Caution: Quills may be sharp Circulation: 177,384,924 Issue: 312 | 5th day of Collecting, Y9
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by moonea123


Another Altadorian Heroes story. Neomail me any comments!

I yawned and stretched out my stubby Kacheek arms, both of them touching the closet walls. Brushing piles of dust off of my patched, brown fur, steps echoed on the ceiling above me. It was definitely time to get up. She was probably still asleep. Oh well. It was Leino’s turn to wake her up this morning. She was reasonably angry with me yesterday because I got her up 2 minutes early. Taking the time to examine a few cobwebs hanging on the door, I picked up a lone Spyder and cupped it in my paw. I’d free it in a minute; she hated Spyders.

      A scream echoed through the castle, and I hesitated at the door. Who knows what that foolish Leino had done today? Poor fellow. Princess Shia was mighty aggravated. From past knowledge, it was obvious that her demands would be hard to meet. Best to stay out of her way. The tiny Spyder gave me a bite on the hand. Reluctantly, I pushed open the door to her room.

      Princess Shia was a delicate Aisha, her glossy pink fur shining in the sun flowing through the enormous window beside her pink quilted bed. The crown that sat atop her head was perfectly encrusted with rubies, sapphires, and emeralds with an amber centerpiece. She was up at the mirror, examining her purple dress for the day before turning on one slippered foot to face me.

      “Oh, farm boy, good for you! You got up this morning. Get to work! I need the garden hedges trimmed.” She turned back around to the mirror swiftly, adjusting her crown so the amber sat right at the midpoint of her forehead. She pulled all but three ruby curls behind her shoulder before turning to me again. “Hop to it, farm boy! It’s not your first day here. You know the routine.”

      Sighing, I walked over to the window the farthest away from her as possible to let the Spyder to free. “Dear Princess, I found another wretched Spyder in your room this morning. It would do me an honor to rid of it...”

      “Perfect!” she cried. “Crush it, or it’ll breed. I cannot stand Spyders, you know.” Tell me something I didn’t know. I quietly slipped the window open to let a gust of fresh air inside. The Spyder gave me a farewell bite before slipping away from the sill out of sight.

      Leino pushed open the door to the Princess’s room as I left. His words and Princess Shia’s screams drifted away as I passed by six servants bringing food or washing floors or heading to all corners of the castle. I stopped at the end of the hallway before the marble staircase and opened the tiny oak door. Inside, I pulled out the key for the shed in the far corner of the garden before exiting the supply closet and slowly stepping down the marble staircase.

      Meeting me at the door was Shou, one of the eldest servants at the castle. A good friend of the king, or so he claimed. “Ah, boy. Going to trim the hedges? Third time this week she’s asked you to do that, eh? Wonder why, dear boy. It’s only Thursday, after all.”

      I simply shook my head, and the old red Kyrii nodded back, his rough mane bobbing with him. “It’s nice to have a new one around. Very pleasing to know that our princess has other things on her mind than diamonds and pearls.” He pulled on the silver knob and the grand elm doors opened, brining sunlight to every cobweb. Boy, Leino must be doing a horrible job at keeping the place tidy.

      Blades of grass and muddy earth squelched between my toes on the way to the back garden. It was a grand place, most likely larger than the ruby ballroom. Sitting pretty with vines (Floresa luminesa, a vine that has buds that give off their own light) covering the Quiggle gargoyles that guarded the entrance and swirling around the roof shingles was the tool shed. Considering that it was rather large, it was quite more than a tool shed to me. It was more like a second home, large, warm, and full of familiarity.

      I unlocked the door with the rusty key in my paw and gave a gentle shove. Cobwebs coated every window and filled the corners. Spyders rushed past me on the floor, just as determined to do their daily chores as I. The hedge clippers were hanging on the top shelf in silence. In my absence yesterday, a small Spyder had woven a web using it as a lower wall. Tearing each silky thread gently from the rubbery handle, I freed the web, which now billowed in the breeze flowing in from the exit. I made my way, careful to avoid the tiny workers bustling to and fro, back to the exit.

      I pushed open the steel garden gate and began to make my way through the rows of small flowers to the hedge maze. In simply a day, the upper edges were already overgrowing. I unlocked the hedge clippers and the opened up, both blades glowing in the light. I began cutting the corners of the hedges, making sure each one was cut in a straight line. I navigated turn after turn, barely reaching the upper edges of the hedges. When the sun had just begun to set and the clouds began to darken, I had finished trimming the hedges. Slowly, I began to make my way back to the castle, storing the hedge clippers as I went, where Princess Shia awaited and the servants were beginning to dine.

      On my way back, I spotted the yellow and blue striped Kougra that was Leino walking out of the castle doors. His face was dark under a hooded cloak. Gravel under his paws crunched. A single tear ran from his eye. I rushed to him as quickly as I could, the sadness only growing in his face.

      “She kicked me out... I can’t believe she kicked me out... Why did she? Why can’t she like me? I hate her, I hate her, I hate her. Why’d she kick me out? Why?” He paused his ranting to let out a sob and more tears until he came to a halt on the path. “Why doesn’t she like me? Tell me why, please.” He continued to cry as I rested down beside him, patting the back of his head.

      “It’s okay, it’s okay.” I smiled at him. “Maybe you’re meant for something else here. I’m sure you’ll find something better out there.” I gave him a genuine smile, and he cried even harder.

      Forcing the words out, he spoke slowly. “I guess... guess you’re right. I’ll tell... tell her that... that she can’t just... just boss me around... No. No, I’ll go and... do something. Maybe.” He sniffed. “I don’t want to leave...”

      “It’s alright, Leino. Let her be as she will.” I pushed his hood down.

      “Thanks... thanks. I’m sure you’ll be... more than a hedge trimmer someday... more than a servant... more than that...” His face brightened, but the tears still came. “I’ll see you... hopefully... someday.”

      He got up slowly, shaken by his crying fit. Holding back sobs, he feebly waved a paw to me.

      “Goodbye, Florin.”

The End

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