What's in a Name?: Part Three
Sophie – Name of Altadorian origin meaning 'Wisdom'.
Sophie... sometimes I almost feel sympathy for the girl. Our stories are so alike, both trained by Faeries, both far exceeding anything they could have hoped for. Sophie never really deserved the life of a witch. She didn't choose it, like Edna or Morguss, instead she was forced to take up the craft. Live with Ilere, or disappear with the rest of her family.
She's the youngest of the three witches, and without a shadow of a doubt the most inexperienced... but given time, she might become more powerful than Edna and Morguss combined. Her knowledge of magic is already almost encyclopaedic. Maybe one day she'll even be stronger than me. Sad, really, that a girl born into the peace of Neovia is forced to live her life in the chaos of magic.
But any chance she had at a normal life evaporated the moment she met the Faerie. The craft corrupted the innocent girl, and spending time with Edna afterwards did nothing to help the matter. Now she's under the delusional belief that her life is somehow better, that the strength the magic has given her allows her to protect her family and her friends. What she doesn't see is that because of the magic, she's been forced to live away from those she cares about. Magic is a wedge forever separating her from the rest of the world.
What's the point of having such power if the price you have to pay is forever being alone?
Not that it matters. She made her choice, now she must live with it.
Or die with it, as the case may be.
The Witches ran.
It was completely out of character for them, but this was no time to complain about the exertion or ripping their robes. Broomsticks wouldn't be an option; they didn't want to give the Wisp prior warning that Witches were on its case.
They were quite exhausted by the time they reached Neovia, but there was no time to rest and catch their breath. It was well into the night, so most of Neovia was asleep, but there were more than enough sleepless locals to sustain the Wisp's hunger until dawn.
The Witches made their way directly to the town hall and banged on the great door in noisy unison. A few minutes later, the light in the hall's upper apartment flicked on and a gentle grumbling made its way down towards the front door.
A green Bruce in a nightgown opened the door a creak.
"Yes?" Mayor Thumburt asked sleepily.
The door was forced open and the Witches barged inside.
"We need to evacuate the town," Edna announced importantly.
"At this hour?" Thumburt asked, still recovering his faculties from sleep. "Half of the town is asleep, and rightly so. What have you done this time?"
"We!?" Edna snapped. "We never do anything! We fix the problems, we don't cause them!"
"Of course." Thumburt nodded. "I bet the discarded potion from your tower that got into the town's water supply and turned the Crumpetmonger into a clock was all the work of some evil wizard."
"I should imagine so," Edna replied, missing the Mayor's sarcasm, or perhaps deliberately ignoring it.
"And the time you hexed Prigpants?" the Mayor insisted.
"He had it coming," Edna snapped. "He said I looked drab. Me! Drab!"
"Listen, Thumburt," Sophie said clearly. "No one's above a good hexing, do you understand? And don't forget who it was that turned you back from being a Petpetpet."
The Mayor swallowed nervously, his mind clearly becoming more alert as he realised what he had been saying while still half-asleep.
"Of course..." he said. "Normally I'd love to help you, but it's simply not possible to evacuate the town at this time of night. You'll just have to practice your magic elsewhere tonight."
"We're not practicing magic!" Sophie snapped. "This is an emergency! If they don't leave the town, they might be dead come morning!"
The Mayor sighed, and turned to the back of the entrance hall.
"Why'd I have to be the Mayor of Neovia?" he grumbled. "Why couldn't I be Mayor of somewhere nice and normal like Moltara?"
He disappeared into a small cupboard and set in motion the town hall's clock chimes, which began to ring above the heads of the Witches a moment later.
"That should be loud enough to wake everyone!" Thumburt shouted over the din.
"Get them far away from the town!" Sophie shouted back. "And make sure they don't take any lights with them!"
"Why!?" the Mayor asked.
"Just do it!" Sophie shouted.
The Wisp watched silently as the people woke from their homes and emerged into the streets. If it had possessed lips, it might well have licked them. It was a virtual feast, slowly heading towards the town hall.
It jumped from streetlight to streetlight, silently stalking the crowd below. At the town hall, the bells that had been ringing out abruptly stopped, and a fat Neopet seemed to be making an announcement. The Wisp wasn't paying attention; it was too busy planning how to separate this group and corner new victims.
Suddenly, the fat Neopet stopped speaking, and the crowd turned to move away, again all heading in the same direction. The Wisp followed them once again, criss-crossing across the street between streetlights, eager to find their new destination.
It wasn't until they crossed the town boundary that the Wisp realised something was horribly wrong. The townsfolk carried on, disappearing off into the darkness of the woods. The Wisp could not follow; not a single one of them was carrying any kind of light source. The Wisp was trapped in the town, paralysed by the streetlights it had thought would be liberating.
The Wisp turned back, heading back into the town centre in the hopes of locating a few stragglers that it could consume, but then it stopped as it found three figures outside the town hall.
They were all wearing black, and looking at the streetlights. They were looking for the Wisp, it realised.
"What now?" Sophie asked the others.
"Simple, we just remove the places it can hide," Edna said, lighting a magical fire that hung in the air in front of the town hall. "We'll lure it back here, so we're sure we've got it first."
Morguss meanwhile made her way over to the nearest streetlight and reached up to the small shutoff valve near the top. She turned it, extinguishing the light.
A few streetlights away, the Wisp began to panic. It was being hunted; it had to escape. It had to find some way out of this prison before they caught up to it.
Leaving a trail of flickering streetlights in its wake, the Wisp fled to the furthest corner of Neovia it could find.
The Witches continued in a methodical fashion. After taking out all the lights in the town centre aside from Edna's magical green fire, they moved to the outskirts and spiralled inwards, splitting up to cover more ground.
They worked as quickly as they could, but time was against them and it was the early hours of the morning when they had taken out most of the streetlights. Only three remained, each with a direct line of sight to the magical fire in the town square. A Witch stood under each, and one by one they turned their valves, turning the lights off.
Strangely, the Witches didn't notice the magical fire flicker. Edna confirmed their fears, her magical senses tied to the fire.
"It's not in there."
"Then where?" Sophie asked. "Maybe the lantern didn't make it to Neovia?"
"No, it must have," Morguss said. "The Wisp must just be hiding somewhere."
"Where?" Sophie asked. "We turned off all the lights!"
"Maybe not," Morguss answered. "We didn't search the alleyways."
Bert Fulcrum's lantern was weak when Morguss found it. The flame was flickering, not long for the world. The Wisp was trapped within, Morguss could feel it. Keeping a magical guard up in case the Wisp decided to pounce on her, Morguss turned to contact the other Witches.
But then a strange feeling came over Morguss, a sudden dizziness that disrupted her magical senses. She had to hold on to the wall to stop herself falling.
Behind her, the Wisp sensed the sudden weakness in the Witch. It knew it would not get another chance.
The noise of the sudden flare of light behind Morguss alerted her at the last moment. As she spun, it took all the strength she could muster to gain temporary control over her magic again. The shield she conjured was only a partial one, and though it managed to block most of the Wisp's attack, Morguss was still forced backwards, and hit her head on the wall – hard.
The Witch slumped to the floor as the last flicker of flame died in the lantern. The Wisp assumed a new form, back to the orb of light it had been when Jenna had first found it in the swamp. It would not be able to sustain such a form for long; it was burning itself up on the inside in order to create the light.
The Wisp hovered off down the alley, hoping to escape Neovia before it ran out of energy.
A few minutes later, Sophie and Edna arrived. Gently, they brought Morguss back to reality.
"What happened?" Edna demanded.
"I found it, but something came over me," Morguss explained.
"You too?" Sophie asked.
"This is very important," Edna said, not bothering to explain. "What is your name?"
Morguss was still groggy from being knocked unconscious, so didn't take Edna's question seriously for a moment. Eventually though, she opened her mouth to say her name.
To her surprise, she found the word would not come. She knew her name was Morguss, but her throat would not form the sounds.
"It's the same for us," Edna said gravely. "Someone has stolen our names."
To be continued...