Tails of the Crypt - The Tale of the Toymaker
There was once a Draik, Edward Nottingham, who made toys for the little boys and girls of Neopia. He loved his job and spent hours each day trying to perfect his plushies. He would sew until his hands stung. Each plushie was stuffed with Babaa wool, and just before he stitched their backs close, he would put a little cloth heart in each one.
His workshop, for the most part, was out of the sight of the general population, and it was generally deserted. Then, one day, during a particularly harsh snowstorm, a Neopet named Bob strayed off from their hiking trail and stumbled onto the first lit building they saw. A knock on the door shattered the silence, making Edward jump out of his skin.
He lifted the blinds to inspect who was outside. A Green Kyrii stood on his doorstep with a kerosene container in one hand and a tied bandana to a stick in the other.
“Hello, can I help you?” he asked Bob.
Bob straightened his hunch back and licked his lips before he replied: “Yes, actually . . . I’ve lost my friends in this storm, and it’s getting pretty late.”
“If it is getting late, why don’t you come inside, and I will help you find your friends tomorrow,” Edward told him, motioning for the Kyrii to step inside.
Inside the workshop, there was only the dim light of a low voltage lightbulb and hundreds of magnificent dolls and plushies of Edward’s making. On the table a tea kettle and a dirty cup lay along an unfinished plushie, some thread, and a needle
“You made all these by hand?” said Bob with amazement.
“Yes, yes.” Edward nodded.
Bob couldn’t imagine the time it took to master the art of sewing. He clenched his fist at the back and examined the rest of the house—what luck he had! Just on the path leading here, in front of an old oak tree, a cloaked Xweetok handed him an Adorable Wraith Plushie and offered him a million Neopoints if he could mend it back together. At first, he thought this was weird, but since his family was struggling to put food on the table, he decided that making a deal with this character was worth the change at the money. He sat down and stared at Edward quizzically.
“Do you ever feel like this is too much work and you’d want to have an assistant?” he asked
Edward put his hand to his face, thinking of the great possibilities that could come out of having an extra set of hands working with him. He could get the same work done in half the time. However, Edward knew his budget wouldn’t allow him to hire anyone. Edward sighed and drifted back into his surroundings.
“It is a lot of work, but sadly, having an assistant isn’t in my budget,” he replied.
“What if you didn’t have to pay for the services, and the Neopet wanted to help you so they could learn a skill from a professional?” Bob mused. “You could say, less of an assistant, more of an . . . apprentice.
After all, he was willing to offer some help, because he figured knowing a bit about how to sew could benefit him in the long run; there was that wraith plushie that needed fixing he’d be rewarded greatly for.
“I would allow that, if someone truly wanted to learn.” Edward smiled at Bob.
“Would you like to know a thing or two about sewing? I figure it could come in handy for a young man like you.
“I guess it couldn’t hurt.”
Edward sat down at his desk and picked up the unfinished plushie.
“Very well now, we shall begin a little lesson on sewing . . . “***
That night, when Edward was asleep, Bob tip-toed to get his belongings and undid his bindle to take out the Adorable Wraith Plushie. Edward tossed in his sleep, startling Bob for just a moment.
He began walking over to the table the needle, scissors, and thread rested on. He remembered the motions he had to perform to properly stitch a plushie up. In and out, out and in, he sewed the plushie to almost-completion.
“What are you doing?” he heard Edward drowsily say from behind him.
Edwards mouth dropped when he saw the Adorable Wraith Plushie, and he shook his head repeatedly. The last time he had seen a figure like that was when Faerieland had fallen. He was just a young lad back then, but he remembered the short time when wraiths had roamed free and almost conquered the land.
The image of a wraith cascading over the towers of his hometown still haunted him to this day. He couldn’t believe that anyone that wasn’t sinister would make such an item. His toys were all meant to bring happiness to the boys and girls, not scare them. There was nothing good about a wraith plushie. Nothing good at all. Edward backed away from Bob and hunched his shoulders.
“Where did you get that?” Edward asked, gulping when he looked at the plushie.
Bob shrugged. “From some random Xweetok this morning. She asked me to fix this plushie for her and offered me a price I couldn’t refuse.”
“No, listen to me: that plushie is very dangerous. I’ve never seen one like it before but I feel . . . uneasy about it. Get rid of it,” Edward commanded.
Bob laughed at how silly the fearful reaction from Edward was. What could really be so scary about a children’s toy? Why was Edward reacting like this over it?Bob wondered—but he wasn’t satisfied receiving no for an answer. He needed that million neopoints badly. That plushie would be mended, no matter what this old man said.
Bob completed the last few strokes of the needle across the plushie’s tattered belly. Suddenly a transparent purple glow emanated from the plushie and he heard a roaring noise. He almost fainted at the sight of the giant wraith that stood before him.
“Me want faeries,” the wraith said.
The wraith flew around the room, bumping into the walls of the workshop. Edwards’ eyes popped out at the sight of the floating wraith. He shivered and shot Bob a glare. He should have known not to be so welcoming. Now, he was certain that the plushie was enchanted by very dark magic. He had to destroy the wraith before it managed to get to Faerieland. If the wraith escaped his house worse things were bound to happen.
“What—what are we going to do,” Bob stuttered.
“We have to capture him and bring him to Fyora,” whispered Edward.
“What?” said the Kyrii. “That’s a tall order. How are you going to do that?”
“A bottle,” Edward guessed
Wraiths were a lot like Faeries. Well, except for the fact they cursed Neopets and brought doom and destruction instead of blessings. Edward knew capturing the wraith wouldn’t be an easy task, but he had a chance to stop it all if it continued to whip around the room. Edward went into his kitchen to fetch an empty bottle.
“Me want Faeries, me want faeries,” the wraith chanted.
“There’s Faeries in this bottle” Edward said in an exaggerated sing-song tone, waving the bottle back and forth.
The wraith approached him, searching for faeries. Edward put the bottle underneath the Wraith and it swallowed it inside. The wraith tapped on the glass of the bottle and began shrieking.
“Me want Faeries, me want Faeries now!” The wraith screamed so loudly it caused the bottle to shatter into pieces right in Edward’s hands.
“Well, that didn’t go as planned,” Bob said as the wraith began running toward him.
Bob shot out the door quickly with the wraith trailing along. Outside, the sun had begun to rise and the Crokabeks were cawing. The wraith floated into the sky, disappearing amongst the clouds. Edward walked outside to confront the Kyrii that was responsible for this mess.
“You dummy, you just let a wraith loose!” Edward yelled.
“I didn’t mean to” said the Kyrii.
“You know, if you hadn’t sewn the plushie up, none of this would’ve happened,” Edward muttered.***
A violet hue spread across the sky. Cackling echoed through every direction of the forest. More wraiths had showed up and they were encircling Edward and Bob. The wraiths began lifting trees from their roots and picking up homes and putting them into the sky. They also captured Bob and Edward and threw them into a seemingly endless void. When they arrived, they were placed in shackles and thrown inside a cave. Once the guards had left, Bob struggled to shimmy his hands out of the cuffs. His hands pressed against the cold metal and turned red from the chafing of the tight squeeze to get them out. He looked at Edward who was kneeling against the cave walls. Guarding them was was a creature . . . A a creature neither of them had seen before. It appeared like a Neopet, but not quite. He wasn’t of any recognizable species, and about him hung an air of wraith magic.
Bob reflected on what he had done, and as he put together the pieces of the Xweetok’s face in memory, he slowly figured out that the mysterious Xweetok must have been Xandra, and he had only been a pawn in her game. Furious, he kicked the walls of the cave.
“Just what exactly do you think you’re doing?” Edward asked.
“I got angry,” Bob said.
“Well don’t you think I’m angry too? We’re stuck here because of you,” Edward said.
“I’m not stuck,” Bob waved his freed hands in Edward’s face.
“Good for you, but I want you to still realize that we are in an unknown place and that wraiths are presently destroying Neopia,” Edward said.
“I’ll get us out of here,”Bob said, cracking his knuckles.
“I’ll believe it when I see it,” Edward huffed, sinking down to his knees.
Bob waited patiently until he heard snoring coming from one of the guards. He stealthily made his way to the guard, eyeing the key that was in his pocket. He quickly grabbed the keys, but the noise their jangling made caused the guard to open his eyes and jolt up.
Running faster than lightning, he made his way to Edward. Unlocking the cuffs, he freed Edward, and then the two ran past the guards like their lives depended on it. Once they couldn’t see the guard, they stopped and panted for breath. They were in a region that was surrounded by trees and had a swirling lake in the middle. It looked a lot like those postcards of Kiko Lake, Edward noted, but something was different about this place. The water was a murky brown and the trees were dying. Everything in this land was withering. There was a grey overcast in the sky and looming shadows. This was not Neopia, they both realized. This was the mythical, parallel dimension of Aiopen, where wraiths acted as faeries, and the world was much different than what their home was.
“Any ideas on how we can get back?” Bob asked, shrugging his shoulders.
“Well, we got here through a portal, so we need to find a portal back,” Edward said.
They looked around the trees for any clues as to where this portal might be. It began to rain and thunder. The Neopets took refuge under a tree. A group of captive shadow wraiths were above them. Edward looked up and smiled. He got an idea, he knew how to get back. These wraiths didn’t want to stay in Aiopen, and if they followed them, they would lead them back to Neopia. One captive shadow wraith entered a tree’s hole and it began whirling down to Neopia. Edward, after tapping Bob’s shoulder and muttering, “Follow me,” crawled into the hole and fell back to Neopia.
He landed on a grassy meadow with a thud, back to the town in the Haunted Woods where he had originally been, but it was in a bad state—at least, worse than usual. All buildings in sight had been set ablaze, and Neopets were running around in a frenzy. Edward then realized that Bob hadn’t come back with him. Shoot. Something must have gone wrong, but there were more important things to worry about.
“Dear Fyora! Are you alright?” a Neopet that had witnessed the fall asked him.
“I’ve been better,” Edward said.
“Neopia has been taken over by wraiths,” the Neopet said pointing to the gloomy skies.
“I’ve noticed that.”
Edward bounced right up and dusted himself off. He didn’t have time to converse when Neopia was being overthrown. He needed to get to Faerieland as quickly as possible. Noticing a sign that said Neopian Boat Tours, he jogged in that direction. The boats had been abandoned by the dock. Edward untied the rope of a latch and made his way onto one of the boats. He had never driven a boat before but he knew he had to try, because the fate of Neopia rested in his hands. ***
He finally reached Faerieland where the wraiths were floating around every street corner. Edward couldn’t get past the wraiths without drawing attention to himself, so he did the inevitable and ran past them, and they, recognizing the neopet who had escaped their realm, immediately began chasing after him.
The wraiths far outnumbered him and headed toward the Hidden Tower to block him. But Edward was quick; he dashed into the Hidden Tower, running up the stone spiral staircase. When he got to the wooden door, he pushed it open with all his might. Standing by a window was the Faerie Queen who looked petrified—and thankfully, not literally.
Fyora, I came as soon as I could, all of Neopia is under attack!” he said
“I saw that, do you know anything else?” she pried
“A . . . friend of mine sewed up a magical plushie he received from an ever-so-mysterious Xweetok,” he told her. “It must have been some sort of conduit for the wraiths to come through . . .”
Fyora stood there listening and nodding her head. She had dealt with conduits before, and she figured that this conduit would be easy to locate. “Where exactly were you when he sewed the plushie?”
“I have a workshop in the Haunted Woods.”
Fyora raised her staff and staredted casting a teleportation spell. “In that case, let us waste no time.”***
Bob was still stuck in Aiopen. When Edward had dropped down the portal it had sealed. Bob searched every trees hole for another portal. Then, suddenly, he felt himself being dragged by the nape of his fur.
“Thank you, kind Neopet,” the voice cackled.
Before Bob could escape a black sack was thrown over him. Bob was being dragged back to a grey brick tower. The first thing he saw when the sack was lifted was a storage room filled with weapons and artifacts.
“Stay here. I certainly wouldn’t want you to create any more trouble than you already have,” Xandra said smiling and locking the door of the storage room. Bob banged on the door. Then he threw his whole body into the door. There was no use. He was trapped. It was all his fault.
Back in Neopia, Fyora had entered Edward’s workshop, where she immediately spotted the Adorable Wraith Plushie lying down on a coffee table. Had it been any other time, she might have stopped to look more closely at Edward’s wares, maybe given him a compliment or two on his fine handiwork, but there was no such time.Tracking down Xandra meant she’d have to go to Aipeon herself unnoticed.The plushie glowed with Fyora’s pink faerie magic. A purple portal opened up right where the workshop’s door was, but before she entered, Edward flagged her down.
“Please, my friend is still in there, we have to save him as well!”
“I will do what I can. Now come, Draik,” said Fyora, stepping into the portal with Edward.***
Xandra looked through her crystal ball and saw Neopia in shambles. However, the trickle of wraiths had slowed to a halt, and instantly, she knew something had messed with her plan.
She cursed quietly to herself. Something was blocking her portals—and there was only one Neopian she could think of who knew what was going on: Bob.
She marched to the room where she had trapped him. With a growl, she demanded, “what did you do, you cursed—”
Bob, determined to fix what he’d done, immediately ran past Xandra and shoved her aside, sliding down the stair’s railings to a lower floor of the brickbrick tower. In the middle of the room, he saw a crystal ball, and in it he saw two people—Edward and Fyora—walking through Aiopen.
Xandra must have known they were here. And if she didn’t, well, he couldn’t let her find out. He slammed the crystal ball into one of the brick walls, shattering it to little pieces.
“You stupid rat! You will pay for this!”
Meanwhile, Fyora and Edward had reached the gloomy brickbrick tower where Bob was held. Fyora gestured to it and whispered, “That’s where she’s hiding. We must move quickly. I sense that your friend is in grave danger.In a few minutes, Fyora and Edward stormed Xandra’s tower. Fyora cast a spell to break open the door. Inside the tower, Xandra was brawling with Bob, blasting magical fireballs wherever she spotted him. Unfortunately, without her glasses, her vision was spotty, and she missed every single shot.
“Well, well, well, Xandra,” said Fyora with a sigh. She snapped her fingers and froze the ground beneath Xandra’s feet, causing her to slip and fall.
“It looks like you’ve failed again.”
“This won’t be the last time I will take over Neopia. Mark my words,” Xandra said, standing up.
Fyora sighed and did what she had done dozens of times before: she turned Xandra into a relic statue, frozen in her perpetual boiling rage. The day was saved for now. With a faint smile at the two Neopians who had come to help her, she raised her staff again and transported all of them to Neopia. This time she remembered to bring the Xandra statue with her…