Ember and the Chocolate Ball: Part Five
After carefully taking an absence from the public eye in the lavatory, Ember emerged from the restroom looking completely different than she did only a few moments before; she was no longer dressed like a princess, and was now donning her old waitress uniform. She wore her white T-shirt with yellow trim and red snowflake patterned skirt under an apron with a red headband sitting gently upon her head. Sabrina emerged quickly after she did, tucking away her magic wand safely into her tail.
“Don’t worry,” Sabrina said in a hushed voice. “The spell will wear out soon. We must get back here before the unveiling or it will be too late. The uniform will change back into your dress before then. You’ll get your clothes back soon!” She patted Ember on the back with a smile, though Ember could only look down at her attire with a frown, for she had worked so hard to be rid of it. Nevertheless, she knew that this grungy symbol of servitude would be her ticket into the kitchen and would lead her to the candy statue of Queen Fyora.
To Ember’s slight surprise, Sabrina was dressed as a waitress also; she wore a medium length black skirt and a white formal dress shirt. She was once again posing as a biscuit Usul. Ember turned to look at her in admiration.
“Wow, this magic thing is really coming in handy!” she exclaimed excitedly. “Not only could you turn my dress into my old uniform, but you conjured up an outfit for yourself too!”
“Yeah, well, it became necessary,” said Sabrina grimly. “What we’re doing is dangerous. If we get caught...”
“If we get caught, it doesn’t matter,” said Ember firmly. “I’m not letting anyone, especially anyone who has been hurting a friend of mine, sabotage me without a fight. You know you don’t have to help if you don’t want to.”
“I know,” said Sabrina, “but this is my fight too. Like you, I won’t let my sisters hurt a friend of mine. Now we better hurry - we don’t want to attract any unnecessary attention.” The two of them hurried off to the kitchen to find the statue.
After sneaking in through the back, the two marveled at the sights before them. Dozens of trays of delectable dishes were laid out ready to be taken to the hungry guests. Waiters and waitresses were trickling in and out of the aisle ways in order to grab up more dishes, and Ember and Sabrina took this as an opportunity to sneak over to the greater attractions.
“I think it’s over here,” whispered Ember, pointing the way. They made their way to a secluded section in the back of the kitchen where they noticed a tall object around ten feet high covered up by a large white sheet.
“This must be it,” said Ember briskly.
“Yes, I think so too.” Sabrina pointed to the area directly behind the statue where Lexi, Beatrice and Melena were crowded behind a large countertop.
“Well, look who it is, girls!” Lexi cried gleefully as she and her sisters emerged from behind the counter. “It seems somebody has come to sabotage a certain statue, is that right?” she hissed menacingly.
“No,” Ember proclaimed boldly. “We’ve come here to make sure you don’t.” Sabrina stood beside her looking nervous but otherwise firmly opposed to her older sister. Lexi eyed Sabrina curiously.
“And you’ve brought one of your edible cohorts, I see. Is the bakery having a sale on cheap goods?” She snickered aloud and glowered at her sisters when they did not follow suit. They then began laughing unenthusiastically and Lexi turned her attention back to the pair of Usuls. Ember glanced toward Sabrina and smiled to herself. Her sisters couldn’t recognize her in this form, and that could make this easier for them.
“The only ‘cheap’ thing here is what you’re trying to do to Ember,” said Sabrina in a voice higher than usual. “How could you senselessly destroy another pet’s good name? It isn’t right!”
“Ha! I don’t care about what’s ‘right’,” Lexi scoffed. “As far as I’m concerned, whatever is right is what the public is willing to believe, and if they think that their beloved chocolate waitress is a menace and a thief, then so be it! And as for your ‘good name’,” she said menacingly as she glared at Ember, “you don’t deserve it! What makes you, a dime a dozen waitress in Neopia Central of all places, think that you can become anything more than that! I mean look at you!” Lexi pointed and gleefully grinned at Ember’s attire. “You’re even dressed as a waitress! How cute!” Ember’s temper started to flare up as she suddenly saw the three sisters disappear without a trace and felt a strong hand clasp onto her shoulder. Ember and Sabrina turned around to see a strong looking Lupe with a disapproving look on his face.
“I thought I made myself very clear that all members of the waiting staff were to wait outside for the unveiling ceremony. You two get out into the hall, now.” He then gently yet firmly began to push both of them towards the grand hall, with Ember catching Lexi and the others from the corner of her eye reemerging from their hiding place and they began closing in on the statue again.
“No talking!” cried the Lupe. “I’ll deal with you two later. You could have gotten me in a lot of trouble! Now I don’t want to hear one more word from either of you!” He then turned on his heels and reentered the kitchen, leaving Ember and Sabrina at the entrance to the grand hall again, once again fully dressed in their ball gowns.
“It’s been an hour already?” Ember asked, confused.
“Nah, I’m just that good,” said Sabrina bashfully. “I made it so that if we got into a tight spot we could change back without any complications.” Ember smiled at her friend’s ingenuity, and then looked down sadly as she remembered their predicament. The statue was going to be unveiled soon, and Lexi and the others were defacing it this very moment. But how would they be able to link the statue’s destruction to Ember? Lexi couldn’t tell anyone of Ember’s presence in the kitchen without giving herself and her sisters away, so how could they possibly blame Ember for it? It didn’t make sense. These and other questions were swirling around in Ember’s mind when she saw a sudden gleam of hope.
“Sabrina,” Ember said urgently, “would it be possible for you to fix the statue before they unveil it tonight?”
“Not if we can’t see it first, no,” she said regretfully. “Since we don’t have access to it now, there’s nothing I can do. I might be able to fix it after it is revealed, but by then the damage will already be done, both to the statue and to your reputation. It would be of very little help at that point.” Ember frowned disappointingly.
“Darn. Too bad we couldn’t make it indestructible before Lexi and the others got their paws on it.”
“Believe me, I thought of that too,” said Sabrina, annoyed. “But again, I would have needed to see the statue first, or else I would have made the sheet covering it indestructible instead.”
“Wow, there are so many catches!”
“I know.” Sabrina nodded. “Looks like magic isn’t going to get us out of this one.” The two of them hung their heads in despair, knowing that there was almost nothing they could do now. As they glumly stared at each other, anticipating the worst, a voice suddenly boomed over a loudspeaker:
“And now it is time to unveil tonight’s greatest surprise: A statue of the Faerie Queen herself made entirely out of rock candy!” The room erupted into cheers of joy as a small Kacheek wheeled the statue into the center of the hall and everyone crowded around it to catch a glimpse of this great event. The Kacheek pulled the cloth off the statue, and everyone in the room let out a gasp, for it was half eaten and worn down in places. Cries of disgust filled the air, and everyone in the room suddenly began to stare in Ember’s direction. The reason became clear at once, for around Fyora’s neck was a bow that could only belong to a chocolate Usul, and Ember was the only one visible for miles around.
Ember began to blush as the numerous stares began pouring into her like daggers. Audible attacks against her were now present as many of the guests began to voice their outrage.
“How could anyone with good intentions deface the Faerie Queen?” cried one.
“How could you do such a terrible thing? You’re supposed to be a role model!” cried another. Out of the crowd Ember could see Lexi and her sisters emerging out of the crowd.
“I knew that little waitress was up to no good,” spouted Lexi, separating herself from the rest of the congregation and stepping in the center of the hall towards Ember. Beatrice and Melena followed her. “This is why an event of this size and prestige should only be attended by those with proven wealth and status. Otherwise, something like this happens. Keep the rich in, and the commoners out. That’s what I say!” There were several approving shouts at this statement, at which Sabrina had had enough.
“Oh yeah? Well, maybe it isn’t her causing the trouble, and maybe it’s the 'rich' ones like you trying to give her a bad name!” Sabrina fumed.
“What do you know about anything?” steamed Lexi, rounding on Sabrina. “You edible freak.”
“I’m as edible as you are,” said Sabrina coolly. “Don’t you know your own sister?” Sabrina then began to change from biscuit back into her original faerie form, her wings sparking brightly beneath the light. The whole room gasped, including Sabrina’s sisters.
“I should have known you were in on this!” Lexi scowled. “So you’ve both been defiling the factory owner’s property! Oh, just wait until he gets a hold of you too. You’ll be banned for life!”
“Banned for life indeed.” Ember turned around to face the speaker, only to find herself even more embarrassed and uncomfortable than before.
To be continued...