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The whistle sounded and I ran back through the massive doors. I collected exactly 12 tokens and spun. I had also lost my luck on high spins. I was getting that dreaded 10% between the 20% and 50%. I was getting used to the wheel whispering to me by now and only jumped slightly when it whispered my name again.
"Please, Rahia, help me," the wheel begged.
"How can I help you? Shouldn't you be helping me," I asked lifting an eyebrow and placing my hands on my hip.
"It's Nimie, you ninny," the wheel said.
"What in the blue blazes is going on?"
"I don't know. I don't even know where I am, exactly," Nimie's voice tapered off as I spun the last 10%.
"Blast, I'll have to try again. Wait twenty minutes, okay," I pleaded and hoped she would understand. I wasn't about to take a chance away from some one else by paying in. I didn't even mean to place to begin with, well not so high. The most I was hoping for when I went in the first time was 190,000 something. I sighed and walked out to wait my next turn. Was Nimie perhaps stuck somewhere in the Spirit Realm? Why couldn't I see her ghost? I was so deep in thought that I almost missed the whistle. The kind person sitting next to me nudge me and I set off. I found only 10 chips but that would enable Nimie to talk enough to give me something.
"Okay, Nimie! I'm back! What happened? I have your Snow Griffin. I haven't found your other pets but I am looking," I called to the wheel.
"I was attacked. I was weak from the poison. We had to drink it to enter the Elephant Brotherhood," she explained in between spins, "Dal did fine with it but they used some odd mushroom and I had an allergic reaction."
"Who attacked you," I asked on the last spin.
"I don't know. It wasn't the Elephant Brotherhood as I didn't recognize the voice. I think I'm dead, Rahia," she cried.
"Blast! I'll be back," I promised and stalked back out in to the tournament hall. I looked around for Dal but she was getting good at hiding her movements. I cursed and had no choice but to wait. I knew I would be able to play at least two more times without buying in. I hoped that would be enough!
I waited patiently for the whistle to sound. It seemed like it was taking forever and a day! I ran to the massive doors when I heard the call and rushed through the rooms. I made plenty of mistakes but all I wanted was the chips. I finally got to the wheel and yelled at it to give me 10%. Nimie's voice was clearer on the 10%. I only had two spins this time and I had to make them count!
"What do you see, Nimie," I asked.
"It's just darkness," she answered, "I can see enough sometimes to move around the Castle."
"So you are in the Castle," I smiled. She was near, at least!
"I think so. It looks like the Castle," her voice started to fade.
"I'll be back," I called and ran out of the tournament hall. I searched the Castle high and low. I even went down in to the market but I didn't find a trace of NImie. I really didn't expect to. I called out for her pets but I didn't know their names. I grimaced. I probably should ask their names but I didn't want to waste the spin. The whistle sounded for my final try in the tournaments and I ran back. I searched quickly and found 14 chips. I grimaced, slightly and offered up an apology to who ever came after me. I spun and asked, "Can you tell me anything else?"
"I think I can hear someone singing," Nimie said, "I don't understand the language, however."
"Can you move around?"
"Yes, that's how i made my way here but it takes effort," she explained, "It's like I'm here but not."
"I don't understand," I said, frustration filling my voice.
"I don't either. Perhaps if you find my body..," her voice trailed off.
"If I find your body, what?"
"I don't know," she sighed and that was it.
"Blast it," I screamed. If I wanted to hide a body where would I put it? I glanced at the time on the countdown but I only had ten seconds left until the tournament ended. That wasn't enough time! I would have to wait until the next tournament to see if there were more whispers on the wheel. I collected my diamonds from the mailman and headed home. Who would want to hurt Nimie and why? Was the mushrooms intentional or accidental in her poison? Why would the Elephant Brotherhood give their initiate's poison anyway? I'm so confused!
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.