A Very Neovian Election: Part Seven
The shadows circled around Sophie, unsure of what they should make of her.
You wish to make a deal with us? the darkness questioned as Desmond mouthed the words. You have nothing that you can offer us!
“Are you sure about that?” Sophie asked as she stalked around Desmond, careful to keep both herself and her magical fire moving.
There is nothing that the flesh can offer us now that we have Neovia! the darkness screeched.
“You have a town, sure... but that’s not what you really want,” Sophie taunted the shadows. “You want form, shape, existence. A foothold in a backwater town like Neovia can’t give you that.”
We will possess form, in time. We will find a way. We are eternal, we will have an eternity to think, the darkness said confidently.
“I don’t think you’ve thought this through...” Sophie mocked them.
“We have!” the darkness screamed.
But this time there was something different. There had been a voice, and an actual voice, not just the faceless whispers of the shadows.
“I think you’ve spent too long within Desmond,” Sophie continued. “I think he’s beginning to rub off on you. I think the shadows that came here to possess him have been influenced by him in return. I think you’re broken, a little too Neopian. You’re becoming like the flesh you so despise!”
“Who are you!?” Desmond and the shadows screamed.
“You have to ask?” Sophie laughed. “I thought I was just the flesh? I thought that all flesh was the same? I’m Sophie, the witch of the swamp lands, and I’m here to put a stop to this.”
“It matters not!” Desmond shouted. “This body can be disposed of, we can be rid of its foul influence! We can summon forth all of our brethren from the Void! We can deal with you! Neovia is ours!”
“Oh no, it isn’t!” a triumphant voice shouted from outside.
Behind them, the front door of the town hall was ripped off in one clean movement and thrown aside like a toy.
Standing in the doorway was Mayor Thumburt, riding proud atop the magical statue of Bruno, which gleamed in Sophie’s magical fire light.
A crash from the dining hall followed, and a moment later the statues of Sophie ridden by Reginald, and Gilly ridden by the Crumpetmonger arrived in the lobby. The Crumpetmonger dusted the shards of the dining room windows off her shoulders.
“He didn’t sign the official paperwork, and I didn’t sign out in my official capacity as Mayor!” Thumburt said proudly.
“It means he’s not really Mayor!” Reg added.
Sophie turned back to Desmond, a wry smile on her face.
“It isn’t official.” She smirked. “You don’t have a contract here. You’re breaking the rules.”
The shadows shrieked in agony.
“I’d wager that also means that no more of your kind can come through from the other side,” Sophie continued as she advanced on Desmond. “We’ve got all the shadows we’re going to get.”
“No, you cannot defeat us! We are eternal!” Desmond snarled.
Behind him, the shadows rose up as one beast and lunged at the witch. They stopped mere millimetres from her, restrained by some unseen force.
“Go!” the strained voice of Desmond said from behind the shadows, “Quickly, I can’t hold them forever!”
Then Sophie found herself pushed back, Bruno’s statue blocking her from the shadows.
“They seemed very anxious to help when we explained what these shadows did to their former master,” Thumburt commented from the doorway.
The other two statues ran forward as Reginald and the Crumpetmonger joined Thumburt in the doorway.
Screaming in pain, Desmond finally collapsed and the shadows surged forward over the statues.
It is futile! the shadows screamed. We are the dark; you cannot destroy us!
The statues fought back, punching and kicking and clawing at the shadows, but it was pointless. Without bodies, the shadows could not be harmed.
“Wrong!” Sophie shouted. “Statues! Get outside!”
The statues followed their orders blindly, and the shadows swirled after them, shrieking and snarling with rage. From all over the town, the darkness surged forward and enveloped the gleaming metal out in the town square.
Sophie was busy with her potions. She took a handful of bottles from her sack and kicked off on her broomstick. Hovering above the statues, she emptied the contents of the bottles down.
The effect was immediate. The statues began to glow brightly, and were lifted gently of the floor. The shadows recoiled in horror as the light burned them.
“There is always balance,” Sophie muttered. “Darkness cannot exist as long as there is light!”
The statues shone brighter, lighting up the town and driving away the shadows.
“No!” the voice of Desmond screamed along with the shadows as he emerged from the town hall. “You cannot rid Neovia of us, we lurk in every alleyway! We will continue!”
The light intensified, and Sophie alone knew what was coming next. Yet she knew the shadows were right, it wouldn’t be enough. The statues alone would not shine bright enough.
Then, on the horizon there was a glint of something moving very quickly across the sky.
Burning a trail of pure white light, Sophie’s Meowclops screamed across the chimney tops of Neovia like a shooting star. He collided with the statues in a hail of flashes and sparks that far outstripped the single flash Sophie had observed in her shack.
All around her, the witch heard the screams of the shadows as the brilliant white light vaporised them before they had time to hide.
And then it was over. The lights all faded, and Neovia was returned to the dark, aside from Sophie’s solitary magical fire. This time, there were no red eyes watching from the dark, the darkness that watched them was benign.
The shadows were gone.
A lone creature fell silently from the sky, and Sophie zoomed up on her broomstick to catch it.
Her trusty Meowclops purred gently in her arms, exhausted but alive.
“What have I told you about drinking my potions?” she asked him sternly.
“Did we do it?” Thumburt asked eagerly as Sophie touched down outside the town hall.
“The shadows are gone; so is Desmond,” Reg observed.
“He was one with the shadows for too long,” Sophie told them. “He’s part of their world now.”
“You can’t bring him back?” Thumburt asked.
“Not without bringing the rest of them with him,” Sophie explained. “This is the way it has to be.”
“Is it over then?” the Crumpetmonger asked.
“In a way, but at the same time I think it’s only just beginning,” Sophie said distantly, before kicking off on her broomstick, and soaring away.
Out of the shadows, the citizens of Neovia arrived, dazed and confused. The spell of the dark pastries had been broken.
“This is going to take quite a lot of explaining,” Thumburt sighed.
Thumburt let the quill glide over the page and form his signature. He smiled to himself. All in all, things had worked out quite well.
Largely because there was a big mess to up that no one wanted to take responsibility for, and also because no one aside from the Crumpetmonger remembered what had happened, Thumburt had been unanimously re-elected Mayor of Neovia. Not that he’d ever been officially unelected, of course.
Thumburt was also happy because the rebuilding of the damaged areas of the town would involve a considerable amount of paperwork, all of it requiring the practised signature of the Mayor.
And that was the key thing, really; Neovia had in the end been saved by Thumburt’s paperwork, and doomed by pastries. A good result, as far as he was concerned. It was sure to annoy the Crumpetmonger.
He stacked the papers neatly in a pile in his out tray, and awaited Reg’s knock at the door. It was late, a very unusual occurrence. Then again, it had been a very unusual week.
Where had the boy got to?
He glanced at his pocket watch. Ah, lunchtime.
His morning’s work done, Thumburt tucked into a sausage roll. It was technically from the Crumpetmonger’s bakery, but to Thumburt it symbolised something far more important. He’d had the choice of open topped sandwiches and quiche, but he’d plumped for the sausage roll. It was Neovia’s, and in his opinion it tasted quite nice.
Reg knocked politely on Sophie’s door, but the force made it open of its own accord.
“Sophie?” he called out.
There was a gentle purr from the table. The Meowclops was waiting atop it, with a note in front. Reg stroked the Petpet while he read the note.
Neovia’s saved, but I don’t know about everything else. I’m going to see Edna and Morguss. I don’t know when I’ll be back, or even if I’ll be back at all. Shadows don’t give up easily, and I’d say we annoyed them a lot last night. Things are going to get worse before they get better. Look after the Meowclops, and keep him away from the potions. I hope I’ll see you soon.
Reg read the note once more, and then gently scooped up the Meowclops in his arms. He closed the door on the way out, and made his way back across the swamp.
Sophie’s shack was left deserted, but for the shadows that lurked in the darkness.
Sophie flew on into the afternoon sky, leaving Neovia behind. The world looked a little brighter than usual in the sunlight, and the shadows in the woods below were forced backwards. She knew it wouldn’t last.
Edna and Morguss would be able to help.
Sophie understood that the shadows wouldn’t just give up because they’d lost Neovia. They had no form, no true existence, but they did possess one thing: desire. It ruled them, and that desire to exist would only have grown stronger with the small taste they had been given.
It wasn’t over, not by a long shot.
Sophie had saved Neovia; now she had to save the world.