The Poossession: Part one
Huval stared at the ruins of his town in horror. Every home had been ransacked, and most of them were missing several valuables. He had desperately hoped that he'd escaped this misfortune, but when he'd looked under his mattress not even a single Neopoint had been there. Neopets wandered the streets glumly and without much purpose, which was understandable considering they all had to start over from nothing.
Of course Mrs. Donnelbary, the elderly Xweetok, would be up to her usual ramblings even at a time like this. "Huval, it was the MSPPs I tell you! They have a vendetta against regular plushie Poogles. It's a good thing you were out while they attacked or you might not be with us anymore!"
Huval decided to humor her. "Yes, of course Mrs. Donnelbary. I'll be very careful until they're caught." Please. Everyone knew it was just a band of thieves. They'd been pillaging every town in a twenty-mile radius. The only difference was Huval's town had been too careless to set up a defense system.
Huval walked around, trying to see if he could make some money by helping his neighbors rebuild. But it was no use. No one had any money left to pay him with. Then a stray flyer on a severely graffiti barbershop pole caught his eye. "Test Your Strength... I bet I can make some money doing this!" Huval raced off to find his friend. Boy, he couldn't wait to share his idea.
Once in the forest, Huval looked back at his friend Collux. The two had been friends as long as he could remember, even before Collux got turned into a wraith Poogle. "C'mon dude. I hear there's a Test Your Strength game just past this graveyard! It only costs 100 Neopoints. I know I can win big, we just gotta find it!"
Collux frowned and squinted at the page Huval was holding. "I don't know… That seems suspicious to me. Hey! What's that on the back of the flyer? It looks drawn, not printed like the front."
Huval flipped the page over. "Oh my goodness! Collux, it's a treasure map! We've got to go look for it! This will be even better than the Test Your Strength game!"
Collux took one look at the map and shook his head. "That's clearly a fake. It looks like it was drawn far too recently and in pencil no less. Real pirates would almost certainly use ink."
"Oh Collux, you're such a fuddy duddy. There's no way we'll know if we don't look! Okay, I think I can figure out the way there, I just need to account for the fact that we're in Haunted Woods." Huval paused for a moment while he thought, momentarily forgetting the Test Your Strength game. "Alright, I think the most direct path is deeper into the forest! Follow me."
Collux trembled. "I don't know… I'd much rather go home. This place gives me the creeps. What if we find some ghosts, er... What if some ghosts find us?"
Huval rolled his eyes. "Do you really believe in ghosts? That's kid stuff."
"Huval, I'm a wraith. Are you telling me you don't believe in ghosts? 'Cause I got some news for you."
"Okay, that's a valid point." Huval laughed. "But like you said. You're a wraith. Why should you be afraid of them?"
Looking around before he replied, he whispered, "I don't like to be poked."
Huval was beginning to be concerned with his friend's mental wellbeing at this point. Other Neopets couldn't touch wraiths. They just passed right through them. What in the world was he talking about? "Um... Are you okay, bro? No one can touch you, remember?"
"Huval, I'm not an idiot! Ghosts can touch wraiths. They're on the same plane of existence as us. Don't you dare make fun of me for not wanting to be poked either. I've spent quite a few years as a wraith, so nobody has poked me for a long time. Frankly, I'd like to keep it that way. And it is partially your fault, since you used to poke me all the time back when I wasn't... you know."
Huval resisted the urge to poke Collux (not that he could have even if he wanted to) and nodded. At least the reasoning made sense. Besides, they had to find the treasure before it got too dark to read the map.
Despite the fact that Collux could've quickly passed through the thick shrubs, he stayed just to the rear of Huval, checking behind them every few seconds. Huval groaned as he pushed his way past another bush. People thought plushies were all fragile little scaredy Kads. Had those people ever met a wraith? "Okay I think it's just past—" Huval stopped. Nox's castle towered above them, a mere half mile or so away. That didn't bother him so much as the red eyes shining from inside the forest in front of him.
Huval gulped. This was not where he'd meant to end up. Had he been following the right map? They should've been getting close to the treasure, not Nox's castle. Huval turned the map back over and realized some of the turns he'd been taking were for the Test Your Strength game and not the treasure. Uh oh. How was he going to retrace his steps if he didn't know which ones went to which map?
Huval thought he heard a faint whisper, but it could've just been the trees... Right? Gah, Collux was gonna freak. Thankfully, he hadn't seemed to notice yet.
Out of the corner of his mouth, Huval whispered, "Back up slowly."
Oblivious to the situation, Collux responded, "Why?" louder than a balloon popping during a baby's nap. The set of red eyes across from him immediately snapped to Huval. The MSPP they belonged to stepped out of the shadows, and Huval knew he was in big trouble if he didn't do something fast. The MSPP had curled blonde hair, dark eye makeup, and a black leather jacket made from... Huval didn't want to know.
She smiled. "Friends, someone new has decided to join us."
Of course, Collux's first reaction was to hide behind Huval. Or rather, to hide inside him. Seriously, who does that?
Huval felt an eerie shiver and realized his body was no longer quite his own. Dude, what are you doing? he thought, all the while trying his best to mimic the deranged smile of an MSPP. It wasn't hard considering he was kinda ticked off at Collux for possessing him.
I'm trying to help you. Maybe if we work together, they'll mistake us for an MSPP.
Huval's smile got a little more pained at that, but perhaps in a weird reverse psychology way, it was even more convincing.
"So, uh..." Huval began to speak, but Collux forced his mouth shut. Do you want them to think we're an MSPP or not, Collux? Or are you trying to run away?
Collux hesitated. Can't we do both?
Huval's eye twitched.
The female MSPP smiled. "My name is Cloezi, and I haven't seen you around here before. I know everyone in my clan, and you're not one of them. Where did you come from?"
Huval started to tell her, but Collux cut him off. When Huval spoke, it wasn't him speaking. "W—," oops can't say we, Huval realized, "I haven't seen my clan for a while now. I've mainly been traveling on my own, but the last time I saw them was in, uh, Altador."
Cloezi blinked. "Altador, hmm? Interesting, I wouldn't think there would be that many places to hide in Altador. An entire MSPP clan located there? That's impressive."
Huval felt his head shake. "Well, it wasn't the main part of Altador, more like the outskirts. And we'd only been there for a day or two when I left. The rest of them may have left right after I did."
"Now that doesn't sound like a lot of time to cause mayhem."
This time, it was Huval who recovered his voice. "Oh, you'd be surprised. It only takes a few minutes to make somebody angry," he said with a pointed thought-glare at Collux.
He felt himself blush, which probably seemed a little weird to the MSPPs. "Sorry," Collux said. "Speaking for myself, I really need to calm down."
"No," Cloezi snapped. "With us, you should always be angry."
"Well," Huval began, but Collux cut him off with a series of choking sounds. "Sorry, hairball."
Huval, you should not be telling her that her face makes you angry. We want to get out of this in one piece, don't we?
Well personally, I'd like to get out of this in two pieces. You and me, separate.
Suddenly, there was a pop. The entire clan of MSPPs held their breath and looked for the source. Huval didn't see why it was so important, but Collux snapped his head to look as well. Either trying to protect their identity or he was genuinely curious. Gosh, even when he was in Huval's head, he still couldn't understand the guy.
Soon after he saw the spectacle, Huval was glad for Collux's quick reaction. He couldn't process what he was seeing, and every moment counted in the midst of MSPPs. It especially counted for the poor soul that was the source of the noise. Without a pair of glowing red eyes, a malicious grin, and an overall evil aura, the plushie seemed bare in the circle of MSPPs. Huval sensed Collux grab a tighter hold of his instincts, overpowered by the urge to run. Though he didn't appreciate the cowardly impulse, Huval knew Collux was only trying to avoid the fate of the exposed plushie before them. They gulped in unison.
Without warning, the pack of MSPPs took off after the fleeing plushie. Despite the thundering roar of snapping branches and trampled bushes, Huval could only worry about the fate of his counterpart. How coincidental that there could be two plushies to find the same pack of MSPPs. It could've easily been me being chased right now!
Don't think thoughts like that, Collux scolded him. I wasn't about to go lax on our disguise. Now, let's get out of here before they come back.
As much as Huval wished he could help the other plushie, he did have a responsibility to keep Collux out of trouble. And who knew how far the MSPPs had gotten by now? He begrudgingly allowed Collux to walk away from the clearing while Cloezi and her posse were distracted.
Even after they were a good ways away from where they'd last seen the MSPPs, Collux refused to leave Huval.
You never know if they'll find us again. We are not defusing until we are out of this forest. Huval, you do know where you're going, right?
Of course Huval had no idea, but he had convinced himself he had seen the nearby trees on their way in.
A voice pierced the air, interrupting Huval's incompetent evaluation of his navigation abilities. "Oh no, I will not be having any of you pesky MSPPs waltzing into my corner of the woods! Back off, this is MY territory!"
At first, neither Huval nor Collux knew where the voice came from. Then without warning, Huval's mouth opened, and he shrieked, "You're a ghost!" in a voice much shriller than his own. Collux must've found the source first.
All of a sudden, he felt his body drain of a tension that he hadn't known had filled it. There was only one voice in his head, and it belonged to him. Collux was nowhere to be seen.
"Oh, you're no MSPP," the ghost mused. "Brilliant disguise, though I'm sure I would've eventually seen through it even if your friend hadn't run off so quickly."
"Where are you?" Huval called. He wasn't about to speak to something he couldn't see.
As expected, a ghost Poogle floated down from the tops of the...
To be continued…