It had happened quickly, the silent purple fog curling around the eastern forest, seeping through with every breath of the trees and sigh of winds.
First, the messengers went missing, important declarations and letters getting gobbled up by the mists. Then, the entire eastern kingdom of Sweetland went quiet, no guards, no movements, no trade.
The merchants started vanishing too, then the soldiers, the alchemists, anybody who got too close to the purple clouds disappeared and never returned. It had been at this point that serious concerns started since the fog was now only a sprint from the city walls of Cookies n' Cream Kingdom and the Oreo Castle itself. Finally, the King, a timid baker named Terra Misu, realized he had no choice.
His advisors began dropping not so subtle hints, and after a coup was discovered, the king came to a decision: He must summon his wicked sister, who used sweets on houses to trap and eat young children, to remove the menacing fog. Ordinarily, he made it a rule to avoid people who didn't enjoy sweets as much as him and ate children for that matter, but the situation was dire.
Every day, more people surrounded the castle, demanding answers and an end to the fog. Villagers carrying sporks and blow torches angrily formed mobs, to terrify his courtiers and take control of the palace. It had to be stopped, and if Holda couldn't do it, nobody could. But his sister was an evil little minx, there was no way on earth she would help if she knew what he needed, so a plan had to be made.
He sent her a letter about a cookie exchange instead, hoping to somehow convince her in exchange for tasting some of the newest recipes. He could only shudder at the thought of what she might bring, but desperate times.
A breathless messenger ran up to him, leaning against a pillar, wheezing. "Your M-Majesty," He declared, inhaling like a madman. "Your...sister..is here!"
King Terra felt pity for the boy, all the good messengers had been lost for some time, meaning breathless morons like this one had to deliver messages and then collapse. "Thank you, where is she currently?"
It was a good thing this boy was over 13 though, or his sister might just have pocketed him for dinner.
"Her three-headed dogs are being put in the spare stables, so she is arranging that. And-and, she is heading up soon."
"Excellent, you may leave." The King said kindly, restraining himself from laughter when the boy bowed so enthusiastically that he hit his head on the corner of the dining table.
The boy clutched his head, backing out of the room in agony, and a dark and malevolent form entered.
The king sighed, his sister was always one for theatrics, and in a kingdom full of people who wore pastel colours, or rich browns decorated with gorgeous highlights and gold, she decided to come as...herself.
Black, red, and bruise purple seemed to be the palette. She wore a short, armour-like dress and boots, with long black gloves. His sister looked the same as ever, creamy white skin, red-eyed and healthy. Cannibals apparently didn't have to worry about ageing apparently.
"Brother dear." Holda bowed mockingly, carefully holding the basket in her hand out. "How are you?"
"Good, and you?" Terra asked, forcing a smile to his face.
"Oh, well as ever, my..business is booming." She smiled widely, and Terra half expected to see chunks of human flesh between her fangs. "So many unwanted, hungry orphans wandering the Dark Forest."
"Oh..good." Terra felt sick, so he hastily changed the subject. "So, the exchange, are you ready?"
Holda set down her basket, delighted that she had unnerved him. She really hadn't ever gotten over losing the kingdom. "Isn't there anything you wanted to discuss before that?"
And there was the bait. Terra raised a confused eyebrow, "I'm sorry?" He knew the words that would come from Holda's mouth next.
"The fog? The mysterious purple cloud stealing away your citizens? The one they cannot stop themselves from disappearing into?" Holda asked dramatically, changing her eyes to a pretty baby blue.
Terra stared at her for a moment, almost unable to contain his suspicions. Ever since Holda had married the Pied Piper, and grown in power, he feared her more and more. He was almost convinced the fog was her creation. Then Terra smiled unconcernedly and continued with the plan. "Oh yes, that. Don't worry about it."
Witches had the intrinsic ability to sniff out lies, so Terra had to actually summon a witch and promise her incredible rewards in reality, or his wicked fraternal twin would know.
Holda scoffed, setting her hip against the table and leaning on it. "Don't worry about it? The mob outside your palace would beg to differ."
"Oh, Holda, I hired a witch to handle it, she arrives later today. Worry not." Terra waved a hand lightly, enjoying that for once he got to make his sister squirm. "How's your dear husband?"
"Fine. A witch? You have a sister as a witch, why not ask me?" Holda insisted, her arms crossed.
"Oh, Holdie, I wanted a witch capable of dealing with this fog specifically. A weather witch, it doesn't matter, I didn't want to bother you, let's taste these delights." Terra admired one of his cookie towers. Honestly, they looked so good, he didn't know if he was willing to wait until the exchange ceremony.
"How much is this witch costing you?" Holda asked, seeming to change her form of attack. "I mean, I would probably do it for less."
Terra raised an eyebrow, reclining in his seat. "That's sweet, Holda, but this witch is extremely powerful, I think we better leave it to her."
"I, am extremely powerful," Holda said immediately, clearly unused to this. Oh how the tables had turned, only last year she had made him beg and still refused to help.
"Never mind, Holdie, let's get ready for the ceremony, what did you bring?"
"Ter, I...I brought snickerdoodles and Pipey's favourite sugar cookies, and more of course." Holda had to force herself to allow the change of topic.
"Of course, dear. Now, I have-" Terra gestured to his table, glancing up when the doors burst open.
"Your Majesty, and your highness." A crumble guard bowed to both of them, walking forward to the King.
"Don't your guards knock?" Holda asked sharply, glaring down the guard.
"I apologise, sir, but she's here, the weather witch." The guard declared, his relief obvious to everyone in the room.
Terra got up instantly, acting absolutely excited and surprised. "Oh, that's rather fast. Prepare the reward, the Cresent birds and the hero's medallion."
"Cresent birds? You're giving her the rarest familiars in the world?" Holda's voice switched from nonchalant to eager. "Brother, I don't think she-"
"Please, tell her to wait in my chambers. I'm sorry Holdie, but this woman is the most important part of my day, and if she fixes this catastrophe, well then, she is a hero." Terra said, straightening his collar, acting relieved and excited. "Do you mind waiting?"
"Not at all," Holda quickly slapped on a brittle smile, her tone strained.
But Terra was already heading for the door, calling over his shoulder to respond. "Marvelous."
Holda furiously rearranged her dress, bristling with jealousy and anger. Her stupid brother, honestly. Could he honestly never think right? She buried the feelings, knowing her eyes were probably turning an angry green.
She would show that stuck up witch and her ridiculous brother. Honestly the nerve of that kingdom thief. She swept up her skirts and transformed into a crow, flying out of the open window.
Already the fog had begun to brush against the city walls and migration of fleeing residents was well underway.
Holda resisted the urge to snap up a young child, even though she saw some adorable ones. Her brother would kill her for that and there would be no Cresent birds. How dare he offer some random witch what she had been demanding for years.
She landed on the city walls and contemplated the fog. It certainly felt like magic, and if she didn't know better she would have said a weather witch did it.
Maybe one did. Oh, of course, her stupid brother, some trickery little witch fooled him! A witch set the curse, and then came strolling by for a reward!
Well, the joke was on her. Holda raised her hands and began chanting, murmuring the glorious language witches were born speaking.
Magic spiralled out of her hands, dark red in colour. Holda drew up the power she had gained from all the children.
It pierced through the fog, and swept through the purple, shattering the fog.
Vaguely, Holda could hear some idiots screaming, but she focussed on the task, turning the fog into nothing.
Finally the fog was gone, and Holda swayed a bit, squinting. Where there had once been the Kingdom-turned-republic of Sweetland, there was nothing.
Well, she thought, as she leapt down as gracefully as only a witch could. That was clearly, somebody else's problem.
Back at the palace, Terra snickered. Oh sister, how easy it was to tempt her vanity. He urgently snapped his fingers at his servants.
"Faster, faster with the plates." Everything had to be perfect for the cookie exchange, his sister could never discover the real purpose of her visit.
"Your highness, the reward?" The weather witch asked annoyedly from behind him.
"Oh for the love of all that is sweet, are you still here?" Terra turned in horror. "My sister may actually kill you! Go, flee, turn into a bat, grasshopper or whatever, just get out!"
A large hellish black bird was hurtling towards the palace, and Terra jumped up and down in panic. "Transform right now!"
The weather witch gulped and shrunk down right as the large crow flew in, the flap of its wings blowing out every candle in the room.
Terra's voice cracked, and he nervously shifted to avoid the small mouse that scurried between his feet. "Oh wow, sister, that was simply-er-"
The crow squawked and its beak swooped down immediately, and it snapped up the mouse.
"Oh my," Terra gasped, covering his hands with his mouth.
"Oh, I was positively famished!" His sister transformed back, picking up a berry goblet and drinking. "You see, dear brother? Who needs some random weather witch when you have a prime sorceress in the family? Where is that cretin anyways?" She dusted off her dress, looking entirely too pleased.
"Uh, sister, you humiliated the poor girl, she was, uh, consumed with embarrassment and, departed." Terra looked around wildly for a change of subject anything, before he vomited. "Cookie exchange? I think, you'll really, really like my newest creations."
Holda coughed, rubbing her throat, and stared at him. "Not so fast, I would like my reward, that is, if the dastardly wench didn't steal it already."
"Oh, don't even worry about that, let's eat first, if you aren't already full?" Terra asked, watching her wipe her mouth.
"Not at all, and you should really season your rats more around here, that poor thing was absolutely tasteless." Holda remarked, grinning broadly at the horrified look on Terra's face. "So, who goes first?"