Enter the Snowflake's lair... Circulation: 110,063,363 Issue: 180 | 4th day of Running, Y7
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A Broken Bubble

by ariber


"Sofinya! What did I tell you? No running in the house!" I heard that sharp, cold voice again, the voice of my caretaker, Miss Nimberly.

     "Sorry, Miss Nimberly, I was just trying to get to my piano. I have an important lesson to do with Cornelia."

     Cornelia is my piano teacher, and I'm Sofinya.

     I am a Darigan Aisha, and I often forget my origin, but I am sure that I shall tell you once this is over. Miss Nimberly, who you now know as my caretaker, is a very strict Nimmo who very much dislikes my appearance. All I can tell you is that when I look at myself, I look kind of ugly and rough-skinned.

     Cornelia told me once that music is like a person - it comes in different varieties. I liked her very much after that, and I still like her. She's like a grandmother to me, but I already have a mother. I won't tell you who she is…not yet at least.

     When I walked into the piano room of Miss Nimberly's mansion, Cornelia was there as usual. I smiled at her and she smiled back, adjusting the cloth-like ribbon on her waist. I looked in the full-length mirror to make sure I was tidy, and I stepped up to the piano.

     As the beautiful music erupted from the piano keys, I could see from the corner of my eye a big smile. I wasn't sure whose it was, but I was sure it was Cornelia's…until I heard the voice of the person the smile belonged to.


     It was Miss Nimberly. "This is the first time I have ever heard your music, Sofinya, and I avoided it when you played because I thought it would be rather childish and loud, but I was wrong. You play beautifully."

     I had seen Miss Nimberly smile when she invited guests over for supper, but never this wide a smile! I was astonished and pleased at the same time. "Thank you," I squeaked.

     "Oh, no, don't thank me! You will be thanked tomorrow."

     "What do you mean?"

     "Some Neopians who knew you asked me if they would like to come here for afternoon tea. I was wondering if you'd like to play piano for them. You may choose the song you would like to play," and she smiled again. "Go to bed now, for you must get up early to practice."

     So, as she said, I walked up the stairs, put on my favourite Noil PJs and hopped into my luxurious Tyrannian fur bed.

     When I woke up on Saturday morning, a yellow Kacheek was staring down at me. I shook my long reddish-orange hair out of my eyes and stared at her. She was wearing a necklace and a long white dress. I recognized her as one of Miss Nimberly's servants, and one of my good friends, Sarendity.

     "Hello, Sarendity," I whispered, blinking.

     "Sarah. Please call me Sarah. Cornelia told me to wake you up. It's 10:30," she exclaimed. Why did Cornelia tell Sarah to wake me up? And normally I woke up whenever I wanted to! Suddenly it hit me. The piano practice, I had totally forgotten! I quickly rushed out of bed, got dressed in my striped dress, brushed my hair, and tiptoed downstairs for a spot of breakfast. Only a couple of servants including Sarah were awake.

     The cook, a jolly Halloween Chia named Betty Broomstick was making Neocrunch Cereal with Chokato chunks in it.

     "Here, Sofinya! Eat up; you have a big day ahead! Perhaps I'll serve you an early lunch," she bellowed in her merry voice. She was the only one who stayed in the room I ate in. The servants ate in a different room at the west end of the mansion. Sometimes I visited them, but only for a couple of minutes and when Miss Nimberly let me.

     After eating, I jumped onto the piano seat and played my favourite tune, 'The Peanut Dash'. But I chose a different song for those Neopians who knew me. It was 'Illusen's Help'. Miss Nimberly loved it, because she liked songs about faeries, and I hoped the strange Neopians would too.

     Cornelia woke up half an hour later and instantly applauded when I stopped to give my paws a rest. "Bravo, bravo, Sophie!" she cheered. She calls me Sophie when she's really happy, and I suspect she was while I played.

     "Thank you, Cornelia." I took a towel from my pocket and rubbed it on my paws. Cornelia's grandmother - I met her once - said it would make the music sound much more beautiful.

     "Well, Sofinya, practice your music. I'll be in my room if you need me."

     "OK." I continued playing until I got hungry. Luckily, it was lunchtime when I stopped. Right on time. I walked into the kitchen and Betty Broomstick gave me a hearty mince pie slice. "You're very lucky. When I was young, I was a servant here, and we were fed room-temperature minestrone soup."

     "That isn't so bad," I murmured, checking the time. It was 12:30, fifteen minutes after the beginning of my lunch.

     "Oh, it was. I hated it so much I starved myself until I was given a bag of peas, asparagus and a stick of butter. I was told to melt the butter and pour it all over the peas and asparagus, and that started my cooking career."

     "But you're so fat now!" I shouted, immediately clamping my paw over my mouth.

     Betty Broomstick stared curiously at me. "You'd better finish your pie. You don't want it cold."

     I looked down at the plate and poked at the food. "No thanks. I don't want the rest of it. You can heat it up, and give it to the servants."

     She nodded and put the pie in the Faerie Fridge. "I'll just give these leftovers to you tomorrow," she chuckled.

     I went to see the servants for a while. Miss Nimberly had let me, but I owed her ten Neopoints and no visiting the servants again for a week. I asked Delilah Silver, a silver Lupe, sister of the Toy Shop keeper, and the carer of the servants, where they were. Sarah and the other servants her age were in their dormitory (the 'Ages 8-16' dormitory). The adult servants were in their dormitory. And the cute little ones - when I was about three Sarah was one of them when she arrived at the mansion - they were in their 'educational house', as Delilah called it. It was a colourful room, with lots of 3D stuff. The little servants (ages 7 and under) didn't have a dormitory because they were a bit too little to live in the mansion. I scuttled into the Ages 8-16 Girls dormitory (as opposed to the boys dormitory) and saw Sarah playing Kacheekers with an Acara friend.

     "Hi, Sofinya!" Sarah giggled, waving.

     "Hi, Sarah." I looked down at my feet, not knowing what to say. "I...um...wanted to see you and your friends."

     "Come on, Sofinya! I'll give you a tour of our dormitory." She grabbed my paw and walked into the dormitory, feeling satisfied.

     "No thanks, I'll just watch you play."

     "Suit yourself." Sarah gave me a little shrug.

     Three hours later (Sarah isn't as good as playing Kacheekers as I am), after I decided to go downstairs for a small snack, which was a Lime Nova Pop, I sat down on my bed, looking at the clock. It was 3:30. Almost time for me to play my piano. I played 'Illusen's Help' for a while as the doorbell rang.

     "Oh, Sofinya! That must be the Neopians who have come for afternoon tea!" Miss Nimberly moved my piano to the parlour as I opened the door. I gulped. There were two Skeiths, a yellow one and a green one. They were both wearing helmets and capes with the Meridell Shield on them. How exactly did they know me? I led them into the parlour.

     Before I knew it, Miss Nimberly had pushed me lightly onto the piano seat, and the Skeiths were drinking some rather strong coffee. I giggled at the sight of them sitting lazily on the Nova Sofa.

     "So, what are your names?" Miss Nimberly asked.

     "I am King Skarl's personal guard. And this be King Hagan's personal guard, who's come to Meridell for a visit," the yellow Skeith replied gruffly. "We have heard of this Darigan Aisha. 'Twas a time when we saw her mum. We do not come here for tea; we come for the fair lass."

     I gasped and started playing 'The Peanut Dash' on the piano hurriedly. I meant to play 'Illusen's Help', but it was not the first song that came to my mind.

     "I suppose you do not wish to use your tambourine, Sofinya?" Miss Nimberly asked.

     "No…no." I gave it to her with shaking paws. "Wh-wh-why do you c-come for me?"

     The Skeiths glanced at each other, but they didn't answer. Instead, they walked towards me and grabbed my paws, telling Miss Nimberly to open the door. I was dragged through the parlour, through the hall, the living room, and finally the foyer. She opened the door, and the green Skeith shoved her aside. "Darigan spy," he whispered under his breath.

     "Help! Help! Help me! Help me, someone! Somebody! Anybody!" I yelled. Miss Nimberly was too frightened to scold me and say I wasn't allowed to yell in her mansion.

     It seemed like I was knocked out when I woke up. I wanted to wake up in a comfy chair to see a white ceiling with Sarah, or Betty Broomstick, or Cornelia smiling down at me. Instead I was sitting on a stone floor, ashes and cherry pits strewn across it. There was a narrow cardboard box across from me, and a hard, low ceiling. There was a barred wall. I forced my eyes open even wider. I was in a cell. It felt like what I thought the pound was, only larger. I could hear rushing water and someone laughing in a big, booming laugh. Then I heard a voice right near me:

     "The owner of that laugh banished me here."

     I crawled towards the voice. "Who are you?"

     "Your mum."

     The owner of the voice, an Aisha, gazed up at me. She was crouching. Her fur was rough and purple, just like mine. Her hair was orange and stringy. Mine was orange, but well-taken care of. I could easily see why she claimed to be my mother.

     "I've been here for fifteen years, Sofinya. Fifteen years since King Skarl yelled at his guards to take me to the dungeons. One year later, you were born, and they took you away." She pointed to me, and I shuddered.

     "Now, they have brought you here, where you started your life."

     "You mean…I've been here before?"

     "Yes. I was the leader of a group of Darigans who tried to take over Meridell when I was only seventeen. When I was caught, they brought me here. I was once a fair Meridellian, until I was walking to the market and Lord Kass kidnapped me and hypnotised me so I turned evil, and I led the Darigans to Meridell, because I had been born there. You were born here. Now the guards have taken you here, to stop you from causing trouble, like I did."

     "But I'm not a follower of Darigan!" I cried out.

     "No, you're not. Over the years, Lord Kass's hypnotism power wore off, and I only have a small bit of evil in me."

     "What about me?"

     My mum said nothing.

     "How long will I be here?" I asked her.

     "Probably all your life."

     I gasped. I'd never see Cornelia, Miss Nimberly, Betty Broomstick, or the servants again. I'd be stuck here forever. Miss Nimberly's mansion was like my bubble, and only two hours ago, it was broken. A broken bubble. A bubble I liked to be in, and now I'm not in it anymore.

The End

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