Caution: Quills may be sharp Circulation: 111,440,439 Issue: 192 | 26th day of Hunting, Y7
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Playing The Part: Part One


by precious_katuch14

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"Miss Ford has a special surprise for us today!" said Fluffy. "I can't wait for class!"

     "You ALWAYS can't wait for class," sighed Sweet, the white Aisha's brother.

     "Not me," moaned Angel. "The ray's been playing tricks on me and now I have to go to school as a Poogle made of jelly!" He looked down at his paws and shuddered at the sight of pink gelatin.

     Glitter the faerie Acara put a reassuring paw on her little brother's shoulder. "I don't think it'll be that bad…unless the cafeteria ladies start serving jelly for desert."

     Sweet the striped Kacheek shot her a stern look. "Don't scare him!" Suddenly the bell rang. All four pets gasped, and he and Fluffy sprinted towards their class, Glitter flew towards her own, and Angel ran for his. The quad separated and tried not to get trampled on by the other students hurrying to get to class.

     Soon the Kacheek and the Aisha, clutching their stuff, made it to their room, where a strawberry Poogle was waiting. A few more students trailed behind the pair, and in a few minutes, every pupil was seated in their respective places, eyeing their teacher excitedly, as if she were to suddenly distribute chocolate to everyone.

     "Good morning, class!" said Miss Ford formally, yet kindly. "Now tell me, why is everyone so happy and smiling today?"

     "You promised a surprise for us today, Miss Ford!" yelled a voice at the back of the classroom.

     "And we want it now! We want it NOW!" an Ixi chimed in, banging his fists in time with his chant. Many others also took up the cry, including Sweet and Fluffy. But instead of yelling at her class to keep quiet, the Poogle teacher simply grinned and said, "Come now, everyone, let's save this excitement and energy for later! I'll tell you the big surprise if you all listen closely."

     All the students immediately stopped chanting and banging. All eyes and ears were on Miss Ford.

     "Now everybody, in line with our lesson on Medieval History, we've decided to put up a nice play for all our owners and friends. All of you will be helping out, but only several will get to act, maybe the lead roles or extras. Either way, you are all wanted and expected to do your parts."

     There was a long pause until the striped Kacheek blurted out, "What's the play called?"

     Miss Ford rummaged through her drawer and pulled out a small sheaf of papers bound together with some string. "It's entitled, 'The Great Queen of Meridell' by an anonymous playwright."

     "That's a weird name," remarked a green Skeith.

     "It's not a name," replied Fluffy. "It just means the one who wrote the play didn't want his or her name to be known to the public."

     The strawberry Poogle nodded. "That's right, Fluffy. Anyway, the play is about the legend of a queen long ago who ruled before King Skarl ever did. She was pretty, well known, and once saved Meridell from an evil villain who wanted to take hold of the kingdom. Instead of letting her subjects rush into battle for her, Queen Allison joined the war as well. She knew how to hold swords, ride trusty steeds into the fray and defeat the waves of evil threatening the kingdom."

     Everyone in the class started whispering excitedly to each other, wearing eager smiles on their faces.

     "Now," said Miss Ford, "I bet you all know what I'm going to say next."

     "Ooh, ooh! I want to be a knight in the play!" yelled Sweet, waving his paw in the air.

     "No, me!" said a Draik beside the striped Kacheek.

     "I think I'd rather work the lights," said Fluffy calmly, gritting her teeth. "The sight of so many spectators makes me shiver and shake," she added under her breath. Soon all the other students began speaking at once, shouting out what they wanted to do in the play.

     The strawberry Poogle chuckled. "My, you are a bunch of clever, enthusiastic young ones! But I can't just handpick the actors and actresses. There will be an official audition wherein the characters will be judged. And as for the slots for extras, it's a first-come first-serve basis. Of course, whoever can fit best into a certain character will get to play the part. Clear?"

     "Clear as crystal," chorused the class.

     "Very good! Now where are your English books? Turn to page 45 for our lesson on writing sentences. Who wants to read the first paragraph of the lesson?"

     ***

     "Fluffy's got stage fright! Fluffy's got stage fright!" teased Sweet. He and his siblings were facing a bulletin board, filled with all sorts of announcements. The day after Miss Ford's big surprise was also the day of the auditions, and now everyone was crowded around the latest note tacked up onto the board, held with a couple of small pink pins.

     "I am NOT scared at the thought of many eyes focused on me, OK? Now put a sock in it, Sweet," grumbled Fluffy.

     "Yeah, right! And white Weewoos will suddenly stampede through the corridors during lunchtime," replied her big brother swiftly.

     "Guys, will you two just shut up for a while?" asked Angel, trying to stand on tiptoe. "I can't read the announcement and you both are making it even harder with all your bantering!" The Aisha looked at the Poogle with relief.

     Glitter the faerie Acara hovered over the crowd and started to read the note aloud for her siblings.

     "You are all invited to join the play entitled, 'The Great Queen of Meridell', whether you are tall or short, elite or average, actor/actress or not. Auditions will be held in the auditorium tomorrow at 10:00 in the morning until 12:00 noon. Three teachers will give you further instructions once you enter and state the character you wish to try out for. The final results will be posted next Monday.

     Even if you don't pass the auditions, don't fret! You can always become an usher and help the audience find seats, or work the lights and props, or become an extra. To be an extra in the play, sign your name in the list next to this announcement. It's a first-come first-serve basis, so better hurry! Characters' names are posted on the opposite side, in case you forget whom you wanted to play."

     She landed immediately after reading everything and looked at Angel, Sweet and Fluffy. "Well?" she asked.

     "I'll become an extra knight, or maybe the general who leads the troops into the war!" said the Kacheek, elbowing a hapless Moehog aside to read the list of characters.

     "I can be an extra knight too!" squealed Angel. "I want to carry a sword around and battle evil!"

     "And I'll try out for the role of Queen Allison," said Glitter dreamily, batting her eyelashes. "Oh, the thrill and joy of being the star of the show! The fame of being the heroine excites me so much that…that…"

     "Uh, in case you guys didn't know," interrupted Fluffy timidly, "the auditions aren't until 10:00 and it's already time for classes. We can't be late just because we've been combing the announcement board." The white Aisha pointed one of her clean paws to the clock on the wall and gestured towards the hurrying students.

     The quad traded looks and ran to join the dissipating crowd of frantic pupils. But none of them saw Fluffy glance at the auditions announcement board briefly, shudder with unmistakable anxiety and chant softly, "I'm not afraid…I'm not afraid…I'm not afraid…" She thought of working the lights, but realized that even if she did so, the crowd would still see her and make her nervous. Fluffy bit her lip and followed Sweet into the classroom, trying not to think about the whole thing.

     ***

     The minutes passed like hours, and the hours like days. Sweet couldn't keep himself from doodling pictures of himself as a brave young knight on the back of his notebook. Many of the other pets were too excited to listen to Miss Ford, who was busy scribbling a particularly important science lesson. Only Fluffy seemed to be attentive, taking copious notes and putting her paw in the air multiple times. Eventually the strawberry Poogle teacher gave up.

     "Well, class, since the excitement of the auditions looms upon us, I guess we'll just have to continue the lesson tomorrow," said Miss Ford. Her words were met with squeals of joy and excitement, and the sounds of thumping feet as they made their way towards the door. Straight through the corridor they bolted, till all the eager students met the door of the auditorium. Meanwhile a white Aisha trailed slowly behind.

     Suddenly Fluffy and Sweet heard a voice calling their names. They broke away from the class and joined Glitter and Angel.

     "Look yonder, fair subjects, for trouble this way comes," said the faerie Acara in a strange, medieval accent.

     "Nice," groaned Angel. "We'll be hearing a lot of that soon."

     As the auditorium door opened, the class (or in this case, classes) found themselves staring at a huge stage, with lights and colorful curtains.

     "This place must hold hundreds of people," said the Poogle, surveying the many rows and columns of chairs for the audience.

     "You just HAD to remind me," whispered Fluffy. But no one heard her over the sound of the voice of a nearby teacher.

     "Anyone who wants to audition for the lead roles, come to me. Miss Ford will handle the extras. And everyone else, find SOMETHING to do. There are lights to control, props to design, backgrounds to paint and costumes to create. All of you must play a part in this particularly spiffy play," bellowed a fire Scorchio over the din of the students.

     "Everyone?" repeated the white Aisha, still staring at the size of the auditorium.

To be continued...

 
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