The Sorcery Society: Part Four
Citrus was rummaging through one of my old boxes of Usukis, and I was basically being deafened by her squeals of excitement. "Oh! How pretty!" she practically shrieked at the discovery of a Ballerina Usuki with tousled hair. "Oh my gosh! I've always wanted one of this!" she cried when she found a Prom Queen Usuki nestled at the bottom of the cardboard box, her dress fraying and crinkled.
Well, at least she's the appreciative type - the kind of little girl who doesn't mind hand-me-down toys. I watched the baby Uni merrily play with her new dolls, trying not to let my gaze be drawn towards the thin paperback book with the plum-colored cover - the one sitting on my desk with the words Making A Spell Is Like Laying An Egg written on the cover in red block letters. After discovering the book, I instantly had Athy check it out for me. But now that I had it within my reach, I was beginning to have doubts about what I was doing.
What was the point, anyway? Why in the world was I dredging up the memories of something that happened ten years ago? Was it because I wanted to know what happened to them - the four of them? Was it because I had read a story without an ending?
Well, I was just getting myself into trouble, and I couldn't remember a single time in my life that I'd ever gotten into trouble. I was always the goody-two-shoes, the one who followed the rules, the one who was praised by adults and teachers alike for my manners, my politeness, my quietness, and my studiousness, in comparison to the other rambunctious kids who just wanted to have fun. And then I began asking myself another question - Was that what I wanted? To be like those kids? To be someone else, someone I'd never been before?
"Look, Emmie!" Citrus squealed, breaking me away from my thoughts. I watched, smiling faintly, as Citrus tried to cut off Magic Hair Usuki's unitails with a pair of scissors, over and over again, to no avail. She broke into a fit of giggles as the Usuki's hair grew back, over and over again.
It was at this point that I found myself walking across the room and picking up the book that sat, slanted, on my bed side table. The cover was cold and smooth.
Slowly, I thumbed through the pages. The lettering was giant, the words were, (typically) undescriptive, and the illustrations were crude and lacked any appealing detail. All in all, it looked more like an ancient coloring book then one that instructed you on how to create your own spells.
I was losing hope in gaining any substantial knowledge from the book when the title of the thirteenth chapter caught my eye. It read, "Chapter 13: Personalized Spells."
The chapter was short and to-the-point; it only took me three minutes to finish reading it. However, I almost missed a tiny notice in light green lettering, which was situated at the very bottom of one of the chapter's wafer-thin pages:
There is one exception to a personalized spell, as every type of spell has some sort of exception or loophole (as was explained previously). For example, if five people created one personalized spell, one person, even if that person is not one of the five creators, could use the personalized spell if he/she is holding and/or wearing five objects that had each belonged to one of the five creators.
I just stared at the page, bewildered. This meant that, if I had one belonging of Ru Ralander, one belonging of Merah Ralander, one belonging of Vidla Maral, and one belonging of Ancti Vendette in my possession, I could cast their spell. And - and I could use their spell to teleport somewhere - and then - and then - I could use it to teleport myself to the location(s) of those four individuals!
But I was getting way ahead of myself.
I quickly reeled back my suddenly haywire mess of a mind, then shut the book and plopped it back onto my bedside table Then I quietly sat down on my bed and watched Citrus play with her Usukis, allowing myself to think and think and think until it hurt.
How did I know that Ru and his friends hadn't shown up at their doorsteps a few days after the incident? How did I know that Jhidaya wasn't trapped in some dungeon, locked up for all eternity? I was investigating an event that had occurred ten years ago; as far as I knew, Ru Ralander could've been working in Kelp or Faerie City! His sister may've been assistant to the Faerie Queen herself, or his best friend could be an acrobat in a traveling circus, or his best friend's cousin could be part of an underground association bent on taking Neopia! Anyhow, I was being ridiculous in taking the role of detective, as if I was actually fit to be one.
I must've had some sort of ridiculous pout on my face as I thought, because Citrus looked at me with wide eyes and asked, "Emmie, are you okay?"
"I'm fine," I told her. Then I stood up and fetched my purse from my closet.
Citrus continued to look at me.
"Where are you going?" she asked, curiously.
"To the Search House," I replied.
"Can I come, too?"
"Sure, why not."
The Search House was a small, wooden building situated a mile or so north from my house. It was painted light blue, had a green shingled roof, a trimmed white porch, a white picket fence and a manicured garden in the front yard that made it look more like an actual house than a business building. A loveberry tree grew in the front yard, shadowing a sleek, metal bench.
It was the type of bench you wanted to sit on on a warm, lazy summer day, inhaling the aroma of the flowers, munching on a loveberry, and enjoying the picturesque scenery - but that was not why Citrus and I were there that day. Because, despite all of its curb appeal and flawlessnes, the Search House was not a house - it was a place of business. The owner, Mrs. Bellida, worked on the first floor and lived on the second floor. Sometimes, her son, Marco, worked on the first floor, as well.
The Search House, on the first floor, was practically bursting with machines and metal. Citrus, who had never been there before, oohed and ahhed at the twisting wires and coils that lined the ceiling, as well as the lights on the machinery that seemed to blink in every color and shade imaginable. I wondered exactly how much all of this machinery had cost to buy from the Virtupets Space Center, the only place where machines so high-tech were created. It really was a mystery, since use of the Search House was free to every Neopian.
Behind a short wooden counter, Mrs. Bellida, a plump green Elephante, was giving instructions to her son, a slender, bored-looking blue Ruki. It must've been a slow day, because there was nobody on the waiting line; I smiled at how lucky we were. Usually, the place was bursting with Neopians curious about that person who wrote that certain story in the Neopian Times, or a n00b who frantically wanted looking up Jelly World, although we are all well aware that something as silly as Jelly World doesn't exist.
Mrs. Bellida smiled as soon as she spotted us. "Oh, hello, girls!" she boomed in an incredibly loud, incredibly merry voice. "Come 'ere, come 'ere! Let me help you with whatever you need help with."
Then she turned to her son and said, "Marco, go upstairs and prepare dinner. And don't forget the tea this time. I don't want a single can of Neocola on that table when I get there."
Marco rolled his eyes before hopping towards a secluded wooden staircase.
"Ahem. So, what can I do for you girls?" Mrs. Bellida asked, smiling widely.
"Um, I'd like to look up the location of Mira Ralander," I said.
In retrospect, the Search House was a perfect place for stalkers to go, learn the address of someone they're angry at, and then harass that person with rude neomails. But then again, the harass-ee could easily file a report against the harass-er and have them reprimanded, so it wasn't such a big deal after all.
"Mira Ralander?" Mrs. Bellida asked, confused. Then her eyes twinkled and she laughed. "Oh, that's the girl's full name! I was confused for a moment there. Well, sweetheart, in order to look up this certain individual, you need to give me her user name," the Elephante explained. My face turned pale.
Of course! Why hadn't I thought of that before?
I blanched. Realizing my predicament, Mrs. Belidda smiled kindly and said, "Don't worry, dear. I'll just look up her name on the database and see if it matches up to a username." The Elephante then proceeded to walk over to one of the Search House's many computers. After a few minutes of typing, she turned to me and said, "Mira Ralander's username is ralandergirl082, and she lives at 12 Wishing Well Drive. She has two neopets, Murky and Tate. The name of her shop is - "
"Thank you," I interrupted her. "We'll be on our way now."
"Emmie," Citrus asked me on our way to the Ralander's house, "whose house are we going to?"
I thought I moment before replying, "My friend's house."
The Uni nodded slowly as we walked up to the Ralander's house.
I'm not quite sure what I was expecting, but, for some reason, I found it surprising that the house was so... ordinary. It was two stories tall, built of wood, and was painted white, with a brick chimney and light red shutters. A cobblestone pathway swerved from the concrete sidewalk to the door's stone front steps and smooth, wooden door. The front yard was small, flat, and plain, but it had recently been mowed, leaving the sweet scent of freshly cut grass in the air. It lacked the refined appearance of the Search House, yet was not at all run-down or unkempt; it was perfectly in between, not beautiful or ugly.
I led Citrus up to the door and, after dispelling all doubts and nervousness from my mind, I loudly rasped my paw against the door.
The door was answered, a moment later, by a tall, slender girl with curly red hair tied into a low unitail. She was dressed in an oversized purple T-shirt, denim jeans, and white socks. She was pretty, with a heart-shaped face, a small nose, full, pink lips, and large blue eyes the color of a clear summer sky. However, her expression, when she saw me, was one of dulled surprise and confusion.
"Mira Ralander?" I asked, timidly.
The girl nodded slowly. "Yes," she replied, before hastily adding, "And who would you be?"
I gulped. "I'm Emme," I told her, using my uncommonly used, real first name. "Emme Echarpe. I'm here - I'm here to ask you a few questions about your son and daughter." Mira continued to look confused. I suddenly remembered that Mrs. Bellida had said that she had two other pets, who might've just been a girl and a boy. "Your son and daughter - Ru and Merah," I clarified.
Mira's eyes narrowed.
"I have nothing to say about them," she said, before attempting to shut the door in my face.
I quickly placed my foot in the way, and flinched as the door pressed hard against it. "I have Ru's journal," I told her, gently.
Mira's face suddenly softened, if only a little, and she looked as if she was about to cry. Opening the door halfway, she leaned against the doorway and held her face in one of her hands. I felt guilty, as if coming here was an awful mistake.
"Come in," she said, turning away from me.
To be continued...