Tale of... Whoa, that was unexpected!
Tale of slight discomfort, no, that doesn't sound right. Tale of Nausea? Well, I was never actually nauseated. I think I'll go with Tale of... Whoa that was unexpected, because it was. You see, after the whole Tale of Woe incident with Sophie the witch, Neovia was never quite the same. After electing a new mayor, many of the citizens were not too trusting of anything strange or magical. Instead, everyone begin to devote themselves to trying to be as "normal" as possible. The pastry shop even started selling plain buns, because raisins were seen as a bit exotic. I miss those raisins.
Oh, my name is Bartimaeo by the way; I live in the house with the model solar system and weather vane on top. I moved to Neovia not long after the Tale of Woe. There was a time when the citizens were even suspicious of me and my scientific ways, but that is another story. I've adjusted my looks to be more acceptable, and am now a respectable and somber shadow Eyrie. Since then, most of Neovia has become rather bland, but there are rumors of things that go bump in the night. Whenever someone is suspicious of their neighbor, they send me to investigate. I don't always accurately report what I find. If the citizens actually knew what was leaking through from the Haunted Woods, they'd only be more nervous. As near as I can tell, most of the pets I investigate are simply misunderstood. Different, yes, and some are truly magical, but most just want to live and let live. Anyway, it can't really be avoided when the Haunted Woods is so nearby. Things are bound to leak through from time to time...
It started off as a "normal" day, if you can call it that. We don't actually have a day time in Neovia. It is perfect for lurking, or simply viewing the stars, which is one reason why I moved here. Strangely when I moved in, most of the scientific equipment I needed was already available. I never found out who owned the house before me as no one seemed inclined to talk about it. True, the house below mine is haunted, but not mine, as far as I know. Still, there was some strange gadget in the basement that may be controlling the weather, I'm not sure, and I dare not mess with the settings on the machine until I understand it better. That may take some time, so for now, the weather is always dark and cold, and the sky is filled with stars.
I was using my telescope to observe an asteroid that was exquisitely shaped and resembled the Space Faerie, when there was a knock at the door. A rather haughty looking Quiggle in a tuxedo stood in my doorway and only reluctantly entered when invited inside. Yes, my home is rather eccentric, being filled with astrolabes, barometers, globes, navigation and surveying instruments. It can be quite overwhelming to see, but there is nothing mysterious at all about it. I'd be delighted to explain it. For some reason whenever I try, pets suddenly come down with nasal or hearing ailments. They seem to believe they can smell their stove burning from across town or think they can hear their owner calling them. I'll have to investigate this when I have more time.
This Quiggle wanted me to pay a visit to the Ghoulby sisters who just moved in nearby. Lula and Layla Ghoulby. He explained that they were always trying to get neighbors to come around for tea. I saw nothing particularly wrong about that.
"Probably the two old sisters are just lonely," I suggested.
"No, they are absolutely crazy. You'll just have to see them for yourself. Oh, and whatever you do, don' t drink the tea! The elder sister, Lula, will be most insistent, but avoid the stuff at all costs. The last gentlepet that visited hasn't been seen around and no one can discover what has happened to him. I suspect it has something to do with the tea," he explained.
"That reminds me, I haven't offered you any refreshments. What kind of host am I? Maybe you'd like a glass of... oh nevermind," I said. "I'll be sure to investigate, however. I'll get a sample of that tea and analyze it. I'm sure there is nothing to worry about; probably the old dear needs her eyes checked and added the wrong ingredient. I'm sure it is harmless. Oh, before you leave, perhaps you'd like a tour. I just love explaining my research."
"Well, that sounds interesting, but... I... I... I think I might have left my stove on. Yes, I do believe I smell something burning. Oh, I hear someone calling my name," he stammered and shuffled backwards towards the door.
It had been a while since I made a house call, so I dressed in the typical Neovian fashion. That is, I dressed up in a suit and tie, with a hat and walking cane. It was slightly uncomfortable, but it was what the Neovians expected. I'd rather wear looser fitting clothing, but of course, nothing that resembles a wizard's robe.
It wasn't hard to locate the home of the Ghoulby sisters, as it stuck out among the darkly colored houses of their neighbors. This house was brightly decorated, and the two "old" sisters were in a garden that flourished with tropical plants. I wasn't sure how it was possible, given the dark conditions of Neovia, to have plants like this. There was probably some magic involved, but it wasn't against the law to grow elephante's ears.
The sisters themselves were the very image of witch doctors. They were still dressed in typical Mystery Island clothing, their bright yellow and green skin was almost glowing in the twilight. When they turned to greet me, dusting their skinny Quiggle fingers, I could tell that although they were old, I'd find more life in these two than in many of the other citizens of Neovia.
"Good Day!" the green elder sister, Lula, greeted me. "Or Good Evening, by the looks of it. "
"I do say, your garden brightens the place up, though."
"Thank you kindly, sir. We were just going inside for a cup of tea; would you like to join us?" asked the younger sister, Layla, who was a bright yellow island color.
"Wonderful! Are those blairnuts I see? However did you grow them in this climate?"
"Certainly, sir. My sister has a green thumb in more ways than one," said Layla.
Inside the house, it was quite ordinary. Well, ordinary by island standards. There was an assortment of bamboo furniture and typical decorations such as tiki masks and such. There was really nothing to suggest these two were up to no good. So against my better judgment, I drank the tea. Of course, nothing happened; it was perfectly delicious. What happened next was unexpected.
"And now I shall turn you into a Mortog!" Lula cackled.
"Oh no, sister, not again!" yelled Layla.
I however, quickly stepped aside as the spell went whizzing past my ear, missing me by millimeters.
"Please excuse my sister, she needs Mortogs for... for... research purposes," said the younger, who used her larger body to block her sister.
"She is a witch... a real witch!" I stammered.
"Actually both of us are, but I believe she is going about this the wrong way and intend to let you escape."
"Out of my way, sister! You are ruining my spell!"
"What about the others? How many others have you turned into Mortogs? What have you done with them?"
"Nothing... absolutely nothing," squeaked Lula. "Nothing happened at all!" she wailed and began to cry, still trying to get at me, from behind her sister.
"Because you are going about it the wrong way! I told you the last three times. Don't worry, sir, they were released into a nice Mortog sanctuary, I assure you, and living perfectly happy little froggy lives."
"But they were someone's pet. You can't leave them like that!"
"Actually, I can leave them like that... I don't really have a choice...we don't know how to reverse the spell, you see," said Lula.
"Just get out while you can," said the younger sister. "I'll try to keep my sister under control. Just warn everyone to stay away."
"No, I need Mortogs... lots and lots of Mortogs... until I find the right one!"
"What about that Quiggle from down the road? Why didn't you turn him into a Mortog?" I asked.
"That old codger? Whatever would I want a... Mortog... like him for?" asked Lula. "Why would I want a boring fellow like that? Still, I should have done it simply because he didn't like my tea. But you like my tea and you are intelligent and open minded. All qualities that I really respect in a... in a... Mortog."
"Yes, in a Mortog, of course..."
"Will you quit babbling and escape already?" asked Layla.
What really happened next, I can't say. I have a theory that the old sister was looking for a prince, but was going about it the wrong way. There aren't many princes in Neopia to turn into Mortogs. Then again, maybe she really did want a Mortog for some sort of research purposes. Apparently not just any Mortog will do, as one has to be handsome, intelligent, and open minded. As for the Mortog sanctuary, I am not sure such a place exists. If you ever happen to find such a place, you may kiss a Mortog. I'm pretty sure you won't end up with a prince, but it might make some enchanted pet happy and he can return to his family.
As for me, I'm sure to investigate far stranger pets than those two sisters. There is always something strange going on in Neovia. I might even pay the Ghoulby's a visit again in the future. I'm sure I can avoid being turned into a Mortog now that I know what to expect. I wouldn't mind having another look at their lovely garden. Of course, I'll have to write up something to appease my Quiggle neighbor. I plan to give him a few books of poetry and etiquette, and tell him the tea sample turned out perfectly fine, even delicious. I wouldn't mind going around for another cup myself.