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A Fate Worse Than Death
I awoke the next day to the tournament whistle sounding. I ran to the tournament hall to find I only had 10 minutes to enter. I ran through the double doors and quickly searched the rooms. I cursed a thousand times as I made mistake after mistake but it didn't matter. I needed to talk to Nimie. However, once I got the wheel it didn't whisper. Nimie was gone from the tournament wheel. My shoulders slumped and I walked out of the tournament hall half the height I walked in. There was nothing I could do to help Nimie. I headed down to the Archives and searched book after book about spirits and ghost. I came up empty handed and for once I wish that Daphne was still around. I laid my head on the table I was sitting at and sighed. This was getting me no where.
"Rahia, help me! Please, help me," I heard Nimie's voice and thought for a second I had fell asleep until I heard again. I followed the voice and it lead me to where Momo's sleeping place was. I saw snake skin that had been shed long ago. There were cobwebs and there in the corner was Nimie's body. She looked so frail. I picked her up and made my way to Arabella. I passed by Anabel and the Iron Knight who both looked on sadly. I could only hope the witch could help me.
"I'm sorry, Rahia," Arabella said glumly, "There is nothing I can do. She's been out of her body for too long the tether that held her to it has snapped."
"That can't be," I cried, "She's far too young! This can't be happening!"
"I'm sorry," the witch mumbled and patted my back.
"Me too," I said as tears fell from my eyes. I picked up Nimie's body and carried it home. I would prepare her body for burial but I would make sure she wasn't under the earth.
I arrived home and laid Nimie's body on my crafting table. I cleaned her up as best as I could and put her in fresh clothing. Her Snow Griffin whined the whole time. He nudged her hand and face. I guess he hoped she was just sleeping.
"So, this is what death looks like," a voice came from behind me.
It was so sudden that I nearly jumped out of my skin, "Nimie?"
"Yes, I'm here. I don't know where here is but I was able to follow my body finally. I guess where ever my body was was preventing me from coming back to it."
"I found you in Momo's cave," I said but didn't turn around. I was afraid of what she might look like or whether I could see her at all.
"That doesn't make any sense. I checked there," she screamed, or rather she tried to. It sounded more like a wail.
"I don't know what to tell you. I took you to Arabella but she said your tether had been severed."
"I see. So I am stuck like this," she noted and I saw her pale blue ghostly hand take her human one, "Well, it could be worse. I could be truly dead."
I didn't say, 'But you are!'. Oh I wanted to shout it at her but she always found a bright side to everything. Instead I just smiled and nodded.
"Huh, it looks as if I was beaten, perhaps tortured," she remarked, rubbing several marks I hadn't noticed on the side of her neck. I should have noticed them! How could I have missed them? It could have been that my vision had blurred from the tears.
"Will we ever know what happened to me," Nimie asked.
"I'm sure we will figure it out," I said, laying a hand on her should only to have it pass right through. I heard Nimie giggle and I wondered if this was a fate worse than death.
A Ghostly Companion
Nimie tried to adjust the best she could. She even found her backpack with all of her things still intact. It took several day but she told me she was content with her fate. She joked that at least she couldn't die again and I grimaced when I recalled Daphne. I just nodded and laughed along with her. I knew that my laughter sounded hollow but I couldn't fake being happy. We cleaned up her house as best we could and eventually all of her pets showed back up. I don't know how they knew but they did. She had the Blacksmith in Cloud City make her a little plaque with the words, 'Tomb of Nim' etched on it. She placed it over her front door and smiled.
I was worried as sometimes she would look off into the distance and I could see her eyes shimmering with tears that refused to fall. I wondered if this would take its toll on her, perhaps drive her mad. She seemed strong though so hopefully she could carry on. She took to following me around on my rounds or well whatever I was doing, she was there. It took some getting used to but we settled into a comfortable routine. I knew at that point that I had a new ghostly companion! I didn't mind to much as she pretty much did her own thing. She didn't play dice but she did love the Fortune Wheel. She barely did rounds but still sent out gifts from her meager inventory. I could learn a lot from this slip of a girl. This was how my weekend passed and I was looking forward to a new day in the castle.
I ran to the Laboratory and the Desk Drawers. Arabella waved when I entered and asked how I was doing. I answered with a fine and that I would be finished with the Keeper of the Castle soon. I didn't wait for her reply as I ran off back to the Keeper of the Castle.
"Wonderful," he said and set me on my next task, "We must find a way to stop the Ghostly Messenger from casting spells! Go check the Ancient Scrolls and the Crystal Ball."
"Right," I gave another mock salute and ran off. It didn't take me long but I wasn't getting anything new. I returned swiftly and he sent me back to the Dark Tower.
"Search the Telescope and the Dragon Head! There has to be something there we can use," he ordered.
I did as he said and returned quickly, however I didn't find anything useful. He did give me the piece I needed for the Portal Activator so I headed back to Arabella. She sent me to craft Monster of the Dawn and a Pendant of Sympathy. I did as she asked and gave her what she required. She then sent me to the Dark Portal. I activated the blasted thing only to have Professor Pinfeather's tell me that I couldn't go through the portal. He explained that nothing of solid mass could go through. Nimie suggested we send her since she was now in spirit form but Professor Pinfeather's wouldn't hear of it. I grumbled and headed home. There was nothing more I could do, today at least!
I couldn't sleep a wink that night. I tossed, turned and finally in frustration gave up. I got up determined to take care of business. I would figure out what happened to Nimie and I would catch the Ghostly Messenger! Professor Pinfeathers sent me to the Harbor and amazed to see a ship and a lighthouse in the distance. I wanted to run around but the Lighthouse Keeper stopped me.
"Hi, there," he greeted, "Wouldn't mind helping me out a bit would ya?"
"Sure, what do you need," I agreed.
"A Vampire's Palm and a Poisonous Flower," he said with a wink. Was the old man flirting me? Ewww! I handed over what he needed and then he told me something strange, "I saw a man in dark clothing board a ship not to long ago. He seemed to be in a bit of a hurry."
"Dark clothing, huh?"
"Sure, sure. If you want to know more bring me a Chain of Blood Rubies and a Cannonball," he smiled. I handed over what he asked for, "The ship he boarded sailed away, fast moving it was. You might can catch him if you talk to the Captain. Oh and I need a Wizard's Ball!"
"Thanks," I said and headed off to the closest ship. I boarded with no problems and stopped short.
"Well, what brings you to my ship, Rahia," Skull Pete smiled and grabbed me up in a hug, "It's been ages! What took you so long?"
"Oh, you know Midnight Castle. It's never a dull day," I beamed at the pirate, "So ships Captain, huh?"
"Aye, ain't she a beauty?"
"Sure, what can I do for you?"
"Oh I need a Dragon of Eternity and a Wind Dance," he said, "I could probably help you catch the ship, you know."
"I bet, but at what price," I nodded, handing over the items.
"Well, you would need to fix the lighthouse. It got damaged when the other ship fired at it. Oh I need a Protector of the Oppressed and a Wolf Scowl"
"I see," I frowned and handed over the items. I headed back to the Lighthouse Keeper and gave him his Wizard's Ball. He smiled and sent me to search the Overturned Boat, Bar Counter, Elfish Bas-Relief, Broken Statue, Scroll Storage, Warden's Office, Lighthouse Keeper's Desk and the Castle Armory. After all of that searching he gave me the Lighthouse Heart.
I glared at the object and noticed four things missing. At least it would be easy, I thought. Professor Pinfeather's popped up and sent me to Skull Pete, Arabella and Salty. I told him this wasn't helping! I needed to catch up to the Ghostly Messenger now and that sending Nimie through the portal would help. He refused, yet again and off I went to Skull Pete.
"Back again, lass,: he chuckled.
"I can't seem to stay away," I grinned. Well, he did have a ship and it was the fastest in the harbor! I had to get the lighthouse repaired fast so I asked, "What do you need?"
"Ah, I had the Dawn's Ray somewhere around here," he said scratching his head, "Check the Pirate Loot, Battle Trophy, Cannon, Armory and Lantern. Also bring me some Star Dust, a Jolly Roger and a Lost Page."
"Aye, aye Cap'n," I saluted and he roared with laughter.
"We will make a proper pirate of you yet!"
I set off to do my tasks and once completed received Dawn's Ray. It looked like the Pang of Consciousness but glowed.
I headed to Arabella and she sent me to the Rune Altar, Six Paw, Paper Lantern, Fire Altar, Astral Lamp and the Crystal Ball. I completed my tasks easily and she handed over the Moon Firefly, once again a look a like. I sighed and went straight to the Tavern. Salty was waiting and smiled broadly. He sent me to the Flower, Elf Potions and the Forest Lantern. He also asked for a Color of Fern, Rainbow Stone and a Silver Actinia. Once I returned to him he gave me the Edge of Dusk. I glared but put them all in the Lighthouse Heart.
Professor Pinfeathers then told me I would need a Magnifying Prism which was last seen by the Lord Chamberlain. I rolled my eyes and headed off to see the old vampire.
A Willing Crew
I returned to Skull Pete and told him to weigh anchor, we could get a move on!
"How am I to sail without a crew," he asked, "Find me a crew! Go talk to Salty, Iron Knight, Lord Chamberlain, Henry the Archaeologist, Anabel and Valeria Steiner!"
"Sure," I sighed, "Why don't I just sail the ship myself while I'm at!"
"What was that," he yelled.
"Nothing," I called and ran off to the Tavern.
"Hey, Salty," I called.
"Back again, I see," he grinned.
"I can't seem to stay away," I smiled, "So, ever dreamed of becoming a pirate? Sailing the seven seas?"
"No," he said flatly, "but maybe you can convince me."
"I'll try," I nodded. I crafted him a Forest Sounds, a Wreath of Fear, a Thicket Keeper, an Idol for Rock Master, an Elixir of Immortality (which I only took a sip of) and a Forgotten Relic. I carried it all back to him in a nice pink box with a red ribbon.
"I'm sorry, Rahia. These gifts are great but my place is on land now. This is my home. I'm not as young as I once was," he made excuse after excuse.
"It's okay, Salty. I understand," I waved and headed off to the Dark Tower.
I found the Iron Knight pacing the Dark Tower Hall. I hoped it wouldn't take much to convince him.
"Ever dreamed of being a wolf at sea," I asked as I entered the room.
"I always dreamed of being a pirate since I was a little boy," he answered smiling.
"Well, Skull Pete needs a crew. How about it?"
"I don't know. Convince me," he said with a grin.
I headed off to find things to do just that. I searched the Writing Corner and the Secret Slab but came up empty. I brought him an Impenetrable and a Sword of Law but he shrugged. I thought of a Hero Belt and a Lily Shield which he took with but still seemed unconvinced. I brought out my final weapons a Warrior Power and an Example of Bravery.
"I'll do it," he agreed!
"Yes," I jumped up and down, "I mean, great! I'll tell Skull Pete!"
I then went to Lord Chamberlain with hands full. I gave him a Card of Destiny, a Crafty Leprechaun, a Flask of Miracles, a Golden Chest, an Ice Breath and a Lord of Water . However, even with all of this he refused.
"My place is here! This is my Castle after all," he said, tapping his cane against the floor with every word.
"Right," I smiled. At least I wouldn't have to deal with him!
My next stop was Ice Rock and Henry. I hoped he could hear the call of adventure!
"Henry, want to go on Pirate Ship," I asked.
"I'm not good with water," he shrugged, "I sink but you can try to convince me."
I went around looking for anything to convince him. I searched the Sphinx's Paw, the Three Monks, the Bag, the Birdcage, the Mirror Obelisk and the Ancient Scrolls. I came up empty handed. I would just have to convince him some other way.
"I just heard of an ancient civilization to the north. They want me to be the lead Archaeologist! Can you believe it," he said when I returned.
"Oh," I sighed, "So I guess nothing I would say could convince you? We could really use your help and knowledge. I'm sure we will find a lot of lost civilizations along the way."
"Hmm possible," he mused, "Okay, I'll give you three months of my time. The civilization to the north has been there for a thousand years. I'm sure a few more months of them waiting wouldn't hurt!"
I smiled and thanked him. That was easier than I thought! Besides, once he was on board the ship there wouldn't be a thing he could do to get off. I giggled and headed back to the Dark Tower.
"I'm sorry, Rahia but my place is here," she said when I asked, "You can try to convince me but this is my home."
I searched the Centopath, Bas-Relief, the Great Anvil, the Donation Box, the Mailbox and even brought her some Sun Wings. I knew that she was right, however. Her place was here in Midnight Castle. I decided not to pus and headed to the Chapel. I was positive that Valeria would jump at the chance.
"I don't know," she stammered. I was shocked to see the thought of being at sea scared Valeria. I had never really seen her truly afraid but I could see the fear shining in her eyes. I offered up a Drop of Time, a Seal of the Guardian, a Stone Light and a Baton of Swiftness but she was still afraid. I set to work and made a Real Power, a Golden Coin, an Ageless Guardian and a Secret Oppressor which finally convinced her that there was nothing to fear but fear itself.
I had a willing crew for Skull Pete so I returned with the good news.
"Wonderful work," he said, giving me a pat on the head, "Sadly, I lost the Ocean Guide. We can't set sail without that."
"I thought all you needed was a crew," I cried, "The Ghostly Messenger already has a huge head start!"
"I promise this will be the last thing you have to find," he assured me but I felt uneasy. I knew I was going to stopped in this task. I could feel it in my bones!
I went to go talk to Professor Pinfeathers. He sent me to the Lord Chamberlain and the Lighthouse Keeper. So, off I went with a sense of dread filling my heart. The Ghostly Messenger already had such a major head start. How was I meant to catch him now?