Before I begin, you gotta know one thing: I don't give quests. If you wanna do a witch's quest, go to Edna and leave me out of it. I don't care if you just wanna help me out, I don't want you to and for very good reasons.
Number one, I'm not exactly a social Batterfly. I've lived alone and isolated in the swamp for practically my whole life and I'm not complaining. If I wanted to be more social, I would've moved back to Neovia.
Number two, I hate having people do things for me. If I want something, I'll go out and get it myself. It's nothing personal; it's just what I'm used to.
So, there. That's why I don't give quests. Never have and never will... well, I guess I can't say "never have". There was one time I caved and broke my own rule. Sit back, now. It's a bit of a story.
It all started like any day in the Haunted Woods, dark and gloomy. I was at home, busy mixing a potion. I can't quite remember if it was a cure for warts or toe-jam, but I don't think that's important. What is important is that as I was mixing, I heard a big, heavy knock at my door. I immediately knew it was Bruno.
"Come in," I answered, still measuring some ingredients.
"Sophie!" Bruno boomed excitedly, "I've got something big to tell you!"
"Can it wait just one more minute?" I said, trying to get an exact measure, "I'm almost done with this."
"I just wanted to say that somebody wants to do a quest for you," Bruno continued.
"Tell them no, Bruno," I muttered, "You know I don't do quests."
"But surely you'll give a quest to your biggest fan," Bruno goaded.
"I have fans?" I gasped in surprise, flinging my ingredients behind me. My meowclops immediately jumped down from her perch and started licking it up.
"Sure you've got fans. Why are you so surprised?"
"Because I don't know what I did to get fans."
"You helped lift the curse off Neovia. That was a pretty big deal."
"You and that kid, Gilly, did most of the work. All I did was make a potion. Besides, I thought that was old news anyway. I mean, isn't everybody all about the obelisk wars or something?"
"Old news or not, you really mean a lot to this girl." Bruno gave me a pitiful look. "Please, Sophie. Just this one quest."
As much as I hate to admit it, that look made me cave in. "Fine. Just this one quest." I swept the stray hair out of my face and straightened my hat. "So, when will I be expecting my biggest fan?"
Just as I finished that sentence, my eyes locked on a young, disco, Quiggle girl standing in my front door. Seeing her there in my shack prompted my brother to answer, "Pretty soon, I think."
This fan's appearance was admittedly jarring to me. She was dressed in an exact replica of my outfit, only hers was made with ridiculously cheap fabric and looked as if it hadn't ever been washed. The second I laid eyes on her, her face grew to frightening proportions. It was a kind of face that made me unsure whether she wanted to get an autograph or to eat me.
"Sophie!" the fan squealed shrilly, locking me into a hug I swore would crush the life out of me. Seeing how I'm the kinda gal who's used to wearing corsets, that's saying something. "Oh my Fyora! I can't believe I'm meeting the actual Sophie! I'm your biggest fan!"
"So, I've been told," I gasped, gently prying this girl off me. I put on the best smile I could muster and said, "It's a pleasure to meet you, miss..."
"Paisley! Paisley Schump! Witch in training!" my fan introduced herself loudly.
"A witch in training, eh?" I replied, trying to feign interest. "So, have you cooked up any potions yet?"
"Well... no..." Paisley hesitated.
"Oh. Okay, do you know any spells, then?" I asked her.
"Not a lot, yet," Paisley admitted sheepishly, "like zero."
"Uh-huh," I continued to humor her. "So, what do you know?"
Paisley dropped a well-worn backpack off her shoulders and pulled out a book entitled Simple Spells. "I read the index of it and got bored." She then tossed the book carelessly onto my floor, "It wouldn't be so boring if it were written by you."
Honestly, I was a little creeped out at this point, but carried on anyway. "Well, I'm glad you at least made the effort."
She stared at me with those wide, crazed eyes expectantly. "So. What sorta quest are you gonna give me? I'll do anything for you, Sophie."
"Oh yeah... the quest," I stalled nervously. "Why don't you... go get me a pumpkin roll?"
"A pumpkin roll?" Paisley repeated.
"Yep. I've just been working at this potion all day and it's gotten me hungry," I continued as an excuse.
"Say no more!" Paisley saluted me like a dutiful soldier. "I'll get you that pumpkin roll ASAP!" With that, she darted off.
The moment she was gone, my brother looked over at me with a triumphant smile. "See, Sophie? Wasn't that nice?"
"About as nice as a cobrall to the face." I cringed. "Don't tell me that she didn't strike you as... off."
Bruno's smile dropped. "She's just a little eccentric. Most fans are kinda like that."
"Oh, what?" I raised an eyebrow at him. "Do you have a fan club or something?"
"Uhh..." Bruno rubbed his head sheepishly. "Maybe just a tiny one... you know... and they're in pretty close contact with your fan club."
"Wait, I have a fan club?" My jaw dropped. "How come I didn't know about this?"
"Say Sophie, is that potion supposed to be bubbling over like that?" Bruno pointed to my cauldron which was now oozing with a green froth. I let out a quick yelp and went to take the thing off the fire for a bit.
Once I got the whole mess cleaned up (including some meowclops barf as a bonus), Paisley came trotting back, pastry in hand. "Here's your pumpkin roll, miss Sophie."
"Oh right, thanks, kid." I nabbed the pastry from her hands and chomped a bite out of it. She continued to stare at me eagerly while I chewed like I was gonna grow wings or something. "What?"
"I completed a quest for you," Paisley urged subtly. "Don't I get something in return?"
"Something in return? Oh yeah... you can have..." I looked around my shelves trying to find something, anything. My eyes soon focused on a vial of blue liquid. "Here, take this-erm- foot fungus potion."
"Foot fungus potion?" Paisley deflated.
"Yes, you completed the quest and that's your prize." I started shoving Paisley out the door with my free hand. "Have a nice day, now."
"But aren't you gonna teach me one of your spells?" Paisley whined.
"Yeah, you promised you would!"
"I didn't say any such..."
"Wait a minute! I know what it is! That was just a warm up! You wanna see if I'm worthy or not!"
"What in the world are you..."
"I gotta do harder quests to get your spells, don't I? Well, Sophie, what's the next level?"
I couldn't believe this girl. She barged into my home, invaded my personal space, and she expected me to teach her my spells? That wasn't gonna fly. I know that the next thing I did was a bit dishonest, but I wasn't sure how else to get this crazy girl off my back.
"You wanna know what the next level is, huh?" I asked sneakily, like I was holding back a great secret.
"Yes! I'd do anything for you!" Paisley squealed.
"Yes! What's the next quest?"
"I dunno. It's not easy."
"Please, Sophie! Please!"
"Hmm... Oh, alright."
"I want you to go out and get me a jeweled negg."
"A jeweled negg?
"I know. A difficult task, isn't it? If you wanna back out now, I won't blame you."
"Back out? No way, no how!" Paisley saluted again. "Don't worry, Sophie! I won't let you down!" With that, she marched right out the door.
"Take all the time you need out there! Take care! Good luck!" I stopped to chuckle to myself once Paisley was out of earshot. "And good riddance." My celebration stopped as I looked into Bruno's yellowed, disapproving eyes. "Now what?"
"That was a dirty, rotten thing to do and you know it," he chastised me.
"Bruno, come on. She was a total screwball. Expecting me to teach her one of my spells," I tried to explain to him.
"Maybe you should've." Bruno crossed his massive blue arms in disapproval. "You could've taught her one, little spell instead of sending her off on a wild mallard chase for some rare, expensive item. What would you ever do with a jeweled negg anyway? It makes no sense."
"Two things for ya. I don't teach and I don't give quests," I stated with finality. "Besides, it's not like I expect her to get me a jeweled negg or anything. In a few minutes, she'll probably realize that the quest is too hard and go home. Is that better?"
Bruno continued to glare at me. His face reflected nothing but disappointment. "I guess..." Bruno shuffled his heavy feet towards the door. "I need to get some spring cleaning done, anyway."
"Fine! Get all sulky about it! At least I can sleep at night knowing I won't get stalked by some creepy kid!" I called out to him before returning to my work.
My plan had worked... or so I thought. Let's see... it was about a month after that. I remember I was brushing up on some of my other spells when I heard a knock at the door. It didn't sound heavy enough to be Bruno's, so I assumed it must've been Reginald or Mom and Dad stopping by for a visit. I was wrong. So very, very wrong.
Standing right there in my doorway in a tattered up dress, shivering, and dribbling snot from one nostril was Paisley. Her eyes grew wider the moment she saw me and she went in for that same, bone-crushing hug from before, "Sophie!"
"Oh, hello... Paisley." It took me a moment to remember her name.
She finally let me go and fished something out of her battered backpack. It was a jeweled negg. "See? I told you I wouldn't let you down!"
I couldn't believe my eyes. "How did you get that?"
"Well, you see, I started searching all over the Haunted Woods for it without any luck. I asked Braintree, the Esophagor, blew all my money on the carnival games, nothing. So, I began my quest outside the Haunted Woods. I went diving in Maraqua, moonwalking on Kreludor, mountain climbing in Shenkuu, spelunking in Tyrannia, I think I might have ended up in Jelly World at one point..."
"That place doesn't exist."
"It doesn't? Oh. I wonder what that place covered in jelly was then... Anyway, while I ended up tomb-raiding in Geraptiku, it suddenly dawned on me. Negg? Negg Faerie! I had been looking in the wrong places the whole time! So I marched my way up to Terror Mountain to see if it was there.
"When I got there, the Negg Faerie didn't have it in stock, so I knew that there was only one place left to check, the Snowager. So I crept into his cave as quiet as could be, and there I saw it. The jeweled negg resting right under the Snowager's big, dumb head! I tried to be stealthy and sneak it out from under him, but then he woke up!
"He roared at me, but I wasn't scared! Not at all! I knew I had to get that jeweled negg no matter what stood in my way. So I jumped up on his head and started wrestling him for it." Paisley cut herself off with a sneeze. "He kinda got me with his ice-breath and I caught a bit of a cold from it, but I got it anyway! What do you think, Sophie? Did I earn a spell from you yet?"
"Are you nuts?" I gasped in shock. "I sent you off on a wild mallard chase! I didn't expect you to actually get it!"
"But I did!" Paisley crowed proudly. "So which spell am I gonna learn first? Am I gonna shoot fireballs? Freeze things? Turn pets into stinkbugs?"
"No! I'm not teaching you any spells!" I cried, trying to reason with her.
"So that's how it's gonna be, huh?" Paisley said with determination. "I still haven't proven my worth yet? Well, I'll do an even tougher quest than that! I'll get you the most powerful wand I know! Yeah! That's right! I'm gonna get you the ultranova wand and then you'll have to teach me one of your spells!"
"Stop!" I blocked the door before she could leave. "I don't want you to go on anymore quests! Do you know just how crazy this all is? And for what exactly? One spell?"
"Aw, it was no big deal. I'd do anything for you, Sophie! After all, I am your apprentice, aren't I?"
"An apprentice! When did I agree to this?"
"I thought Bruno would've told you! I wanna be your apprentice! I'll learn any spell you can teach me, no matter how hard!"
"That's it! Do I have to spell it out for ya? I don't give quests, I don't teach spells, and I don't take apprentices!" I explained angrily. "Now stop living in the clouds and grow up!"
Those big round eyes of hers welled up with tears and she ran past me out the door. For a second, it felt good. I finally got that deluded fan off my back. At the same time, though, my guilty conscience started to creep in on me. I'll admit that I was a bit harsh in hindsight, but she wrestled the Snowager for me! That's just the embodiment of crazy! How else was I supposed to react?
Still, I did feel awfully guilty for blowing up like that, so I at least wanted to check up on the kid. Just as I was about to march on after her, I remembered the book she left in my shack. Picking it up gave me an idea. I knew exactly how to handle the situation.
"Paisley! Paisley!" I called out into the swamp. Thankfully, I found her relatively quickly, bawling her eyes out next to a gnarled tree, "There you are! I've been looking for you."
"What?" she croaked in a surly way. "Come to yell at me some more?"
"No, it's not like that at all. I actually came to apologize. I have a bad habit of losing my temper. It's one of the things I'm least proud of," I explained. She gave me no response so I changed the subject. "So, why did you want to learn from me in the first place?"
"Because," she sniffled, "you're one of the strongest witches I know of. You know so many great spells and potions and I was hoping you'd teach me at least one. I guess I was wrong."
I sighed and said, "Look, it's nothing personal. The reason why I didn't want to teach you is because I can't teach."
"You can't?" Paisley snorted in surprise. "But how? You know so many spells, how could you not teach them?"
I shrugged. "I just can't, I guess. I suppose the major reason I don't know how to teach is because nobody ever taught me. Ilere dropped me off in that shack with some books and basic amenities and that was that. I had to learn everything on my own, so I guess that's why I can't teach."
"I guess that makes sense," Paisley used her tattered sleeve to wipe her nose, "but how am I supposed to learn if you can't teach me?"
"Start here." I returned the book to her. "If you wanna be like me, you'll find ways to teach yourself. Who knows? Maybe you'll be a better witch than me someday and deal with crazier fans than yourself."
Paisley gave me another hug. Sure it was as constrictive as ever, but, you know what? It felt good. I hate to admit to feeling that warm fuzziness when I saw her marching off to new prospects, but I did. In the end, I'm glad this crazy scenario happened.
Don't get me wrong, though. That was the first and last time I'm ever giving a quest! So, don't any of you Neopians out there come sniffing around my place looking for one. I won't hesitate on turning you into a stinkbug. Especially if you're part of my fan club. Got it? Good.