Avey's Castle of Hope: Part Four
Part Four: Caught!
It was a week before the sisters were discovered. A whole week in which Avey spent a great deal of time with them, sneaking them food and reading them stories. A whole week where she made excuse after excuse about why she was late for dinner or why she took more food than she could eat. Avey was a spirited and determined young Xweetok, always going over the limit to save a friend. She did all she could to keep them a secret, but she knew in the end she gave them something that was better than a hope... a knowing.
"Avey, where have all the muffins gone?" Belinda stood over Avey, wings on her hips, waiting for a reply. "I made a whole basket on the table and it's vanished."
"I... I don't know..." Avey said, her paws trembling and her heart thu-dumping.
"Oh, really? Then why do you have the whole basket behind your back? Awfully hungry today, I see. In fact, all this week."
Avey nearly fainted. She bit her lip. I will not tell! she screamed in her head. I cannot tell!
Belinda's eyes softened and so did her voice. "Oh, Avey, I wish you would tell me what's going on, sweetie." She reached out a wing to pat Avey on the shoulder.
Avey shook her head and backed away. "No! I can't, Belinda! I just can't!"
Belinda raised her eye brows.
"Please, just understand. I can't tell," Avey pleaded desperately.
Belinda sighed. "Okay, Avey. If you know what you're doing..."
Avey nodded her head fiercely. "I do!"
She ran up the steps, not stopping to catch her breath until she was safe in Clara and Emmeline's room.
"Avey! What's happened?" Clara asked, her eyes big.
Avey sighed. "Nothing. Belinda talked to me about taking more food than I could eat."
Clara felt tears brimming her eyes. "Oh, Avey! We are a burden to you! We will get you in trouble, oh, we will!"
Avey shook her head. "Oh, Clara. Don't worry about me."
"Avey, but you're risking so much!"
"Clara, please. I'm helping you. Just let me help you."
Clara's eyes were sad. "I knew we shouldn't have come here," she whispered.
Emmeline tugged on Avey's paw. "Story?"
Avey smiled. "Okay, I'll read you a story."
They settled around while Avey read them an enchanting tale about a white Uni and a beautiful princess named Aurora.
When she was finished, Emmeline had drifted happily asleep, a smile on her lips, and Clara's eyes glowed with memories. "I used to love to read. When I was little, I had tons of books, and loved them all. But my all time favorite was Usul Bedtime Stories. My old owner, I barely remember her, used to read it to me before bed all the time." She fingered with the necklace around her neck. "I wish I still had it."
Avey didn't really know what to say except, "You're welcome to read some of my books; they're all quite nice."
Clara smiled. "Thank you, Avey. I've never known anyone as kind and thoughtful as you. If I had an owner, I'd want one just like you."
Avey sighed sadly, feeling as if she felt Clara's pain.
"If I had an owner, I'd want one with a merry heart and shining, friendly eyes that you could just see the love and affection in." Clara sighed deeply as she thought of it. "Doesn't that sound grand?"
"Yes, Clara... Yes, it does..."
Lightning flashed brightly and zig-zagged across the dark Brightvale sky. Thunder rumbled angrily and rain pounded heavily on the castle, sounding like a million Neopian soldiers getting ready for a battle.
Avey had awoken with a start to the sound of a terrified cry.
She shot up in bed, clutching her covers. What was it that was making that horrifying noise?
Avey made a dash out of bed, realizing it was Emmeline! She flashed past Violette's room, stopping as Violette sleepily barked, "Oh, Avey, what's that dreadful noise?" Being on the same hall, it was quite loud to both girls.
Avey thought quickly. "Umm... Warfs! Warfs! Yep, just a bunch of Warfs, that's all! Aha... ha..." she laughed nervously.
"See, Avey? I told you not to feed them. Now look what you've done. They won't leave you alone!"
"Go back to sleep, Violette. I'll take care of this."
Avey ran quickly and quietly to Clara and Emmeline's room.
Emmeline was indeed crying. She howled fearfully and fat tears rolled down her face. Clara stood over her, gasping wearily, "Oh, Avey! She always does this. She's awfully terrified of storms! What if she wakes someone up?"
Emmeline screamed and Clara and Avey jumped as a huge clap of thunder shook the castle. The castle trembled and Avey's heart thumped nervously. "Umm... her Bear!"
Clara scrambled to find it in the dim light and held it out to Emmeline. "Here, Em. It's your Bear. Please stop crying, Emmie!"
Emmeline stopped crying for a second and then started again, wailing in fear.
"Oh, Avey!" Clara cried, helplessly. "It's not working!"
Avey had an idea. She ran quickly to her room and found what she needed: her Fyora Music Box.
She quickly turned the crank and it starting twirling, a sweet, clear melody spilling from it.
Emmeline stopping crying and stared mesmerized at it. "Pretty," she said. She took it in her small paws and watched intently as the Faerie twirled around and around.
Clara yawned and whispered in delight, "It worked, Avey!"
"Emmeline hates storms," Clara said as thunder continued to rumble low in the distance. "Every time one occurs she doesn't stop crying." She yawned again and went to lay down, watching the Fyora spin around and around too, until her eyes closed and she drifted away.
Emmeline fell asleep with the music box in her arms and her Bear under her head. Avey spread blankets over them and smiled happily to herself as she turned out the light and fell into a peaceful sleep herself.
"AVEY! Avey, dear!! Oh, where is that girl?"
Avey's head shot up. Clara and Emmeline still slept soundly beside her. She scrambled to her feet and quietly opened the door of Clara and Emmeline's room.
Rosalina Siara stood in Avey's doorway. She turned around as Avey's footsteps sounded behind her.
"Oh, Avey. Where have you been?"
Avey bit her lip. "I was just out feeding my... Warfs..."
Rosalina Siara's eyebrows raised. "Oh, really? Well, okay, dear, but just be sure they don't come into my castle. I need you to run a few errands, dear, if you could."
Avey nodded. "Oh, yes, anything Rosalina, Siara."
"Okay, I need..."
Avey walked out of The Scrollery with a Scroll of Knowledge tucked in her basket. She now made her way to the Royal Potionery, where Rosalina Siara had requested a Tangella Tonic.
After she had ran all of the errands, she decided she had a few minutes to spare at the Brightvale Books, where she had a errand to run herself. The wise orange Ixi greeted her, smiling and saying, "Ah, how's my spirited reader? It's been a while! Come to find anything in particular, Avey?"
Avey nodded. "Do you have the Usul Bedtime Stories book?" she asked.
The wise old Ixi thought a moment, then said, "I believe we do. Come, follow me and we shall see."
He lead Avey to a bookcase filled with bedtime stories, thumbing through each one. "Hmm, I believe we don't have any more... Perhaps someone bought it."
Avey's spirit dropped. "Yes, perhaps..." Avey wanted to cry. She had planned on giving that book to Clara. She bit her lip. "Okay, that's fine. Thanks for looking."
When the orange Ixi had left, Avey sighed and continued to look, just to be sure. It was nowhere to be found. She plopped sadly down in a reading chair, awfully upset.
Something then caught her attention. A blond-headed girl, perhaps eighteen, sat in the chair across from her. Her blue eyes were merry as she flipped through the book in front of her. Avey stared at the book, not believing that it was the one she was looking for.
"Usul Bedtime Stories," she whispered.
Avey didn't mean to stare, and especially didn't mean for the girl to catch her staring. The girl looked up, smiling. "Hello, sweetie."
Avey gasped and quickly snapped out of it. "Um... sorry to stare... I... uh... was looking for that book you're reading, is all..."
The girl looked at the book, then back to Avey. Her voice was soft and her eyes were warm. "Oh, so you say. I was just looking at it to see if it would make my naughty little Griffin go to sleep at night. He's so active, and never sleeps a wink." She laughed. "But you're welcome to have it, if you'd like."
She held out the book for Avey, and Avey, dazed, took it. "Oh... thank you. Thank you very much." The warm friendliness in the girl's voice, her soft, golden hair, and her deep blue pools for eyes reminded Avey somewhat of... of Stacy.
The girl spoke again. "So, do you come here often?"
"Oh, yes, ma'am," Avey said, remembering her manners she should always use as a Royal. "Almost every day. I've never seen you here before, though."
"Well, my little neopet and I just moved here from Mystery Island. Was a wonderful place, it was, but I was born to travel. Across the blue glorious depths of Maraqua, and the frozen snowy wonderlands of Terror Mountain I've been and loved." The girl sighed at her memories.
"Really?" Avey asked, fascinated by her travels. "I haven't lived here very long either, about a year. I'd love to travel Neopia someday, but Rosalina Siara says Royals aren't meant to travel and journey to different places. Their duties lie with their kingdom."
"A royal, you say?" the girl asked, her eyes dancing.
"Well... they don't have royal Xweetoks... but Faerie is close enough, right?" Avey asked.
"And I do have a crown," Avey said, touching her newsboy cap on the top of her head. "Only... I don't wear it much."
The girl laughed. "You certainly are an interesting young girl. What is your name?"
"Oh, I'm sorry! I completely forgot to introduce myself!" Avey gasped, realizing she wasn't following the Royal-code. "I'm Avey."
"Avey? What a sweet and unique name! My name is Adelaide," Adelaide said.
"Oh, Adelaide?" Avey breathed. "It's beautiful." Just like her, Avey thought. She thought Adelaide was the perfect owner, and any pet would be lucky to have her as one.
"Thank you," Adelaide blushed. "So, tell me about yourself, Avey. Where in Brightvale do you live?"
"In the Castle of Brightvale," Avey said. "I've only lived there for about year. Rosalina Siara was nice enough to take care of me after..." She paused. "It doesn't really matter anyway."
Adelaide placed a hand on Avey's paw for comfort. "Is something troubling you, dear?"
Avey suddenly wanted to cry, even if she didn't know why. Nothing seemed right anymore! She suddenly found herself pouring out her whole story to this stranger, everything from being abandoned by Stacy to hiding Xweetok sisters in her castle. And Adelaide listened with a glowing smile on her face.
"Oh, honey," Adelaide said softly. "You certainly are a spirited young girl."
Avey bit her lip. "Yes, but everything I do seems right, but it really ends in disaster, like Hope."
"Well, that's life," Adelaide said kindly. "And you can't let it bring you down. You have to get back up and keep going, no matter what."
"But Adelaide, what if I can't help Clara and Emmeline? What if I fail? I promised them I'd help them!" Avey wailed, tears forming in her eyes.
"Oh, honey, you did something those girls will never forget. Even if it doesn't turn out like you may have planned, Avey, you are a brave little Xweetok with a true heart."
Avey wiped her eyes. "Oh, Adelaide. Thank you."
Adelaide smiled softly, patting Avey on the shoulder. "You're a beautiful Faerie Xweetok. My little Griffin will think you popped right out from his faerie-tale stories."
"Griffin?" Avey asked.
"Oh, my, he should be around here somewhere," Adelaide said, laughingly. "He's always running around and being adventurous. Maybe-"
Just then a young, hyper little baby Ogrin who was about three-years-old came bounding to Adelaide with outstretched arms. "Mama! Mama!" he cried jubilantly. "I found a faerie!" He pointed to Avey and stared with wide eyes.
Adelaide pecked him sweetly at the nose. "Yes, little Griffin, you did. This is Avey. She's a friend."
Griffin looked at Avey with Spardel-eyes and gasped. "The faerie is our friend?"
Avey giggled. She adored baby Neopets. "Yes, I am."
Griffon continued to stare and whispered. "She's a pretty faerie."
"Yes, she is," Adelaide murmured. "Did you find the book you wanted, sweetie?"
Griffin proudly held up a book with a blue and orange cover: Wishing On A Star. "Yes, Mama! And I'm going to wish on a star that the faerie-girl can live with us forever!"
"Oh, my," Adelaide murmured, glancing at Avey.
Something flickered in Avey, but she didn't know what and she couldn't explain. She felt something tugging at her, screaming, This is it, Avey! The perfect owner!
Avey shook her head. What are you talking about?! I have an owner! she screamed in her head. Rosalina Siara is the best owner I could have ever dreamed of having!
Oh, Avey, the voice said again. You know what I mean.
No! Avey thought desperately. I don't know what you mean! Please, tell me! Tell me what you mean!
Adelaide stared at her, her brows knotted with concern. "Avey? Sweetie? Are you okay?"
"Oh, I'm sorry, Miss Adelaide," Avey apologized. "But I must go. You see, I was supposed to-" She gasped. "Oh, no! Rosalina Siara told me not to wander! She'll be awfully upset. Sorry, Miss Adelaide! I have to go."
Adelaide nodded. "Okay, sweetie. Good luck to you, and always remember something..."
"What is that, Adelaide?" Avey asked, gathering her basket and Usul Bedtime Stories.
"Listen to your heart." Adelaide smiled. "And you'll get through anything. Believe, Avey. Believe in yourself."
Even though Avey was in a hurry, she did not run to the Castle of Brightvale. Her thoughts made her walk and think. Her mind was buzzing with confusion.
"Oh, Avey, did you do the right thing by coming to Brightvale? What if something happens? What is to become of you?" she asked herself. "You are certainly not Royal and haven't been one for very long."
She passed the Brightvale Meadows, her heart calling out to Hope.
She was beginning to wonder if she wasn't made for the extravagant life at the Castle of Brightvale. She wondered if she was meant to be a normal girl again and not a Royal.
She had completely forgotten all about Clara and Emmeline... and when she walked in the door of the Castle of Brightvale... her heart nearly stopped.
"Avey, what is the meaning of this? I want the whole story now!"
Avey dropped her basket, her heart thudding so crazy she thought it would burst. She felt tears in her eyes.
"Well?" Rosalina Siara asked impatiently, her eyes blazing with anger and hurt.
Avey looked from the stern face of Rosalina Siara to the hateful one on Miss Beamon to the frightened faces of Clara and Emmeline.
She was caught!
To be continued...