Issue 400: A Confession - Part Seven
Also by sariphe
It would be awful if that were the end of my story, and I'm glad to say that it's not. I was tossed into my cell, and I'm still there, writing my confession, but like I said before-- well, the truth is that it was not the end. That part is close, don't worry, and I will get to it very soon, because I think it'll be worth reading. I hope you like it more than I do.
But I digress. I was thrown into a cold, dark, and wet cell. I spent the first night huddled up as small as I could and shivered until morning came. That was when two guards, stone-faced and impartial, came to my bars. They handed me this paper and pen and told me to start writing. I have transposed that first writing here as a testament to my original work.
Elizabeth was a beautiful young girl in her late teens. She had long flowing tresses and crisp white dresses, and she was the greatest of all queens. She loved pretty flowers, would stare at them for hours, and drink the finest Achyfi.
And all her life long, she was happy and free, she ruled over Neopia and lived all happily. Her rulings were just and she smelled very sweet, from the hairs of her head to the fur on her feet. She ~~~
It was at this point in my writing that one of the guards looked over my shoulder and saw what it was that I was etching. He tried to wrestle the pen from my grasp and snarled, "What is this rubbish?"
I smiled at him. "You asked me to write," I said simply.
The second guard glanced over my hard work and started to snigger. The first guard thumped him on the crown of his head, which shut the doofus up, and then turned back to me. He proceeded to tear the page into tiny, crooked pieces, and then handed me a new sheet.
"You are to write a full and accurate account of your incursion into the Crown Ball. You are to write the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth." I decided it was better to obey than to argue, and once the guard had asserted that I was writing what I ought to, he slunk off to sit outside my cell while I worked.
So that's what I'm doing now: writing. I almost don't want it to end, because penning this confession has basically occupied the entirety of my days since that fateful evening in the ballroom, and without this sheaf of paper and drippy black pen, I'm not sure what I'm going to do. Unlike Wrigilet, who I've heard has already been freed and is currently serving as a baron under the new king, Nicky, and also unlike Patcheye and Bragalot, who apparently stole away into the night, unscathed by the ordeal... well, even once this tale is done, I'm still going to be stuck down here. Day after day. And for what? A two day joust with the royals of Neopia.
Please don't ask me if it was worth it. At the time I definitely thought so, but now I'm not so sure. Because yes, it was freaking awesome when it was happening, but the aftereffects? Not so awesome, you might say. So then, what is this? Did the bumbling protagonist learn her lesson? To be honest with you, I don't know. After spending day after day trapped in this murky cell, I think I ought to have come to some epiphany. Some 'aha' moment in which I realised the error of my ways and begged to be forgiven. But I haven't. Yes, if ever given the chance again (which seems unlikely, if not impossible), I will definitely think it out more before attempting to infiltrate an exclusive gala. But at the same time, I'm not fully positive that I wouldn't do it again. Just as long as I took extra precaution against getting caught. As long as I didn't vest myself too deeply into the cause and proclaim myself queen. Because really, in the end, I think that's the only reason I got caught. Of course, Zylaa was suspicious regardless; but if I hadn't gone and crowned myself, then I probably would have made it out okay.
Zylaa said as much when she came to visit just yesterday. I got a shock as the guard rattled the bars of my cell, and I blotched the ink over my paper, which was probably just as well, because the way I was describing Skarl at that moment wouldn't have gone down too well.
"You've got a visitor," growled the guard as Zylaa stepped into view. I stood up and walked to the bars to face her, the one who, aside from me, had bought me to this place. We stared at each other for a moment, our eyes locked together. She smiled at me, and I smiled back in a goofy way.
"I don't fit in with the others," she said with no preamble.
"Neither did I," I replied. Her frank statement demanded an equally frank response. Thankfully, Frank was not around to demand compensation.
"I guess we both learned something here," she continued. I raised my eyebrows. I hadn't learned anything. But perhaps she was right in saying that she had. After all, she'd been somewhat of an outcast, on the fringes of royal society. She had not been snobby or rude or dramatic, and we had, for the most part, gotten on well with each other. I had made her play charades and cook her meal, and perhaps she had learned to accept that she was just normal. She had noble ancestors, sure, but essentially we were the same.
"I learned never to trust a Krawk Islander, and you learned that you are not good enough to mingle with royalty. I expect your confession to be completed by tomorrow morning, and I shall use it as an example of what happens to those who place themselves where they ought not to be." She turned her back on me and walked slowly away. I was so shocked. My mouth hung down to the floor as I watched her go. Just before she rounded the corner, I caught her glancing back at my cell with an odd expression in her eyes. Was it regret? Pity?
I came to my senses, shook myself mentally, and looked to the side. The second guard, the one who had giggled childishly at my first attempt at a confession, had noticed my open mouth and chuckled doofishly to himself, ignoring my obvious indignation. This time, his more sensible companion didn't notice his foolery, so I gave him a swift kick in shins and then returned to my seat and my confession. Zylaa would want it by morning.
Well, it's morning now. I expect that the Zafara will come to retrieve this manuscript soon. I also expect that she'll skim it over and be rather dissatisfied with the entire thing. It's too critical, not remorseful enough, an overall affront to her and the other royals who attended the Crown Ball. But you know what? I don't care. I don't care if she likes it, and I don't care what she does with it. Because no one asked me to write a sugar coat. They asked me to write a confession. And this is a confession, even if it's not a boring and straight-forward one. I recounted my so-called misdeeds and told the truth. Maybe the royals who came to the ball won't like the truth, but if I've learned anything throughout this ordeal, it's that royals live in their own little bubble. There is no reason to quiver in your boots when they're around and give in to their every whim. Because in the end, they'll just betray you, anyway. Or at least, they won't show any mercy.
Judge me if you will. Perhaps I shouldn't have sneaked into the ball. But like I said in my melodramatic speech shortly before my apprehension, is it really such a bad thing? All I did was put on some fancy clothes and mingle with greatness. I never hurt anyone. I never did anything wicked. I told a few lies and riled the wrong people, and now I'm paying dearly for it. Call it my just desserts. I call it overreaction. Or just plain cake.
So there you have it, ladies and gentleman. My remorse-free, therapeutic confession. I have a stinking feeling that Zylaa will probably omit this part of the declaration if she ever does make this whole thing public, but I'm going to write it anyway. Because really, what do I have to lose by this point? My daily glimpse of the sun through my cell's narrow window, only for a few minutes, when it's hanging in just the right position? Or my gourmet, once-daily meal of grits and apple juice, served on a wobbly tray?
Nope. Everything I ever had is gone now, and I don't say that just to be theatrical. And please, don't see this as a plea from some miserable, wilting figure. Despite my... homey... accommodations, I'm really not too angry or depressed. Stir crazy, sure, but it's not so bad, given what could have happened after my apprehension. I've heard of a lot worse, you know. Compared to the stories I've read, I have it pretty cushy. A real live bed, with blankets; a small offering of books to read in the daylight hours; a daft and overly serious guard to poke fun at when I'm deathly bored. Hey, I'm living the good life!
Well, sad to say it, but I hear Zylaa now, clomping down the hall. She's coming on fast, and she seems angry. Maybe it's because she's still on Krawk Island, cleaning up the mess of this year's Crown Ball, and she'd expected to be home in the Haunted Woods by now. Or maybe she's annoyed because she had to deal with - gasp! - a commoner today. I don't know, and maybe I don't care.
You see, the thing about the Crown Ball is that they say it's practically impossible to crash. But the thing about that is, well... I did it. I know I got caught, and the whole thing went to shambles, but the point is, I got in, even though they said it could never be done. I proved them wrong.
So, here it goes:
Next year, unknown reader, when you open issue 449 of the Neopian Times and see the announcement for the annual Crown Ball in honour of week 450, I dare you to pick out your best outfit, think up some elaborate ruse, and try to sneak into the gala. I dare you to mingle with Hagan and play charades with King Cyrus, and if you happen to see Lady Zylaa, I'd appreciate it if you could give her a nice kick for me. Somewhere that it'll smart for weeks. And if you get caught, well... it does get awful lonely down here... we'll have a heck of a time chumming it up as we eat our grits and poke fun at the guards. I swear to you. We will.
So next year, my friend.