I'm NOT Losing The Bet!: Part One
“But it’s worked out so well for me! And you know, if I’d never started picking pockets, I wouldn’t have met you.”
Brynn looked at the Blue Ixi pathetically as they passed the stall-lined streets of majestic Brightvale. “You’re an exception to the rule,” the Orange Kougra said plainly, folding her arms as they walked casually through town.
“Aren’t I always?” he asked smugly.
Her response to this was a slap to the back of his head.
Ever since the events of The Faeries’ Ruin, Hanso had taken it upon himself as a Master Thief to teach young children how to become an awesome thief such as himself. This had got him into trouble with his lifelong friend and business partner, Brynn, who was a knight of Brightvale, and now a Captain of Queen Fyora’s Guard. Many had wondered how the pair had managed to get away with their collaborations in crime/crime-fighting (some of which were started by Hanso and stopped by Brynn who did not like it when Hanso fooled about with citizens by stealing their rightfully owned belongings), but everything always seemed to resolve itself by the end of the mission – whatever that mission might have been.
In the dazzling kingdom of Brightvale, things were starting to get back to normal after the onslaught of Shadow Wraiths from a powerful sorceress’ command. That sorceress was called Xandra, and she eventually became an ornament in Queen Fyora’s garden (long story).
Xandra, a Speckled Xweetok originally under the guidance of faeries, destroyed Faerieland and almost killed Hanso and Brynn along with it, not to mention harming many innocents and practically the whole world... You could say that Xandra has been a successful villain, right up to the point where Hanso smashed the artefact that started the whole mess and he saved Neopia. Fyora was kind enough to set Hanso free from his petrified form.
Back to the present day; the Orange Kougra in steel armour and a long purple cloak was keen to teach her naïve partner a lesson. “You are SO lucky that Xandra didn’t defeat you! You can’t always blunder through life.”
Hanso mocked offence and tugged the base of his jacket to make himself look important. “Please. I have more class than that.”
“Just because you’re Queen Fyora’s favourite thief, doesn’t mean that you can recruit children as thieves!” she seethed.
Yep. He actually has been encouraging the younger generation to become crooks.
“Look. I respect that you’re Captain of Fyora’s Guard now, Princess, but if it wasn’t for me you wouldn’t have got through all those Brightvale Guard promotions half as fast.”
Brynn wasn’t really a princess; Hanso just liked giving her girly nicknames. Really he was just being affectionate.
Brynn scoffed. “And it’s also my duty to keep you in line.”
They stopped and stared at each other for a moment, daring each other to step-up the challenge.
Instead they started laughing.
“You know,” Hanso began, beaming at the sun, “you’re much bossier than when we were younger.”
“And you’re more reckless,” she accused.
“Come to think of it,” he mused, making eye-contact, “you were less strung-up about responsibility too.”
“No, I wasn’t!”
“Yes, you were!”
“Because you trusted me.”
Hanso always beat Brynn with that line. She blushed and they started their journey again.
“Speaking of being responsible,” Brynn began pointedly, “we have a list of items we need to get for our journey to the Lost Desert.”
“Do you know anything about the artefact we’re hunting down?” Hanso enquired with interest.
The Orange Kougra frowned. “Nothing, actually. I assume Fyora has some kind of plan for us when we get there.”
As they strolled along, they pondered their childhood.
“Remember playing games like Kacheek Seek or using colouring books?” The Ixi smiled, reminiscing.
“Or Tag and Hopscotch,” Brynn added happily.
“What about skipping stones?” He grinned.
“You taught me how to play Kou-Jong.”
“I also taught you how to make King Skarl laugh.”
She grimaced. “Yeah... I’m never going back to Meridell after that incident. He didn’t laugh at all!”
“Didn’t he throw you out?” he said cheekily, stepping aside to let a young Zafara pass in the street.
Brynn fumed. “Only because YOU were busy trying to steal from Double or Nothing!” Her exclamation made the Zafara glance at her indignantly before carrying on his way.
Hanso roared with laughter. “Oh yeah. Sorry ‘bout that.”
The Kougra sighed and smiled. “Thanks for giving me the best days of my life.”
“Aww, no problem,” he said bashfully, rubbing his neck awkwardly.
As they passed a sweet stall in the Brightvalian market, Brynn suddenly got an idea.
“Hanso! Wait right there. “
The Ixi thief waited for her to come back, feeling bemused. When Brynn got an idea, it always made him suspicious.
She returned shortly afterwards, grinning widely, holding a paper bag in her hand.
“You bought sweets?” he asked sceptically, folding his arms defiantly.
“Not just ANY sweets...” she said conspiringly, pulling out one for him to see.
Hanso gasped, eyes widening when he realised what she was up to. “You bought Apple Sugared Gelert Gummies!”
Apple Sugared Gelert Gummies were a brand from the Chocolate Factory in Neopia Central. Brightvale imported them because they were green, like part of the Brightvalian standards that could be seen all over the kingdom. The gummies themselves were quite large with the following description on the product signs: ‘An amazingly sugary treat that looks like Gelert ears.’ They were very sugary and not really something the Tooth Faerie would recommend young children to eat. The best part that both Hanso and Brynn agreed upon was that the gummies were a little bit sour in taste, and that made them epic to eat during a long summer’s day.
“Yep,” she said smugly. “And remember the game we used to play with them?”
Hanso was now becoming excited. “Haha! Yes, I do. Are you seriously suggesting playing that whilst on DUTY?”
Brynn punched him lightly on the shoulder. “Shush up, you. I can have fun too.”
The Ixi looked at her disbelievingly. “Really? Because you weren’t much fun throughout the faeries’ plight.”
“Faerieland was almost destroyed! How could I think of fun?!”
“You didn’t laugh at my joke about Xandra.”
“About her sucking the life out of everything.”
“Oh! Well, I didn’t know she was evil then!” she said defensively, glaring at him.
“I thought it was funny.”
Hanso laughed in spite of her. “It’s kind of hard to take you seriously now that you have a bag of sweets in your hand.”
Brynn huffed, exasperated, and stuffed the sweets in a small pouch that was attached to her belt. “No games until you stop being a smart alec.” It was time to be tough. Hanso sometimes needed to be minded like a child, and this was one of those moments.
Hanso pouted. “Alright, alright! No need to get your armour into a twist.” He held one hand over his heart and raised the other casually in the air. “I promise to behave.”
But he had blown it. Brynn was turning to business matters again.
“I was contemplating getting you a sword, but then I remembered that I can hardly trust you with a dagger, so we’ll forego that one.”
“Hey! I’m not that bad with them,” he complained. “Why would I need a sword?”
“In case we encounter any unwelcome characters along our way.”
“Oh, so you’d just let me die?” he asked sardonically.
“No, you have a knack for getting out of sticky situations.”
Hanso grinned. “Speaking of sticky situations... Can I have one of those sweets now?”
“Ha! No way.” She deliberately changed the topic. “We might need to buy some sunscreen...”
She continued to ignore him. “We’ll need some REAL food too, along with water...”
“And a map of the Lost Desert.”
“Yes?” She smiled cheekily.
“Lighten up. Let’s play the game already!” Hanso complained impatiently.
She laughed and turned her back to him. “I feel like your babysitter or something.”
“You aren’t making me go to bed without dinner again.” He scowled, remembering the last time she actually made him do that. Although, to be fair, he was in a prison cell at the time.
Brynn looked at him smugly. “Maybe I will.”
She then figured that she had teased the Ixi long enough and produced the bag of gummies out of her pouch again. This action was met by Hanso punching the air in victory.
“Okay, Hanso. The game is ‘Keep The Gummies In Your Mouth For The Longest Possible Time’. If one of us bites it, swallows it, spits it out or chews it, that will mean that the one who does that loses. Got that?”
“Yeah!” The Master Thief clapped, stealing a gummy from the bag. Brynn also took one out, then returned the rest of them into her pouch.
Fyora’s top double-team stared each other out for a short while, sweets poised, ready to begin the dare. Neither of them liked to lose. Neither of them would give up. And neither of them realised that they had completely forgotten to put a wager on the game! That would come back and bite them later.
“Okay,” she said with a challenging glint in her eye. “Our time starts NOW!”
To be continued...