Becoming King Skarl: Part Three
The Gelert (named Drew) opened the carriage doors, and out stepped King Hagan. Skarl’s brother was dressed in almost all green: a long green robe, and fancy green shoes. An exquisite green and gold crown adorned with emeralds sat atop his head. Abby stared in awe. She had never seen anyone or anything so... green!
“Skarl!” Hagan shouted, coming over to Abby. “I thought it was about time we got together again.”
Abby nodded, not knowing what to say.
“Look at this castle!” Hagan said, gesturing to the majestic building behind them. “I see you still haven’t fixed it up.”
Abby questioningly looked at him. In all her years as King Skarl’s personal assistant, she had never heard him say anything about refurbishing the castle.
“When exactly did you tell me to ‘fix it up?’” Abby asked, to which Hagan answered, “Oh, well, some time ago, but, I thought you might remember...”
Hagan pushed past Abby and walked through the grand castle doors. He inspected the walls, gently feeling a few bricks with complete concentration. Abby chased after him (which, considering her new body structure, was hard to do) as he made his way into the castle’s meeting room. As Abby had seen King Skarl do many times, she took a seat on one end of the large wooden table. Hagan sat opposite her, all the way on the other end.
“Now, what exactly did you call this...” Abby tried to find the word she was looking for, while also struggling to maintain her fake state of agitation, so she seemed like Skarl. “Meeting. Yes. What exactly did you call this meeting for?”
Hagan cleared his throat. “I merely wanted to suggest that the Castle of Meridell should be reconstructed, to fit more modern needs.” He dug around in a pocket of his robe, pulled out a brochure, and handed it to Abby. It was, of course, green. “May I suggest you use the Brightvale Construction Crew? They are the most cost-efficient, reliable, and agreeable construction crew workers on Neopia. And Kreludor, too.” Hagan plastered an ear-to-ear grin on his face, obviously the end of his little advertisement.
Abby was confused. “Why wouldn’t I just use the Meridellian Construction Crew? They would work for free.”
“Oh, yes,” Hagan said, looking dejected. Then, brightening up, he added, “Ah, but what about pool installation? Imagine this for a minute. It’s an unusually hot day in Meridell, and you desperately need a way to cool off. Fans aren’t helping, and the air conditioning is broken. You decide to get a pool. Just walk a short while to Brightvale, visit the Brightvale Pool Installation Club, and in no time, you’ll be swimming like a fish and diving into the deep end!” Again, he displayed a big smile.
This is ridiculous, Abby thought. However, what she said was, “It’s nice of you to think of how I would feel without a pool in a sudden heatstroke, but I can just use my own pool installation crew. It would be much easier.”
Upon hearing this, Hagan looked very let down. His grin turned into a grimace, then a full-out frown. He shuffled uncomfortably in his seat, then finally said, “Skarl, I... I think it’s time I told you something.”
Abby prepared for a long story.
And she got one. “You see, Meridell is a very well known town,” Hagan continued. “It is the home of Illusen, was the site of a war, is a place where you can roll cheese down a hill without looking weird, et cetera. Whereas Brightvale is lesser known. We hardly have anything but a boring wheel, that, even though we put hours of work into it, people do not appreciate. Recently, the stores in Brightvale have seen decreases in sales, the wheel is not being spun as much as it used to be, I haven’t seen a lot of people come to give me random information, and, overall, business is gone. Thus, we have resorted to asking our neighbors for help.” He heaved a heavy sigh. “Unfortunately, that hasn’t been going so well. Kiko Lake has its own carpentry store, and Roo Island has Roo Island Properties. The Darigan Citadel promptly said no, and you don’t look like you’re accepting. It looks like Brightvale is on a downward slope, and there’s nothing anybody can do about it.” He plucked the brochure out from Abby’s hands and began to walk away.
Abby sat there for a minute, dazed. Then, collecting her composure, she ran after Hagan.
“Wait!” she shouted, stopping him in his tracks. “I might have an idea as to how to help this.” She waited for this to catch his attention, and, sure enough, it did. He turned around and listened very intently to her every word.
Abby simply informed him (in a Skarl-like way, of course) that if he stocked all of his businesses, made the place seem very welcoming and inviting, and put up advertisements encouraging Neopians to “visit Brightvale, the most green, the most clean, and the most serene place on the face of Neopia!”, that he should be getting tourists, vacationers, and customers in no time!
Hagan looked so overjoyed that he was about to cry. He thanked Abby about a hundred times, and then rushed away to one of the many guest rooms (where Abby had said that he was welcome to start planning), searching for paper and a pencil.
Abby smiled and let out a deep breath. Today had been a very successful, happy, and, overall, wonderful day! And, best of all, it was only the first of her days as pretending to be King Skarl.
Abby was so caught up in all of her blissful excitement that she hardly heard the castle gate being opened, and then the enormous castle doors being unlocked to let someone in.
Still, even if you hardly hear something, you still hear it. So, Abby had heard the noises, and, in this situation, she did about the worst possible thing to do.
She froze, right where she was.
Abby looked around, searching for something to hide under in the almost empty hallway. Finally, she noticed a small end table, decorated with a red tablecloth and a vase of flowers on top. She hid under the tablecloth, seemingly unnoticed to the people in the castle. After all, they wouldn’t expect the king of Meridell to conceal himself (or, in this case, herself) under a table, now, would they?
She heard someone come running to the front entrance. Not until she heard his voice did she know who it was: Jeran.
“King Skarl?” Jeran exclaimed, in a shocked tone of voice. “I don’t recall you going out today, and I certainly don’t recall you wearing THAT.”
Abby groaned. Skarl must have come back fully decked out in flowery, bright, Mystery Island gear. But why, Abby thought, had the king come home so early?
Skarl grunted. “What do you mean, you don’t recall that I went out today? I went out yesterday to Mystery Island, but those stupid natural disasters got in my way. Who knows if a tsunami could have crept up on me while I was sleeping?! Meridell would be devastated if that happened, so I decided to pack up and head back home.”
“What? You actually went to Mystery Island?” Jeran said. “No, that is just... impossible.”
“How is it impossible?” King Skarl snarled.
“Because, right now, King Skarl is in the castle,” Jeran explained. “He just had a meeting with King Hagan. So, I’m sorry to have to do this, but I think you have the wrong location. Goodbye.”
“WHAT??” Skarl screamed. “How could I have had a meeting with Hagan? I just came back from Mystery Island!”
“I’m sorry, sir, but the REAL King Skarl came back earlier today, so it’s a little late for pretending,” Jeran calmly said. “Now, please exit through the front doors, or one of our guards can escort you out.”
Skarl sounded outraged. “What? Another King Skarl? But, I’m the real King Skarl! The other one is a fake! A fake, I tell you! A phony! A wannabe! An imposter!” he shouted, sounding more angry by the minute.
Jeran now seemed to be getting a bit angry, too. “Sir, no matter how much you deny yourself, I think you are the fake, phony wannabe imposter. Now, PLEASE LEAVE.”
Abby couldn’t take this anymore. It was not fair for Jeran to strain himself against Skarl’s shouts of imposters and phonies. She carefully lifted the tablecloth and crept out from under the table. She arranged the vase on top, making it seem like everything was perfect. She took a deep breath and prepared for the absolute worst.
Running into the main entrance room, where Jeran was grunting while attempting to make a screaming Skarl exit, Abby shouted, “Wait! STOP!”
As soon as Abby had uttered the last word, everyone in the room became silent. Jeran stopped pushing Skarl, and Skarl stopped incessantly shouting. All eyes were on Abby.
“King... Skarl?” Jeran inquired, still clutching Skarl, as if ready to pounce on him if he made a move of some sort.
“No,” she said. “Abby.”
To be continued...