The Witches Ride Again: Part Five
Despite Kauvara’s initial bravado, she was still in a weak state. She sat in the backroom sipping a restorative potion as the witches closed up her shop, largely by scowling at customers until they got the point and left. Edna lit a fire while Morguss examined the broken magic hat.
“I could be mistaken,” she said, “but this looks like your craftwork, Kauvara.”
Kauvara nodded, “It is.”
“Why did you curse yourself?” Sophie asked.
“I didn’t... oh alright, I’ll explain,” Kauvara said, clearing her throat. “It began not long after Mr. Jennings arrived in Neopia Central. Naturally I’d heard about him trying to get protection money off the shop keepers, but he was staying away from the major shop keepers at that point, so I just thought he was a bog-standard crook. Anyway, one day he came into my shop with a finely dressed Kyrii calling himself Lord Belton. He ordered a whole batch of one of my lesser known mind control potions right then and there.”
“You didn’t think to refuse?” Sophie said sceptically.
“Not after the reason he gave me,” Kauvara replied. “He said an evil sorceress had laid siege to his land, and he wanted the potion to overcome her guards and retake his rightful throne. We get a lot of refugees in Neopia Central; it’s a pretty common story. It was compounded by what Mr. Jennings asked me to make.”
“The anti-magic pendants,” Edna said.
“That’s right,” Kauvara confirmed, “Normally I wouldn’t dream of it, but for Mr. Jennings to even know it’s possible... well, I guessed the Kyrii must have been telling the truth. I manufactured a batch from some Witch’s Bane I had in my store room, and the Kyrii was on his way. I heard about what happened in Meridell; I knew it was him. Thank you for stopping him.”
“That doesn’t explain the hat, or what you were doing in the woods,” Sophie complained.
“I’m getting to that,” Kauvara snapped. “Two weeks ago I heard a rumour that more anti-magic pendants were cropping up on the black market. I thought maybe Mr. Jennings had figured out the method and was making his own. Witch’s Bane only grows in the deep woods, so I went to investigate. I found a clump of it, and someone found me. Last thing I remember was someone putting that hat on me.”
“A hat you made?” Morguss asked.
“Remember when there was all that fuss about Sloth clones?” Kauvara asked. “I thought perhaps cloning was going to be the next big thing, so I made that prototype hat to control any clones. I thought I could have Kauvara clones running the shop, and I could go on holiday sometimes. Of course, cloning never caught on, so I put the hat in storage. Mr. Jennings must have broken in and stolen it.”
“He knew where to find Witch’s Bane, about its uses, he knew the contents of your backroom... this Mr. Jennings is very well connected,” Morguss told them.
“No one knows where he came from, or why, most people don’t even know what he looks like,” Kauvara told them.
“What does he look like?” Sophie asked.
“He’s a green Krawk, wears a suit, and carries a cane with a diamond on the end,” Kauvara replied.
“Can you find him?” Edna asked.
“They say you don’t find him, he finds you,” Kauvara told them, echoing Errol’s words.
“But we’re witches!” Sophie shouted.
“I know, and no one crosses Kauvara and gets away with it. He’ll pay, you mark my words. We start looking tomorrow, and incinerate every inch of Neopia Central to find him if we must,” Kauvara said sleepily.
Dawn had barely broken when the four witches set out from Kauvara’s magic shop. Kauvara hung a small ‘Out to Lunch’ sign on the door, which she assured the other witches would be a far more efficient deterrent to would-be thieves than locking or barring the door.
Of course the witches knew this; they’d never locked their doors in their lives, because only an idiot would steal from them. Foreign parts were intrinsically suspicious, though. If the witches had their way, the door would have been locked and bolted four times over and a small army would have been placed behind it.
They made their way through the early morning crowds, Kauvara in the lead.
“Where are we going?” Sophie asked.
“In the Haunted Woods, you go and ask the Brain Tree or Esophagor when you want answers. Here, we have a different system,” Kauvara replied.
She led them to the plaza, past the large tower of the Defenders of Neopia HQ, to the Wishing Well.
“You have to be kidding me; we are going to wish for the location of Mr. Jennings?” Sophie scoffed.
“Not exactly,” Kauvara replied.
She took a single Neopoint from under her hat, and threw it into the well. Then she turned round.
“I wish for an authentic reproduction Kauvara Magic Hat,” she said loudly to no one in particular.
Without stopping to explain, she marched off towards the back of the Welcome Centre and waited in the shadows. Eventually she sighed loudly and signalled the other witches to follow.
“What are you doing?” Sophie asked when they reached her.
“There is a strong black market in Neopia Central, and Mr. Jennings has a large stake in it. Kauvara Magic Hats are not available to just anyone,” Kauvara explained.
There was a low cough from behind them. A shadowy Hissi emerged from the gloom in a long trench coat.
“Did I hear you were interested in a Kauvara Magic Hat?” he hissed.
“You did,” Kauvara replied.
“Then you came to the right place,” he replied.
He opened up the trench coat to reveal an array of undoubtedly illegal items lining the inside.
“If you like the look of anything else; then be my guest,” the Hissi added.
“Actually, we were looking for information,” Kauvara said slowly.
In a flash she had cast a spell; the Hissi did not have time to react. He was pinned against the wall by an unseen force.
“We know you meet with Mr. Jennings; where and when?” she demanded.
“I know nothing,” the Hissi sneered.
“Tell us!” Edna demanded.
“Never,” the Hissi said defiantly.
Sophie stepped forward and took an item out of the Hissi’s coat. She held it at arms length. It was a Jhudora doll.
“This is a cursed doll, highly illegal,” she said, “And if I am not mistaken, it can burn away your very soul if you look into its eyes. Care to see?”
She turned to doll towards the Hissi, who screamed.
“Alright, I’ll talk!” he yelled.
Sophie lowered the doll.
“I’m due to meet him outside the Coffee shop in an hour; now will you let me go?” he pleaded.
Kauvara relaxed the spell, and the Hissi slinked away in terror.
“Is that really a cursed doll?” she asked Sophie.
“Oh yes,” Sophie replied, “But it’s only cursed with an internal stench spell, Essence of Zal-Bora I think it’s called. Get a whiff of that!”
She shoved the doll under Kauvara’s nose. The Kau briefly turned green.
“Right,” Morguss told them, “to the Coffee shop!”
Aside from Kauvara, the witches had never visited the Neopia Central Coffee Shop before. It came as a great surprise to learn it was located underground.
“It’s in the catacombs?” Sophie asked as they trekked past the Neolodge.
“Yes, near the Art Gallery,” Kauvara said absent-mindedly.
“Isn’t that a bit... unsanitary?” Sophie asked.
“No, why?” Kauvara replied.
“Well you know, what with all the dead people down there...” Sophie suggested.
“Maybe Ethan Chiapot is down there,” Edna said half to herself.
“No, no, no,” Kauvara said, “The catacombs are not for burying people; we use it as an art centre.”
“Ah.” Sophie nodded. “Isn’t it a bit dark down there for art?”
“There are torches installed,” Kauvara informed her.
“You put torches in an Art Gallery?” Morguss questioned. “Don’t they end up burning the pictures?”
“Sounds like a silly place to put an Art Gallery if you ask me,” Edna told them. “There’ll be damp down there as well; all the pictures will go mouldy.”
“If they haven’t set on fire,” Morguss added.
Kauvara sighed; trying to explain things to witches from the sticks was like beating your head against a brick wall.
The entrance to the catacombs was hidden behind a large statue of a town crier. The witches descended into the yellow twilight, and were blinded for a few moments until their eyes adjusted to the dark.
“Who needs a Coffee shop anyway?” Edna said to the world in general, her voice echoing off the cavern walls.
“That’s city folk for you,” Morguss agreed.
“Look, there it is,” Kauvara said, pointing ahead.
In the centre of the large cavern, lit by dozens of torches, was the Coffee shop. It was hewn roughly out of the rock, a few tables placed outside for customers.
“That’s it?” Sophie asked.
“Is there something wrong?” Kauvara asked.
“I just imagined it’d be more... green,” Sophie replied.
Kauvara stopped in mid walk, causing the witches to pile up behind her.
“There he is,” she whispered.
There was a green Krawk sitting alone at one of the tables outside the shop, gently sipping a cup off coffee on delicate bone china. The witches noticed he was indeed finely dressed in a black suit, a red flower poking out of his top pocket. A long black cane with a large diamond at the top was propped up next to him. A pair of thin, simple but elegant black glasses rested at the end of his muzzle.
“Where are his bodyguards?” Sophie asked.
“Don’t know, don’t care,” Kauvara replied.
She broke into a quick stride, the other witches following. She reached the table, and sat down opposite Mr. Jennings, the other witches standing behind her. The Krawk did not look up, but continued sipping his coffee. He was reading the Neopian Times in his free hand.
“Can I help you?” he said eventually, still not looking up.
“I know what you did to me, Jennings. I know what you did to me and I want vengeance,” Kauvara said threateningly.
“Then, my dear lady,” he replied calmly, “you shall undoubtedly have it.”
“You’re not going to put up a fight?” she asked.
“Why should I?” he asked. “There are four witches around this table. I have no anti-magic pendant; you would curse me ten times to Sunday before I could even pay the bill.”
Kauvara deepened her frown.
“Of course,” Mr. Jennings continued, “I would be amiss not to point out the several bodyguards I have stationed in the catacombs that would certainly come to my aid shortly after they see me being cursed, such as the two Grarrls over by the Art Gallery, the Jetsam in the doorway of the Coin Shop, or the Usul in the entrance to the cavern.”
The witches looked around. All of the bodyguards Mr. Jennings picked out were well built and wearing the same black suits as the Grarrls in the magic shop.
“I can assure you,” Mr. Jennings added, “they carry both anti-magic pendants and a mean streak.”
“You’d still be cursed,” Kauvara stated.
“Without a doubt, but I wouldn’t like to imagine the state you’d leave the catacombs in. My bodyguards get very angry at the thought of anything happening to me; they’d lose their pay,” Mr. Jennings told her.
He sipped his coffee and continued to read the newspaper.
“You can leave any time you like,” he said eventually.
“Just so we’re clear,” Kauvara said, leaning in, “you are not wearing one of my pendants, right?”
“I wouldn’t dream of it,” Mr. Jennings said lightly, draining the last of his coffee.
“Good,” Kauvara said, a smile drifting across her face.
Mr. Jennings did not look up, so he didn’t see the magic begin to swirl around the brim of Kauvara’s hat. The other witches did, and they recognised the spell. Instinctively, they all put their hands on Kauvara’s shoulders. Once the spell was complete, Kauvara leaned closer to Mr. Jennings.
“I think we should take a little trip,” she sneered.
Mr. Jennings looked up, but it was too late. Kauvara grabbed his arm and unleashed the spell. There was a small pop, and all five of them were gone. The newspaper landed on the empty table.
The teleportation spell worked perfectly, or rather, almost perfectly. Originally Kauvara had intended for them to materialise just in front of the Defenders of Neopia HQ; instead they arrived on the snooker table in the break room. Judge Hog and Lightning Lenny jumped back in surprise as the five figures appeared in mid air and fell on the table. Slowly, Edna, Sophie, Morguss and Kauvara jumped down onto the floor, leaving the unconscious mass of Mr. Jennings lying on the table. Having four witches land on someone can do that.
“A delivery for you, Judge Hog,” Kauvara said smartly, dusting off her hands.
It was night by the time the witches left Neopia Central. Mr. Jennings was safely behind bars, and Kauvara had reopened her shop. She’d offered them a room for the night, but the witches were not eager to stay. City life wasn’t for them. They’d lingered for just long enough for Edna to have a stern word with the clothes shop Uni about the royalties she should be receiving for her hats, and then they were off into the night and back to their homes.
“Can’t say I like the city much,” Morguss said once they were in flight.
“It’s got a stupid name,” Edna added. “It’s not even in the middle, definitely not in the centre.”
Sophie sighed; it was going to be a long night.