What Happened To Sophie's Hat: Part Three
Part Three: In Which Nesmy Finds Sophie's Hat To Be Most Uncooperative
Nesmy hurried through the alleyway, her ears flying behind her head as she hopped around the nearest corner and pressed her back flat against the wall. She was just in time. A few yards away, she could see flashes of green, brown, and black zoom by, still following the main path. Normally, Nesmy used magic to escape any dangerous predicaments she found herself in, but she did not want to risk fighting with Sophie unless she absolutely had to. The swamp witch was very powerful, and although Nesmy's magic was strong, she was not entirely sure she could defeat Sophie in a proper duel.
Still breathing hard, Nesmy looked down at the ragged hat in her paws, her heart hammering almost painfully against her ribcage. At least she had her prize, she thought as she tightened her grip on its brim. The idea to steal Sophie's hat had come to her several months ago, but she had not had an excuse to get close to her until the annual Neopian Witches' Convention rolled around. Going to Sophie's hut had been out of the question. Hardly anyone even knew its location, and it was well-guarded. Sophie was notorious for protecting her privacy.
When a few more minutes passed with no sign of Sophie, Nesmy crept carefully out from around the corner, glancing from side to side before hopping off in the opposite direction. Although she had not been sure if Sophie would chase her, she had taken precautions just in case. If everything went according to plan, Sophie would be busy following the false trails that Nesmy had set earlier while she made her way safely home. Then, she would have plenty of time alone to study the hat.
Nesmy finally allowed herself to relax as she headed towards the nearest bus station. Normally, she despised public transportation, but it was the safest and quickest way for her to get home inconspicuously. Several other neopets were waiting for the bus as well, but she blended right in despite the old, patched hat she was carrying. Once again, Nesmy was glad that she did not look like a normal witch. It made moving around Neopia Central without being noticed much easier.
Soon, a team of Unis arrived, pulling the long carriage of the bus behind them. Nesmy was the first on board, pushing past an impatient Skeith for the privilege. She climbed the steps, dug out a few neopoints for the fare, and took the closest seat to the front despite being the first one on. Hopefully, she would be back at home with the hat before Sophie even realized that she had been tricked. Then, she could continue with her plans.
The bus ride only took a few minutes, and Nesmy passed the time by staring down at the hat she had stolen. It certainly did not look like much, with its threadbare patches and old crinkles. At least it did not smell bad, she thought, bringing it a little closer to her face. That was a relief, since she would have to wear it eventually. Sophie seemed like the type of neopet who cared about her personal appearance despite living in a swamp, and apparently, she cared about her clothes as well, even if she did not like to get rid of them until they were practically falling apart. Nesmy could not help but admire her sense of thrift.
When the Unis finally came to a halt at her stop, Nesmy stood up from her seat and made her way towards the door. She had several tests to run before Sophie's hat would be of any use to her, but fortunately, time was on her side now. If she was right - and Nesmy was nearly always right - then the magic that the hat had absorbed during the years it had spent on Sophie's head would make it a perfect object for enchantment.
Still clutching the hat tight in her paws, she left the bus behind and walked down one of the Neopia Central's many side streets. This one was lined with small homes, although some of the cottages on either side of Nesmy's currently had 'For Sale' signs on the lawns. Nesmy did not go out of her way to frighten or intimidate the neighbors unless they bothered her first - but they nearly always did. The Lupes down the street had deserved to be chased away, since they were always howling at the moon in the middle of the night, and the family of Pteris that used to live next door had made the grave mistake of leaving feathers in her precious vegetable garden.
Nesmy stopped at the front door, but did not open it right away. Instead, she put her paw over the handle and muttered a few words under her breath. As soon as she stopped chanting, the handle flared a bright, glowing green, and the door clicked open. With one last glance over her shoulder, the Cybunny hurried inside before any nosy onlookers could spot her.
The front room of Nesmy's cottage was absolutely pristine. All of the furniture was clean and new, and the kitchen looked practically untouched. Although the broom and dustpan that she had enchanted to clean the place on their own certainly helped, Nesmy's house mostly stayed so neat and tidy because she spent most of her time back in her workroom instead. She rarely ventured into the other rooms at all.
Nesmy turned and entered the hallway that led off from the living room, walking to the furthest door at the end. Like the front door, this one was locked tight, but it did not have a keyhole, or even a handle. Instead, Nesmy touched the tip of her jewelled staff to the center of the door and drew a spiral shape. The door swung open on its own, and she stepped inside the dark room, kicking the door shut behind her.
Unlike the rest of the house, Nesmy's workroom was a mess. Smudged bottles and dusty scrolls were scattered haphazardly on the furniture, along with several old copies of the Neopian Times. Nesmy liked to read the newspaper in the mornings with her breakfast, the remains of which were still sitting on the edge of her work table. Too impatient to take the dishes to the kitchen, she swept them aside onto the seat of a mostly-clear chair and hurried to put Sophie's hat in its place. Then, she used her staff to pull one of her scrolls off a nearby shelf, making it float towards her until she could reach out and take it in her paws.
"This should be perfect," Nesmy said, leaning forward to read the scribbled words on the page. It was a spell that she had invented herself, a powerful enchantment that blocked several different types of attacks. If she could use the already-powerful magic in Sophie's hat to amplify her enchantment, she would be well protected indeed whenever she wore it. In fact, she would be nearly unstoppable. None of the other witches would be able to hold a candle to her then - not even Sophie, and especially not Edna the hack.
Carefully, Nesmy raised her staff, pointing it directly at Sophie's hat. She began chanting, reading the words off the page in a strange, unfamiliar language. The jewel at the end of the staff began to glow, and so did Sophie's hat. It rose a few inches off the table, bobbing up and down to the rhythm of the words. But then, suddenly, the light winked out, and the hat slumped back onto the desk, looking quite useless indeed.
Nesmy blinked in surprise. She had not been expecting this. Since it belonged to Sophie, the hat should have been brimming with magic, and more than enough power for her enchantment to latch on without any preparation. She prodded the hat with her staff, but it only tipped over in the opposite direction, its point hanging down mournfully as it slumped in on itself. Her face knitting in concentration, Nesmy brandished her staff again and continued chanting, reciting the spell with even more force. The green jewel at the end of her staff throbbed with light, but this time, the hat did not even levitate. It simply remained where it was, looking old and tired and sad, completely unaffected by the magic.
"It didn't work!" Nesmy complained, still glaring at the hat. One of the decorative green leaves fell off its vine, drifting down to land on the surface of the table. "This silly thing is almost as uncooperative as Sophie herself!" Somehow, Nesmy felt as though Sophie was mocking her, even though the Ixi was nowhere nearby. At least, Nesmy hoped she wasn't anywhere nearby... With a frustrated sigh, she propped her staff against the work table and rummaged through the clutter to find a quill. She would just have to make a few modifications to her spell and try again.
To be continued...