Issue 400: A Confession - Part Six
Also by sariphe
I wanted very much to try and pass myself off as a nobody, just a concerned party guest, but then I remembered the blemished crown on my head and quickly disregarded this route as an option. Wishing dearly that I hadn't ever affixed the ornament to my mane, I took a deep breath and craned my neck so that I was staring Wrigilet in the eye.
"My name is Queen Elizabeth Branson," I said.
And all Wrigilet could come up with was a flat, "You have to be jokin' me."
Suddenly, the room erupted louder then a volcano on Mystery Island as all of the royals decided to ignore my previous command and began to pour into the room. Everyone was yelling over the top of each other, trying to have their opinions heard and their questions answered. As they spilled into the ballroom, they formed a packed circle around Wrigilet and myself.
"She's not the queen!" cried a minor noble from the Lost Desert.
There was a slight pause. Eyes darted around the room, accusing.
"All of them!" cried Prime Minister Bristleboff.
The clamour grew louder as more accusations were thrown about, like some absurd game of Deckball. It was clear that everyone had had enough of this disgraceful display, and they all wanted compensation for their wasted time and the emotional hardship they had suffered during their stay on Krawk Island. Every royal and noble in Neopia was yelling and shouting, and the noise pounded in my ears, and Wrigilet kept a tight hold of me.
"They're all insane, the whole lot of them," declared Queen Fyora.
"Ruddy awful!" "Foul, pathetic creatures!" "Scallywags!"
It would have been exciting, amusing even, if only I had not been the object of their insults. How I would have loved to yell and taunt with these angry royals, pretending to be fed up with the whole affair. Heck, it would have been the highlight of the whole ball.
But nope, I was on the ground. The one being ridiculed. I was helpless, and the nobles were gathering for a frenzy, feeding on my weakness, kicking me while I was down. One royal stepped forward, aiming to hit Wrigilet, the first act of violence that would lead to a full scale riot. This curious uprising seemed to go against the whole principle of royal primness, but hey, believe me, I wish it didn't happen as much as you do. After all, like I said, I was the one on the ground. The one getting the brunt of the hostility.
Of course, I have to admit, Wrigilet was really the one who really sent the disturbance into full gear. Yeah, he was kicked first, but I'd be lying if I said his response to the boot wasn't a gross overreaction. He let go of me and grabbed at the noble's arm, throwing him backwards. The noble's wife, disgusted and furious at the assault, charged at Wrigilet and smacked him in the chest with her clutch bag. He reeled backwards, tripped over me, and made a splatting noise as he hit the ground, knocking over a small Meerca as he did. The Meerca hit another royal, who hit back, and then the Meerca's party - which included the brawny and easily incited Chief Umvula of Mystery Island - gathered around to avenge her.
Soon everyone was exerting petty acts of violence against just about everybody else in the room: each other, Wrigilet, myself. Some were thwacking with pieces of jewelery, others used cushions like an absurd pillow fight, and a few used their paws or claws or hooves to whack and kick. A Peophin bit down on Queen Liesel of Terror Mountain, and the Aisha cried out, grabbing hold of his tail and yanking it so that the Peophin did a faceplant, its chin coming to rest between its hooves. The royals had turned against each other, their tightly strung nerves finally snapped and unleashed in a wave of squabbling violence. Some of the more tightly wound blokes even took their anger out on the crumbling, derelict building itself. Queen Fyora was among them.
Finally King Cyrus, who had the loudest voice, put an end to the chaos with a seething, booming announcement.
"Fools!" he shouted. "I don't know if this a joke or a loony bin or just some parade of blubbering buffoons, but I'm done with it!" He turned to the doors and shouted for the guards, who came clanking in, garbed in rusty armour and looking very perplexed. "Seize those two nutjobs for inciting a riot, and throw them into the dungeon. Put them in straitjackets, for all I care, and a padded cell, and throw the keys into a metal grinder while you're at it, and then feed the filings to Skarl, and collect them at the other end, and scatter the contents in the oceans... NOW!"
The fury of his ranting was enough to ensure obedience from the guards. They rushed forward and seized the two of us, impostors both, and began to cart us off. Zylaa met my eyes, and she smiled in a horribly sweet, mocking way.
"That one isn't even of royal blood," she told the crowd at large. This got everyone's attention, and they turned to Zylaa for an explanation, so she added, "She tried to pass herself off as a cousin of Wrigilet, but then he got deposed. This morning she was just another Lady in the crowd, and when I asked her what her relation to Wrigilet was, she said niece! She's either got amnesia, or she's been lying the whole time."
"And she tried to pass herself off as a queen!" snorted King Kelpbeard of Maraqua.
The main thing to note here is that, despite their horrible, stinking, nasty, pirate ancestry, Patcheye, Wrigilet, and Bragalot did all have ties to the original royal family of Krawk Island. On the other hand, I did not. With my cover completely blown, and Zylaa no longer content to hold her silence, I was in deep trouble with no foreseeable escape.
As the guards contemplated briefly and then continued to lug both Wrigilet and I out of the room, I realised that this was probably my last shot at redemption. With a dramatic flourish, I jerked out of the sentinel's watch and fell to my knees, hands cupped over the slippery floor, deciding to give my defence one last go. I had nothing to lose, not when I was facing an infinite sentence in a dungeon somewhere. Even Wrigilet had a better future than me, given the circumstances. He might be locked up for a small time, but eventually one of his friends would claim the crown and let him free. Me... well, to say it bluntly, I had no friends in high places. None at all.
So with the flustered crowd watching on in cautious amusement, I took a deep breath, briefly thought of my angle, and then plunged into a heartfelt dialogue headfirst.
"Ladies, gentleman!" I cried; the guard I'd freed myself from stooped down to drag me back up to my feet, but King Cyrus, suddenly interested, waved him off. There we go, one thing in my favour. At least now I wouldn't have to make my speech as I was being simultaneously dragged away. Thankful for this small blessing, I stared into the eyes of the entertained nobles and said, "Now you may claim that Wrigilet and I--" I pointed to the Achyfi-soaked Cybunny, who was still in the clutch of a guard, bleeding slightly from his nose "-- are two horrible excuses for monarchs. And that we - especially I - have no reason to be here, no claim to the throne. But ladies, gentleman, who are you to define 'worthy'? Perhaps I did not come to this gala on a real invitation, but does that mean I do not deserve it?" I was trying to be serious, but somewhere in the mass, a pet sniggered, and my cheeks burned red. Still, undeterred, I continued on: "Now, fair nobles of this fine world, try and see the situation through my eyes. Here I am, an absolute nobody, just wanting to get a taste of greatness. All of you gorge on glory. Can you blame me for wanting one lick? Is that really such a bad thing to do?"
Then, with a theatrical flair, I staggered to my feet and gave a humbled bow. Beside the aforementioned sniggering pet, no one else burst out laughing, so I thought that maybe my speech had made an impact. That maybe Cyrus would recant his order and allow me to go on my merry way, unmarred by my brush with royalty. This feeling was solidified when the white Bori did not immediately demand the guards take me to the dungeon again. Rather, he just stood there, looking incredulous, his mouth agape but no words coming out.
Finally, he shook his head and snapped, "You can't be serious."
My heart sank. "Your Highness--"
But he cut me off, his voice sharp as daggers as he said to the eager sentinels, "Take her, please. I cannot put up with any more of this drivel!"
The guards obliged immediately, two of them fastening their broad hands underneath the crook of my elbows. And then, as the clump of royals broke out into spontaneous applause, Wrigilet and I were hauled away, into the bleak underbelly of the palace.
To be continued...