|The speckled Usul yawned as she placed the book she was reading on the coffee table. She stretched her limbs; they were beginning to feel numb after an hour of sitting on the couch.
Just as she stood up, a baby Usul came bounding down the stairs with a piece of paper clamped in his right hand.
"Misha, Misha! I'm done with my drawing!" he cried out excitedly, waving the hand that held the piece of paper. He almost tripped on the bottom step but caught himself just in time.
Misha turned and smiled at her little brother. "Come here, Marcus," she signaled at the seat on the couch beside her.
Marcus happily went over and climbed up on to the sofa. He smoothed the piece of paper on the table and looked expectantly at his sister. "You're going to make them move, aren't you, sis?" he asked.
"Yes, little Marcus, like I promised," Misha replied with a kind smile on her face. She looked fondly at the illustrations - Marcus had drawn five Usuls who were playing with one another. It was a fabulous sketch for a Neopet of his age. "I should be able to do it since I've just recently learned the spell."
Although Misha wasn't confident, she had been under the tutorship of Jerdana, a famous and powerful sorceress, for the past three months. Furthermore, it was only a few days ago that she had learned a spell to make inanimate objects move. The short recitation was still fresh in her mind, so she decided to give it a go.
She took in a deep breath and muttered:
I command you
To come to life!
As soon as she completed the verse, the outlines of the drawing began to glow faintly. Misha let out a small "yippee!" at her own success; her spell had worked!
However, her sense of achievement was short-lived when her brother let out a gasp. Instead of moving about in the piece of paper, the pictures began to ...
Date: Apr 4th
...the pictures began to spring to life. The outline figures of cartoon Usuls began to push themselves from the paper, stretching almost as tall as Marcus.
Marcus crawled behind Misha's legs as beady eyes met with one another and then looked at him. Misha had never heard of a spell acting this way before, and didn't know how to make drawings go back into the paper.
"It's okay, Marcus," she reassured him. "I'm sure they just want to play-" But as she said that, the doodles began to run around the room in a frenzy. One of them knocked a portrait off the wall.
Two of them pulled Marcus out from behind Misha, and she knew she had to try something. With all of her concentration, she grabbed the piece of paper, and chanted:
Return to the place
that you call home
Into this paper
instead of the unknown.
Everything was quiet. Too quiet. Where had Marcus gone...?
Date: Apr 4th
Misha gasped as she looked down at the paper. The spell had worked. There stood the five Usuls, frozen into the position they were in right as Misha had cast the spell to send them back, their limbs sticking out at odd angles. And there, in the corner of the page… was Marcus. He too was frozen into position, with a look of terror on his face.
“Marcus! Marcus… can you hear me?” Misha frantically shook the paper, as if that would bring Marcus back to life. He didn’t move an inch.
“Marcus… I’m so sorry…” Misha racked her brain for another spell, but she had nothing. She could repeat the first spell again, and the drawings would come back to life… but what would happen to Marcus? He is no sketch, he is a real Usul, the spell wouldn’t work on him!
Misha couldn’t handle this alone. One wrong spell and who knows what would happen to Marcus? There was only one thing for her to do - she needed help. She needed Jerdana.
The Usul packed her things, and keeping the paper in her hands at all times, set out for Altador. After hours of travelling, being extremely careful not crumble the paper, she finally arrived at Jerdana’s doorstep. She was just about to knock when she noticed the door was slightly ajar.
“H-hello? Jerdana? It’s me… Misha…” the Usul nervously pushed the door open and peered through…
“Sorry to just turn up like this, but I need your help…” The room was dark inside and it took Misha’s eyes a moment to adjust. She took a few steps inside and gasped. She had never expected to see…
Date: Apr 5th
...a large black shape broken only by a shaggy, purple ruff.
Her whole body shook. She had heard stories of the Shadow Usul, but she didn't think they were true...even Jerdana had told her they were fantasy.
She let out a whimper, without meaning to, and suddenly the black shape froze in whatever it was doing. Slowly, what Misha could only assume was the face was turned towards her. The darkness was hard to look at, pure as it was.
The Usul in front of her opened its mouth, and against the black fur shined razor sharp teeth.
Misha stumbled back towards the door, which was the moment the Shadow Usul decided to leap at her...
Date: Apr 5th
She ducked and moved to her left quickly to avoid her enemy. The Usul flew in an arc above her head before landing on the floor on her feet and turning to face the speckled Usul again.
Misha watched closely at the Shadow Usul's actions. However, in the split second that she focused on the door behind her enemy, the Shadow Usul took the opportunity to cast her spell at Misha. She raised her hands and muttered something unfathomable. Then, her hands began to glow a bright yellow, the same color as that of her almond-shaped eyes that were filled with pure malice.
All of a sudden, stones - the size of codestones - appeared out of thin air. Without warning, they hurtled towards the unprepared speckled Usul and she was thrown off her feet. Misha collided with a table that was just metres behind her, sending the contents on the table sprawling across the floor.
"Oww!" Misha cried and picked herself up from the floor. She flexed her foot to get to standing position, kicking an object as she did so. She looked at the Shadow Usul with worried eyes but noticed that her enemy was fixated on something else. Misha's eyes had already adjusted to the darkness around her; she saw that what the Shadow Usul had been after was...
Date: Apr 6th
... Marcus's drawing.
Its yellowy eyes were fixated on the slightly crumpled drawing. The Shadow Usul began casting another spell directed at Misha's hands.
The speckled Usul looked down at her brother's horror struck image on the page then back to the Shadow Usul. Misha gulped and before the spell could hit the page, she ripped off the edge which contained her brother. The rest of the page disintegrated into a puff of dust.
"Don't worry Marcus. I've got you," she said as she tucked the ripped page safely into her pocket. Turning to the Shadow Usul with a furrowed brow, she seethed, "No one hurts MY brother."
Misha's thoughts shuffled to think of the right rhyme to center her magic. Eureka! She smirked, determined to get rid of the Shadow Usul, and spoke,
who does not belong,
cast away on the wind
like a weewoo's song..."
Date: Apr 7th
As Misha uttered those last words, the Shadow Usul vanished into the cold, breezy air that filled Jerdana's cabin.
"She's gone," Misha breathed as she took in a great sigh of relief. Why was the Shadow Usul here? What could she possibly want with Jerdana? And why was she fascinated with Marcus's picture? All of these questions swirled in Misha's mind as she took in her surroundings.
Nothing at all seemed out of place, except for the pile of books laying on Jerdana's desk. The Shadow Usul had hurriedly been rifling through them up until the point when Misha walked in, and Misha noticed, with a start, that those same books belonged to her study room back home. But why did Jerdana have them?
"I've got a bad feeling about this Marcus."
Misha held the torn piece of paper close to her side and stepped towards the strewn books laying on Jerdana's desk. As she did so, a loud BOOM sounded behind her...
Date: Apr 7th
...Misha whipped around to find that the front door had slammed shut. She frowned; could it have been the aftermath of her spell? Or was something else lurking in Jerdana's cabin?
"Jerdana?" she called weakly. Had the sorceress been attacked, or hurt? "Are you here?"
Silence was her only answer. Either Jerdana was not home or... she had been taken.
She put the thought aside. She had to focus on getting Marcus back, and right now that meant solving this mystery and finding Jerdana. Getting scared at every little noise was not going to help. She marched to the desk and picked through the pile of books. There were four titles, all hers, which was very strange. Jerdana had her own collection of books. She had even recommended some of these to Misha herself. Misha flicked through the top one -- the one the Shadow Usul had been going through. It looked just as she had last seen it. A few underlines and notes she had made, some doggy-eared pages...
Then something caught her eye. Misha's heart leapt to her throat. On one of the pages, certain words had been circled in bright green ink. The lines were messy, as if scrawled in a hurry.
Maybe Jerdana had left a clue as to where she was! Eagerly, Misha flipped through the other books to find certain pages and spells marked in the same ink. Clearly, Jerdana was trying to tell Misha something. She just had to figure out what. Deciding to decipher the message at home, she scooped up the pile of books and headed to the front door. But when she pulled at the handle, it did not budge. Misha frowned. She hadn’t locked the door. In fact, she had left it open…
That was when she realised that she’d walked into a trap. And she wasn’t alone in the cabin…
Date: Apr 8th
Misha felt her supernatural senses tingling, and through some unknown driving instinct, opened the cover of the topmost book in her arms. The Usul nearly dropped the stack as she saw Jerdana’s scowling face staring back at her.
“Jerdana!” Misha gasped, setting the books carefully on the floor. “You’re here. But..how are you here?”
Even as Misha watched, Jerdana’s long Aisha ears twitched and the creases of her mouth turned down into a frown.
Misha drew in breath. “Oh my Fyora! Did I do this to you? Wow, I must be more powerful that I thought!”
Jerdana’s frown deepened and the sorceress’s sketch began gesticulating slowly across the page.
“Oh right,” Misha said, shuffling the books around on the floor so she could clearly see the markings Jerdana had made on the pages. “There’s a spell, isn’t there?” Misha mumbled. “To fix what I’ve done.
Subconsciously, she pulled out the small ripped edge of paper, and smoothed out her brother’s sketched form.
It took Misha five minutes or so, but she thought she had figured out the spell Jerdana had outlined, so she recited with as much conviction as she could:
“Those who are drawn,
Stay to the page,
Those who need life,
Come out of your cage.”
Misha looked down at her brother’s form and cried out when she saw the scrap of paper was blank. Had she done something wrong?
Misha turned to see her baby Usul brother standing transfixed before her. She rushed to Marcus, enveloping him in her arms.
She exhaled loudly, letting a laugh escape, but it was cut off quickly when she spotted Jerdana’s form as well, arms crossed, eyebrows furrowed.
“What did I tell you about using magic for sport?” Jerdana screeched. “You’re lucky I was powerful enough so your little stunt didn’t keep me frozen in those pages forever. AND you nearly had me page-napped by the Shadow Usul. That evil whisp of smoke probably would have had a good laugh throwing me into a fire pit!”
Misha took the criticism with heart. She now understood the dangers of not being vigilant of the catastrophe’s magic could cause.
“I’m sorry,” Misha said to Marcus. “I probably won’t be able to make the pictures move anymore.”
“That’s okay,” Marcus said, holding up his tiny paws. “I think I’m all sketched out anyway!”
Date: Apr 11th