Sanity is forbidden Circulation: 194,831,969 Issue: 799 | 29th day of Gathering, Y19
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Shadow of Terror

by xale22


     Fellow Wraiths of the land, I write this message to enlighten you of my background and experience.

     Many have stood in fear of the Shadow Usul, evil incarnate. Many have wondered where such a creature could have come from. Some suggested that it came from the Haunted woods, others claim it spawned from the darkness within other Neopets. All they can agree upon is that the being is pure evil. And yes, it's true that I, the Shadow Usul, am vile, cruel, and reprehensible. But I have much more to my story than many realize.

     I was summoned from darkness by a young apprentice seeking to understand the magic of the faeries, and evaded his sight soon after. I was the first to explore this land, and see what it could offer for me to corrupt.

     It was horrifyingly simple. Groups of other pets with no protection against a threat that could enter into their homes or lives whenever it wanted. This "Neopia" was a land open to the darkest impulses that I could think of. And I could think of quite a lot.

     Time and again, I stole what I could from them. From something as simple as an old toy, to a magic potion from the shop of Kauvara. Few could resist me. Those who did would knock me out for a time, but as soon as I could, I was gone. After all, I was more spirit than most spirits. And I felt powerful as I wreaked havoc on those who could not stop me.

     The only ones able to stand up to me were those cursed faeries. Their powers could actually damage me, and their courage was infallible. Even the Dark Faeries, who were more mischievous than their counterparts, fought against me with their might. I was powerless before them. A minor nuisance, nothing more. And worse, they seemed all too willing to help those I had hurt, ruining my gains from them, and weakening me in the process.

     It took some doing to find out why. But I eventually discovered that I was one of a great many spirits, known for dark power and heartlessness. Further, we had ruled Neopia before the arrival of those bastions of elemental power, the Faeries, and had been sealed away by them to avoid corrupting innocent Neopians. For our power came from fear and suppression, which fed us as it weakened those we tormented.

     Their actions had intervened with my race, my people, and it was through dumb luck that I was able to break free. I cared not for their bonds. But if they were freed, there would be greater fear, greater sorrow, and more power for me, siphoned from the innocents.

     The artifact that had freed me, which I had damaged in my escape from it, could be used to liberate my brothers and sisters, and I set out to find it. But when I did, it did not work. The power it held was separated in two, with the key to its release in the clutches of the Faerie Queen herself. Further, only one trained in the magic that had banished us could release us, something no faerie or Neopet would knowingly do.

     Eventually, opportunity came to my doorstep. A young, idealistic scholar worked among the faeries, and her interest in their power, and why it was locked off from the world at large, suited my purposes.

     I approached her under the shade of her own shadow. And I whispered words that stuck in her mind. Questions of why she wasn't as trusted among the faeries, when she had sacrificed so much to aid them. Accusations of their inability to destroy threats plaguing Neopia without aid from other Neopets. Suggestions of how much better a self-governed land would be, compared to the hindrance of the powerful that existed.

     I told no lies, uttered no falsehoods. I merely omitted facts, exaggerated small details, and altered her admiration of the Faeries into a thirst to obtain what they held. Eventually, I knew, she would seek out the power to contain them.

     I hated the moment when I was discovered by a light faerie and contained. But I knew that I had taken enough hold of her mind to compel her to my desired actions when she asked one simple question.

     "Why can't you destroy her? If she's evil, why can you only contain her?"

     At that moment, I knew I had won. She would seek out the artifacts, and work to use them for our release. The Age of Wraiths would return.

     Or so I believed.

     While beings of darkness were created, they lacked the power that I had held. The girl was holding back some of their energy for herself, seeking to command us. And worse still, she knew both how to release us and how to contain us. I was not affected, of course, having been released earlier. But that didn't mean she couldn't contain me. Had I been affected by that magic, I would have lost my power, and my free will, to a mere upstart Xweetok!

     I bade my time in the shadows, hiding from both Neopet and Wraith alike. I couldn't risk my plans being destroyed by the very mechanism I'd used to begin them.

     Luckily, I didn't have to. A band of heroes managed to seal my unwitting co-conspirator in the same trap she'd set for the Faeries. But not before she took Faerieland down from the sky, necessitating a rebuild of their capital city.

     And in the confusion, the faeries lost their most powerful tyrant, ensuring that I would eventually have time to recruit those wraiths who had served Xandra and been lost in the fold, without a leader.

     I returned to my thieving habits, fueled by the knowledge that soon, very soon, we would unite as one.

     But nobody came. No shadowy presence beckoned me back into the fold. No dark double pursued the paths I took. Surely the Faeries couldn't have used the device to trap them. Not after they were weakened in their time of ruin.

     Eventually, I stumbled upon one. A shadowy ball, resembling a Jubjub. And I learned that lacking the guidance of their former leader, many Wraiths had assumed the guidance of other pets, seeking to do what they were told to and not attempting to seize power from them. They saw that their numbers were too low to mount an attack, and had assumed roles in society. And as they had done so, they had felt some strength.

     I was disgusted. Here we stood, on the cusp of taking Neopia, and all we needed was unity and a decisive attack to feed our hunger. Yet no one was willing to take command aside from me. They sought mediocrity, not power! Sure, they had regained some focus, but they were slaves to their own desires, not powerful forces of terror!

     And then I learned that they had done what they had done because of my actions. My presence had left a mark on Neopia that would not allow my recruiting of those who did seek domination. I was too obvious, too much of a threat, and so I fled into the shadows once again.

     I still wander the lands of Neopia, stealing, instilling fear, destroying hope. My power is still strong, and I live without attachments, without the rule of another over my head. But the idea that the other shadows live in such chains, and enjoy it, is repulsive to me. It’s almost as if they want to be part of the land we once ruled, instead of taking control once again.

     While some spirits like me have sought the superior path of evil, their weakness is their undoing. They are not as powerful as I am, and many have been defeated at the hands of lesser beings. And their presence creates competition, which I loathe. I was here before them, I should be first to gain the power of Neopia.

     Worst of all, the Faeries are regaining their power, and as my former cohorts are not as much of a threat, my days are numbered. If they spot me, they will know my actions, and the last hope of a Wraith controlled Neopia will be obliterated. Especially if they have undone my prized pupil’s seeking for power, for Xandra knows how to contain me and subjugate me!

     I can always find another to take the fall, and put them between the threat and myself. But they will know I am to blame this time around.

     Still, there remains the possibility that Darkness will yet rise again. Eventually, our time will come. And the thought of such terror among Neopia is the sweetest knowledge of all.

     So when the sun sets, take no comfort, and be very afraid of the dark. After all, I still relish fear and destruction, and it’s been ages since I’ve had a chance to use them in my old ways.

     And I am always hungry for the shadow of terror that these strangers leave after my coming.

     First of the Wraiths,

     The Shadow Usul.


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