An Unlucky Day: Part Two
Evinti awakened, disoriented. For a moment, he had absolutely no idea where he could possibly be. That quickly passed as he looked around and remembered the cottage. He couldn’t hear the rain, so the storm had probably passed. Excellent, now he could continue to Faerieland. He probably only had about another couple of days’ travel left and couldn’t wait to arrive. This unpleasant journey would be all worth it if he could get his curse removed.
Evinti put on the few items of clothing that he had set to dry, which were still unfortunately damp, and exited the cottage.
What?! At first his brain was unable to comprehend the sight that met him outside. That was impossible! The door that had opened to a quiet country lane when he entered it now separated the cottage from thick, dark woodland that was so ominous it could only be one place: the Haunted Woods.
Blinking hard several times and rubbing his eyes did not change the scene. How was this possible? His numb shock was beginning to give way to panic. Could this be a dream? No, it felt real and the scene wasn’t strange enough to be from one of his dreams. Magic was probably involved. Maybe the doorway was a portal of some kind and walking back through would return him to the road? It was worth a shot.
One failed attempt to teleport later, Evinti was back in the woods; his disbelief had finally given way entirely to panic. He was lost in the woods. The Haunted Woods. His life was at serious risk; he might never make it out! Life-threatening danger was rarely something that he had to face. He would just wander around until he met with one of the many malevolent beings that inhabited this Fyora-forsaken place. What was he going to do? He had absolutely no experience with the wilderness. Neopia Central might be called the concrete jungle, but the city was far easier to navigate. Even the most crowded, dangerous, maze-like neighborhoods could be navigated if you kept your wits about you, but in the forest he could wander in circles without knowing it and not all of the dangerous inhabitants could be reasoned with. Evinti was doomed. His luck had been so terrible lately; there was no way he could find his way out of this dangerous wilderness.
Evinti’s entire body trembled and he felt nauseated as panic and dread coiled inside of him. Strangely detached and lightheaded, he wondered what he was going to do next. Collapsing in a sobbing pile of wretchedness sounded quite appealing just at the moment, but it wouldn’t help a thing. What he really needed to do was calm down and formulate a plan. His first task was to stop panicking.
Sitting down, Evinti forced himself to take deep breaths. Funny, until he started calming himself, he hadn’t even noticed that he was hyperventilating. Okay, what was the best plan? He needed to get moving. No one knew where he was, after all. So the plan of waiting in one spot for a search party was right out. What else had he read about what to do when lost in the wilderness? Something about water. If he followed running water he had a good chance of finding civilization, right? That had a possibility of working. Hopefully, maybe, there was a small chance... Well, at least it was a plan. With a new sense of purpose to stave off his underlying fear, Evinti went off in search of water.
Before he was able to take twenty steps, a voice spoke from the shadowy woods. “It looks like our trap has finally snared some prey.”
Evinti froze. The unnatural coldness and cruelty in the high pitched voice made his fur stand on edge. Fear stabbed through him and tried to run, only to find that he couldn’t move. Only his eyes remained mobile. How could this be happening? It was like an even worse dream.
It was just typical that his dire situation would somehow get worse. Outrage suddenly replaced his panic. This day had gone from bad to worse to terrible to potentially life threatening and still it continued to race downhill. He tried to open his mouth to give his mysterious attacker a piece of his mind. No joy; like most of the rest of his body, his mouth refused to obey. Instead, Evinti concentrated on glaring evilly at the forms that materialized from the impenetrable gloom and fog of the forest. There were three, clearly Faeries of some sort, or a twisted imitation. Darker than Earth Faeries, but with vines twisting in their hair, they fit no description Evinti had ever heard. Of course, their malicious smiles of alarmingly sharp teeth were hardly befitting of kind, generous Faeries. Actually, the more he looked at them, the less they looked like Faeries. Definitely not good.
“He’s just what we need. Malira, bring him with us. Look at his little glare; this one has spunk. Just what we need,” she repeated. Her tone was condescending with a cruel edge. Evinti felt a sort of aggressive rage building inside of him. How unlike him. While he was easily frustrated and annoyed, he rarely felt actually angry. Had he developed a sudden violent streak or was the Faerie messing with his mind? None of the Faeries’ expressions showed anything other than malevolent amusement, so it was impossible to know.
The strange quartet set off. The Faerie who had spoken led with the other two walking side-by-side behind her. A meter or so beyond them, Evinti floated just barely above the ground, occasionally bumping a rock or tree root.
The leader began to speak. “Do you both remember what we need to do?” Without waiting for a response, she answered for her companions “No, of course not. It has been a long time after all. That stupid Cybunny keeps ruining our fun. Just make sure you don’t—” She suddenly broke off. “Vari, cast a cone of silence spell on him. That look in his eye tells me he’ll try to escape even if he has to shoot lasers from his eyes through sheer force of will.” Her obnoxious giggle at her own excuse for a joke was the last thing Evinti heard before sound deserted him. This just kept getting better and better.
At least the trip gave him a chance to think undisturbed. The Faeries apparently needed him for some sort of ritual, probably as a sacrifice. Escape was impossible; he couldn’t move or even speak, not to mention that they had magic while Evinti was basically useless in a fight. He should probably just give up now and resign himself to whatever fate awaited him.
It suddenly came to his attention that they had stopped moving. The Faeries looked furious and they all glared at something behind him. A bright white light began to glow, getting steadily more intense until Evinti passed out.
For the second time that day Evinti found himself awakening disoriented in a cottage. This time, however, he was on a makeshift cot and he was not alone. A Christmas Cybunny who was stirring something in a cauldron shared the room. She looked at him.
“Oh, you’re awake. Excellent! I was worried that my magic was too much for you; you’re very sensitive to it, you know.” The Cybunny spoke a little faster than Evinti’s tired brain could follow, so it took him several moments to register what she had said. Something about her voice made him realize that he had a terrible headache.
“What? Who? Who are you, and what’s going on? What happened?”
“Oh! I suppose that you might want to know that.” She smiled apologetically. “My name is Queet. I’m a hedge-witch and I live in this cottage in the middle of the Haunted Woods. I do my best to help unfortunate Neopians such as yourself who find themselves in trouble in the woods. Just ask a question and I’ll answer to the best of my ability.”
“What just happened? I mean, who were those Faerie creatures?”
“I’m not entirely certain what they are other than dark denizens of the Haunted Woods. They’ve been very active lately, setting traps for Neopets so they can feed off of their life-force and stay powerful. I’ve been able to stop them from getting anyone lately. I missed them setting the trap that teleported you here, but at least I caught it when it activated.”
“So that cottage was a trap? Just my luck.” An awkward silence stretched between the two before Evinti broke it. “You must have pretty powerful magic to have defeated them.”
“They were hardly at their best power-wise, but yes, I do posses powerful magic.”
“Why did you help me anyways?”
“It’s what I do. I’m here to make the Haunted Woods a better place.” There was another drawn out silence. Queet concentrated on whatever bubbled in a cauldron over the fire and Evinti was trying to sort things out in his tired, muddled head.
“Soup’s done!” Queet chirped. “This will make you feel a lot better, plus it tastes great! By the way, I don’t think that I ever got your name.”
Evinti considered giving her a false one for half a moment, before deciding that it would be largely pointless. “It’s Evinti.”
She nodded sagely for some reason. “That’s a very nice name. Anywho, here’s your soup.”
The beautiful fragrance of all sorts of vegetables he couldn’t identify made Evinti realize how hungry he was. Accepting the soup gratefully, he took a generous first bite. It was delicious! And with each bite he felt better and more clearheaded. Finally something had gone right in his day! Actually, he had been extraordinarily lucky for Queet to come by and save him. Maybe his luck was finally turning.
Luck. Hmm, if this Queet character was as powerful as she said, perhaps she could identify his curse.
“Hey, Queet, you know how you said that you have powerful magic? Well, could you identify a spell if it was on me?”
“Of course! I’m assuming from your question that you want me to identify any magic that may be at work on you.”
“Er, yes. I think that I may have a curse that causes bad luck cast on me. If it isn’t too much trouble, would you mind trying to identify or even lift it?”
“Sure, honey.” She laughed at the surprised look the term of endearment evoked. Evinti suspected she had only used it to see his reaction. “Just one moment.”
Taking a stance directly across from him, she closed her eyes and muttered incantations while sprinkling some kind of powder all over the room. It took several impatient minutes, but she finally opened her eyes and gave an enigmatic smile.
“There are actually several spells at work on you. Your hat for one is enchanted with an extremely powerful protection spell. I’ve never seen anything like it before. It makes minute changes to the world so that you don’t come to harm. So if you were to, say, cross the road while not paying attention, the hat would arrange circumstances so there would be no cart drivers on that particular bit of road at that time, or that they would be paying attention. That sort of thing. The spell is extremely well hidden; even I had trouble detecting it. Don’t let it get to your head, though; it isn’t foolproof and it saps some of your energy to work. That’s probably why you felt so tired after dealing with the Faeries; the hat had to call me in to help.”
“And do I have a bad luck spell on me?”
“Well, yes. I’m inclined to believe that it will only improve your life in the future, so you’ll forgive me if I don’t divulge details that could help you find loop-holes in the spell.” Queet held up a paw to stave off Evinti’s indignant protest. “And before you ask, no, I couldn’t remove it even if I wanted to. My spell removal skills have never been great and it’s extremely well constructed. There are a few other spells working on you, but they’re even better hidden than the one of your hat. I can’t tell what they are.”
After waiting a moment to see if she was done, Evinti launched into a small tirade. “What?! You think that this bad luck will improve my life? I’ve been completely miserable for the past few months!”
“You have been trying to find an honest job, though.”
He wondered how she knew that, but answered anyways, “Yes. And it’s demeaning being turned down left and right for stupid jobs I don’t even want!”
“Legitimacy will do you better in the long run, regardless.”
Evinti could think of no reply. It was probably true. And yet, planning heists was really one of his only skills. Sigh.
“Do you want me to take you to the touristy part of the Haunted Woods?” Queet suddenly asked. “I’m sure that you can find your way to wherever you’re going once you get there.”
“Sure, that would be great.”
“Here, take my hand; we’ll teleport.”
Evinti did as he was instructed and with a flash of white light he found himself suddenly in front of Esophagor. He turned to Queet. “Thanks a bunch. For everything, really. I mean, you saved my life. And you gave me a little insight into the magic at work on me. I can’t ever repay you.”
She smiled. “You don’t have to. Good luck with your journey.” Yeah. Right. Good luck. What a joke. “Good bye!” And with that, she disappeared in a flash of white light.
Faerieland was only a few hours’ walk away and Evinti had an ally in the Haunted Woods. Things were looking up. Now, if he could only get to Faerieland without another disaster befalling him he’d be all set. Good luck indeed.