What's in a Name?: Part Two
Edna – Name of ancient Sakhmetian origin, meaning 'Renewer'. Also possibly a corruption of the old Darigan name Eithne, meaning 'Kernel' or 'Core'.
Edna, in a way I hate her the most. The Coven of the three witches always claim there isn't a leader, but it's always been clear that Edna's the one to be obeyed – the centre of their little club. That's partly because of her experience, but also because of her power. She's arguably one of the strongest Neopet-taught witches on the planet, but she refuses to use her powers so much more often than the others. At least Sophie or Morguss interfere when their homelands are in danger – Edna does nothing. She's so pathetically devoted to her craft, to maintaining the Balance over all else. I suppose that might be the reason she has so much power, because she follows the unwritten rules of witchcraft so closely. But if the price of having so much power is that you can't use it when you want, what's the point in having it? She's powerful, but the price the power came with has crippled her.
Now she's nothing but an old crone, glaring at the world because it didn't give her a good life.
Soon she won't even be that.
Soon she'll be nothing.
Edna threw open the door to her tower with some force, and the smell of a foul potion greeted Cara as they entered. The little Wocky turned her nose up at the innards of Edna's home. Outside, it looked like a typical gothic tower, with an imposing spire and green flames burning in brackets. Cara had been expecting the inside to be somewhat different, with magical comforts conjured up by the owner.
Instead, the inside looked equally uncared for. The roof appeared to be leaking, and what little furniture there was in the small kitchen they arrived in was wooden and ancient. It was dirty and damp, a house but not a home.
"You live like this?" Cara asked critically.
"Yes," Edna replied firmly. "Sit down and be quiet."
Cara took a seat at a rickety kitchen chair while Edna walked over to the two figures waiting at the bubbling cauldron. One was a green Ixi that Cara recognised as Sophie the Swamp Witch. The other was an ugly Moehog that Cara decided was probably Morguss, the Witch of the Darigan Citadel.
"You've put the soup on?" Edna asked, leaning down over the cauldron and smelling the concoction.
To Cara's surprise, the three Witches took mugs and filled them with the mixture, sipping it down. From her perch at the kitchen table, the soup smelled horrible enough to melt someone's face on contact, and Cara had assumed it was a magical potion when she had first sat down. But the Witches drank it down as if it tasted quite good.
"A girl's gone missing in the swamp," Edna told the others at last.
"You got me out of bed for that?" Sophie growled.
"She was following lights," Edna added, which seemed to gain the interest of the other Witches.
"We found this," Edna told them, showing them the dead torch. "Was burning out just as we arrived."
"You think...?" Sophie asked.
"Only one way to know," Morguss supplied.
Edna made her way to her shelves, where amongst various spices and herbs she located a bottle of thick purple liquid. Placing the dead torch on the kitchen table, she uncorked the bottle and poured the liquid atop. The three Witches and Cara leaned over the torch, looking closely for changes.
"It's not what you thought it was?" Cara asked.
"No," Edna replied with a sigh. "It's exactly what we thought it was."
"But the potion didn't change," Cara pointed out.
"Not all potions are meant to change," Edna snapped.
"Well, it's dead," Morguss said, with a hint of relief. "Sad about the girl, but at least it's contained."
"What's dead?" Cara asked. "Where's Jenna? What's going on?"
"Your friend is dead," Edna said without remorse. "She was taken by the lights she was following."
"Don't be silly," Cara laughed. "If she was dead, there would have been a body."
"I wasn't aware you were an expert in the hunting methods of magical beasts," Edna snapped.
"It was the Will of the Wisp," Morguss explained to Cara.
"The Will of the What?" Cara asked.
Edna sighed, shooting a glance at the other two Witches. "Some people, eh?"
"You've never heard of the Will of the Wisp?" Sophie asked. "And you were wandering about near the swamps? What's wrong with you, girl?"
"The Will of the Wisp is a magical creature," Morguss added. "It appears in swamps, so a lot of people mistake it as burning swamp gases, but it's far more... it's a ravenous beast, one that stalks its prey by the light."
"It's funny, really," Edna commented. "Wizards talk about the evolution of Neopets. In many ways, the Will of the Wisp is living proof. There are shadow creatures, evil beings of darkness that live in the gaps outside of our universe. Sometimes they find their way into our universe, and lurk in caves and shadows."
"Well, it doesn't take long for Neopets like you and I to learn that there are nasty things living in shadows, and to avoid them," Edna added. "So some of the shadows evolved. If your prey won't come into the dark, you learn how to live in the light."
"So they can survive in daylight?"
"No, you're not thinking right," Sophie told her. "They live in the light, actually inside it."
"That's impossible," Cara snorted.
"Being impossible never stopped it happening before," Edna said sharply. "The Wisp moves between light sources it can see, carefully stalking its prey until it is ready to eat – and then it leaves nothing. No soul, no body, no nothing."
"Jenna..." Cara whispered sadly. "You said this one is dead?"
"When they learnt how to live in the light, they forgot how to live in the dark," Edna explained. "If the light source they are occupying is extinguished before they can switch to another, they die along with it. Your friend Jenna was so far off the beaten track that the torch died before the Wisp had a chance to move. A good thing too, Wisps can be hard blighters to catch."
"What?" Edna demanded.
"Before the torch went out!" Cara replied. "The one I was holding flickered slightly!"
Edna's face set into a glare. "Why didn't you tell me?"
"I didn't think it was important!"
"Where's the torch now?" Morguss asked.
"We left it outside," Edna answered.
The three Witches moved to leave the kitchen.
"Wait!" Cara stopped them. "It happened again on the way back! We were passing someone on the track and their lantern flickered."
"Who?" Edna demanded. "Who was it?"
"I... I don't know, it was a Techo, I think... he was heading towards Neovia," Cara told her.
"All those lights!" Sophie gasped.
"It's in every light? Cara asked.
"No," Sophie replied, shaking her head. "But any light. We don't have the time to search them all!"
"The time?" Cara asked.
"Wisps normally appear at night," Morguss explained. "They are rare, and Witches have always been able to stop them quickly in the past... but if one were to survive until dawn, then we'd all be as good as dead."
Edna sighed again, "Because the sun comes up at dawn! The biggest light source in the solar system! If the Wisp managed to inhabit the sun, it would have access to every single location on the planet and beyond!"
"And there's no way to extinguish the sun without dooming Neopia, so there'd be no way to kill it," Sophie added.
Edna grabbed a few supplies from her shelves. "We have to get to Neovia, there's no time to waste!"
Cara stood up.
"No," Edna told her firmly. "You're staying here. You've caused enough trouble as it is."
"But I can help!" Cara insisted.
"How, exactly?" Edna asked.
Cara was silenced.
"I thought as much." Edna nodded. "You're staying here."
The three Witches were out of the door in moments, slamming it behind them.
Cara sighed and sat back down at the kitchen table. Slowly, a smirk spread across her face.
Bert Fulcrum entered Neovia not soon after. The Techo decided to head over to the Crumpetmonger's for some late dinner before heading home, and he knew a shortcut through the town's back alleys.
Bert noticed the streetlights flickering as he entered the town, and decided he would have to complain to the Mayor's office in the morning. It almost seemed as if the flickering was following him, but Bert quickly dismissed it as his mind playing tricks on him. The public services in Neovia were known for their faults, and even if they went out he still had his lantern to light his way to the bakery.
The sweet smell of pastries greeted the Techo's nostrils as he grew closer, still sticking to the backstreets. A chill ran down his spine as he entered another alley. From here, he could still see the streetlights back on the main street, but there was no one else around.
In his hand, he felt his lantern flicker. It had done that before, back on the woodland trail that led to the town.
As he looked closer into the flame of his lantern, Bert thought he saw a pair of floating eyes, staring out at him. They looked evil... and, a discomforting thought to Bert, hungry.
A moment later, a gasp escaped Bert's lips as the lantern's flame flared brighter.
The lantern fell to the floor, Bert having disappeared. Before the lantern's flame could die out, the Wisp moved on. In the distance, the streetlight flickered, granting the Wisp safety once more.
Around it, an entire town was ready for the taking. Here, in Neovia, the Will of the Wisp would be able to feast.
To be continued...