A Yurble stole my cinnamon roll! Circulation: 113,211,275 Issue: 226 | 3rd day of Awakening, Y8
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The Treasured Diary: Part One


by twirlsncurls5

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Prince Fenmere set the book down with a disgusted snort. Its pages told of a romantic faerie tale, the life of a prince who longed to be just like everyone else, to live as a free being outside the palace walls.

     Rubbish, yes, and yet it was a tale as old as time. Were these writers' brains filled with moldy potatoes or were they just stupid by nature? Surely, Fenmere thought, they couldn't honestly believe that royals such as himself were unhappy.

     A smirk crossed the royal Gelert's lips. In the kitchen there was a chef preparing his chocolate coated peanut butter to be served at exactly noon. Down the hall there was a servant ready to massage his shoulders whenever he wanted for however long he wanted. With the snap of his fingers a table of Star Fish Sundaes could be prepared in a matter of minutes. Nearly every night there were grand balls full of his loyal subjects who did everything in their power to make sure they kissed up to him as much as possible.

      He shook his head in bemusement. Oh yes, being a prince was just terrible.

      Shortly after, Fenmere picked up the book and strode (because Prince Fenmere did not simply walk, but rather glided in elegant, regal steps) to the library.

     Despite his love for a daily game of Meriball (one in which his opponent would be paid to lose) Fenmere really didn't feel like any sort of outdoor activity that day. He just wanted was to sit down to a good book. His only problem was that, in his opinion, everything in his library was a load of nonsensical garbage.

     The library was the size of a nine room neohome and at least three stories high. From shelf upon marble carved shelf the bindings of thousands of books stared down at him. On their pages were the poetry of Maraquan Kaus and brilliant Poogles, tactics written by the Techo master himself, and recipes for everything from peas to Cybunny Cookies. There was a whole floor of books he had never even set eyes upon.

     It was adequate, he supposed.

     Fenmere, unlike most of the dull and dim-witted princes and princesses in Neopia, who enjoyed nothing more than their cup of Borovan in the morning, loved books. He didn't really love reading them per say, but rather the fact that reading made him smarter than everyone else. And Fenmere loved being smarter than everyone else.

     He ran his fingers along the separate titles (The Great Cybunny Theft, Behind Brexis, and The Curse of the Pirate Zafara) and yawned.

     The logs in the fireplace fizzled and then went out.

     With an annoyed grunt, he grabbed a long metal poker and jabbed at the bright embers. The pointed end went through a charred piece of wood and lightly tapped one of the dark black stones in the back of the fireplace. The stone slid inwards, as if the mason who built it didn't cement it properly. But Fenmere didn't notice any of that until he heard the sound, that shifting grinding noise of gears and locks that hadn't been used in a very long time.

     He stared with his eyebrows furrowed in confusion and then leapt back as the small flame simply went out with a hiss, as if some invisible hand had smothered it.

     The back wall of the fireplace slid backwards, then over until it disappeared completely, leaving the hearth and a gaping black hole behind.

     "Fascinating," thought Fenmere as he stared into the abyss.

     Without hesitation he stepped over the logs and ashes and through the opening, careful not to dirty the furred cuffs of his garb.

     It was surprisingly warm, as if this tunnel were in the bright outdoors rather than underground. Torches suddenly lit one by one along both sides of the narrow tunnel the instant his paws touches the ground. He wondered if the lights were triggered by his weight on one of the stones.

     The torches stopped in front of what appeared to be a wall. He walked towards it, the tunnel stretching out before him like one of those dreams in which the object was always out of reach.

      The tunnel stopped abruptly at the wall. Fenmere felt along the edges curiously until he spotted something. Looking closer, he saw that it was a crown etched in the rock. He ran his fingers over the engraving.

      Suddenly there was that same grinding noise and a stone block began to rise up from the ground. It stopped at his waist.

     Resting on top of it was something that looked very old. With a grimace he picked up the dusty thing and brushed it off. It was a book!

      Fenmere stared at it, eyes wide with wonder, and read its golden title: My Treasured Diary. The words, even now, still shimmered in the darkness.

      Slowly, he lifted the leather cover.

      "My Prince! Oh master, where've you gone?" The concerned, high pitched voice that echoed through the tunnel was one Fenmere recognized with great annoyance and displeasure. He shoved the diary into his pocket. It would be his little secret.

      Upon emerging from the fireplace he was greeted by a very sweaty looking blue Quiggle wearing a perfectly pressed black suit. The Quiggle looked back and forth between the fireplace and Fenmere with bulging eyes.

      "D-did you j-just-" he was pointing at the hole with a shaky hand-"b-but how did you-?"

      "Oh relax, Remmy," interrupted Fenmere, deciding it was best to stop the butler before his tongue twisted itself into oblivion. "Just another passageway I happened upon earlier. You of all people should know that the castle is honeycombed with them. Your family knows them all, I'm sure."

      "Oh no, sire," Remmy said, staring in awe at the tunnel, "my family has served this castle for generations but I'm quite certain no one ever knew about this one."

      Fenmere wiped the soot off his paws and grinned. "Until now, you mean." He laid a hand on Remmy's shoulder and whispered, "Let's just keep this passageway between you and me, eh? It can be our little secret."

      "Yes, of course sire." The Quiggle still seemed unable to take his eyes off the fireplace. Fenmere pressed the loose stone and the back wall slid into place. Remmy's look was almost contemptuous as the prince winked at him and confidently strode out of the library.

     --------------------

     "What is it?" Sofia turned the dusty book over in her elegant white paws.

     Fenmere knew he shouldn't have showed it to her but the Zafara was his favorite servant as well as his confidante since childhood.

     Because he'd called her to his chamber after dark, her hair was down and auburn curls fell below her waist. Her blue eyes were curiously alert.

     She was very pretty, beautiful even, a fact that had been quite unsettling to many members of the court. They were terrified the heir of Gansvere would fall madly in love with her, a servant girl, and shame the family's name (if there was any further shame to be had) forever. They'd beseeched the King to fire her at least a hundred times, but her unemployment only lasted as long as Fenmere's outrageous temper tantrums.

     He thought of the Royal Kougra with a sense of respect rather than love. His father wasn't the kind to shower affection.

     Fenmere remembered when he'd first learned to ride Unis across the golden plains of Meridell. When he fell, Frayinth had stood over the crying boy sternly with a scowl across his stony face.

     "Buck up lad," he'd said in his deep voice, offering the boy a calloused paw, "in Kingship and war there'll be no one to dry your tears."

     He treated his son more like an asset to the Kingdom of Gansvere, one which must be well kept at all times. He often appeared introverted and withdrawn as if his mind was always traveling with the afflictions of his realm. Needless to say there was rarely a stimulating conversation between the two. They were only connected when they read, the silence between them somehow being more meaningful than hours of heated discussion.

     But their love of books was probably the only thing they shared. Where Fenmere was cocky and flamboyant Frayinth was reserved and modest. He spoke rarely, but when he did he commanded presence. His words were law.

     Frayinth was often compared to King Hagan, ruler of a far grander and more respected Kingdom than his (for reasons that many were too ashamed to speak of).

     Whenever there was a ball or party and Fenmere was introduced alongside his father, he would look at the hard, set features of the Kougra's face and wonder what his mother was like. Members of the court would often gasp at the resemblance between him and the pretty royal Gelert.

     "You have the same face," they would say.

     Surely he had inherited her personality too. But then, he'd never really know. She'd passed when he was still a pup, and Frayinth wouldn't disclose the details.

     Did she love reading too? Had his father wooed her with sonnets so long ago when his gray eyes were not so dim? Did she squeal with girlish delight over the classic romances or did she prefer mystery and adventure novels?

     He held the diary in his paws. The candlelight flickered eerily; it had been many hours since he had first found the book.

     "Well," pressed Sofia, "aren't you going to read it?"

To be continued...

 
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