The Year Gone By
The sun shone brightly over Faerieland, reflecting most of the inhabitants' mood. Today, Fyora had decreed that there would be no working, no rebuilding the whole day. But that wasn't why the population was so happy. Apparently, the heroes of Faerieland themselves were to be arriving.
When Brynn saw the crowds gathering, her heart sank. If there was one thing about being a hero that she didn't like, it would have to be all the attention. Attention made her feel good, but cheering fans? They wanted to make her curl up in a hole. But of course, Hanso soaked it all up, and she knew it wasn't doing any good for his already inflated ego.
"Hanso," Brynn said, shaking the sleeping Ixi beside her. "We're here." Hanso groaned and turned.
"Aw, come on, Brynn, five more minutes..."
"Your admirers will be so sad you couldn't make it," Brynn mocked, smirking.
"Oh, fine..." Hanso mumbled. He lay quite still for a moment, like he was bracing himself to sit up. Then he started snoring again. Losing her patience, Brynn punched him in the arm. He bolted up, head hitting the top of the carriage.
"Ow!" he said, clutching his arm. "You punch hard, you know!"
"I realize that," Brynn stated coolly. Hanso sat up grumpily.
"Are we there yet?"
Brynn rubbed her temple, deciding not to answer that question.
Faerieland doesn't look like it ever crashed, she thought to herself, watching the trees and sparkling waterfalls speed by, half smiling. It seemed so long since Xandra and the Faeries being stone and...
Suddenly, the carriage came to a jerking halt. Brynn grabbed the door and swung it open.
Immediately the crowds that had gathered cheered. Brynn could feel her face burning as she gave a meek wave. She was absolutely terrible with crowds. Then Hanso came to her rescue, stepping out of the cab charming grin on his face.
"Thank you, Faerieland!" he called with a winning smile waving at the crowd confidently. A group of faeries swooned, while Brynn tugged him by the arm towards the Faerie Queen's Castle.
The moment they had entered the palace, Brynn breathed a sigh of relief. Being mobbed on her one day off was not her idea of fun.
She could see Hanso's eyes light up at the sight of the expensive faerie treasures. Expensive vases and statues on pedestals lined the walls, seemingly protected by nothing.
"Don't you dare," Brynn warned, venom in her voice. "These treasures probably have-"
"Magical enchantments on them, yes. I am very careful with the objects I put on display."
They both turned, to see Queen Fyora floating their way, smiling. "I trust your journey was well?"
"Yes, your majesty," Brynn said, hastily bowing, then tripping over her own feet. She silently cursed to herself. Hanso smirked.
"I am very pleased you could make it to this event," Fyora said, smiling. "I do hope you have a good time. But first things first, you'll need to go to your rooms and put on the proper attire-"
"Proper attire?" Hanso repeated quickly. "My jacket does not leave my sight. Who knows what a crazed fangirl would do with it if they ever found it?" Fyora had to consider this. Who really knew what lengths fangirls would go to?
"Well, I suppose... as for you Brynneth, Eloise will guide you to your changing room."
Fyora gestured to a light faerie with what appeared to be a rainbow stuck in her hair. Brynn started to follow her wearily.
"Oh, you won't believe the dress the tailor made for you! You're sooo lucky!" she gushed. Brynn stopped walking abruptly.
"Yeah, I know it would've been easier to make by magic, but personally I think that doing it by hand makes it much more-"
"I can't wear a dress! Where am I going to put my sword?"
"It's a party; you won't need a sword for that!" Eloise exclaimed. "You'll be surrounded by faeries, so there's no danger.
Yeah, Brynn thought to herself. Powerful faeries that can get turned to stone.
But a part of her told her that she was more upset about having to wear a dress while Hanso got to stay in his jacket.
At first Brynn tried to be respectful of the fact that a group of faeries were trying to rip her hair out with their brushes. But after a few minutes, she found that her respect level was plummeting. Eventually, she just pried the brush out of their hands, shooed them away, and was left to get ready alone.
By the time she came out, she'd been reminded why she never bothered with such things.
"You're wearing a DRESS."
"Yes, Hanso, I am," Brynn answered flatly.
Hanso managed to bring his jaw up to say, "You look pretty!" When she shot him a glare, he added, "and that was supposed to be a compliment."
Brynn did not feel pretty in the sea green dress with its ruffles and lace. She felt ridiculous.
"Well, you look the same as ever, and no, I do not mean that to be a compliment," she replied.
"Ouch, no need to hate on the jacket," Hanso said, flipping the collar up. Brynn rolled her eyes.
As dusk arrived, with more guests, Brynn felt the need to hide in a hole and stay there, but alas, there were no convenient holes in sight. Important people kept on coming to greet her, and try to create small talk, which always somehow turned out awkward.
"So, I heard that you and Hanso are... dating? Is that true?"
"What? D-dating?" Brynn felt her face heating up.
"Handsome young fellow he is..." the pet said, elbowing her. She backed away quickly.
"He's my best friend! Nothing more!"
"Oh, I see how it is. By the way, you look nice!" the pet said, walking away. She sighed. Would this night just end already?
When Hanso came back from gorging himself, and earning some neopoints he stood next to her, leaning against a tree casually.
"Aw, come on, Brynn, since when did you care about how you look?" Hanso tried to reason.
"Since now," Brynn replied miserably.
"Well, all you have to do is..." Hanso suddenly looked horror-stricken. "Hide me!" he squeaked, diving behind a nearby fountain.
"What are you doing?" she hissed back.
"It's Jazan!" Hanso exclaimed inching across the fountain.
"Oh, and you're scared of an angry king who tried to put you in jail multiple times," Brynn said sarcastically.
"It's not that, you put me in jail all the time. He brought Nabile with him!"
"Just because you two don't get along-"
"She almost killed me!" Hanso interrupted frantically.
"Plenty of people want you kill you."
"Oh, I don't know, maybe Kanrik, Xandra, and me," Brynn said, voice dripping with sarcasm.
"Oh, I know! Maybe if we look busy, they won't talk to us. Quick, dance with me!"
"What? No!" Brynn spluttered, feeling her face burn. "I am not being used as a last resort!"
"It doesn't have to seem like a last resort, sweetheart," he said grinning. Brynn had to fight the urge to wipe that smile off his face.
"Hanso! Who would've ever thought you would be here!"
A pink Ixi walked up to them, eyes dancing with amusement. Wearing a dark sundress, lined with gold, she looked down at the blue Ixi.
Hanso jumped, hitting his head on the stone. He hastily straightened up, leaning nonchalantly on the fountain. "Well, I kinda saved the Faeries so I think I'd be invited to their parties."
"So, how have you been?"
"Well, the chunk of my flesh that your werhonds ripped out has healed just fine, thanks."
"What's he talking about, Nabile?" asked Jazan, walking up to them, not forgetting to give the blue Ixi a death glare.
"Oh, nothing dear. You go on and have a little fun."
"You could come with me-"
"You know I'm not much for kingly chats. It's alright, go on," Nabile chirped. Jazan eyed his wife wearily, and walked off. Brynn thought she heard him growl, "Don't you dare come near my wife." Of course it could've just been, "I can still throw you in a dungeon. Without food."
Hanso heard a sound that he could hear from a mile; the sound of neopoints dropping. Except this time, it was coming from him.
"Hey!" he cried, holding his now slit neopoint pouch. Nobody could sneak on him like that, no one except...
Nabile twirled a familiar looking dagger with her fingers. She enjoyed watching his face morph from bewilderment, to disbelief, and finally to anger.
"Wait, that's mine!" he exclaimed.
"No, it isn't. I do believe you're mistaken," Nabile replied, still twirling.
"It's definitely mine, and if you don't give it back, I'll..." For once, Hanso drew a blank. Threats weren't as easy as insults, especially since he was talking to a Queen that could send in for another pit of werhonds.
"Or what?" she asked sweetly.
Brynn was thinking about stepping into the situation when Hanso lunged for his dagger. Nabile, just as fast, moved out of the way, dropping it.
"Help! Jazan!" she shrieked.
As Hanso snatched his dagger and picked himself off the ground, a familiar site was before him; a very angry King Jazan. He made a sound rather like a wounded Elephante, and pulled out his sword.
"Uh, you know, I think we'll be leaving now. Nice seeing you!"
Hanso grabbed Brynn's paw and sprinted out of the garden.
When the sound of Jazan yelling curses faded away, they both stopped. Brynn clutched her stomach, gasping for breath, while Hanso, only slightly winded grinned. She fixed this by punching him in the stomach.
"Hey! I just saved your life!" he wheezed.
"Yeah, and what will Fyora say? Oh, thank you, Hanso, you made King Jazan send his army to Faerieland for the sole purpose of tracking you down!"
"Please, Brynn; do you really think that his prison built out of sand is going to hold me?"
Brynn's glare looked as if it would melt steel. Hanso cringed.
"You saw what she did! She took my dagger! No one ever takes my dagger!"
"Maybe she did it because you're just a greedy, good for nothing thief!" Brynn spat out.
She was surprised by the hurt on his face.
"...I didn't mean that."
"Out of all pets, I thought you would be the happiest."
"Why in Neopia would I be happy?"
"Nobody is looking at you in your dress."
Brynn considered this. "...I guess you're right," she admitted. "So what do we do now? Break into Fyora's castle and take back my sword?"
"You mean you're telling me to break into a place?" Hanso said, brightening rapidly.
"I didn't mean tha-" Brynn started.
"This is going to be the best! I'll teach you how to pick locks, how to sneak past guards, and how to pick the pockets of the guards!" He grinned. "So even if Jazan's guards arrest me, you can get me out!"
"Great. I'll have to arrest myself along with you when we get caught."
"And will be that so bad, sweetheart?"
"Stop with sweetheart already!"
As it would seem, Queen Fyora could not be found at her party as well. She made her way through her courtyard. She half expected to see The Darkest Faerie standing here, but in her old place stood a Xweetok. Their stories had been oddly similar, as their demises. But Fyora did not want to think of that. Her prized pupil was not pure evil, like the Betrayer was. She was misguided, scheming, but not evil.
But even she doubted her judgement sometimes.
"Hello, Alexandra," she said, smiling. "How are you feeling today?"
No answer. Just how it should be.
"Did you know? It's a very important anniversary today!" She didn't mean to make it seem so cheerful. Xandra just glared on. Fyora looked over her sadly.
"Xandra, I hope you've learned your lesson..." she paused, "but I am afraid it is just not time to give you your freedom. It's just much too early..."
She sighed, standing up.
"But I promise you, one day, you will be free from your prison. And by then, I hope you will finally see sense."
Xandra watched her flutter away, back into the fading lights, the laughter, half-wishing she could be there celebrating with them. No, she was wishing that they were celebrating Fyora's death than her own.
Promises, Fyora... if only you were one to actually keep them. I keep my promises. And I promise you this.
A familiar surge of rage rifled through her stiff body. She ached to move, she ached just to feel a surge of magic through her veins, which had long stopped delivering blood. Anything that could help her stone binds away, anything that would let her take back what was rightfully hers. All she could do for now was wait in silence for what had to come eventually.
That when I am free from this prison, you, you and ever single pet and Faerie at this party tonight will be the first statues I crumble to dust.