From Mud to Royalty: Part Four
After wordlessly standing in the same spot for ten minutes, we turned back toward Faerie City and began walking. I felt like Ruka was just going along with me, thinking that I would know where Fyora was, but I didn’t. I didn’t know anything - why I cared so much about being painted a different color, why I didn’t just use the Green Paint Brush my mother gave me, or why I even left Kiko Lake in the first place. Now that I thought about it, living there wasn’t so bad, and in a way I really was special - even if that really meant I was a freak. All these emotions swelled inside me until I couldn’t take it anymore, so I turned to Ruka and let it all out.
“I don’t know where we’re supposed to be going! Fyora’s castle is huge, and it’s not like we can walk in and ask a faerie, ‘Hi, where does Fyora keep all her valuable items?’ Maybe we should just go back to Brightvale, and from there I’ll go home!” I saw the look of disappointment on her face; she was probably really excited to be this far away from home and not by herself.
“Nonsense, logically she’d put everything in the place that’s hardest to reach, so we should start from the top down! Here, get on my back.”
As I climbed on, I heard her let out a quiet sniff. I decided I wouldn’t make her feel even worse by telling her that faeries can fly too, so there’s not really an inaccessible area of the castle.
We glided down over the shimmering water surrounding Faerie City, and Ruka pulled up just as we were about to crash into a store. She began to even out when we were as high as the tallest tower.
“Alright, I’ll circle the castle and you look into all the windows. Look for expensive stuff like weapons, books, and paint brushes.”
We spiraled down for hours, gathering strange looks from the faeries below. I was just about to suggest stopping for the day when we stopped abruptly.
“What was that?” I shouted.
“I have no clue,” Ruka said as she rubbed her nose. “I think I crashed into an invisible wall.”
“That’s ridiculous, why would Fyora have an invisible room in her cas-” Then it hit me. “Do you think there’s a door somewhere that lets us in?”
“Probably, or a window. That would make it even harder to get in, so let’s start at the top and pat our way down the wall.”
It took us a while to find the top of the tower, but finally Ruka just flew straight up until we were definitely too high, then positioned herself over the tower and dropped down. The search for a window was even more monotonous than trying to find a visible room. I couldn't help but think that we had missed the window, especially since we didn’t know if there was a window or how big it was. After spiraling around until I was on the verge of throwing up, Ruka screamed in delight.
“I found it, look!” She stuck her hand out in front of her and it disappeared, “I don’t know how wide it is, so you should probably hop in first so it doesn’t knock you off when I fly in.”
Right, because there’s definitely no chance of me missing and falling all the way down, I thought, but Ruka was a step ahead of me and extended her wing out for me to float over. I closed my eyes and hopped down. When I didn’t feel a rush of air, I opened them.
I was staring at a pile of treasures - swords, jewellery, toys, books, and, at the very top, paint brushes. I saw Ruka poke her head in behind me and her jaw dropped; she looked even more surprised than I was. I turned back around and saw Fyora the Faerie Queen standing over me.
“Welcome to my Hidden Tower, young Neopets. I haven’t had a visitor in ages!”
“Well, obviously,” Ruka spat out, “this place is invisible!” The exhaustion for searching for hours must have kicked in; she seemed very upset.
“That’s so only the dedicated and hardworking Neopets can enjoy my treasures.” Fyora turned to me because Ruka had turned her back on her. “Now, what can I get for you? You look like the kind of person that would enjoy a powerful weapon.”
“No thanks, I’m actually here for a Royal Paint Brush.”
Fyora soared toward the top of the pile of items and plucked a Royal Paint Brush out from under the stack of Baby Paint Brushes, which magically readjusted themselves so that they didn’t come toppling down. Fyora floated back down to me with her arm outstretched and said, “That will be 1,750,000 Neopoints, please.”
I heard Ruka gasp behind me, and before I knew it she was face to face with Fyora. “So you mean we searched for this room all day just so that you could charge us a fortune for a measly paint brush? Who even has two million Neopoints anyway?!”
I was dumbfounded by her boldness towards the Faerie Queen; didn’t she know what Fyora could do to her? “Ruka, it’s fine,” I managed to whimper.
“No it’s not!” She snapped around and pressed her face against mine. “I know this is all supposed to be about you and all your dreams coming true while I just take you wherever you want to go, but I’m done. I’d rather be at home in the robe shop with my dad!” Ruka hurled herself out the window and soared towards Brightvale.
“I’m sorry about her,” I said to Fyora. “We’ve had a long day.”
“I understand, I was watching you two circling my castle and this tower. It was quite amusing, actually.”
I stayed calm even though I was pretty sure she was making fun of me. I didn’t want to embarrass myself even more than Ruka already had.
“Well, you sure did a good job hiding it,” I said politely. “But now that she left, I think I’m stuck up here; do you think you could take me down?”
“Of course, hold on,” she replied. She glided past me and took my hand before plummeting down towards the ground, stopping abruptly a second before we crashed.
“Thank you,” I said as I turned and walked away. I had no clue what I was going to do next. Without Ruka, I surely couldn't make it to Altador before the Altador Cup ended, and I didn’t want to have come all the way to Faerieland for nothing. I decided I would go back to the Fountain Faerie and ask to be painted some other color, after that I would make my way back to Kiko Lake and live in the comfort of other Kikos once again. Only after I began to make my way to the Rainbow Fountain did I realize that I was tired. The sun was setting and I felt like I could fall asleep right then and there.
I stopped a passing fire faerie and asked, “Is there any place I could stay the night?” She pointed to a building to my right that said ‘Faerieland Hotel’ on it in large letters. Embarrassed, I thanked her and walked into the hotel. There wasn’t anybody in the hotel, so I got a room pretty quickly after handing over most of the Neopoints I had brought with me. I went up to my room and fell asleep as soon as my head hit the bed.
I woke up to the sound of someone tapping on glass. I tried covering my ears with the pillow but the tapping got louder and faster. I finally got up, rubbed my eyes open, and went to open the curtains and see what was going on.
“Ahhh!” I screamed instinctively. Ruka’s face was pressed up against the window, and I had no choice but to open it and let her in.
“What do you want? I thought you were going back home.”
“I was. Then, about a quarter of the way there, it hit me. I was going to turn around and tell you, but since I was already heading there anyway, I decided to surprise you,” she said with a sly grin on her face the entire time.
“What hit you? Where did you go?” Questions kept pouring out of my mouth, but I fell silent when she reached into her pocket and pulled out a bag.
“I think this will speak for itself,” she said as she tossed the bag onto the bed. When it landed there was a loud plop as well as a peculiar, clinking sound from inside the bag. One that I’d recognize anywhere. At first I wanted to cheer, then I became worried, and finally my curiosity took over.
“Where in Neopia did you get that?!”
To be continued...