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The Sneezing Curse

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"Ooh, how I hate those blasted Pet Pals!" Crow Witch said to herself as she stared out the window in her castle. She could hear thunder roaring in the dark sky as she continued to think about her least favorite creatures. "Always foiling my plans in front of my face! There must be some way I can defeat them..."

Crow Witch put a finger to her beak as she thought about her next evil plan. She had always wanted to defeat the Pet Pals, at least once, in her life. But the fact that they kept ruining her chances left her red with anger. She walked away from the window and walked around her bedroom - which was also where she kept her cauldron and books of magic spells - a few times. She couldn't help but keep thinking about the situation she had. Through the years, she had tried one evil scheme after another, but they were always unsuccessful. There had to be something she hadn't tried yet...

Suddenly, an idea hit her, and she flew over to her bookshelf. She looked through it until a certain book caught her eye. She pulled it out with her wings and looked at it. The book was a dark green, and scrawled onto the cover were the words "BLACK MAGIC." An evil smile appeared on her face. It seemed as though she found the perfect solution, but she needed to find the right spell first. She hauled the book onto the table before opening said book and flipping through the pages. She found several spells, but she simply muttered their names before ignoring them and continuing to browse the book of black magic. She eventually stopped flipping when she came to a spell that she had never read about in the book before.

"What's this?" Crow Witch asked, sounding aghast. On one of the pages that she had stopped at was the spell's name: Sneezing Curse. The other page had a description of the spell, as well as instructions that were needed for the spell to work. "The Sneezing Curse, eh? So this is a real spell, eh?" She started to read the description. "The Sneezing Curse can be casted on multiple people or animals at a time. When affected, the victims will have to sneeze frequently, and their sneezes will be loud, powerful and dangerous, and cannot be stopped unless the curse is broken."

"That's it!" She snapped her fingers. "I shall cast the Sneezing Curse on those Pet Pals. They'll start to sneeze all the time until they start to feel miserable, and I will have beaten them for the first time!" She laughed evilly as lightning flashed through the window. "Crow Witch, you are a genius!"

She then looked through the instructions. The first thing on the list was to fill a large container with hot water. Crow Witch filled her cauldron with water and used a match to ignite the logs underneath. The fire began to burn, and before long, the water inside the cauldron was beginning to steam and bubble. That was too easy, she thought. The next thing to do was to add a vial of crushed leaves from the Curse tree. Crow Witch looked around and saw a vial of dark blue and dark green powder. This vial was full of crushed leaves that Crow Witch had removed from a Curse tree close to her castle. These leaves were then ground up and placed into this vial so that they could be used in her spells. She removed the vial from its stand, carried it to the cauldron and emptied the vial's contents into the hot water. Putting the empty vial aside, she saw that the next thing to do was to add black pepper.

"Of course I need pepper!" she said to herself. "I'm casting a sneezing-related spell, for evil's sake!"

She quickly flew out of the room and down into the kitchen, She grabbed a pepper shaker and then returned to the bedroom. Heading over to the cauldron, she turned the shaker upside down and started to shake pepper into the cauldron. After about two minutes, the shaker was entirely empty, so she put it aside. She had to make a reminder to refill it when this was done. The final thing to do on the instructions was to read a short, two-line rhyme over the boiling water, and then say the full names of the animals that she wanted to make sneeze. The latter direction was present on nearly all of the spells in the book, but Crow Witch didn't care. She read the rhyme repeatedly until she had memorized it perfectly, and then she turned to the cauldron. She began to say the rhyme.

"Cauldron of evil, I command thee...
To make the following animals sneeze...
Holly the cat, Moby the dog,
Nameless the chick, Pio the frog,
Diva the duck and Top Hat the rabbit.
Cast this spell and let them have it!"

With a roar of thunder, the next thing Crow Witch knew was that the cauldron was suddenly empty. She was confused at first, but then she wondered if the spell had worked. She hoped that she would hear
their dangerous sneezes soon...

Meanwhile, the Pet Pals were out in a forest and exploring. They didn't know what Crow Witch was up to, but they still made plans to defeat her. For now, however, none of them were in any trouble or had anything important to do.

Holly looked around and saw a pretty flower growing out of the ground. She walked over to it, bent her neck down, and took a couple of sniffs. Suddenly, her nose began to twitch and redden almost immediately. She needed to sneeze.

"Haaaaah... AAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH..." She inhaled twice, tilting her neck back as far as it could go. Then, faster than she expected, she released the sneeze. "CHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!"

Her powerful sneeze sent her neck forwards, directly into the flower. The wind from her mouth destroyed the flower, sending the petals flying around. The other Pet Pals gasped from hearing her and all ran over to her.

"Oh, my gosh! Holly! Are you okay?!" Top Hat asked.

"That was some sneeze," Moby stated.

"Ugh..." Holly groaned, sniffled and brought a paw up to rub her nose. "I don't feel good..."

Moby put a paw on her forehead, but it didn't feel warm. He took his paw off.

"You don't have a fever." After Moby had said that, his nose suddenly twitched. Almost immediately after that, he took a loud inhale, about to sneeze. "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH..."

"I think he's gonna--!" Pio didn't get to finish his warning.

"CHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!"

Moby sneezed loudly and powerfully, and the sneeze was strong enough to blow Holly to the ground. She sat up, rubbing her head with her paw.

"Gesundheit..."

Moby rubbed his nose, which had suddenly turned red, with a paw. He sniffled audibly, and then began to lie down on the ground.

"I'm not feeling like myself, either."

Diva, Nameless, Top Hat and Pio all looked at each other. None of them knew what was going on, but they didn't know what to do, either. As Diva was thinking of a solution, her beak suddenly twitched. A red tinge appeared on the very end of her beak, and then she began to inhale.

"Aaaaah... AaaaaAAAAAAAAAAH..."

"Oh, boy! This is gonna be super cute!" Top Hat said in excitement, although he was actually wrong.

"AAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH-CHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!"

Diva unleashed a loud and powerful sneeze that wasn't cute at all. It caught Top Hat, Pio and Nameless off-guard, and it blew Top Hat to the ground. He sat up, looking more like he was surprised and shocked rather than in pain.

"What the heck? That wasn't cute!" Top Hat said.

Diva sniffled and rubbed her nose on her forefinger. "Oh, my. I am so sorry, but now, I don't feel very well."

"You know what? It's all right," Top Hat said. "It's not like I did that."

Suddenly, Top Hat's nose started to twitch. He began to inhale to sneeze, and everybody could only look on.

"Ahhh... AaaaaaAAAAAAHHHHH... AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH-CHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!"

Top Hat unleashed a very loud sneeze that caught everybody off-guard. After that, he sniffled and rubbed his now red nose on his hand.

"What's going on with them?" Pio asked to Nameless. He was referring to Diva and Top Hat.

At first, Nameless didn't know what to say, so he simply shrugged his tiny wings. All of a sudden, however, he needed to sneeze. He began to inhale, while Pio simply looked on, at first in curiosity, and then in fear.

"Ah... Aaaahhh... AAAAAAAAAHHHHHH... CHOO!!!"

Nameless's sneeze was much shorter than the others' had been, but it was still just as loud and powerful as they had been. And he didn't cover his mouth, unlike most of the times when he had sneezed. This sneeze was strong enough to blow Pio to the ground, and by the time he sat up, the end of his snout was twitching.

"Aaaah... Aaaaaaahhhhhhhh... AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH... CHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!"

Pio sneezed extremely loudly and powerfully, which caught everybody else off-guard. By the time he had finished, his nose had turned a bright red. He sniffled audibly, and brought a forefinger up to rub his nose.

"Ugh, I don't feel so good, either," Pio said.

"What on Earth has gotten into us?" Top Hat wondered.

"I think we may have suddenly caught colds," Diva suggested.

"I don't think that's possible," Moby disagreed, "you can't immediately catch a cold. It usually takes a few hours or days."

"Then maybe being out here has suddenly given us allergies," Holly said.

"You can't immediately have allergies, either," Moby disagreed as he sniffled.

"Oh, really?" Diva asked. "Well, I wonder what's wrong..."

"Whatever it is, we've got to stop it!" Pio said.

Just then, they heard some evil laughter, followed by a roar of thunder that caused them all to cringe. A figure appeared, flying through the sky, and then started to descend to the ground. The Pet Pals looked on in astonishment until it landed. That was when their expressions turned into shock. It was Crow Witch.

"Finally! For the first time ever, I have defeated you foolish Pet Pals!" she bellowed.

"What are you talking about?" Top Hat asked, but suddenly, his eyes widened. His reddened nose began to twitch, and it became clear that another sneeze was coming. He backed up slightly, tilting his head back as he began to inhale. His friends could only look on, all looking scared and not doing anything to stop him.

"Aaahhh... AaaaaaaaaaAAAAAAAHHHHHH... AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH-CHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!"

Top Hat released another huge and loud sneeze that shook the ground and caused nearly everyone else to cringe. Pio almost immediately put his forefingers to his unseen ears, while Crow Witch just looked on with a smug expression on her face. Once Top Hat had finished his sneeze, he sniffled and rubbed his nose on his forefinger.

"How do you like your new sneezes?" Crow Witch asked. "As part as my latest evil plan, I have decided to cast a sneezing curse on all of you!"

"A curse?!" asked Diva. "Oh, dear! This is awful! Now what are we going to do?!"

She turned to her friends for ideas, but none of them responded. Before she could speak again, the end of her bill twitched, and she began to inhale, about to sneeze.

"Aaaaaahhhhh... AaaaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH... AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH-CHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!"

Diva sneezed loudly and powerfully, again causing the ground to shake. After a few seconds had passed, she recovered from the sneeze and rubbed her nose on the side of her hand.

"Excuse me," Diva said with a sniffle.

"No need to excuse yourself, my little lady," Crow Witch taunted. "I'm more than happy to let you sneeze until your head pops off. Just don't expect me to bless you, or any of you."

"You stupid meanie!" Pio said as he picked up Nameless and aimed him toward Crow Witch. "Nameless, see if you can't sneeze her away!"

As if responding to the command, Nameless began to inhale. He didn't manage to see Crow Witch bracing herself for impact.

"Aaahhh... Aaaaaaahhhhhh... AAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH-CHOO!!!"

Nameless fired his short, but loud and strong sneeze directly at Crow Witch's face. Everyone expected her to get blown away, but instead, she was propelled a few feet backwards without being lifted off the ground. She almost appeared to be sliding backwards. Once the wind had died down, she laughed evilly again.

"You think that could defeat me?"

"Aw, darn it!" Pio said in dismay. Nameless rubbed his nose on his front wing before Pio put him back on the ground. "I swear, one of these days, you're really gonna get it!"

"Oh, really?" Crow Witch asked as she went up to Pio. She brought up one of her wings and started stroking the end of Pio's nose with it, tickling it with the soft feathers on her wing. "I've lost to you and your imbecile friends more times than I can keep track of, you know. So you're the ones who are gonna get it!"

"Ah... AaaaaaaAAAAAAHHHHHHH... I THINK I'M GONNA..." Pio didn't manage to finish his sentence. He always sneezed whenever even one feather tickled any part of his snout, and the feathers from Crow Witch's wing were simply too tickly for his nose to handle. Crow Witch pulled her wing away from Pio's nose and backed up a few steps as he tilted his neck as far back as he could, before he released yet another huge, loud sneeze. "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH... CHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!"

Pio deliberately aimed his head towards Crow Witch, intending to blow her away, but this tactic again failed as she was simply sent backwards, as though she were sliding. She didn't seem to have a problem with getting sneezed on.

"Go ahead, try all you want. You can't possibly blow me away with that!"

"Crow Witch, don't tickle my nose like that," Pio said as he rubbed his nose on his forefinger. "It's really ticklish, but not in the way that makes me laugh..."

"I hope you all enjoy your new sneezes. You'll never figure out how to break this curse!" Crow Witch then turned around. "We'll meet again later. Ta-ta!"

She then took off into the sky, with all of the Pet Pals looking at her in anger.

"Oh, that Crow Witch!" Holly said. "We've got to get rid of this curse!"

"Well, how are we going to do that?" asked Moby.

Before Holly could respond, her nose began to twitch again. She began to inhale, tilting her neck back repeatedly.

"Haaaaah... HaaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAAHHHH... AAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH--!"

Holly almost sneezed, but Diva, Top Hat and Pio all ran up to her and each shoved their forefinger directly under her nose. The sneeze was stopped at least a second before its release, and Holly sighed with relief. The others removed their fingers from her nose.

"Thanks..." Holly said as she wiped her forehead with her paw. At least a few seconds after that, however, the sneeze returned, almost automatically. She didn't have the power to stop herself, and she had to let it all out.

"HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH-CHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!"

When Holly released her sneeze, all of the other Pet Pals were blown to the ground. The others all looked at her in mild anger, while Moby got up and went over to her. Holly sniffled and rubbed her nose on her left forefinger for a few seconds.

"Darn it, Holly! Why doesn't that ever work?! I don't understand!" Moby said, as if punishing her for releasing the sneeze that he and the others had tried to stop.

"I'm sorry," Holly responded.

"You know what? It's alright, Holly," Moby said, calming down. "I'm not that mad at you. I'm just frustrated that that didn't work. Sorry for lashing out at you."

"I figured you were mistaken, so it's okay," Holly said.

"How can this be okay?!" Pio asked. "For crying out loud, we're still gonna be sneezing all the time!"

Top Hat's nose twitched, and he tilted his neck back as he was about to sneeze again. The others turned to look at him, gasped in fear and backed up, trying to get out of the way before he exploded.

"Aaaaaaaaah... AaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH... AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH-CHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!"

Top Hat fired his neck forwards as his sneeze caused the ground to shake and the others to cringe. Upon recovering, Top Hat sniffled and rubbed his red nose with his forefinger.

"Goodness me. Bless you, Top Hat," Diva said.

"Thanks. I've always wanted to hear you bless me after I sneeze," Top Hat replied, sounding flirty as he continued to rub his nose.

"Hmph. The nerve of some animals..." Diva scoffed at the way he responded to her blessing. She just wasn't interested in things such as romance.

Suddenly, the end of her bill twitched again, and the others turned to look at her at just the right timing.

"Oh, dear..." Diva managed to say before tilting her neck back and inhaling again, about to sneeze. "Aaaaaaah... Aaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh... AaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH..."

Holly, Moby, Top Hat and Pio all gasped at the same time. "Oh no! Look out!" they all said in unison before they ducked to the ground. Holly, Moby and Pio put their hands over their ears, while Top Hat simply grabbed onto his ears. But it was no use; they could all clearly hear Diva releasing another gigantic sneeze.

"AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH-CHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!"

The ground shook for several seconds as everybody cringed in fear. When the sneeze had finally ended, they all got up and looked at Diva in concern. Diva was blushing as she rubbed her nose on the side of her hand.

"Bless you, Diva," Moby said.

Diva sniffled daintily, continuing to rub her nose. "Ugh. Thank you. And excuse me."

"How can someone like you sneeze like that?" Top Hat asked.

"Yeah! Your real sneeze is way cuter and way smaller than that!" Pio agreed.

"Maybe it's part of the curse," Moby suggested.

Suddenly, the end of Pio's snout twitched in irritation, and he went cross-eyed for a few seconds.

"Aaaah... Aaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhh... I'm gonna... AaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaAAAAHHH..." Pio inhaled as he tilted his neck backward.

"Oh, boy. Here we go again," Top Hat said in slight dismay.

"He's gonna blow! Look out!" Holly warned.

Everybody else quickly ran out of the way just as Pio tilted his neck as far back as he possibly could, took a huge inhale, and finally released the sneeze.

"AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH-CHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!"

Both of Pio's legs were launched off the ground as he fired his neck forwards, releasing a ridiculous amount of wind from his mouth and causing the ground to shake. After several seconds, Pio landed back on the ground and immediately rubbed his reddened nose with his forefinger. The others looked at him, all having surprised expressions on their faces from hearing the sneeze.

"Gesundheit," Top Hat said.

"Thanks," Pio said, sniffling and continuing to rub his nose.

"My goodness! I've always heard you sneezing loudly, but I've never heard you sneeze like that before!" Holly said.

"I know." Pio sniffled again.

"Well, what are we going to do about this?" Diva asked. "I can't be sneezing my head off like this! It's just wrong!"

"Well..." Moby was about to say something, but then he suddenly inhaled, tilting his neck as far back as possible for a sneeze. "AaaaaaaaaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH--"

Right before he could release his sneeze, however, Holly pressed the side of her forefinger right under Moby's nose. The sneeze seemed to be stopped, but Moby still had a very obvious pre-sneeze expression on his face.

"Moby, don't sneeze!" Holly warned, but Moby didn't have a choice in the matter.

"AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH--" With that final inhale, Moby released another huge sneeze, firing his neck forwards. "CHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!"

This time, the sneeze managed to blow Holly and Diva to the ground. Surprisingly, neither of them were harmed. Holly sat up, rubbing her head with a paw, while Diva stood up, looking angrily at Moby. Moby sniffled and rubbed his red nose with his paw.

"How dare you! Has nobody taught you to cover your mouth when you sneeze?" Diva asked as she dusted herself off, despite that there was no visible spray on her body.

"Sorry, Diva," Moby apologized, continuing to rub his nose for a few seconds before taking a final sniffle and removing his paw from his face. "I just couldn't help it. But none of us covers our mouths when we sneeze, except for Nameless."

"He doesn't count," Diva said. Suddenly, she remembered something. "Wait a minute!"

"What is it?" Holly asked.

"Nameless was sneezing earlier, and he didn't cover his mouth!" Diva said. "I wonder why..."

Nameless shook his head in denial, and then he suddenly needed to sneeze. He tilted his neck backward as he inhaled. Everyone quickly moved out of the way.

"Aaaaaah... Aaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh... AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH... CHOO!!!"

The ground shook as Nameless released his sneeze, blowing his body up into the air and catching everybody off-guard. After the sneeze, Nameless landed flat on the ground, but he stood up and rubbed his nose on his wing.

"Bless you, Nameless," Diva said politely. Nameless smiled at her in response.

"The answer's simple, Diva. A sneeze like that just can't be easy to cover," Moby said.

"Yeah, especially if it's big enough to blow you away!" Pio said.

"By the way, before the last time I sneezed, I was going to say that we could at least find a way to get rid of this curse," Moby explained.

"Well, how are we going to do that?" Top Hat asked. "Crow Witch didn't tell us how, she just said we'll never figure it out."

"Top Hat's right," Holly responded. "Since Crow Witch didn't mention a way to cure the curse, we're gonna have to find a way to get rid of it ourselves."

"Well, what are we waiting for?!" Pio asked, impatiently. "Come on, guys, let's go over to the next town and see if they can't help us!"

"Would you hang on one sec?" Top Hat asked as his nose was clearly twitching. He turned away from the gang as he prepared to sneeze again. "Aaaaaaah... AaaaaaaaaaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH-CHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!"

Everybody cringed and covered their ears as Top Hat released his sneeze. Immediately upon recovering, Top Hat turned back to his friends and rubbed his reddened nose on his hand.

"Okay, let's go," he said, acting like the sneeze never happened.

And so the Pet Pals started to walk through the forest. Their noses remained red, and they could still feel the insides and outsides of their noses tickling persistently. This was going to be one sneezy adventure.