A Broken Bubble
"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
"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,
"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
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
"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
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?"
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
"Now, they have brought you here, where you started
"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
"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.