Magical Evil: Part One
At one end of Neopia, there is a land of beautiful scenery, where spirits run high and the atmosphere is cheerful. The Wheel of Knowledge sits in one place, waiting for those in need of new intelligence to spin it. There is a store where the clearest and most beautiful windows in Neopia can be found. The air is breezy, and in this place, you will find the smartest Neopets in the world residing and learning.
The most notable aspect of this city, however, is the majestic castle in the middle of it. There, King Hagan the Wise lives, and many approach his castle to try and impress him with their own knowledge. But few know of another who lives in this castle – apart from his attendants and servants, that is...
Rosalene the Royal girl Cybunny sat alone in her bedroom, looking out the window at the world around her, which she had never approached. She had never left Brightvale Castle, and never done anything besides living the life of the strict routine her father had forced upon her. Every single day, Rosalene would wake up, wash and dress, eat breakfast, be taught by one of the servants, eat lunch, have more lessons, and go to bed late in the evening. It was only on weekends that she could relax – and even then, there were so many restrictions that the most she could do was sit in her bedroom and look out the window to the world she was so cut off from.
A year or so after Rosalene was born, her mother, a beautiful and pleasant Royal girl Korbat, had been kidnapped, and was now deceased. King Hagan, overwhelmed by this, had kept Rosalene in total isolation and security, in an attempt to keep her safe. She had never met anyone beside her father, the attendants and the servants in Brightvale Castle – all of whom were extremely dull. She had been brought up so strictly, without friends and barely even seeing her father, that she had become a silent, serious girl. There was none of the joy, playfulness or fun of a nine-year-old that was in her.
And so our story begins.
“Your highness? I have a message for you.” A short, stout Blumaroo, a rich, royal, purple in colour, approached the Skeith sitting at his throne. As with all the servants in Brightvale Castle, he was dressed in a proper green and gold uniform. Clutched in his paws was a scroll, tightly sealed with wax, and tied together with a bright blue and red ribbon – an obvious sign that this message was from Meridell.
“Yes, Narum, what is it? Unseal the message.”
The Blumaroo carefully untied the ribbon, and, with one finger, broke the wax sealing. Opening the scroll, he cleared his throat and spoke in a diplomatic voice –
“Sharta, the Queen of Meridell, sends her thanks for the last message. It pleased her majesty to hear from an old friend. Her royal majesty says she would be delighted to attend the banquet this evening, and she looks forward to meeting you.
With due regards,
Queen Sharta’s royal advisor.”
Hagan’s face lit up with a smile. “Why, Sharta! That Royal girl Shoyru – I haven’t met her in years! I am pleased to hear this news, Narum. Have all the other invited guests corresponded?”
“Just so, your highness. However, Memphis, the Duke of Central Meridell, sends his regrets that he already has plans for this evening. A servant of his, Alarisca the Yellow Acara, shall be attending instead, and he hopes that you will not object.”
Hagan snorted. “A plain Yellow Acara, who’s a servant, attending my banquet? However, the Duke is a great friend of mine. I can still remember the good old days, when the two of us Skeiths would play in the sunshine. Tell him it’s fine.”
“Your majesty, he also said...” Narum reached into his pocket, and withdrew a scroll that had already been opened. Scanning it, he said slowly and cautiously, “He also said that Alarisca is a pretty young girl who will delight in meeting your... your daughter.” He closed his eyes, waiting for the explosion.
King Hagan’s eyes widened. “Why, my daughter? How could he say that?” He stood up and paced around the throne room. Memphis, too, had not seen and heard from Hagan in many years. He did not know of how Hagan had forbidden everyone from seeing his daughter, and how Rosalene had never set a foot outside the castle walls. He did not know how much the queen’s death had affected him. He had last seen Rosalene as a baby, sweet and happy, with her mother smiling proudly. Soon after, he’d moved to Meridell, and heard very little about what happened – although he did indeed know. Hagan frowned.
“Narum, when his servant comes, tell her that she may not meet my daughter. That is final.”
“Your majesty, pardon me for asking, but does that mean Princess Rosalene would have to stay in her room, alone, while the banquet is on?”
Hagan’s eyes flashed in anger, frightening his messenger a great deal. As Narum waited for the fire to come, Hagan replied, “It is only for her own safety that she cannot meet any of them. They may have changed their ways, and there are too many risks. I do not want what happened to Sienna to happen to her.” He paused, thinking of his long lost queen. “Narum, do I make myself clear?”
The Blumaroo sighed, but nodded. “As you wish.”
“Good. Now, tell the cooks to make sure the food is ready, and to have a separate meal for Rosalene, which she’ll eat in her room while the banquet is on. Go.”
Narum hurried away, but after passing on the message to the cooks, he decided to do something he had never, ever dared to do – visit Rosalene and tell her about... them. The only time he saw her was when he passed by her room as she was being tutored, and the door was open. He had always wondered what life would be like for such a lonely soul, who didn’t have any friends, and, from what he heard, rarely spoke.
Silently, he approached the door of Rosalene’s room. He took a deep breath and knocked gently.
The sound of footsteps, and the door swung open, with innocent Rosalene greeting him. When she saw Narum, she frowned – probably expecting a message from her father – but said nothing.
“Princess, may I talk to you for a second?”
Rosalene looked surprised, but nodded. She gently closed the door behind them, and turned to face the messenger. He gave her a weak smile.
“Don’t you ever get lonely here? I can’t understand why your father would make you stay in your room all day, and never let you outside the castle.”
Rosalene shrugged, and then sat down on her bed. After a minute of uncomfortable silence, Narum said, “Do you know there’s going to be a banquet tonight?”
“And you’re not allowed to attend, as far as I know.”
“Look, I really shouldn’t be doing this, but...” Narum trailed off, and then started again. “Princess, would you like to attend – well, watch – the banquet this evening?”
Rosalene turned to look at him full in the face. “I would,” she said, speaking for the first time. Her innocent eyes overwhelmed the Blumaroo, who said quietly, “I know how you can.”
Rosalene sighed. “If it means trying to convince my father...”
Narum shook her head. “He will not be convinced, and I am not foolish enough to try.” He cleared his throat. “In fact, I know of a secret passage that leads to a bookshelf, right behind the place where they are holding the banquet. You will be able to both watch and hear them while they celebrate, princess.” He paused to see the impact of these words.
Rosalene’s eyes had widened. “Are you serious? I didn’t know this castle had secret passages. And you can call me Rosalene.”
“Well, Rosalene, as far as I know, nobody but me in Brightvale Castle knows, either. And you, now.” He cleared his throat. “I don’t know why I’m doing this, but I really pity you having to stay in here, while they are having fun. Your father says he wants to keep you safe, but he’s gone beyond that – more like keeping you prisoner.”
Rosalene bowed her head sadly. She knew it was wrong of her, but she agreed with what Narum had said.
Narum stiffened. “Well, now I can show you the secret passage.” He stood up, and beckoned towards the door. However, Rosalene did not stand up.
“Is there something wrong?” he asked.
“I’m not allowed to go outside my room.”
The Blumaroo sighed, remembering this rule. “It’s only a few steps away.”
Rosalene looked frightened and hesitant. She was very scared of disobeying her father. But, if it was only a few steps away... she slowly rose from her bed, and followed Narum.
They snuck by the other servants, and Narum led Rosalene to a corner of the castle that she had never been to before. Making sure no-one was watching, Narum tapped the wall and tried to slide it across. To Rosalene’s amazement, there was a large tunnel behind it. Narum hurried her in, and slid the door closed after them.
The two walked for a few minutes, to come to the end of the tunnel. Rosalene could see half a bookcase. Clearly, the wall had been disguised so the bookcase would look like it was leaning against it, but actually had a large area of open space behind it.
“If you move these books slightly, you will be able to see what is happening.” Narum reached up for a book, right where Rosalene’s head was, and moved it just slightly to the left. Rosalene peered out comfortably, and saw King Hagan talking to his advisor, as well as being able to hear them clearly.
“Give Rosalene her food now, and tell her not to come out of her room...”
Rosalene and Narum exchanged looks of fright. The two of them hurried back to the end of the tunnel. Narum took a deep breath, and slid open the door. There was no-one there. With a sigh of relief, Narum rushed Rosalene back to her room.
“It’ll be starting in three hours. Good luck,” he muttered, as he ran off.
“My dear Queen Sharta, such a pleasure to meet you again!” Hagan shook hands with his old friend, entirely unaware of his daughter watching and listening to him. “How are you?”
“I am fine, and have great pleasure in attending this banquet! A reunion of old friends, now all of high class, on this very special day – my goodness, the food looks magnificent!”
Rosalene smiled to herself, feeling a bit guilty, but glad that she had, for the first time, seen and heard someone other than the King and his servants. She knew she was being very daring. She silently promised herself that should she get caught, she would not reveal Narum’s involvement.
The streamers were hung up, the lights flashed on, and the food had been carried out.
The party had begun.
To be continued...