The Time With Sophie
“Oh, what am I going to do?” a teenage Starry Gelert asked herself. She had been running for hours through the dead of night in the Haunted Woods. Her family was vacationing in the southern part of the Woods, near Qasala, to get away from the snow for a week.
“Mother? Ixia, Aqua, Kiara?” she called desperately for her mother and sisters, but to no avail. As the spooky branches from the trees reached out in the howling wind, and seemed to try and grab Lunia, the Gelert, with their thin timber fingers, she quickened her pace. Thorns tore her black pants and matching shirt, scratching her fur as well. Her uncovered fur was dirtied with leaves and mud, for she did not see uprooted roots on the ground, and was stumbling and tripping constantly.
“MOTHER!” she cried in attempt, but it was hopeless. She was lost and hurt. She then let out a genuine howl as a particularly large thorn gashed her right arm. She placed her paw over the wound, shaking from the cold wind that bit at her nose and long ears. She trudged slowly, trying not to crash headlong into a tree. Suddenly, a long and eerie howl was let loose. The moon was full, high in the sky, and Lunia ran. Her long tail streaming behind her, she dared not take one glance back. A timid and shy girl, Lunia was frightened, and her heart felt like it was going to beat out of her chest. She then suddenly felt herself falling, and landed face down on the muddy ground.
Picking herself up, and trying to wipe the sludge out of her eyes, which was now mixing with her tears she tried not to let loose, she saw a small cottage with a green rocking chair on the porch. It had lights on, so Lunia ventured toward it. She timidly knocked on the door with one paw. It swung open by itself with a creak that made Lunia shudder. It was dimly lit, and a tall figure stood at a table, holding a wooded spoon, and mixing something in a big black cauldron.
“E-excuse me, I-I didn’t mean to intrude,” Lunia said, shaking. The figure slammed the spoon down and turned, angry eyes looking upon the shuddering Gelert. She was a tall green Ixi dressed in patched clothes and a witch hat. Lunia’s navy blue eyes grew wide.
“Y-you’re Sophie the Swamp Witch!” she said, gasping. The Ixi took one step forward, and looked down upon the Gelert, but she was almost as tall as her.
“Listen, kid. What do you want?” she said in angry tones. This was the last straw for Lunia. She crumpled up, sat on the floor, and buried her face in her paws. This time, she let the tears come, leaving blue and yellow streaks down her dirty face. The Ixi was taken by surprise.
“Kid, what are you doing? I just asked what you wanted,” she said, narrowing her eyes.
“You are the most powerful witch in Neopia,” Lunia said in between sobs. “First I lost my family, then I get hurt, and now you are probably going to turn me into a stink bug or Slorg or something!” she howled, and continued crying. The Ixi took a step back, grabbed something off her table, and handed it to the young girl.
“Here,” she said roughly, and handed a white and pink handkerchief to Lunia, who accepted it gratefully. She dried her eyes and stood up. Facing her toes, she handed the hanky back to its owner, who threw it back on the table.
“I-I should go,” Lunia said, and turned around. Suddenly, there was a crack of thunder that shook the whole cottage, and rain came pouring down. Lunia took a deep breath, and placed one paw out the door.
“Wait!” Sophie called. Lunia turned. “You’ll catch your death out there,” Sophie said, and closed the door. Lunia stood there, looking around.
“Let’s get you cleaned up,” she said a bit softly, and led Lunia to a small wooded sink. She quickly cleaned Lunia’s scratches and placed a long piece of gauze on her gashed arm. Lunia looked up at her with red-rimmed eyes.
“Thank-you very much, ma’am,” she said. Sophie nodded and sat down on a small wooded chair.
“Kid, sit down,” she said, and Lunia quickly sat cross-legged in front of the Ixi.
“Now, tell me your name,” she said.
“L-Lunia... that’s my name. I’m thirteen,” Lunia said in a shaky voice. “I was separated from my family when the Spyder Migration happened. I am very scared of Spyders, so I ran. I ran until I collapsed from exhaustion. Next thing I knew, I ended up here,” she said, and lowered her head, trying not to cry. Sophie nodded her head, and placed one hand on Lunia’s shoulder.
“I’ve read so many books about you. When I read A Tale of Woe, it made me cry. It made me feel how I am right now, being away from my family.” She sniffed. Sophie then stood up.
“Kid-I mean, uh, Lunia, I need to finish my potion,” Sophie said. Lunia stood up.
“My best friend, a Blue Gelert named Enchu, studies potions and dark magic. May I watch?” Lunia asked. Sophie smiled.
“Sure, Lunia,” she replied, and the two Neopets walked to the table, which was sporting a bubbling cauldron. As Sophie started adding ingredients, Lunia watched intently.
“What is it for?” Lunia asked.
“Sick kid in Neovia. They’re all out of medicine,” Sophie said without being distracted from her work. Lunia nodded, and sniffed it. She shuddered, for it was not very warm in the cabin. Sophie took a glance at her, and grabbed a small blanket off her own bed. She wrapped Lunia in it, and went back to work. Lunia stood there, and said it before she lost her nerve.
“Miss Sophie, will you help me get back to my family? You know these woods better than I do, and I don’t want to get lost again,” Lunia said quickly, tripping over her words.
The Ixi woman turned and looked at her. She opened her mouth to say something, but closed it with a sigh.
“I know what it’s like to lose a family. I’ll do it, but we have to wait until the rain stops,” she said.
Lunia looked up at her with a beaming smile and lurched forward, hugging the Ixi, who was taken by surprise. Suddenly, a tap sound camp, and a little Meowclops came into view.
“C’mere, Nora!” Sophie said. “This is Nora, my Meowclops,” she explained. The Meowclops pranced over and sniffed at Lunia. She bent down and petted Nora, who purred. Suddenly, the door swung open, and a short green Zafara came in.
“Sophie! I need...” She stopped short when she saw Lunia. “Sophie, care to explain why there is a Gelert in your midst? Is she part of a potion you need?” she asked, hands on her hips.
“No, Edna. She is lost, and as soon as the rain stops, I’m taking her back to her family,” Sophie told the Zafara witch, who was taken aback.
“Fine then. Now, I need some Snorkle Tails please,” she said persistently. Sophie gave her a jar of the pink swirls, and she left without another word.
“Looks like the rain won’t stop until tomorrow,” Sophie said grimly, peering out the window. Lunia sighed, for she knew she would have to go out alone.
“Here,” Sophie said as she rummaged through her cabinets and shelves. “Aha!” she cried, and placed a small, frayed blue towel on the floor.
“I know it’s not much, but I have not had company since...” she trailed off, and Lunia lay on the floor. She fell asleep right away, not even noticing when Sophie placed an extra blanket around her shoulders.
It was terrible. Sophie had her famous wand and was pointing it right at her family, her mother trying to shield them.
“What’s it gonna be, sweet cheeks: you or your precious family here?” She cackled evilly. Lunia bent her head down, and meekly whispered. “Me.” A green blast of energy flew from Sophie’s wand, and hundreds of Spyders flew from it.
Lunia screamed and sat straight up. Sweat drenched her head and her heart was beating extremely quickly. ‘It was just a dream!’ she realized, and heard a rustle from behind.
“Mph... Lunia, what’s going on?” Sophie drowsily asked. Her dark green, frizzled hair trailed behind her, and she was dressed in a purple nightgown.
“N-nothing, Miss Sophie. Just a bad dream,” Lunia whispered, and laid her head back down.
In the morning, Lunia woke, rose stiffly, and saw Sophie reading a book.
“What book are you reading?” Lunia asked, and Sophie turned around in her bed.
“Illusen’s Ixi,” she said, and slammed it shut.
“I’ve read that book. My favorite book, though, is The Hunt for the Red Gelert,” Lunia said.
Sophie said, “Mmmmmm. Would you like some tea?” and Lunia nodded. She quickly made up a concoction in her cauldron and poured it into a red mug. Lunia drank gratefully, and it tasted heavenly.
“We must be going,” Sophie said, and she quickly dressed. Lunia set the empty mug on the counter, and headed out the door with Sophie.
“I like writing,” Lunia said suddenly.
“I used to, but I got so caught up in my work, I simply forgot,” Sophie replied, leading Lunia over a nasty patch of brambles.
“I wrote a book. It's 52 pages and it's about...” Lunia stopped, and Sophie looked at her. “You... and me. I’ve always been fascinated with you and your potions, so I did some research, and wrote a book.” And she turned to pick a few stickers off her tail. Sophie smiled and they trudged along. Suddenly, a howl erupted from nowhere.
“Stop,” Sophie whispered, thrusting a hand out, stopping Lunia in her tracks. Suddenly, a huge brown Werelupe leapt out of the brush, and snarled at them.
“Get behind me, Lunia!” Sophie cried, and Lunia watched as the Werelupe circled them. Sophie took out her wand and faced the monster.
“Lunia, run,” Sophie said out of the corner of her mouth. As Lunia took one step back, the Lupe leapt over Sophie. Lunia screamed and closed her eyes. But instead of being crushed by the Lupe, she did not feel anything. She opened her eyes and saw the Lupe lying on the ground, panting. Sophie was panting as well, and Lunia rushed to her.
“Thank-you!” she cried, and hugged the Ixi.
“Are you all right?” Sophie said, and Lunia nodded. The two kept going, and they saw a clearing. It was the Haunted Woods marketplace.
“Mother!” Lunia called. As she and Sophie walked through the place, avoiding the Neopians that inhabited it, a Yellow Kougra hurtled out of nowhere and knocked Lunia down.
“Lunia! Mom will be so happy to see you!” the Kougra said, helping Lunia up.
“Kiara?” Lunia said, and hugged her little sister, who pushed her away after a minute and stared at Sophie.
“Lunia? Is that So-”
Lunia put a paw up, and all three of them walked to a store (Ghastly Grocery) where a sobbing Green Lupe woman, a small Blue Lupe and a tall Green Ixi stood outside.
“LUNIA!” the Lupe, Sierra, cried, embracing her daughter in a deathly hug.
“Mom, choking, not breathing!” Lunia gasped, and Sierra let her go. Ixia, the Ixi, and Aquamarine, the Lupe, hugged her tightly. Ixia then gawked at Sophie.
“Oh my gosh, it’s really her!” Ixia gasped. Lunia stood next to Sophie, who nodded.
“Thank you for bringing my daughter home,” Sierra said, and Sophie nodded.
“I have to go, Lunia,” Sophie said, and the Gelert nodded. Sophie then hugged her, and Lunia hugged back. She then turned and walked away. Lunia smiled, and waved.
“Uhhhhhhh, Lunia? What were you doing with the Swamp Witch?” Aqua asked. Lunia smiled, and ruffled her hair.
“Just finding out that things are not always what they seem,” she said.