How do I look? The royal Poogle smiled at her
own little joke, admiring herself in a small, gold plated hand mirror. Perfect,
as usual. Maya was a princess, but a cruel one. She only took pleasure in her
own appearance and the riches of the kingdom. In short, her only pleasure was
Maya put down the mirror and toyed with the
sapphire strung around her neck.
"Milo!" she called. Two seconds passed. "MILO!"
A blue Gelert ran up to the Poogle, slipping on the newly polished floor of
the thrown room.
"Yes, your highness?"
"I'm hungry. I want a grape."
"Right away, your highness."
Milo slipped and skidded off to the kitchens,
rubbing his forehead. He was a kind Gelert, but Cook often said he had to stop
letting Maya push him around. To which Milo would reply;
"It's my job."
Today Milo found Cook hard at work, preparing
dinner. Each night, Princess Maya would request exotic and expensive dishes,
ten layer cakes and tropical beverages hand brewed on Mystery Island. Cook was
the one stuck preparing these feasts, and, as Princess Maya was finicky about
the food's tastes (not overcooked, not undercooked, no salt on this dish, a
little on that one), any neopet entering the kitchen between the hours of noon
and, well, noon had to be prepared to try a new dish or two.
"Taste this," Cook said, thrusting a spoon laden
with a sweet looking sauce. Milo, in his years of working at the palace, had
grown to love Cook's dishes, so he slurped up the utensil's contents without
a second thought.
"Delicious! What is it?"
"Worm stew." Milo made a face and took a huge
gulp of water from a cup on the counter.
"Wonderful…" he began.
"What do you want?" asked Cook, banging around
the cluttered space, searching for various culinary devices and pans that all
looked the same to Milo, who, in his attempts not to throw up had completely
forgotten about the reason for visiting Cook and her many assistants.
"Princess Maya would like a grape." He sighed.
The overweight Flotsam dropped the pan she had been holding and turned to face
"I've always said she bosses you around too
much," she said. "Sending you all the way here to fetch her snack. She is the
most irresponsible, annoying little brat I've ever laid eyes on. Why I should...
Oh, hello!" For at that moment, Maya entered the room, ringing a tiny silver
"What's taking you all so long?" the Poogle
demanded, looking around the room. "Cook? Milo? What's going on in here?"
Cook opened her mouth to reply, but Milo quickly
"Nothing, your highness." For a moment both
Gelert and Flotsam feared that Maya was growing suspicious, but at that moment,
an elegant Kacheek stepped away from a large refrigerator and approached the
trio carrying a small, round object in her hand.
"A grape, M'lady. Sorry for the wait." Maya
looked momentarily caught off guard. But she soon regained her usual composure.
"Milo! Carry me to a chamber. I am simply too
exhausted to walk."
"Yes, because coming to the kitchen is so strenuous,"
said Cook sarcastically.
But Milo sighed and said, "Of course, your highness."
Maya was bored. Dinner wouldn't be served for
another two hours, and, since Milo was on his break, there was no one to boss
around. How Maya loved ordering her loyal servant to tap dance or sending him
to the opposite end of the palace just to fetch her a tissue. The royal Poogle
smiled to herself. Maya, she thought, You are brilliant. Not only
that, but graceful, debonair, stylish and cunning.
"I love being me." Maya said. Then she lay down,
and fell asleep.
Hanna was a yellow Kacheek who had taken a job
in the palace kitchens. She was kind, considerate, caring… and unfortunately,
"I'm going to have a lie down!" Cook's booming
voice floated through the room. She was using an expression that meant she wanted
to take a nap, but, having worked for the Flotsam for ten years, Hanna knew
that Cook simply wanted to vent. The Kacheek had to agree that Maya was a pain,
but Cook's fiery temper certainly didn't help the matter.
Hanna didn't need someone to tell her that she
would be put in charge of all the other workers. It always happened, but Cook
told her anyway. Hanna smiled, nodded and went to finish up Cook's stew. She
did it almost without thinking. After all, it doesn't take a genius to add five
worms to a pot. I'm getting the hang of this! thought Hanna, humming
the tune to a popular song by Gruundo, her favourite band. And Cook always
makes it sound so hard! I- Whoops! Hanna looked down at the broth she had
just spilt all over the already sticky floor. She had some cleaning to do.
Milo loved his breaks. Time to himself, his
thoughts and his novel. Yes, Milo was writing a novel. It was a novel idea (pardon
the pun!); Milo planned to publish it, and then to quit his horrible job, since
he would no longer need the neopoints it provided. If he was in a good mood,
he would give some of the pay to Cook. Goodness knows she wanted to be as far
away from Princess Maya as possible.
In fact, nearly everyone disliked the princess,
for her bossiness and bad temper. Milo couldn't help feeling sorry for her,
though. Sorry that she'd never taken the time to look past the castle's walls
and see what her kingdom had become.
Milo put down his notebook and walked over to
the window. His break was nearly over. The princess would be angry if he was
late for his royal duties. But, before he left his room, he took one last look
out the window, and at the crowded streets below. At the children laughing and
playing, and eager parents looking on.
"Poor Maya," he said, and left the room.
Cook screamed. Then again. Loudly. She did this
nearly every day, so much so that everyone in the palace had learnt to ignore
it. Everyone except Maya, that is, seeing as the Poogle had never paid it any
attention to begin with.
"I. Can't. STAND her!" Cook cried, flinging
herself onto her bed. "Just because she's a princess, she thinks she can boss
around anyone she wants. Well, not me! One of these days, I'll give her what
she's got coming. I will…"
CRASH!!! Cook jerked up. The sound had come
from just below her room. From the kitchen.
"Oh, what now?" the Flotsam breathed. She looked
longingly at her old wooden bed that was covered in a patchwork quilt and at
the cozy armchair by the window. She longed for a rest, but Cook was devoted
to her job, even if it meant serving Princess Maya.
There was another clatter and Cook sighed, identifying
the culprit immediately.
"Hanna, Hanna, Hanna." She sighed.
Maya didn't wake up when Milo entered the room.
She didn't wake up when her loyal servant called her name. Milo was getting
"Princess? Your highness?" He strode closer
to the bed and pulled the pink comforter slightly. Maya was still there and
breathing. That was good. What wasn't so good was that that was the moment Maya
chose to wake up. She screamed.
"MILO! What are you doing here?" Milo blushed,
"Soup's on, your highness."
"Stop!" Maya called. Two strong Jetsams set
down a golden chair that had been holding the princess and rubbed their shoulders.
Maya cleared her throat. The Jetsams sighed and lifted her out of the chair,
setting her down in another, very similar, only this one was at the head of
a long table. Maya smiled a little smile.
"Now go," she said. "But be back in half an
hour. I don't like to be kept waiting." The body guards nodded and strode out
the door, greeting Cook as she strode in, carrying a tray laden with bottles
of soda and platters of food.
"Take your pick," she said gruffly. "Try not
to get crumbs on the carpet." And the Flotsam left as well, to prepare her own
"How rude!" exclaimed Maya, gnawing on a crab
leg. Then she leaned over and dropped a biscuit on the floor.
"Whoops!" She smiled, returning to her meal.
Maya ate three plates of crabs legs, two cakes,
a funnydew melon and drank three chocolate milkshakes that night, and she didn't
appreciate a single bite. But, come morning, she would regret that decision.
If you're wondering how Maya reacted to the
worm soup, it wasn't served at dinner. In fact, Hanna was in the kitchen now,
preparing a fresh batch for the next day. She was being quite a bit more careful
this time. The counters nearby were clean and there was a spill proof rug on
"One teaspoon of salt," Hanna read aloud from
a nearby cookbook. "Two tablespoons of sugar… What's this?" Hanna closed her
paw around a small vial a pulled it out of the clutter. A faint, purple glow
rose from a sleeping shape at the bottom of the jar.
"A dark faerie…" Hanna took it over to the light,
which coincidentally was right over the pot of soup. "Wow…" she breathed. Cook
chose that moment to walk into that room.
"I can't BELIEVE the NERVE of the girl!" the
Flotsam shouted. "Dropping food all over the floor on PURPOSE so I would have
to clean it up! Never caring for others, NEVER even saying THANK YOU to us!
I wish she could live just ONE day as a normal neopet! Just ONE day!"
The vial slipped from Hanna's paws at that point.
She tried to grab it, but, before her paw was two centimeters from the rim of
the pot, the faerie had been engulfed by the liquid. As Hanna panicked, two
menacing purple eyes opened inside the vial and a small, malicious voice said,
Pteris chirped in nearby trees and carriages
raced over the cobblestone paths with a loud bumps and crashes, jerking Maya
from a once peaceful sleep. The Poogle's emerald eyes fluttered open as she
climbed out of her gigantic bed, sliding onto the smooth, plush carpet below.
It never came. Maya shrieked as she hit the cobblestones
with a thud, clambering to her feet as onlookers stared at her disapprovingly.
Maya looked down to make sure that her beautiful blue nightgown wasn't torn,
but her eyes met instead with a brown knee-length rag that looked as though
it had been torn many times in the past. Maya shrieked again as a Lutari hustled
her son away from the dumbfounded princess.
"MILO! COOK! This isn't funny!" More pets glanced
over at Maya before quickly leaving the scene, wanting nothing to do with whatever
had happened. Maya grabbed a young Tonu by the collar as he passed by.
"You! Take me back to the palace immediately!"
The Tonu looked startled.
"Only members of the royal family are allowed
in the palace, as well as workers." The Tonu studied her curiously for a moment
before continuing. "Are you a worker?"
"Insolence! I am your princess! Now, take me
to the palace." The pet shook his head.
"The Queen wouldn't like hearing you say that.
She isn't fond of liars."
"I'm not a liar! I am your queen!" Maya released
her hold on the helpless Tonu as he scuttled away. She sank to the ground; bunching
her rags around her as she did something she hadn't done in a very, very long
time. She sat down and cried.
Maya didn't know how long she had been sitting
there. It could have been ten minutes or two hours. All that Maya knew was that
at that moment, she saw the first familiar face she had seen since yesterday.
"Excuse me, miss? Are you lost?"
Maya looked up, brushing stray tears from her
eyes as she surveyed the pet before her. There was a moment's pause, and then;
"Milo?" Another pause. "Milo, it is you! Is this
some kind of a joke? Do you think this is funny?" Maya's once grateful tone
suddenly became firm as she climbed uncertainly to her feet.
"I'm sorry, miss. I don't believe we've met.
How did you know my name?"
Maya shook her head.
This isn't happening. This isn't happening.
It's all a trick. I'll just play along. The Poogle's eyes twinkled mischievously.
'I don't believe we have met." Maya extended
a paw to her servant, smiling slightly in spite of herself. "My name is Maya.
I'm sure it's nice to meet me."
"I can't believe it wasn't a trick." Maya sank
down on the small wooden bed behind her, head in paws. Milo had believed her
to be homeless, and, despite her loud, rather obnoxious objections, had invited
Maya to stay with him for a while.
"I work as a palace cook," he told the (former)
princess excitedly as he opened the door to her new room. "You should come to
work with me sometime. The queen might give you a job as well."
Maya's curiosity finally got the better of her.
"Who is this 'queen'?" she asked, trying to sound
nonchalant. Milo had been stunned.
"You don't know the queen?" Not knowing what
to say, Maya simply shook her head. At this Milo had nearly laughed. He had
pulled out a small green book, and opened it to the first page.
"That," he said, pointing at the small picture
in the middle. "That is the queen."
Maya had nearly screamed.
"Actually, her name is Lydia."
Milo's voice still rang in Maya's ears even
after he had left the room. How could Cook be a queen? She was, well, a Cook!
She was meant to serve in the palace, not run it.
Somewhere in Maya's conscience, a tiny voice
began to speak.
How would you know? it said. Maya tried
to ignore it, to no avail. Have you ever given her a chance? Look at you!
You didn't even know her name. What kind of a princess are you?
"I'm not even a princess, anymore." Maya sighed,
standing up and walking towards the small wooden desk in the corner of the room.
A small brown book caught her attention.
"What's this?" Maya flipped to the first page.
A title was written in shaky handwriting in the center.
By Milo De Puis
"Milo wrote a book?" Maya nearly laughed in spite
of herself. "I can't wait to read this." But the first sentence suddenly caught
her attention. Tears came to her eyes as she began to read aloud.
"Some called her evil. Some said the she was
a villain, bent on world destruction. I called her misunderstood. Princess Maya
was only a little girl when she was placed on the throne, much to the objections
of the entire Neopian population…"
"…Despite her rash tendencies and obnoxious personality,
we can expect great things from Princess Maya."
Maya closed the book as the old grandfather clock
echoed throughout the room for the third time since she had begun reading. The
Poogle's eyes were nearly over flowing with tears as she returned the novel
to its original position.
"I'm a horrible ruler!" she shouted, flinging
herself on to the bed. "I'm a failure, a nothing, a nobody…"
"Are you alright? Miss?" Maya looked up just
as she set down the book, just in time to see Milo walk in the door.
"Oh, I see that you've been reading my book.
It's nothing much, really. Just a little something I wrote when I was bored.
I've no idea where I got the idea, actually. I just…"
"It's beautiful." Maya cut him off, but for once,
she did so kindly. "I have to talk to you."
"I suppose dinner can wait a few more minutes.
What's on your mind?" Maya's stomach growled at the mention of dinner, but she
"I was your inspiration."
Milo looked confused.
"I don't understand…"
"I'm Princess Maya. Well, just Maya, now. You
used to work for me. I was horrible to you. And Cook, and all the others… I'm
so, so sorry."
Milo moved to sit beside the sobbing Poogle.
As he did so, she looked up at him with wide, uncertain eyes.
"I want to go home."
Milo sighed, pulling her close to him and embracing
her warmly. As he did so, he felt… something. A faint tug at his heart, and,
suddenly, he saw the world through Maya's eyes. Ballroom dancing, facials, beautiful
gowns of every shape and size, and servants waiting on her every waking moment,
all these things flashed before his eyes, as if he were watching some family
film on screen. In the space of thirty seconds, he suddenly began to understand.
"Don't worry," he promised, soothingly. "You'll
get home. I know it." After just a few minutes more, Maya drifted off to sleep.
And, though she wouldn't know it until morning,
the spell ended. She was home.
Maya woke slowly. The burden of her second day
in a normal home loomed before her, but, surprisingly, she wasn't reluctant
to open her eyes.
"What's this?" Maya looked around, hardly daring
to believe her eyes. A canopy bed, silk sheets, walk in closet… She was home!
Maya shrieked again, but this time it was in delight. Milo rushed in, thinking
that something was wrong.
"Excuse me your highness, but Cook wants to
know what you'd like for breakfast." (Actually, Cook hadn't asked this, but
Milo thought that asking would be a good idea.)
Maya paused to think. A number of elaborate,
expensive dishes crossed her mind, but she finally settled on one.
"Toast," she said, simply. "All I want is toast."
Milo looked surprised.
"I'll inform her."
"No, you won't." Maya smiled. She had seen his
life. She knew that he deserved a break from her spoilt ways. "Cook tells me
that you are working on a novel. Your only task today is to go home, and get
it published. Don't come back until you do." Milo nearly jumped with joy.
"I will. Thank you!"
'Don't thank me. Now, get to work! Time is wasting."
Milo left, and Maya smiled once again.
"One down, one to go."
"And you're sure that only want toast? Nothing
more?" Cook looked dumbfounded. For once, she was at a loss for words.
"Alright, then." The Flotsam left the dining
room, leaving one very happy princess. Being kind really did feel great, Maya
thought. She should try it more often. Not, to often though. This opportunity
was a once in a blue moon type of deal.
Inside the kitchen, Cook turned towards Milo,
still barely able to speak.
"You sure you don't know what's wrong with her?"
"Nothing is wrong with her. She's just…different."
"I suppose I'd better have a back up meal plan,
just in case." She made for her cookbook, but Milo shook his head.
"I think that toast would suit her just fine."
"…It's not every day that you meet a princess
like Maya. She seems so cold, so inhuman at first that it's almost frightening.
But, inside, she's as vulnerable as you or I, and possibly even more
If there is anything to say about Princess
Maya, it's that she is truly one of a kind…"
-Taken from Royal Pain, Milo's novel
It was published exactly one year after Maya gave him the strangest order he
had ever received, surprising them both. And, though Milo would never know it,
his biggest fan was the princess herself.
Maya had a copy of every book Milo had ever written,
stashed away in her wardrobe.
Hey, maybe she really had changed.