It was last week; a slow news day. It was dark and stormy out in Neopia when a masked Kougra in a tiki get-up wandered into my office. Said she had a hot tip for me... said that morning Edna sent her on a quest for an Usukicon Y9 Gift Bag. Odd, I said to myself, that’s not an easy find and it hardly sounds like one of Edna’s usual ingredients. I had my doubts about this Kougra’s credibility, but I figured I got nothing else better to do, so I’d go poke around in the Haunted Woods for a few hours.
It wasn’t long before I was in front of Edna’s castle wearing my very best disguise. I let myself in and volunteer for a quest when to my surprise, what does she ask for but an Usukicon Y9 Gift bag! And nothing else! I politely took my leave and waited an hour or so. Then I put on a Grarrl costume and went for another quest; this time she wanted a rotten egg Grarrl gobstopper, an herbal shampoo and an Usukicon Y9 Gift Bag. I waited around the woods and talked to several other pets leaving her tower and they all said the same thing: “Just WHERE does she think I’m going to get an Usukicon Y9 Gift Bag?!”
Curious, very curious. That bag wasn’t even buyable anymore and collectors had been hoarding them ever since they came out. I knew I was risking leaving with a new tail and pig nose, but I just had to try to get some answers from Edna.
I put away all of my disguises and politely knocked this time. She told me to beat it, unless I wanted to do a quest. But I had her number. I flashed an Usukicon Y9 Gift Bag from under my trench coat and she immediately let me in. She nervously looked around and bolted the door shut. There was definitely something odd about this dame... but then again... she was a witch.
“How did you know?” she asked, eyes wide with greed.
“Lady, you’ve been asking every pet that comes through here for one of these. I got an itch that says this ain’t for no spell.”
“Just give me the bag and take your leave; it’s none of your business.”
“You want the bag; I want my story. You’re an old broad living in the woods who has to beg for junk just to make your spells. Something tells me you ain’t got the dough in the bank to buy one of these, but this one is yours: if you’ll dish.”
“I’m an old woman... on a fixed in income,” she said, suddenly meek, but I wasn't falling for it. “You wouldn’t black-mail a poor little old lady, would you?”
Didn’t take her long to realize I wasn’t going to budge, though. “FINE! You wretched reporters... this is cruel! Unjust! I HAVE my reputation to protect, you know!”
“Just spill the beans, grandma. I ain’t got all day.”
“Fine, let me just go change out of my robes and I’ll be right with you. Go have a seat in the room down the hall to the left.”
I headed down her hall, part of my brain telling me to run before I ended up in a stew but I pressed on. I reached the end of the hall, opened the door to the left, and my jaw hit the floor. It was like I had died and gone to Usukiland itself. There were shelves and shelves lined with every Usuki set, doll, game, poster and anything else Usuki known to Neopets! Doth mine eyes deceive me? Edna the Witch? An Usuki collector? I must be mistaken.
It was then that Edna herself walked into the room wearing a Prissy Miss Usuki Dress and a Magical Hair Usuki Mask. She was carrying a tray of tea and Usuki shaped pastries. Half of me wanted to laugh, but the other half was ready to bolt out of that crazy old broad’s castle.
“Not what you expected? Well, you say you want a story, so here it is. My dirty secret. I’ve managed to keep it hidden all of these years... I’ll be ruined after this, you know,” she said as she raised her eyebrows at me.
She very politely poured me a cup of tea and offered me an Usuki baby cupcake. Then she delved into her shameful story. She’d been an Usuki collector since Y5 and had every single collectible except the Y9 bag. She showed me a glass case in the middle of the room and tearfully wiped away the dust. Inside was an empty pink velvet pillow, waiting for her new prize.
“I just haven’t been able to find one. Normally I ask for an item here or there and no one takes notice. When I first started collecting, people were glad to get rid of their Usuki items... now it seems everyone is as obsessed as I am. As soon as the bags came out, people starting buying them up and now they are so expensive that I couldn’t possibly afford one. No one would dare part with one to help me with a spell. I don’t know why I need these little dolls so much... it’s just... well, it’s lonely out here in these old woods. I’ve been all by myself my whole life and everyone is so afraid of me that they throw the ingredients they bring me in the pot and run off! I never hear ‘How are you, Edna?’ or ‘How’s that potion coming, Edna?’ Nobody cares about me... I’m just all alone. Of course I have my zomutt, and I can go visit the fairgrounds anytime I want. But that always ends the same... someone screams ‘Edna!’ and everyone runs off. “
“Must be tough... being alone.”
“You have no idea,” she said as she picked up a little witch Usuki and began brushing its hair. “These little guys are the only thing keeping me sane anymore.” I saw the old witch in her Prissy Miss Usuki dress and thought to myself that it was a little late for her to be worrying about her sanity... and then secretly hoped the old witch couldn’t read minds too. But she didn’t zap me, so I figured I was safe.
“So now you know, you have your little gossip column and I’m done for. Fork over the bag.”
I handed her the bag and finished my tea while she rubbed her hands lovingly over the bag. “So long have I waited... and now you are mine.” She got up and lifted the cover off the glass case and very gently placed the bag on the pink velvet pillow. Just as carefully, she set the lid back on it and wiped away any fingerprints. She sat in her chair again, never once taking her eyes off of her new prize.
“Aren’t you going to at least see what’s in it?” I asked her in shock.
“What’s in it?! WHAT’S IN IT?! Why, if I knew what was in it, it would be worthless! WORTHLESS! My pretty, pretty bag. It must not be touched... must not be opened... must be protected at all costs!”
With that she turned a vile eye to me and I decided it was time to get scarce. I politely thanked her for my tea and story and let myself out, as she seemed unwilling to take leave of her new bag. Once on her porch I did a quick inventory of all of my body parts and quietly thanked her for my life.
Thanks to Tigg for the inspiration!