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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.
The Elephant in the Room
I don't know how long I leaned against the wall listening to the purple diamond elephant chant, "Home". I lost track of time and even myself. I knew I must have fallen asleep because I jumped awake and the Elephant was still chanting the same thing. I chewed my lip and made a mad dash out of my house. I ran all the way to the Tavern. I must have looked a sight because Salty frowned when I came in. My eyes darted around the room but I didn't see anything out of the ordinary.
"What are you up today, Rahia," Salty asked, "You don't look so good."
"Nothing, just out for some fresh air," I mumbled dragging my fingers through my hair, "Did I come in yesterday, Salty?"
"Yes," He nodded, "I didn't think you'd be in for the next couple of days."
"So I only lost a night! That's good. That's really good! Dice?"
"Sure," Salty agreed and made his way to the table. I only won once but that win gave me an Immortal Treasure. It was worth it. I let out a long sigh and ordered some food plus a barrel of pear cider. Salty just raised an eyebrow but didn't say anything else. I ate quickly and rolled the barrel home. I couldn't do rounds because I had left my backpack in my hasty run for sanity!
I entered to find the Elephant still chanting. I could smash it and perhaps thwart whatever malicious plan the Elephant Brotherhood had planned for Midnight Castle but something stopped me. It was a beautiful work of art and I couldn't bare to destroy something so beautiful. I tapped the barrel and started drinking.
"Get through this," I laughingly told the Elephant statue and raised my glass. I guess it was around the thirteenth glass that I started seeing elephants on parade. They went marching around my head and even walked down my walls. I shook my head to clear it but the elephants had taken hold. I tried to shoo a few away with a wave of my hand but I just created more. I finally gave up and succumbed to sleep.
The next morning I woke to find myself on the floor surrounded by Winged Brutes and Battle Bishops! They were lined up like an army! Had I done this while I was deep in my cups? Thankfully, the purple diamond elephant had stopped chanting. I crawled to the kitchen pantry in search of coffee. I whimpered when I realized I would actually have to stand to make it. I slowly pulled myself together and made a large pot of coffee. I gathered up everything I needed and went back out in to the sitting area. I sat down, poured a cup of coffee and took a sip. I spat it out immediately it tasted like something from the rear of an elephant. That is when I heard the laughing.
"Home or everything will taste like that," the statue taunted.
"I will not take you back," I screamed.
"You will, they all do. There's no place like home. Home, home on the range! Who says you can't go home again! I can keep this up all day! Twenty-four seven!"
"I am a Protector! You can't break me," I told the statue and sipped the coffee after adding a pile of sugar to it.
"Home sweet home. Sweet Home Midnight Castle," the statue listed off a few more homey sayings.
I glared at the thing and finished up the worst cup of coffee I had ever had in my life. I grabbed my backpack and slammed out of the door. I headed to the Tavern and played a pleasant game of dice with Salty. I won two out of three! So, it seemed my luck was getting better. I stopped by the Fortune Wheel but found nothing special on it. I sent off the airship and hopped around doing a few tasks for Trina. She was back on the shards and cleaning tasks. I arrived back home to find the inside of my house decorated with all manner of elephants. There was an elephant throw rug, elephant dishes and there was even pink elephants on my bed sheets. I screamed, "Anything but pink!"
"Home, I wanna go home," the elephant sung.
"No," I stomped my foot, "I will not take you back!"
I covered my ears and bolted for my bedroom. I slid under the covers and there I hid! I refused to come out. I would hold out as long as possible. It occurred to me that I should have visited the little protectors room first before I did this. I fidgeted and finally gave in. I ran to the outhouse and heard the elephant laughing at me. I grabbed the axe on my way back inside. I usually kept one around for firewood but perhaps I could make diamonds out of the elephant in the room.
Bribes and Blood Lotuses
I dragged the axe into the house and the elephant finally shut up. I laid it across my lap as I sat down in my chair. I watched the elephant and picked up a grindstone to sharpen the axe.
"What? Did the cat get your tongue," I asked.
"I don't want to be tiny shards," the elephant said, "I like being whole."
"Should have thought of that before you taunted me," I smirked.
"Look, just take me home. I can give you a big cache of diamonds. You like diamonds right?"
"Trying to bribe me?"
"I'll give you items! I can give you lots and lots of items! You won't have to worry about gifting your friends. What do you say?"
"I'm listening," I said, still sharpening the axe.
"The room you found me in. I'll give you complete access. I'll even give you access to the room filled with zoom zone items and there is the diamond room. It is filled with diamonds."
"I don't really care about diamonds."
"Fine! Fine then just the items. You can help yourself whenever you want. I'll even talk to the Brotherhood and see if I can't get the coins and shards taken away. Please, don't smash me! Please," the statue begged.
"Ah, so it was the Elephant Brotherhood who mucked about with the scenes."
"Yes! They want to slow people down a little. You know, prolong their stay in the Castle. Perhaps get them to come to the Black Market and spend a little gold and maybe a few diamonds," the elephant spilled all his knowledge and I hid a smile.
"I'll tell you what. I'll put you back on the condition that you speak to them but.." I said, trailing off.
"If things don't change, I will track you down and smash you," I grinned.
"Deal! Take me home now!"
"No, tomorrow. I haven't had a good nights sleep since I got you, so be silent and wait!"
"Okay, put the axe back outside. Please!"
"I can do that," I said and returned the axe to where it belonged, "Good night!"
I was greeted by the rays of the sun, early Monday morning. I had overslept but I didn't care. It had been a long weekend. I got up, made breakfast, ate and packed my backpack. I carefully wrapped the elephant statue and placed it in a side pocket. It was really silent as I made my way to the Tavern. Salty gave me a cherry greeting and a warm, welcoming smile. The smile didn't even falter as I won 3 throws of the dice against him. He just patted me on my back and sent me on my way. I stopped by the Fortune Wheel but there was nothing on it besides a Dagger of Mercy and I already had 3 of those. I spun my free go and won another. I sighed and sent up a silent prayer that tomorrow I would have an egg wheel.
I headed off to towards the Dark Tower and the Elephants home. Anabel and the Iron Knight both greeted me warmly but I didn't stop for a chit chat. I made my way to the room that I found the elephant in. I was about to place him back of his perch when I realized that the parchment was different. I picked it up and read:
This was our old home, we found somewhere better. The stores here are to help those that need it, feel free to help yourself. This is why there wasn't any security. Oh and also, keep the elephant. It talks far too much! We can't help with the Daily Tasks, unfortunately. It is all random. You're Welcome! The EB!
"Great! Just great," I cried. I didn't care! I shoved the note in my pocket and placed the elephant statue back. I wasn't going to worry about him! I headed off to the zoom zone storage room and found a nice stash of Blood Lotuses! It had been Saint Valentine's Day the day before so I helped myself to a bouquet! I wondered back out into the main room to see if I needed anything else.
"They left me again didn't they," the elephant asked, which caused me to jump.
"Yup," I sighed, "It seems you can't keep your promise to me either."
"Are you going to smash me?"
"Can you keep me in inventory items," I asked with a shrug.
"I can," he trumpeted.
"I guess that will be your job then. Oh and if they do come back, since they would have had to to leave the note, tell them I'm looking for them."
"I will," he said and gave me a little salute with its trunk.
I grinned and walked away. I didn't know the statue could move. I wonder if they will come back! Could they have known I would return the statue? Had I just been had? Oh well, I had been bribed with Blood Lotuses! Plus, I had access to some stored inventory. Bonus!
It was a new day in Midnight Castle and woke refreshed! I got a wonderful nights sleep without the Elephant in the house and the day was cloud free. I flung the covers off and quickly got dressed. I decided to skip breakfast and headed straight towards the Tavern. The Evil Gnome Trio met me at the Airship Tower and handed me Studying Luck for my daily task. I was amazed that after nearly three weeks they had finally given me something different! I whistled a bright tune and skipped the rest of the way to the Tavern. I warmly greeted Salty with a light kiss on the cheek and he blushed. We sat down to our daily dice game and he completely stomped me. I couldn't roll more than a three! I wondered if this was tied to the daily task. I went around to the Belfry twice and got a shard and some coins. Yes, this was starting off to be a dismal luck day. I made my way to the Fortune Wheel and found a Lemur egg waiting. I spun and spun but no egg. I spun until I was down to 3 million. I had started with 3,040,000! I had wasted 40k trying to get one measly egg. I walked away dejected. I cleaned up the Elfish Bas Relief twice and found a Seed of Life both times. I thought for sure my luck had changed! I headed off to the Gaming Table and cleaned it twice as well. I got a Fungus Among Us and a shard for my hard work. I grimaced but turned in the Daily Task. The Evil Gnome Trio was so pleased that they gave me a Midnight Rose and two diamonds for my efforts. They then handed me Secret Delivery. I told then I would have to pass on that particular task. They just shrugged and ran off. I knew I had sealed my fate to get Helping Hand tomorrow. My steps were heavy as I roamed around the Castle. My luck had been pretty rotten today. I decided to give the Fortune Wheel one more spin but landed on another Crystal Ball. I sighed and gave up. I should have waited until Brite woke up. He was my lucky pet!
I couldn't think of anything else to do. The main inhabitants of the Castle bugged me to finish their tasks whenever I came around and Arabella just kept asking how I was doing with the Keeper of the Castle tasks. I knew I would have to find something to occupy my time until the next rumble in the Castle. I just didn't know what! I felt chilled to the bone and and my nose was leaking. Was I coming down with a cold? I finally decided to head home and sit by the fire with a good book!
A Day of Sighs
I stayed up late reading but my alarm, Brite, went off just the same. I glared at him when he shook me awake. I thought about rolling over but decided to see what the day had in store for me. I was starting to hate my rounds in Midnight Castle. The inhabitants were no longer talkative and if they were it was to ask after their task. Trina was much the same. I had refused to do her last task and told her I was out of inventory. Okay, so I wasn't being honest but still! I couldn't think about looking at another zoom zone! I didn't want to see another coin or shard fall from something I had cleaned instead of an item. I was barely functioning at all in the Castle any more. It was with these thoughts that a heavy sigh escaped past my lips as I got up from bed. My movements were languid as I got dressed. I was feeling numb and it wasn't from the cold. I couldn't even taste the breakfast that Brite and Elle had made for me.
I headed towards the Tavern and hoped I would have better luck at the dice table. I waved to Salty when I entered and he hurriedly made his way to the table. I sighed again when I won only one out of the three rolls. It wasn't going to be a good day. I sent out the airship and smiled a little when I got a bag of Exclusive food and two Unique Stamps. I was still trying to complete the stamp achievements and it was taking forever and a day. I could possibly go back to trading with my friends but it was hard to keep track. I headed towards the Fortune Wheel to find it had reset and now there was nothing good to be had. I had missed my chance to try for the Lemur egg one last time. I sighed and moved along. I walked around collecting flowers and every time I passed the inhabitants of the Castle it was the same old story!
"Have you finished my task yet? What is taking so long? I don't have all week to wait on you," they would say. It used to be nice to pass the time talking to them but now I wanted to hide. I did try with Anabel but she cornered me at the Hole in the Wall. She demanded I finish her task by talking to the Portal Guard. She wanted to know what was behind the thing! I sighed and told her that the items were being picky. I didn't have the heart to tell her that I just didn't feel like doing it.