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Once Upon a Halloween Night


by really_awesome_d00d

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Edna stared at herself in the mirror with a look of disbelief, but it was quickly replaced by her dashing smile.

     "I look marvelous!" she gasped, grinning with joy. She spun around to view herself from all angles, to see how every aspect of her costume made her look even better.

     She viewed her braided locks of her sprout-green hair, which she had spent several hours plaiting by herself. Her black, patchy sunhat had been cut in several places, to give the appearance that it had been worn down, and fit perfectly to her scalp. She'd found the ratty black robes in her grandmother's attic; she figured they'd once been worn as funeral garments, or something. In any case, once they'd been washed, they provided for the perfect witch costume. She'd adorned her face with plastic warts, which she had painstakingly glued on.

     In one hand, she clutched her white cloth sack. In the other, she held the real prize, the treasure of her costume. The treasure she'd fought harder than any other part to procure. The treasure she valued greater than any other part of her costume; the part she knew had made the witch impression all the more realistic.

     It was the book.

     Not just any book, but a beautiful grimoire, its covers plated with cold metal. On the center of the front cover was set a perfectly sculpted almond-shaped emerald, suspended in which was a small sphere of a jet-black mineral. Edna thought it looked like a piercing green eye, staring deep within her consciousness. She liked that feeling; it made her feel as if she were holding an item of great power. And of course, she was.

     The pages were wafer-thin, but surprisingly durable. The entirety of the book was written in a calligraphy that had initially caused Edna's jaw to drop. There were over a thousand pages in total. Edna had counted them herself. They were organized into parts and chapters, with a mighty table of contents to tell the reader all they needed to know about each one.

     Edna was surprised that there was a table of contents, seeing who the original owner was.

     There was no title. That wasn't unexpected. It was authored by its original owner. Original. Edna grinned.

     For it was not Edna's book, nor was it any common library book. It wasn't even from the Faerie City Library, famed for having an extensive collection of rare and odd books, scrolls, and other texts.

     In fact, it had come from the very hand of Jhudora, the omnipotent Dark Faerie sorceress, infamous for her alleged villainy.

     Well, not so "omnipotent" any more. For Edna had done the unthinkable.

     She had stolen from Jhudora.

     She had heard many a tale woven about foolish explorers who set out to rob Jhudora of a mere trinket. The repercussions told in these tales were always severe; she'd heard that Jhudora would turn them into heaps of sludge, into Slorgs with gingivitis, or keep them locked within the dungeons of her cloud for all eternity. Edna didn't know how she pulled it off, but she had, and now she looked as if she were a witch straight from a faerie tale.

     Edna smiled as she recollected the day she had accomplished what most people thought impossible.

     ~*~

     She had gone to Faerieland to see if the Faerie City Library had any good spellbooks she could use to complete her witch costume. She wanted something more… imaginative than what the other libraries had to offer. She didn't want any of that fake fortunetelling rubbish. She wanted a book that held true power within its pages, that if she were to accept it, would offer her sorcerous might she could not dare to fathom.

     She was making her way to Faerie City when she passed by Jhudora's Cloud. She could've sworn she heard a cooing, soothing voice beckon her, but the words it spoke were lost on her. She was transfixed by the cloud. She had passed by Jhudora's Cloud many times, but she had never thought of visiting it. This time, she was spurred by curiosity. After all, Jhudora was immensely infamous.

     "Welcome to my home, dear child." Jhudora beckoned with a wave of her hand, her winged scepter glinting in the faint sunlight. "I see you have come willingly. That's good. I am Jhudora, as you undoubtedly now, and if you were to accept it… I could give you the ultimate power."

     "That sounds interesting," Edna replied before she could help herself. But she could not deny her inner feelings -- it did sound interesting. And there was something about Jhudora's voice that seemed soothing, calming, as if she could trust her with her life at a moment's notice and not think anything of it.

     "Oh, I assure you, dear, it is," Jhudora said. "With my help, you could do things that defy even dreams."

     "You mean magic?" Edna replied.

     "Some would call it that," Jhudora responded with a nod. "I see you're a smart little one. Let me ask you, Edna… Have you ever dreamt of being a magician?"

     "How do you know my name?" Edna asked, both intrigued and genuinely frightened at the same time.

     "Answer my question first," Jhudora replied.

     "Well…" Edna hesitated for a moment. "I've always dreamt of being a magician, to tell the truth. It always seemed to amazing to do the things that they do. I always thought I could join a circus and perform…"

     "Oh, stop lying," Jhudora murmured with hidden force. "We both know that you could care less about performing as a simple spell-caster. We both know you desire what only I can give -- true magical power, beyond your wildest dreams."

     Edna was dumbfounded. Finally, she managed a reply. "What would you ask of me, Jhudora?"

     "Only that you help me. I desire items for my spells that I cannot reach, not without arousing the suspicion of Her Highness." The words 'Her Highness' were spoken with certain venom. "In return… There is no limit to my rewards, I assure you that."

     Edna felt confident. But confident enough to challenge the will of a Dark Faerie? Perhaps that was going a bit too far. But she could discern a certain desire in Jhudora's voice, a desire to have Edna as a pupil, for she knew that Jhudora sensed her potential as a sorceress. Edna grinned, and decided upon the best course of action.

     "I'm sorry, but I'm not interested."

     She whirled around to leave, not at all surprised when Jhudora spoke.

     "You would throw away power when it so openly beckons to you? Are you truly that foolhardy, Edna?"

     Edna suddenly realized she was moving against her will, walking backwards, towards the emerald throne upon which Jhudora sat. Chillness gripped her, as if she were being held by two large hands carved of ice. She gulped, resisting the sensation with all of her mental power, but it was futile. She was walking backwards, towards Jhudora, and could do nothing to stop it.

     She whirled around without control, staring deep into Jhudora's sparkling eyes.

     "Would you perhaps reconsider, Edna, my dear?"

     "Let me go!" Edna shouted.

     "Accept the power we know we both want you to have!" Jhudora bellowed. "I will release you then."

     "I'm not going to be up and bound by your will, Jhudora, regardless of what you can offer me," Edna snapped back, summoning up a newfound courage. "So release me!"

     Edna felt the coldness lessen, and she pushed against this sudden weakness with all the force of her mind. The spell wavered, and then broke. Edna's eyes fell upon the book, which had fallen from Jhudora's hands. It was what had dampened her strength. Edna lunged for it. Jhudora shrieked.

     "No!" Jhudora bellowed. "Don't touch that, you ungrateful, pathetic little weakling!"

     Edna felt her body move in slow motion, and before she knew what she was doing, she was clutching the book to her chest and bolting away from Jhudora as quickly as she could.

     When she reached the outskirts of Faerie City she stopped, panting heavily, her legs burning with the struggle. The book was pressed tightly against her chest, still cold, the emerald eye still gleaming at her with its piercing gaze.

     It was Jhudora's spellbook. The most powerful of grimoires. The book that made her costume complete.

     Edna had left Faerieland quite satisfied.

     ~*~

     "My costume is perfect!" Edna howled in delight, gripping the tome harder, grinning broadly in the mirror. "Jhudora had no idea who she was messing with, did she?"

     She set out, sack in hand, for a night filled with trick-or-treating. No doubt was in her mind that people would stop in awe to look at her splendorous witch costume, which she had constructed with painstaking care. They would all be amazed by the book she'd managed to find that made her really fit the part. They would all convey their wonder and awe by giving her extra candy.

     That prospect was especially appealing, so Edna did not hesitate as she strolled around from house to house, hands outstretched, clasping the book and sack.

     "Why, Edna, you look marvelous!" Mrs. Pumpkin announced as she opened the door. The old Nimmo was always one of the most generous on Halloween, as many residents of the Haunted Woods tended to be. The wizened Nimmo's gaze suddenly fell upon the iron-bound tome. "And where did you get that book?"

     "Thank you, Mrs. Pumpkin, and I got it from the Faerie City Library," Edna replied smartly. Mrs. Pumpkin smiled warmly and dropped a handful of candy into the sack.

     "And because you look so stunning," she suddenly said, just as Edna was turning away to leave, "I'll give you an extra handful." She dropped another handful of candy into the sack.

     "Thank you so much, Mrs. Pumpkin," Edna said, walking away with a grin on her face.

     And so the rest of the night carried on.

     ~*~

     "I've never seen a witch so convincing as you, Edna. Here, take another candy bar. Just curious: Where'd you get that book?"

     "Your dress is amazing, Edna! I wish I had your imagination. And where'd you get that book?"

     "You look stunning, dear, stunning, a true testament to a child's rampant imagination on Halloween night. Might I ask, though: where'd you find that book?"

     "Wow, Edna, I barely can believe it's you! That costume is amazing. Where'd you find the spellbook to go with it?"

     "Oh, look at the sweet little witch. Here's two handfuls of candy -- no, three for you, since you're so sweet. Look at her, with her little dress and pretty little spellbook. Did you get that off Mommy's bookshelf?"

     By the time Edna came to the last house, her sack was nearly overflowing with the night's sugared bounties, and Edna herself felt pleased beyond measure. Everyone she'd met had gaped in awe at the intricacies of her costume; how stunning the little green Zafara appeared! Like a witch right out of a faerie tale, they all said.

     The last house seemed strangely unfamiliar to Edna. It was a small little black house, bulbous in appearance, like an overturned cauldron. It stood in at the end of the road, in a deserted clearing amongst the shady trees, where the silver lances of moonlight did not reach. The windows were bright with a fire within, but even still Edna hesitantly approached the door.

     She was almost certain that this house had never been there before, but what did it matter? If they lived in the Haunted Woods, they respected Halloween, and would undoubtedly have candy for any costumed trick-or-treater. Edna grinned to herself, bracing herself to look surprised when the house's resident commented upon her costume and her, in all of her witchy glory.

     The door swung open.

     Edna stifled a scream.

     "So, you think you could steal my very own spellbook, the one I've spent a thousand millennia writing?" Jhudora shrieked, furiously, her wrath unbound. Her eyes glowed with a hateful flame, which transfixed a now trembling Edna, deprived of the entire night's greatness. "Well, you thought you, you arrogant fool! No one steals from Jhudora and gets away with it, no one!"

     Jhudora snapped her fingers, and the book flew from Edna's grasp into Jhudora's eager hands. "You don't realize how important this book is to me," she murmured. "It contains all the secrets of witchcraft I've discovered over the years, far more things than any petty magician could ever come up with. I could've given you that power, Edna, but you refused it!"

     Edna cowered, sobs welling up within her.

     "You pretentious, overconfident little maggot!" Jhudora screamed, pointing a slim finger at the terrified Zafara. "You should rot in my dungeons for the rest of your days for your insolence! No one makes a fool out of me, Edna. No one does!"

     Jhudora held her staff aloft, and it gleamed above her head in the moonlight which suddenly appeared upon the glen. She seemed ready to strike Edna, and the Zafara braced herself for the blow, but it never came.

     Edna looked up, expecting the strike at any moment. But Jhudora no longer looked concerned about hitting Edna; in fact, a smile had crept upon her face, cast in shadows despite her gleaming white teeth.

     "Actually, I think I'll teach you a lesson, Edna," Jhudora said, her voice sickly sweet. "After all, that's what faeries are supposed to do -- teach Neopets. I, of all people, should know that. So I won't imprison you within my cloud, sweet little Edna.

     "Instead, I'll make an example of you."

     Edna howled in agony, dropping her sack of candy, as Jhudora chanted the words, holding both the grimoire and scepter above her head. The moonlight seemed to intensify. In her mind's eye, Edna saw nothing but blackness, and then sudden bursts of light, until the light was defined as a thousand suns rising and setting over and over again. Coldness seeped within her bones, making her feel heavy and worn, like an old doll. She clenched her eyes shut, falling to her knees, as the scream of pain finally escaped her throat.

     "You could've been such an amazing sorceress. Now, you'll only be a shadow of that, a pathetic potion-maker, with little magic left in you. But there is some fortune left in this, Edna: at least you dress the part. Goodbye, Edna."

     There was a gush of wind, and a roar of fallen leaves, and both the cauldron-shaped house and Jhudora vanished into thin air. Edna sat, head in her hands, tears streaming from her face.

     She finally mustered the strength to stand up, wiping her eyes of the tears. Her breathing felt heavy, panged, ragged. She suddenly realized how arched her posture was, as if she'd been weighed down with a ton of bricks. A beam of moonlight fell upon her hands, and Edna suddenly realized that they had changed. They'd once been soft, simple green hands, the hands of a young child, the hands of one who hadn't faced struggle or strife. Now they were withered and calloused, and veins bulged.

     Disgusted, Edna took a step back, her gaze falling onto her feet. Her feet were twisted and felt hard and bruised. Horrified, Edna closed her eyes, falling back to her knees. Pain rocked through her. With great reluctance she reached up a hand to feel her braided hair, which just hours ago she'd stroked with sheer joy.

     The braids had come out, and were now frizzy and twisted strands. She bit her lip and yanked a strand from her scalp, fumbling to see it in the moonlight. There was no mistaking it.

     It was no longer green, but grey, the grey of age, the grey of approaching death.

     Edna was no longer a child. She was an old woman. Edna realized what Jhudora had meant when she departed.

     Jhudora had turned her into a witch, age and all.

     Her youth was lost in her foolishness, her arrogance. Regret filled every inch of her body, overflowing into her mouth, whose lips parted to release a final cry. It was lower, gravellier than Edna's voice had ever been. It was the crackling tone of an old woman, the old woman Edna was… now.

     Edna headed back home, the tears still fresh upon her cheeks as she stumbled in the darkness.

     ~*~

     And so is the tale of Edna the witch, who lost her youth on childish arrogance, all because she had challenged Jhudora's will with her own. She had the potential to become a sorceress beyond reason, beyond imagination. She was reduced to a bitter old woman, incapable of such a future, but instead doomed to a dismal one in which her talents only spread to potion-making and simpler, less taxing spells. Her future was lost because of her overconfidence, her stupidity.

     That's at least how Edna saw it, whenever she frequently thought about her past and the future she'd lost.

     They say one can catch her standing in the moonlight in that same abandoned clearing, staring up at the moon, tears glistening in her eyes.

     And that, as they say, is that.

The End

 
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