Ember and the Chocolate Ball: Part Two
Ember stared bewildered at the uninvited guest who was now resting comfortably upon her bed. The intruder appeared to be a faerie Usul of average strength and size, though she seemed to have a very youthful nature about her. She sat perched at the edge of Ember’s bed looking eagerly into Ember’s scornful eyes. Her wings were of an emerald hue, and she wore a bow of the palest shade of pink that sat delicately upon her tail. She continued to stare upwards in Ember’s direction with an excited smile on her face, and this made Ember both skeptical and nervous as to her purpose here.
“Uh, not to be rude but, how did you get in here?”
The young faerie Usul laughed playfully. “I flew, silly!” she said as she fluttered her wings gleefully.
Ember struck her paw to her forehead and continued with her questioning. “Of course you did,” she said, exasperated. “What I really mean is: who are you and what are you doing here? Do you not know that trespassing is against the rules here?”
“Oh goodness!” said the startled faerie. “Where are my manners?” She then jumped off the bed and stood in front of Ember while handing her a paw. “My name is Sabrina. I live in Faerieland with my three sisters and I heard about your spotlight win not too long ago. Our family gets invited to the Chocolate Ball every year, as we live in one of the wealthiest communities in Faerieland, so naturally we hear all the details about upcoming events in Neopia. Anyway, we heard you were going to be invited to Ball too! Isn’t that right?” She gave Ember an excited and eager look. Ember frowned slightly at this.
“Yes, I have been invited to the Ball, but I don’t have anything formal enough to wear to it.”
“Funny,” said Sabrina casually, “Lexi said the same thing, that you probably wouldn’t have anything to wear that wasn’t somehow related to your waitressing job at the restaurant you work at.” Sabrina could see Ember’s eyes flash in anger at this statement and she quickly attempted to remedy the situation. “Wait! You don’t have to get mad,” said Sabrina gently. “My oldest sister Lexi isn’t the nicest faerie pet in Neopia, in fact, she’s one of the meanest I’ve ever known.” Ember’s temper had cooled down slightly at this and she was curious to learn more.
“Ah, so your sister’s a faerie too, huh?”
“Yep,” nodded Sabrina fervently. “All three of my sisters are faeries, just like me! I’m the youngest of the four. Beatrice and Melena aren’t much older than me though; Bea is a Peophin and Mel’s a Uni. My oldest sister Lexi is quite a bit older than me though, and she’s a Wocky. And quite a mean one at that.” Sabrina turned her head carefully around in both directions, as if she expected her sister to be spying on her that very moment. “Sorry,” she said, catching Ember’s look of confusion and puzzlement. “It’s just that if Lexi ever heard me say that I’m sure she’d try to lock me out of our neohome... and not let me back in.” Sabrina lowered her head in sadness at this and sat back down on the bed, a tear starting to form at the corner of her eye. Ember’s heart softened at this sudden display of emotional distress and sat down next to Sabrina, attempting to comfort her.
“It sounds like your sisters are downright mean to you,” Ember concluded.
“Bea and Mel are ok,” she said wistfully. “It’s mostly just Lexi, but she gets into their heads a lot of times and the three of them aren’t always the nicest bunch to be around. They think terribly of pets who are “beneath” them, and I don’t just mean non faeries either. They think anyone who doesn’t live in a giant mansion floating on a cloud is “middle class,” and they think anyone who actually has to earn what they have is downright despicable. Well, at least Lexi does. I think the other two just follow along so Lexi doesn’t bug them so much. Still, it’s me who ends up with the short end of the magic wand.” Sabrina’s eyes were beginning to tear up again, and Ember put her arm around Sabrina and eased her into a hug.
“It’s alright, Sabrina,” Ember said gently. “Are you going to be ok?”
“Oh yes,” she said with an assured expression on her face. “You must forgive my tears; I never meant to let them show. No, the real reason I am here is because of what you, and Lexi said earlier; I heard you were invited to the Ball, and I figured you needed some help with getting an outfit for it.”
Ember looked sideways at the little Usul thoughtfully. “That’s very thoughtful of you, but you don’t have to-“
“Oh, but I do!” exclaimed Sabrina forcefully, and she jumped up so fiercely that her wings carried her a few feet off the ground and she remained fluttering in mid air. “You know how I told you how we get invited to the Ball every year?”
“Well,” started Sabrina, “I hardly ever get to go.”
“What?” Ember too jumped up at this. “Why not?”
“If my sisters ever caught me going to it, Lexi would surely never let me hear the end of it. I believe it is her sole purpose to not let me have any fun.”
“I know,” said Sabrina mournfully. “And I know that if you showed up without anything nice to wear, they’d try and make you a laughing stock. So I’m here to make sure that doesn’t happen. Sorry about barging into your room like this, but the window was open and I thought this would be the quickest way in.” She looked down, ashamed at her poor behavior. “I knew I should have waited at the door.” She then gently landed next to Ember and lowered her ears in shame.
Ember looked down at her thoughtfully. “Aww, it’s ok,” she said gently. “I know you weren’t trying to hurt anyone. You just wanted to help me, am I right?”
“Yep!” Sabrina nodded excitedly.
“Well then, what did you have in mind?”
“Ooh! I know just the thing!” She then pulled out a magic wand that was tucked neatly between her bow and tail. “I’ve learned how to do magic,” she said excitedly, “and I know just the outfit that will dazzle everyone at the Ball!” She then flicked her wrist, but to her disappointment, nothing happened.
After several more attempts a flash of blue smoke erupted out of the wand and a breathtaking evening gown lay on the bed right in front of Ember and Sabrina’s eyes. The whimsical soft pink color appeared to shimmer even in the dimmest of lighting in Ember’s bedroom. Its texture was soft to the touch and seemed as light as a cloud and as comforting as silk. The pink faded into a soft baby blue at the bottom of the dress in the shape of two triangles, perpetuating the notion that it was made for a faerie princess. Alongside the dress was a coat of a slightly darker shade of pink with kougra-patterned trim. Completing the outfit was a matching hat adorned with a similar patterned trim attached to a purple wig for an additional touch that suggested this dress was not for everyday wear. Ember looked down at it, amazed.
“You- you did that?” she stammered.
“Yep, sure did!” said Sabrina, quite pleased with herself. “How do you like it?”
“Well...” Ember struggled to find the right words. “I have to tell you, it’s the most beautiful outfit I’ve ever seen, it truly is. But I can’t accept it.”
“Well, sure you can!” cooed Sabrina. “What’s stopping you?”
“It’s just that it’s, well, it’s almost too good to be true. I mean, really, I get invited to the most prestigious event of the year and I suddenly show up in the most beautiful outfit this side of Faerieland? How is this even possible?”
“Well, if you would like to know where it came from,” Sabrina began, “it’s modeled after a dress I used to own, actually.” Ember could see where this was leading.
“What happened to it,” she asked gently.
“Oh, I had it when was I just a tiny little Usul and used to play dress-up with my Usuki dolls. I would pretend to be a princess and I would wait for someone to rescue me. Lexi threw it away when I got older, though. She said I was too old to be playing with dolls or to play dress-up anymore.” She then motioned her hand towards Ember, indicating that she wanted her closer. Ember moved in slightly and Sabrina whispered in her ear, “Sometimes I do it when she isn’t looking, though. She has no idea I’m able to make things like this. If she did, I’m sure she would stop at nothing to try and find the secret behind it.” Ember eyed her carefully.
“Well, is there a secret behind it?”
“I’m not really sure,” answered Sabrina with a shrug. “All I know is I was given this toy wand when I was very young, and ever since I’ve been able to make things happen with it. Sometimes it takes a few tries to make it work right, but if I keep trying long enough it eventually does what I want it to.” Sabrina then looked up at Ember anxiously. “I’m sorry if I startled you with all this magic stuff. But I would really love it if you would wear this outfit to the Ball this weekend. It would mean the world to me, it really would.” Ember looked down at Sabrina with an almost sisterly affection.
“It’s alright,” she said gently. “I know you were just trying to help. And this outfit is just brilliant!” She then dashed over to her closet and started rummaging through it. “And I know the perfect accessory to go with it!” After a few short minutes of searching, Ember finally pulled out a delicate chocolate fan made from the finest milk chocolate, decorated with purple candies and topped with luscious white chocolate for elegance.
“That’s perfect!” Sabrina cheered as she took the fan from Ember and placed it next to the rest of the outfit. “You should try it on and see how it looks!”
“You know, I think I may just do that now,” said Ember as she scooped up the different pieces in her arms and headed out the doorway. “I’ll go change and we can see how it looks together.”
“Great,” said Sabrina as Ember stepped into the bathroom and closed the door. A few minutes later Ember came out of the bathroom fully dressed and reentered the bedroom where Sabrina was waiting for her. Her jaw dropped as Ember came through the door, and she gave Sabrina a quizzical stare. “What?”
“Y-you look gorgeous!” she stammered. It was true; the dress fit Ember as if it were custom designed just for her, the mixed hues seemed to dazzle in the dim lighting, and the fan complimented the colors in the dress along with Ember’s natural beauty to bring the entire ensemble into perfect harmony. Sabrina looked her up and down, circled her several times and had her turn at different angles in order to gauge the full effect the outfit would have on the guests at the ball.
“It’s absolutely stunning,” she said with her head to the side as she continued to study Ember’s appearance, “But there’s still something missing.” Her eyes were then drawn to the empty space in between the end of the coat and the start of Ember’s long, bushy tail. “That’s it! You need a bow!” Ember nodded in agreement.
“Yes, I think a bow would definitely add a nice touch here, and it would fix the gap between the dress and my tail. “But I don’t think my regular gold one would fit in very well.” She then picked up the gold bow that was sitting on her dresser and affixed it to her tail. It clashed horribly with the rest of the ensemble and Ember nonchalantly tossed it back on the dresser.
“Well,” said Sabrina, “Why not try your regular chocolate bow?”
“Ah, well I would, except I don’t have it anymore,” said Ember slightly teary eyed. “I had a short stay in the pound a while back, and I must have lost it before I came to live here.” Sabrina looked up at her with wide eyes and a sad expression.
“Oh Ember, I’m so sorry!” she said, sobbing slightly. “I had no idea you used to be a pound pet!”
“Yeah, most people don’t,” she said casually. “It doesn’t really bother me that much, surprisingly enough. I don’t remember much about my previous residence and I like living here most of the time. I just wish I hadn’t lost it in the pound. It fit so wonderfully...” Ember seemed remorseful as she reminisced about the lost of her chocolate bow, but she straightened up and continued. “But after I moved in here, my new owner got me the gold bow to replace my old chocolate one. It’s the exact same color, and I don’t have to worry about it getting eaten! So that’s always a plus.” She then gave a wide grin before finishing. “But even though I don’t have my old bow anymore, it wouldn’t make a difference anyway. Since they both look exactly the same, the chocolate one would clash just as badly as the gold one does.” Sabrina nodded in understanding.
“I understand perfectly,” she said, appearing to be deep in thought. “Do you have any other colored bows in your closet we could try?”
“Actually, I do!” said Ember excitedly, and the two of them rushed towards the closet together in order to find a matching bow. The two of them furiously rummaged through Ember’s wardrobe and they immediately found at least half a dozen bows, but sadly none of them seemed to match. The rainbow one had too many colors, red was too bright, green, skunk, and strawberry all fell outside the pink and blue color scheme, zombie was too frightening, and finally the grey bow seemed to dampen Ember’s mood as soon as she put it on. She tore it off in frustration and nearly collapsed; she didn’t seem to own anything that matched her new outfit. Sabrina patted her shoulder and tried to cheer her up.
“Don’t worry,” she said consolingly, “I’m sure we can find something that will work.”
“But we just went through all the bows I own,” said Ember, disheartened. “Those are all the choices I’ve got.”
“We just need something with a little more pink is all,” said Sabrina optimistically. “I think a nice light pink bow would do the trick quite nicely.”
“But what colors come with a light pink bow?” asked Ember. The two of them thought a moment and Ember suddenly spied exactly what they were looking for resting on Sabrina’s tail.
“That’s it!” Ember shouted excitedly, pointing toward Sabrina.
“What is?” she asked as she turned her head to where Ember was pointing, and a look of realization came across her face. “Oh my goodness, Ember! You’re right; it’s exactly what we’re looking for!” Sabrina then gently removed the bow she was wearing – it had a beautiful soft pink satin texture to it, and it matched Ember’s ensemble as if it was custom designed for it. “Well, try it on!” Ember did so, and she seemed to sparkle and shine even brighter than she did a few seconds before.
“Oh wow,” Sabrina said, mouth agape and in a trance-like state. “It’s absolutely perfect! You’ve done it! You found the perfect bow!”
“No, I didn’t,” Ember said as she lowered her eyes slightly.
“What?!” said Sabrina, aghast. “Why? What’s wrong with it? It’s absolutely dazzling!”
“I know,” she said shrugging, “But it doesn’t belong to me. This is your faerie bow, Sabrina! I can’t just take it away from you!”
“Sure you can,” said Sabrina assuredly. “The ball is only for one night, and you can give it back as soon as it’s over. Besides, it looks absolutely perfect on you! It would be a crime not to you let you wear it for this extra special occasion.” Ember looked down at Sabrina with a smile.
“Sabrina, you have been so generous to me. How can I ever thank you?”
“Just show up to the ball looking just like you do right now,” she said with a grin. “And if all goes as planned, I may see you there as well,” Sabrina said with a wink and a smile.
“Really?” Ember was surprised by this bit of news. “But I thought you said you never get to come?”
“Usually I can’t,” said Sabrina truthfully, “But this year I’ve come up with a plan to try and get in without my sisters noticing.” She then pulled out her magic wand again. “See? I think I’ve come up with a way to alter my appearance enough so that they don’t know it’s me, but I’ll have my ticket with me so that they’ll still let me in.” She tucked the wand away again and gave Ember a pleasant smile. Ember was amazed.
“Wow, hopefully it won’t be too difficult for me to recognize you,” said Ember astonished.
“Nah, I don’t think it will. Speaking of which, I better get home and work on my disguise some more. I’ll see you Saturday, Ember! You look absolutely amazing in that outfit. You’ll be the bell of the ball! See you then!” And with that Sabrina took to the air and flew gracefully out the window, leaving Ember’s new clothes and her own faerie bow behind.
“Wow,” Ember said to herself, “Maybe this is going to turn alright after all.” With the comforting notion that she was going to be attending the Chocolate Ball in one of the most beautiful outfits Neopia has ever seen, Ember prepared herself for bed in order to get plenty of rest for the day ahead of her.
In the distance, however, an angry faerie Wocky was plotting Ember’s downfall. “I’ll teach my sister to go plotting behind my back,” said Lexi as she sat beside the front window of her neohome, waiting for Sabrina to return.
To be continued...