What's in a Name?: Part Four
Morguss – A corruption of the old Darigan name Morcas, meaning 'Corruption' or 'Rottenness'.
Morguss, the mother of the coven. If there's one witch that doesn't deserve the name she was given, it's Morguss. Outwardly, she's an ugly mutated crone, a victim of the blight that fell over all of the Darigan Citadel in the lead up to the Meridell wars. But that's just the shell of Morguss. Inside, at her core, she's a completely different person.
I always found her the most caring of the witches, though that's hardly difficult. She's certainly the most patient. Perhaps this is because she's been a witch all her life, but she's also raised a family. Hardly a nuclear family unit, her daughter became known as the Court Dancer, a duplicitous servant of Lord Kass, but a family all the same.
But like most mothers, the caring and patience can evaporate in an instant, revealing a darker side to the witch that you wouldn't want to cross. That's what led her to help Kass during the second war, fear for her family, and the desire to protect it.
She could have done so much more in that war, her powerful magic alone could have defended the Citadel for years. Morguss stopped short of realising her full potential, out of fear. Fear that embracing the dark side of her personality might lead her away from the family she had protected all those years. The fear has crippled her ever since, making her so much weaker than she needs to be.
What's the point of having such power if you cannot use it because of your own fears?
She won't need to worry about such fears for much longer.
She's an old witch, but her time has come.
"Our... names?" Morguss asked.
Edna nodded. "Try saying them."
Morguss once again tried to form her own name in her throat, followed by that of Sophie and Edna, but found the words would not arrive.
"Someone must have stolen them, that's the only thing we can think of," Sophie supplied.
"But... the Wisp isn't powerful enough to muster that kind of magic," Morguss pointed out as the other two helped her back to her feet.
"Maybe not, but I'm starting to think that the Wisp might not have turned up as an act of chance," Edna considered. "I think it might have been summoned, to keep us distracted while darker magic was at work."
"You think we've been targeted?" Morguss asked.
Certainly, the Witches had lots of enemies, but few were powerful enough to muster such complicated magic.
"We must have been," Sophie said, standing up straight. "King Altador, Queen Fyora, the Shop Wizard, the Brain Tree, Ilere, Bruno, Mayor Thumburt. You see? It's just us, everyone else is fine, magical or no."
"We have to find out who did this, and stop them," Morguss said. "This can't be the end of their plan. The Wisp can wait."
"It escaped, then?" Edna asked.
"It was cornered in the lantern, but it moved when it hit me, I could feel it," Morguss explained. "It might be out of the town by now. If it meets a traveller, it could be anywhere. And we're so close to dawn!"
"It can't be helped," Edna said. "Without our names, we're in no condition to fight a Wisp."
Because there was something the Witches weren't saying, because each already knew it to their core. There was no sense repeating it - that would only rub salt in the wound.
Names are such individual things, given at birth and used throughout life. They are tied to a person's soul, part of them that can never really be removed, even if someone takes an alias or tries to escape who they are. On the inside, the name remains – and that gives them power. Power over memories and emotions, and in the case of those who can use it, power over magic.
The ability to remove someone's name was complex magic, and couldn't be done by many. But, if successful, it would give the spell caster control over a portion of the target's magic, and destabilised the rest.
The Witches would still be able to use their magic, but it would be limited and unreliable. In such a condition, they wouldn't be able to find and trap a Wisp, let alone defend themselves against one. They might not be able to challenge whoever it was that had stolen their names.
"We should head back to..." Morguss said, struggling to find Edna's name. "Back to... back to your tower. We might be able to use something there to find answers."
The Witches headed off towards the Woods, leaving Neovia deserted and in eerie silence.
The little wooden caravan rattled on through the night, the rider atop was bundled in robes and thick scarves to protect against the night. Up ahead in the path, he saw a small orb of light bouncing in the night air.
Gradually, he brought the Whinnies pulling the caravan to a stop, and climbed down from his perch. He took a small lantern from the side of the caravan and ventured forwards in front of the Whinnies.
"Hello?" he called out. "Is someone there?"
The orb of light seemed to bob slightly. It was flickering, as if on the verge of going out.
"Are you alright?" the driver tried again.
There was a bright flash, and the orb was gone. The lantern in the driver's hand flickered.
"What's going on?" a voice from inside the caravan shouted.
A Chia poked his head out of the window.
"There was something in the road," the driver explained.
"It's gone now," the driver added. "Just disappeared."
"You've been listening to too many gypsy stories," the Chia said dismissively. "We don't have time to waste on fantasies, we need to reach Neopia Central quickly or our delivery will be late. We're already behind schedule thanks to you insisting that we stop over at that creepy gypsy camp back there."
"We needed to eat!" the driver pointed out as he returned to his position at the front of the caravan. "Besides, I didn't hear you complaining when you were eating your third helping of dinner."
"That's not the point!" the Chia replied. "We're late! Get a move on! This caravan doesn't stop until we reach the city!"
The Chia returned to his place inside the caravan. The driver meanwhile placed the lantern back on its holder and cracked the reins on the Whinnies. The Petpets set off again, carrying the caravan off into the night, a pale light travelling through the darkness.
Inside the light, the Wisp waited, eyes full of relief. The caravan had come across it right as it was running out of energy. Another few minutes and it would have been gone. Now it was safe inside the lantern, and far away from those who were hunting it.
From the sound of it, the caravan was heading towards some sort of city. That meant lights, lots of lights, far more than the town it had just been in. It also meant lots of people – and lots of people meant lots of food.
If the Wisp had possessed feet, it would have thought it had landed on them.
The three Witches burst back into Edna's tower and headed straight for the kitchen. The Witch owned many rare and potent magical ingredients that might help them reverse the magic, or at least find the person responsible.
When they found in the kitchen was something they were not expecting. The place was a mess, more so than usual. Broken potion bottles and ingredients littered the floor; there were scorch marks all over the kitchen table. The cauldron in the fireplace had burned dry, as if someone had been using it to brew a lot of potions. There was the stench of evil cookery in the air, and the tingle of magic was present.
Someone had been using Edna's kitchen for magic while the Witches had been out.
"Whoever cast the spell must have done it here," Sophie observed.
"The girl," Edna sighed. "We left her right here."
Cara, the young Wocky, was conspicuous by her absence.
"She was the one who told me about the Wisp in the first place," Edna added. "No wonder, she probably summoned it."
"But, she didn't seem magical in the slightest," Sophie pointed out.
"It must have been her, though," Morguss said. "Nothing else makes sense. We have to find her."
"Little old me?" a voice from the doorway asked sweetly.
Cara was standing there. The little yellow Wocky still looked as innocent as ever, aside from a ruthless smirk that looked out of place on her, like graffiti on a statue.
The Witches could see more of her though. There was still no magical aura surrounding her as far as they could see, and without magical power she would have been unable to levitate a spoon, let alone cast the type of magic she appeared to have.
But there was something else, a kind of spiritual blurring on the edge of vision. It was if she was hiding who she really was.
A shape shifter.
"Who are you?" Edna demanded.
Cara smiled, "So you've finally cottoned on, have you, Edna?"
Edna flinched at the sound of a name she could no longer use, a name that had been stolen from her.
Cara held out her hands in front of her, performing some kind of magic. The image of the Wocky began to blur, changing and blending into a new form. A magical aura that the three Witches immediately recognised was the first part of the new form to blossom into life. It was exceptionally powerful, and now was even more so. Edna, Sophie, and Morguss each recognised the little part of their magic that had been stolen along with their name that had now been added to the aura.
The physical form of the Witch followed soon after, sprouting up from the little girl into a taller form. Light green and white shot out across the form and settled into a dappled pattern, while deep purple hues solidified around her middle to form a dress.
Before them now stood a very familiar Witch, one grinning with triumph and madness.
It was Morguss who voiced the disbelief the Witches were feeling.
To be continued...