Table for Three: Part One
Author's Note: Hey everyone! Sam here, and it's my first series! This is the third installment in the Salba series of stories, so if you haven't read Salba and/or Through Three Eyes, it might be a good idea to do so before you read this story. You don't have to, of course; it would just be very helpful if you want to better understand this story. Again, thanks to all of those fans out there who have supported me, and feel free to neomail me with comments and questions! Enjoy the story!
Hey! I know it’s been a while since I wrote you, but I sure have a lot to tell. Christmas is really close right now, and everyone is starting to decorate. Some people already have Christmas trees around here! Of course, nothing is as stunning as the decorations in Neopia Central, but it’s so pretty up here, especially with the purple and pink clouds and all that. You might want to come up and see it.
Actually, that’s kind of what I wrote you about. I asked Alana, and she says that if your family is okay with it, you can come up and visit for Christmas! Of course, we wouldn’t want you to miss the holidays with your own family back home, so you would come a few days before Christmas. If your vacation is the same as mine, there should be three days where you’re free before it actually starts! We cordially invite you into Faerieland to help make our celebrations more special!
If you can come, please send a Neomail back to tell us, and we’ll make arrangements (Alana says she’ll pay for the chariot tickets and everything), and I can’t wait to see you. If not, I understand, but please reply anyway. I love to hear from you!
“Please! Please, please, please, please! I’m begging you!”
I was on my knees. My hooves were clasped together and waving up and down, as if that was going to help in some way. My brothers watched as I looked up at our owner, Sam. He didn’t seem all too happy about the situation.
“You know that I would rather have the family together on holidays. How many times do I have to tell you guys? The answer is no.” He shook his head lightly, crossing his arms and reclining back in the living room chair.
The letter was on top of the purple envelope it came in, a key to holiday happiness, just sitting there. I knew that Sam wouldn’t like it, because it was his philosophy that family was the most important thing in the whole world, or something, and that they should always be together on special occasions. But just one year, just one stinking year, I wanted to go see my best friend (who had moved away eight whole months ago!) on the few days I had before Christmas.
And he said no.
“But it won’t even be on Christmas. It’ll be the few days before! Sam, I won’t be missing anything here. We’ll have already decorated, the only thing I might be missing is some weirdo Christmas party we’ll have to go to. Come on, Sam, you know how much I hate those things anyway!”
“No. End of discussion.” He was definitely mad at me. I had been nagging him all day to let me go, and it was always the same answer, the same conversation all over again.
“Not end of discussion! You always said that we were your equals, Sam, you just can’t be a dictator like that! Let’s take a vote.” Tears were forming in my eyes. I wanted to see Salba really badly. I had only seen her in pictures, heard her voice in the letters she wrote to me. How it would have made my heart jump if I could have seen her in person, if I could have heard her high, soft voice just one more time!
“Let’s take a vote.”
I glanced over at my older brother, Astroy, surprised that he was even saying anything, much less something that would help me.
“You just want your sister out of the house!” Sam accused him, and the red Xweetok looked down at the couch. I rubbed my brown Ixi fur nervously, hoping that Sam would eventually crack. I had never seen him get this mad. I guess he really did value family. I respected the fact that he did, but he had to respect the fact that my heart wasn’t going to be at the house on Christmas if I didn’t make the trip to Faerieland and see Salba, the mutant Quiggle, in person. He had to know that, he had to! He knew me!
“Sam. It’s okay. She’ll only be gone for two and a half days, and it won’t be on Christmas. We’re getting older. Just let her have a little more freedom.”
“Oh, come on, Arrozo! You think you’re the wise one now! You’re even younger than she is!” Sam was scolding the Christmas Zafara. I knew that they were making a huge sacrifice for me, and I smiled for a second, but then I realized that that was how bad they wanted me out of the house.
“Fine. You win! I won’t go! But maybe my heavy heart on Christmas will make you realize the mistake you have made!” Man, I was going off the deep end. Last resort, that was. Playing his guilt like a violin.
I stormed up to my room, making sure that my hooves clambering up the stairs were extra loud. There was silence downstairs, as far as I could tell, and I waited on my bed for a few minutes, crying, trying to think up some other way to get myself to Faerieland.
“Jhinni,” Sam called softly, knocking on the door. I hadn’t even heard him head up the stairs. “Can I come in?”
“Fine,” I said, sniffling my nose a bit.
“I thought this over, and I had a talk with your brothers,” he said immediately, sitting down on my bed and making the mattress bounce up and down, “and I’ve decided to let you go. But you’d better be a good young lady while you’re up there, do you understand?”
I nodded and smiled, wiping a sole tear from my eye. “Thanks, I’ll be a good little girl for you, Sam.”
“Sure you will,” he said, ruffling my hair.
I really did think I was going to be a good girl too, and I tried, oh I tried, but nothing could have prepared me for the evil that I was about to face.
The chariot pulled into the station at exactly 10:38 Monday morning. The Eyrie said so himself.
The sun beamed down on Faerieland, reflecting and reiterating the pink and purple clouds. I climbed off the chariot, thanking the Eyrie and nodding my head. My heart was pounding. I had never been to Faerieland before; I had only read about it in stories, or heard about it from friends. It was amazing. Tall, lavender buildings towered over the city-goers, most of whom were Faerie-painted or Faeries themselves. Lots of crowds were gathering in the station, probably because a lot of people were coming in for Christmas, and I had no idea where to find Salba.
“Jhinni! Jhinni, I’m over here!”
I could pick that voice out from a mile away.
“Salba! Good Fyora, it’s YOU!”
There she was, standing right in front of me. A small, fluffy coat was wrapped around her body, and a tear shone in one of her eyes. We hugged for a really long time, and I was grinning broadly. I had imagined that moment for eight whole months, and there I was, actually living it. It was a dream come true.
“I kept this.” The Quiggle reached into her pocket and pulled out a photo which had a crease running down the middle. It was a photo of her and me from almost a year ago, on her birthday. I gave it to her as a final souvenir, right before she left for Faerieland.
“Wow. Wow. I’m so happy right now.” I was ecstatic. Tears were forming in my eyes, though I couldn’t tell whether it was from my joy or the blistering cold outside.
“Come on, it’s freezing out here. We should get to my house. I have someone I want you to meet.”
Her house was huge. And I’m not talking two floors, four bedrooms and a nice kitchen huge. I’m talking mansion huge. It was purple, like most of the houses in Faerieland, but it was a majestic shade of purple, a little darker than lavender. The door at the front was much more welcoming than any I had seen, and there was a huge window to the right of it, which I assumed was the window in her family room. On both sides of the roof were tall spires, which resembled those of a medieval castle, and the house was just really big. The houses next to it were the same size, and it made the whole street seem like a crowded one, with apartment buildings left and right. But they were houses!
Salba opened the door, and I immediately noticed the smell of fresh baked cookies as I walked inside. The foyer was floored with black and white tiles, and there was a door to the right, which led into the family room (as I suspected). A winding staircase stood at the back of the room, and a little opening at the far left corner led into the kitchen, as I would soon find out.
But there was something in the room that surprised me even more than the amazing décor itself. A Faerie Bruce was standing patiently on the staircase. I stared at her for a little bit, waiting as Salba took her coat off and hung it up on the rack to the immediate left of her.
“Salba, glad you made it back safely! Is this the famed Jhinni you’ve been chattering about for the past week?” The Bruce glided down the stairs in an elegant manner, stepping onto the floor with a small flourish. Her wings twittered excitedly as she walked up to us, and her bow was covered with glitter. She was wearing a shining pink dress, and I noticed a small purple scarf wrapped around her neck.
“Yes, it is! I’m so glad she’s here, too! Jhinni, this is Ellie. I told you about her in my letters. She’s my best friend up here, and she also happens to be my next-door neighbor!”
Ellie stuck out her hand and vigorously shook my hoof. I smiled. There was something about her, a condescending air, that had immediately come off as mean to me. I don’t know what it was—maybe the way that she looked down at me, or the smile that seemed too arrogant—but it rubbed me the wrong way. But maybe I was judging her too quickly.
“Oh my, we have so much to do in these next few days!” the Bruce informed us both, putting a hand to my fur. “First off, we need to get you to the Rainbow Pool, quickly. Brown is a thing of the past, my friend.”
My eyes widened, and my mouth dropped. I glanced over at Salba. “A thing of the past? What are you talking about? I love my color!”
“That’s what they all say. Oh, don’t worry about it, hun. You’ll be happier when you’re another color. You know, I’ve heard that Faerie is a great color on an Ixi. Oh well, come, let’s give you a tour of Salba’s house. Gorgeous, really.”
She started up the staircase, and Salba and I obediently followed. “This is your friend?” I asked when the Bruce walked out of earshot, staring into the Quiggle’s eyes with disbelief.
“I guess she does come off as a bit arrogant at first, but give her a chance. She really is a nice pet at heart.” Salba shrugged and continued walking, turning her gaze to the top of the staircase.
I sighed, and silently prayed that Salba was right.
To be continued...