Insured?: Part Five
There was already a commotion at the reception desk when Oscar got there. Jack Storm was there shouting at the Reception Faerie while the big bulk of Bane held him easily in his hands.
“Would you just tell them I am a guest of her majesty!” the Shoyru yelled, “I work for Ultra-Quick Insurance! My name is in your records!”
“What are you doing here?” Imelda barked at the Shoyru while Lieutenant Jones and Banks held her steady.
“I could ask you the same question,” Jack replied guardedly.
“They think I assaulted the gardener,” Imelda admitted, nodding towards the unconscious Vyline.
“You know this man also?” Lieutenant Jones asked Oscar.
“He’s the third member of my party,” Oscar told her.
“Why are insurance salesmen going around assaulting Faeries?” Captain Smith said as he leaned on the desk.
“I didn’t!” Imelda shouted.
“I didn’t assault anyone!” Jack shouted in the Captain’s other ear.
“Breaking and entering then,” the Captain replied.
“I didn’t break anything either,” Jack muttered.
“Well, you still entered!” Smith shouted, “And that’s a crime in my book!”
“Would everyone please be quiet!” the Receptionist Faerie yelled, standing on her desk.
Silence fell in the chamber.
“Good,” she said, straightening out her dress, “Now we can all get this sorted out if you present me with your papers.”
The guards released Imelda and Jack, who fumbled in their pockets for their insurance papers.
“The little Kacheek too,” the Receptionist Faerie added as she examined them.
Oscar reached for his briefcase, but found it was empty.
“Oh no, they fell out back in the gardens,” he complained. “I’ll just nip back and get them.”
He rushed off before the guards could stop him.
“Well, these two seem official,” the Receptionist Faerie told the guards.
“No more trying to see the Queen, though!” Jones barked.
Jack and Imelda were led outside by the guards.
“I guess we failed then,” Imelda said sadly.
“No, we drew,” Jack said with pride.
“What?” Imelda asked.
“Well, no one won, so we can’t have lost, can we?” he replied.
A thin smile spread across her face.
“Yes, I suppose you’re right,” she said, “Drawing isn’t half as bad as losing.”
Oscar scrabbled into the gardens, almost falling over himself in his haste to return to the reception. He located his papers that were dotted on the floor, and picked out the relevant identification document. It was then that the shadow fell over him.
He looked up, and saw immediately what was wrong. The statue of the Darkest Faerie was floating a few metres off the ground, steadily rising. Perched atop it was a Shadow Ruki, smiling broadly.
“What are you doing?” he called up.
“What does it look like I’m doing, you stupid Kacheek?” the Ruki called back cruelly. “I’m stealing the Darkest Faerie!”
Oscar opened his mouth to speak, but found that confusion had claimed his voice.
“What?” he said eventually.
“You heard me!” the Ruki called down. “This will be the greatest crime of the century. I walked right past the guards, consulted with the head gardener, and it was all made possible because Fyora doesn’t want insurance! Ironic, isn’t it? She’ll certainly take out a policy after this!”
“You won’t get away with it!” Oscar said, aware that certain things needed to be said in certain situations, regardless of their truth.
“What are you going to do, Kacheek? There’s nothing you can do to stop me! The world will forever remember the name of the greatest criminal ever to live, Fredrick Boggins!”
The statue had cleared the rooftop, and Fredrick did have a point. Cowardliness was built into Oscar’s genes.
Oscar’s mind raced, he had to stop the thief, but how could he get up there? Oscar couldn’t fly, and it was too far to jump. But more importantly, a single thought entered Oscar’s head.
You are not a hero.
He knew this; he was the sidekick, the one who made the tea or ran away or got an arrow lodged in his foot, but never the one to save the day. He wasn’t a knight in shining armour.
But then he realised: He didn’t have to be.
He opened his mouth and took in a deep breath.
“Guards!” he yelled as loudly as he could.
The sound echoed around the gardens. Oscar took a second breath.
“Someone is stealing the Darkest Faerie!” he yelled.
“What?” Fredrick said in panic, looking down at the Kacheek.
Then the Ruki looked up at the horizon, and heard the trumpets. The winged members of the guard arrived first, led by Captain Smith. Jones the Pteri, Banks the Scorchio and Sandra the Fire Faerie/Faerie Kougra circled the statue.
“Stay back or I’ll free her!” Fredrick the thief yelled at them.
“You couldn’t if you tried!” Smith laughed. “I’d say you’ve got about as much magic in you as a lemon!”
“I mean it!” Fredrick protested in vain.
Down on the ground, a rumbling made Oscar turn around. Bane the Grarrl erupted onto the scene like a volcano. In one swift leap he launched himself into the air and caught hold of the statue’s legs. The weight of the massive Grarrl was clearly too much for the charms Frederick had used. Grarrl, statue and Ruki came crashing to the ground. Fredrick the master thief hit the wall with a brief sigh and slid down to the floor. Captain Smith landed and dragged the Ruki to his feet.
“You’re nicked,” he said dryly.
It was night in Faerieland. A cool breeze fluttered through Fyora’s curtains, the window was open once again. Fyora sat on her throne, the guards of the castle and Oscar knelt before her.
“And this Fredrick is safely contained?” she asked.
“Yes, ma’am,” Captain Smith replied.
“Good, we can’t have people like that running around the place, can we?” Fyora said in a relieved voice.
“No, ma’am,” Smith said dutifully.
“Vyline,” Fyora said. The Faerie walked forward from the door. “See to it that the Darkest Faerie statue is chained to the ground, would you? It would be most embarrassing for this to happen again.”
“At once, your majesty,” she said, before leaving the throne room.
Fyora turned her attention back to those before her.
“I must say my guards have performed well as usual; I could not have hoped for better,” she said. “Take the rest of the night off as a reward.”
“Thank you, ma’am,” Smith replied.
“And you, the young Kacheek, what is your name?” Fyora asked.
Oscar lifted his head.
“Oscar, your majesty,” he told her.
“Well, Oscar, if you had not raised the alarm, all of Neopia would be in peril. The world and I owe you a considerable debt,” Fyora said. “I wonder what I could give you as a reward?”
Oscar thought about this for a while.
“Your signature?” he suggested.
“Pardon?” Fyora asked.
Oscar fumbled in his briefcase and produced a piece of paper which he handed to the queen. Fyora studied it.
“This is an insurance policy,” she said. “You are another salesman?”
“I have treasure houses full of more gold than you can possibly spend; artefacts of incredible power and value; gifts that would make Kings weak at their knees. You are sure you just want this?” she asked.
Oscar nodded again.
“I do not like to take out insurance,” Fyora added.
“If your majesty will read the policy,” Oscar said, “you will see that it is a policy that protects against being visited by insurance salesmen.”
Fyora glanced down, and then smiled broadly.
“Yes... yes, I think I might be able to see my way to sign this policy,” she said happily.
She reached for a quill and wrote her name at the bottom.
“It was a pleasure doing business with you, ma’am,” Oscar said as she handed back the paper.
“Likewise,” Fyora said smugly.
Oscar left the castle feeling a whole lot happier. Mr. Jones and Mr. Munroe must have known he’d be able to do it; they simply had to. If you thought about it, it was really the only way to go about it. The idea of getting Fyora to take out insurance was unlikely, so it made perfect sense to send the person most unlikely to get her to sign. He’d won, and his name would go down in history in the insurance trade.
As he made his way back through the cloud maze, he got to thinking about his stall in Hermit’s End. It was, in a way, his home, but he didn’t really miss it. He’d got a taste of the life of insurance again. Before, everyone had tried to kill or imprison him, but now things were different. Even the criminal he’d met didn’t seem to want to harm Oscar. Perhaps the world of insurance had changed...
Once upon a time he had dreamed of a life less interesting, and he’d got his happily ever after, the perfect quiet life. But that was the thing with happily ever afters, they never lasted forever. Things changed, and Oscar certainly had.
And Mr. Jones is sure to need more salesmen, Oscar told himself.
He wandered off into the sunrise, thinking about all the things he could do, all the things that were going to happen to him, and planning his new life, the life more exciting.