The Royal Reputation: Part Four
The Lenny dragged me through the doorframe quickly and shut the door with his free hand firmly behind him. I noticed every velvet shade was closed, and the only lights were from a few flickering red-orange candles sitting on a low wooden coffee table.
The Lenny locked the door behind me, and slid the key into a pocket on the inside of his cloak. He looked menacingly at me, his thick black eyebrows turning his whole face into a frown. I shrunk down in my sweatshirt, pulling the hood over my head and shutting my eyes, letting myself get dragged along.
I was thrown through the air and landed on something soft, my head whipped backwards against a cushion. I opened my eyes to realize I was on the couch, (with the cushions scattered everywhere again,) Mom sitting on the loveseat across from me. Jakuliani, Noliona, and Dad were nowhere to be seen.
I rubbed my feet against the soft, light purple shag rug on the ground. (I tend to not wear shoes.)
I took my hood off my head and felt around for my crown, and I realized it was gone. I must have forgotten it by the pond when the Lenny dragged me off.
Mom stared at me angrily, and then turned her gaze to the Lenny. "You may leave now, Gernald. Thank you."
Gernald bowed to Mom and walked away, his brown cloak sweeping on the tile ground as he went. He lifted a door from the ground, a large door appearing in the floor in front of him. Gernald walked down the descending wooden stairs, and a whitish-purple smoked poured out of the hole. It concealed the Lenny as he walked down to the bedrooms and chambers underneath our castle. He shut the door quickly after he had disappeared, leaving no trace the opening except for a thinning smoke.
Mom snapped her fingers, turning my gaze back to her. She scowled at me, and tapped her fingers on her lap impatiently.
"What?" I asked.
"Aluendi Maylene Holinde," Mom growled at me.
I winced. Mom never used my full name unless I was in huge unbelievable trouble. I don't think I've ever heard her say it before. Which is to say I've been pretty good during my life so far, I guess.
"You have some explaining to do, missy," Mom continued fervently. "I sent two guards and a mercenary after you, deciding if people are smothering you with questions you do need some extra protection. The guard found you first, right where I told you not to be. But that's not the only thing you need to explain."
I gulped. How long had that guard been there?
"Gernald spied on you for awhile, he's always been quite good with spying. And-"
My cheeks flushed.
"He saw you talking. To a peasant, am I right? Would you like to explain something to me?"
"Um..." I started, but trailed off quickly. Mom's looks were as sharp as Rin's had been.
Mom continued to look at me angrily. I couldn't bear it anymore.
"His name was Rinsly," I burst out. "He said people call him Rin..."
Mom's face turned from shocked to seething with rage. "And you know this how? Why exactly were you talking to a peasant in the first place?"
"I... He was the one who was accused of dumping sand on the Ogrin's head. H-he passed by a lot of times while I was sitting by the Koi Pond."
"He's that menace Cybunny who disrespected the elderly here? What a rude Cybunny, he-"
"Mom," I nearly shouted. "Rin didn't do it! I took the sand food Noliona brought me and dumped it out the window because there's no way I'm eating that. I had no idea that the Ogrin and Rin were standing down there."
Mom's eyes were now flaming fireballs of rage and hatred. "You? I can't believe this! Just another thing to punish you for!"
I finally built up the nerve to ask. "Why are we talking by candlelight with all the doors and windows locked and all the curtains shut?"
"Because, Aluendi, I'm not losing my reputation because you messed up and talked to a peasant. I'd prefer no scrutiny over this, please."
"That's why I chose The Green Castle," I whispered. "Because he was going to before he was taken to the Pound."
Mom glared at me. "Well, that explains a lot. We're joining The Red Castle, I'm going with Jakuliani's suggestion. Any of The Green Castle supporters are banned and wanted in our kingdom."
I looked hopefully at her.
"Including you," she snarled.
My face fell to about six feet under the floor. That could only mean one thing.
"Aluendi, you're herby banished from the kingdom."
Salty tears, clear but tinted black from the dirt on my face, spilled from my watery eyes and fell to the ground.
"HONEY!" Mom yelled in her loudest voice. "GET DOWN HERE!"
Dad hustled into the room, his ruff bouncing up and down and his stomach jiggling as if he just ate a whole Day of Giving dinner. His ears flopped backwards, and he nearly fell through the broken step as he tripped over his long red robe. He tumbled down the stairs in a heap of fluffy fur and red velvet fabric. His crown tumbled into the room and rolled to my mud-crusted feet. I picked it up and rubbed the smudge off of it, and then handed it back to Dad as he dizzily staggered into the room to sit down on the loveseat next to Mom.
"Honey," Mom started fervently. "I need your help to think of a good way to banish Aluendi from our kingdom."
Dad's face turned shocked, and his jaw dropped to the floor. It was like a wave had washed over him. "We're banishing Aluendi? Why in all of Neopia would we do that?" He turned to me. "Alu, what is going on?" He rubbed his forehead worriedly.
"Honey," Mom said forcefully, "don't you remember that I told you to watch the conversation from the top of the steps? What were you doing? Sleeping?"
"Uh, yeah, I actually was," Dad said sheepishly. "So," he turned to me. "Tell me what happened, Alu."
I frowned at him and rubbed the insides of my ears again. Bundles of silky auburn hair fell in my face, and I pulled my sweatshirt hood over my head again. Dad looked at me sadly, and then turned to Mom again. "Can you tell me what happened, dear? I'm so confused right now."
"Oh, of course I can," Mom said angrily. Her dark chocolate-brown hair was frazzled and frayed as if she was living in a wind tunnel for the past week. Her light purple-and-pink dress was wrinkled and the gems on her shoes were dull and un-shiny. She had deep wrinkles around her eyes that I hadn't noticed before. She looked unkempt and messy, like a messy peasant living in a tiny hut like Rin. It seemed she hadn't brushed her hair since I left for my 'walk' out to the Koi Pond.
Dad listened intently as Mom dramatically told him what happened, with arm gestures and other means of acting it out. I chuckled slightly at her attempts to explain my story, as she nearly fell over because she tripped on her dress many times. She had sweat pouring down her face by the time she was done.
No wonder she had the curtains closed; she looked real un-queenly with frazzled hair, a wrinkled dress, unpolished and mud coated shoes, sweat pouring off her face to the floor and forming large puddles on her shag rug.
She sat on the loveseat and stared intently at Dad. "Well?"
Dad rubbed the back of his head worriedly. "Well," he muttered, "do we really have to banish Aluendi? I mean, doesn't that seem just a bit much? Just a bit too cruel to do to a teenager?"
The wrinkles above Mom's eyes deepened angrily. She scowled at Dad. "I'm not having my reputation tarnished because my unbalanced teenage daughter screwed up and talked to a peasant. Just because her reputation is soiled, I'm not having mine disappear. We are rulers, Honey. Royalty. We need to keep our reputation high."
Dad sighed and stood up, still rubbing his head as if it would make him think of something. "Maybe," he suggested sadly, "we could do something besides banish her. I know she tarnished her reputation, but I just don't have the heart to send my daughter out on the streets with no money, food, or shelter, there's no way she can survive. And I don't want some random idiot to come and take her away as their new pet because she's a 'limited edition pet' according to the owners of Neopia.
I just looked on sadly as Dad described all the horrors out there that could happen to my prissy self, but I ignored them all. I had gotten so much knowledge of the world on my walks; I could survive out there better than anyone in this town.
"Aluendi!" Mom snapped her fingers in front of my nose, and flicked me on the forehead. I rubbed the stinging red patch.
"Were you listening, Aluendi? Your father and I have decided what to do with a scoundrel like you," Mom said hotly.
By the way she spat out scoundrel, I hope she didn't mean a beheading.
To be continued...