Everyone Loves the Undead: Part Seven
Within ten minutes, an entire pack of Werelupes stood behind Robert, ready to help. Robert himself had calmed down a little from the initial rage he felt at finding out Frommholtz had been the one to infect him, understanding that there were more immediate problems.
"The flask you want is labelled Alphatrocsine," Frommholtz explained to Jane. "It will, all things allowing, be on the shelves in my laboratory below street level. Once you have it, bring it back here – I can then begin the final preparations for use. The rest of us will fortify here for your return. I'd come with you, but my laboratory was surrounded when we left. It is likely the creatures have breached it."
"About the fortifications," Arthur Munroe said, the zombie sidling up to them. "After your Werelupe broke in, we've been having more trouble shoring up our defences. Seems like the creatures outside saw him break through the windows, and are trying to do the same. There are a lot of windows in this building, we won't be able to barricade them all – I think perhaps we should move somewhere safer."
"Move through the city?" Jane asked. "That doesn't seem safe if we're surrounded."
"Sewer access," Frommholtz and Craven said together.
"What?" Munroe asked.
"There's a sewer access in the basement of the building," Craven added. "Don't make that face, when you're a vampire who can't go outside during daylight, you tend to memorise these things, aha. We can use the sewer system to move to a safer location."
"Such as?" Jane asked. "By now the creatures will have access to most places in the city."
"I have an idea!" Oldnose piped up, floating over from the corner. "There is a tavern, in the catacombs system below Trawler's Parade. It's frequented by ghosts. They call it the Last Tango."
"I've never heard of it," Craven pointed out.
"Exactly," Oldnose added. "It's a secret, no one knows. That's why we should head there. I used to work in the sewers when I first arrived in the city – there's access ports into the catacombs once you get further in. We can hide out there until the cure is ready."
"What about rock falls?" Jane asked.
"Most of us are already dead," Munroe explained. "That shouldn't be an issue."
"Easy for you to say," Robert growled.
"There was a trap door leading up to street level," Oldnose said. "You can use that to get in once you have the cure. Knock three times so we know it's you."
Robert nodded. "Let's get this over with then, quicker the better. I want my normal body back."
Everyone apart from the Werelupes retreated to the basement levels of the Oddfellow's Hall while the Werelupes removed the barricades over the front doors. They threw them open, scattering the few creatures that had been waiting on the other side.
Unfortunately that noise attracted the attention of all the others in the area, and they rushed forwards.
"Don't waste time fighting them all!" Jane instructed. "Just cut down the ones that get in your way and keep moving! We have to reach Frommholtz's house!"
Oldnose led them through the sewers. It had been a long time since he had worked in them, but the memories soon flooded back with a little prodding from Craven. The zombies had lit torches to guide them through the darkness, but up at the front of their little convoy, Oldnose was giving off enough of his eerie glow to guide them forwards.
It wasn't long before they came across the catacombs access ports, just as Oldnose had said they would. They were like vault doors, bolted onto the walls of the sewers. A few of the vampires worked together to turn the long since rusted wheel and unlock it, giving them access to the stone tunnels.
It was good to be away from the smell of the sewers, but now Oldnose's job became a lot more difficult. He could have just floated through the countless rock slides that now blocked the passages, but his followers were not so fortunate. Instead, he had to navigate them the long way round, finding a twisty path that would eventually lead them back round in a loop to the Last Tango.
He knew he was close when he began to hear the echoes of music above the footsteps of those behind him, and he speeded up, leading them closer and closer until they emerged into the candle light of the sunken tavern.
At the sight of the new arrivals, the music abruptly stopped. For a moment Oldnose thought the ghosts were going to turn ugly, before Gregor at the bar broke into a wide smile.
"Another visitor?" he boomed. "That's two in one night, and this time you brought friends, I see. Come, come, all are welcome! This is the Last Tango!"
Taking their lead from Gregor, the other ghosts returned to their business, the music picking up again and the atmosphere returning.
Oldnose immediately saw who Gregor had been referring to as the first visitor – a Halloween Kacheek was sitting at the bar, looking rather out of place next to all of the ghosts. Somehow Dr. Franks had managed to find his way there.
He smiled broadly as he saw the others approaching.
"Familiar faces, at last," he said, greeting those he knew. "I'd heard rumours about a place like this, but I didn't think I would stumble across it tonight, of all nights."
"Gregor, we're expecting company," Oldnose explained to the Tonu behind the bar. "They are going to knock three times on the trap door."
Gregor glanced up to the trap door in the ceiling that led up to Trawler's Parade.
"You'll have to get someone else to open it, I haven't picked anything up in a few decades now!" Gregor laughed. "Sorry to your friends, but I haven't got anything to drink here – if this keeps up I'm going to have to employ someone else just to serve the drinks!"
Oldnose smiled. It struck him that things were going to have to change in the undead community after that night. The zombies had always complained that they were treated as outsiders by the rest of the city, but all this time they'd been doing the same to ghosts. The vampires and the Werelupes had been doing the same to each other as well if Robert's story was to be believed. How could the undead ever have equality with the living if they didn't have equality amongst themselves?
It wasn't long until the three knocks came from the trap door. It had to be a Werelupe that made them – as they could be heard even above the noise of the tavern's music. The zombies pried open the door, thick with dust from decades of misuse.
The Werelupes jumped down heavily into the tavern. A few looked as if they had collected battle scars in fights against the creatures, but they were all accounted for. Robert presented the flask of clear liquid to Frommholtz, who snatched it greedily away, in case the Werelupe decided to grab him again.
"Dr. Franks," Frommholtz said to the Kacheek. "I believe I may be able to work faster if you help me – would you consent?"
The pair retreated into a shadowed corner of the tavern, where using a few potions from under Frommholtz's lab coat, they began their work.
It was a few hours later, just before dawn, when they returned to the main group. For once, the music in the tavern had stopped, with every ghost watching to see what happened.
"The cure is ready," Frommholtz announced. "But we have another problem."
Munroe sighed with knowing dread, "What now?"
"We need a distribution method to deliver it to every single infected citizen at once," Frommholtz said. "There's no use just giving it to one person. Atmospheric dispersal would probably be best, but I don't think there's anything in the city capable of that. To make matters worse, it will soon be dawn, which means that I and my vampire brethren cannot go up top to use it, and the Werelupes will soon transform back to normal, meaning they cannot protect us."
"So it falls to the zombies to venture up there and find some way of stopping this?" Munroe asked. "But how?"
The gathered members of the undead all shot forwards with their ideas, all of which were shot down. The noise became numbing to Oldnose, who merely stared at the flask in Frommholtz's hands. It seemed to call to him, and Oldnose knew, for whatever reason, that he had to be the one to do it.
"I'll take the flask," he announced.
His voice had been quiet, but the sudden volunteer silenced those gathered.
"You?" Frommholtz asked. "But you are a ghost."
"I'm still young enough that I can hold things, if I concentrate."
He focused hard, and snatched the flask away from Frommholtz. The bottle felt warm in Oldnose's hands. It felt right, somehow, like this was meant to happen.
"But how would you get it across the city?" Frommholtz asked.
"I don't know," Oldnose admitted. "But I know I can – I just need to be up there. I think this is my business. My unfinished business – why I became a ghost after being a zombie."
This notion immediately gained the approval of all the ghosts and zombies present, who understood all too well the concept of unfinished business keeping a soul in Neopia. Munroe wordlessly nodded towards a few zombies, who leapt up on the bar top and set about opening the trap door to the surface once more.
"Are you sure about this, old boy?" Munroe asked Oldnose. "If this really is your unfinished business, that will mean..."
"I know," Oldnose nodded. "I'd like you to do something for me, Mr. Munroe."
"All this could have been avoided if we only talked to each other more," Oldnose explained. "There's no reason that the zombies should only be hanging around with other zombies. If we want to be accepted by Neopia, we have to accept ourselves first. It should be a union for all of us, not just some."
Munroe nodded, "Of course."
With that, Oldnose smiled and floated up through the trap door.
He emerged from the building above and continued to rise, flying high into the sky above Neopia Central. From up there, he could see the whole city, and the creatures roaming about in the street. The first rays of dawn were streaking across the sky, and Oldnose felt an odd wave of happiness wash over him.
All at once, he realised he was glowing brighter than usual, and at his feet, his ghostly form was dissolving, a glittery dust falling down on the city below. He understood then what he must do. He uncorked the bottle, and poured it over his head, the liquid mixing with his ethereal form as he slowly evaporated. A wind picked up, carrying the magical dust to all corners of the city.
The sun rose above the city as Oldnose smiled sadly, the last of his form fading, and sprinkling down on the city below.
Munroe greeted everyone as they walked through the doors of Oddfellow's Hall. They were all there – ghosts, zombies, Werelupes, vampires... even a few less traditional members of the undead like banshees, wraiths, mummies and gargoyles. Even Dr. Franks and his peculiar patchwork of... whatever he was, was there.
It was to be a new organisation. Gone was the zombie union. Gone was the vampire brotherhood. Now there was only the League of the Undead. This was to be their first meeting. All were welcome. Oldnose's wishes were being followed. He had saved them all, the least they could do was to work together.
From across the street, a green Krawk watched as the last guests arrived and Munroe disappeared inside to begin the meeting. He was joined after a few moments by a green Grarrl.
"Looks like your gamble paid off then, sir," Black said.
"Indeed," Jennings agreed. "And the Defenders will soon finish their reconstruction. I think it is time to send messages to Meridell and Terror Mountain. We need the Thieves Guild and Miss Tobik back – so close to being back to normal, wouldn't you agree?"
"I'll send the messages at once, sir." Black nodded. "But on the subject of messages, sir, there was a neomail delivered while we were... under the curse. It would appear that our contact on Mystery Island has finally come good – we've found the Shaman."
Jennings smiled thinly. "Excellent."
He took out of his jacket pocket a pulsing green gem – a crystal of pure magic. A weapon, if used in the wrong hands, capable of dealing out the most terrible of magic.
"Bring him to me."