Ella quietly snuck through the hall, down the stairs, through her garage, and out into the night. She gave a sigh of relief; she'd made it. Just in time too, as she checked her phone's screen, reading 11:55 p.m. She had five minutes to get to Ballwin Park and meet Maddie, Tristan, Audrey, and Simone.
"You'll be fine," Ella whispered to herself. "Now go." She didn't have time to waste and scold herself. She was just very nervous to find what would happen if her parents or her eight-year-old sister discovered she'd snuck out, even just to meet her friends.
Suddenly, Ella's phone buzzed in her back pocket.
"Are you on your way? We're all here."
Tristan had texted her.
"Almost there," Ella replied. She slipped her phone back into her pocket and hastened her pace. Finally, after a few more turns, she could see the old antique, wrought-iron gate that read Ballwin Park proudly in the distance. Ella turned one last corner and walked through the gate, finding her four friends waiting at the fountain nearest the entrance.
"What took you so long?" Audrey asked Ella.
"I had to wait until my family was asleep for sure. That was my only hope of sneaking out," Ella explained. The girls nodded understandingly.
"Well, you're right on time," Simone smiled. "Are you guys ready?"
"I'm not sure. I'm still debating if we've become delusional," Maddie sighed. The thought of what the girls were about to do did seem quite delusional, but it was quite real. Plus, lots of things were depending on them now. If they continued to view themselves as mental and ignore the situation, there could be some serious consequences.
"We aren't, we've already discussed this," Tristan said, annoyed. "Now let's get a move on."
"Alright, when I say three; we go," Ella said shakily as she stepped up to the ledge of the fountain. The water shimmered in the moonlight. It was a very strange thing to do, dive into a fountain, especially considering the fact that you could be delusional and crack your head on the bottom. The girls did it anyway.
"Three," Ella whispered. Together, the five girls fell back into the skin-prickling fountain water, and within the blink of an eye, they'd been transported somewhere else. Ella breathed in heavily, a bit shocked from that peculiar experience. It had all been an accident the first time, or perhaps some weird coincidence; but that was why she hadn't exactly remembered what hurtling through a portal felt like.
"Girls." Just as suddenly as the girls had been transported, the Queen, or Queen Number Two, stood in front of them. She was petite and frail, and had her graying hair tucked into a bun. She also wore a small locket around her neck; it was secretly disguised as another portal. After the Queen had helped the girls yesterday, and answered some of their questions, she'd pried open the locket and thrown it to the ground. A swirling portal a bit like the fountain had appeared, and the girls had jumped through it, returning them to the ledge of the fountain in Ballwin Park.
"Q-Queen," Audrey stuttered. Ella could tell that she was choosing between a casual greeting or bowing down to worship the Queen, who was technically royalty.
"I'm very glad to see you've returned," the Queen smiled, wringing her small hands, which were covered with white gloves. "As you-"
"Remind me why we're here again?" Simone questioned loudly, interrupting the Queen. Ella sighed, amused. If only Simone had listened the first time around, which she never really did.
"Well, Mr. Kane and Mr. Erebus have been tempting fate, and attempting to misuse and tamper with The Book," the Queen explained patiently. Ella remembered most of what the Queen had explained yesterday, such as why they'd ended up here. Every so often, history seemed to repeat itself; and so every few centuries, five girls were chosen. They were those five girls; the ones who were destined to save The Book, all fairytales, and possibly society as they knew it. Ella simply rolled her eyes and let the Queen remind Simone.
"Yeah, okay. Now what's The Book?" Simone puzzled. Ella stifled a giggle.
"The Book is, well, a book. It holds all fairytales ever written, my dear. It's very powerful, and so, if Mr. Kane and Mr. Erebus succeed in tampering with it, many things will be altered and put in jeopardy," the Queen said stiffly.
"Oh," Simone said blatantly. Ella guessed that she was done asking questions.
"As I was saying-"
"Wait, I'm really sorry," Tristan interrupted the Queen this time. "Who are these guys again?"
"Mr. Kane is a potions master. He has a shop, I believe you've seen it. Mr. Erebus is a bookbinder," the Queen answered simply.
"Right, okay. I'm good now," Tristan nodded. Finally, Ella thought.
"I have a job for you, my dears," the Queen said. "In order to carry out the tasks you've been given, you should really know what is at stake. That's why I'll be taking you five on a field trip. We're going to pay a visit to The Book."
Ella wasn't quite sure if she was feeling a bit of joy, or a bit of reluctance. She'd been thinking about this; how absolutely insane it was, how she'd rather be enjoying her summer with her friends at home and not saving the world, but she'd realized that things were at stake. So instead of complaining, Ella hoisted up her overwhelming ball gown with all its ruffles and fancy fabric, and followed the Queen into the darkness.