Long, long ago, in a land where Neopets could live without
fear of war or evil, lived a Kougra couple. They had finally been blessed with
a baby girl, already having four little boys who now curiously peered into their
old, redecorated nursery, where their mother was cuddling the small bundle in
"Come here boys," she beckoned. "Meet your sister,
her name is Esperanza."
"Can she play ball with us, Mama?" the youngest,
an electric Kougra, asked.
"No, not yet, my dear." The four small faces
drooped in disappointment. She chuckled. "Don't worry, you'll get to play with
her soon enough. Now go, it is time for bed." They skipped out, racing each
other down the hallway. She sighed and laid the sleeping cub in the crib. "You
can come out now, Rhian. I know you are there."
"Still have your wits about you?" A cloaked
shadow Draik melted out of the nursery's shadows. "No matter. So this is the
"Indeed, I worry she will be," the Kougra whispered,
tears gathering in her eyes.
"Why have you called me here this fine evening?"
"You know what the legend says. Tell me it to
me again, now that I have my daughter."
"Of course." Rhian settled herself in the rocking
chair. "It was said that a witch will be born into a mortal family, your family
it would seem. But great power does not come without its roadblocks. She will
have a hard time being accepted."
"Accepted as what? By who?"
"Why, by the community as what she has the potential
to be. Should anyone in the village find out that your daughter is--different,
bad things could happen."
"I know that. I want Esperanza to live unprejudiced
but I don't trust that it could happen here. I wish she wasn't born with abilities.
I don't want to lose her." She let foolish tears flow and stared at the unmoved
Rhian. "What must I do to protect her? Help me, Lady Rhian."
"Me?" she scoffed. "I'm no faerie godmother
but I'm feeling charitable today. Don't worry, I know just where to put this
"Put her where? I did not mean take her away!"
The Kougra stood in front of the crib, taking up as much space as she could.
"That does seem a bit crude, doesn't it?" Rhian
strolled toward the crib, and the frightened mother. "But if you want her to
be able to know herself, she must then be trained. I am the best you know, and
I have studied with the better, too. I can prepare the cub for the path ahead
"No! I will not allow you take away my baby,"
she sobbed quietly, not wanting her family to wake.
"Do not cry for Esperanza. If you want her to
be safe, think about what I said." With a flick of her wrist, the Draik disappeared
in a puff of smoke. Feeling that the danger was gone, the mother turned around
to stroke her baby's soft head and found the crib empty.
"Watch it, kid! Remember, concentrate on your
Esperanza, nicknamed Ezzie, was trying out telekinesis;
it was not going well. She had been listening to the shrill voice of Rhian for
the last two hours and her red fur was damp with sweat. Her black hair was in
a braid but it reached to the top of her waist and got in the way. But no matter
how much of a pain it was, Ezzie never had the guts to cut it.
"Try to move the stool across the field!" the
Draik called from the side. Never would she have believed the talent in her
young charge. Though she had never told Ezzie exactly why she had no parents,
Rhian believed she was doing a fine job by herself. She had never said why they
lived in a secluded tower, the only visitors being specialized tutors, but it
did not seem to bother Ezzie. The fortunate thing was she had never questioned
her powers or her upbringing, which was fantastic in Rhian's book.
"Rhian, I'm trying but this is my first
try." Ezzie plunked herself on the courtyard's grass and steadied her panting
"You have more talent than I have ever seen
in a adolescent witch. You mastered potion making faster than Edna herself.
You cast your first spell before you could spell your own name. So you CAN perform
"Yeah, yeah. Now, why can't I have a rest?"
"Because I said so," Rhian sniffed.
Ezzie tried a different approach. "That's what
you say when you won't tell me who my parents are?" She had asked the question
many times yet it still startled Rhian every time she did asked.
"I have told you so many times, I swear you
have memorized the answer. It's because--"
"--You made a promise to my mother. Am I a princess
or something? Is that it? I must be someone important who must be hidden from
the cruelty outside my tower's walls."
"Trust me, you're not a princess. It's teatime,
go put on the kettle and bring some cookies with the tray." Rhian trudged off
in the direction of the pallor, whereas Ezzie sprinted to the kitchen at the
prospect of a cookie.
Now, the tower that Rhian brought Ezzie to that
fateful night was tall and wide with a staircase that wound all the way up to
the utmost room which served as Ezzie's bedroom. A grassy courtyard Rhian used
to train the Kougra's powers surrounded the tower, and it was shut in by a stone
wall that the Draik had enchanted to never allow anyone in or out without Rhian's
As Rhian seated herself on one of the couches,
she began to reflect on Ezzie's progress. Ezzie had learned all that Rhian could
think of. The youngster was growing more powerful by the day but she could not
learn more by being excluded from the world she had been born into. The time
Ezzie chose to flounce in then, dressed in a
clean silvery green gown with a tray stacked with homemade cookies and a delicate
porcelain tea set. She set it on the table and began to fill the teacups by
hand. Rhian watched patiently as her charge absent-mindedly did simple tasks
with the aid of magick.
"Stop, Ezzie." Ezzie looked up from the sugar
cubes dropping daintily into her teacup. "Sit. I have important matters which
I have to discuss with you." Obediently, she sat, sipping at her sugary tea.
"I feel that you must live with the non-magical Neopians in order to fully understand
your powers. It is time I told you about your family."
Ezzie moved so fast that she bashed her knee
on the coffee table. "Really?! You are serious, right?"
"Sit still and I will tell you all. When I was
about your age, I first heard of a great witch who would be born to a mortal
couple and would have to suffer tragedies during her life. Now something like
that had never happened before. Magic had always run only through bloodlines.
But this 'myth' did come true.
"Your mother was a curious Kougra who lived
in my village and came to visit me any chance she got. It was not until she
married your father did she find out it was her family that held the ungraspable
magick. Her first four cubs were boys; she knew her first daughter would possess
"But your mother did not know what to do when
you were born. She supposed that if and when her fellow villagers found out
about you that they would not accept you properly. What she did not count on
was that the most logical thing was for her special cub to be raised surrounded
by magicks. In all my years, I have done many things but I have never had to
take a cub away from her mother. Yes, that is right, I stole you from your family.
I do not expect you to forgive me."
Ezzie was speechless. Her beloved guardian had
stolen her from her family. Was that even possible?
"Child, I'm letting you go. I will give you
directions to your home, where you belong." A single tear escaped from the old
"Go?" Ezzie croaked bewildered. She got up and
leaped at the silent Draik, wrapping her arms around her scaly neck. "Thank
you. I don't know how to repay you for kidnapping me," she whispered.
She suddenly paused and pulled away. "Wait,
where will you go? What will you do when I'm gone?" Ezzie peered into Rhian's
"Don't worry about that. I do have a life outside
these stone walls, too."
"I've got to go pack! There's so much to do!"
Ezzie ran off squealing toward her room.
Not until dawn, did Ezzie finally decide she
had everything she needed for the journey ahead of her. She had barely slept
that night, thinking about meeting her family. Rhian had given Ezzie a portrait
of her family before she went to bed. Ezzie had stared at the picture for hours,
absorbing her brothers' faces, trying to remember her mother's and father's.
What if they don't like me? What if they don't
accept me? What if, what if, what if! Ezzie's mind could not stop racing through
what seemed to be all of the possible, and impossible, scenarios that could
take place. Rhian's words replayed in her head, over and over again, sinking
in a little bit more every time. Finally, she got up and dressed.
She paced her circular room until the sky turned
the orange of dawn and took off down the tower steps. Rhian was waiting for
her at the bottom. How long she had been up, Ezzie did not know. All she knew
was she was leaving her treasured guardian and was going on an unpredictable
adventure. Ezzie clung to Rhian in a final embrace. She wiped her nose with
her paw and picked up her bag. Ezzie and Rhian walked hand in hand to the once
forbidden front gate.
With the small pack over her shoulder, Ezzie
leaned forward and pushed open the heavy wooden doors. The morning light ahead
to guide her, Ezzie started off into the world she had never known.