What Happened To Sophie's Hat: Part Two
Part Two: In Which Sophie is Grievously Wronged
Sophie had never enjoyed the Neopian Witches' Convention. She went out of a sense of obligation, and because it was always useful to know the other witches in Neopia, but the entire time, she was counting the hours until she could go home. She liked her solitude, and her little hut in the swamplands where no one ever bothered her. Well, hardly anyone. A certain Usul that liked to visit at the most inconvenient times came to mind, but normally, most neopets understood that she just wanted to be left alone. She was very glad that she had taught herself witchcraft instead of going to the Witchering School with most of the others. That much forced social interaction surely would have ended in disaster.
She broke away from her thoughts to glance down at the piece of paper in her hand. 'Neopian Witches' Convention: Official Schedule' was printed at the top in bold lettering. Below it, several panels and times were listed. 'Advanced Potion-Making Techniques', 'Dead Languages and Incantations', and 'Witch Style - Which Robe?' were just some of the offerings.
A few years ago, the convention organizers had asked Sophie to teach some of the panels, but they had not invited her back since. Apparently, her gruff demeanor had been too much for some of the students attending her demonstrations, even if the knowledge she had imparted was vastly superior. Although Sophie might not have been a particularly patient teacher, she was an excellent witch. Her methods were a little unorthodox, but no one could deny that they were effective. Too effective, in fact. Neopets from far and wide had taken to showing up at her hut since she, Bruno, and Gilly had saved Neovia.
Pushing the constant interruptions from her mind before she lost even more of her patience, Sophie folded the schedule and tucked it away into her robe, debating whether it might be best to call it quits early and fly home. She had done her duty by playing nice with one or two important witches just in case she needed a favor from them in the future, and her tolerance for other neopets was beginning to run dangerously low again. Just before she could convince herself that walking out early was a good idea, she noticed something strange out of the corner of her eye.
It was Edna, limping as she dragged one foot along the ground and holding a torn piece of her black robe in one paw. Her other paw was covering her eyes, and she was muttering to herself as she peeked out from between two fingers, trying to stumble around the other confused conference-goers. She barely managed to avoid a Blumaroo in a particularly gaudy ensemble, and the annoyed warlock gave her an indignant huff as he bounced by.
Sophie and Edna were not friends, exactly, but the swamp witch could not help being a little intrigued. Sure, Edna was somewhat... eccentric... once in a while, but Sophie had rarely seen her in such a state before. She decided to investigate. It would satisfy her own curiosity, if nothing else. "Edna? What's wrong with you?" Sophie asked as she strode over to the stumbling Zafara. Before Edna could answer, Sophie reached out and tore Edna's paw away from her face, revealing just how angry she was.
"Nesmy! That's what's wrong. She threatened to cast one of her spells on me!"
"After a lot of insults, I imagine," Sophie muttered. She and Nesmy were not exactly fond of each other, either, although they did not share the same intense rivalry that Nesmy and Edna had. Instead, they held a wary sort of respect for each other, although Nesmy had made a few cutting remarks in the past about her sudden fame following the Neovia incident. Fame was not something Sophie had ever asked for or wanted, and it was more of a nuisance than anything else. It just meant that more annoying neopets wandered through the swamplands, trying to find her hut and ask for magical solutions to their problems.
"How did you know? Did you hear?" Edna snapped.
Sophie just shook her head. For some reason, her hat shifted uncomfortably around her ears as she moved, and she reached up to adjust it. "I've had a few bad experiences," she answered.
Edna's anger left, and she seemed almost relieved to find someone to commiserate with. "At least you didn't have to go to Witchering School with her," she complained. "Nesmy was nearly unbearable then! Always insulting, bragging..."
Mentally kicking herself for getting involved in yet another tedious conversation, and telling herself that she would not let her curiosity get the better of her next time, Sophie began to tune Edna out. She reached up to adjust her hat again. Normally, the frequently-patched and well-used hat fitted perfectly on top of her head, but now, it seemed to be slipping backwards.
"... and I was still chasing meepits around my tower for weeks after that!" Edna concluded with a huff, even throwing her hands in the air and letting the loose black sleeves of her robe drape down her arms for dramatic effect.
Sophie rolled her eyes. "How unpleasant," she drawled. "Now, Edna, I really need to be..."
Suddenly, Sophie's hat seemed to take on a mind of its own. It lifted completely off of her head, did a few spins, and then began zooming off through the air before Sophie could even reach out and grab for it. She stared dumbly after it for a moment, her eyes wide with shock. "Did... did someone just steal my hat?" she asked herself, her hand going loose on her gnarled wooden staff. Then, she began to glow with an angry blue energy, and her eyes narrowed again. "Someone just stole my hat!"
Several onlookers paused what they were doing to look over at the shouting Ixi, but none dared to say anything or interfere. They knew Sophie, and they knew that getting involved in whatever had just happened would certainly be dangerous for them. Only Edna stepped forward, since she had witnessed the incident first-hand. "I know who's behind this," she said. "Nesmy! She's the one who took it!"
Sophie clenched both fists around her magical staff, holding it forward as though she was about to use it. "How do you know?" she snarled through clenched teeth.
For a few moments, Edna was intimidated by Sophie's angry appearance. She crouched a little, and took a step back. Then, she gestured with one paw. "Er, because she's currently running away with it?"
Sophie turned just in time to see a little white figure disappear out the front door to the conference room with something black clutched tightly in her paws. "What in Neopia was she thinking?" Sophie yelled. "Oh, it doesn't matter. Come on!" She reached back to grab Edna's sleeve, dragging her along as she ran towards the door.
Sophie stopped only long enough to shoot Edna a glare over her shoulder. "Yes, you! Don't you want to watch me zap her into a pile of soot?"
Edna suddenly brightened and pushed past Sophie, running for the door on her own. "Let's go!" she said, picking up her robes so that she would not trip over them. "We have to catch her before she gets away!"
The two of them burst out into the hall at a sprint, but slowed down when they noticed something strange lurking around the far corner. "Is that her?" Edna asked with a frown, taking a cautious step forward.
Sophie opened her mouth to respond, but before she could say anything, a large red Grarrl hopped out into the middle of the hallway, crouching on all fours. It flicked its tongue at them and let out a loud, raspy crrroak!
"Nesmy," Sophie muttered. "This magic has her name written all over it." She stepped aside as the Grarrl jumped past them, landing on all fours and staring blankly at the wall. Then, she pointed her staff at the back of his head and sent out a small, concentrated beam of blue light.
The Grarrl was silenced mid-ribbit, and he slumped over onto the floor, his eyes rolling back into his head. Edna gave Sophie an astonished look, but the Ixi only shrugged her shoulders. "What did you want me to do? Leave him like this? At least this way, he won't hop out into the middle of the road..." Leaving the Grarrl behind, she began jogging down the hallway, only turning back long enough to glance over her shoulder and make sure Edna was following. "Well? Come on! She's going to outrun us unless you pick up the pace!"
For a moment, Edna considered complaining about her sore footpaw, but her desire to witness what happened when Sophie finally caught up with Nesmy was enough to make her push through the pain. She hobbled after Sophie, trying to her best to keep up. She wasn't going to miss this for anything.
To be continued...