Princess Bones: Part One
Rain came down heavily on the small town of Middleway. The nearby farms of Meridell had wanted a good downpour for months, hoping to relieve the dry spell that was ruining their crops, but the sky seemed to have a twisted sense of humor as it unleashed its torrent. The sky was heavy and grey, and the sounds of rain slapping against cobblestones echoed throughout the town. Small rivers of water ran at the sides of each road.
Most of the citizens clung to the warmth of their neohomes, locking their doors against the racket and wetness. Schools were closed due to “dangerous weather” as the clouds spat lightning and rumbled with thunder, and many people refused to go to work.
Except for Dr. Renwick.
“There’s been another accident on the intersection of Peak and Mote,” a pink Wocky nurse informed him, rushing into the hospital emergency room breathlessly. “Two Eyrie Cabs collided.”
Dr. Renwick massaged his weary face with a claw. “This weather is horrid. No one should even be out in it!” The Desert Ruki shook his head. “How many neopets were involved? And what condition are they all in?”
“Six total, Doctor. The two Eyries are fine: just a bit of bruises and a scrape or two. The cabs were each carrying an adult and child. The adults are fine too... but the children flew right off when the two cabs crashed. From the looks of it, I think they each have a few broken bones from the fall. And they’re both unconscious.”
Dr. Renwick winced. “Send them in, then. Quickly.”
“Yes sir.” The pink Wocky nodded and rushed out of the emergency room.
A moment later, two gurneys were rolled in, revealing two unconscious neopets, their eyelids fluttering gently. The Desert Ruki glanced over them with a careful eye. One of the girls was a simple green Zafara with long wavy hair. The other was a Shadow Xweetok with beautiful features and long straight dark hair accented with a bright green bow.
Dr. Renwick winced as he took the two girls in. They both were covered in an assortment of scrapes and dark bruises, but it was another, more obvious injury that made him cringe: both of them seemed to have broken their collarbone.
“They need surgery,” the Desert Ruki said bluntly, turning towards the nurse hovering at his side with a clipboard. “Contact the parents or legal guardians.”
“Yes, sir,” the Wocky said, but before she could rush out again, Dr. Renwick stopped her.
“Wait a minute,” he said, snapping his claw at her. “Names. What are their names?”
“The Zafara is Rina,” she answered, pausing at the door to glance down at the clipboard. “And the other is Saya.”
Dr. Renwick froze at the last name, his stomach lurching painfully as the nurse turned and left. “Saya...” he murmured, and his eyes fell upon the injured Xweetok once again. He hadn’t noticed it before during his brief assessment, but now he began to take in the fine details: the familiar facial features, the hair bow tied out of the finest silk, the petite figure draped in a simple, yet beautifully elegant dress. Saya wasn’t just any Shadow Xweetok. She was Princess Saya, the young heir to the Brightvalian throne.
“No,” Dr. Renwick breathed. His heart picked up speed, and he involuntarily clenched his claws. “No. I can’t do this... not after what her father did to me...”
He turned away from the girl abruptly, trying to stay calm despite the rush of anger that had suddenly welled up inside of him, but he found it impossible. Instead, in his stupor, he bumped into the other gurney, this one carrying the green Zafara that he didn’t recognize in the slightest. She looked peaceful as she slept despite the glaring injury that needed to be attended to.
And then Dr. Renwick had an idea.
He paused for a moment, surveying the two girls. One was the daughter of the King, the root of all his problems. And yet the other one was blissfully innocent. Could he really launch his scheme into action? Would it work? Was it right?
The Ruki waited only a moment more before making up his mind; he was a doctor after all, and quick decisions were part of the job. “Alright then,” he mumbled under his breath, glancing out the hospital window at the wall of pounding rain. “Operation Princess Bones it is.”
“Rina, hurry up! You’re going to be late for your doctor’s appointment!”
The green Zafara ran to the closet, her feet pounding on the hardwood floors. “Sorry, Mom!” she apologized, giving a frowning Faerie Zafara a quick peck on the cheek as she slung on a jacket. “I overslept.”
“Honey, what were you doing up all last night?” her mom groaned, wiping her paws on her apron.
“Sketching,” Rina answered quickly. Her mom’s face furrowed, and the green Zafara winced; “sketching” probably wasn’t the answer she had wanted to hear. Now seemed like the best time to make her exit. “I’ll give Dr. Renwick your well wishes!” Rina called, stepping out the front door. “Bye Mom!”
The green Zafara jogged briskly down the stone pathway that led to the road, her mother’s farewell carried behind her by the whistling of the wind. The weather was beautiful today, even in a place as bland as Middleway. The trees sparkled with leaves painted like gold, the sun was streaming overhead, and the air was crisp and fresh like biting into a ripe Tchea fruit.
I wish I could paint this scene, Rina thought to herself wistfully, but she shook her head. Life was too hectic. The only time she could ever sit down and draw was at dusk when her busy day had finally come to an end—but that was what had made her late.
“I hope Dr. Renwick won’t be mad at me,” she murmured, continuing her jog. She reached a paw up and rubbed her collar, feeling the raised line of a scar and the slight jut of her bone. She had been in an Eyrie cab accident when she was younger and had badly broken her collarbone. Ever since then, she had made monthly visits to Dr. Renwick’s office to make sure she was healing properly. Her mom loved the Desert Ruki and his dedication to helping others, including her only daughter, but Rina thought five years was quite a long time to still be performing follow-ups.
The green Zafara followed the curve of the road, passing small homes and the occasional farm, until she reached the largest building in the entire town: the hospital. Middleway was a crossroads town smack dab between Meridell and Brightvale, and the only reason anyone ever stopped there was if they happened to get injured as they moved from one city to the next--except of course for Middleway’s inhabitants, who were a bunch of stubborn folk who refused to choose a city to live in and instead opted for the little piece of nowhere in between them.
Rina stopped running and caught her breath in front of the hospital. As usual, she was shocked at how nice it was. The exterior was tall and glassy and neat, a little piece of the modern world thrown haphazardly into her town. But yet again, Middleway was known for its hospital, if nothing else, and it had to keep up appearances.
She stepped inside, the cool air of the lobby hitting her face and sending a row of goosebumps down her arms. A nurse was seated behind a desk up front, making notes on a clipboard, and a little sitting area was off to her left, decorated with issues of the Neopian Times and potted plants.
“Rina!” someone called from down one of the long halls. The green Zafara turned her head and spotted a Desert Ruki coming towards her. His deeply tanned skin was covered with a long starch white coat, and a metallic stethoscope was draped around his neck.
“Hello, Dr. Renwick,” Rina said politely. “How are you?”
“Good, good,” the doctor said simply. He paused in front of her for a moment, his amber eyes resting lightly on her scar, and then he abruptly turned away. “Okay, to my office. You know where that is, right? It’s not too far, just around the corner...”
Rina rolled her eyes, following the Ruki. Of course I know where it is, she thought a bit impatiently. I’ve only been here about fifty times before. But she kept the comment to herself. Sometimes she felt as if the doctor was a bit more jumpy around her compared to his other patients, but she had learned to ignore his strange tendencies. After all, he was a doctor, and everyone knew that all doctors were a tad bit on the insane side.
“Please take a seat.” Dr. Renwick gestured toward the examination bench, and Rina perched herself on it, glancing around the familiar office. It was neat and white, with a couple of chairs, a desk with stacked papers on it, and various medical instruments floating around. Rina usually spent her time in his office gazing at his watercolor of Lost Desert sand dunes that was hung up over his desk, wondering had the artist had managed to get in all the fine details, but this time she took the time to read a few of the many certificates and awards that plastered the walls.
“Wow,” the green Zafara remarked, a tad impressed. “You graduated from the Lost Desert School of Medicine? Isn’t it hard to be accepted there?”
Dr. Renwick looked up from his clipboard, drawn out of his mental calculations. “Well, I had high marks in neoschool, so it all worked out.”
Rina squinted her blue eyes. There was another plaque, this one golden and decorated with fancy curlicues, but it was too far away to read properly. All she could see was the word “Brightvale.”
The Desert Ruki followed her gaze to the certificate and blanched. A moment later, he had stepped in front of her, obscuring her view. “Okay, Rina,” he said, his voice sounding a bit forced. “According to your record, your recovery has been coming along nicely. In fact, I think this may be your last check up.”
This news immediately caught Rina’s attention. “Really?” she asked sitting upwards. “No more monthly doctor visits?”
“Well,” the doctor cautioned, a claw raised, “first we have to perform a few tests. Just to make sure.”
Rina rolled her eyes, but nodded. “Okay.”
The green Zafara spent the next hour answering Dr. Renwick’s intensive list of questions and succumbing to numerous pokes, prods, and examinations. Finally, at the end of her appointment, he took a quick Virtu-ray image of her collar bone.
“The results should be in tomorrow,” the Desert Ruki said when it was all done, marking a few more notes down on his clipboard. “I’ll just swing by your neohome to discuss them with you and your mom. You’ll be home, right?”
“Yeah, I should be,” Rina answered, hopping off the examination bench and slipping a stray piece of hair behind her ear. “Thanks a lot Dr. Renwick.”
“You’re welcome, Rina. You’re welcome.” The Desert Ruki escorted her to the hall, a claw resting lightly on her shoulder. “Now make sure to enjoy today’s weather for me. And don’t forget about the results tomorrow!”
Rina nodded. “Yeah, I know. See you tomorrow then.” With her farewell, she shrugged his claw off and headed towards the lobby, giving him a quick wave goodbye.
Finally no more checkups, she thought to herself giddily as she walked down the halls, passing by a few of the doctor’s other patients and hospital staff members. No more Virtu-rays, no more pokes and prods, no more inconvenient trips to Dr. Renwick’s office. She could finally be free to live her life, no longer worrying about something that had happened so far in the past.
But as much as those simple facts played through her head, Rina couldn’t help but feel as if something was off. On a whim, she turned back to glance at the doctor—and then froze. The Desert Ruki was staring at her curiously from the doorway of his office, a strange glimmer in his amber eyes.
Rina’s paw went to her stomach as it flip-flopped, and then she rushed out the door without another backwards glance. She took a deep breath of the fresh autumn air, trying to ease her sudden nerve attack, but for the rest of the day, she just couldn’t seem to dispel the horrible feeling building up inside of her.
To be continued...