|The wind swirled, weaving through the trees which made up the Haunted Woods, leaves and debris twirled amongst the shrubs.
Sophie opened her hut door, this is a perfect day she thought to herself as she leaped outside.
The Ixi walked around the grounds of the hut in search of Missy the Meowclops that lived close by.
Missy had agreed to help the witch gather ingredients for her potions from deep within the woods.
Sophie reached the garden gate when suddenly she heard rustling coming from the bushes.
"Missy, is that you?" She shouted.
There was no reply.
The rustling continued, which filled Sophie with curiosity, so she decided to go and investigate.
With light footsteps, she walked towards the mysterious noise, when out of the blue a Red Lupe jumped out with a yelp.
"Please don’t hurt me." The Lupe cried and he cowered from the witch.
Sophie without hesitation, threw her arms in front of her and whispered a few magic words, this caused Green smoke to pollute the nearby air, the smoke was very thick.
"Sophie!" A voice screeched from the distance.
The witch twirled around to see Missy running towards her in panic.
"What have you done." The Meowclops asked as she got closer.
"I – I didn’t mean to." Sophie tried to explain.
The smoke cleared and the witch gasped as she turned around to see...
Date: Jul 10th
The Red Lupe squirming on the ground as he clutched his throat, coughing over and over. He wheezed there until he felt he could breathe again.
"Whew! It seems he didn't get enough of it in him." The Green Ixi cheered inwardly, stopping to cast a curious glance upon her newest unannounced visitor. "Care to explain to me why you were hiding in the bushes earlier?"
The Lupe wiped the sweat off his brow, muttering obscenities about witches and magic. He pulled a wooden box out of the bushes. "Got something for you to see, and your eyes only. I was sent here to give it to you."
"Anything you have to show me, you can show Missy." Sophie told him, sharing a look with the confused Meowclops. He nodded before handing her the box. She examined the object thoughtfully...
Date: Jul 11th
It was a big purple potion, in a crystal container. The purple liquid was bubbling, and the bottle felt warm to the touch.
"Jhudoras Potion," whispered Sophie as her face turned whiter than a ghostkerchief.
Sophie turned to Missy. "Follow me, we must leave now," she said.
Missy, unsure what was happening or what the potion meant followed Sophie. They ran through the woods for what seemed like miles. Finally, Sophie stopped in front of a spooky looking tree with a hole in the trunk of it.
"In here," she whispered. "Quickly, before anyone sees us."
Missy crawled into the hole in the tree. "What is going on?" She asked.
"We are in great danger," Said Sophie. "You see, if you receive a Jhudoras Potion it means that..."
Date: Jul 11th
"... you have been summoned to appear before her at her Bluff in Faerieland."
Sophie quickly ushered Missy into the tree. Taking a quick look around to make sure they were alone, she clutched the potion tightly to her chest and followed her beloved Meowclops into the darkness.
Missy could not take her eye off of the Ixi's face as they raced through the winding and seemingly endless maze they had entered.
It was dimly lit. The shadows cast from the wide spread torches danced across the stone covered walls and engulfed the two as they hastened by, both keeping a vigorous pace.
Worry, shock, fright. Wave after wave of emotion danced across Sophie's face and Missy knew this was something neither had ever dealt with before.
Living in the Haunted Woods, they both had their fair share of run ins with the not so pleasant and occasionally nightmarish beings. But this was different.
What about this faerie had Sophie, the infamous witch of the Haunted Woods, so shaken up?
Sophie came to an abrupt stop, snapping Missy from her thoughts as her head hit the Ixi's calf.
Sophie began to mutter to herself. Missy did not recognize the language but as the muttering continued a soft glow started to luminate from the center of the wall in front of them.
Sophie, still clutching the potion to her chest, seemed relieved to see the light.
She turned to Missy and began to speak but her words were interrupted by a cackle that seemed to echo from the entrance of the maze.
Missy jumped and hissed toward the darkness as if seeing something in the shadows that Sophie could not.
A look of absolute terror washed over Sophie's face as she realized who the cackle was emanating from.
Out of the darkness stepped...
Date: Jul 12th
"Such a nice welcome, Sophie. I like this new place you have. The shadows suit you."
Sophie took Missy in her arms. "Wasn't the potion enough, Jhudora? Why do you have to visit me in person?"
Jhudora cackled again. "Oh, Sophie. Do you know why I have called you to visit me?"
"No," Sophie mumbled. Her voice wavered and Missy could tell she was lying.
"You've seemed to have forgotten. May I help you remember?"
A gust of dusty, heavy air settled around Sophie. Was it her own anxiousness or did the dirt beneath her start to sink?
"You have to face it sometime," Jhudora continued.
Missy tugged at a strand of Sophie's hair. "What is she talking about?"
Sophie sighed. "I suppose I should tell you. Many years ago, I..."
Date: Jul 12th
Lived in Faerieland. That was long before the poor city fell. I was a young Ixi, still innocent in the ways of magic. The art intrigued me and I was obsessed. It encompassed my every thought and desire. I wanted to learn every magic there was.”
Jhudora let out a dark chuckle. “Yes, you were so naïve, a child caught in a world too big, without knowing the dangers that lurked around every corner. Dangers like me.”
“I had thought myself lucky.” Sophie continued, shivering only slightly at the interruption. “I, just a lowly Ixi from the outskirts of the Haunted Woods was given the privilege to sit at the dark faerie’s right hand. I was gifted with what many wanted and few received, an apprenticeship with Jhudora herself. I sucked up every ounce of knowledge she gave me, asking for more and more. But all good things must come to an end.
I wanted more than what my mistress was giving me. So one night I snuck into her Bluff, intent on entering one of the few buildings that was off limits to all, even her sister faeries. I spelled the locks on her library to open and when the door swung inwards I felt nothing but glee. I spent hours reading forbidden books, depowering the knowledge.”
A shutter traveled through the witch’s body making Jhudora smirk. “Before dawn my mistake was discovered. Jhudora flung the large doors open and descended upon me.”
“You have attacked me Child” She had growled. “You disgrace my hospitality and spit on my generosity.”
“I attempted to make her understand that I meant no harm. I only wanted to know what was in the books. But she didn’t see it my way. I broke into one of her greatest treasures and stole what she had learned through eons of experimentation in the art of dark magic.”
“I was kind” Jhudora said. “I let you leave unscathed.”
“But there was a price.” Sophie whispered. “She…
Date: Jul 13th
..."demanded my first apprentice in return." Sophie's mouth and eyes emanated a melancholy defeat as her gaze shifted from the light in the wall to Missy.
"So, cough her over," Jhudora said with a grin as she extended her left hand and made grabbing motions with her fingers.
Missy started. "What, me?" Her Meowclops eyes were big and terrified.
"I tried staying away from having anything even CLOSE to an apprentice for so long!" Sophie wailed. "And Missy's just a Petpet!" she pleaded, pointing to Missy.
"And you're 'just a Neopet'," Jhudora said in a matter-of-factly yet mocking tone of voice as she folded her arms across her chest. "Once apprentice to the greatest master of dark magic who ever lived!"
Jhudora gazed up at the light circle in the wall and contemplatively puckered her lips. "Light magic? Trying to teleport poor Missy away before I could arrive?"
"It was a valiant effort," Sophie replied.
Jhudora just cackled and pointed to the Meowclops. "Come with me, Missy. I will teach you greater magic than this thief and wannabe ever could."
Missy started to cower and hiss at the faerie, but it was no use -- Jhudora snapped her fingers and they were both gone in a puff of purple smoke.
Sophie breathed a heavy sigh and placed her hands across her eyes. No, she wasn't crying... she wasn't crying.
Her eyes lit up with a resolute fire.
She was going to get her Meowclops back. She just needed a plan...
Date: Jul 13th
"And that's the predicament I'm in," Sophie finished.
She needed a plan to get Missy back from Jhudora, so who better to ask than Illusen? So Sophie had made the trek from the Haunted Woods to Meridell and arranged a meeting with Illusen. Presently, the earth faerie was sitting across the vibrant wooden table from the Ixi witch and nodding along in understanding.
"Do you have any ideas for how to get Missy back?"
Illusen nodded, but her face was grim. "I do. You studied with the faeries - with Jhudora herself - so you should know that we are all gifted with innate knowledge of our particular element. Jhudora and the other dark faeries are knowledgeable about darkness, water faeries are knowledgeable about aquatic matters, and so forth" the earth faerie explained.
"Of course I knew that," Sophie replied.
"Well, Jhudora has wanted the Secret of the Forest for some time. Longer than you have even been alive, Sophie," Illusen said. "And I am sorry... but I cannot share my Secret with Jhudora. I would do anything to help any Neopian, except for that."
"So I'll just find some other earth faerie," Sophie said, waving a hand flippantly. "I could make a bargain with one of the ones Balthazar captures in exchange for her release."
"Jhudora won't be satisfied with that," Illusen said, and her face bore a look of annoyance that Sophie would treat her captive sisters in such a manner. "She wants the Secret of a powerful earth faerie. While I will not give her my Secret, there is another earth faerie that will satisfy Jhudora's dreams of power, one who I am sure you are quite familiar with: Ilere..."
Date: Jul 13th
"Ilere" Sophie almost choked as she repeated the name. That took her way back. How far into her past would she have to go to rectify the events of the present?
"Teacher, are you there?" Sophie stammered.
"It has been a while since you called me that apprentice Sophie. We have not talked since the day you became Jhudora's apprentice. What can I do for you?" Ilere politely responded.
"Well, I have loads of questions; however, this is not the time I need to save Missy."
Understanding flooded the face of Ilere, for she to had made a deal with Jhudora that resulted in the loss of her apprentice--Sophie.
"So, the apprentice has taken on one herself and you want my help getting her back. Let me remind you of the early years you might have forgotten.
You were a young child, and I had become a sort of mother to you, but then the day came that I had to give in to Jhudora's wish. I missed you very much that despite what all my peers said I was determined to free you. When I did find you; however, I found a young Ixi learning all that she could. It was than that I knew that even if I saved you, I could never satisfy your thirst for knowledge."
As Ilere finished telling about the days long past, passed a small scroll to Sophie.
"This scroll is what I was going to use to buy your freedom; thus it will save Missy as well. Listen to you heart and use it how you feel is best."
How will the story end?
Date: Jul 17th
"Thank you so much Ilere," Sophie said. "You have no idea how much this means to me."
"I do," said Ilere. "Which is why I am giving it to you, good luck."
Sophie took a deep breath and she walked closer and closer to Jhudoras Bluff.
Before she could change her mind Sophie knocked on the big wooden door.
"Jhudora," Sophie said as Jhudora opened the door.
"What do you want?" cackled Jhudora.
Sophie held up the scroll. "How about a trade?"
"Is that what I think it is?" asked Jhudora with bright eyes.
"Yes," said Sophie. "Strait from Ilere herself."
Jhudora looked at Sophie with a look of shock.
"I will trade you it for Missy." Sophie stated.
"Deal," replied Jhudora.
Jhudora ran inside her Bluff and came back out with Missy.
"Sophie!" The Meowclops cried running to her.
"Here you go Jhudora," said Sophie handing Jhudora the scroll.
Jhudora quickly snatched it up, but before she could open it, her expression changed.
Jhudora looked at Sophie with a look of softness. "I cant believe Ilere was willing to give this up for you, and that you were willing to give this up for Missy. That shows true dedication and a very strong apprentice/teacher bond. I have taught you well, I am proud of you Sophie."
"Thank you Jhudora," said Sophie.
Jhudora handed the scroll back to Sophie. "Go give this back to Ilere," she said. "After the sacrifice you were both willing to make, she deserves it."
"Thank you teacher," said Sophie with a smile as she took the scroll and exited the Bluff.
Date: Jul 17th