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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.
Once I got tired of picking flowers I headed down to the Archive and the room with the Elephant Statue. I stopped abruptly as I came into the room. The elephant was gone! There wasn't even a note. It looked as if the room had been picked clean! I ran to the room where the zoom zone items were housed and sure enough that was empty as well. I sighed deeply and knew I had been hoodwinked! I banged my head against the wall for not taking more of the items. My poor battleship had been sunk again! It seems just when I think I get ahead of Midnight Castle the rug gets pulled out from under me and I'm three steps behind.
I looked around the room for any sign as to where it had all been moved but there was nothing! There wasn't even a grain of sand on the floor nor a blade of grass. Now I know why they didn't have security in this place! The Elephant drove you mad and then poof, like magic every thing was gone! I sighed and wandered out of the room. There was nothing left and I didn't know where to start to look for the Elephant Brotherhood. If I ever found them I would give them a nice dressing down and I would smash that blasted, lying Elephant statue! I no longer cared how beautiful it was, I do not like being made a fool of! I found myself at the Ghostly Chest and sat down on it. The portal swirled in front of me, calling to me. How long before I can go through and see what is on the other side? How long before I get to see the Port? Would it be worth it? Would the next rumble bring another change in the Castle? Would it revert back to the Castle I once loved or would it stay this lonely, desolate place? I sighed again and realized I had been doing that all day. It was indeed a day of sighs. I was beginning to lose hope and it was the only thing I had left.
Keep Rollin', Rollin'
The land was blanketed in thick fog when I woke. It clung to blades of grass and caressed the trees. The only time I had seen fog this thick was when the barrier had encased the Port. I carefully made my way to the Tavern, praying with every step I didn't go over the cliff. I greeted Salty with another kiss on the cheek when I entered. He was one of the few I really enjoyed dicing with. I wasn't sure if it was because he reminded me of Santa Claus or if it was because he was just one the truly kind people in Midnight Castle. Perhaps it was because he never really got upset when I won all three rounds. Oh, he would pout a bit but he would be all smiles and hearty laughter a split second later. I think it was just because he got a a tidy profit from the dice table whether he won or lost.
"I'm going to have to ban your Rainbow Dragon, Rahia," he joked today, "If you keep winning every time you bring him in."
"Aw, don't be mean, Salty! He loves watching me roll," I laughed and sipped the pear cider that Salty offered.
"Keep rollin', rollin," Brite sang, "Keep Spinnin', Spinnin'. Airship time!"
"See," I winked at Salty, "Plus he is a good luck charm of sorts. I find more of the elusive items when I have him active."
"Ah, I thought perhaps he had a pair of dice hidden under his scales," Salty winked back, teasing the dragon.
"I would never," Brite said, souding slightly outraged at the thought, "I only like turning things rainbow colored. Would you like a rainbow mug?"
"No," Salty flatly said and took off to polish his dearest mug.
"I was only joking," Brite puffed out a plum of smoke.
"I know," I said, giving him a pat.
It was hard to navigate through the fog. I only found the airship tower because of the Wyvern blowing out streams of fire! I sent off the airship and collected the Exclusive food and 2 Unique Stamps that fell out. We arrived at the Fortune Wheel to find nothing of import, again! I used my free spin and won a Unique Stamp. Well, it was something other than a Cannonball at least. The interior of the Castle was free of the fog, thankfully but Ice Rock was completely covered. I called out to Henry but didn't hear or see him. I gave up trying to clean the scenes when the fog became so thick I could barely breath!
"Keep rollin', rollin'! Keep Spinnin', Spinnin'! Airship Time," Brite sang at the top of his lungs. He really had some lung power for such a small dragon.
"That's going to get old really fast," I called over his singing.
"Keep Rollin', Rollin'! Keep Spinnin', Spinnin'! Airship Time! Dice, Wheel and Crates! Where did the items go? What are they fo'? Keep Rollin', Rollin! Keep Spinnin', Spinnin'! Airship Time," Brite sang, completely ignoring me.
I shook my head with a grin, at least some one was having fun. I almost fell off the of the bridge that lead to Flying Boat in Cloud City because of the fog. I saw Squirrel Tales and Harpy Feathers go rolling over the edge. Fortunately, Brite is stronger than he looks and grabbed me by my pants. I was so thankful that they didn't rip! That would just have been embarrassing! It didn't seem like the fog was going to let up. The only good thing that came out of the situation was that the Evil Gnome Trio either couldn't find me or had given up trying. I eventually made my way back to the Tavern after nearly two hours trying to fight the fog. It was just far too thick outside to try to accomplish anything. Honestly, I was grateful. I didn't have to make another excuse to Anabel, Lord Chamberlain or anyone else as to why I wasn't doing their tasks.
I sat down at the dice table and Salty ran over. I guess he thought I wanted another game but I waved him away.
"The fog is too thick," I explained.
"Fog? What fog," Salty asked truly puzzled.
"Look outside! You could cut it with a knife!"
"There isn't any fog out there," Salty said after he took a peek out the door.
"Yes, there is. I haven't even seen the Evil Gnome Trio today," I said, opening the door. My jaw fell open as when I opened the door it was a clear blue day and the birds were singing.
"Keep Rollin', Rollin! Keep Spinnin', Spinnin! Airship Time! Rahia has gone mad. She has been had! Keep Rollin', Rollin! Keep Spinnin', Spinnin'! Airship Time," Brite sang with a toothy grin.
"What is the name of Banner of Loyalty is going on?"
"I have no clue," Salty said with a shrug.
"I swear there was fog out there! It took me nearly two hours to do one round! TWO HOURS!," the last part came out as a shrill scream.
"Keep Rollin', Rollin'," Brite started to sing again but I glared at him, "There was a slight mist that was rolling in but it cleared up with in five minutes."
"You didn't think to tell me this," I asked him.
"Well," Brite shrugged, "Keep Rollin', Rollin'! Keep Spinnin', Spinnin'! Airship Time! Elephants go marching, Fishies go swimming! Keep Rollin', Rollin'!"
"Don't even," I ground out through clenched teeth.
"I'm finished," Brite smiled, "I got it out of my system! It's been stuck in my head since I woke up this morning."
I didn't know what to think! What had the fog been about? Why had I been the only person to see it? What had happened to everyone else in the Castle? Was another rumble coming soon? Had I lost my mind? Was it playing tricks on me? Was the Elephant Brotherhood behind this? Why else would Brite's song mention Elephants!?! I shook my head and decided to play another game of dice with Salty. I ended up winning all three rolls, again! That was six in one day!
"Keep Rollin', Rollin'," I sang, "great now it is stuck in my head!"
"Sorry, not sorry," Brite smiled and flew off.
I sighed and started to hum the little tune out loud. It was catchy in a I want to bleach my ears my kind of way. There was something strange going on but once again I didn't know where to start for answers! I slung my backpack over my shoulder and headed home.
A Strange Invitation
I had a restless nights sleep. I tossed and turned, waking from nightmare after nightmare. I'm pretty sure it was the gooseberry pie Elle had made for dinner last night but I couldn't be sure. There were strange things happening in the Castle so it could very well be a sign. The fog that I had encountered yesterday was nothing more than a fading memory. There were birds singing and Brite was humming a tune. It sounded like an old sea shanty. Perhaps he had found Skull Pete and the pirate had taught him a new tune. The Ancient Protectors be praised because I was now horrified whenever I heard 'Rollin' or 'Spinnin'! I grabbed a banana but muffin from the table and ran out of the door. Brite followed dragging my backpack behind him. The day was starting off great!
"Rahia! Your backpack," he called, "Am I coming with or should I stay home today?"
"Come along," I grinned and hauled the backpack over my shoulder, "Just no singing today, okay?"
"Got it," he pouted before picking up his humming.
I made my way to the Tavern but stopped at the Airship Tower. It was waiting for me this morning and it was visible! I chatted with the gnome for a bit but he said he was running behind schedule so he took off as soon as I packed the last crate. He once again tossed an Exclusive Food and two Unique Stamps out for me. Well, he wasn't an evil gnome at least. Ha! Speaking of Evil Gnomes, the Trio was once again handing out Helping Hand. I had thought I had seen the last of that task but I guess my luck was off today. I stuffed it in my backpack and decided to burn the parchment later. I could always use kindling for my fireplace! I waved to Salty when I entered the Tavern. He grinned, set down the forever being polished mug and made his way over to the dice table. He leaned over and gave me a kiss on the cheek this time when I won the three dice rolls. He must be making a killing from other dicing customers if it didn't bother him that I was winning so much. Although, I guess, I would pay for it when it came time to move on to Lord Chamberlain or Henry.
I glanced at the Fortune Wheel on my was passed it and found nothing of interest. I took my free spin and moved along. It was becoming a very dull day. It wasn't until I was searching the Train Cabin in Metro Station for Anabel that I found something unusual. There on the ground was a note. It was an invitation but it didn't have a name attached to it.
You are invited to join the Elephant Brotherhood! You have gone above and beyond the call of duty. You will find in the accompanying package an Elephant Mask and a Black Robe. You must wear these in order to gain access to the meeting. The meeting will take place tomorrow at the Old Tree in the Cemetery. The Elephant Brotherhood needs people like you!
"Wonder if I can find an Elephant Mask," I mused. I admit to being curious but as I didn't know what the elephant mask looked like I was up a creek without a paddle. I could, of course, just crash the gathering. Well, I had until tomorrow to figure something out. I wonder who they sent the invitation too! What did it take to get an invitation anyway? What exactly does the Elephant Brotherhood do? I folded the invitation and placed it in my pocket. It was funny that it didn't state a time. I would have to stake out the old tree in the Cemetery tomorrow. Ah well, I bet I would get Helping Hand again anyway and the other tasks could wait a day or a week. Hopefully, I could get some answers! I skipped off and continued my rounds.
I found another note near the Dark Tower Gates. It was the same as the first. It seems they were recruiting but recruiting who? Why were they recruiting and for what purpose? Were they running out of people? Had the Elephant Statue talked some of their members to an early grave? Would this be another futile quest that left me with more questions than answers? Well, I was a curious sort! I walked back home whistling and carrying a sleeping Brite. He had brought back a lovely Crystal Chest filled with gold and diamonds! I wouldn't be able to use him tomorrow but perhaps Sulfur, my fire dragon would be just as lucky.
The Stake Out
I was still groggy and stifled a yawn as I made my way to the Tavern. I had went to bed late last night preparing for the stake out and found I couldn't sleep. I finally got to sleep close to 2am and was up at six. It wasn't nearly enough sleep to be alert! I tried to pump myself up but all I wanted was to crawl back in bed. I entered the Tavern, gave Salty a kiss on the cheek and sat down at the dice table. Salty came over and grinned. He patted me on the back and told me he was sorry. He didn't reply when I asked why but I figured it out moments later. He offered up a Shard of Soul as his wager and I only needed one more to get them up to 50. I licked my lips and agreed. I rolled two consecutive three's and I knew I wouldn't get that Shard of Soul. My last roll was snake eyes and I cursed. Salty offered up another apology and I waved him off. This is what I get for dicing without Brite! I could have really used that Shard of Soul. I ordered up a cup of Salty's strongest coffee and gulped it down. I didn't even care that the hot liquid scorched my throat! I felt the heat spread in my stomach and I grinned. I may not be completely alert but I was halfway there.
The Evil Gnome Trio greeted me at the Airship Tower. I glared, they smiled. They even skipped away as I yelled that I wouldn't do Helping Hand ever again! The gnome that drove the airship tsked me under his breath and tossed out an Exclusive Food and two Unique Stamps when I finished packing the crates. I glanced up at the rising sun and shielded my eyes. It was going to be a very bright day. I had to hurry if I was going to hide myself at the Cemetery in Town. I snapped up the food and stamps and dashed off. I hope the meeting hadn't already happened!