Cruor Stilla: Part One
Ruby walked home from school as quickly as she could, hoping
to get an early start on her homework. The project was to explore her house thoroughly
and see if there was anything she hadn't noticed before by doing so. She knew
about pretty much everything in her house, except for whatever the attic contained,
as she had never bothered going up there before.
Caerulus, her Anubis, greeted her at the door,
jumping up and knocking the half-eaten apple out of her hand, and proceeded
to chase after it.
"I see you're as energetic as ever," she said
to him, then went inside and up to her room. She had to move a chair to stand
on so she could get to the attic's entrance, then pushed it open and went inside.
She coughed on the dust and her eyes watered as she looked around at the small
space. It was filled with boxes mostly, but there was one object lying out in
the open on top of one of them that caught her eye. She picked it up and examined
It was a necklace, with a chain made of gold
attatching a ruby set in a golden scarab pendant to it. The thing had the aura
of something ancient, but appeared as if it was made just recently. She was
afraid to try it on, for some unexplainable reason, but felt the urge to all
the same. What's the worst that could happen? she thought. Really,
it's just a piece of jewelry...
An extremely beautiful piece of jewelry, too.
It's design was simple enough, but Ruby found her mind being lost in the scarlet
hue of the gemstone as she continued to stare into it's depths. Such an odd
shade of red it was; it almost seemed as if it were a crystallized drop of blood.
Strange, she mused. How that color even matches my name. It's like it was made
With that final thought, all feelings of doubt
were erased from her mind. Unhesitatingly, she undid the clasp to the necklace,
placed it around her neck, and closed it again. See? she told herself.
Nothing happened. You were just being paranoid for no reason.
What had she been afraid of, anyway? She went
back downstairs to her mirror, and examined how it looked on her. The gold almost
matched the color of her fur, and the ruby was almost exactly the same crimson
as her eyes, not that she would ever show them to anyone. Still, she thought
vaguely it would look better on her if she were painted desert. But that didn't
matter; it looked good now, and she found herself thinking that she would never
take it off. Why would she ever want to?
The next day was a schoolday, and she remembered
that she still had homework to do. She crossed her room over to the hook on
the wall where her backpack was hanging, took it, and brought it back to her
bed, proceeding to dump everything out and sort through it all (she wasn't exactly
the most organized student). Nearly halfway into the year and she still had
yet to rearrange the space in her binder and backpack. I will tomorrow, she
decided, then got started on her homework.
It was 9 o'clock by the time she had finished
her essay on the properties of each faerie and possibilities of new types for
History, the making of a transmogrification potion for (what else?) Potions,
reading chapter 8 of "Magical Artifacts Discovered Throughout History and Their
Backgrounds" for Study of Magic, and finally, studying for tomorrow's test in
Study of Ancient Runes. After all of that in just two hours, Ruby was ready
to sleep. She crammed all of her stuff back into her backpack, returned it to
the hook on the wall, returned herself to the bed and went to sleep as soon
as she laid down, unwary of the deep red light that was now emanating from the
amulet around her neck.
Ruby awoke the next morning by daylight streaming
through the window. She didn't open her eyes right away, as she had been in
the middle of a strange dream. For a couple of minutes she continued to lay
there with her eyes closed, struggling to remember what the dream had contained,
but had no luck. As in the way of most dreams, the more she tried to conjure
up the actual details, the hazier things became.
Having mused long enough on the content of her
already forgotten dream, she supposed it was time to get up. She groaned inwardly
at the thought. I don't want to go to school, she thought mournfully.
But, knowing she had to, she threw the covers off like she did every other morning
before this, and opened her eyes.
Ow! She immediately shut her eyes again.
I'm blinded! What the heck is this about?! She didn't recall opening
the blinds or curtains last night. It was a rarity when she did, and even then,
the daylight in the morning wasn't nearly so bad. During this time of year she
would sometimes open the shutters and window to cool down the temperature of
her room at night, but the sun rose on the opposite side of her house, and so
had never bothered her in the morning. Now it was as if the sun was in direct
alignment with her window.
Daring to open her eyes again, this time facing
the other side of the room, she made a startling discovery; this wasn't her
room. If it were her room, right now she would be seeing her two bookcases packed
with books and school things with a green bean bag chair set up in front of
it on a cream rug (her own form of an entertainment system, you could say),
about a yard and a half away from her. But all she saw was the wall, maybe two
feet away from her, leaving enough room between it and the bed for the small
wooden table with a glass of water and single book on it, which looked like
She looked around to survey the rest of the
room, her eyes having finally adjusted enough to the sunlight. It was much smaller
than her own room. A few feet away from the foot of her bed was a plain, wooden
coffee table, built the same way as the one next to her bed, except that it
was rectangular rather than square. The window was in the same place it had
been, but she no longer had a door. Instead, there were stairs leading down
against the wall across from the foot of her bed, behind the coffee table. And
that was all. Where in the world was she? Whose room was she in? Had she been
No, she thought frantically. This
can't be happening. How would they have gotten past Caerulus without him waking
me up? Even if they had, I would have woken up at some point. But what if that
really did happen...and somehow I just didn't wake up. A sleeping potion? No.
This can't be happening. This isn't real, I'm still dreaming.
She thought on in the same frenzied tone, knowing
all the time that whatever was happening was definitely real. Why would anyone
kidnap me, anyway? That just wouldn't make sense...I'm not even locked up or
anything. I could easily just walk out of here. But what if their waiting for
me downstairs? But there's nothing else I can do! I can't just sit around and
Resolving that going downstairs would be the
most productive (and only) thing to do, she headed for them, but stopped as
she passed the window. Looking out of it, she discovered that she was only on
the second floor. Maybe she could make a rope out of her blankets and bedsheets
and climb down on it, like she had read in fairy tales. She supposed it was
worth a shot, but thought it would be a bit extreme if this whole "kidnapping"
thing weren't really the case. What else could have happened, though? Alright,
she concluded in her mind. I'll take a peek downstairs to see if anyone's
there, then...well, I'll just do that and decide the rest from there.
So, she resumed her walk to the stairs. However,
she had only taken a couple of steps when a lady's voice called, "Rose! Time
to--oh, you're already up." It was what looked like a royal Cybunny, only dressed
less extravagantly. Her fur was all white, and she was wearing a plain, light
blue dress with a white apron over it. She had come halfway up the stairs when
she spotted Ruby. "Breakfast is ready on the table downstairs, dear, whenever
you are." She smiled warmly, and turned to go back downstairs. Several moments
after she was gone, Ruby stood there, unmoving. What? she thought dumbly.
Maybe they're really nice kidnappers...
she thought, knowing that it wasn't the case. What is going on? Where am
I if I haven't been kidnapped? How did I get here? Was this some type of joke?
Well, it seemed she wasn't kidnapped. Ruby needed an explanation. Where
was she? How did she get there and why had that Cybunny referred to her as "Rose"?
She obviously thought she was someone she wasn't. Maybe I could find out
more by talking to her... It was as good a plan as any, so she took a deep
breath, and went downstairs.
The first thing in front of her was a counter
with cupboards under it, and a stove to the right of it. The counter was apparently
for space to prepare food, and the cupboards for dishes. To the right of the
stove there was an open door, and through it she could see the edge of a bath
tub. In the center of the room she was currently in, there was yet another plain
wooden table, circular in shape, with two chairs around it. In front of one
of the chairs was a bowl of what appeared to be gruel with potato chunks in
it, with a little dish to the side filled with berries. This was breakfast.
The Cybunny was busy washing her dishes at the
sink in the counter, so Ruby sat down to eat. Wondering who in their right mind
would choose to eat something like this, she lifted a spoonful to her mout and
took a bite of the potato gruel. The potatoes were too hard, and the gruel tasted
like water and some other indefinable thing. She hoped the berries would be
better. While she continued to eat, she thought of what she should try to talk
about with the white Cybunny.
Rose ran through the small woods of Meridell
as fast as her legs would carry her. She had thrown off Jhudora's minions for
now, but she knew they would have surrounded the forest by now. She couldn't
risk getting caught by them when trying to leave the area, so all she could
do was move as quickly as possible towards her house, hoping that no surprise
guests would be waiting for her there.
Then what? her mind demanded of her.
Even if they haven't gotten to it yet, what will I do when I get there, sit
and wait for them? There's no way out of here! She was thinking frantically,
moving from question to question and desperate for answers. I can't get to the
Royals to tell them of Jhudora's next plan, it's too late for that... no! I
can't just let that happen. There must be something...
Her thoughts were crowding her so much that
she didn't notice the large rock sticking out of the ground and tripped on it.
She was so tired from running that she didn't bother to catch herself, and landed
on her side. I have to think of something. I won't die here without doing anything,
I promise myself that now. Placing her front paws on the ground and taking a
brief instant to breathe, she pushed herself up from the ground and kept going.
She was determined.
Ruby was in a dilemma. Since this Cybunny thought
she was someone she knew, probably a relative since they were living together,
so she had to be careful not to act strange around her. The problem was, she
didn't know how she should act. This made her reluctant to attempt conversation--what
could she say without seeming weird to the other Neopet?
Fortunately, she was spared the trouble of answering
that question, as the Cybunny turned around and spoke to her, Upon seeing Ruby,
she said, "Why, Rose, why haven't you dressed yet?"
Ruby stared. "Uhh," she said in reply. "...I
forgot." That was lame, she thought.
"Oh, silly, it's the red dress, remember? I
bought it for you last week for this occasion."
She saw this as her chance to find out more.
"What occasion?" she asked sincerely.
"The ceremony, of course," said the nameless
Cybunny. When Ruby didn't appear enlightened, she added, "For the prince's crowning,
remember?" She had a concerned look on her face.
"Oh," said Ruby in a falsely surprised voice,
trying to sound as if she really had just remembered it. "I'm sorry, I've just
been so forgetful lately. I'll go get dressed now." And she ran upstairs, leaving
a slightly worried Neopet behind. So much for trying not to act odd.
It wasn't until she was back in the room that
she discovered she had no idea where the dress would be. There were no dressers
or anything to hang something up on. She looked around more thoroughly and noticed
something she hadn't before; there were two doors built into the wall on the
left side of her bed that blended in very well. She went and opened them.
Inside were a couple of shelves with four different
outfits folded on them. She took out the only one with red in it and closed
the doors. The dress was made of silk or something similar and had a design
of dark red flowers and light brown leaves against a black background color.
It reminded her of autumn. The collar was square and cut down to just below
her collarbone. It was a sleeveless dress and the length of it reached her ankles.
She turned it around and saw that the back was corseted. So, she untied it and
slipped into it. Now all she had to do was tie it back up. Um, yeah...She went
The Cybunny that had yet to be named was doing
the dishes that Ruby had finished with. She wasn't used to people cleaning up
after her. At least that's one good thing about whatever's going on. Although
she knew that if she continued to live there, she'd clean up after herself just
as she always had, especially if it wasn't even her house she was staying at.
But that won't happen, she told herself, because I'm going home as soon as I
find out more...whenever that may be. Though this was reasonable thinking, she
still felt uneasy. What if the information she found out was something that
would prevent her from going home, somehow? What she knew so far...it seemed
as if she was in a different world or something. If, in some bizarre yet possible
way, that was the case, then how would she get back to her own world? This
is ridiculous. That can't be right.
She snapped out of her thoughts, realizing she
had been standing there for quite a while. "Um," she said to make her presence
known. The Cybunny (her new official, temporary name) turned around. "Could
She didn't have to finish the question before
The Cybunny saw what she was talking about. "Of course, dear," she answered,
then dried off her hands and tightly tied Ruby's--or Rose's-- dress.
"Thanks," said Ruby when she had finished.
"Well, seeing as how you're ready now," said
The Cybunny, "we might as well get going. We only have a half an hour or so
to get there, so you may need to bring some water." As she said this, she took
from the cupboard what looked like a miniature keg, about the size of a water
Taking the thermos-substitute, she went to the
bathroom and filled it with water from the faucet. When she came out, The Cybunny
was taking off her apron and threw it over the back of a chair. She saw Ruby
and said, "Shall we set off, then?"
Halfway into the walk, Ruby was grateful that
Delia, as she had learned was The Cybunny's real name, had suggested bringing
water. Her mouth had gone very dry from jogging to keep up with Delia's quick
"Can we..." she panted, "take a break?"
"Don't be silly, dear, we're nearly there,"
replied Delia. Ruby didn't know if she could stand being called 'dear' one more
time. Delia started to move again, so Ruby resumed her jogging.
About twenty minutes later they reached their
destination--an enormous, white marble castle with a big crowd of Neopets outside
it, surrounding several long tables piled with food. They were all looking up
at a wide balcony not too far up on the castle, where there were two elderly
Royal Draiks, and one younger-looking blue one. She supposed this was the prince.
It was supposed to be a 'prince's crowning' after all.
"Oh, good," said Delia. "We're just in time."
To be continued...