The Non Believer
“Elizabeth! Elizabeth! The adopted neopet has arrived!” Rosemarie proudly announced from the kitchen chamber.
“Hopefully one nicer than the last...” she mumbled under her breath, as she got back to peeling potatoes for the welcoming soup Elizabeth had requested.
“Oh my! Oh my! Oh my!” Elizabeth gasped, quickly looking in one of her many large mirrors placed around the manor and making sure her long, blonde curls were in place.
She had been awaiting this day for ever so long, and now was the day her dream was about to come true.
She flung open the door and gasped at what she saw.
“My oh! Aren't you just the most adorable thing I have ever seen!” Elizabeth cried, as she scooped up the tiny yellow Zafara lying on her doorstep.
A sarcastic-looking Red Lenny rolled his eyes and shoved some crumpled adoption papers into Elizabeth's hand.
“Why anyone would want a scrawny little runt like that, I'll never know,” the Lenny sneered, gathering up his adoption papers and walking away.
“Maybe because she's a nice, caring neopet unlike yourself!” Elizabeth growled, before leaning down and whispering in the tiny Zafara's ear, “Take no notice of him... he's just jealous.”
Once inside, Elizabeth sat the tiny yellow Zafara at the massive table and placed several bits of white, crusty bread fresh from the oven onto the Zafara's plate.
“Eat up whilst it's hot.” Elizabeth smiled, as the Zafara nervously nibbled on the bread.
But after a few bites, the Zafara realized just how hungry she really was, and so in a few seconds, all the bread was gone.
“BRAAAAAAAP!” the Zafara burped, before turning red and looking away.
Elizabeth just laughed.
“Silly child, don't do that! Now, what is your name, child?”
The Zafara girl looked down at her feet, before finally whispering, “Emerald.”
“Well, Emerald, you shall now be known as Princess Emerald, daughter of one of the finest Neopians on the planet, me!” Elizabeth grinned, as she handed Emerald a tiny silver brooch in the shape of a scarab.
“Got that in Sakhmet,” Elizabeth explained, as Emerald fingered the brooch carefully, stroking its beautiful design.
“Keep it safe, Emerald darling, as it is said to bring good luck to whoever protects it best.” Elizabeth winked and stood up, going to ask Rosemarie if the welcome soup was ready yet.
A few minutes later, Elizabeth came to sit down, and then moments later Rosemarie came through, angrily pushing a tray with two bowls of steaming hot vegetable soup on it. She placed a bowl and soup spoon in front of Emerald, and then did the same with Elizabeth. She then sighed and poured two cups of boiling Borovan into two mugs and placed them beside the soup bowls. Rosemarie nodded and left.
“Ignore Rosemarie; she's just a servant, good for nothing but cooking and housework.” Elizabeth tutted as she tied a crisp, white napkin around her neck.
Emerald was about to lunge into her soup with her bare paws, but Elizabeth gasped and stopped her.
“No, Emerald, in this house we eat using the proper utensils, and not before putting our napkin on.”
Emerald went scarlet as she quickly tied her napkin and carefully picked up the soup. She shoved a large spoon full into her mouth, before spitting it out and yelping.
“OUCH! HOT!” Emerald whimpered, massaging her scolded tongue.
Rosemarie suddenly came rushing through, and handed her a glass of icy water.
“Quickly, drink this, child,” Rosemarie ordered, as she tried to clean up around Emerald's mess.
Elizabeth just sighed and shook her head. She poured half the glass of water into the soup to cool it down.
“Silly child, try the soup now, I've cooled it down,” Elizabeth instructed, and Emerald did as she was told.
“Mmmm, yummy!” Emerald smiled, finishing the soup in seconds, without burping.
“Good, huh?” Elizabeth said, finishing up her own soup.
As Rosemarie came to clear the plates and cups away, Elizabeth led Emerald to her new room. Emerald felt slightly dizzy as she saw all the different rooms, and she wondered how high the spiralling staircase would go.
Eventually they came to Emerald's room, and Elizabeth said she would give her a little while to unpack and get used to her new room, before it was time to go to bed.
The second Elizabeth had left the room, Emerald burst into tears. What was this place? Everything was so... different! She didn't understand how somebody made such nice food just for her, and seemed to cater for her every will without a single complaint. Nobody would be caught dead doing something like that in the pound! Emerald didn't know if she was happy or sad, scared or excited, but suddenly, she gasped. Her room! It was amazing! There were beautiful pink flowers decorating the walls, and on the floor was a soft, cotton-candy coloured carpet that felt amazing between her toes. There was a candy-pink lampshade sitting on a shelf beside her king-sized bed, complete with a cream bed spread and lilac pillows. On the bed were many different plushies, including a gorgeous Royal Zafara one!
But then, suddenly, Emerald heard something squeak and stir, and before Emerald knew it, a tiny pink thing had landed on the bed in front of her. At first, Emerald didn't know what it was, but then she suddenly realized.... it was a petpet! An adorable pink Faellie! It was a plump, furry little thing with rosy cheeks and an adorable grin that made you smile. Around its neck was a piece of pink string, and tied to it was a note.
Emerald pulled off the note and read what it said:
'To my precious little Angel,
Here is a special gift just for you, your very own petpet!
Enjoy, love your caring new Mother, Elizabeth.'
Emerald hugged the petpet close to her, breathing in its warming scent of flowers and candy and all things sweet and lovely in the world.
Suddenly, Emerald heard the door creak open, and, thinking it was her new mother, ran towards it, grinning from ear to ear.
“Mother! Mother! I love my new petpet! She is amazing! I shall name her Sapphire after the colour of her eyes!”
But then, Emerald gasped. It wasn't her mother. It was a creamy-coloured Zafara that must have once been royal, but was now stripped clean of the clothes.
“Ummm... hello? Are you my new sister?” Emerald asked curiously, wrinkling her nose at the putting cream Zafara.
“Her name's Ruby, NOT Sapphire, and no, I am NOT you're sister!” the Zafara spat angrily, sneering.
“Ruby? Huh, oh, you mean the Faellie? Sure, she can be Ruby... I guess... and if you are not my sister, then might I ask who you are?”
“I'm your new mother's old pet, the one that was treated just as you are now. The welcome soup, the fancy room, the becoming a princess, the new petpet... all of that happened to me several years ago. But then I started growing, and Mother must've gotten sick of me, as she stripped me bare of my royal gowns and locked them away in the closet. At first I though it was just a punishment, but then I realized what was really happening. I was being replaced... by you.”
Emerald couldn't believe what she was hearing. This Zafara had just named word for word what had happened to her that day, but surely that was just coincidental. She couldn't really be telling the truth... could she?
“Well,” Emerald said at last. “If all that you have just said is really true, then why are you still here and not in the pound?”
“Because...” the Zafara replied sourly. “The pound staff is coming today at noon. Mother tried to hide me in the attic room upstairs until they came, but I escaped. I'm running away, you see, and I'm taking Ruby with me, so if you'd please....” She put out her paw for the pink fluffy petpet.
“No!” Emerald cried angrily, clutching her petpet close to her. “Run away if you must, but I shall not allow you my new petpet Sapphire. My mother would know you have been here.”
Several tears formed in the Zafara's eyes. Emerald couldn't help feeling a bit bad.
The Zafara took a deep breath, and nodded bravely. “Very well,” she said shakily. “Keep her, but promise me one thing.”
“Y...yes?” Emerald asked nervously.
“Call her Ruby. Please, oh PLEASE call her Ruby.”
Emerald nodded. “Okay. I will call her Ruby. Now go, please!”
So the cream Zafara left, jumping out of the window quickly and climbing down the winding vines of the fancy jungle flowers growing around the house.
Just moments after, her new mother walked in. “Hello, dearest Emerald, I see you have found your new petpet. You do like her, yes?”
Emerald nodded quickly. “Oh yes,” she said politely. “I have named her Ruby.”
Elizabeth bit her lip. “Ruby,” she parroted. “I see. Are you sure? Ruby is such a bland, common name. Why not go for a nicer name.... Sapphire?”
Emerald was tempted to say, “Yes! Yes! Yes! I definitely want to call her Sapphire, Ruby IS such a bland and common name!” but of course she couldn't, so she just shook her head.
Elizabeth just sighed before smiling again. “Okay then, so anyway... why is your bag not unpacked? Need some help, hmm?”
She opened the tiny case and pulled out the several possessions Elizabeth owned. A ragged old blanket, a picture of her few friends at the pound, and an old blue Ixi plushie, not a patch on all her other new plushies.
“This can go in the trash,” Emerald said to Elizabeth, pointing to the Ixi plushie.
“Yes.” Elizabeth nodded. “And this....?” She held up the photo.
Emerald looked hesitant. What if Elizabeth thought that was for the trash too.
“Should go up here.” Elizabeth smiled, placing it up on the bedside table.
Emerald nodded happily, before picking up the blanket and laying it out on her bed proudly. It was her special present, made by her very first owner long ago. It was her most valuable possession.
“For the trash,” Elizabeth suddenly said, snatching up the blanket quickly.
“NO!” Emerald suddenly screamed, grabbing it and accidentally scratching Elizabeth's arm.
“Ow! Bad girl!” she cried, rubbing her arm angrily. “No, this blanket is garbage; it belongs in the trash, can't you see?”
Emerald was too scared to say a word. Instead she just nodded v-e-r-y slowly.
“Good girl, now, are you tired? How's about you get tucked up in bed and I'll get Rosemarie to bring you up a nice warm mug of cocoa, mmm?”
Emerald nodded again, climbing quickly into bed and pulling the covers right up.
“Silly Zafara, playing hide and seek? Well, no games now, only sleep, now hush like a good girl and I'll let you have a quick read of a book. You can read, can't you?”
Emerald suddenly got her confidence back. She was one of the only pets at the pound who could read and write.
“Oh yes, Mother, I can read ever such long books; my old mother used to always-”
Elizabeth's face suddenly turned red. “OLD MOTHER? OLD MOTHER? HOW DARE YOU SPEAK OF YOUR OLD MOTHER TO ME!”
Emerald squealed tears formed in her eyes.
“S... sorry, Mother! I'm ever so sorry, Mother! Please don't be angry, Mother!”
Elizabeth quickly softened.
“Oh little chicky pie, you make me sound like such a cruel, scary mother. I'm not angry, just please, let's just keep the past away from the present. FAR away, is that okay with you?”
Emerald nodded. She felt her head might snap right off what with all this nodding.
“Gooood. Now good night, sleep well, and Rosemarie will be up shortly. Sweet dreams.” With that Elizabeth was up and out the door, and could be heard humming a soft tune for the next few minutes until she was far, far away.
Immediately Emerald sat up. She leapt out of the bed and looked out of the window.
“Zafara!” she called out softly, looking around for any cream-coloured Zafara's hiding in the bushes. “Zafara, it's me, Emerald! The girl with Ruby! I have her here; if you're there, please come out!”
But the Zafara never came out. She was probably long gone. Emerald didn't know why she hadn't listened to her. Then the two of them could have run off together, with Ruby--not Sapphire--in tow.
Emerald wanted her blanket back ever so badly. Did she dare sneak down in search for the trash can in which it was now contained? Yes. Yes, she dared. She opened the door wide and was just about to walk out when....
“Ow! Oh my, now look! The hot cocoa is spilt all over us!”
It was Rosemarie, the maid.
“Oh no! I'm ever so sorry, Rosemarie, please do not tell Mother or she may get ever so angry!”
Rosemarie just laughed.
“Now now, you should know I would never tell; if I did it'd be more likely me get the sack than you... although poor Lemon, I'm afraid I cannot say the same about her.”
“Lemon? Who's Lemon? Was she a maid like you?” Emerald asked.
Rosemarie looked hesitant. “Listen, Emerald, that is your name, isn't it? If I tell you who this Lemon girl is, do you promise you will not tell Elizabeth I told you?”
“Oh yes, yes, yes! I will never breathe a word of it to anybody! Just please tell me!”
“Okay...” Rosemarie took a deep breath. “She was a yellow Zafara, just like you. She turned up on the doorstep, just like you did today, and was treated in exactly the same manner, dare I say even better, as she was painted royal too. But you see, it didn't last, as a few years later, she was no longer a young child, but a growing teen, getting bigger and taller and less cute by the second. Her attitude changed too. She started growing bored of staying in the mansion all day and longed to venture further out into Neopia, so one day, she sneaked out, but was found moments later by one of the Lupe guards. They brought her back to Elizabeth, and boy, was she angry. So she stripped Lemon of her clothes and locked her up in the attic, promising to neomail the pound the next day. And she stayed true to her word, as she sent away for a new yellow Zafara to take Lemon's place, and ordered Lemon away this afternoon. You got her prized possession, her pink faellie Ruby. Only... we think Lemon ran away first, as she was not in the attic when we went to look....”
Emerald suddenly felt dizzy and sick. It was all true! Every last word of it! Oh why did she not just believe Lemon when she had come!
“R... Rosemarie? I'm running away. I can't let that same fate happen to me. Please do not tell Elizabeth I am leaving, or I'll have less time to get away from here.”
Rosemarie gasped. “Oh no! No! Please, child, I will surely get the sack! She'll know it was me who told you, she was already getting on at me today for telling you the name of Lemon's old petpet! She said you named her Ruby as well! But surely that was just coincidental too.... oh no. You didn't SEE Lemon today, did you, Emerald?”
Emerald bit her lip.
“Oh Rosemarie, I'm sorry, but I must go, please do not be hurt!”
And with that she snatched up the picture of her old friends, slung Ruby over her back and was out the window in a flash. She carefully but quickly climbed down the side of the house, ignoring Rosemarie's constant pleas for her to stay, and eventually found her feet touching solid ground. She sniffed the air. She smelt Lupes, and lots of them. But then suddenly she looked on the ground and noticed footprints... Lemon's footprints! She knew she had to go the same way as her!
She followed the tracks until they had led her out the back way of the great mansion, and Emerald stood there for a second almost feeling sad. That had been her big chance for a new life, a new start. Lemon had made the mistake of arguing with Elizabeth, and she had paid the price. But if Emerald stuck with the rules, played nice, WAS nice, then maybe none of that would happen... but then again...
She shook her head. It was too late now. She had no choice. She had to run. And where did she run to, you may be asking?
The pound. Exactly where she had come from. And why? Because Lemon was there.
She had been running barefoot through the busy streets of Neopia, when she came across a poster with Lemon's face on it.
WANTED it said.
LEMON THE YELLOW ZAFARA HAS RECENTLY RUN AWAY FROM MISS ELIZABETH JONES'S MANSION NEAR NEOPIA CENTRAL AND HAS NOT BEEN SEEN SINCE.
5,000 NP REWARD FOR WHOEVER FINDS LEMON FIRST.
Emerald gasped at this. So news had gotten out that Lemon had escaped! Emerald felt proud for brave Lemon, but it all went away when Emerald saw someone ripping the poster down.
“Hey!” she heard someone saying.“What're you doing? That's a missing poster you're ripping down!”
“Yes, I know,” the person ripping the posters down was saying. “But haven't you heard? They found her! Only she ain't going back to that fancy pants Miss Elizabeth's now, she's in the pound. Good riddance I say, eh?”
So Emerald knew what had to be done. She had to get back to the pound, give Lemon back Ruby, and maybe even make friends with her. She looked at the picture of her old pound friends. She would get to see them too.
And so Emerald turned up at the pound proudly, and Doctor Death sighed and said “Not another run away Zafara! And I thought that Miss Elizabeth was NICE to her pets!” and everything was just as it had been before. Only this time... it was even better.
It was a warm summer's day and Emerald had not yet been re-adopted from the pound... only this time, she was happy about it. She had found Lemon and returned Ruby to her, thus beginning a wonderful new friendship between the two Zafaras. She had also met up with lots of her old pound friends who welcomed her back with open arms. It was a happy ending for everyone.
Well, almost everyone.
“Attention, all Zafaras!” Doctor Death shouted out to everyone one day. “Miss Elizabeth, as I'm sure you have all heard of, is looking for a new YELLOW Zafara.” All the Zafaras not coloured yellow groaned.... well, not Lemon and Emerald, of course.
“Miss Elizabeth? Hey Lemon, Emerald, isn't that the woman you ran away from?” one of Emerald's new friends asked her curiously.
Emerald nodded quickly.
“Yeah... I guess it is.”