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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 19th day of Relaxing, Yr 21
The Neopian Times Week 98 > Continuing Series > Escape from the Enchanted Forest: Part Four

Escape from the Enchanted Forest: Part Four

by chloe_e_m

The Castle

Arri clutched her derisory cloak to her heart. It was torn and frayed in various places. There were huge rain drops pouring on her. Every so often she thought about what she had said to her friends, and the growing guilt made her feel even worse. The wind was blowing so hard that she almost lost her cloak. "I WAS WRONG!" she screamed, tears pouring down her face as hard as the rain. "I SHOULD'VE STAYED! I DESERVE THIS BUT PLEASE-- DON'T LET ME DIE! Please..." She broke off sobbing. "I want to see Sorrann again... and Rhia... Konikiah, Rosie, Mum." She sobbed even harder thinking about Chloe and how she had yelled at her before she left... how ungrateful she was of her mum. How much she loved her..." She lied down, sobbing, and slowly drifted into an uneasy sleep.

     "Hello? Are you alive?" Arri slowly opened her eyes to see a few pairs of eyes staring at her inquisitively. She sat up so fast she almost knocked one Jubjub out of the air. The air? Wait, hang on! She rubbed her eyes. Yes, there were many Neopets flying. They all had beautiful wings and were floating around her.

     "Where am I?" Arri asked.

     "You're in the Faerie Woods," the Jubjub she knocked replied. "We found you last night, and lucky we did, for it is not wise to wander the forest at night." Arri looked down shamefully,

     "There now," said a Faerie Usul patting her on the shoulder. "Come and have something to eat... your friends were awfully worried about you. Come."

     "My friends?" Arri cried.

     "Yes, they came looking for you, and we saw them pass and asked what they were looking for. They mentioned a small Aisha, and we knew it was you. So we brought them in, and they stayed the night. They're over there." She pointed, and for the first time Arri looked around her surroundings. She seemed to be in a large tree house. She looked up and saw roots covering the ceiling. The floor was a soft grass, and there were hammocks and stump tables all around. Then she saw them. Both Rhia and Sorrann were wrapped up in colorful blankets drinking a bowl of soup. She ran over to them and hugged them.

     "I'm sorry!" she sobbed, "I shouldn't have said those things... I didn't mean them! I love you both!" She hugged them again.

     "It's okay, Arri." Rhia smiled at her. "We're just glad we found you. You had us worried sick." Sorrann nodded, looking thoroughly relieved that she had let go of him. They sat and chatted for a while, Arri sobbing the whole time. Finally Rhia said, "Let's go now, I want to go home."

     "Yes, let's." They stood up when the Faerie Jubjub stood in their way.

     "You'll want a guide, I imagine. These woods are dangerous... if you don't know you're way around."

     "That'd be great!" Arri cried.

     The Jubjub smiled. "I had hoped so. Maybe I'll even come and explore Neopia some. Oh, by the way, my name is Gulup."

     "Gulup… " Arri repeated dreamily. The name sounded oddly familiar… like a friend she'd once known.

     They went out of the tree house, waving and saying goodbyes. They traveled for an hour or so, until they reached a big staircase, with bluish mist hanging around it. Arri glanced up, and saw in front of her the biggest castle she had ever seen. It was completely white, with wild green vines growing over it.

     "Stand back," said Gulup. She muttered something and the mist suddenly exploded, leaving the stairways clear. "Trick mist …" she muttered, "a simple charm, but never walk through it because it can put you into quite a mess." She nodded, "Right then, onward?" They walked up the steps nervously and pushed on the door. It opened. They walked in, not sure of what to expect.

     "It's rather rude to walk in without knocking, don't you agree?" said a raspy voice behind them. They jumped around to see an old wizard looking at them. He was holding a tall cane and was grinning. Arri wasn't sure what to make of his grin; it wasn't friendly, that was certain, but it wasn't evil either.

     "I -- I'm sorry..." she stuttered.

     "I'm quite impressed, I must admit," he continued, "I wouldn't thought little children like you would be able to make it all the way to my castle." Arri frowned. She resented being called a 'little child' but didn't say anything; instead she chewed her tongue. He saw her and smiled. "Curious that you of all people would find the book," he smirked, and Arri's eyes narrowed, clearly thinking that he was just provoking her, but she didn't say anything. "Very curious indeed, considering you are an ancestor of a great sorcerer... me."

     Whatever Arri had been expecting, it wasn't this. She gasped. "M-me?"

     He nodded, thoroughly amused by her reaction. "Yes, you. I was wondering if I would ever see you... in person, I mean. Of course, I've seen you through the crystal, but it's really not as good." He smiled, and she actually saw warmth in his smile. "You're probably wondering why I locked myself in a book? Well, let's start from the beginning." And he told the whole story about the village, and how they disgraced him, and finally ending with his brilliant idea of putting his entire world into a book so that one day only the worthy would find it. "I put a charm on it, you see, so that only the pure-hearted would find it. Anyone else who touched it would feel it as you would feel a burner on a stove, hot and painful. But --" he sighed, "I didn't want just any pure-hearted creature to find it. I mean, for all I knew, it could be a Puppyblew or something! A lot of good that would do me."

     Rhia, who had kept silent through the entire story, now spoke up. "Um, er, sir," the old wizard looked up, "I thought the whole point of creating the book was so that no one would come in at all. Why didn't you just put a charm on it so that no one could come in?"

     The old wizard laughed a cold, mirthless laugh. "You think I wanted to stay locked up in here forever? No, no! I've been waiting, so long, so long for someone to find me. Someone to make it through… someone worthy. And now they've come. He smiled. "I think," he said quietly, clutching his cane, "it is time to return to Neopia."

     "You mean go home?!" Arri cried excitedly.

     "I mean go home." He smiled again. "And I, I shall escort you. I would like to see how this old village has grown. And," he paused, "hopefully gotten over some of their prejudices." Arri assured him they had. "Then," he said waving his cane, "follow me please." Arri, Rhia, Sorrann, and Gulup all followed him into a dark room.

     "Now," said the old wizard, "close your eyes... this won't hurt a bit..." Arri didn't hear any more.

***

Home Again

"Arri! Sorrann! Rhia! Oh my goodness, you're alive!" said a shrill voice. Arri opened her eyes to see Chloe peering over her, her face a depiction of confusion, terror, and relief all mixed together.

     Arri looked around. She was lying under a tree, next to her was Sorrann and Rhia. She rubbed her eyes. "But -- the wizard! Where is he?"

     "W-wizard? What are you talking about Arri? Oh my! She's delirious! The poor dear!" Then she shouted, "It's okay! I found them! They're over here!" A large group of people came running over. With them was Zainab, Rhia's mum, who looked as if a bucket of cold water had been dumped over her head.

     "Arri, you had us worried SICK! We thought you got lost! We thought you had died!" Arri noticed for the first time that tears were streaming down her mum's face. "Where were you?! I --" But she stopped, stepped back, and stared at Sorrann, noticing him for the first time. Sorrann turned crimson and looked at the ground. "Sorrann!? What happened to you?" That was when Arri realized that Sorrann was still a baby pet.

     "Mum..." Sorrann said embarrassed. "Two words: Spotted paintbrush."

     So it wasn't a dream... Arri thought, dazed. But then, what about the wizard? And Gulup? Where were they? Arri gazed into the crowd, looking for a familiar face, but it seemed so long since she had seen any of these people that she could hardly put a name to one of them. And then something else occurred to her: Why hadn't she gotten any choices when she was near the castle? She shook her head, having a headache from all this thinking. She looked up, and then she saw it: Floating in the crowd, by Chloe's friend neodusty was a Faerie Jubjub. The Jubjub winked, and flew away.

Epilogue: Sorrann eventually was painted back to spotted, though he would have to endure a month or so of Arri's teasing. Rhia and Arri's friendship was stronger than ever, having gone through an adventure as big as this. Although Arri hadn't seen hide nor tail or the old wizard, and a rather confused Chloe had told Arri many times that she had known Gulup before Arri was even born, Arri knew the adventure was real. She never told anyone about it.

     It was her secret. And keeping it a secret was her choice.

     The Moral: Every choice is your own . . . how you select and handle it is a choice by itself.

The End

Previous Episodes

Escape from the Enchanted Forest: Part One

Escape from the Enchanted Forest: Part Two

Escape from the Enchanted Forest: Part Three


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