Battle of the Ixi
There were a variety of things Hanso would have preferred doing on a Saturday, none of which included being at the The Hidden Tower for a large celebration in honor of the 550th issue of the Neopian Times. As far as he was concerned, there was absolutely nothing special about the darned newspaper... nor did he think it was necessary for Fyora to throw a big bash every 50th issue. And who decided to choose pink of all things for a party theme?
The blue Ixi groaned inwardly, wondering why he even agreed to come in the first place...
"Can't you try to look a little more alive?" Brynn asked, glancing over her shoulder.
Oh yeah, that's why.
"I don't get why I have to come along," Hanso muttered, eyeing the frilly ribbons lining the hall.
"Are you really complaining about a party?" Brynn rolled her eyes. "Since you're cooperating with the Faerieland Guards, it's only natural that you'd be invited to the celebrations held in Faerieland." She stopped before a large door, hesitating for a moment before turning around to face him. "Can you wait here for me? I need to head in really quick to talk to Queen Fyora."
"Whatever," he grumbled, sticking his hands into his pocket.
"Don't cause any trouble," Brynn warned him before walking in, hearing him snort in response as the door closed behind her.
* * *
"Total waste of time," Hanso complained, leaning his head back against the wall. "Maybe it was a mistake after all to overthrow Xandra... no Faerieland, no ridiculous parties."
His eyes perused the hallway in boredom, spotting the clock hanging on the wall.
Didn't Brynn say the party didn't officially begin until three?
Hmm. Maybe he should wande—
Hanso lost his train of thought as he spotted a pink Ixi at the end of the hallway, her hands running over the large picture frames as she headed in his direction. Despite the elegant robes and jewelry she was currently donning, Hanso could spot a fellow thief when he saw one. But what exactly was she doing in a place like this? She must have been pretty stealthy to sneak past the Faerieland Guards at the front gate...
At that precise moment, their eyes met.
Well, hello gorgeous.
"Do you know where Queen Fyora's staff is?" the girl interrupted, hands on her hips.
"What?" Hanso asked, bewildered.
"Queen Fyora," she repeated slowly. "Her staff? You know, the thing she controls Faerieland with...?"
"I would assume that she keeps it near her throne..." Hanso answered, already suspicious. This girl was definitely dangerous. "Who are you and what business do you have with the staff?"
"I'm Eliban," she said, a flash of mischief in her eyes. "And I'm going to steal Queen Fyora's staff."
For a moment it was completely silent.
"I'm sorry," Hanso said slowly, recovering from his initial shock. "I must have heard you wrong. Did you just say you were—"
"Going to steal Queen Fyora's staff?" Eliban supplied helpfully. "Then yes, you heard correctly."
She was insane.
"Why not?" she challenged. "Definitely 550th issue-worthy, don't you think?"
A part of Hanso wanted to shout "YES" but getting buddy-buddy with the enemy wasn't going to look good. Especially now since his past life as a thief was being overlooked with his new position alongside the team of Faerieland Guards.
Wasn't this the part where he was supposed to stop her?
The things he did for Brynn...
"I can't let you do that," he said, his hand instantly reaching for the hilt of his sword.
"You're going to fight me?" Eliban asked, incredulous.
"Uh, no?" Hanso answered rather awkwardly, feeling like a savage under her shocked gaze. "But," he paused, already devising a plan. "You can't steal a staff that isn't there."
Because he was going to steal it first.
A knowing smile formed on her lips.
"Then may the best thief win."
* * *
"Thank you for taking time out to speak with me, your majesty," Brynn said, shooting the Queen a grateful smile.
"It's the least I can do after you and your friend managed to save Faerieland," Queen Fyora replied. "You'll be at the celebration later?"
"Of course!" Brynn assured. "But I think Hanso is getting a little antsy outside from waiting so long."
IF he was still there, that is.
"Yes, of course. Run along, then."
Brynn made her way towards the door, waving one last time to Queen Fyora before heading out into the hallway. She tried not to seem too eager as she closed the door upon exiting. A part of her was hoping that the blue Ixi would be there to greet her, but of course, patience and Hanso never mixed well together.
A frown marred her lips as she sighed.
"He better not be causing unnecessary trouble."
Brynn checked the clock on the wall. Hm, she had about two hours until the celebration began. That was more than enough time to track down the former Ixi thief.
* * *
A good hour had passed since his encounter with the pink Ixi, and it seemed like he had been going in circles.
"It should be the first door on the—" Hanso frowned. "... Left. Huh. Did I somehow go up an extra floor?"
He stared at the long corridor, cursing at the lack of doors in sight.
"Wow, Hanso," he mumbled under his breath. "What was the first thing you were taught? Trust no one. Especially a dirty thief. Ugh." Hanso pinched the bridge of his nose in frustration. "Oh for Fyora's sake! Now I'm going to be in so much trouble for not stopping—"
"Do you talk to yourself often?" a familiar voice asked, a hint of amusement in their voice.
Hanso's eyes narrowed.
"Now look here," he began, facing the smirking Ixi as he clenched his fists. "I was unwillingly dragged to Faerieland to attend a ridiculous party to celebrate the 550th issue of a newspaper that I'm sure NO ONE gives a Meepit about, and it would be just my luck to run into the likes of YOU who intends to make my life a living nightmare by trying to steal something that isn't yours!" Hanso took a deep breath. "Now tell me where the staff is or so help me—"
"Okay," she replied, shrugging.
Hanso deflated immediately, eyeing her pensively.
"So..." Hanso urged. "Where is it?"
"You see," Eliban started, observing her nails as she leaned against the wall. "During every celebration Queen Fyora stays in her room for about an hour in case someone decides to speak to her." At this, she gave Hanso a pointed look. "Now, hypothetically let's say the festivities were to begin at – oh, let's say – three 'o' clock. The next two hours before the party would be spent prepping in the Grand Hall, but of course, Queen Fyora can't be dragging her staff around. It'd be a burden."
Hanso listened attentively, glancing at the position of the sun outside the window which signaled that it had been an hour or two since noon.
"Queen Fyora isn't careless enough to leave it next to the throne where just anyone can walk by and grab it," Eliban continued, watching as the gears in Hanso's mind began to turn. "But she'd want the staff close enough and out of sight during the celebration. So the next best thing would be—"
"Behind the..." Hanso trailed off, darting a quick glance at Eliban before he shot her a grin. "You're rather horrible at this whole trickery business." Before Eliban could react, he had already reached into his pouch for the Smoke Mote, throwing it in her direction before taking off down the hallway.
'Victory is mine.'
* * *
There was a small voice in the back of his mind that was telling him the whole ordeal was suspicious, but all rational thought went out the window once the queen's staff entered his line of vision. He took a deep breath before inching closer, hearing the loud chatter and clinking of dishes behind the large crimson curtain that obstructed his view of the party. Hanso smiled, inwardly jumping in excitement at pulling a fast one over Eliban.
He laid a hand protectively over the queen's precious artifact.
Brynn would be so proud—
He glanced up, noticing that the curtain was drawn – exposing him to a crowd of onlookers.
Hanso could instantly spot Eliban to the right, a haughty smile on her lips as she held the curtain cords in her hand. Why that little...
"This is not what it looks like!" Hanso said instantly, putting his hands up in defense.
"So you weren't just about to steal Queen Fyora's staff?" Brynn asked, crossing her arms.
"Well, I was—" There were collective gasps around the room. "But I can explain!"
"This better be good!"
"Her!" Hanso shouted, pointing a finger at Eliban who had the gall to look shocked. "She's the thief! She was telling me about taking Queen Fyora's staff so I had to steal it in order to stop her!"
"Are you calling my wife a thief?"
Hanso's eyes widened as a familiar Kyrii came into view.
"K-King Jazan?" he gulped. "Well, I mean she..."
"I've never seen him in my life," the pink Ixi answered, glancing up at her husband rather innocently.
Well, this was just peachy.
"We were talking earlier, Eliban!"
"Eliban?" she asked, tilting her head to the side. "My name's Nabile."
"Don't toy with me!" Hanso threatened, glaring accusingly at her.
"Are you calling her a liar, now?" Jazan hissed.
"Seriously, Hanso?" Brynn sighed. "Queen Nabile was a thief in the past but you shouldn't be..." She frowned, shaking her head. "Never mind."
As if on cue, five guards marched up the small steps to subdue the blue Ixi who sighed in defeat. There was no point in defending himself - no one would believe him. The nerve of that Nabile! What kind of name was that anyway? It sounded familiar... wasn't there a group of thieves—
Hanso's eyes widened at the Ixi in recognition.
Nabile's eyes showed concealed laughter, winking at the poor boy that was being roughly dragged away. Hanso cringed at the disapproving stares he received from the guests as he was escorted out of the room, though Queen Fyora's icy glare seemed to be the cherry on top.
He didn't even WANT to know how Brynn looked right now.
'It's decided,' Hanso thought bitterly. 'The next time some crazy Xweetok decides to destroy Faerieland, I'm going to stay home.'
Happy 550th Issue!