...The sight of the witch nearly made Eleanor gasp and give away her position. The witch was hulking and misshapen; perhaps she had been a regular Neopet at one point, but her phobia of mirrors and light had apparently led to her neglecting her appearance.
"Ah, Tressa," the witch said in a crackly voice. "How are the adventures of our beautiful heroine, modeled after yours truly, of course? Has she met her Prince Charming yet?"
Eleanor couldn't help but eavesdrop a bit, and she had to suppress a gag at what she heard. "But Tressa said it was a mystery book," she whispered to Hermes. "Maybe that's just what she says to take her mind off it. I'd have said I was writing a horror story, if it was me."
"N-not yet, Your Most Beautiful-ness," Tressa stammered. "I want his appearance to be perfect, our heroine deserves nothing less."
"Let's just go," Eleanor hissed to Hermes, having heard enough.
The Shoyru and Hermiteese fluttered up the staircase together, their wings making less noise than their footsteps would have. The staircase was longer than Eleanor would have expected it to be, given the creature that used it regularly. Eventually, however, they reached the top.
The witch's private quarters were very dark, with the only light coming from a few scant candles along the wall. Eleanor made sure to grab one along the way. She noted the vines on the walls. "We'll save those for last," she told Hermes. "Wouldn't want them to dry out before we get back downstairs."
But now the question remained: where would you find a mirror in the home of a witch who despised her own reflection? "Do you have any ideas?" Eleanor asked Hermes. "If I hated mirrors, I'd throw them all out. I suppose we don't really NEED a mirror. I think Tressa just wanted us to have one in case the witch caught us. But I think we should have one all the same."
While Eleanor was musing, she hadn't realized that Hermes had flown off and was dragging a box from under the witch's bed that was labeled in angrily scrawled handwriting: 'lies'. "Hermes, you're a genius!" praised Eleanor. She fell to her knees and immediately began to tear open the box. Sure enough, the box was filled with mirrors. Most of them were broken, but at the bottom, Eleanor was able to find a rather large mirror that was miraculously still in one piece.
Using one of the shards of glass from the broken mirrors, the Shoyru a piece of vine from the walls down. It felt strange in her hands, like a piece of putty that needed molding.
"Now, let's go downstairs and save Tressa!" Hermes trilled in agreement.
The witch still hadn't left the dungeon yet; presumably she was still dictating exactly how she wanted her story to go. By the light of the candle for the witch had finally turned off the chandelier, Eleanor had plenty of time to tuck herself and Hermes into a bookshelf. They didn't have to wait long.
Humming happily - or at least Eleanor assumed that was what the witch's happy tone sounded like - the witch emerged from the dungeon with a spring in her step. She almost passed by without incident, however, something caught her eye.
"What is this?" she shrieked. Eleanor noticed that the witch was holding a gray feather. "Who's been lurking in my library?"
"A monster!" Eleanor called out in a croaky voice. "An evil, ugly creature. You'd better not come looking for me, cause you won't like what you see!"
The witch, however, was not to be dissuaded. She marched toward the sound of Eleanor's voice, her bulky frame lurching this way and that. Eleanor hastily held up the mirror so that the first thing the witch saw when she rounded the corner was her own disfigured self.
"Ahh no! Lies, lies!" she croaked. "This is a cruel trick and I shall not stand for it! You just wait until I get back with my magic wand!" And the witch promptly took off for her tower. Realizing this was their chance, Eleanor and Hermes flew to the hidden passageway where Tressa was being kept.
"Oh thank goodness it's you," the Acara breathed when Eleanor and Hermes emerged. "I was hoping I was done with the witch for the evening. Now I'm done with her forever. Give me the vine!"
Eleanor handed Tressa the vine. The Acara jammed it into the lock and with a squelchy sound, Eleanor could see it molding into the shape of the key. Giving the vine-turned-key a firm twist, Tressa quickly freed herself.
"We should hurry," Eleanor urged her. "The witch is coming back with her wand. I showed her the mirror and she got really upset."
Tressa nodded and grabbed Eleanor's hand. Hermes flapped along behind the pair as they ran out into the library. "I have a book that can move us back to the real world," Tressa said.
"But what about your library?" Eleanor asked, shocked. "All these books..."
"It'll have to stay," Tressa replied. "You said it yourself, we don't have much time." Her voice turned bitter: "And besides, I'm rather okay with leaving the witch her copies of those books she made me write."
The Acara grabbed a tome - faded and lacking a title just like the one Eleanor had read - and opened it. Eleanor, Tressa, and Hermes all gathered around the tome. The strange tugging sensation of being sucked into the book enveloped Eleanor again, and before she knew it, she, Tressa, and Hermes were standing in a bare room inside a Neohome.
"This is where my library used to be," Tressa sighed. Sure enough, Eleanor could see walls and rafters, but the entire library itself was missing. "I guess the rest of my home wasn't to the witch's tastes. Now, let's get you home."
"Yes! Today's the day!" Eleanor cried as she ran through Neopia Central. Again she was headed to the Magical Bookshop. When she burst through the door, Seymour hardly seemed surprised.
"Is it here? Do you have it?" Eleanor asked breathlessly, carrying a big bag of Neopoints. She had been saving up for this day for a long time.
"Why yes I do," Seymour said. "I have a feeling I know what it is you're talking about, because a little birdy told me to give you a special, signed copy for free."
"Huh?" Eleanor asked. She was greeted with a familiar chirp. "Oh! Hermes!"
The Hermiteese chirped again and fluttered onto Eleanor's shoulder, giving Eleanor and affectionate head rub.
"Yes, he -"
"SHE!" corrected Eleanor.
"- She arrived this morning with a book and a note in tow. Now here's your book. I hope you enjoy it!" Seymour said with a twinkle in his eye. Eleanor couldn't wait to get home and read all about the harrowing adventures of two brave girls against a hideous, evil witch!