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The Pink Witch


by rhoc

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It was ten o'clock in the morning, at that time of day when the sun is bright and shining but everything is still cold. Callina Cottentail was sitting at her kitchen table, leafing through 1002 Spells For You, when the postChia knocked at the door.

     "Hello, Ted," Callina said, opening it. "How's the achy head?"

     "Oh much better, Miss Callina! Your medicine worked a right treat, it did, cleared up in less than a minute. Er, I have a letter for you somewhere.... Here it is." Callina thanked the postChia and returned to kitchen, slitting a pink paw through the back of the envelope. The Cybunny read her letter, then looked around her home.

     "I suppose it's time to start packing," she said.

 

     Kipper hung by one paw, flapped his wings, and scrabbled with his back paws at the trunk of the tree. He flipped himself back onto the branch and sidestepped onto a plank wedged between three branches. The small faerie Lupe pulled a stick of chalk out of his pocket. It had broken in half, so he took one piece and carefully wrote 'KiPrs TREhOWS' on the plank. Kipper proudly inspected his work, and then sat on it. He threw acorns at the roof of the deserted cottage a few yards away, humming. Mum had said that someone - a witch - was moving in, and if he kept messing around in the garden the witch would turn him into a frog. Kipper was unconcerned. You had to have treehouses - that was what trees were for, as anyone as sensible as a witch ought to know. He got up to climb down the tree, and noticed that he had smudged 'KiPrs TREhOWS' into 'KiP------OWS'. Maybe he could write it on that piece of cardboard under his bed and hang it in the tree instead.

 

     There wasn't any official welcome planned, no ceremony for Buzzerton's new witch, but most people found some sort of excuse to be out and about that morning. However, when Callina arrived a subtle air of disappointment spread through the villagers. What sort of witch could a pink Cybunny be? Any real witch would be shadow, or Halloween, and wear a billowing black coat. This witch definitely didn't have enough warts. Was she just a fake who wanted to live in the cottage traditionally reserved for witches? Callina approached one of the villagers leaving a bakery with two young Techos in tow.

     "Hello!" she said, "I don't suppose you could tell me which way the witch cottage is, please?" The adult Techo just pointed. At that moment, one of the younger Techos started coughing. "That's a nasty cough. A drop of cough potion should clear it up though," offered Callina.

     "That won't be necessary. Excuse me," the adult Techo said, taking her two children by the paws and walking away.

     "I'll bring it round tomorrow anyway," Callina called after them. I hope they're not all that unfriendly, she thought.

 

     He had missed the arrival of the witch! Kipper scolded himself as he trotted quickly towards the cottage. He had been in his room, and no one had told him. What amazing magical feats had he missed? He snuck through the garden towards the door, hidden by tall grass and overgrown feather weeds. He peeked through the leaves of a furrn at the pink Cybunny sitting on the doorstep with her chin on her paws. She sniffed, then looked straight at him.

     "Hello there. I can see your wings." Kipper wriggled out from under the furrn.

     "Are you the witch?" he asked.

     "Yes," she said, and sighed. Kipper sat beside her.

     "My Name's Kipper. Can you really do magic? Why don't you have a hat?" Callina waved a paw in an curve. A line of fire followed it, and when the curve became a circle a blue easter negg cookie materialized in it. Callina caught the cookie and handed it to Kipper.

     "I don't need a magic hat to do that," she explained, as Kipper munched his cookie. "Just because I don't look the way everyone thinks a witch should doesn't mean I'm not powerful. I think a lot of the people here don't believe I'm a witch, you know. I'm Callina, by the way."

     "My mum says Missus Barker says you're probably a fake, because what sort of a witch would a pink Cybunny make, but my mum also says Missus Barker is a know-it-all busybody and don't I dare repeat that," Kipper said, fiddling with a piece of moss growing over the step. "Why don't you paint yourself Halloween?" Callina shook her head.

     "I'm not changing myself just so some - silly people - respect me. They'll respect me anyway, eventually. I just have to give them a little time." It was a lot to think about, in Kipper's opinion. Then he remembered what he'd come for.

     "Miss Callina, can I keep coming to work on my treehouse?"

     "Of course you can," Callina reassured him.

     Callina fastened her green velvet cloak and stepped out into the night. A fierce gust of wind blew into her hood and whistled around her ears. She shivered and walked down the cracked paving stones towards her gate, looking for potholes carefully in the moonlight. It only took Callina three minutes to walk to the forest, in which she hoped to find the last ingredient for her cough-cure: a propellorshroom, picked in the moonlight. Standing just on the edge of the forest for the first time, she bowed to the trees on impulse, then walked in.

     Twenty minutes later, Callina was walking home with a propellorshroom in her pocket when she spotted a light through the trees. Made cautious by darkness, Callina crept forward, hidden by the close trees. Four light faeries were having some sort of meeting. The soft words of one, who wore a cape, were carried to Callina's large Cybunny ears.

     "Ladies Tallarae, Ambrosia, and Wen. I have your information, however I am afraid you will find it... distressing. As you know, at the event of her coronation, all information - nearly all information - as to Queen Fyora's previous elemental allegiance was destroyed." Another light faerie, who carried a light faerie sword, inclined her head.

     "That is tradition. Yet I take it you were able to recover this information?"

     "Yes, I did indeed," said Cape anxiously. "But... She was a dark faerie." Sword clutched the pommel of her weapon, Cape flinched away, and the light faerie who carried a wand gasped. The fourth, who carried nothing, was silent.

     "If the dark faeries learn of this, we'll lose so much power! What are we going to do?" asked Wand.

     "The only thing appropriate," spoke the faerie who had been silent thus far. "We will replace her with a better candidate." She snapped her fingers, and a glow of light appeared around them. Drawing a circle around her head, the light left her fingers to become a crown. Cape, Wand, and Sword, understanding her meaning, bowed. With a nod of her head, Crown turned to leave, saying "We'll discuss this matter further tomorrow. The same time and place." The four faeries silently disbanded, each going her own way. Callina shrank back into the bushes, counted to fifty, and then bolted for her cottage.

     Callina woke up before dawn the next morning and dressed hurriedly. She completed her cough-cure and paced anxiously around until eight o'clock, then set off for Buzzerton. At ten past eight, the small police office was closed, so she went to the bakery and asked after the Techo family. The baker grudgingly told Callina where they lived, so she walked to their house and left the cough medicine with a note by the doorstep. At eight thirty, the police office opened.

     "There's a conspiracy to overthrow queen Fyora," said Callina to the sergeant, who threw back his snout and roared with laughter.

     When Kipper arrived at the cottage, there was nobody in the garden, but the back door was open so he walked into the hallway. He turned into a workroom, where Callina was angrily chopping up Duoroots on a breadboard. Kipper slipped into an armchair and watched her from there. Gradually Callina started slicing the roots less violently and said,

     "Isn't it odd. One idiot could have ruined everything for the entire world. I went for a walk in the forest last night."

     "I'm not allowed to go in the forest. Mum says there's dangerous things in there but no one I know has ever seen one. And I have wings. I'd be perfectly safe, but nooooo," said Kipper.

     "There are dangerous things in there, Kipper. I found some myself."

     "You did? What were they? Did they have huuuuuge teeth and eyes like big glowing red coals?" Callina found herself suppressing a laugh, in spite of her tense mood. She forced herself to relax and chop the Duoroots properly.

     "Light faeries."

     "Everyone says light faeries are good," said Kipper, but there was a question at the end of the statement. Callina was impressed: the little Lupe wasn't taking everything he heard for granted.

     "Most of them. Not all of them. Are all Darigan pets evil? Are all faerie pets nice? Do all Cybunnies like carrots?"

     "I don't know, do they?"

     "No. I hate carrots. Except in cake."

     Kipper hopped out of his chair and walked over to the wide workbench. He flapped his wings industriously until he could stand on the bench and inspect the Duoroots. Callina gave him a piece to eat, but he just held it, and asked;

     "What were the light faeries doing?"

     "Plotting," said Callina, still watching her Duoroots. She chopped a little faster. "They want to replace Queen Fyora with a light faerie."

     Kipper gasped.

     "One of them, unsurprisingly. I told that stupid little Draik in the police station, and he just laughed. He can't see past my pink fur, so he lost the perfect chance to catch them. I know where they are meeting again tonight! If he'd listened to me today, we could have caught them red handed."

     "You should curse them!" said Kipper, banging his piece of Duoroot on the bench.

     "Who? The light faeries, or the Draik?"

     "Constable Drikka."

     "Tempting. But no. Fear and respect aren't the same thing, Kipper. Fear's easier to get, but people who respect you won't let you down when you're in a tight corner. Mind those flowers, Kipper, I'll need them in a bit."

     "What are you going to do about the light faeries?"

     "This," said Callina, and pulled a large pot out from under the bench. She tipped in the chopped Duoroots, then set the pot on a very short tripod in the middle of the room. With a pair of thick leather gloves on, Callina packed some sort of pale red, crunchy stuff around the pot.

     "What's that?"

     "Fire snow. Handy, because you can put it back in the jar when you're done, and there's no ash or soot. Ignite!" she commanded, and the fire snow glowed a hot red.

     "And the stuff in the cauldron?"

     "It's a pot, Kipper. Oh, but I'm making a memoramarble. Boiled foot of the purple twin, that actually just means Duoroots, bring me the stars and the sun and the moon, that means I need a piece of the sun, the stars, and the moon. I've got Kreludan moon rock for the moon, and in fact it would do for the stars as well, but it feels better to get a second object. I've got a starflower for that."

     "How is that part of a star?" asked Kipper.

     "Oh, well, everything was, once. The thing with magic is that you don't have to give it literally what it asks for. Just whatever fits, and seems right. So, for the sun, I have a sunflower - to match the starflower, see? Also, anything that was a star was also a sun, if it had something orbiting it. So the sunflower was part of something's sun, once upon a time." Callina pulled a waiting sunflower and starflower out of the vase on the bench, and rummaged around in a draw for a Kreludan moon rock. She threw all three ingredients whole into the pot. "Right. Now I need to boil a "fighting globe of sight" - a marble - in there until the mixture turns into pink gloop."

     "I have a marble," Kipper offered, and dug in his pocket. He proffered a large, clear marble. It had a little twist of blue in the middle.

     "Are you sure? It'll get used up in the spell; you won't get it back."

     "That's ok. I've got lots of this sort."

     Kipper was about to ask if he could see some of the spells in the big book open on a stand in the corner, when there was a loud pop from the pot in the corner.

     "It's done," announced Callina.

     "Already? I thought it would take ages. It takes much longer for my mum to boil things when she's cooking."

     "Magic's unpredictable like that," said Callina vaguely, as she fished around in the viscous pink liquid. "Got it," she pronounced. Callina cleaned off the marble with a paper towel and showed it to Kipper. It was a solid, dark, pink color. She pulled a hammer out from the bench draw and hit the marble. Kipper flinched away, but the marble didn't splinter. Instead it crumpled, and shriveled up. The outside split off like a skin and a clear, colorless marble was left.

     "Is that it?" asked Kipper, who had been expecting large puffs of coloured smoke, at the very least.

     "Yes. But watch this," said Callina, holding the marble aloft. "Record!"

     "What's it doing?" asked Kipper. Callina smiled.

     "Recording. That should be enough. End Record! And now... Play!"

     Suddenly, Kipper was floating in the air. He was startled to see himself, saying, "What's it doing?" Callina was again holding the marble in the air. Or, one of her was. The other one was hovering next to Kipper.

     The one holding the marble smiled, again, and said, "Recording. That should be enough. End Record!" and then Kipper was sitting back down on the bench. There was only one of each of them now.

     "Wow! That's awesome!"

     "It's not a bad trick," acknowledged Callina. "And it's just what I need to get proof of that conspiracy."

     "Yeah! ... Can we make something else now?" asked Kipper, all enthusiasm and big eyes. Callina looked at the clock.

     "Maybe another time. It's time for your dinner now, isn't it?"

     Kipper was thinking through most of dinner. It was unfair that no one recognised Miss Callina as a witch. If only there was a sort of badge she could wear, so that everyone respected her. He carried his plate over to the sink and went upstairs into his room. Kipper rummaged around in the toybox at the bottom of his wardrobe.

     "Aha," he said, "Perfect." Dragging the pointy black hat from his Halloween costume last year behind him, he ran downstairs again, jumping over the steps at the bottom.

     "Just where do you think you're going?" asked his mother, when he was nearly at the door. "It's too late for you to be going outside!" Foiled, Kipper stamped his way to his bedroom, slammed the door, and sat fuming on his bed. He'd show them! He'd just have to sneak out later on.

     Callina crept between the trees, wearing a dark cape and hood. She knew she must be close to the faeries meeting place now. Yes, there was the ring of propellorshrooms. A minutes walk later, and she was sneaking up behind Crown, Sword, Wand, and Cape. When she judged she was close enough, Callina hid behind a waterberry bush and pulled the memoramarble from her pocket.

     "Record," she whispered, then crouched silently, listening.

     "Meridell day," Crown was saying, "is the best option. It comes soon, and there should be enough distractions to make this easier. We will depose Fyora while her major allies are busy with the celebrations."

     As Callina sat listening to the four faeries' plans, Kipper was flying above her paw prints through the forest. It was a good plan of his - he would be able to bring her his idea, prove he was fine in the forest, and catch a glimpse of the plotters she had spoken of. Finally he heard voices and saw the subtle glow of the light faeries ahead. He glided in close to a waterberry bush, and dropped to the ground, crunching several leaves and sticks. Callina yanked him and his hat into the bush and put a paw to her lips, but it was too late.

     "What was that?" asked Crown, her brow creasing.

     "It came from that bush," said Sword. "Shall I destroy it?"

     "Oh no," mouthed Kipper.

     "End Record. Wait here," Callina whispered, rolling the memoramarble under a leaf. She stepped out from the bushes, with her hands in the air.

     "Ah. Just a Cybunny. No, Ambrosia, the notice we would cause with a destruction spell is too great a risk to take for a mere villager. A standard sleep spell will suffice." Callina was relieved, inwardly. For once she was glad to have someone underestimate her, and she let her magical guards down so that the sleep spell would easily work. "By the light of the stars and the sun and the moon, sleep until you are joined by them!" Crown chanted. Callina slumped to the ground.

     "Should we take her with us?" asked Cape.

     "We are faeries! We do not carry things around like servants and you would do well to remember that. I will send one of my footmen to collect her," Crown said, and swept out of the clearing. Sword and Wand followed, Cape bringing up the rear.

     Hidden inside the waterberry bush, Kipper trembled. What had he done? With a soft, involuntary whimper, he crept out and shook Miss Callina, but she wouldn't wake up. She couldn't wake up, because he had made a noise and now she would sleep forever, and it was all his fault! Kipper rocked backwards and forwards for a while, miserable.

     Wait a minute, Kipper thought, of course she could wake up! It was simple - she had shown him how this just this afternoon. Those faeries might be powerful, but if they thought their spell was permanent they obviously didn't understand magic as well as Callina! He just needed something from the sun and the stars, that was anything - a stone for the moon, and a leaf for the sun. That felt right; plants ate sunlight. The moon was harder. What about moonlight? That probably didn't count, thought Kipper. It wasn't really a thing. The memoramarble might work though - it had been made from a piece of the moon. Kipper picked a leaf from the waterberry bush, found the memoramarble, and placed both, with a pebble, in Callina's paw.

     "Wakeupwakeupwakeupwakeup," he muttered. Callina cautiously opened one eye. "It's ok, they've gone. For now. I'm so sorry I ruined everything," said Kipper, wretchedly.

     "You worked out how to wake me," exclaimed Callina, pocketing her pawfull of objects. "And the memoramarble is safe. Come on, let's go, we need to get these to the Queen."

     "Am I in trouble?" asked Kipper, as Callina began to pull a branch off a tree.

     "Hmmm. I think you've probably had enough punishment already. And it was very brave and clever of you to work out how to wake me up." Kipper looked happier, and puffed his chest out at being brave and clever. "But you do see now that the forest can be dangerous, don't you?"

     "Yes!" Kipper agreed, nodding emphatically. "Oh!" he said, remembering his idea. "What about this hat?"

     Callina, wearing Kipper's magic hat, stripped the leaves from the branch, then straddled it.

     "If you think hard about it being a broomstick, it works just as well," she said, by way of explanation. "Hop on, and hold tight!" He'll be safer with me than back at the village when the faeries find me gone, Callina decided. The branch rose slowly, then zoomed up into the sky. Faster and faster it went, until the ground below was blurred.

     "Shouldn't the wind be pushing us off?"

     "We're enclosed in a bubble of air."

     "What's that down there?"

     "The Haunted Woods."

     "Are they really haunted?"

     "They're certainly much scarier than our forest!" said Callina, causing Kipper to fall silent for a little while.

     "Where are we going?"

     "Where do you think we're going?"

     "Faerieland?"

     "Right in one! In fact, that blob is it coming up now." Callina pulled back on the broomstick as the blob shot towards them. When it had slowed to the pace of a trotting Uni, Kipper could see the curtains and window-frames in the city's many turrets and towers.

     "Wooooow!" he said, looking in the darkness for the first time at the solid pink clouds, the spindly marble steps and walls, and the beautiful plants that grew over Faerieland.

     Callina considered going straight to the gates of the palace, and decided against it. Although she would never say so, Kipper's magic hat had been thrown together from scraps and would probably count even more against her credibility as a witch. Besides, there would be bureaucracy, and waiting around - no, it was far better to go this way. Watching the ground beneath her carefully, Callina waited until she was directly above a statue, then stopped the branch in mid-air.

     "What's happening?" asked Kipper.

     "Put your paw out - just there." Kipper felt his paw touch stone, and then suddenly he could see a great stone tower where nothing had been before. Callina moved the branch slowly up to a window, and then glided through it.

     "What on earth is going on here?" asked a faerie with purple hair and clothes. Callina bowed, and Kipper realised that this must be queen Fyora.

     "Please - I'm sorry - Your majesty, it's terribly important that you see the information recorded in this memoramarble," said Callina. Queen Fyora looked at her, and at Kipper, and at the makeshift broomstick. And then she looked through Callina, and Callina suddenly knew why it was that Fyora was the queen.

     "Yes," said the queen, creating two chairs with a wave of her hand, "I rather think I should."

     Kipper concentrated, glared at his paws, and gritted his teeth. A small burst of cold fire flashed between his paws, and was gone. Callina clapped, wearing her newly made black witches hat.

     "It's still unfair," Kipper said, seemingly out of the blue. Callina knew what he was talking about.

     "Of course it is. But it's changing already. The hat's helping, and the potions."

     "If they'd known what you did, though, they'd have to respect you!"

     "Yes. But it would put Fyora in too much danger if we told anyone. You know that. Besides, I really do think they're starting to respect me, especially now they've seen a little magic." The doorbell rang. Callina and Kipper wandered out to answer it. It was Millie Techo, the first citizen of Buzzerton Callina met.

     "Oh Miss Callina, I just came round to thank you ever so much for the cough medicine. Not two minutes after I gave my Timmy a spoonful, and he was as good as new! I said to my neighbor - that's Missus Gribble who runs the florist's shop - that new witch knows her spells, she does! And I made a batch of juppie jam just yesterday, and I just thought I'd bring you round some."

     "Thank-you," said Callina, surprised. "May the season bring you good luck," she added, casting a quick spell.

     "See?" she asked Kipper, as they walked back up the hallway. Kipper grinned up at Callina.

     "Will you show me how to make self-coiling rope? I want to put some in my treehouse."

     "Alright then," said the pink Cybunny, to her new apprentice.

The End

 
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