Ember and the Chocolate Ball: Part Four
Ember was still sitting at her table gleefully, enjoying the evening splendor and basking in her newly found fandom when she felt a gentle tap on her shoulder.
“Miss Ember,” said a familiar voice, “May I please have your autograph?” Ember turned her head in the direction where the voice came from and looked down to see a little biscuit Usul in a plain yet classically ornate Usuki style dress. Thrilled to see that she was becoming so popular, Ember was more than willing to oblige the young fan.
“Sure you can!” said Ember gladly.
“Great!” said the fan. “Would you mind coming over here for a second? What I would like you to sign is right over here.” Ember was slightly confused at this, but she shrugged it off and followed the young Usul to a nearby dessert table stacked to the heavens with starry Usul cake and rose petal ice cream. When they got far enough away from the crowd, however, Ember was in shock and awe to see a pair of bright emerald green wings sprout from the Usul’s back and the chocolate chips on the ruff of her neck began to disappear.
“S-Sabrina?” stuttered Ember, now even more confused than before. “Is that you?”
“Y-yes,” Sabrina stammered back as she looked around anxiously. “It is. I wanted to make sure no one else could accidentally see us.” Ember nodded in understanding and then shrieked with delight while giving Sabrina a hug.
“Where have you been all night?! I’ve been looking for you everywhere! I thought we were gonna hang out.”
“Believe me, I would have loved to, but I was detained and I almost didn’t even make it here tonight.” Ember gave her a concerned look.
“What happened to you? Are you alright?”
“Yes... and no.” Sabrina looked down anxiously. “I have some bad news.” She looked up at Ember to gauge her reaction, but to her surprise it retained its state of sisterly concern. Sabrina continued. “When I got home last night, Lexi was waiting for me. She questioned me relentlessly about where I went that night, who I was with, what I was doing, things like that. But I refused to tell her anything.” She said this last statement with haste as she saw Ember’s face go from concerned to fearful, for both Sabrina and for herself. Sabrina then finished with, “But when Lexi realized I wasn’t going to tell her anything, she locked me in my room and kept my hands tied behind my back so I couldn’t move. I would have left my room by magic but I couldn’t reach the wand, and it took me up until now to undo the knots.” Ember’s face was now fraught with outrage at the treatment of her newest and littlest companion.
“I can’t believe she did that to you!” she shouted angrily.
“It’s alright, you don’t need to be concerned about me,” Sabrina said with hidden meaning. Ember looked down at her in puzzlement. “Ember, I think my sisters are going to try to set you up for something, something really bad.” Ember shifted her position nervously.
“What makes you think that?” she asked skeptically, though she worried there might actually be reason for concern.
“Lexi was asking me a lot of questions about you last night. She asked if I’d read your entry, if I thought you were cool, if I wanted to try and meet you. I tried my very best not to give myself away, but I don’t think that mattered. She was going to believe what she wanted to, and now that you’re here dressed as you are – you look gorgeous by the way,” she added cheerfully, “I’m sure her suspicions have been confirmed.” Ember looked around nervously and spotted the group of faeries trailing away from the grand hall.
“What do you think they’re up to, Sabrina?”
“I’m not sure,” Sabrina answered honestly. “But I think they’re going to try and frame you for something horrible, most likely for something to do with the grand finale that will be unveiled tonight.” She then looked around nervously again. “If they pull this off, you may never be able to go out into public again, let alone be invited back here.” Ember’s nerves were becoming more apparent as she was twitching her hands for comfort when she heard another familiar voice.
“Ember!” The pair of Usuls turned to see an Aisha in a white server’s outfit and black skirt, and a surly looking Zafara wearing a suit monitoring yet another dessert table, this one topped with chocolate cake and double chocolate chip cookies. Ember squealed in delight at the pair of them.
“Pandora! Jimm!” Ember rushed over to greet them as Sabrina followed with a smile of relief. Perhaps they could be of some help. “I can’t believe I haven’t seen you guys until now!”
“It’s not surprising,” said Jimm gruffly. “Since you’ve been playing princess all night I’m sure you haven’t noticed us doing the job you once did not too long ago. Ah, but you deserve it, you really do. I’ve heard them all talking about you tonight. They love you.”
“They really do,” joined Pandora. “It’s like everyone here knows who you are, and the fact that you’re not only made of chocolate but are wearing the most amazing ensemble ever designed makes you untouchable. Where did you get it, anyway?!” she asked excitedly.
“Well, it was her,” said Ember, stepping aside allowing Jimm and Pandora to see her companion, who was once again fully disguised as a biscuit Usul. “She’s the one who made this possible.” The two of them looked at her curiously.
“Well, hi!” greeted Pandora warmly. “I’m Pandora. What’s your name?”
“I-I’m Sabrina,” Sabrina said nervously. “It’s nice to meet the two of you.” Jimm eyed her carefully.
“So, Sabrina, just how did you manage to get Ember here this outfit, hmm?” He looked at her as if he suspected something.
“It’s a long story,” she said breathlessly. “But I need your help. We both do.” She glanced at Ember for a second and turned back to the once again puzzled pair. After she took another glance around the room to make sure no one was looking their way, both Jimm’s and Pandora’s eyes widened as the little Usul suddenly sprouted wings and was once again a delicate faerie. Seeing that they were both speechless, Sabrina began to elaborate.
“I live in Faerieland with my three sisters, who are also here tonight. I believe they are going to try and frame Ember for something sinister in order to ruin her reputation.” Jimm’s and Pandora’s expressions suddenly changed from puzzlement to deep worry as they turned from Sabrina to Ember, not wanting to believe what they were hearing.
“But why?” inquired Pandora.
“Yeah, why would anyone want to mess with Ember?” piped Jimm. Sabrina looked down towards her feet nervously.
“Well, my sisters have a rather... disapproving attitude towards the working class,” said Sabrina, trying to choose her words carefully. “They think anyone who has a job serving anyone else isn’t worth being in the same room with.” Jimm and Pandora began to scowl at these words.
“That’s horrible!” shrieked Pandora.
“How DARE they think that about us! So just because they’re rich and live in a castle on a cloud they think they’re better?”
“Pretty much,” said Sabrina. Jimm looked at Sabrina imploringly.
“So, what do you think they’re going to do to Ember?”
“I’m not exactly sure,” she said, “But I think it will have something to do with the grand finale at the end of the ball. Do either of you know anything about what is going to happen then?” Pandora perked up excitedly.
“Why yes! That’s when they’re going to unveil the grand statue of Queen Fyora!” Ember and Sabrina exchanged confused looks toward each other.
“The Chocolate Factory owner has prepared his greatest confectionary delight to date,” Jimm explained. “At the end of the ball, he is going to showcase a giant statue of Fyora, the Faerie Queen, made entirely out of colored candy gems to look just like her.” The pair of Usuls seemed to marvel at this idea, and then their expressions crashed into looks of horror when they realized what this meant: Lexi and the others were going to destroy the statue, and they were going to try to pin it on Ember somehow.
“There has to be a way we can stop this,” said Pandora.
“I’m afraid there isn’t,” said Jimm, frowning. “The statue is being kept in the kitchen until its unveiling at the end of the ball. We can’t even get close to it. As guest caterers we brought all of our stuff with us; we can’t get access to the kitchen. The only pets allowed back there are the waiters and waitresses who are serving drinks and appetizers.” Sabrina, Pandora, and Jimm were looking grimly at the floor at this bitter reality. Ember, however, was wearing an expression of hopefulness.
“So they’re only letting waiters and waitresses in the back, are they?”
“Yeah,” said Jimm, not catching on. “Only waiters and waitresses. Looks like we’re out of luck.”
“Oh, I’m not so sure about that,” Ember said coyly, motioning for Sabrina to follow her. “Jimm, Pandora, you guys keep a lookout for anything suspicious; I’ve got a plan.” With that, Ember and Sabrina hurried towards the back of the hall, with Jimm and Pandora left to stare curiously after them.
To be continued...