Sophie's Return: Part One
Part One: Bainsley
Sophie mumbled to herself, throwing ingredients carelessly into her pot, only keeping track half of the time, as she needed to make sure she was getting the ingredients right. One of her many Meowclops was seated at the bottom of the cauldron, waiting to eat anything that happened to fall.
“Spicy Mortogberry, two,” the witch mumbled, taking out two berries and dropping them into the cauldron. The Meowclops, (who was fond of spicy mortogberries,) didn’t want to be cheated of her prize, so she leapt onto the stool and looked into the cauldron, but was quickly scooped up by Sophie.
Suddenly, there was a knock at the door. The swamp witch was feeling nice today for some reason, perhaps because there was a chance that the knock could be from Reginald, Bruno, Alice, or Edmund coming to visit.
Sophie set the Meowclops, who went by the name of Shadow, down and opened the door. Instead of a bookish Lupe, mutated Gelert, tired Zafara, or burly Skeith, there was a little brown Kougra.
The Ixi leaned over to get more eye-level with her, before saying, “Listen, kid, this isn’t the place to stay for the night or chat for a bit; I’m doing serious business in here, so come back when you’re family or when you can help me with business.”
Just as Sophie was about to slam the door shut, the Kougra tugged on her sleeve, saying, “No! Wait! I’m learning how to be a witch like you! I can start out helping you find stuff, and then maybe you could teach me a spell, and then—”
The swamp witch had always been looking for an apprentice once she got more experienced, for those called for many different ingredients in spells, and more Neopets were asking for her spells ever since she had saved Neovia with one, which called for less time to feed the Meowclops, and the Meowclops would then annoy her. It was a chain reaction of doing stuff alone, but if she had an apprentice there would be work split between them, and that lead to more free time for her to relax and keep her pets entertained.
“Come in,” she said, letting the Neopet in. The little Kougra was wearing just a simple, patched-up blue-and-white dress, and it had been a downpour in the swamp that both her dress and her fur were drenched. Sophie pulled out two chairs and put them on either side of a table by a small fireplace. “Sit down,” Sophie signaled to one chair, “and be patient, because I have a few ingredients left.”
As the Kougra warmed up by the fire, the Ixi finished up her concoction and dipped a vial in, put a cork in it, and labeled it for the Bruce who was to pick it up tomorrow. Then Sophie made two cups of coffee and marshmallows and sat down.
“Let’s get to know each other a bit,” she began. “As you must know, I am Sophie the Swamp Witch. What is your name, and why have you come to my shack?”
“I’m Bainsley,” she responded, “and, as for the second question, I’m not really sure. I don’t have a family looking for me, and I’ve always wanted to practice magic. I think that I was supposed to come here for some reason.”
“I know that you do not have a family, but where in Neopia do you come from, and how do you know me?”
“I’m from Neovia. Everyone in Neovia knows about you since you saved them!”
“But you clearly were not old enough to know what was going on then, even if you were alive then! So how could you know?”
“The people; they talk about you all the time. I know four that always do. One is a HUGE blue Gelert,” she said, showing with her paws, “he must be mutated! Another is a brown Lupe, although he doesn’t talk much, he’s always reading. The other two are a worn-out Zafara and another huge Skeith, but all Skeiths are huge.”
By force of habit, Sophie turned to face an old painting that she had framed and put on a shelf above the fireplace. It had the whole family in it, and she remembered when she was in that city, before the curse. That was when the portrait had been painted. In it, the swamp witch couldn’t have been older than Bainsley...
Sophie started to cry as she remembered how she had left the city. She had found that it was no longer home to her, and wielded too many bad memories.
“Are you all right?” the brown Kougra asked. “Was it something that I said? Sometimes I talk and I don’t know what I’m saying.”
Sophie wiped her eyes on her sleeve and turned back to Bainsley. “Those four are my family; I left them in Neovia for a reason. Now I just want them back; they haven’t come to visit me in forever.”
“That might be because of the Lutari,” Bainsley said. “Nobody in Neovia has seen them in a long time, and they disappeared when he came.”
Sophie thought that this might be a clue, and directed one hundred and ten percent of her attention to Bainsley. “Do you know what he looks like?” she asked.
“Well, I’ve only seen him once, but here’s what I remember. He was tall, had a pretty nice build, long brown fur, and was wearing a black coat and top hat. I believe his name was Mr. Slytri.”
This girl might have some valuable information, Sophie thought to herself before responding, “I have taken quite a liking to you after talking to you for just a bit.” This wasn’t a compete lie, as Bainsley had reminded the swamp witch of herself. “So why don’t you stay with me, since you don’t have a family?”
“Well, I... I... I didn’t think you were that nice, but I’m not going to turn down some food and shelter,” she mumbled.
“I suppose that wouldn’t hurt. I just have a few rules. You will not disturb me while I work alone. I expect you to help me, since you said that you were willing to. And, finally, you will do what I say if I tell you to do something. Do you think you can do that?”
Without hesitation, Bainsley nodded and the chimes rung.
“Midnight in the Haunted Woods. It’s not safe to be awake and about. The more movement we make, the more that the zombies are aware of our presence. They can’t get through the magical barriers that I put up, but just to be safe, you might want to go to bed.”
Bainsley stepped down and took a couple of steps before she turned back to Sophie. “I’m sorry, I’m used to having a little alley in Neovia where nobody else goes, and that’s where I slept. Where am I supposed to get some rest here?”
Sophie wanted to clap herself on the head for not thinking of that, but she kept her cool and said, “I wasn’t expecting visitors, and I’m tight on living space, so you’ll have to make do with whatever I can come up with until I find the time to use magic to make a full room. But, as you can expect, after I saved Neovia with a potion, everyone is clamoring to get something that will help them, and I am usually at my cauldron mumbling to myself.” And with that, she grabbed her staff and mumbled under her breath.
With that, a bed appeared. The wood was knotted and had some leaves, because it was low-quality magic; the kind of magic produced by a very tired person. The sheets were thin, but they held together.
“I hope you can sleep with this. Now get some rest.” She then noticed the look on the Kougra’s face; she was staring at something on a shelf.
“Can I have the stuffed Meowclops?” Bainsley asked, pointing to the Meowclops plushie next to the portrait of her family.
“You mean Orchid?” Sophie asked. She hesitated, and then said, “Sure, I don’t see why not. But you have to take good care of her, like I did when I was your age.”
The swamp witch picked Orchid up off of the dusty old shelf and remembered the day that the Ixi had received her.
She was just an innocent little girl, who looked up to her older brothers. While she liked them, she had always felt that they should give instead of wish to receive a lot more. So the two of them put a Meowclops plushie on her bed, along with an orchid. She knew that her brothers were the two behind it, but didn’t complain. She carried the plushie wherever she wouldn’t lose it, and put the orchid on a shelf with lots of sunlight. As a result, the plushie was worn but not broken, and the orchid lasted until Neovia was abandoned.
“Sophie?” Bainsley asked, waving a paw in front of her face. “Are you still there, Sophie? I haven’t heard from you in a while.”
Sophie snapped back into the real world from her sepia-photograph memory. “Yeah, I’m still here. Just be sure to take good care of her.” And with that, the Ixi passed the plushie over to her apprentice.
“Thank you,” the Kougra whispered as she climbed into the bed that Sophie had made her, squeezing the Meowclops plushie as she gently drifted to sleep.
Just as Sophie walked back after making sure Bainsley was fine, there was a knock at the door; this one not like the previous one, but rather fast and rather loud.
Sophie muttered something under her breath and the little Kougra jolted upright in the bed.
“What do you want?” Sophie asked as she opened the door before gasping as she saw who was standing there, covered in mud.
To be continued...