The School Witch: Part One
June wasn't like the rest of us.
Yes, many high-class Neopians do share some common characteristics. We dress properly, we don't use slang like "noob" or "uber", we all eat well and live in the lap of luxury, with our impressive paint-jobs. We take care of our looks and are only seen with other high-class Neopians, yet that doesn't mean we don't ever donate to the Money Tree or the Second Hand Shoppe. We live in fancy houses, attend private schools, and we all have a grand time, doing minimal work.
But June had something strange about her.
She was a tall, slender Kyrii. Her color wasn't exactly a rare gem among colors, but it looked good. She was shadow. Her dark grey fur had light grey and white dots and glistened like a diamond under the golden sun, and her smooth crimson hair shone with white beads grazing over her bangs. Yes, she was simply beautiful. She wore a somewhat regal brick-red dress. It was short, with sleeves going to her elbows. It ended in the middle of her knees. She had a silvery cloak that usually covered up the top of her dress.
But enough about her looks. She came to Eastern Gold Middle School a year ago, in the month of Gathering, I believe. She seemed pretty normal, but I sometimes heard her murmuring strange words under her breath. They weren't even real words, but some sort of code or spell. I remember-- like a magnet I was attracted to the form of soothsaying. In her bright blue eyes I saw that she was seeing something. I walked closer. She didn't notice me.
The following week, Cayirah-- a short, slim faerie Pteri-- had fallen in Physical Educations. June rushed up to Cayirah and mumbled something indistinct. She ordered a group of Aishas to get her a handful of weeds, seven blades of brown grass, a bucket of water, a dab of soap, a towel, and the yellowish herbs in the school's garden. She mixed the ingredients with a stick and sang a soft tune as she rubbed the mixture gently on Cayirah's numb ankle.
People say that they've seen her with devilish green skin, or with small wings, flying in the air.
We think she's a witch.
Everybody here at Eastern Gold thinks it. The school newspaper's gossip column team has been sitting with June at lunch, hanging out after school, and basically pretending to be June's friend. June doesn't read the gossip column, only the comics (just like many people at our school; that's normal). Or at least, we don't think she does. Every week there's a paragraph on June and her supernatural behavior, and she hasn't reacted to the column. Nobody talks to her except for the gossip column team.
So, back to the rest of us. I'm Lucinda, an ice Xweetok. Unlike most, I don't melt and leave behind drops of water. I'm not messily 'carved' messily, I'm smooth. And my coat of ice is more of a dim sweater of frost. I wear a blue dress to match my color, and I have frosty white hair that trickles down my straight, but relaxed shoulders.
My story is this: how the school's witch was exposed.
It all started on a bright, Monday morning. Here in Altador, we go through the Altadorian Flag Ceremony, which describes the rights of Altadorians, the specialties of our beloved heroes, and afterward, we all bow to the king, who initiates any new Altadorians. It's quite boring, but the school instructors love it so much as to stay fifteen minutes longer while we get free time, so I suppose it's a win-win.
After the ceremony, we entered the building, where a crowd was forming. Lora, head of the gossip team, was leading the conversation. I squeezed myself in between a Cybunny and a Moehog.
"I was in her house, and she went to the basement to 'do something quickly'. Sounds normal, eh? Until when I followed her and she was mixing weird herbs into a huge, smoking pot! It's proof!" Lora boasted, proud at herself for gathering the juicy information. The crowd took a step closer to the Shoyru and nodded in approval, as if to say 'it was bound to happen!'.
A brown Wocky entered the scene. She had been initiated by the king a few minutes ago, so we all knew she was the new kid. Her name was Sandy, I believe. "What are you all talking about?" she asked, as if she knew us.
A tall female Techo in Lora's clique, who was painted purple and went by the name of Indigo, spoke up. She repeated everything Lora had said, and ended it with, "Everyone in the school knows she's a witch; ask around."
The small Wocky did so. She pulled at a Lupe's elbow. "Who's the school witch?" Sandy asked straightforwardly. The Lupe glared. He wanted badly to say, "Shouldn't you know?" or something snarky, but he crossly pointed at June, sitting by a wall and writing something down. "She's June," he said briefly.
Sandy tugged at her own deep hair, the color of chocolate. She grasped her ponytail and squeezed the hair out, letting everything fall to her shoulders casually. She replaced her frown, a mix of curiousness and confusion, with a friendly smile as she approached June.
We all gasped. Lora snickered. "Let's see if she turns into a Mortog," Lora said, pointing at Sandy. I nudged her and watched the scene begin. I took a step forward. The sound, filled with tension, stung my ears.
"Hi, are you June? I'm Sandy." The Wocky extended a hand. June gladly shook it.
"Yes, I'm June. Nice to meet you. Aren't you new to Altador?" she pointed out innocently. Sandy nodded her head and sat next to June. She asked her what she was writing.
"Just some stuff. I like to write--"
Lora's clique began to giggle unstoppably. I growled and flicked Lora's head.
"Wow, that's cool," Sandy said. "I promise not to tell."
I slapped my forehead. June had exposed some sort of 'cool' secret.
They exchanged a few more snips of small talk, waved, and both walked to their classes. Sandy didn't even turn her head in the slightest way to look at us, to give us some sort of reassuring look to say, "She's totally a witch," or "Don't worry, she's a good witch."
The bell rang for homeroom. I rushed into my homeroom class and took a seat, knowing this would be a long, painful day.
After following June around school for some time, I didn't see much. Lora's sister, Kait, and Sandy, were talking with June. Kait was talking about how impressive magical spells were, while Sandy tried desperately to change the subject. I, myself, am not on the gossip team. I just get curious, and want to be the first to know something.
Before I say much more, just you remember, the family I live in isn't my own. My owner gave me to a dear friend because she could not come back to Neopia and could not afford me. My Aunt still cannot afford me, as we are a poor family of eleven. My previous owner, whose name I do not remember, was originally a high-class Neopian like many of us in Altador. But the stock market robbed her of her millions and left her with nothing but me, a burden upon herself.
I walked home by myself, my older cousins marching ahead of me, showing off test scores or a new doll they had traded for after lunch. As we arrived to Aunt Mistii's home, my nine cousins peered over my shoulder. A notebook and pencil in hand, I described what I saw today. Ooohs and ahhhhs filled the room, as well as a "What's that?" from my immature cousin Jadelyn.
Everything, though, was sarcastic from my wise cousins, who enjoyed taunting me some. I pointed my nose. "None of your business."
"If you're writing about that June girl, be careful! Heidi in my class called June a witch to her face, and she turned her into a Spyder with two broken legs." Jade snorted.
"I heard that she flies on a broom and cackles over little girls' rooms!" cousin Daron said, poking at me.
Cousin Marleen's eyes widened. "Lucy, those are only rumors. A fact, however, is that if she offers you any blackish liquid, it's a potion that inverts your knees and rolls back your eyes!" The Aisha twisted back her legs, rolled her eyes back and walked around twitching, to imitate the potion's result. I shivered, as my cousins all chuckled at my fear.
Aunt Mistii could see how frightened I was. She patted my back and went to check on Cecilia, her newest addition to the family. Cecilia, or Cici as we often called her, was a baby Shoyru. She had wide eyes and short, thin, brown hair. The only two emotions she ever shows: humor and disappointment. She's either giggling furiously or sobbing.
I followed my Aunt into Cici's room as she wrapped the baby in a soft blanket and sat her on her own lap. I remembered when I was a baby living with Aunt Mistii, and not once was I cuddled or cared for like that. My cousins, just starting either grades one or two, were busy with real homework and real projects. There was no time for the small Xweetok, sitting in the corner of the room, crying. Going unnoticed. I sighed and told all of this to my aunt.
"Oh, Lucy. You know I wanted to cradle you, but I was so busy back then."
"Busy with my cousins? You still are, and you can cradle Cici," I pointed out blankly. My aunt stared.
"Where is this coming from? You've always been strong enough to handle little things," she began. I threw my hands down before she could finish.
I pouted. "It wasn't a little thing; all babies need to be loved in order to love."
Aunt Mistii glared at me. "Forget it," I murmured.
"Is that stuff about June true?" I asked. Aunt Mistii shook her head.
"I don't know. If it is, don't be scared. Get to know the girl before you make assumptions, anyway."
I inhaled deeply and walked away, the suggestion in my heart and mind.
It is considered a sign of disrespect to talk during an Altadorian ceremony before you cross a bridge that separates a cliff and the rest of Altador. We all stand at the large cliff for the ceremony; winged Neopets are the only ones allowed near the edge.
I stood in front of the winged row proudly, my shoulders resting in a perfect posture. Lora tapped my shoulder mysteriously. I flinched and turned my head to the grinning Kiko.
"That 'Sandy' girl," she began in a hushed tone. "She needs to back off. You're probably the friendliest I know, so make friends with the kid. Watch her hang out with the witch, then ask to be introduced. That's when you squeeze the secrets right outta her, got it?"
Shaking, I stood silently. Should I? I asked myself. Lora was so persuasive, not just in that sentence, but in every aspect of her speaking.
"Of course, you don't have to. But I know some people; I can pull some strings. Just remember, the advice column still hasn't filled any positions."
I blinked. I've always wanted to do the advice column, considering my experience, my own personal problems, and my ability to talk to anyone intellectually and still have some sort of connection in my words. The king's pale fur brushed in the wind, as he bowed a long, metal sword over each shoulder of a female Kau. He said some last words, we stated the Pledge To Our Heroes, and rushed into the school. Lora flashed me a wink and continued in, a crowd making just enough room for her to breeze into the building before anyone else could. She batted her eyelashes with grace and casualty.
I sighed. I'll admit, she was tempting. And all I had to do was befriend a Wocky and do some snooping!
I slammed myself into the door of Lora's homeroom and pulled a piece of pink paper from my sturdy, purple knapsack. I snatched a pencil and wrote my response to her offer. I placed in face-down on her desk and walked out into the hallways, proudly approaching Sandy.
"Hello!" was my ecstatic greeting to the Wocky. She smiled and said the same. I extended my arm and introduced myself. She told me her name, I nodded and beamed. This was easier than I thought! We exchanged some small talk, gossiped about our music teacher, Mrs. Rogers, and the bell rang. We left to our separate homerooms, I called to her, "I'll see you at lunch!"
She nodded cheerfully.
I looked for June. She was following Sandy into their homeroom. I noted this. I turned my head to Lora in her homeroom. She looked out the door and saw me, showing this with a brief nod and a smile. I did a thumbs-up to her and left for my class.
The rest of the day up until history was of unimportance. I skipped the first minutes and leaned over the mathematics room's door. June and Sandy apparently shared this class, too.
"Come over next Saturday," June whispered. Sandy agreed.
With wide eyes, I told myself to remember. Next Saturday, next Saturday, I thought timidly.
Walking into history, I tapped my foot and thought of a fake name for the advice column. Sarah, perhaps? No, no, something sweet rather than simple and cute. Persephone? Lily? I kept these in my mind and tapped my foot, waiting anxiously for the lunch bell.
Mr. Toman was explaining how the small war between dark faeries and earth faeries all started, when it finally came. The soft ringing filled my ears, I was the first to jump up, my filled and ready binder at my side, and pull the door open, sprinting away to the cafeteria. I waited for the last bell while claiming my place on the line, and that's when Sandy approached me. I allowed her to get in front of me.
"Hey," I greeted her, blowing a bubble with my chewing gum. She smiled.
"So, I was thinking, wanna get a smoothie next Saturday?" A slight smirk crossed my face as she pondered this for a moment or two.
She nodded. "Sure. Oh-- I forgot. I'm going to my friend's house next Saturday. Sorry. How about Sunday?"
I heaved a false sigh. "I spend my Sundays with my grandmother in Faerieland," I lied. "Maybe I can come to your friend's house too?"
Sandy straightened herself. "Perhaps, I'll ask her later. I'm sure she'll be fine with it!"
A sneaky grin crossed my face as the greed poured into me. 'Ask Persephone', the title rang in my mind like a bell. Not too bad.
To be continued...