wasn't going to do Helping Hand? I already had had the quest every day for the last two weeks! It didn't matter if I finished it or not, they still gave it to me the next day!
The second round brought me 15 coins 30 times, shards 13 times and 23 items. I once again got lucky and found a Crossed Blade! That put me at 60 for those. I did a jump for joy! Now if only I could find an Immortal Treasure, Murder's Eye, Banner of Loyalty or well anything that I had sitting at 30. I'll admit the drops were getting a little better but not by much. I kept getting the same things at the Bar Counter, Frozen Treasure, Doll Showcase and Statue in the Thicket.
I decided to give for the day and headed off to the Fortune Wheel. It was to my utter amazement that I found an Egg of the Gold Bearing Turtle on there. I spun and won! I spun again and won! I spun two more times and won two more eggs. That was a total of four eggs! I spun for a fifth time and landed on a star. I couldn't believe my luck. I spun again and got a Crystal Ball. I grimaced and reluctantly spun again. My luck had changed as I landed on the Crystal Ball again! I backed away from the Wheel slowly to collect my eggs. I looked around and noticed the tumbleweeds once again rolling by. What the hay hay was up with these tumbleweeds? I stepped up to the Wheel once again but my luck had been broken. I gave up after I reached 10k in spins and not another egg. I still had over 70 to go anyway. I might as well save my coinage until I was closer. I sighed and backed away, far away. I was tempted to keep spinning.
I looked at the eggs and decided to be a bit selfish and recoup some of my coins. I accidentally hit the disenchant instead of sell to vendor. I whimpered a little and cursed a lot. I wandered around after that. I kept noticing those tumbleweeds, however. It was about this time that I realized that the Castle wasn't as busy as it used to be. I could pass several people a day doing rounds but today I only passed the main Castle inhabitants. Had everyone turned into tumbleweeds? Was this a case of body snatchers? What was going on? Was Midnight Castle turning into a Ghost Castle?
Killing of the Inventory
I woke the next morning to birds chirping and a loud clatter from my kitchen area. I figured Brite was making me breakfast again. He didn't have to be quite so loud about it. I kicked the covers off and followed the loud noises. There was Brite and Elle arguing over who would follow me around the Castle today. I saw no choice but to take them both. I sipped the hot coffee and was rewarded with a burnt palette. I knew I would taste nothing else today. It was my own fault really. I was in a rush. I wanted to hit the Fortune Wheel as it reset. I gathered up my dwindling inventory and set off. I arrived at the Fortune Wheel with 5 seconds left to spare. I breathed a small thank you to whoever was listening and waited. The Wheel reset but there was the turtle egg still waiting. I grinned and did a small fist pump. It was a tad childish, I know, but I figured it was better than spending 10,100 coins trying to win a 3k egg. I spun and won one on my first try. So I spun until I hit 600 but the Wheel wasn't forthcoming with another egg. I considered it a win either way. I back away from the wheel and backtracked to the Tavern.
Salty greeted me warmly and waddled his way over to the Dice Table. He brought along the mug he was forever polishing and settled down next to me. I grinned a little as I won the first round, tied the second, lost the third, tied the fourth and won the fifth! I even won a Dragon Horn off of him. It wasn't a bad way to start off the morning. The Evil Gnome Trio met me outside the Tavern and handed me Helping Hand, AGAIN! I yelled, cursed and chased them off. I hadn't been able to complete a Daily Task in nearly two weeks. I decided to give up the ghost and do a few more of the Side Tasks. I went to the Binding Egg, Column of the Fallen, Iron Chest, Portal Guard and several other Zoom Zones doing this. I handed them all in and collected new tasks. I went round and round completing them. Slowly, ever so slowly I watched my inventory die. It had put up a good fight but without the items coming up from the places I cleaned there was no hope. I pronounced the time of death at 11:42am. It had been a good run. I shook my backpack and laughed. I may not have any inventory left but I had a truckload of Destiny Keys. Wonder what I could trade them for? Could I buy a house on the outskirts of Cloud City? Perhaps, the Ghostly Messenger would sell me a house whenever I made through the Portal!
A Very Strange Day
The sun was barely up when I rolled out of bed. My head hurt slightly and my body was a bit numb. Was I catching a cold? I sniffled a few times and stumbled my way through getting dressed. The sneezing started as I took my first sip of coffee. They weren't petite sneezes but the body racking kind. I sat down at the table and wondered if I should crawl back in to bed. Brite, however, was ready to go. He had my backpack packed and ready. He had it sitting by the front door and was patiently blowing smoke rings.
"I feel lucky today, Rahia," he grinned broadly, handing me a box of tissue.
"I feel like I've been steamrolled," I groaned and I face planted the table.
"It will be fine, you'll see," he encouraged and dragged me out of my chair and to the door. I barely had time to grab my backpack before he whisked me away. I glanced back at the door longingly. It was going to be a long day. We were on the path to Midnight Castle when the Evil Gnome Trio stopped us with Helping Hand, once again. I was getting really tired of that task. I was getting tired of seeing it, doing it and even thinking about it.
"Could you, please, give me something different tomorrow?"
"It's the only thing coming down the pipe line," the said in unison, "I guess you are stuck with it."
I handed the parchment to Brite and he folded it in to an Origami Crane. He sent it sailing across the sky. He made it make a rainbow trail so we could follow its path. It looked like it floated all the way to the Volcano. I hope it fried! The Tavern was pretty empty when we arrived. Salty was still polishing that mug but he waved as I entered.
"Ready," he asked brightly.
"Sure," I said. We sat down and started. It was strange but I won all three rolls! The strangest thing was that on the last two rolls I rolled double 6's! I would get one double 6 maybe once a month but this was the first time in ages that I had rolled two back to back!
"Told you! Feeling lucky," Brite smiled, nibbling on a coin coin, "Aww, not chocolate!"
"Since when are gold coins chocolate and can dragons eat chocolate?"
"If it is charred chocolate," Brite laughed.
I shook my head and searched the Gaming Table. I was in desperate need of a few Banner of Loyalties. I grimaced when I came up with a Stranger's Badge but it was better than coins or shards.
Now, here is where it gets really strange! I had done round after round for several days getting more coins and shards than items. Today I decided to only do a select few. I did only the places that I had zero of and I came away with an item on each one. Was it an item I needed? Well, no but it was an item. I had tried every method I knew of to get a Banner of Loyalty, Polestar, Wreath of Justice, Shard of Soul, Murder's Eye, Rune Stone, Immortal Treasure or well anything I needed to drop. However, nothing worked. I begged, I pleaded, I offered my first born child but nothing worked. I even went to Arabella and asked for a spell but she was deadly silent on the subject.
I gave up after four rounds, as my fingers were getting quite numb. I headed to the Fortune Wheel and found nothing of interest. I spun anyway and landed on a star. So I spun again and landed on a free spin. Once again the wheel went round and I landed on a star! I gathered up two more stars with other spins but never once did I have to pay the 100 coins to spin again. That was very strange. I'd usually get more stars than eggs when an egg was on the wheel but other than that it was usually the free spin that come up. Brite really must be having a lucky day! On the final spin I won a Shield of Filth. It didn't look filthy but I didn't look at it that closely. I gathered up my winnings and headed off. Lord Chamberlain had asked me to look into the Three Monks and I had completely forgot while doing my rounds. I headed to the Chapel and waved to Valeria. She didn't bother to wave back, just giving a slight nod of her head. I searched the Three Monks and gained a Proper Shield. Well isn't that strange? I get two shields in one day. I returned to Lord Chamberlain and told him what I found. It was surprising that he didn't ask for the Proper Shield but just waved me away after handing me another task. I glanced at the task and found he wanted me to search the Statue in the Thicket and the Hole in the Wall. I stuffed it in my pocket and realized that the inhabitants were no longer sending me to the Flag, Binding Egg, Iron Chest, Harp in Blossom or the Column of the Fallen! Isn't that strange? Did they know I was out of items for those ZZ's? If they did, why didn't the Evil Gnomes? Well I knew the answer to that! The Trio was EVIL! It was a very strange day, indeed! It would have been stranger if I would have gotten a Polestar or an Immortal Treasure!
The Big Heist
I couldn't sleep! I tossed, turned, counted sheep and watched the minutes tick by on the clock I had found in the Warden's Office. I flung back the covers with an exasperated sigh and got up. I quickly dressed, throwing the black hooded cloak over my clothes. I scooped up my backpack and headed out the door. The Evil Gnome Trio found me after I had taken three steps out of the door. They grinned and handed me Helping Hand, AGAIN!
"That's it," I screamed, "I've had it! Do you think this is funny? I mean, really! You could mix it up a bit!"
"Nope," they laughed and scampered off into the night.
"You blasted gnomes! I'll get you," I called after their retreating backs.
"Well, I see I'm not the only they have angered lately," Dal said, slinking out of the tree line.
"What are you doing here," I asked with a roll of my eyes.
"I've come to relieve you of some inventory," she smirked.
"Good luck," I laughed, "I have none!"
"Lies," she shouted and grabbed my backpack, nearly taking my shoulder off in the process.
"Nope. It died! It served me well," I said with a shrug. I watched her empty out my backpack on to the ground.
"Blasted rumble," she seethed as she watched a few Harpy Feathers and Chain of Blood Rubies float to the ground.
"Yeah, it's been harsh," I muttered.
"Harsh, my Aunt Fanny," Dal snapped, "It's a drought!"
"It isn't a drought," Nimie stated as she came out from the other side of trees, "It's the Elephant Brotherhood. They have taken all of the items! I hear they are storing them close to somewhere called the Archive."
"I know that place and I know the people that guard it," I grinned, "Perhaps we have an in."
"Oh do tell," Dal said, grabbing my hand and tugging me along the road.
I explained everything I knew about the Archive, Nefertiti and her "MoMo" as we walked along the road towards Midnight Castle. Dal was all for going to the Archive and seeing if Nimie was right. If we could find the items perhaps it would help other people in the Castle! Well, that was my and Nimie's reasoning! I wasn't too sure of Dal's but I was sure her reasons were all selfish.
We decided to go to the Dark Tower and poke around. If we found a grand store of items, great! If not, it was the merry go round of a very hot place for us! I was surprised to find both Anabel and the Iron Knight missing from their usual posts. It was perfect actually, too perfect. I thought they would still be awake. I mean Anabel was a vampire after all! I shrugged it off and lead them in to the Library. We took the usual route to the Archive but I found nothing out of place. There wasn't even a single chest in sight. I called out for Nefertiti but she didn't answer. I left Nimie and Dal searching around for clues and went off to search Nefertiti's room. I was shocked to find it empty. The once lavish furnishings were gone and a barren wasteland was in its place. I called out again but only the echo of my own voice greeted me. I wandered around a little more and hit a barrier. I couldn't go forward, only back. I tried venturing forward one more time but was knocked back. I frowned and realized this was the same barrier that I had kept me out of the Port! Had it moved? Was that even possible? I went back to the Archive to find Dal and Nimie pouring over books and bickering.
"I knew it was different," Dal exclaimed!
"I knew it before you knew it!"
"Only because you work for the enemy," Dal yelled.
"Enough," I yelled at the two children, "Nefertiti is gone and so is Momo!"
"When? How," Nimie cried.
"I don't know," I sighed, "but there is a barrier that wasn't there before."
"Take me to it," Dal said and pulled me once again.
I lead them to the barrier and they mused over it. Nimie knocked on it and watched waves ripple. Dal poured some Time Flow over it. It did stop the ripple effect but didn't open it.
"I think I have an idea," Nimie said and rummaged around in her bag.
I made grabby hands and it was in my backpack before I knew it! A thought came to me as I looked back the empty pedestal. It must be important, right? There would be someone who would want it back! Was it the Elephant Brotherhood? I grinned and decided to leave a note. I grabbed a pencil and parchment out of my backpack and quickly scribbled something down.
Nice Elephant! It will look great on my mantle. Ah, also, you should have better security and stop giving me the Helping Hand task! I'm sick of it. Thank you, R!
I completed the note with a childish drawing of a girl sticking her tongue out. Yes, I know! I will stay classy, thank you! The drawing did bring a giggle from Nimie but I saw how Dal was eyeing the statue. This was my big heist! She wasn't getting the elephant. She could have all the items in the room but finders keepers. I glanced at Nimie and she nodded. We both fled the room and back to my house before Dal could even comprehend we were leaving her behind. I bolted the door and Nimie giggled, "She's going to be so mad!"
"I know," I said, trying to catch my breath. I set the Elephant on my mantle and realized it went perfect with the decor.
"What are you going to do with it," Nimie asked.
"I don't know," I said, chewing my bottom lip.
"Finders Keepers," Nimie said, "I should get home. I have to send out gifts, I found a nice stamp cache in that place."
"Nice," I grinned.
"You bet. I was running so low on unique stamps!"
"Going to give them all out, aren't you?"
"Yup," she nodded and unbolted the door," Catch you later! It was fun!"
"Aye," I said and locked up after her. I turned back to the Elephant, "Now what DO I do with you?"
"Take me home," it whispered.
"Wh..what the hay hay," I cried, "Did you just talk?"
"Home," it called, "Want to go home!"
"Great," I threw my hands up in the air, "I steal a really pretty Elephant that is cursed! Blasted Elephant Brotherhood!"
"Home! Home! HOME! HOME," the thing chanted, growing stronger and stronger.
"So much for my big heist," I sighed and slid down the door.