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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.
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!"