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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 16th day of Eating, Yr 26
The Neopian Times Week 112 > Short Stories > Old Mother Charm

Old Mother Charm

by arden_starr

"This is very serious," Doctor Neolittle announced, adjusting his stethoscope carefully. "Very serious indeed."

     Landri the spotted Kougra was fast asleep under the covers of the bed, her face unusually pale and her fur damp with sweat. Her mother, Arden sat next to her. She clutched Landri's paw with her own hand and wept silently. Landri's brother Dayon the silver Zafara stood nearby, watching grimly.

     "She's been ill for weeks, and there's absolutely nothing more I can do," Doctor Neolittle continued, buttoning up his white surgical coat. "I have never seen anything like it -- I mean, her symptoms are similar to Neomonia, but much worse. And none of the cures will work on her! I'm afraid there is nothing more I can possibly do. If she makes it through the night, ring me in the morning and I will come around, and- and tend to her last few hours." The blue Gelert walked over to the door and turned around to face the family.

     "Thank you for your work here Doctor," Arden said shakily, looking up from her ill daughter. "I appreciate all the work you have put into helping Landri, no matter how fruitless."

     "It is okay Miss Starr," Doctor Neolittle smiled, though his face was grave. "I am sorry I couldn't be any more of assistance, but I think you will find nobody in the whole of Neopia can help Landri now."

     "Nobody?" said Dayon quietly, speaking for the first time in three hours. His grey eyes turned to face the Gelert, who flinched at the brightness of them. "Doctor, there is somebody who can help Landri isn't there?" He said it more as a statement than a question.

     Doctor Neolittle hesitated. "Well... maybe -- but I have never seen a case of this for many years and besides -- well I don't think --," he gabbled, but Dayon held up a thin silver paw to halt him.

     "If there is a way, tell me," Dayon answered firmly. "I have read all about it in books sir, I know what I am talking about."

     "Fine," Doctor Neolittle sighed. "There is a way to help Landri, but it is so dangerous I don't think it wise at all Master Starr. It is a foolish thing to do."

     "Anything to save my sister's life," Dayon said.

     "What? What is it?" Arden demanded, glancing from her Zafara son to the Gelert doctor quickly.

     "There is a way to save Landri's life madam," the Doctor replied reluctantly, knowing he would have to tell them. "Forgive me for not telling you before, but I did not wish to make things worse. Landri's illness is a very rare, very fatal one that only person can cure in the whole of Neopia. That person is avoided by everyone around here."

     "Old Mother Charm," Dayon whispered fearfully, and clutched his mother's arm. The Doctor nodded.

     "Yes, she is the only one who can help her," Doctor Neolittle continued. "She alone has the ancient potion to revive Landri, and rid her of the illness that plights her. It is out of the question for Dayon to visit her no doubt."

     Dayon shuddered; everyone avoided Old Mother Charm. She was a nutty old Chia that lived in a ramshackle cottage nearby, and was said to be a witch. There were many rumours about her -- that she could kill someone by simply staring into their eyes, she made potions and cursed people who came onto her land, that if you touched her you turned to stone -- Dayon was intelligent and didn't believe the legends, but still, he would rather avoid her.

     "It certainly is out of the question," Arden cried, her lip trembling. "I am already going to lose a daughter, I don't want to lose a son as well!"

     "I am going, mother!" Dayon said gravely, glancing at his sister. Landri looked, if possible, even worse; her cheeks were tinged with grey and she looked deadened already. Time was running out.

     "You are serious, aren't you?" Arden whispered to her son. She had always had respect for both of her pets, but Dayon was always the mature one, and she trusted him immensely. "Then go son," she said bravely, and kissed him on his silver cheek. The Doctor said his goodbyes and left hurriedly, glad to be away from their NeoHome, where the stench of sickness hung in the air.

     "I will go to Old Mother Charm," Dayon said. "I will be as quick as I can, and get this cure from her that will help Landri. I will return as fast as my legs can carry me, Mother." He hugged her, and then turned to leave.

     "Goodbye son," Arden called after him. "Hurry now."

     Dayon stepped out into the cool air and shuddered. He closed the green door behind him and glanced around him: same as usual. Same block of NeoHomes, same mounds of grass, same dark indigo sky and the same rippling sea nearby. He began jogging across the grass, to the disfigured shape in the distance that was Old Mother Charm's cottage.

     He stopped at the front of her garden, hesitating with fear. Her garden was full of weeds and overgrown plants, with a tree in the corner that creaked in the breeze. A concrete path wound its way up to the wooden door, which was the entrance to the ramshackle cottage where Old Mother Charm lived. A snake of smoke slithered its way up from the chimney above. Dayon shuddered. Now was not the time to get nervous, he thought to himself. His sister Landri was laying close to death at home, while he stood here and worried himself over silly rumours.

     He slowly made his way up the pathway, stopping every now and then to peer into the black windows, but he could see nothing. Soon he was at the door, and cautiously knocked. He waited patiently, but it was several minutes before there was any sign of life. Eventually the door swung open, and Old Mother Charm stood there, smiling strangely.

     "Hello," she said croakily. "I've been expecting you, Dayon."

     She was small and pure white and wrinkled with age, though her unusual yellow eyes still looked young. She enveloped her body in a long flapping grey cloak, and on her shoulder a Frogarott sat staring at Dayon benignly. Dayon stepped backward, shocked, and to Dayon's surprise Old Mother Charm began laughing in a crackling voice.

     "Frightened of me eh?" she asked, obviously amused. "Well, you're not the first. Come in, come in." She ushered the stunned Zafara into the doorway and closed the door, shuffling along a gloomy black hallway. "Follow me," she ordered, and Dayon took after her until they turned into a large dark room. A cauldron bubbled and simmered over a fire in the corner. There were three huge cabinets full to bursting with bottles and vials, and nearby a huge bookcase towered over them, brimming with large, dusty books. Old Mother Charm pulled out a three-legged stool and motioned for Dayon to sit down.

     "Sit down please Dayon," she said, and he did, rather nervously. For a few seconds there was complete silence as Old Mother Charm tended to her cauldron, stirring it with a large wooden spoon.

     "How do you know my name?" Dayon said finally, glancing around in awe at his surroundings.

     "I know a lot of things," she answered firmly, as though there was nothing more to say on that subject. "Now, why are you frightened of me?" she spoke calmly, and when she turned to face Dayon her eyes were full of sadness.

     "I cannot lie, I was," he said shakily. "But now -- I don't know why, but I am not. I was afraid because, I suppose I didn't understand you. Well, I still don't."

     "No, you don't, and you never will. Nobody understands the past." Old Mother Charm began reaching into her cabinet, and pulled out a large crystal vial, full of blue liquid. "Here is the potion that will cure your sister. Carry it carefully, and make sure she drinks every drop. Give her rest for a few days." She handed it to Dayon, who held it like a baby and cradled it in his long furry arms.

     "Old Mother Charm," he said timidly. "What is wrong?"

     "That is not my name," she sighed. "Not my name at all, but then those days were long, long ago." She sprinkled something in her cauldron, and began stirring it again. "There is nothing wrong my boy. The troubled times are over now."

     "I am not afraid," Dayon said boldly, though his heart was beating fast. "Tell me your troubles." Old Mother Charm smiled again.

     "You are a very clever boy," she said quietly. "It is time for you to go; hurry to your sister, she needs you. We shall meet again soon."

*****

"Oh you're back!" Arden exclaimed joyfully, rushing to hug Dayon, who stepped backwards quickly.

     "Careful mother, the potion!" he answered warningly, and hurried over to his sister's bedside. She was still asleep, but her eyes were sunken, and he knew without this vial she would definitely die. Arden stood beside him, at a loss of what to say. Everything relied on this potion: everything.

     He removed the stopper, and poured the steady blue trickle of liquid into Landri's open mouth, until it was all gone. He and his mother watched with bated breath as the Spotted Kougra regained some of her usual colour, and her eyes flickered.

     "What's going on?" she whispered, as Arden let out a stifled cry of delight. "I saw a Chia."

     "There is no Chia dear," Arden beamed. "I'm so happy!"

     Dayon could feel someone watching him. He turned to the window and could just make out a wizened face smiling at him, from the darkness outside. He knew who it was. He smiled back, safe in the knowledge that his sister would live.

*****

Old Mother Charm watched the scene from outside the window, particularly paying attention to the Silver Zafara. He's a smart one, she thought to herself, stamping her feet in the brisk cold air. Clutching her tattered cloak tight to her, she turned to leave.

     "Time to go, Warty," she whispered to the Frogarott on her shoulder.

     "Ribbit," was the Frogarott's reply. She laughed softly.

     "Yes, I agree, Warty," she answered. "There is something special about him. We can expect to see a lot more from him in the future. Oh yes we can."

     And with that the old witch shuffled away, cackling merrily. This wouldn't be the last she saw of Dayon the Silver Zafara, far from it.

The End

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