Petpet Adventures: Mistress Maxie's Marvellous Circus - Part Eight
"Do you remember what happened?" Eva asked.
Mistress Maxie was now perched on a nearby bush so that she could talk to them with ease. There was a marked difference between what she looked like now and the last time Eva had seen her. Her once glossy feathers were now dull and dirty, and her tail drooped in a way that the Noil had never seen. And there were huge circles under her eyes, visible even under her feathers, showing she had been missing sleep.
"I thought it was Max at first. But then he smiled and I just knew it could not possibly be him. So I tried to fly away, but he raised that awful black staff – it was just the same as my Max's – and then I just froze in the air. I was helpless!" Eva was relieved that Mistress Maxie sounded almost the same as before.
"And then Max walked into the tent and saw the other Grarrl, and his face went all red, but before he could say anything the other Grarrl threw this strange blue powder on him and raised his staff. Max stopped with this dazed look on his face, and then the Grarrl said a spell, and Max walked back out of the tent. Just like that! And the faerie Grarrl released me, so I flew after Max and tried to land on his shoulder, but he didn't even notice.
"He walked all the way to Faerieland without stopping. I tried to make him turn back. I flew at his face and even spoke to him in Pet, but he just looked at me and shooed me away. He doesn't know who I am!"
And then the Floobix was in tears. They flowed over her feathers and dripped to the ground below as she stood shaking on the branch. After a moment she raised a wing to cover her face and turned away.
Eva and Labez exchanged an amazed look. No one had ever seen Mistress Maxie shed a tear. She was their Mistress, and she acted like one. She was tough and strong, but also very caring, looking after everyone and making sure she spoke with all the petpets at least once a day. Eva felt like an intruder, and she quickly turned away also.
"Let's try and find Max," she said. "He must be here if Mistress Maxie is."
The respectfully left Mistress Maxie alone and moved to one of the windows out of her sight. The sill was high above their heads, but that was no problem to the two Noils, who simply leapt up onto it, leaving Labez grumbling down below. Pressing her face up to the window Eva could see a well-furnished living room, with extremely large couches. They would have to be, to accommodate Max. Or William, she thought sourly. Then Max entered the room.
It was a relief to see him, and pressing her ear up against the glass Eva could just make out a cheerful whistling. The faerie Grarrl was holding a feather duster, and was scrupulously cleaning above the fireplace. Then he turned and caught sight of them.
The next moment he had barged towards the door, and Eva quickly leapt down off the sill, hissing to Harro to follow her. The front door of the cottage banged open and Max appeared, waving the feather duster angrily and shouting in pet.
"Oi, get out of here, you pests!" he growled, and the three of them bolted, climbing over the low wall that led to the street. He didn't follow them.
The door of the cottage banged shut again, and then Mistress Maxie flew over to the wall, her feathers tear-streaked. But at least she was no longer crying.
"He doesn't remember you either," she said. "I was quite sure he would recognise his Noils..."
"And the show's tomorrow," Eva growled. "We need him back. Who knows what this William character is going to do?"
Mistress Maxie looked down. "I think I have an idea," she said. "I remember when Max and William were still at the Academy together. Max always excelled at anything he did, and he always beat William in every test. I think his brother became jealous. But there must be something more to this... I know all of the most important faeries in Faerieland are going to the performance tonight, including Max and William's former teachers."
"We need to get Max back," Eva concluded. "But how?"
"Well," Labez began, and three sets of expectant eyes turned towards him. "I think I may be able to help. If it was a powder that made him forget his memory, I'm sure I can mix one to bring it back. But it might not work, because I'm no magician. Still, it's worth a shot."
"But how can you do that?" Harro asked. "You have no ingredients."
Labez looked back the way they had come. "The Academy," he said.
It was late afternoon by the time they reached the academy again. Despite what he had said, Labez did not feel at all confident. In fact he was panicking. What if he mixed the powder wrong? What if he just made things worse, and Max was lost to them forever? He glanced at Eva, who was striding ahead. She believed in him, and she was always there for him. His resolve strengthened.
They had left Mistress Maxie behind, as she had simply refused to move.
"I cannot leave Max," she said. "My previous form would be of little help to you if I changed back. I would be a hindrance."
Which led to a conclusion Labez could not ignore.
"Mistress Maxie must have been an aquatic petpet," he said. "Otherwise she wouldn't be so scared to turn into her old form."
Eva glanced back at him. "Maybe she was something really ugly before, and just doesn't want to change back," she said. They both paused; neither of them could imagine Mistress Maxie being ugly.
"We'll see," Labez replied, but already the banter had made him feel a lot better.
They approached the Academy again and Labez looked anxiously up at the sky. The sun was already beginning to set, and there was no way they could make it back to the circus in time for the show by themselves. Only a pet could manage, so it was up to him to break the spell on Max so the Grarrl could take them back.
The faerie Grundo was still standing outside with his scroll, and the line of pets was will just as long. They snuck past him and sat in the entrance hall.
"Which way is the potion making place?" Eva asked him.
Labez shrugged. "We need to find a Miamouse," he said, just as someone tapped him on the shoulder.
That someone immediately hissed in pain at the heat of his skin and Labez spun around to see Tira nursing her paw. She smiled at him, though it was sort of a grimace of pain.
"Well, I didn't think you'd be back so soon," she said.
"Thank goodness we found you!" Labez said, going to take her shoulder, then realising she wasn't as resilient to his heat as Eva and dropping his paw. "We need access to wherever the students here mix potions and spells."
Tira folded her arms. "You guys manage to ask to go to the most inconvenient places," she said. "I can't give you access to the Laboratories. Only those who have proven their skills and experience are allowed."
"I have plenty of experience," Labez protested. "I recited all one hundred and one ingredients in Euphillius's Ephemeral Elixir!"
"The what?" Eva asked.
Tira frowned and adjusted her spectacles thoughtfully. "Well, I guess that is true," she mused. Then she nodded briskly. "Fine. But I'm going to be watching you very carefully. And make sure your friends don't break anything. Follow me."
She led them to a section of the wall, and Labez stared expectantly at it, until the Miamouse opened a door a metre away from the place he was staring at. Eva came up beside him.
"It's amazing how suddenly us two are the bad guys, and you're her best friend, even though you almost burnt the whole library down," she whispered.
"I did not almost burn the library down," Labez said haughtily. "And she can hardly think that we mistreat books after I saw at least a dozen go flying through the air with magic. That can't be good for them."
They followed Tira into the 'Mousehole, and she led them along a much longer path than the last time. Just as Labez began to fear they would be wandering around in the walls of the Academy forever, she stopped and pushed open yet another door.
"This is one of the more private labs," she said in a hushed voice. She poked her tiny green head out and looked around furtively. "Only the teachers and their very talented students are allowed in through the pet doors, but I thought it would be empty for you to use now. The faeries would have a fit if they saw a petpet playing with their things."
"I wonder what a faerie fit would look like..." Eva mused behind him, and Labez could just imagine a tiny ball of coloured light exploding in rage. He shuddered.
"Let's hurry up," he said. He squeezed through the door and looked around.
The room was a moderate size for pets, filled with four long stone tables. On each table was a set of beakers and other equipment, as well as a tiny fireplace. Every wall of the room except for the one containing the door was a shelf, with jars and jars of powders and liquids. Labez took one look around and turned to Tira.
"I need these ingredients." He listed a dozen of them, and the Miamouse was off, scurrying over to the shelves. Labez himself hurried to one of the shelves. Luckily Miamice seemed to be assistants for this sort of thing, because a petpet-sized ladder was built into the shelf every two metres. He carefully climbed one and found a jar.
There was the sound of scrabbling claws behind him and Eva came up, sticking her bushy mane in front of the jar he was carrying as she looked at the black pellets inside.
"What can I do?" she asked.
Labez sighed. "You can start by not getting in my way." He glanced at the tables and thrust the jar into Eva's paws. "Take this to that table, then come back for something else. I can't climb the ladders very easily."
Eva bounded off and Labez glanced after her, a bit anxious. But the jar made it safely to the ground, and he let his pent-up breath out.
"Harro, take this please," he called to the Noil, who bounded up and accepted a jar of transparent liquid.
By the time he was done, Tira was already on the table with the ingredients she had gathered, and was unsuccessfully trying to get a fire started.
"Don't worry about that," Labez said, finally climbing up to the table himself. "I don't need a fire."
He held out a paw, and suddenly it burst into flame. Harro leapt back with a startled growl, Tira starred at it curiously, and Eva just looked bored. She was used to him doing things like that. It didn't hurt him at all. In fact, it felt rather nice, what he imagined a warm bath would feel like for a normal petpet, although Eva did tend to make a fuss about that when it was her turn for one. He seized a metal cauldron and immediately started throwing ingredients into it.
"Don't you need a book?" Tira asked.
He shook his head, thinking furiously as he stirred. His tail curled around the bottom of the cauldron, the flame extending to wrap around the base of the metal, and the mixture began to bubble. He was trying to remember if he could have gotten something wrong. It was all on him now.
Tira was a good assistant, handing him ingredients with alacrity. She knew the contents of every jar, and Labez was impressed. Eva and Harro lay at the edge of the table, away from the heat, heaped on top of one another as only Noils did. He didn't quite understand how Noils could be so familiar after less than a week, but they always seemed to cuddle up to one another. Well, at least they weren't in his way.
He had made some minor adjustments to the spell he was brewing. For a start, it should have taken a good six hours to brew, but he sped that up using his fine control of the heat, hoping it would still be just as potent. He also added more of certain ingredients, so that it would not only restore memory, but would also break through any other spells.
In a little over two hours he was done. He was also exhausted. But the spell was finished. In the bottom of the cauldron lay a red powder, caked to the sides.
"Can you please scrape it out?" he asked Tira.
The Miamouse complied, and Labez extinguished all the flames on his body, except the ones needed to keep the fire pearls stable. Tira handed him a jar of the red powder, and he saw she had been very careful not to touch it with her bare paws. He immediately passed it on to Eva.
"Let's get back to Max," he said, standing up.
His legs felt weak, wobbling underneath him. Using that much heat was almost like doing a ten hour marathon. Not that he had ever done one, but he had heard another Magmut say the same thing. Eva quickly went to support him, despite the discomfort of the heat.
They helped him down onto the floor, and into the 'Mousehole. Tira glanced back at the room anxiously before entering.
"I'll take you to the entrance hall, but I have to come back and clean up your mess," she said. "I don't want anyone to find it."
She was as good as her word, and they soon found themselves out on the street again. The sun had almost disappeared over the horizon, with only the barest sliver to be seen. But the street was much less busy now, as the pets all went to their homes, and they had the advantage of knowing exactly where they were going.
The cottage was lit up as they approached, with smoke still puffing out of the chimney. Mistress Maxie had obviously been waiting anxiously for them, for she came fluttering to meet them as they topped the wall. Labez sprawled on the purple stone, feeling the warmth of the sun still in it, and sighed contently as his body relaxed.
"Eva, Harro, you lead Max out again, towards me," he said. He retrieved the jar and carefully screwed off the top, before handing it to Mistress Maxie. "You stay in the air, and when he's directly below you, tilt the jar so the powder falls on him." The Floobix nodded gravely, and rose higher into the air, hovering with her perfect grace.
Eva and Harro disappeared, and a minute later there was an angry bellow as two orange and yellow streaks headed towards him. They were followed a few seconds later by Max, who was brandishing his black staff. Eva and Harro both had steak in their mouths, and were grinning as they leapt up onto the wall beside Labez.
Max came closer, and Labez looked up. Mistress Maxie had her determined face on, and as the faerie Grarrl came within range, she threw the powder over him in a fine red cloud.
Max stumbled, and his scales glowed red for a moment, then faded. He shook his head in confusion and looked up where Maxie was hovering with the jar. Then he shook it again and looked at the staff in his claws. There was a long silence, then he growled.
"William," he snarled in Pet.
Mistress Maxie gave a trill of happiness and swooped down towards him, dropping the jar. It rolled onto the grass and Max reached up an arm, holding her close as she landed on it.
"Circus," Mistress Maxie told him in Pet. She pointed at Labez and others, who were now enjoying the remains of Max's dinner.
Max saw them and his eyes widened with surprise as he smiled. Then his eyed narrowed. His free claw clenched around his staff, then reached up to his head.
"He took my top hat," he growled. "This is war."
To be continued...