Anni Moon & The Elemental Artifact
Anni Moon & The Elemental Artifact
MESSENGER OF MESSAGES
Already dressed in her hand-me-down Waterstone Academy uniform, Anni Moon took advantage of the last few quiet moments before she had to rush into the chaos of the school's kitchen for her morning chores. Any minute, the clock tower would chime and she would have to go. With her back against the tower's high windows, she sat in her usual spot on the lumpy window seat cushions. She was reviewing notes for her afternoon prep exam on the Periodic Table of Elements when something outside darted past the window.
The strange flying creature gave her such a jolt that she sprang off the cushions and, in the process, dropped her science book on her left foot. She hopped around in pain on her good foot, then tripped over a moth-eaten afghan, and finally knocked over a dustpan that was filled with ashes. The tower's paisley and mahogany common room was engulfed in a cloud of soot, and for a moment, she couldn't see what was outside.
"Anni Moon! Anni Moon! I need to speak with you, Anni Moon!" said a small yet firm voice.
The creature flapped against the glass panes as it called her name. Anni stood stock still until the soot cleared and she finally saw it. It looked like a bat. No. A rat. No. It had bat-shaped wings but the body of a rat: whiskers, tail, and all. Whatever this creature was, its brown leathery wings were beating against the glass. It was wearing a little outfit, too, but strangest of all, it was talking to her.
"Go away," she said and jumped behind the curtains. She pulled the drapes closed with one hard tug, and the tower's common room was cloaked in darkness. Panting, she leaned against the wall. She wanted to look outside, but she was afraid that the creature would see her.
"Lexi? Lexi?" Anni called out.
She fumbled in the dark over empty packing boxes that littered the floor, careful not to trip over the food tray she had left for Lexi before she opened the small, oval door.
The room was empty and Lexi's bed was made, which was strange. Lexi always overslept, and every morning, Anni woke her up. Not only were they best friends, they had been roommates for the last three years at Waterstone Academy for Girls.
Before Anni stepped inside, she saw it, lying on the floor, still perfectly folded with crisp edges. The letter-that awful, dreadful, hateful letter-that came three days ago, demanding that they pack up and move out of the tower common room. This room had been Lexi's home for as long as she could remember. It had been Anni's since she moved in three years ago.
Anni caught sight of Lexi's bedside clock. "Eggs! Is that the time?"
She was late for kitchen duty! How had she missed the clock tower's chime? She picked up Lexi's untouched tray, backed out of the room, and closed the door.
She raced over to the common room's double doors with the tray balanced against her hip, but before her hand touched the knob, the doors burst open. She lost her grip and the tray went flying. Cold hot chocolate and a gelatinous mass of marshmallows soared into the air and collided with a gooey peanut-butter-and-banana-honey sandwich, which landed on the door, floor, and Anni.
"What is this?" asked Rufous Finnegan, Waterstone Academy's security and all-purpose assistant. He was a young male dressed in a regulation gray uniform, and a proud germophobe who always wore a pair of sterile gloves. "Food violation!" His fistful of keys jangled as he took note of this infraction on his Waterstone Academy clipboard.
Anni sat on the floor, peeling pieces of bread and banana off her skirt. There was no hope for her favorite black-and-white-striped socks, a gift from Lexi; they were soaked in wet cocoa and she since didn't have another pair, she took them off to dry.
Finnegan glared at Anni. "Why's it so dark in here?"
" No! " Anni yelled.
He flung the drapes open, but th