Come dance with the Wanderers... Circulation: 194,803,276 Issue: 796 | 8th day of Gathering, Y19
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by remidica


      "Hey, now. No need for theatrics, Aishy. I’m on your ssside now as long as there is neopoints involved.” Mutini laughed.

      “I SAID start talking, kad.” The small Aisha snarled.

      “Legends ssay that magic flew out of the place like a ghost taking your neopoints for the Donation Tree.” Mutini paused and looked around the room alertly. “There are alssso rumors that someone said they stole the magic from this dark hole of a guild.”

      “Stole? Guild magic? Thought faeries were the only thing with magic.” The small Aisha was confused.

      “Ahhh, my frightful Aishy, that is where you are wrong. Guild magic is more powerful than faerie magic. Guild magic creates bonds, friends, family… love.” The kadoatie coughed violently as if a hairball was caught inside it’s throat. “Faerie magic can’t create those types of.. Erm, feelingsss. They can create false senses of these, but never true. Guild magic is true, pure. Only recently discovered by a miscreant that calls themselves, Crone. “

      “Crone?” The small Aisha coughed. “What kind of name is Crone?”

      “I don’t think itsss a name, Aishy. At least that’s what hooded cloak said that spouted all this tall tale stuff out. I was in some back alley Neolodge and overheard it boasssting about guild magic. Others gathered there thought it was just sssome crazy old fool that had a little too much faerie potion. But I seen this… glowing object in its pocket. It looked valuable. Must be worth a lot of neopointsss.”

      “So, you say this Crone person was in a Neolodge boasting about taking guild magic, something that might not even exist, and had a glowing object in its pocket.” The small Aisha sighed. This did sound really far fetched. “So if it does exist, this guild magic you speak of, then why steal only one?”

      “I’m not paid enough to think Aishy.” The kadoatie smiled. The small Aisha swore she thought she seen a gleam of light pass over it’s white sharp teeth. “I wasn’t around when Conjure wasn’t this hopping dark creature party. Maybe that’s sssomething you need to find out for yourself.”

      The small Aisha thought about what the kadoatie said. She took it to heart. “You’re right. Thanks for your time, kad.” She turned and started down the hallway. She could hear the kadoatie gnawing on the neopoints behind her. She passed the great portal once more and envisioned again the great parties and life that once stood in the halls. A dark passion rose up inside her, cascading hatred burned by revenge. “How dare someone take what was so loving and good and use it for their own sick and twisted purposes! I will not stand for this. I vow to restore my guild’s magic until my last breath. I vow to make this, Crone, answer for their crime. Conjure will be restored to its once former glory of being the best guild of all of Neopia.”

      “You know, Aishy, you don’t know the outside world like I do. I could accompany you to where I seen this Crone since you’re ssso passionate about seeking out this dark revenge… for a price.” The mangy kadoatie slowly slinked up behind the small Aisha. If it knew what horrors lurked here not only a few hours before, it’s smug look wouldn’t be there anymore.

      “If I have been asleep for as long as you say I have, then don’t worry kad, I have neopoints to last you the rest of your life. I obviously have no use for them now…“ The small Aisha walked towards the now blasted away guild main doors. The vow she spoke to her guild, that burning rage she felt in her heart and even this mangy kad behind her will be the fuel to her to bring back Conjure to it’s once former glory days as the best guild in all of Neopia.

      Even if it was the last thing she ever did.

      “Why guild magic though, of all the magics out there to use? What makes it so pure compared to the rest?” The small Aisha walked along the dirt road path. They had covered a good distance in silence. The sun was set high in the sky or what little of it she could see. It was rather cloudy that day. The sun poked through the clouds as if playing hide and seek with them. Taunting them to come up to its warm rays.

      “This Crone person said it was true. Pure and strong unlike other magicsss. Apparently guild magic can be warped into other magics, untainted. Most faerie magics are give and take with other faerie magic. Itsss constantly evolving from other magics. It’s never pure one color or another. That’s why their rewards for doing good deeds is never so great.” The mangy kad walked softly behind the small Aisha. She barely noticed he was there half the time.

      “Conjure was once the greatest guild in all of Neopia. Our guild is.. Was a family. We cared deeply for our members. Our guild pride was enough to light up the night sky brighter than any nova could. We were a happy guild. A strong guild. It will be restored to that. I’ll make sure of it.” The small Aisha spoke sternly, as if every word she spoke about her guild could somehow make it return.

      “That’s probably why your guild was targeted then. Ssstrong guild must mean strong magic, or so this Crone thought.” The half furless kad pattered up beside the small Aisha.

      “Where was the last time you saw this Crone character at, anyways?” The small Aisha looked down at Mutini with searching eyes. Somehow she thought it would lie just to embezzle her out of neopoints she felt were no longer useful to her. Nothing felt useful to her anymore. She felt alone. The thought that someone so evil could desecrate something so pure as Conjure stirred hatred deep inside her. Her stride had lengthened and the mangy kad was struggling to keep up with her.

      “Hold up Aishy, you don’t know where you are going. The last place I ssseen this character was in the Haunted Woods Neolodge. He’s probably moved on since then. The world has changed a lot since you were last out. It’s not all candy paint brushes and Faerie Bubbles Brew anymore. Unlesss you learn to toughen up like me, you’ll be lights out before the day is out.” The mangy kad started at the small Aisha.

      The small Aisha looked upon the long path ahead of them. Maybe the kad was right. Maybe the world had changed. But she had also changed. She felt up to the challenge. The path they were following turned into a proper road. They could see Neopia Central ahead. She knew their journey might be long, or impossibly short. She hoped this Crone character was dumb enough to stick around long enough for her to obtain her guild magic back. If it indeed was the one that had it. This whole trip could be a wild Meerca chase and not end well for her. The kad on the other hand, would be sitting quite well on a stack of fat neopoints just to follow her around and advise.

      “Does it seem like the sky is darker?” The small Aisha asked looked up at the clouds. The clouds seemed darker and more grey as if the sun decided to run from them. She could no longer see its rays from between the clouds. It seemed like a storm was approaching.

      “My blind Aishy, it looksss as if the whole town has gotten darker. Look.” The kad stared in front of them towards Neopia Central. The small Aisha turned her sunken, black eyes towards the town. Disbelief sank her heart into her stomach.

      The whole town was empty. Not one single Neopian was in sight. There were no busy bodies running in and out of the town shops. Not a single light in the windows. The doors were shut and locked up. Blinds were drawn. Food carts were overturned and smashed on the cobblestone. As they walked into the town square, they could see personal items left behind: toys, books, coats and hats. Boxes were broken into small shards of wood. It was desolate, quiet and unsettling.

      “What happened here? Where are all the Neopians? Why is there so much destruction here? Did the world truly change this much while I was gone?” The small Aisha stared in wonder.

      “No, Aissshy, it wasn’t like this when I came through here not only a day ago.” The mangy kad had sniffed its way through from broken debris to find an unshattered box of Chococherry Blumaroo Ears. It started munching them up as fast as it could. Chocolate bits flew as it munched away. The sight of it almost made the small Aisha sick.

      “Whoa, Mutini, slow down. Those cookies will give you a gut ache if you don’t take it easy.” The small Aisha’s stomach churned.

      “Maybe when you are me you will understand that you never know when your next meal will come. I don’t have time to sit and be merry and enjoy my food. Sssomeone might come along and want it more than me! You don’t understand this world and how hard it is to live in now, Aishy, so keep that pretty sharp yapper zipped. I advise you to do the same thing. Find something so we can move on out of this place before whatever caused this finds us as its next snack.” Mutini munched away.

      The kad had a point. The small Aisha thought about it. She wasn’t actually hungry. She felt no true hunger. She did feel warmer, all over, the further away she was from the guild headquarters though. It seemed the closer she got to town, the warmer she felt. She wondered if it was because of her new skin.

      Looking away from the sickening sight of the kad slurping down chocolate like it was its last meal, she decided to investigate the clothing shop on the square. She had observed earlier when the sun was playing peek a boo between the clouds that her skin was rather shiny. She needed to fix that.

      She pushed open the door and waited. She listened but heard no sound. The small Aisha guessed they truly were alone in this Jhudora forsaken town. She looked around for something, anything that would help hide her skin from the light. Her eyes fell upon a rack in the back filled with cloaks. Ah ha!

      The small Aisha grabbed a black coat from the rack and slipped in on over her body. It was slightly big on her petite frame. But it would have to do. She noticed it was mixed both black and a dark brown. You could see straight through it, but not her body. Strange. It had a dulled shimmer like dozens of novas frozen in mid shine. It looked reflective until she held it up to the light. It didn’t reflect back. Perfect.

      She wanted to move forward to find this Crone. She slipped back outside to see Mutini finishing its sugar rush it would undoubtedly regret later. The small Aisha did as well, already. Her stomach churned knots again.

      “Did you find what you needed Aishy? We need to ssstart moving.” The mangy kad said as it licked its paws. It turned its head away from the direction of the small Aisha and let a rumble felt from its toes unleash through it’s mouth. The small Aisha was slightly disgusted and impressed at the same time. The acoustics of an empty town was rather impressive.

      “Where to next, kad?“

      “Out of here so we’re not eaten like I did that chocolate. We need to press on to the Haunted Woods.” Mutini jumped down.

      They started out of the town, passing derelict shops when momentarily the small Aisha became flushed with warmth. The thought maybe it was her cloak so she unbuttoned the front. They continued on their way out of town when she was hit with the flooding feeling of warm tingles and she stopped.

      “Aishy, we need to pick up the pace. What’s the hold up?” The kad turned to see the small Aisha stopped in her tracks. The heat reminded her of the midday sun when she had skin, her brown, tanned skin. It brought back memories of the jewels on her body glittering in the rays of bright golden sunlight. “AISHY!”

      The small Aisha snapped out of her memories and back to reality. She looked around her. She noticed that her face seemed cold and them warm as she turned. She faced the warmth and stepped towards it. She could almost taste the humid desert air. She stepped closer and realized she was outside of Kauvara's Magic Shop. She stepped through broken doors, not caring about the mangy kad following her, begging her to snap back to reality, questioning her motives.

      She could see the sun again in front of her. She could hear the summer breeze whistling across the sand dunes. She could see the blurry rays around the sparking blue desert oasis she used to visit. She could reach out and touch the rough, bumpy stone pyramids and the soft colorful cotton sheets. She could smell the crisp fresh scent of the palm leaves around her. She could feel… an invisible object in her way. She couldn’t pass it. She could see her old life in front of her. She yearned for it. Her hunger drove her to be back there. She could see her guild! She could see her guild mates! This wall was blocking her! The anger swelled up inside her like a cork off a Bottle of Steam. She gnarled her face as the hunger took over. She clawed at the invisible object. She bashed it with her unbreakable glass hands. She used every ounce of her hatred she could muster to break it down. She wanted her guild back. She needed her life back. She could hear them calling her: AISHY! AISHY!

      “That’s not my name!” The small Aisha thought. Something wasn’t right. She stopped.

      She snapped back into reality.

      “AISHY, WAKE UP!” The mangy kad had latched onto the small Aisha’s cloak trying to gain control over whatever had happened to her. The small Aisha wheezed heavily as her vision of the sand softly faded back to reality. She didn’t understand what had happened to her. She couldn’t fathom what could have overcome here like that. She had never acted that way before. She looked down at her hands and noticed she had been clawing at a large black glossy safe, or what was left of it.

      “You back in the living world, Aishy? What was that? What happened? Not that I was ssscared or anything. Heh. You went Korbaty out of nowhere! You looked like you wanted something badly out of this safe… Hey, maybe there is a fortune in there! Let’s check!” The half hairless kad jumped off the small Aisha’s back onto the floor. It sniffed at the debris formerly know as the safe. It coiled back. “I don’t think it’s neopoints in there, but whatever it is stinks like a rotten negg!”

      The small Aisha grabbed the now half broken safe door and with all the strength she could, broke the door from the lock. She opened the safe door and peered inside. Inside, the safe contained a small, worn, slightly chewed up yellow Baby Faellie Plushie Friend. It was slightly dirty and was covered in small rips. It warmed the small Aisha’s hand as she held it.

      “What is thisss worthless trinket? Why was it in a safe? It’s a broken chew toy.” The kad remarked. Its dismissal of the faellie plushie made her flash back. It was a favorite toy of the guild’s petpets. A little zomutt would carry this toy around the guild. It was rarely seen without it. It also wouldn’t go to sleep at night without it. Many times the guild members would wash it so it wasn’t so bad and would usually have to distract her with guild treats to keep it away long enough to do so.

      “It’s not a worthless trinket. It was a favorite toy of some of the members inside Conjure. It holds magic. I can feel it in my hand, it’s warmth. It's magic. Maybe that’s why I went Korbaty like I did. I’ve never done that before.” The small Aisha held it tight.

      “You were out of it for awhile Aissshy. Now we know what you went Count Roo Roo over, we need to get a move on and make it to Haunted Woods before dark. There are thingsss in the woods that even are scarier than you like that.” The kad silently pitter padded out the door of the shop. The small Aisha tucked the plushie into her cloak pocket and followed suite.

      She wondered if she reacted the same to the plushie as if the black creatures did to her necklace when she first awoke. She wondered if they sensed the magic of her necklace and the hunger than drove her, also drove them. She worried maybe nothing of her former guild mates were even inside those creatures. Maybe they were just husks. Could she sense magic as warmth? Was that why she could feel the desert’s heat?

      They left the town behind them and followed the cobblestone path until it turned into a single dirt road once again. The small Aisha could see the dark wooded area in the distance. They had a lot of ground to cover.

      She was worried that once she reached this Crone character, if they ever found him, that she would react the same way as she did to the plushie… as the black creatures did. The notion truly scared her. She worried about what the kad seen through its eyes as she did this. It was probably a very frightening sight to behold.

      “So what who should we talk to if we don’t find this Crone character at the Haunted Woods neolodge? I don’t think it’s still there. Surely, it’d had moved on by now to do whatever it was going to do with the guild magic.” The small was determined to get her guild magic back.

      “If we don’t find this Crone, we should talk to the Neolodge manager. Ssshe has always been a person filled with all sorts of knowledge about everyone and everything. She should have the answersss you are looking for. “The kad almost snorted it laughed so hard as it spoke.

      “What’s so funny, kad?” The small Aisha was perplexed over it laughing so. She didn’t think a little mean kad like this was capable of laughter. She found it quite cute… for once.

      “You’ll find out soon enough, Aissshy. You’ll find out soon enough.” The kad continued to cackle as they walked.


      To be continued…

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