Inheritance: Part Three
“What?” asked the Lupe, his ears perking up. “Mabelle, are you sure...? I don’t really think that your caretakers would’ve given you to murderers.”
“They said something about the inheritance,” she insisted. “The part about getting my inheritance when I turn sixteen! Theo, you know the person they put in charge of my parents' things didn’t care a whit about me! He was just in a hurry to get rid of me...”
She said the last part with a desperate tone to her voice, and Theo’s ears flattened against his head. They stood in silence for a moment while he processed the information, and then he quickly began to wipe his hands on his pants.
“Come on, we need to go tell the ambassador,” he said, and then sneezed, the noise slightly contrasting the atmosphere of the situation they had found themselves in. He grabbed her hand and pulled her out of the kitchen. Mabelle marveled that they hadn’t been followed at all, at least as far as she had noticed. For all she knew they were lurking behind them right now, hiding in plain sight, even if her ‘Uncle’ hadn’t been known to be the most dainty pet ever in creation.
They crept along in silence, even though they didn’t need to be completely quiet. Several of the guests were awake in their rooms and having conversations with each other, if there were more than one. Talking covered the clatter of Mabelle’s hooves. One of them actually happened to open the door while they were walking down, and seeing her scared face and Theo’s focused one, the Wocky gave her a sympathetic look before backing away and closing the door.
The shadow Lupe knocked softly on his own door when they reached it, and Mabelle’s head jerked up when she noticed that they’d been given the finest room in the inn. She had been in it before, but not on an everyday basis, and it always struck her how beautiful it was whenever she saw it. Of course it wasn’t royal standard, but it was still lovely. Of course they’d give it to somebody sent from the castle.
“Theodore?” asked a sleepy voice, and the latch clicked as somebody unlocked it from the inside. A bleary-eyed green Kyrii opened the door and Theo hurriedly pulled her inside. “Theodore, what on Neopia are you doing with that maid?”
“Mabelle’s in danger,” her friend said, turning to face the ambassador. “We need to hide her, get her away from here... something.”
“What in blazes is going on?” asked the Kyrii, nearly bellowing.
“Be quiet!” urged Theo, releasing Mabelle and holding up his hands. “We don’t want them to catch us!”
“Who catches who? And why are you hiding?”
“My aunt and uncle... they want to kill me!” said Mabelle, and even as she said it she knew the words sounded ridiculous, let alone coming from a small pink Ixi like herself.
“That’s a lie if I ever heard one!” insisted Borano, huffing. “Theodore, take this Ixi back to her quarters. We will have a talk with her employers in the morning, and then you and I will have a stern talk on the road.”
“Mabelle, just go,” said Theo. “Is there someplace safe you can go? Somewhere you can meet us?”
“We will not be meeting anyone!”
Mabelle nodded, gingerly walking back over to the door. “There’s a tree house, in the woods a little ways back. My aunt and uncle don’t know about it.”
“Get your things and we’ll see you there,” said Theo, and she rushed out into the hallway. Behind her the door shut quite firmly and an intense conversation began behind it. The Ixi swallowed a lump that seemed to have built up in her throat, and took off, desperately wishing at that moment that her room wasn’t on the other side of the inn.
However, the only person she met on her way was Eustace, the old Lenny who watched the door at night. He was one of the only kind souls that Mabelle knew in this wretched place.
“You alright, dear?” asked the Lenny, blinking as he looked at her.
“I’m fine, sir,” she said, smiling quickly at him while she rushed by. Oh, how she wished she could take him with her! He probably didn’t know anything about what was going on between her and her strange ‘family’.
She dashed up the stairs that led to her small attic room, and flung open the door. She grabbed a cloth sack sitting on top of her dresser and began to stuff some of her clothes inside, her nerves jangling as she realized that right beneath her were a couple of very dangerous people. She bit her lip as she stuffed a pair of old skirts in the bag. She feared for a second that they were going to come right up, and that she’d never be able to make her way out of this building ever again. It was a horrible thought.
The Ixi touched her neck with nerves, hoping to find her necklace resting there so that she could rub all of her worries into it, but when she felt nothing but fur and skin, she jumped. Where was it? She ran over to her bed and tore the blankets off feeling through the bedding in a panic. What had happened to it? The last place she remembered wearing it was... when she was in the kitchen! She must have taken it off when she was about to wash the dishes so that she wouldn’t get water on it!
She looked in her back once again to make sure that she had everything she felt she needed from her room, and rushed back down the stairs. The candle was still illuminating the kitchen, and she was grateful for at least that when she ran through the room. It was dark enough as it was, and she nearly tripped over a bucket that was standing next to the table in the center.
There it was: right on the counter where the tub sat was her necklace, its silver chain curled up and pooling in the corner like water. She gave a sigh of relief and picked it up, stuffing it in her pocket because she knew she didn’t have enough time to put it on properly.
“Mabelle?” asked a high, whiny voice. “Are you done with those dishes yet?”
The Ixi froze, her chest tightening, and the speed of her heart increasing. She could barely draw in any air, and the fur on the back of her neck stood up. Her aunt! Oh no, her aunt couldn’t be coming into the kitchen. She’d take one look at Mabelle and know exactly what she was up to. Her head jerked sharply to her left, and caught on the door just a few feet away. It led right out to the back, and if she could just get to it before her aunt came—if she did—she’d be safe. All she’d have to do was run straight into the woods.
Hardly daring to move, Mabelle quietly crept over to it, and her heart leapt when she heard footsteps coming from the office. Her movements stilled once again. Her aunt was going to kill her. She had to move! But she couldn’t. There was something in her fear that stopped her, as if her aunt was going to give her a silly little punishment if she did. Something whispered to her that death was just a myth, that it really couldn’t happen to a pet such as herself, when she knew what their punishments were like and had felt them.
Something clicked, and reality set in. She moved as fast as she had ever done for the door, and nearly jumped out of her skin when a loud shriek filled the air.
“Seth! She’s running!”
It felt as if time had slowed down to a stop as she pulled the door open, and she screamed when she felt her arm be taken in a grip so hard it was like whatever was clutching her had the strength of a dozen Grarrls.
“Quiet, you stupid girl! We can’t have you waking everybody up!” hissed her aunt. Did she not know that Mabelle knew of her plans?
The Ixi couldn’t get the words from earlier out of her mind, though. Thoughts of dying and giving all of her family’s money to people who had most likely killed her parents in order to get at her drove her, and she began kicking and pushing back at the calculating Eyrie. Her aunt shrieked as she hit a tender spot and let go of her, and Mabelle dashed off, her feet flying beneath her like the wind. More shouts and cries echoed from inside the inn, and she found herself stumbling past roots and fallen branches that she had been deftly avoiding for at least a couple of years now.
Her foot caught on something, and she fell to the ground, scraping her chin and banging her other limbs. She cried out as pain shot up her wrist, but she pushed herself up and forced herself to keep going. All she knew was that she had to get to the tree house and she would be safe. She would never have to see those horrid people again. Tears spilled down her cheeks. She couldn’t believe this was happening!
Throughout those years here she never would’ve suspected these people of wanting to do her serious harm like they were planning, or that they weren’t even her relatives. She had believed they were good—to a certain extent, that is—and just bided her time until she could leave to create her own path. Now she was, but it certainly wasn’t because of anything good. She still needed to get away, however.
Relief flooded her body when she saw the small building in the large oak tree, nearly falling apart with age. It had already looked this way when she had found it after she had first gotten here. The sun had been shining, then, and there had been grass growing here, as well as a few wild flowers and ferns. The wood was covered in moss in some spots, and a couple of times pieces of wood had fallen away; useless ones like the shutters on the windows and a few shingles. It was small, for it was intended to be a child’s playhouse when it was built, but it was just perfect for a pet like her to find some solitude. She had never been particularly tall.
Slowing down now, Mabelle smiled as she walked up to it and gripped a board that was pounded into the tree to help people climb up. It was almost as if she were greeting an old friend again. She rested her head against the trunk for a second, and took in its damp, wonderful smell. However, thoughts of pursuit filled her head, and she climbed up without a second’s hesitation. Her feet found solid purchase, and it didn’t take too much before she climbed up through the bottom of her second home and shut the trap door. She put her hand down on the ground beside her... and nearly cried out.
It hurt. It wasn’t broken, but it was nearly unbearable if she moved it a certain way. It felt like when she had jammed her fingers, only this time it was in her wrist. She could barely lift her hand above her arm, and it ached terribly when she let it lie flat. She must have sprained it when she fell. She dropped her bag—which she had been holding with her other hand, and dug through it to see if she had anything she could use to bind it.
That was when a heavy hand fell on her shoulder, and another cupped her mouth.
To be continued...