Tor & Roberta's Halloween Misadventure
It was a crisp and chilly day in Neopia. The sounds of crackling leaves, hissing Meowclops, and the smell of hot Borovan was around every corner. It was the morning of Halloween.
Roberta of Brightvale, a young Acara full of wits, was just opening up shop at The Scrollery when she heard rustling in the bushes behind her. Roberta is hard to scare, but being that it was Halloween of all days, she was wary.
Roberta stumbled backward, dropping her scrolls as she tried to let out a scream. She then realized who she standing before her and rolled her eyes. “Really, Tor? On Halloween? It’s too early in the morning for this!”
It was Sir Tormund Ellis, a strong but impulsive Lupe - and Roberta’s best friend. He began to laugh. “Oh I’m sorry, I didn’t really mean to scare you. Here, let me help,” he said as he picked up the fallen scrolls.
Roberta got up, brushed off her robes and sighed, “It’s a little early for you, isn’t it? What’s brought you here anyway? You hate to read, so don’t try and say you came by for a scroll!”
Tor paused and grinned. He had a look in his eye that Roberta knew all too well; it’s the look he gets when he’s looking for trouble - or what he calls “adventure.”
“Well… I was thinking we could go for a little adventure. It’s been a while,” he said. It was only over a year ago that Roberta and Tor had saved all of Neopia from the wrath of the Darkest Faerie.
Roberta was skeptical; they had both nearly lost their lives countless times on their crusade to stop the Darkest Faerie. “Ok. Fine. Sure. Where were you thinking?”
Tor put his hands behind his back and began rocking back and forth, knowing what Roberta’s initial reaction would be. “It’s Halloween isn’t it? We might as well venture into Haunted Woo-”
“NO! Absolutely not. No no no. Are you crazy, Tor? Everyone knows what happens to Neopets who go to Haunted Woods on HALLOWEEN. Well, except that’s the thing--they don’t know what happens because they never return!” Roberta couldn’t believe he was serious. The Haunted Woods was already eerie and dangerous the other 364 days of the year, but it was on Halloween that the most Neopets go missing.
Tor huffed, “Roberta, come on! If we can defeat the Darkest Faerie, then what exactly in the Haunted Woods can we not handle? If anything, it’s a challenge! I’ve been so bored lately. And I KNOW you have been too. You want to use your magic, don’t you?”
He had a point; Roberta loved using her wand to cast spells and practice her magic more than anything. But her uncle, King Hagan, forbade it; he thought it was too dangerous, and not something a diplomat like Roberta should be partaking in.
“All right, Tor. You know me too well. We’ll go. BUT, should anything or anyone make us feel even the slightest bit unsafe, we’re turning back around and getting right out of there! Got it?”
“Got it,” Tor smiled.
By the time Roberta and Tor had reached the beginning of the path leading toward the ominous, dense woods that lay before them, it was nearing dusk. Prepared for adventure, Tormund was clad in Altadorian armour, along with his sword and shield. Roberta was dressed in maroon robes and a dark cloak. Her wand hailed from Altador as well. “If only I had Fyora’s wand!” Roberta thought. That would surely make her feel safer.
Roberta looked over at her friend. “I’m serious, Tor. I’m not up for risking my life for the millionth time. If anything goes wrong, we leave.”
“Yeah, yeah…” Tor rolled his eyes as he began to bound toward the darkness of Haunted Woods as Roberta followed.
Moments later, the two were making their way deeper into the woods. A Crokabek sat perched on a branch above them, screeching into the air. The path they were once able to see so clearly was beginning to soften into dark patches of grass, as the trees above blocked out any trace of visible sky or sunlight left.
Tor suddenly came to a stop, his ears pinning back. “Hold on. What is that? You hear it?”
Roberta paused, her wand at the ready. It was hard to make out, but a soft, airy voice began to echo through the trees. It almost sounded sweet, as it began to hum an eerily beautiful tune.
“There aren’t any Neopets or Faeries that live in these parts in the Haunted Woods, right Roberta?” Tor asked, sounding a little uneasy.
“I don’t… I don’t think so…” Roberta replied. “It’s so beautiful though. The voice. Where could it be coming from?” She began to head further down what seemed to be a narrow, grassy path covered in thick brush. “It’s getting louder!” She exclaimed as her walking sped up.
“Roberta! We don’t know what or who that is! Wait!” Tor yelled, running behind her.
Tor stumbled into Roberta, who had come to a halt. She was staring at what lay before her. The singing had stopped.
“What...is that…?” Tor squinted and cocked his head, but really couldn’t decipher what it was he was seeing.
“It’s… a portal of some sort...but...I’m not sure why it’s here, in the Haunted Woods,” Roberta whispered. What seemed to have been a wall of vines and branches had peeled back into an archway, but instead of darkness, there were small sparks and lights fluttering about in the midst of a violet, swirling cloud.
“Well, whatever it is, it looks like dark magic. We’ve dealt with that before, and believe me, I am NOT about to--” Tor hardly had a chance to scream before Roberta clasped his hand and pulled him with her as they embarked into the whirling mass of the unknown.
“AAAAAAAAHHHHHH!” Roberta and Tor cried out in unison as they tumbled out of thin air onto the cold ground.
“Ugh. Major déjà vu,” Tor muttered, rubbing his head. “Roberta, wasn’t it YOU who said we shouldn’t get ourselves into any trouble?!”
Roberta wasn’t listening, as she crawled over a log, ignoring the disgusting amount of Slorgs trailing around what seemed to be a swamp. “Tor...look,” she pointed over a small hill at a dimly-lit town in the not-too-far-off distance.
“Err… where are we exactly?” Tor asked. They cautiously walked down the hill to the outskirts. “I think this is...wait, Neovia?”
It did look remarkably like Neovia, the mysterious town with a questionable history that was nestled on the edge of the Haunted Woods. However, instead of dreary, crumbling buildings, the town looked lively and the buildings were brand new.
“Yes…” Roberta began. “But...why is everyone dressed so strange? And why are they giving us looks?”
The Neopets bustling along the cobblestone streets lined by lantern street lamps were indeed dressed in a curious fashion; Kacheeks and Gelerts scuttled along with their pinstripe suits and monocles, and Wockys sauntered by clad in frilly, lace gowns. Each Neopet that passed gave Tor and Roberta stares.
“Err… let’s keep walking?” Tor took Roberta by the arm and speedily maneuvered over to the nearest alley. “Something doesn’t feel right, Roberta. This is really freaking me out.”
“We can’t leave, Tor. Not yet. I feel like we’re supposed to be here, as strange as that sounds.” Roberta peered out behind a crate full of crumpets.
Before Tor could argue, a small but serious voice cried out, “Hey! Who do you think you are?”
Roberta and Tor whipped around to see a young, green Ixi in a purple dress standing in the corner, hands on her hips, with a furrowed brow. “This is MY hiding place. You’re going to blow my cover!”
“How do YOU know MY name?” Sophie hissed.
“You’re Sophie the Swamp Witch!” Roberta exclaimed. “Except...you’re--”
“NOT a swamp witch!” Sophie crossed her arms. “I’m just Sophie. And NOW my brother found me, thanks to you guys.”
Roberta and Tor turned to see a handsome Gelert with midnight blue hair stroll towards them. “Ah ha! Nice try, Sophie. Better luck next time.” He ruffled his sister’s hair, messing up her bow as he grinned and held out a paw to Tor and Roberta. “Hi there. Bruno. And you are?”
Tor stuttered, “B-Bruno? Er…”
“My name’s Roberta. And this is my friend, Tor.” Roberta smiled warily. “We… we just thought it would be nice to come and pay Neovia a visit finally! We’ve err… heard such great things about it.”
Bruno laughed. “Oh yeah, sure. It’s a quaint town, isn’t it? Where are you from?”
“Meridell, and Brightvale,” Tor finally found his voice. “So, err… mind showing us around?”
“Oh I’m sure he would LOVE to, but mum’s got dinner waiting!” Sophie grabbed her brother’s hand and tried to pull him along.
“Ah, she’s right. I best be going now, but it was nice meeting you! Why don’t we catch up later tonight? It’s Halloween after all! I’ve got to take Sophie trick-or-treating through town,” Bruno smiled, walking away.
“Err...sure! We’ll be there!” Roberta called after him.
As soon as Bruno and Sophie were out of sight, Tor and Roberta darted away back up the hill. When they got to the top, Roberta said what they were both thinking, but didn’t want the answer to. “I think we just...traveled back in time.”
“Yeah. I can’t believe it, but I think we did.” Tor said, panting. “All right, first things first. We’re going back home! Where’s that portal?!”
“What? No! Tormund! Don’t you see? We’re meant to be here. That’s why we stumbled upon the portal. I think that voice singing was meant to lure us in. I don’t know, call me crazy, but I have a feeling we have a purpose here,” Roberta said.
“So you’re saying...we can’t go back home until we figure out what it is we’re supposed to do? What if we never go back? What if we’re stuck here forever, stuck in time?!” Tor panicked. He couldn’t fathom not seeing his family back on Ellis farm ever again.
“Well, I don’t think we have to figure out what we need to do. I think I already know, Tor.” Roberta smiled. “What was it about Bruno that was so different?”
Tor thought for a moment. “He...er… he wasn’t mutated?”
“Exactly! And Sophie isn’t a swamp witch yet. Don’t you know the story?” Roberta asked as she withdrew a few scrolls from her robes. (She wouldn’t dare venture into Haunted Woods without a few historical scrolls about the land!)
“Hardly. It was more of a ghost story my friends and I would tell to each other as kids. On Halloween…” Tor muttered.
“Well, it’s 100% true, and we might be able to change it. We might be able to completely change the history of Neovia...or at least, a small part of it.” Roberta explained, scroll sprawled out on the dewy grass in front of her. “As the story goes, Mr. Krawley, a conniving and stealthy Krawk, had given elixirs to Neovians. The elixir initially granted the Neovian their wishes, but soon mutated them into monstrous Neopets. Bruno was one of them. The town erupted into utter chaos and destruction. It scarred Sophie at a young age…”
Roberta continued, “She found a hideout within the deepest part of the woods, where she remained, eventually becoming bitter and hateful. That’s how she earned her name Sophie the Swamp Witch. Years later, she rekindled with Bruno, still permanently mutated, but the two were simply never the same.”
Tor sat in silence, overcome with an overwhelming sense of sorrow. “We need to help them… when we saw them earlier, they were so happy and full of life…”
“And the other Neovians,” Roberta added, “they don’t deserve the demise they were destined for. You know what we have to do, right?”
Tor nodded. “We have to stop Mr. Krawley.”
To be continued…