A/N: Hey there everybody! Okay, this is actually a TRUE STORY! . . . featuring me! No, I'm not being stupid or anything. I was actually inspired by one of the disgusting menial chores that my parents made me do today. Well, it is actually true up to the point where the unnatural things start occurring. Obviously!

Also, I have exaggerated a lot of things in it. My mum may be a tyrant sometimes, but not always. My dad does do and say weird things, but only when he's in a weird/silly/idiotic mood, otherwise he's just an old grouch. My sister and I are a lot more similar than I make out and we get along much better. And lastly (but most importantly), I really do love alpacas. They are so so gorgeous! But you wouldn't think so when you read this. I just did that to emphasise my mood at that point in time.

Anyway, this is actually quite different to my usual type of story, so PLEASE review so I know if it isn't a complete flop or not. I am a little unsure. Anyway, here you go! Chapter 1 . . .

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Chapter 1: Moonlight Madness

I just couldn't believe it. Who would have thought that I'd be reduced to doing something so low and so . . . *menial*? Trust mum and dad to ask Lydia and I to do that. I mean, sure, doing dishes, tidying our rooms and hanging up and taking down the washing is one thing, but to be shovelling and raking up * alpaca dung* during the Easter holidays is *completely* another. Wouldn't you agree? Ugh. I'm completely disgusted.

Where on earth has my social life gone? Actually, I would prefer not to answer that question. I think all of my friends seem to forget about my petty existence the moment I leave the school grounds after school each day. And it's worse during the holidays. Little wonder since they all live around the city and/or close to train stations or tram stops and I live all the way out in the country . . . surrounded by fifty-something alpacas.

Anyway, I suppose I should just get on with the story, instead of raving on about my social problems . . . however much I would like to.

Well, I was simply sitting in front of the TV in my favourite old green sweater and ragged jeans, quietly minding my own business, when my mum flings open the glass sliding door and storms into the family room, strands of dyed wine-coloured hair flying out of her messy bun. Grass and dirt (or at least I think it was dirt) stains covered her old white polo shirt and peach-coloured working pants. Her grey-green eyes bulged at the sight of Lydia and I slouching on the couches. "NADIA!" she bellowed so loudly that I practically fell onto the floor in shock. "GET OFF YOUR LAZY ASS AND HELP YOUR DAD AND I OUTSIDE! HONESTLY, YOU'D THINK WE WERE YOUR SERVANTS THE WAY YOU'RE BEHAVING!"

I didn't say anything but simply glared at her insolently, which was useless anyway because she was completely oblivious to it.

But then her wild eyes settled on my sister and I cringed involuntarily, knowing what was coming next. Mum swelled up like a bullfrog. "LYDIA, YOU TOO! I WANT ONE SOLID HOUR OF WORK OUT OF YOU TWO AND IF I CATCH YOU SLACKING OFF AT ALL, YOU'LL BOTH GET DOUBLE TIME! NOW *MOVE* "

Evil. She is completely evil.

I sighed. There was just no point arguing with her anyway. After all, she has material to blackmail us with. For instance, my year twelve formal is coming up soon (the first Friday after the Easter holidays) and I stupidly asked mum if she could make my dress. I am such an idiot. I should have seen right away that steely glint of triumph in her eye the moment I asked. But I was blind to it. I asked unthinkingly and now I'm suffering for it. It's not as bad for Lydia. Mum simply threatens that she won't take her anywhere or that no friends will come over. But I don't have to worry about *that*. After all, *my* oh so lovely friends have forgotten me.

Anyway, I finally managed to pry myself away from the extremely comfortable couch, pulled on my old (and only) pair of sneakers and followed Lydia outside. It's only the second month of autumn but already it felt like winter. The chilly bite of the wind whistled through my thin sweater and tore through the large gaping hole in my jeans on my left knee, making me shiver. I looked over to where Lydia was making her way down the flight of stairs from the balcony. The girl was dressed in only a T-shirt and shorts! Was she mad? I mean, even though everyone says she looks like me, with her long dark brown hair, hazel eyes and freckles, we are nothing alike. She is insane and I am lazy. She is absent-minded and I am just forgetful. But we're both stubborn. Yep. I think that's the only similar quality that we both inherited from one our parents . . . or both.

"Grab a rake and shovel from the old shed, go over to the paddock where the females are and GET TO WORK!" mum yelled at us from nearby the swimming pool. Great. I threw her another insulting look, but again it was lost on her. Hopeless. Honestly, I really must conserve my energy for someone who I can actually argue with.

But nevertheless I did as I was told and slowly made my way over, a ferocious scowl creasing my face. I felt like this morning's thunderstorm; and probably looked like one too.

I crawled through the wired fence, dragging the heavy garden tools after me, and forced myself to approach the mound next to the trailer. It didn't smell or anything, but the very thought of it violently churned my insides. I just thanked god that I at least didn't have to touch it. They looked like little black, squishy, oval-shaped pebbles, all piled up on top of one another. Disgusting. I looked over at Lydia. Funnily enough, she was the one busy working, raking the poop into some semblance of a neat pile, whilst I just stood there, shovel in hand, wondering what on earth was I doing out here? Ah well. It couldn't be helped.

But surprisingly, as I started, I found that I didn't mind it so much. It had a sort of rhythm to it. Scoop it up, and then shove it into the trailer. Scoop it up, and then shove it into the trailer. But it killed your back though. Frequently I stopped and looked up, often pausing to stare at the alpacas - the initial cause of my pain and woe. Most of them were greedily stuffing their heads into the gigantic bale of hay nearby; but still a few others were staring at me with their large, dark, dopey- looking eyes.

"Yes, that's right, we're cleaning up after you. Happy?" I said fiercely out loud to one of the white ones who had wandered over to me. But she did nothing except cock her head sideways and look up at me innocently. Poor dumb, stupid animal. So guileless, incapable of appreciating all the work that we were doing for them. I shook my head. Hopeless. Completely and utterly hopeless.

Finally, mum and dad came around to help us and we proceeded to work more quickly. Of course, it was more frustrating because dad kept saying and telling us stupid things, like how to get more of the crap on your shovel each time and how we have to be careful not to get any of it in our mouths. Stupid, pointless and senseless things like that. As if we didn't already know. Whereas mum just kept on complaining and criticising the things that dad says and does. And although I usually agree with her on those points, it got REALLY annoying after a while. As you might have guessed, dinner times are ESPECIALLY entertaining at our house. But I was just thankful that Alex, my younger brother wasn't here. He would have made it ten times as worse. But then again, I really resent the fact that he was missing out on all this extra work (or torture) that we were going through. As far as I'm concerned, he really needs it. His belly wobbles just a little more than what is good for him. He was at his friend Chris's house, having fun while we were slaving away in the rain (it had begun to rain at this stage). If you ask me, I had every right to feel sorry for myself.

At last, after *two* hours of raking and shovelling, dad decided that we had done enough for one day and could finish it tomorrow.

"Can I go now?" I asked eagerly.

But mum just fixed me with her evil eye, which quelled any hopes of me getting away any time soon. "No! We have to unload it first. *Then* you can go."

Fantastic.

"Here, Nadia. Mum and I'll finish up here," dad said handing me about five shovels and rakes. "Take these and we'll meet you down there."

Thank you dad! Thank you thank you thank you! I didn't want to stick around another moment longer. Please, my jeans were dirty, as was my sweater, and my sneakers were covered in muck. I didn't want to know what my hair looked like, what was in it and how it got there. I had had enough.

As I walked down through the grassy paddock, I couldn't help but notice how . . . *nice* the night was. Sure, it was chilly and dark, but there was an enormous full moon, its radiant white light reflecting off the surrounding grey clouds. It was a pretty sight. I frowned. That was weird. Since when have I ever cared what the moon looked like?

I leant on the fence post as I watched it. In the background I could hear the faint sounds of mum and dad arguing again. God knows where Lydia was. She had probably scooted off the moment the chance arose. Oh well, being the little skinny thing that she is, no one would have missed her, particularly since she is quite adept at getting in the way.

Suddenly I frowned. What was *that*? There was an old fallen tree in the paddock in front of me, surrounded by smaller, chopped pieces of wood and rotting leaves and branches. The shining moon appeared to be sitting right on top of it all in the darkening sky. But that was not what had caught my attention. Something, bathed in a luminous white glow, appeared to be moving along the largest tree trunk. I leaned further over the fence, squinting my eyes to try and make out this strange sight.

I was not scared, although the thought of seeing a ghost would normally terrify me out of my mind. No, instead I felt calm and curious rather than frightened. I could see it a little more clearly now. It was actually a woman, dressed in a billowing white robe. The wind tossed her long dark hair about her beautiful milky white face and robed shoulders, but she did not seem to feel its frosty touch. Her dark eyes were serene and tranquil as she walked, seemingly transfixed upon the large white moon.

Suddenly I realised that she was speaking and I tried in vain to catch her words.

"Aiyuh coniteh sa tenyuri amansteriku ava mulinha"

What the . . .?

This was crazy! But even though I couldn't understand (or make out, for that matter) a single word that escaped her lips, I could tell that her voice was sweet and melodious, and although her tone was soft, it was sure and firm, carried over to me in the wind. She appeared to be chanting to the moon. I blinked. Alright, I've definitely gone overboard.

Nevertheless, I passed silently through the wired fence in front of me, trying to see the mysterious woman in white more clearly. Still she chanted; her slender arms raised, as if in salutation, to the moon, where it hung in the sky like a crystal orb suspended in mid air. She looked to me to be a priestess of some sort. A priestess of the old, fairy stories. But *that* couldn't be true. They were no more than myths, legends and tales of old. And besides, even if she *was* an oldtime priestess, what was she doing here in my world? Here on a fallen tree trunk in one of my family's paddocks? I need counseling.

I edged closer. But I must have stepped upon a twig, for a loud 'snap' cut through the air. The woman spun around, her musical chant halted at my interruption. I just managed to catch the look of surprise and fear upon her face before she turned and fled down the tree trunk, as fast as a fleet- footed gazelle.

"Wait!" I called out to her and ran up to the tree trunk, jumping on to follow. "Who are you? And what are you doing?"

But I received no answer. My eyes followed her as she fled the last stretch of the trunk before jumping off at the end and vanishing completely! No trace of the glow that had surrounded her was visible. The moon had also disappeared along with her, snuffed out like the flame of a candle. The wispy grey clouds had risen to encase it in their dense foggy cloak. I proceeded slowly in the sudden darkness, and at a shaky pace, down the narrow path of the trunk the woman had taken until the very end. Hesitating for only a quarter of a second longer, I looked over my shoulder before taking a deep breath and leaping off into space, preparing myself for the impact of the cold, hard ground. But it never came. Instead a brilliant white light appeared before my startled eyes, growing and growing in brightness until it hurt for me to look at it. I closed my eyes and knew no more.