Help at Kelp
Hazel sat alone in a corner seat of Kelp.
Kelp was obviously a very exquisite restaurant.
Hazel looked around. A baby grand piano played smooth jazz music, playing soft
Jazzmosis songs, which were to play later in the evening. The walls were clear
ocean blue, shimmering slightly. It looked like walls of watery jelly. Orbs
of dim, pale green light shone from every table.
The restaurant was very full and Hazel felt very
out of place.
She sniffed, glancing around warily. Everyone
was dressed in their finest clothes. A haughty royal Zafara smelling very heavily
of lavendar perfume passed Hazel, tutting at her. A refined looking desert Cybunny
sitting nearby gave Hazel a dirty look, lifting up her nose. Her expression
clearly read, 'You should NOT belong here'.
She was very surprised when a Maraquan Draik
drifted towards her. He was dressed in a very simple navy vest, but he had a
regal air to him. He was obviously an important figure.
Hazel looked uncomfortably down at herself.
She was a royal Acara. She would have fit in
perfectly in Kelp, if it were not for the fact that her dress was shabby, torn,
and muddy, her cape was ripped and dripping wet, the clasp broken, and her hat
had gone missing. As well, her hair was disheveled and she felt slightly sick,
probably with neoflu.
She and her parents had just had an enormous
argument. It had been terrible. Hazel would have thought she'd be used to it
by now; she and her parents fought so often. It was always because of the same
reason - Hazel just did not like royalty.
She was part of a royal family. Her parents were
Duke and Duchess Granola. Royalty always seems so pleasant, but in all honesty
... it is not. At least, not for Hazel.
Hazel sighed. She was sick of having to sit straight
all the time, being constantly watched, having to listen to every command, having
to squeeze into too-tight dresses, making sure never to spill her food, making
sure always to be polite, always to say please and thank you, never to mention
the cursed Lord Darigan or anything gruesome like that filth Sloth - 'Doctor
Sloth, as if he actually became a doctor!' her mother had said once. But Hazel
had not wanted to follow any of those rules. She didn't want to be a mindless
clone, meant to follow her elders and keep traditions. She wanted to be different,
to be comfortable. She wanted to be herself.
She remembered their argument. It had started
"Hazel, darling, do you have your weekly letter
to Uncle Hagan?" Hazel's mother had said promptly, sitting down in a hard armchair.
"Yes, it's right here."
"Good, darling. I'll have you send it to Artie,"
her father said grandly.
"Artie? What happened to Rubenna?" Hazel had
demanded. Rubenna was her best friend - most probably her only friend. The other
royal maidens of Brightvale all disliked Hazel, but Rubenna was kind and knew
how to have a good time. She was always there for Hazel and she was always cheerful,
with her brilliant smile and floppy ears.
"We had to let her go, the silly servant. She's
been doing things to your mind," Duchess Granola said in what was supposed to
be a very gentle voice.
"No, she hasn't!"
"Hazel, do not raise your voice, child," came
Duke Granola's stiff reply.
"How has Rubenna been ... doing things to my
mind? I'm perfectly healthy!"
"You spend too much time with that little servant
Blumaroo. She's made you listen to horrid music, hasn't she?" Duchess Granola
"But I like that music," Hazel protested, eyes
"Nonsense, nonsense," Duke Granola said. "It's
horrible music. It's so loud and scratchy."
"Are you insulting my taste in music, father?"
she asked acidly.
"Not insulting. And it isn't your taste, it is
Rubenna, and Rubenna has awful taste ..."
"Rubenna was the best person in our mansion!"
Duke Granola grunted, blinking his beady eyes
rapidly. "What is so good about a mere servant?"
"She isn't just a servant, father? Can't you
see? Royalty does not make you better. Rubenna has a true heart - she's kind,
she's a hard worker, she's a brilliant friend."
Duchess Granola's mouth made a straight line.
"You'd be much better friends with that darling Carmilla, Hazel dear."
Hazel stood up indignantly, angry. "I won't let
you say such things about my best friend. I won't let you say such things to
ME! You -" she turned furiously at both parents, "- you think you are so much
better than everyone, just because you have a little more money. Well, I'm not
going to have any of it anymore! I'm sorry if you're ashamed by me, but this
is not the life for me."
And with that, Hazel had turned on here, her
hat had fallen from atop her head, and she had stomped out the door.
So Hazel had finally run away from home and had
been so silly as to not bring anything with her except enough a small satin
sack of Neopoints. She wondered if her parents had gone looking for her. Probably
not - they most likely thought she had just buried herself in her room, a realm
of pillows and fancy ornaments that were of no use but to look beautiful and
Hazel had run round Maraqua for a bit. There
was something special about Maraqua that allowed all Neopets to breathe properly
in it and not become the least wet by the surrounding water. It was if the water
wasn't even there. But still, Hazel had felt unsafe. Rather recklessly, she
had spent it entirely on getting into Kelp. She had been trying to run away
from all this ... and here she was, in a fancy restaurant.
She had only fled to Maraqua because it was the
closest place she could think of from Brightvale. There was Meridell, of course,
but Meridell was surrounded by royalty, mocking her from gold trimmed banners.
She could have fled to the farms, where the peasants lived, but during the moment,
she hadn't thought of it. Her only thought was keep moving, keep running. Run
away from your problems. Cold and alone, having tripped into several mud puddles,
she sought refuge at Kelp.
It had been a bad decision, Hazel now reflected.
Amid the snobby looks she got from the Neopets everywhere, she had also thrown
away all her money and had hardly enough to buy anything to eat.
The Maraquan Draik cleared his throat, "Ahem,
Hazel blinked. She had been surprised to find
the Draik standing so near; she had been completely caught up in her thoughts
and problems. "Yes?" she asked, rather rudely.
"Are you alone?" The Draik spoke very politely
and calmly, which ordinarily would have angered Hazel. But something about him
was spelling out his kindness.
"Could I join you?" the Draik asked kindly.
Hazel gazed at him with heavily-lidded eyes.
"All right," Hazel said gloomily, tapping her marble table.
The Draik held up his menu, which was seawater
blue with golden designs on the cover. Large gold letters read 'Kelp, the finest
restaurant in the seas'. "What would you like? I hear the crab triple-decker
omelette is wonderful ..."
"I don't think I could afford that," Hazel replied
dully. She only had twenty NP left.
"Well then, how about a right old bowl of kougra
Hazel looked at the price. "No, I can't afford
"Well then, lass, what can you afford?"
"We shall have to order two crackers, then."
A waiter appeared all of a sudden, almost magically, and the Draik told him
their order. Hazel frowned, rubbing the fur on her forehead. Two crackers was
hardly anything, and the Draik surely had enough Neopoints to afford more than
After he had ordered, Hazel demanded, "Who are
"Formally, I'd be Lord Finnish, I suppose. But
I prefer to be addressed as Swish."
Hazel glared at him, slightly suspicious. "I'm
Hazel." Formally, she'd be Maiden Duchess Hazel Granola the second - a ridiculous
and long name.
"So, tell me about yourself," the Draik, Swish,
Hazel recalled her mother telling her constantly,
'Don't talk to strangers!' She wrinkled her nose, wiggled her ears. She certainly
felt like rebelling.
So very boldly, Hazel spoke, "I like running
round in my favourite old t-shirt over the fields in Brightvale, I like talking
to Rubenna, who is a very charming servant friend. I like chewing bubblegum
and singing loudly to Twisted Roses music. I like reading stories about Dr.
Sloth and running around the Haunted Woods." She paused, trying to think up
of something else. When she couldn't, she looked at the Draik, daring him to
tell her off for having her own kind of fun and disgracing royalty.
The Draik gave a lop-sided smile and said, "It
sounds delightful, I must try those someday. I myself prefer the Sticks n Stones,
Hazel blinked uncertainly, and then broke out
into a jolly grin. A feeling arose in her heart ... the feeling of acceptance.