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Just after Dad had found a dusty curtain and pushed it aside, Professor Pinfeathers appeared to me and told me that there is someone I should meet. He told me that he was the castle's oldest resident. While Dad checked the stairs to be sure they were safe, I looked around at the Throne Room. When Dad pushed the curtain aside, it revealed the top half of a suit of armor hanging from the ceiling along the wall, just to the left of the new doorway.
When Dad came up and told me that the stairs were safe, I started down the stairs. Dad said that his map told him that this was the Forbidden Tower. I only got a few steps down into the tower when I froze. Standing with a part of him under the stairway, was a Dragon! This was not a stuffed dragon, it was a real life, fire breathing dragon. But this was no storybook dragon. He wore a monocle, had long white eyebrows and whiskers and a white beard. He had horns on his head. As if that wasn't enough to startle me, he then spoke. When do you ever expect a dragon to speak to you? In this Midnight Castle, I am beginning to believe that anything is possible. Even a talking dragon.
He told me that he was the Ultimate Arbitrator and that as he needed an assistant, I was it. Wow, I've just been drafted into the service of a dragon. I feel like I must still be dreaming. Although he was very nice, he seemed to be a bit self centered. He said to me that "you need to love yourself, as much as I love myself. Well," he said, "that may not be possible." He told me that as the castle keeper, he keeps the order. He then told me that Anabel needed my help.
So, off I went to see Anabel. She told me that she was having trouble assembling the right equipment. She said that she is about to face the challenge of the Midnight Hour, a rite that every vampire must undergo. I helped her find the items she needed, just in time. As I watched, a purple-pink glow surrounded her and before my eyes, she became a vampire. She said that she now has the power of the highest vampire. She told me that she will help me find the mystery chamber, but first I must return to the dragon and tell him how I helped her find her true self.
I went back to the dragon, and after listening to me about Anabel, he told me that the Knight needed some help, but would never ask for it. I then went to the Knight and asked him if I could help him with anything. He said that he did not ask for me and my help but still sent me to find his items for him.
Between the doorway to Ice Rock and the bronze statue was a statue of a fairy hanging on the wall. The fairy was holding a harp as though she was playing it. It turned out that this Fairy statue, called the Harp in Blossoms was another magic cupboard. Only this one took two polestars and one seed of life. It gave me the fairy dust that the Knight wanted. Three items for one seems a little unfair to me, but then I don't know the value of the fairy dust. He then had me get a midnight rose from the chest in the rock garden. He wanted the fairy dust and the midnight rose to give to Anabel for her birthday today. Her birthday is today because today is when she became a vampire and her true self. The Knight told me that he was a bit tongue-tied and speechless around Anabel. Then Lord Chamberlain called him, and he told me that Lord Chamberlain never ceases his demands. So I left him to serve Lord Chamberlain, and went to my room to think about today's remarkable happenings. There was a lot to think about.
When I saw that the Knight had finished his tasks for Lord Chamberlain, I went back to him to see if he still needed some help. He told me that he had received disturbing news. That I have new enemies, and that they must protect me. Who would be an enemy and why? As he had no answer for me, he had me craft the Binding Fate and the Orb of Moonlight. He said that it would help. I did not know how or why those items would help but I did it anyway. Then he told me to go and tell the dragon how I have helped him enough, but that now I must help myself. Things are getting so confusing. Enemies, help myself. I really don't understand it all.
After telling the dragon about my time with the Knight, he told me to go to the Mountain Troll, Rustle. Rustle was not happy about the snow and ice at the Ice Rock. He said that he was a Mountain troll not a snow and ice troll. He was also very bored and his cure for boredom was to have more fun by watching me running errands for him. Then in an ice wall, a totem appeared. This totem seemed to have a bird head on top, then a mans head, and a bear head on the bottom. Rustle wanted a Chimera's mask from this totem and a Hyena's chain from the Harp in Blossoms. These items seemed a little weird to me. But then the whole day today has been very weird. Rustle told me to tell the dragon that he was very pleased with my help.
When I was finished reporting my experiences with Rustle, the Mountain Troll, the dragon told me to go to Lord Chamberlain, as he needed me for some tasks.
As I approached Lord Chamberlain, he told me that he knew my uncle. But even as I asked to tell me more about him, he would say no more. He told me that we have some things to do, and in his usual haughty tone, he said, "and by we-- I mean you". So as I did his tasks for him, without much help from him, I was nearly finished when he told me that The Astral Messenger came to the castle with bad news. He would be busy for a while, and I was to spend my time wisely. What or who is the Astral Messenger? I guess there is still much I have to learn about what goes on in the Midnight Castle.
After a little while, Lord Chamberlain came back and told me that the news was bad but that there was still time to change things. Now he needed my help in getting a Shard of Soul and a Knife of Peril. Personally, I really do not understand what these items could possibly be use for, to "change things". After retrieving these items for Lord Chamberlain, he told me to go back to the dragon, as he had no time to chat. It seems that Lord Chamberlain does not give much information on anything.
So back to the dragon I go. The dragon said that he was somewhat surprised by my "awesomeness"- then said "Yay". He said that the junction of two worlds keeps him deep in thought, and makes him very sleepy. I can almost understand about two worlds. The world that everyone else sees, and the world of magic that is the Midnight Castle. At least, that is what I think he means by the junction of two worlds. He said that I am growing in importance, and as such, gave me the Sapphire Eye for Valeria Steiner's diary. That will make me one step closer to finding a way to open and read the diary.
I wish there was someone who could explain all of this to me. Even Old Salty does not understand all of it. I guess I will just have to keep my eyes and ears open to see if I can figure out some of these many odd statements and occurrences. Perhaps I will not figure some of this out for a very long time. Just like some of the notes I have been finding and collecting. Some are from 30 years ago or more. I have not yet been able to determine who wrote them, or who some of the people are that have been mentioned in them. I will keep collecting them until I can understand what they are referring to.
As I am still in school, I don't have a lot of time to spend in the castle. But I try to do and see as much as I can in the afternoon. I think that the more I learn about what is here and why, the more I will understand some of the cryptic messages I get from the occupants of the Midnight Castle.
Professor Pinfeathers has asked me to go to Anabel and try to help her. Anabel said that she is still getting used to her new abilities and she needs me to find her something simple so that she can train. So I got her an 8 point star and she wanted me to craft her a Solar Seal. Unfortunately, she broke it, but it did not matter as it was only for training anyway. Then she told me that her cargo delivery never arrived, so I needed to help find some items to replace the missing cargo. She gave me a list of what she wanted me to bring to her and said that she would discover their uses later.
Anabel said that her father used to say that great abilities always come with greater responsibility and that now she understands what he meant by that. I found her items for her and she said that she was very impressed. By bringing the items to her she will find the Topaz Decoration for the cover of Valeria Steiner's diary. She told me that the High Convention of Clans takes place soon and she need the Infusion of Suffering to make the right impression, and a Voodoo Doll. We were both very pleased with our efforts. She told me that the high clans will discuss her status soon. It was very soon after this, that she found the Topaz Decoration and gave it to me. I put it on the cover of the diary and saw that I still had a ways to go to get all of the decorations, but that we have made some headway. Now I just hope that Dad and Marty don't decide that my time for finding the decorations is up. Right now, Dad is still opening new areas in the castle, and Marty keeps trying to get the half suit of armor down off the wall to try to wear it. I hope he does not succeed, I am afraid that if he does manage to remove it, it will disturb the magic that is Midnight Castle.
Professor Pinfeathers now told me to go to the Innkeeper "Salty" Took. Old Salty told me that I should give up on finding the Mystery Chamber. He said that it was like "my Rosebud". I don't know what he means by that, but I can tell that he has not been around kids my age before. Every time someone says that I should quit looking for the Mystery Chamber, it just makes me want to see it for myself even more.
Salty commented that he has a new guest at the inn. As I looked at the skeleton sitting on the stairs, I could not help but be glad that Mom and Dad and Marty could not see him. He looked like the kind of person (ghost, skeleton?) that they would hand him something to eat and tell him to be on his way. Salty wanted me to get a Mandarin Root from this new guest. He was a drunken skeleton sitting on the stairs and when you give him some items, he apparently is able to take a drink from his bottle, and then opens his coat to reveal the Mandarin Root. When I first saw him start to open his coat, I backed toward the door, ready to run. I can remember my Mom telling me about some bad men that open their coats to reveal their naked bodies. I think my Mom called them flashers. But the open coat did not reveal his body, only the item that he was to give you in return for the items you gave him.
I took the root back to Salty and he told me that I was wasting my life chasing after the Mystery Chamber, "Trust me", he said. Why? Has he seen the Mystery Chamber? What did it contain? Now, he really has me intrigued. But right now, we need to mix some potions. A Blood Flow potion for healing, and the Infusion of Suffering for nightmares. Does that mean it gives you nightmares, or does it take nightmares away? I have a feeling that it does not take them away. Salty then told me that even demons respect those who drink from that cauldron filled with the Infusion of Suffering. He also said that these potions will keep guests from complaining about the cockroaches. Yuck!
Salty found out that some crook has the Golden Wing that I need for Valeria's diary, and he has charged his amulets and is ready to throw himself into the hunt for the Golden Wing for me. He told me that my uncle worked faster, as if something was urging him on and that I am nearly as quick as my uncle.
Old Salty still wants me to find more items for him, but as it is still a school night, the rest of my hunt will have to wait until tomorrow after school.
The next day, after school was out, I hurried home to finish Old Salty's requests. He found out that the crook wants the Binding Fate and the Blind Justice in trade for the Golden Wing. The Binding Fate was difficult to find and put together. Among other things, I needed to find 3 books. One was in the armored bear, another was in the Iron Chest, and the third one was to be found in the chest of the Dead Ambassador. These books were like nothing I had seen before. One was the Book of Resignation, which Salty said that it teaches self-sacrifice, which must be why no one reads it. The Volume of Fury, he told me, was not exactly a manual for an anger management course. Then, the weirdest book, was the Blood Volume. Salty explained that the book was inked in blood. After we put the books with the other items needed for the Binding Fate, we found the Blind Justice, and Salty was able to pass these items on to the crook and obtain the Golden Wing for Valeria Steiner's diary, and I placed it on the cover of the diary.
Professor Pinfeathers then asked me to craft the Card of Destiny. He said that everyone has a purpose and that I just needed to find mine. I don't know what the card said about my destiny, but the Professor then gave me the Golden Vignette. It looks like Valeria was very keen on gold and gems by the look of the diary. He then said that I needed more of the items for the diary, which was easy to see by the outlines of the rest of the missing items. He told me that Valeria Steiner knew something and that her diary should reveal it. Then he said that the Mountain Troll, Rustle, would have the round Ruby.
As I approached Rustle, he asked me where I had been. He has so many errands piling up for me. Goodness! Rustle needed me to make the Wings of Darkness to scare someone off, and that the Knife of Peril would be helpful too. He stated that he had been asked to guard the tavern but thinks he will tell them he came down with the troll flu. It sounded like me, when I wanted to skip a day at school. But since he told me that I worked as hard as a troll, I decided to help him find the Bemusing Potion. He said that anyone would look sick with that. Off he went to the tavern to tell them he was sick, and when he came back he said with a grin, that he looked so bad the innkeeper thought he was sick too! He then gave me the only red gem left from that book, with his thanks.
After Rustle gave me the gem, I found out that he was not quite finished with my help yet. He thinks that he is getting kinder, but in my opinion, giving me the gem and not letting me go to put it on the cover of the diary is not kindness, it is torture! I am sure that he did not mean it to be that way.
Rustle told me that his master is looking for him. He needs to find somewhere to hide. Then he came up with the idea of getting a disguise that would work to hide him. So we crafted the Orb of Moonlight and the Card of Destiny. He thinks he looks like a fortune teller now, and that no one will recognize him as a troll. Personally, I think he looked like Rustle the Mountain Troll with a deck of cards, and a funny looking crystal ball. I did not think that the disguise was going to work.
He went out of my sight, and almost immediately came running back complaining that the disguise did not work. Now poor Rustle was going to have to go back to threatening people and even growling. He wanted us to craft a Blood Flow Potion. He said that it makes growling sound even more vicious.
As he said his goodbyes, he told me to be careful with that red gem. He was afraid that it was so tiny that it could easily be lost. I waved goodbye to Rustle and went to get the book, so that I could place another gem on the cover of Valeria Steiner's diary.
Professor Pinfeathers now wanted me to go to see the Iron Knight for the Round Emerald. The knight said that he would ask around, but in the meantime, a useful item fell into the Fire Fountain. He said that he believed the item was the Ice Crown. Prior to this, there had been just a pile of junk on the floor. Now, before my very eyes appeared a non-working fountain. The fountain was full of the items that had been on the floor before. A Phoenix appeared, looking like he was on fire, sitting on the edge of the fountain. My Dad saw me looking at the Phoenix and said that he had added some feathers to the old bird that had been there, and lit him up from the inside for more of the Halloween decorations. Dad may have said that he did the fire bird, but I know that the Phoenix, turned his head and looked at me with eyes that were alive. More of the Midnight Castle magic I presumed.
The Iron Knight told me that there are people in the castle who owe him favors, and he will ask them about the Round Emerald. After helping him retrieve some of the items he wanted, he told me that he had good news. He has discovered how to get the emerald I seek. He is unable to skip work to find a jewel and he is running out of time. He can not look for the Round Emerald today, as he is currently on watch and must stay awake until the morning.
The next morning he asked the Chamberlain about the emerald. The Iron Knight said that Lord Chamberlain seemed unusually annoyed by the question. The Chamberlain wants the Iron Knight to bring him the Winged Amulet, and The Fungus Among Us, which seemed very out of character for him. But when the knight took the items to him, he looked very pleased, but the Iron Knight knew better than to mention the emerald to him again.
The Iron Knight discovered that one of the servants had found the Round Emerald. He agreed to sell it for a price. The Soul Harvest and the Murderers Eye just happened to be his price. The knight told me that surprisingly the servant actually meant what he said and gave the knight the emerald. The Iron Knight then held out his hand with the Round Emerald in it and told me to take it. I thanked him for his help, and went to put the emerald on the cover of Valeria Steiner's diary. Just a few more pieces, I thought. Then we can open it.
The Professor said that Lord Chamberlain must know something about the Heraldic Dragon decoration for the diary. I went to Lord Chamberlain to ask him about it, but it seems that he is upset about something.
Although no one else was in the room he was yelling something about it is not a High Convention - it is an assembly of fools! He needs to do something! "Bring me the Royal Stone and the Strangled Ruby", he said, "I will pick up the Vengeful Weapon".
As we removed another curtain in the Throne Hall I saw another magic cupboard. This was just across the room from the doorway into the forbidden tower, where the dragon is currently staying. Lord Chamberlain called this cupboard, the Flag. I have to think that it is called this because to open it you need 2 Banners of Loyalty and 2 Shields or Order. When this is all put together it looks a lot like a flag with the banners and shields on it. This cupboard, or the Flag, gave me the Royal Stone, and I had the Strangled Ruby and gave both items to Lord Chamberlain.
"Keep up the good work, but don't get in my way." he said. He was still upset and told me that those old men in the Council are plotting against him. He then said that he has a plan of his own. After getting him a couple more items, he told me that things are improving, but not for me. He then told me that I should stop sneaking around and do him this favor. I decided that I needed to stand up to Lord Chamberlain and told him that I have not been sneaking around! I decided that I had fetched and carried for Lord Chamberlain enough for one day. I will go back to him tomorrow and see what else he needs. I sure hope he is in a better mood tomorrow.