The Witches Ride Again: Part Two
“Don’t you remember what happened last time?” Sophie asked Harry as the four figures marched through the woods.
“What do you mean?” Harry asked her.
“The Brain Tree sent us to the Esophagor, who sent us to the Brain Tree. In the end we had to dig up half the woods to find what we were looking for,” Sophie explained, recalling the events of the restoration of Neovia.
“So that’s what all the holes were about,” Edna commented. “I fell down one while I was out collecting herbs. I shouted for ages; no one came to help. In the end I had to magic myself out. I frayed a perfectly good cloak falling in, though. It would have been nice if you had given me some notice you were digging holes in front of my door.”
“Anyway, my point is that the Brain Tree isn’t exactly helpful all the time, or any of the time for that matter,” Sophie persisted.
“Well, have you got a better idea?” Harry asked. “The Brain Tree knows almost everything. He’s our best chance at finding Kauvara.”
The four of them trudged on in silence. Morguss was carrying Kauvara’s hat, staring at it intently as the stars shimmered under the dirt.
“I just can’t understand why she’d leave it behind... Kauvara can put up a fight against most people. She’s a witch, after all,” she said eventually.
“Well, you don’t wear a hat; maybe she doesn’t need hers,” Harry pointed out.
Morguss glared at him.
“I wear a shawl, don’t I?” Morguss replied abrasively. “That not good enough for you? Doesn’t have to be a black hat to be a proper witch’s hat, does it? Know a lot about the occult significance of headwear, do you?”
Harry understood the question was rhetorical and remained silent. Soon enough, the four of them emerged into the large clearing that made up most of the wood’s civilisation, from Edna’s dilapidated tower to the labyrinthine mass of Eliv Thade’s mansion. The pulsating mass of the Brain Tree was nearby. It stood ominously in the moonlight, almost waiting for them.
“Brain Tree, we have a question for you,” Harry stated as they approached.
“That isn’t how it works,” the Brain Tree boomed flatly. “I ask you the questions, and you give me the answers. Now, tell me when and where Ethan Chiapot died, and I shall reward you.”
The tree’s branches creaked slightly as it talked.
“See? I told you; he’s difficult on purpose, I’m sure,” Sophie said triumphantly.
“We don’t care about Ethan Chiapot,” Morguss told the Brain Tree, “but we need to know where Kauvara is.”
“How should I know?” the Brain Tree boomed.
“Because you are the Brain Tree,” Harry shouted. “You know everything!”
“Clearly I do not, or I wouldn’t sit here asking about dead Neopets all day, would I?” the Brain Tree reasoned.
“We’re not going to get anywhere with him...” Sophie muttered.
“In fact,” the Brain Tree mused, “is it even possible to know everything? Think about it logically; could one brain hold all the information in the universe? Surely to know everything would be to know infinity, would it not? Can anything truly comprehend infinity?”
“Listen, do you know where Kauvara is or not?” Edna said angrily.
“Perhaps I do, perhaps I do not,” the Brain Tree replied, “but telling me when and where Ethan Chiapot died might jog my memory.”
Morguss sighed heavily.
“Why do you put up with him?” she asked. Without waiting for an answer, she walked purposefully toward the tree, stopped a few metres away, and thrust out her hands in an occult fashion.
“What are you doing?” the Brain Tree asked.
“Magic,” Morguss replied in a powerful but simple voice.
From the tips of her fingers came bright green flashes and sparks, and a powerful wind seemed to come from nowhere, but it made the cloaks of the witches billow.
“I am immune to your simple magic!” the Brain Tree laughed.
“We’ll see,” Morguss muttered.
There was a bright flash, which subsided quickly. The spell was finished. It didn’t become clear for a few moments exactly what had happened, but then all eyes drifted up to a small yellow orb that had appeared in the air above the Brain Tree. It radiated heat, so much that they couldn’t look at it for long without their eyes beginning to hurt.
“This fireball will stay with you, never diminishing unless I make it do so,” Morguss explained.
“Pitiful,” the Brain Tree mocked.
“For one so knowledgeable, I would have thought you would know what will happen,” Morguss said lightly, dusting off her fingers.
“What do you mean?” the Brain Tree asked.
“You are a tree, are you not?” she asked. “Trees require water to live, do they not? This fire will boil the water in you and the ground surrounding you. You will shrivel up, ending your life as a husk of a tree.”
The Brain Tree creaked nervously.
“Very well,” it replied, “Kauvara is in Neopia Central, in the magic shop.”
“What?” Edna asked.
“I’m surprised you needed me to find out; it’s common knowledge,” the Brain Tree told them.
“But then why is her hat in the woods?” Morguss asked, brandishing the hat.
“It seems to me that she has found a different hat to wear. I saw her leaving the woods only a few days ago wearing it. She has returned to Neopia Central. Now please, the fireball...” the Brain Tree explained.
“A different hat...” Edna muttered as Morguss dismissed the fireball.
“Thank you for your help,” Harry said graciously to the tree.
“It still seems a bit fishy to me,” Morguss told them as they walked away. “Just leaving a magical hat behind, not disposing of it? It doesn’t sound like Kauvara at all. There is only one thing to do; we shall have to go to Neopia Central.”
“Do we have to? I’m sure it’ll all work out... and you know how cosmopolitan Neopia Central is,” Sophie complained.
Harry couldn’t be sure, but he thought Sophie intended ‘cosmopolitan’ to be an insult.
“It’s our duty; we have to investigate,” Morguss told them. “Besides, if she’s still been collecting mushrooms, that means she’s still making anti-magic items for someone. We have to put a stop to that, at least.”
Grudgingly, Sophie agreed.
“So, how are we getting to Neopia Central?” Harry asked enthusiastically.
The witches rounded on him.
“We,” Edna said plainly, “are going by broomstick. No offence, but this is witch business, and you are not a witch. Besides, after we found Kauvara, you’d only ask us for prizes. That’s the sort of thing you people do. Or, even worse, hand us over to the Defenders of Neopia for some petty crime.”
The three witches marched off before Harry could protest. A few minutes later, there were high-pitched cackles and three broomsticks rose up into the night, silhouetted against the moon. They flew off towards Neopia Central at speed. Harry looked around for a few minutes, and then headed off to the Esophagor, figuring someone might as well find out when and where Ethan Chiapot died.
“Did anyone bring any soup?” Edna asked the other witches as the winds battered her face.
The three witches were flying side by side through the night sky. Ahead of them on the horizon, dawn was breaking; it would be morning when they reached Neopia Central, and it would be alive with business.
“Nope,” Morguss replied.
“Didn’t have much time; I was cooking some up when that silly adventurer disturbed me,” Sophie told Edna.
“I’m quite peckish really,” she said to herself.
Below them, the last remnants of the woods faded away, replaced instead by the endless plains that stretched out over the landscape. Kiko Lake, Brightvale and Neopia Central were dots in the distance.
“Misleading really,” Morguss commented.
“What is?” Sophie asked.
“The Endless Plains... I mean, they quite clearly do have an end. No such thing as infinity,” she replied knowingly.
“It’s just a saying; the Lost Desert isn’t exactly lost anymore,” Sophie told her.
“Well, maybe they should rename it,” Morguss suggested.
“To the Found Desert, or perhaps the Desert We’ve Located?” Sophie said mockingly.
“It was only a suggestion. It gives tourists the wrong impression,” Morguss replied. “Now the Darigan Citadel, that’s a good self-explanatory name, or the Haunted Woods.”
“Come to think of it,” Edna said, “Mystery Island isn’t much of a mystery anymore.”
“Can’t remember the last reported case of scurvy on Scurvy Island,” Morguss added.
Sophie sighed. That was the thing with the older witches; nothing was good enough unless they made it themselves. She wondered if she would be like that when she got older.
“It’s been ages since I’ve been to Neopia Central,” Edna said after a while.
“I can’t be doing with foreign parts,” Morguss agreed. “Going to the woods is bad enough.”
“Still, we needn’t go straight to Kauvara...” Edna ventured. “We could see the sights first.”
Morguss glared at Edna.
“Just to see that things are in their proper places,” Edna pleaded.
Morguss continued her sceptical glare.
“Oh alright, but can we at least go to the Soup Kitchen? I could kill for something to eat,” Edna conceded.
Morguss considered this.
“Alright, it’d do no good running about after Kauvara on an empty stomach anyway,” she said eventually.
Dawn broke on the horizon, and the three broomsticks were bathed in golden light.
The witches were going abroad.
To be continued...