Yuletide Witches: Part Six
The three witches lit magical fires almost immediately. Anxious expressions on their faces were lit up, and they startled Stanley for a moment.
He hadn’t considered before that the witches were Neopets just like him. They had hopes and dreams... and fears, which the Spirit could play on.
There was a high pitched giggle that echoed throughout the cave. Stanley recognised it as the one he had heard back in Neovia.
“I know you’re here!” the voice of the Shoyru shouted innocently. “I know what you want! You won’t get it, though; you’re going to fail!”
“We’ll see about that,” Edna replied calmly, continuing her pace.
The cavern seemed to widen out a little ahead, and there was a light source independent from the fire the witches were producing.
Molten lava seemed to be flowing down the walls of the great cavern ahead. The path they were on had crumbled in places, revealing a great lake of magma beneath them.
The Halloween Shoyru was waiting in the middle of the cave. The blue Skeith stood dumbly behind him with the stolen sleigh.
“So glad you could make it!” the Shoyru cackled, performing a mock bow.
“We want what you stole,” Edna announced.
“We want what you stole,” the Spirit mimicked in a mocking voice.
“Why is he a child?” Stanley asked.
The Shoyru cackled madly.
“You bring a fool such as him to my home!?” he shouted. “Children are the future! What is more scary, more terrifying, than the thought that the future could be bad? The idea that the children of today could all be like me! That they will lead us all into ruin! If you prefer it, though, I could be a little more traditional!”
The Shoyru exploded into a haze of red colours as his body mutated before their eyes. Where once the innocent looking Shoyru had stood, there was a monster ten feet tall. Twisted horns protruded from the head, while spikes ran down the back. Two great leathery wings unfurled behind him, while a clawed hand pointed at the visitors.
“You cannot defeat me!” the beast roared through razor sharp teeth.
“True,” Edna conceded. “We’re not here to stop you.”
The Spirit seemed to pause, as if unsure of what Edna meant.
“We’re here to make a deal,” Sophie added.
“A deal!?” the Spirit laughed. “I don’t need your deals!”
“You give us back the Spirit of Giving’s magic, and we agree to carry on believing in you,” Morguss explained over the Shoyru’s laughter.
The Shoyru paused, but then grinned again.
“You can’t stop believing in me!” he boomed. “You need me! I’m your Spirit!”
“True,” Edna conceded again. “We can’t stop you, but he can.”
She turned to look at Stanley and cocked an eyebrow before turning back to the Spirit.
“If enough Neopets like him stop believing in Halloween, in a scary time of year, you’ll just blink out of existence,” she continued.
“You can’t do that!” the Spirit roared.
“Just watch us,” Edna replied menacingly. “Mr. Argyle?”
All eyes turned to Stanley.
“It might help if you told me exactly what you wanted me to do,” Stanley whispered.
“Stop believing in him,” Sophie said flatly.
“Oh, well, as long as it’s that simple,” Stanley sighed.
The Shoyru roared with laughter as Stanley closed his eyes.
“I don’t believe in you!” he shouted.
It had no effect, the Shoyru continued to laugh.
Stanley furrowed his brow. This was a ridiculous situation to be in. Facing of against spirits? Might as well be a dream!
A dream! Yes, that’s it! It’s all a big dream! I’m lying safely in my bed at home and none of this is really happening. Why, I know there’s no logical reason for there to be a Spirit of Giving, so why should there be a Spirit of Scaring? There probably isn’t... no, there definitely isn’t!
“I don’t believe in you!” Stanley shouted again.
There was only the briefest moment of doubt in Stanley’s mind before he decided that actually, it probably was all happening after all. However, that single moment was enough.
The Spirit of Scaring collapsed to the floor, howling in agony. His form diminished, returning to that of the little frail Halloween Shoyru. The Spirit glanced back at the Skeith that was waiting behind him.
“Get them, you fool!” the Shoyru screamed.
The Skeith nodded obediently and lumbered forward with club in hand.
“Who’s he, part of the Spirit’s team, like Chestnut?” Stanley asked.
“No, he’s a hired grunt I’d guess. Like you, someone the Shoyru used to weaken the Spirit of Giving,” Morguss explained.
“Which means, if he’s not magical, we can do this,” Edna said simply.
She pointed a finger at the approaching Skeith, and he flew up into the air with the power of Edna’s magic. He hit the roof of the cavern hard, and crumpled back to the floor, unconscious.
“Now, we will talk about our deal,” Edna told the Spirit of Scaring as she approached.
“Fine!” the Shoyru growled. “I don’t need it anyway, more trouble than it’s worth!”
He ran back to the stolen sleigh and retrieved his tinsel-laden pitchfork, which he threw at Edna before retreating to the back of the cavern to nurse himself.
Edna threw the pitchfork back to Morguss, who still held the Spirit of Giving in her arms. The Moehog offered the pitchfork down to the little baby Yurble, who touched it lightly with his finger.
There was a brilliant white flash that filled the cavern for a moment. The baby Yurble was gone, but a Christmas Yurble that almost seemed to glow with festive cheer was stood next to Morguss.
“Ho-ho-ho!” the Yurble laughed to himself. “That was quite the adventure! I thank you all for your help!”
The Yurble beamed from ear to ear. Chestnut rushed forward and leapt up into his arms.
“I’m afraid the workshop’s ruined, sir, but we delivered all the presents,” the Candychan informed his master.
“We’ll need to add my own little touch of magic, though,” the Spirit of Giving agreed.
The two made their way over to the stolen sleigh, and with the slightest of touches, the Zomutts mutated back into Raindorfs.
The Spirit of Giving took the reigns and the sleigh rose in the air.
“Merry Christmas to all!” he proclaimed, before the sleigh disappeared in a flash of snowflakes.
“Oh... he might have given us a lift out of here,” Stanley sighed.
“There’s still the cart outside,” Sophie told him as she turned to go. “We can use the replacement sleigh we left back at the Fairground after that.”
“Besides, I wouldn’t want to travel with him,” Edna snorted. “He’s far too loud, always laughing. He gets one day a year; what’s he got to be cheery about?”
“Garish clothes as well,” Morguss added. “That’s why I could never live on Terror Mountain. I just don’t have the wardrobe.”
The three witches, followed closely by Stanley, made their way back to the cave entrance. As they were about to leave the lava filled cave, the Halloween Shoyru stood up, apparently recovered from the pain he had been suffering.
He stuck a pose as if he was taking a bow for a play he’d just performed.
“I’ll be seeing you at Halloween,” he cackled madly, before jumping down into the lava pits below.
“He’s going to keep coming, isn’t he? Year after year?” Stanley asked as they continued on their way.
“Of course,” Edna snapped. “The balance works both ways. If there was no Christmas there’d be too much bad and the world would end, but if there’s no Halloween then there’d be too much good. The world would go exactly the same way. You need both for things to work. That Shoyru’s just as important as the Spirit of Giving.”
“But what if he tries again?” Stanley asked.
“We’ll stop him,” Sophie told him. “We always do.”
’Twas the... well actually, it was Christmas morning, all things considered, when all through the house... well, practically everything had stirred at some point during the night... aside from a Miamouse.
Susan Argyle woke once more from her slumber to the sound of something landing on her roof. She glanced back towards her brother, who was still sleeping soundly. All in all, it had been quite a disturbed night’s sleep and now Susan in a half asleep panic began to wonder if they were being burgled.
She carefully let herself out of bed and took a nearby umbrella from the stand. As she made her way downstairs, she readied it like a weapon.
There was a commotion coming from the living room, and Susan rounded the corner to see a figure emerge from the chimney.
Dressed all in red, the Christmas Yurble clicked his fingers once, and the room began to sparkle and glimmer at his command. Frost etched its way across the windows by magic, and the entire room seemed filled with festive cheer.
The umbrella dropped from Susan’s hands, causing a noise. The Elephante looked up in fear at the Christmas Yurble. He merely smiled.
“Ho-ho-ho! Merry Christmas!” the Yurble chuckled, his belly jiggling with laughter.
He stepped into the chimney, and disappeared up it. Susan heard the laughter moving off into the early morning sky.
She was left alone in her front room, stunned into silence.
The replacement sleigh crashed rather noisily into the undergrowth near Edna’s Tower. Four Neopets and a Meowclops climbed out as best they could.
The witches had got rid of their Christmas hats. Now black was back in full force.
“I’d better get back to the Citadel; my daughter will be wondering where I’ve got to,” Morguss told the others. “I’ll be seeing you again soon.”
The Moehog readied her broomstick and kicked off into the sky. A moment later Sophie gasped and pulled out her own broomstick.
“The family always come round early on Christmas morning! How could I forget!?” she muttered to herself, scooping up her Meowclops and jetting off in the opposite direction.
“Might have at least given me a lift...” Stanley said dejectedly before turning to Edna. “Still, it’s a wonderful winter morning. A walk will do me good. What are your plans for today?”
Edna glared at the Elephante.
“Oh no, you don’t get me with that. Before you know it I’ll be invited round to dinner. No. I’m going inside for some nice soup and then to bed. I don’t do Christmas,” Edna said firmly, opening the door to her tower.
“Fair enough.” Stanley smiled.
He turned to go, but noticed a crowd of early morning carol singers was heading their way.
“Merry Christmas to all!” he called out to them as he started down the Neovia path.
Edna closed the door to her tower firmly behind her and leaned against it. When she spoke, it was in a whisper so low that no living being would be able to hear.
“And to all, a good night.”