Bea steeled her plushie nerves, and yanked the lid open.
A sharp pain danced across her claws and Bea nearly dropped the box again, but held fast.
Dripping in all of its healing springs residue glory lay a sheathed dagger, intricate patterns trailing along the hilt. An emerald was embedded in the pommel.
Waves of guilt crashed over Bea but at this point her curiosity was too great for her to resist. It carried her into unsheathing the dagger and tilting it in the new sunshower. The dagger shimmered like gold, still wet from its time in the healing springs.
Bea hastily wiped the dagger on herself--she was made of cloth, after all--and eased it carefully back into its scabbard, then sponged up what she could of the water in the box before sliding the lid back on.
It was time.
The line for the Wheel of Excitement was much longer than usual.
"Here be the Wheel of Excitement! Only 500 Neopoints a spin! If ye want an autograph, that'll be a mere 50,000 Neopoints." Hannah gave the crowd a charismatic smile, and more than half of them swooned in response.
Bea chuckled. Only Hannah could do something like this.
"Hannah?" she called out, stepping around the line and ignoring the crowd staring daggers at her back.
Hannah abruptly stopped her spiel. “Ah, lass, it’s you!”
She waved everyone away from the Wheel with a flick of her paw and almost as if by magic, the line dispersed into a bubbling sea of disappointed murmurs.
“I’ve got the box back for you!” She chirped, her voice squeaking with nerves. Bea knew that she wasn’t supposed to open the box; not even Hannah had told her what was inside.
Hannah eyed Bea’s hands and frowned. "Why is there stuffing coming out of ye?" Her frown deepened into furrows. "Bless me, lass, Hanso didn't hurt ye, did he?"
Bea could already see revenge in Hannah’s eyes.
“No, actually…uh…the box has really sharp edges!” Bea finished lamely, her heart pounding too hard to tell her what a stupid excuse that was.
“Hanso gave me back the box and I tricked him into it but then the box just started shaking all on its own and then it just jumped into the Healing Springs and I got it back and opened it up and cleaned the dagger because well I’m made of fabric but the box is here I got it back for you!” The Scorchio trembled despite her best efforts to not let her panic show. “I…I got it back for you,” She whimpered.
“I don’t blame you if you won’t trust me ever again,” Bea continued, lifting her gaze to stare Hannah in the face, “But it’s been an honor to go on a quest for you.” This was more of the truth than Bea knew herself—in her heart, she knew that even if she worked at the Wheel of Excitement for a long time, the adventure would sustain her through it.
But Hannah didn’t even seem to be listening. She stared at Bea for a long time with an expression the Scorchio simply could not read.
“Bless me, lass,” she said at last. “You...got the box open?”
Bea’s eyes grew wide. “Um. Yes?”
"Yer a true thief, one with a heart of gold.” Hannah slung her arm around the Scorchio. “Grandpa told me that his box would open for no one but the pure. Sure, Grandpa intended it for me, but I’ve done some things I’m not proud of. The way I got it back from Captain Bloodhook, for example.”
Bea’s jaw hung wide open.
“Go ahead and open it.” Hannah gestured with her paw.
Bea lifted the lid of the box and handed Hannah the dagger. “It shook by itself and cut me,” she told the Usul.
Hannah ran a paw over Bea’s now mostly-stitched claws. “And I beg yer pardon fer it, too. Grandpa, rest him, was always a bit impulsive. I wouldn’t be surprised if a bit of him lives in that dagger still. He shook the box, begging ye to open it, and then attacking, ‘cos he realized it wasn’t me.”
Bea raised a brow. “Really?”
“Eh, it’s me best guess.” Hannah looked at the weapon that molded to her palm, a haze draping itself over her eyes. Strapping the dagger to her belt, she threw her arms around the Scorchio.
For the first time in a long time, there was rainfall in Faerieland.