What Happened To Sophie's Hat: Part Four
Part Four: In Which Edna Proves Her Worth
"Drat," Sophie huffed as she came to a stop on yet another unfamiliar corner, ignoring the startled looks from the other neopets waiting to cross the street. "This trail was a fake!"
"I figured... that out... five minutes ago," Edna said in between pants, gasping for air. She leaned forward, bracing her paws on her knees as she tried to catch her breath. She was much older than Sophie, and not accustomed to running. Part of her wished that she had stopped to grab her broom before they left, but perhaps it had been wise to leave it behind. She still remembered the last time that Nesmy had broken it.
"This is useless," Sophie said, pacing in a circle as the other neopets scurried away, trying to keep their distance. "We'll never find her this way. And I still have no idea why she took my hat!"
"Does it... matter... why she took it?" Edna asked, finally straightening up again.
Sophie gave Edna an indignant look. "Of course it does! It's the principle of the thing," she said. "But none of that matters if we can't track her down." Sophie thought for a minute, her brow furrowing in concentration as she tapped the foot of her staff against the ground.
"We could use the directory," Edna suggested, but Sophie's scowl prevented her from expanding on that thought.
Suddenly, Sophie's sour expression transformed into a look of excitement. "Edna, did Nesmy touch you at any time in the past hour or so?" she asked, leaning eagerly into Edna's personal space.
Edna hurried to step back. "Well, no..."
Sophie's face threatened to fall again
"But I did touch her. Yes, I shoved by her after she threatened to enchant me with her staff."
"Good enough," Sophie said, grabbing the loose sleeve of Edna's robe and pulling her aside. "If she was the last one to touch you, I can use you to cast a finding spell and figure out where she is. We'll get my hat and be back in the Haunted Woods in no time!"
"I still can't believe you dragged me into this," Edna muttered sulkily. "I'd better get to see you turn her into something horrible..."
Sophie ignored her. "Hold still," she ordered, raising the gnarled length of her staff and pointing it directly at Edna's forehead. The Zafara gulped, and hoped that she was not shaking. Even though she knew Sophie would not hurt her, it was still a little nerve-wracking to be staring into the business end of her staff. "I've never done this with just my staff before. Normally, I use a potion for this, too, but it should remember the spell..."
"Should, or will?" Edna asked, nervously twisting her paws.
Sophie did not bother to answer. Instead, she summoned the power inside of her staff, surrounding Edna with a glowing blue light. Edna gasped, and then cackled as the energy rushed over her. She had not expected it to tickle, but at least it wasn't hurting. Sophie's face remained a mask of concentration, and her lips formed words under her breath that Edna could not quite make out. Then, the glow around her staff faded out. The glow around Edna, however, remained.
"What? Why do I look like someone painted me with a glowing paint brush?" Edna asked. She frowned angrily at Sophie. "I'd better not stay this way, or I'll -"
"You won't stay this way," Sophie assured her, "but now, we should be able to track Nesmy. You'll glow brighter the closer you get to her."
"So..." Edna paused, glancing around the now-deserted street corner. "I just start walking?"
"I think we should head back the way we came," Sophie suggested. "She probably gave us the slip there. Then, we can pick up the trail."
Finding the right way was not as easy as Sophie had implied. An hour later, their footpaws were sore from walking all over Neopia Central. But, finally, they managed to find their way to a little side-street off one of the main thoroughfares. It was mostly quiet, and lined with small cottages and flowering trees. Certainly not the usual home of a witch, Sophie thought, but then again, Nesmy was not a normal witch.
"Do you think this is it?" Edna groaned. "I'm tired!"
Sophie gritted her teeth. An hour of putting up with Edna's constant complaints was almost as bad as having her hat stolen in the first place. But she could not allow Nesmy to go unpunished after stealing from her. She had a reputation to keep, after all, and she was rather fond of her hat, even if it was old and practically falling apart. "I think this is it," she said, scanning the houses on either side of the street.
"But how do you know?"
"All of the 'For Sale' signs. I guess even in Neopia Central, no one wants to live next door to a witch. There's a good reason I keep to myself in the swamplands, Edna. Magic is dangerous, and the fewer neopets around, the better."
"I thought it was because you hated everyone," Edna said.
Sophie rolled her eyes. "I was trying to be polite for once, but yes. There's that, too."
Finally, Edna's fur let out a bright flare as they passed one of the houses - the only one in a row of six without a sign on the front lawn. Sophie let out a noise of triumph and set off up the front steps at a brisk pace, but Edna called out after her. "Sophie, wait! You don't know what kind of spells she has!"
That brought Sophie to a halt at the front door. "Good thinking, Edna." She raised her staff, aiming it at the door, and pushed the tip forward. The air in front of it seemed to bend, and a few small rainbows rippled out from where the staff had made contact. "Looks like she has a shield up. But..." Sophie gave the house another close look. "How much do you want to wager that she only enchanted the doors and windows to keep people from coming in?"
Edna snorted and folded her arms over her chest. "What are you going to do, then? Blast through the wall?"
"Not a bad idea," Sophie said, bringing down her staff with a violent, sweeping gesture. A loud boom echoed down the quiet street as blue light barreled from the end of her magical staff, ripping apart the side of the cottage. When the smoke and rubble cleared away, there was a large, open hole blasted in the middle of the wall, leading directly into what looked like a living room. A satisfied smile pulled at Sophie's lips as she hopped down from the front steps and onto the neatly-trimmed lawn. There was a small strip of garden between her and the hole, but she tramped through it without caring, deliberately crushing a few plants under her hooves.
"So... now what?" Edna asked, trying to hide how impressed she was by Sophie's display of magic. Not just any witch could take out a wall without breaking a sweat. "Do we go looking for Nesmy, or should we just wait for her to come out here and find us?"
"We can't go looking for her. Her shields might not have been very thorough, but who knows what other kinds of enchantments she has on this place? I don't want to risk it. We'll make her come to us." Sophie glanced around the living room. Aside from dust and wood chips on the carpet where the wall had blown apart, it was remarkably neat and tidy. Her smile grew wider. It wasn't going to stay that way for long. "Edna, go and get something that will make a lot of noise," she said, pointing towards the kitchen. "Taking down the wall was a good start, but we need to give Nesmy some more incentive to come out and play."
Edna shrugged and followed Sophie's directions, crossing the living room and stepping into the kitchen. She opened one of the cabinets under the breakfast bar and pulled out the first thing she came across - a large, shiny black frying pan. It did not look like it had been used frequently, so either Nesmy preferred to order in most nights, or she took very good care of her dishes. Edna began to reach in with her other paw, searching for something else to bang with, but then, her eyes settled on a large black cauldron standing in one corner. Like the pan, it looked almost brand new. She cackled, rubbing her paws together with glee. It would be nice to take out some of her aggression on the same thing that had injured her earlier.
Still holding the frying pan, Edna made her way over to the cauldron, glancing at Sophie to make sure that she was ready. The ixi was staring thoughtfully at a large, puffy couch in the middle of the living room, but she noticed when Edna looked over at her.
"What are you going to do when I start banging?" Edna asked.
This time, it was Sophie's turn to laugh. Her staff flashed blue, and the couch began to hover several inches off the floor, leaving behind a four tiny indents in the carpet. "Me?" she said innocently as the couch bobbed up and down in midair. "I'm going to start redecorating."
To be continued...