A Kettle and a Cackle: Part One
“River? Where are you going?”
I turned with one foot out the door to look at my owner. I was sure she knew perfectly well where I was going, but had probably just forgotten. Though she could’ve been acting, she looked sincerely surprised-and worried.
“Mom,” I sighed, “I already told you, I’ve scheduled an interview with the Soup Faerie today and I can’t be late. So if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go now.” Once again, I turned. This time I had almost pulled the door around after myself when she spoke.
“River,” she said sternly, “please be safe. Make sure to be responsible, respectful, and most of all, don’t go into the woods.” The word that describes my mom is ‘overprotective’. The woods aren’t even that scary. She won’t even let me seal an envelope for a Neomail I want to send because she’s afraid I’ll get a paper cut on my tongue! To be honest, I actually have done that a few times, so I’m secretly grateful that’s she’s doing it for me. Boy, do they hurt.
“Yes, Mom. Bye, Mom. See you later, Mom,” I said, finally being able to close the door behind me. I was so excited to get an interview with a faerie, because maybe then I could be in my school newspaper or maybe even in the Neopian Times. I dreamt of being in the Neopian Times... oh, what fun it would be to be famous. Even the Editorial would be pretty cool. With thoughts of success filling my mind and my pads of paper and pens in my Precious Kadoatie Purse, my dream may have been in reach. Except that I didn’t anticipate that the Soup Faerie was a little out of sorts... also known as crazy.
I arrived at the Soup Kitchen right as the clock in Neopia Central struck three, the time the Soup Faerie had agreed to meet with me for thirty minutes so I could interview her. I walked in and saw her stirring soup in her large brown kettle. I trotted up to her and she looked at me, taking in my green-tinted mane and tail and my green-and-white spotted body. A cheap color, but one that looked good on me. I enjoyed it. As she stared at me, clearly interested in counting the number of spots on my body, she never stopped stirring. I found this a bit odd, but what else would a Soup Faerie be doing? I shrugged it off and sat down at the long, wooden, soup-stained table just a few feet away from the faerie and her kettle.
“Hello,” I said warmly, an excited smile twisting up the corners of my mouth, “I’m here for the interview. My name is River, pleased to meet you.” The Soup Faerie smiled forcefully at me and stirred even more vigorously than she had been before.
“Hi I’m the Soup Faerie pleased to meet you too and to make your acquaintance glad to see that you’re already sitting I’m ready to answer any questions you’d like to ask me,” said the Soup Faerie, hurriedly spitting out all she had to say in one breath. I had no idea anyone in Neopia could speak that quickly. Inhaling the sweet smell of juppie soup, I got out my first pad that held the questions I wanted to ask.
“So, Soup Faerie,” I started, “when did you decide that you wanted to make soup for a living and to serve it to hungry Neopets?”
“It all started when I was young and I smelled some soup and oh I liked that soup hey I just thought of something else to ask you instead do you like soup because I enjoy soup what was the question again oh yeah I was young and I smelled soup and then I made soup and I made good soup and everyone wanted my good soup to eat so that’s how I came up with serving soup-”
“Good enough,” I mumbled, jotting down as much as I could in the space I had planned for answers. I’d probably have to get more paper before I was even halfway through my questions. “So, Soup Faerie, what kinds of soup do you serve?”
“I serve invisible soup and mushroom soup and juppie soup oh here try this!” She quickly jerked the spoon out of the kettle and thrust it into my surprised, open mouth. “It’s good isn’t it oh it needs some more seasoning doesn’t it?” She laughed, but it was an odd laugh, loud and strained. I stood up and backed away from the table slowly while her back was turned. “Leaving so soon? Oh don’t leave please I’m making mushroom soup and I need a taste-tester for it WAIT!” I had fled the store, but she was hot on my heels, waving her spoon in the air and sloshing the remaining soup that was in it all over herself.
I fled as quickly as I could, running away from the Soup Faerie’s kitchen at top speed. Unfortunately, this led toward the woods, the very place my mother had told me never to go. This was bad for me, as the Soup Faerie was still chasing me, and was flinging soup at me now instead. For a faerie who scooped and stirred soup all day long, she was remarkably fast. Not that I exactly wanted to know this fact, though.
The woods were getting nearer with every step I took, and I started to panic. Did I want to turn away from the woods and surrender myself to a soup-flinging maniac, or did I want to run into the deep, dark woods that my mother told me never to go into? While contemplating, I accidentally ran straight into the woods. Well, at least I had an answer.
When I had run into the woods, the Soup Faerie had stopped just before them and given up the chase. I guess her mother had told her never to go into the woods, too. After glancing back, I examined the woods. There were twisted and mangled trees in a long, large, dense formation. No light was being let in, and there were roots, dead branches, and moss littering the forest floor. I cautiously moved forward, glancing back, right, and left every so often to make sure nothing was coming at me. Luckily, nothing was. I only realized how far I had gotten when, looking to the right, I bumped into a cold, rough, hard object. I looked at it, and then tilted my head up to get a full view. I was standing before Edna’s castle, a tall, tower-like construction with very unsafe-looking green light streaming from a high window. I walked up to the door and slammed the knocker against the door.
“What?” Edna said crankily, eyes pinched together. “Are you here to do one of my quests or not?”
Twirling a strand of my mane around my front left hoof, I replied, “No. I’m sorry to bother you without doing a quest for you, but I accidentally wandered here from the Soup Faerie’s kitchen where I had an interview with her. Can you tell me how to get back to Neopia Central?”
“Mmm,” Edna mumbled, plainly ignoring my request, “how about I give you an interview instead? I haven’t had friendly visitors in a long time, and maybe if your questions are good, I won’t turn you into a rodent.” Edna cackled like there was no tomorrow.
“All right,” I said, unsteadily.
“Then what’re waiting for?” Edna said, resuming her usual nasty composure. “Get your tail in here!”
Edna led me deeper in her castle to an old and worn set of stairs. Like any tower in Neopia, the stairs were twisting sharply as they went up. The only sound was the soft thump of her bare feet and the clip-clop of my hooves. Other than that, it was deathly silent. We just kept climbing and climbing, and I started to wonder if the stairs were ever going to end. When I started panting, we finally reached a wet and slippery landing, a door placed at the other end. The door obviously led to the room with the window, as the green light was leaking out from other the door. Edna, leading the way, turned the doorknob quickly, strode in silently, and seated herself at a two-person table in the middle of the room. She turned to me.
“What questions do you have for me?” Edna asked. I, slower than she, had just trotted into the room. I made my way to the table and sat down before I answered her.
“Let me get them for you,” I said, digging through my kadoatie purse, now stained with mud splotches. There goes me looking professional. I finally found my pad. I just had to slightly alter the questions to make them fit her. “So, Edna, why did you decide to offer quests to people?” I read from the first question on my list. She looked up at the ceiling, contemplating.
“Well,” she began, “I needed ingredients for my potions. They really do work, you know.”
“Okay,” I said, setting my eyes on a random question, “why are you so stingy with your quest rewards?” As soon as I said the words out loud, I knew I had made a mistake. Two interviews in a row ruined! Edna clenched her hands into two fists and narrowed her eyes at me. Smashing her hands into the table and shaking it, Edna stood up and took a step around the table towards me.
“What. Did. You. Say?” she said through clenched teeth, accentuating each word with another step toward me. I quickly slid back my chair and stood up. I made a mad dash for the door only to find it suddenly locked. “Oh no, you don’t,” Edna said wickedly. She reached a hand over to her shelf and grabbed a potion, not even taking her eyes off of me. I slid downward, leaning into the door with all my might. Frightened, I started shaking and whimpering. I had upset Edna, and everyone knew that when you upset temperamental Edna, bad, bad things happen.
Edna held the potion label-forward up to her eyes. “Ah, yes, this is the one,” she said. She popped open the cork and poured it into a small glass. The steaming potion was a blinding shade of pink, one you would never that thought Edna would even dare think of using. She held the glass out to me. “Drink up, little one,” she said, a sickly-sweet smile plastered on her face. I took the glass and gulped it down, knowing she would force it down if I didn’t drink willingly. As I gasped and sputtered, she laughed maniacally. I knew that she had been waiting a long time to use this potion, and now had the chance to. If there was one thing I learned, it’s to never trust Edna.
My beautiful mane, tail, and spots disappeared only to be replaced by two purple horns, a pair of purple and dark green wings, red eyes, and fangs. I had become a... Bartamus.
To be continued...