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Card Collections - The Fontaine Sisters


by iwantyours

--------

Also by yatomiyuka

The hustle and bustle of the morning was starting. It was quite early in the morning, but already the blacksmiths were hanging up freshly made swords, and the market owners were setting boxes of fruit for the locals to buy out. Ships carrying goods were swarming all around and the various restaurants that were dotted around the Island were beginning to open. It was all normal. One of the restaurants that would be opening was the famous Golden Dubloon pub.

     A humming sound was coming from downstairs. A green Aisha was wiping down the tables, getting off the spilt grog from last night and any spare crumbs from the food they'd served. The Aisha's name was Loretta, one of the beautiful Fontaine Sisters, who were famous for their serving skills. Her sister was upstairs, and had been snoring peacefully when Loretta had left her to do the morning work. Her sister was called Rosetta. She was a pink Aisha and was more sociable than her sister.

     However, without her sister noticing, Rosetta had come downstairs and was leaning against the side of the bar, giving her sister a doubtful look. She was wearing a brown corset with a white dress underneath it, which ended at her knee. Her orange hair tumbled down her back like a waterfall - it hadn't been brushed and tied into its usual bun yet.

     "Why do you get up so early, sis? It's like you actually want to do the morning jobs," she said, scornfully, running a paw through her locks.

     Loretta jumped - she hadn't noticed her sister was there because she was so caught up in her work. She listened to the question that her sister had asked her and smiled.

     "Rosetta, these jobs have to be done. It's because you're too lazy to get up and do them. In this job, you have to be quick and able so you can-"

     "-make a good impression to the customers. You told me a million times before. Look, I'll go get ready and then I'll help you, okay? Does that make you happy? And..." She stopped; her eyebrows knitted together, "I am not lazy!"

     She turned on her heel and dramatically swung her orange hair around so fast it looked like a flame that had almost been blown out. Loretta shook her head, still smiling and threw the rag she'd been cleaning the table with down and went to get some coasters to put on the table.

*

     "Hurry up, Rosetta! We are due to open in ten minutes, and there is still so much to do!" With one green paw, she gestured at the plates, which were clean but heaped in a disorderly pile, and then at the overturned chairs, which no doubt concealed thousands of crumbs.

     "You know I can't work as fast as you in the morning." Stepping out from behind the bar, she picked up one of the chairs and set it right. Her sister darted around her, sweeping the crumbs into a dustpan with feline speed and agility.

     "You will one day."

     "Loretta..." Rosetta's pretty features were twisted in an uncharacteristic frown.

     "What is it?"

     "I've been thinking."

     "That's a first," her sister replied whilst rearranging the plates and dusting down the bar for the eleventh time.

     "I love working here at the Golden Dubloon. I really do. But it's been so long since we had a day off..." She trailed off at the look on Loretta's face.

     "You know what I'm going to say to that. We struggle to make a living as it is. We can't afford to stop, even for a day." Already, pets gathered outside--some with pockets stuffed to overflowing with dubloons. "What are we supposed to do? Turn them away?"

     "No, no, you're completely right." With a sigh, the younger sister picked up the silver key and strode towards the door. Loretta hastily ran her paws through her hair before taking her position behind the bar.

     "The Golden Dubloon is open for business!" Rosetta declared, flinging the doors open. Within seconds, the restaurant was a hive of activity. There was always an order to fulfil, a drink to be poured or a meal to be served. Finally, as the dinner hour passed unheralded, the crowd began to thin. In the lull that followed, Rosetta poured a drink for herself and Loretta and they took a seat in front of the bar with the other customers.

     "It's been a long time, hasn't it?" Loretta muttered.

     "What?" Rosetta looked at her sister curiously.

     "Since we opened this place, I mean." Stirring her drink absent-mindedly, she continued, "Sometimes, what seems like a curse can be a blessing in disguise."

     "Maybe." Her sister's words evoked something in her memory, something long-buried and half forgotten. "Do you still remember?"

     "Like it was yesterday..."

*

     A splash of water, a crack of lightning, a crash of thunder, a scream of terror. These were the sounds that could be heard as the ship that had been crossing from Terror Mountain to Krawk Island was being destroyed by the monstrous storm.

     "Loretta?" a voice called, barely audible above the terrible storm that raged above them.

     However, someone responded. A voice that sounded more mature than the one that had just called shouted, "Is that you? I can't see! It's too dark!"

     A gasp pierced the cold air as a bolt of lightning struck the tall, wooden mast in the centre of the ship, making it fall. The green Aisha, Loretta, ran out, paw outstretched, eyes wide. The pink Aisha, Rosetta, crawled out from under some wreckage and bolted towards the other Neopet, shouting, "Sister!" Their paws locked together, the two embraced and leapt into the freezing cold sea...

*

     Loretta could feel soft, warm sand and as she opened her eyes, she saw a blur of colours. Where was she? Why was her vision blurred so badly? Why was she on a beach? Where was her sister? Loretta sat up quickly, and then grasped her head. It hurt...

     "Rosetta? Where are you?" she called out softly, her voice breaking. A tear started to fall down her cheek. Could her sister have been hurt by the storm? Then she saw she was on a beach.

     Loretta stood up, staggering slightly, and spotted a few pirates. Wait... Was it possible that they had got to Krawk Island? No, the ship was destroyed! She must've been washed ashore.

     "Ah!" Loretta let out a cry, as a paw grabbed her shoulder. She turned around.

     "Rosetta!" she exclaimed. Her younger sister looked weak, her eyes drooping - it was as if she was to fall unconscious at any moment! Loretta took her sisters shoulders, and shook them. Rosetta's head was limp, and flopped around weakly.

     "Look, we need to find shelter," began Loretta, but then Rosetta fell to the floor.

     "Stay awake!" she said, kneeling next to her sister. She looked around desperately, but no one was around.

     Rosetta's breathing was laboured, as if it hurt her somehow; her face was pale and troubled. As Loretta watched, she felt tears glaze her eyes and make salty tracks on her cheeks.

     "Please wake up," she whispered, barely managing to keep her voice steady. A fresh rain began to fall, soaking them for the second time. The younger Aisha slept feverishly for almost an hour. Then, as Loretta was about to call for help, her golden eyes snapped open.

     "Oh, my Fyora! I had the most terrible dream!" Tears poured freely down her cheeks and mingled with the rain. "I dreamt... I dreamt that we were shipwrecked in a storm and our-"

     "Shh," Loretta said softly. "I know this is hard to accept, but it wasn't a dream. At least you're okay. I thought for a moment that you were too badly hurt..." She pulled Rosetta into a tight hug, then took her paw and pulled her onto her feet. "Are you okay now?"

     "Yes," Rosetta said, breathing deeply. The rain had stopped. They were still alone on the edge of the island.

     "Then let's go," Loretta replied, setting off at a brisk walk towards a distant cluster of buildings. "We have to find a place to stay."

*

     It was a long, hard day. The two Aishas were young, and the buildings were much further away than they had seemed to be. By the time they had reached them, dusk had settled in, lengthening shadows and giving the atmosphere a creepier edge.

     "Here we are," Loretta said, exhausted but happy. "We can spend the night here and catch the ferry back tomorrow."

     "I don't think that's such a good idea," Rosetta said quietly. "Our parents are gone, and none of our family back on the mainland wants anything to do with us. It might be easier to just stay here."

     "Well, first of all, let's find someone who will give us a room for the night." Loretta reached a paw towards the dark doorway and rapped three times. The only response from inside was a hollow, chilling echo.

     "There's no one here," Rosetta said urgently, dragging her sister away from the building. "Let's try some of the other houses."

     The two sisters visited every house in the village. All were similarly abandoned, many were thoroughly dilapidated. It soon became clear that if anyone had ever lived there, it was many years ago.

     As the night drew on, the clouds finally began to clear, allowing the occasional star to peep through. The two sisters slept on the doorstep of the old manor building, huddled together to guard against the bracing breeze.

     Rosetta observed that Loretta fell asleep quickly. The pink Aisha, however, remained awake, her eyes glistening in the darkness. Thoughts were whizzing around her head like annoying buzzing insects. Rosetta shook her head, wanting it to be possible to make thoughts disappear just as quickly as a blink of an eye.

     The night sky is beautiful when the clouds go away, she thought, rolling on her back to look at it. The arctic air swept over her as she moved away from the warmth, which was her sister. Her fur stood on end, but still Rosetta stared at the large midnight black area above her. It dotted with sparkling stars. Rosetta's eyes wandered until she spotted the North Star, the brightest of all. It seemed to calm her and she found herself lying down back next to Loretta. The warmth enveloped her - it was like sinking into a bath.

     Suddenly, Rosetta found herself feeling quite cosy, despite being stranded with no food or water, no home or shelter and just her sister for company. She didn't care. A soft whisper escaped her mouth:

     "As long as I can hang onto this feeling, I know I'll be alright."

     She sighed - if only there was some way for them to earn some Neopoints! Maybe she and Loretta could start something up... What were the quickest ways of earning Neopoints? Rosetta pondered for a minute, but it was hopeless. Loretta had always been smarter and more imaginative than her.

     "I'll ask her in the morning," Rosetta murmured to herself as she rolled over. The green Aisha's sleeping form was rising and falling gently from each breathe she took. Rosetta smiled warmly at her and let herself fall into an easeful sleep.

*

     Loretta opened her eyes immediately. The sun had risen and was practically luminous on her face. It made a change from rain, she thought, stretching and standing up. There were still a couple of puddles dotted around the place, though most had dried up. Loretta's eyes wandered down to the ground, where Rosetta lay snoring softly, looking very peaceful indeed. She didn't seem to be bothered by the sunlight that covered the ground like a blanket of torridity.

     "Maybe there is some food around here..." Loretta wondered aloud. She placed her paws on her hips and stared around, as if expecting a bunch of grapes to appear on the desolate tree nearby or maybe a loaf of bread to appear on the dirt track which ran past the entrance to the mansion they were outside.

     "Oh this is hopeless," Loretta snapped. "I would look for some, but I can't leave Rosetta on her own. She'd get worried."

     Kicking a nearby pebble, she sat back down, cross-legged, and waited for Rosetta to awaken. By the time she finally stirred, the sun was bright in the sky and the small creatures of dawn had retreated into their various hiding places. For a moment, she lay half-asleep; then, resigned, she picked herself up and brushed the dust from her now tattered dress.

     "Good morning," Loretta said, grinning. "It took you long enough."

     "Morning," Rosetta replied half-heartedly. Her eyes were squinting brightly at the horizon, her head resting on one paw. "I had an idea last night."

     "Well, anything is better than nothing at this point," Loretta sighed. "We need to find food, or money, or just another living soul with some knowledge of how to make a living on Krawk Island." She took a deep, steadying breath. "It still looks pretty deserted around here, doesn't it?"

     "Are you going to listen to me or not?"

     "Fine. Go ahead."

     "Well, I was thinking that since no one else lives here, we could... we could break in and make it our house. It wouldn't be much, but there might be some food or money inside. And even if there isn't, we'll have shelter for as long as we need it." A low breeze danced past them, tousling their once-vibrant hair.

     "You know," Loretta said, after a moment of thought, "that's actually a pretty good idea. But how are we going to get in?" She gestured at the huge metal locks on both sides of the oaken door. "There will likely be more of these inside."

     "Through the windows?"

     "Worth a try."

     The two Aishas raced around the house, trying to find a window large enough to squeeze through. It was Loretta that finally found one--on the second story of the house.

     "Look! I bet you could fit through that one!" The window was a large porthole with two semi-circle shutters. If there had ever been any glass there, it was long gone now. "I'll give you a lift up."

     "I don't know," Rosetta said quietly.

     "This was your idea, remember?"

     "Okay, okay. Give me a hand, then." Loretta crouched down, and Rosetta placed her feet on her sister's shoulders. Her hands reached upwards, ever closer to the window ledge, and finally caught on.

     "Got it!" The younger sister pulled herself through the narrow window. On her way down, she slipped, falling backwards into a dark and dusty room. Barrels lined the walls; two smaller windows sat on either side of the larger. Everything was grey with age and thick with dust and mould. From somewhere below came a soft sound, barely audible.

     Rosetta clamped a hand over her mouth to stop herself from screaming. Breathing out slowly, her eyes slowly scanned the room taking in every detail to see if there could be a glow of eyes or shimmer of movement. There was none. Rosetta shook herself.

     "I'm just a bit scared, that's all. It's just my imagination..." she muttered awkwardly to herself. She edged slowly toward the barrels that were propped against the crumbling walls. Rosetta reached out to touch a barrel - nothing grabbed her paw. Nothing happened at all. A smile of relief wiped away the look of terror on the Aisha's face and she picked the barrel up. She dragged it towards the circular window (it was reasonably light - Rosetta had guessed there was nothing in it) and tested to see if it fit.

     "Rosetta, what in Fyora's name are you doing?" shouted Loretta, "Why do you have a barrel? How is that going to help?" The muffled reply that Loretta received was, "I'm getting it through the window so you can climb up - incoming!"

     A barrel flew down towards where Loretta was standing. It landed and bounced a little, also making a hollow sound as it hit the floor. Loretta jumped back, then rushed forward to steady the barrel. She tested her weight on it.

     "It seems sturdy enough!" she called out to Rosetta. Two more barrels followed the first one, and soon Loretta joined her sister in the senile room. Loretta stared around the room, wrinkling her noise in a token of disgust. The sound came again - soft and haunting. Rosetta grabbed her sister's paw. Loretta, however, did not seem fazed by the sound.

     "Let's go downstairs," she said firmly, pulling her sister along. The door was locked. Loretta paused before plucking a hair pin from her own hair and started to pick at the lock. She'd learnt the skill a while back, when she was with her old childhood friends.

     Click.

     Rosetta pushed the door open. The sound came again, but louder. Loretta ambled casually out of the door and onto the rickety looking stairs - they creaked as the two sisters started to walk down them. Then, something small ran out on the floor that emerged at the end of the stairs.. It was like a small bird.

     "Isn't that one of those Krawk Island petpets? A Weewoo?" said Loretta, "One of Mother's friends used to own one of those petpets. Do you reckon it's alone?"

     "Probably," replied Rosetta, "Hey, can we keep it? It looks scared." Loretta sighed and then said, "Fine. Hey, maybe we could sell petpets!" Rosetta shook her head.

     "Petpets sell too slow," she sighed, "Oh! How about a restaurant, or a bar? Pirates love to eat and drink, so it could work!"

     "You know, I think you're onto something there."

***

     "And that's how it all began," Loretta finished. By that time, everyone in the restaurant had gathered around the bar to hear their story. Most wore expressions of respect. One, a small shadow Shoyru, held a notebook in one hand and a pen in the other, and was scribbling furiously.

     "You were the only survivors of the shipwreck?" she asked, nibbling the end of her red pen.

     "Yeah, I think so."

     "And you were children at the time?"

     "Yes. Well, more or less." A stunned smile broke out on the face of the Shoyru as she continued to write.

     "This is nothing short of amazing. Listen, I write stories for the Neopian Times. I guess you could say that's how I earn my way. Would you mind if I wrote this into a story?"

     "No, not at all," Rosetta said, beaming. "In fact, we'd be quite flattered, wouldn't we, Loretta?"

     "Well, I suppose..." All three pets shared a smile.

     "It's settled, then." The mysterious storyteller placed her notebook into the pocket of her shorts. "Thank you so much for sharing your story with us."

     "No problem," the sisters said in unison. "Drinks all around!"

The End

 
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