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Needless to say, I was so excited to put the last decorative piece in place on the cover of Valeria Steiner's diary. Now, we were going to get to read whatever she wrote in there. I was literally dancing on my toes as I opened the diary! Oh my gosh, all that is in there is a vial. Reading a little note, I found that this is no ordinary vial. Of course it isn't ordinary. This is the Midnight Castle where everything is magic, but only for those who can see it. I was so disappointed when I saw that I must fill the Vial of Memories from castle residents.
All of a sudden, instead of standing in the Castle Entry, I was transported to the Dungeon of the Cursed. Professor Pinfeathers was excited. Look he told me, we woke Valeria Steiner herself. Well, almost as good, it was the ghostly form of Valeria who appeared. The professor said that she may know some secrets of discovering the Mystery Chamber that may help you. That Vial of Memories is Valeria's vial and hers is the Vial of Sad Memories.
Valeria Steiner's ghost looked rather bad. I realize that ghosts don't normally look normal, but she had such sad eyes and dark circles around her eyes. I felt really bad for her.
Valeria said that she needs revenge on whoever killed her. She seems to think that Rustle the Mountain Troll is the culprit. She said that there must be a reason that the troll hides in his Ice Rock. But she thinks she can thaw him out. She wants me to get the Symbol of Sacrifice from the Ice Monster and the Mandrake Root from the Drunken Skeleton. Ice Monster? I head into Ice Rock and there standing as tall as a tower, is a giant statue carved out of the ice. Or at least the top half of him was. He had red glowing eyes and horns that almost looked like a crown going from his eyes to the top of his head. It was amazing! You give him two sets of Shackles of Chaos and one Ice Crown, and he blinks his eyes twice then squeezes his arms to his chest, then gives you the item you need. It was fantastic.
Well I got the Symbol of Sacrifice from the Ice Monster, and the Mandrake Root from the Drunken Skeleton for Valeria, supposedly to make the Mountain Troll confess. But he did not. Valeria thinks that it was Rustle who killed her but she can't punish him because she is a ghost. She said that it is sad to be in this gray world between life and death. No wonder she looks so sad to me. She told me that she would not be a distraction, her memories have left her. She wants to know where to find her Vial of Sad Memories and despite her attempts, her investigation has gone south. She said that the ghost of a decrepit man told her something important, and also made fun of the poor innkeeper. She needs the Call of Adventure and the Roaring Lion to use as a bribe. She said that when she was killed her friend lost faith. Now he hangs around the castle waiting. She does not know what he is waiting for, but if I can get these items for her, she will think of a way they can be used.
I went to the inn and when I walked in, I stopped dead in my tracks. My mouth hung open in astonishment. There, hanging from the ceiling was a monkey. It is a good thing my Mom can't see him, she would not want him "hanging around". I had to give this monkey 3 rings to get the Call of Adventure from him, and as I was there in the inn, I got the other items Valeria needed. When I took them to her, she said that she can now see that these items won't bring the innkeeper to life. She has, however, found her Vial of Sad Memories in the Ice Rock. She asked me if I had lost hope of finding the Mystery Chamber of Wishes and I told her that I had not lost any hope of finding it. She told me that I kept hope alive, and called me her friend. Then she gave me her Vial of Sad Memories with her thanks. I poured her Vial of Sad Memories into the Vial of Memories and sealed it tight. It was time to find out who else has a vial of memories for me.
When I am in school, I have a lot friends who want to see the "Haunted Castle". I keep trying to tell them that it isn't haunted, it just needs a lot of work. And my Dad is working at it as fast as he can. There is this one group of kids that are always nagging at me to come to Midnight Castle. Their leader, Dbinamen, is so funny. They all keep me laughing all the time. One of these days, I am going to have to bring that group to the castle. And maybe I'll see if the Kraken is available too.
Professor Pinfeathers told me that if I perform the innkeeper's tasks, he should give me the Vial of Old Memories. That kind of seems fit as I always call him Old Salty.
Salty greeted me saying that he heard rumors that Valeria Steiner's ghost was back in the castle. I told him that the rumor was true and that I had met her. Salty looked at me and said that there is no time for rumors, we need to explore the Frozen Treasures. I have long since learned that "we" means "I". He impressed upon me that I needed to spend less time on ghosts and more time on the important things. To me, what could be more important than one of the ghosts in my Midnight Castle?
So I headed in the direction of the Ice Rock, where Salty said the Frozen Treasure was. Suddenly, and without any sound, the ice seemed to carve into itself a nice big niche. This was almost directly below the Ice Monster. Inside this cave like niche were all sorts of treasures. Of course, I was the only one who could see the treasure within. My Dad said to be careful, since a hole had appeared in the ice, the ice may be weak and collapse. But I knew that it would not collapse. It was just showing me another area where I can find items that my castle residents want.
Old Salty said that I need to move forward in life like a shark. I guess that means I have to keep moving, because I know that sharks must keep moving. At least I hope that is what Salty meant. I sure don't want him to mean that I have to bite somebody. As I was gathering items he needed for his guests he asked me if I ever wondered if there is life after death. I had never thought about this before, but considering I am seeing all kinds of ghosts, I guess there must be something besides just becoming a ghost and living between the live and the dead, like Valeria said she was.
Salty had me go to the Dungeon of the Cursed. One of the open areas on the right, that I had noticed before was an inset filled with skulls. I know the skulls were not there on my previous visit to the Dungeon. There are iron gates that are open, and may have once held prisoners. Among the skulls was a shield. I thought that would be a perfect present for my brother Marty. I will have to come back later to see if I can get it for him.
When I gave Old Salty the items he wanted, he called me pal, and told me that he was in danger. He wants me to remember Old Salty Took as a good man. I told him that I already did. He apparently has been having bad dreams, he said that all those doubts, nightmares and shadows lurk in dark corner, waiting for him. He thinks that the Live Potion will give him strength against the nightmares. He drank some of the potion, and said that he had been poisoned. That was low, inhuman, and now he was a ghost. I did not tell him he already was.
Poor Old Salty, I feel so bad for him because now he is a ghost. He was a ghost when I first came here, but apparently he did not realize it. Or maybe there are different levels of ghosthood. I have to agree that he did not look as see-through then as he does now. It is also sad that Salty was in love with Valeria when someone killed her. Salty then lost faith in the Mystery Chamber. But now that they are both ghosts (and look like it), he said that he and Valeria are back together now. He feel so much happier, like he has wings. He wondered if Valeria will fall back in love with him again.
Salty told me that since he doesn't have to take time out of his days for sleeping, he has a lot more time to think. All of his life, everything was about business and deals. Now he wants me and him to do business together.
As a future friend, he told me, I should take the Vial of Old Memories as a gesture of his good will. I took the vial he handed me and thanked him for it. Then I headed for the diary where I still keep the Vial of Memories, and poured the Vial of Old Memories into the larger vial that already holds the Vial of Sad Memories. I will have to go to Professor Pinfeathers tomorrow to see who needs me next. It seems I am less of an owner of the Midnight Castle, and more of one who is owned by the castle and its inhabitants.
I am so excited about tomorrow though. It is finally moving day! We will be moving out of the Inn, and into the castle. Mom and Dad's room is the big room on the second floor, their windows are right above the castle entry. They can see the two big statues of the knights who can bang their weapons on the ground. The old broken well can be seen from their window too. Dad is going to fix it and Mom said that she would plant flowers there, and maybe some vines to grow up the sides.
Marty's and my rooms are on the third floor, right above Mom and Dad's. My room is on the left, I like to keep the curtains open, so I can see all the beauty outside of the castle. Marty's room is next door to mine, on the right and he likes his curtains almost closed. Maybe he is still afraid that the Kraken will be roaming around. But I don't think he has to worry about that. Salty said that the Kraken rarely leaves his area.
I can't wait! It is going to be so exciting sleeping in that beautiful castle. We have only been here a few months but I love every inch of that castle, even with some of its flaws.
The professor said that Anabel would have the Vial of Happy Memories, and that she does need my help. When I saw Anabel, she needed my help getting the demon seal which summons demons. They come when you are asleep. She also needed me to make the bemusing potion for her. I had to hunt all over the belfry to find a second polestar for that. Anabel said that ever since her initiation, she thirsts for blood. I guess that is normal for a vampire. But she said that she needs to calm it and needs my help, not my blood. Thank goodness. She feels that the Vampire Sign and the Aquamarine Charm will work at calming her thirst.
After I was able to obtain those items for her, she told me that she knew I would succeed and feels much better. In order to keep the blood thirst under control she wanted the Knife of Peril and the Oak Mug. I used the last of my raven's eyes to get items from the drunken skeleton. Then getting other items for her used up more of the items I had stashed in my keepsake box. Now I have to hunt for more Raven's Eye or, if I can't find them, wait for the castle to supply me with more of them. Thankfully, her blood thirst is nearly satiated. Now I need more Raven's Eyes? How many does she think I have in my keepsake box? I finally got them and to gain composure, she wants the Orb of Moonlight and the Totem of Harmony should accompany it. She can feel the magic aura now, and thanks me for finding the items for her and for the final assignment she wants the Harmful Poison, and the Binding Fate. After getting those for her, she thanked me and gave me the Vial of Happy Memories. I was very disappointed that she did not talk about those memories at all. I would have loved to hear about them.
Marty and I got into trouble last night. After Mom and Dad went to sleep, we slipped down to the Castle Entry and made the statues bang their weapons on the ground. It did of course, wake Mom and Dad and now they lock the door to the entry so that we can't do it again. We are grounded for a week, but it sure was funny.
The next morning the professor told me that The Iron Knight had heard I was collecting memories. He told me that he has a few of those. He doesn't remember where he left the Vial of Valiant Memories, but he will think about it. He asked me if I needed a favor from him, and if so, not to let his proud bearing put me off. He knows that I will find the Mystery Chamber. So I left him to think about where he might have put the vial of memories.
When I came back, he was hoping that I was Anabel. He said that he would give his sword to know what she thinks of him. I think he should just go and talk to her. That would be easier than just standing there smelling a rose and wondering. He said that one fortune teller he knew could tell the future using the Sphere of Night, and that he is ready to read tea leaves too and that the Lucky Clover could help. I keep telling him to go talk to her, but I think he is afraid to. Imagine, a mighty knight like that afraid to talk to a girl! Okay, so maybe she is a vampire, but still he should just go and talk to her.
When I came back with the items he requested, he asked me if I saw how Anabel smiled at him. His face turned a little red and he said that he was not blushing, he was just a little flushed. Well, I just found out that the knight can fib a little.
The Knight stated that he was still astonished at how many mysteries our castle hides. He should see it from my point of view. I am totally in awe of the mysteries of my Midnight Castle. He also said that I am becoming indispensable. We are two people who go forward with their goal with unflinching courage. He's especially fond of me when I bring him things, and he said that I am performing honorably. He does wonder sometimes if he was misguided in always being loyal to the owners of the castle. Maybe he should have been a farmer, he mused. I don't think he would have done well as a farmer, and as he said, you can not regret the past as there is so much hope for the future. He composed a poem about the tenderness in a tough soldier, and read it to me. While I don't think he would make it as a poet either, at least he tried and said that it felt good to express himself. We worked well together, he told me, and then gave me the Vial of Valiant Memories.
I went to Professor Pinfeathers to ask him which resident is the next one I should talk to about more vials of memory. Boy, did I get a surprise. Instead of telling me to talk to Rustle, or the Wise Dragon, he told me to go out to the woods and get an egg. An egg!! I told him that my Mom had eggs in the refrigerator, but he said that was not the kind of egg he wanted me to get. This egg was very old, he told me. Long ago, the humans used to hunt and kill dragons. Of course, back then, the dragons would set the human's houses on fire and kill the people.
He told me that before she was killed, this mother dragon, hid her egg in a hole in a tree in the woods and although it has been a couple of hundred years the egg is still there. Since the Midnight Castle has come back alive with it's magic, it is time to retrieve the egg and hatch it. Hatch a dragon egg? How on earth do I do that? The professor was a bit impatient with me and told me that once I had the egg safely back in the castle, he would tell me what to do.
Since my brother, Marty, has been all through those woods, I asked him to help me. He laughed at me when I told him that I had to get and bring back a dragon egg to the castle. But he finally agreed to help me. Professor Pinfeathers told us that he would direct us to the right tree, and then lead us back to the castle, so we wouldn't get lost. The tree he took us to was way back into the woods. It is a good thing I got Marty to come with me, because the trees were so thick in that area that they totally blocked out the sunlight. And there was something else, it seemed that something was watching us. I was almost sure it was the trees themselves, and they were making sure that we were not there to harm the egg.
When we finally found the egg, the professor put his ear on the egg. "Yes!", he said, "the egg is just about ready." We took the egg back to the castle and on our way, Marty said that he would build a box for the egg and fill it with leaves, and straw as a soft bed for the egg to lay on. The professor said that we must keep the egg warm at all times or the egg would not hatch. I kept thinking what are we going to do with a baby dragon if the egg does hatch? I remember when I first saw the Wise Dragon breathing fire. All I could think of was a baby dragon trying to breath fire on everything and burning everything up, like I have seen on some cartoons on TV. What will Mom think? We have to hide it!
We got the box Marty made and filled it with soft material. We decided that leaves and straw would not be good in the castle. There might be bugs in them. So some soft blankets and some of Mom's cotton balls, (actually we used all she had) and now we had a nice soft warm place to put the dragon egg.
Mom called us downstairs and we found her there with something dark all wrapped up in a soft towel. She said that she found it in the Castle Entry crying. It was a little black kitten! Oh, how cute she is. She had been hungry, wet from the rain last night, and shivering cold. Mom dried her off, fed her and cuddled her until the shivers stopped. But now she wanted us to take care of the adorable kitten. Marty and I looked at each other, knowing what the other was thinking. What will this kitten do with a dragon egg? We took her upstairs to our rooms and decided that Marty would keep the egg in his room and I would keep the kitten in mine. But apparently the kitten had other ideas.
She jumped from my arms and before we could grab her, she hopped into the box with the dragon egg. I was just holding my breath hoping that she would not destroy the egg before we could get to her. Instead of destroying the egg, she seemed to know that the egg needed warmth too, so she pulled the egg up gently against her body, and wrapped herself around the egg and went sound asleep.
Marty and I both breathed a sigh of relief. But I thought that I should let Professor Pinfeathers know about this new development. After all, Professor Pinfeathers was a bird, and well....we all know what cats can do to a bird.
I found that the professor was already aware of the situation. I should have known that, there is not much around here that the professor doesn't know about. He told me that he would have a chat with the kitten after she woke up, but that it looked like it was going to be okay.
All I could think of was, wait until that poor kitten finds out what she is hatching!
As I get ready to go and do my chores, both Mom's and the Midnight Castle resident's, I take a look at the little black kitten in the box with the dragon egg. She had already been downstairs to eat, and was washing up, getting ready for her morning nap. I keep trying to come up with a name for her and keep shooting down the usual, blackie, midnight, ebony, and shadow. For that particular cat, those are far too common names, we need something unusual for an unusual cat. Something that fits her, like hatcher, or something. I will have to continue to think about it.
Professor Pinfeathers told me that Lord Chamberlain has the Vial of Royal Memories. When I approached him and told him what I needed, Lord Chamberlain said that he has lived for centuries and humans still amaze him. He felt that there are a lot of silly rumors around about vampires. He even said that I might be good enough to be a vampire in training. I don't think I really want to be a vampire though. I rather like being a human being, although from what I have seen so far, I don't think that being an adult human is much of a picnic.
Lord Chamberlain told me that the High Council of Vampire Clans promises to raise his rank and he needs my help to get items that may be of use to him in his quest. He said that the Steel Hive should help, and the Glinting Earrings are a gift. Once I was able to get these items for him, he actually said "Good Job". Can it be that our Lord Chamberlain is softening? Probably not, because in the next sentence he said that the High Council these days are so slow, and that Anabel keeps getting in the way.
I obtained a few more items for him and he said that it was enough, and he told me that I had done well. When I asked again about the Vial of Memories, he became his usual self and said that I wouldn't leave him in peace. If I got him a couple more items, he would give me the vial. He said that he is busy with the situation in the council, but gave me the Vial of Royal Memories, and told me that we will meet again later. So I ran to put Lord Chamberlains Vial of Royal Memories into the larger vial, which already held the other vials.