The Discovery of Brightvale -- A Celebration
Author's Note: This story was originally intended as a Pet Spotlight for my Kougra, Vmep. It ended up being a little bit too long for a spotlight, though, so instead of letting it go to waste, I figured I'd try submitting it here. Happy Discovery of Brightvale Day everyone!
Splendid banners of green, white and gold hang proudly in every doorway. Tapestries and all manor of decoration imaginable adorn the walls of every hall. A grey Kougra in a smart black suit walks through the halls of Brightvale Castle, his dress shoes clicking on the cobblestone floor with every hurried step he takes. As he rounds a corner, he slows his feverish pace, and takes a moment to re-collect himself at a large, wooden door. He fiddles with his tie, straightens his files in his trustee burgundy binder, and knocks gently on the door.
A red Chia guard is there to let him in. The Kougra nods in thanks, and is soon in a room filled with neopets, men and women in suits and dresses, seated around a wide, square table with none other than King Hagan seated at the head. The Kougra nods politely to the occupants of the room. Then he approaches the head of the table, and bows before the king.
"Your Majesty," he says respectfully. "I'm most desolately sorry I'm late."
A brown Lenny shoots him a poisonous glance from across the room, but the wise old king does not seem at all perturbed.
"Don't apologize, Advisor Vmep." he says with a reassuring smile. "We were only just getting started."
As promptly as possible, Vmep takes his seat between Mr. Peterson, an orange Quiggle and Mrs. Eileen, a Christmas Zafara. A hush falls over the room, the king clears his throat, and the meeting of the Brightvallian Royal Advisors begins.
This is a very exciting moment for Vmep, the newest royal advisor on the team. At 24 years of age he is the youngest person in Brightvale history to have ever received such a prestigious honour. For this reason he is loved and admired by a great number of his colleagues, and hated by perhaps an equal number of them. His supporters say he is gifted, a brilliant young man who will lead the kingdom to higher levels of greatness. His adversaries say he is a boy, a child far too young and ignorant to hold such an important regal position.
To be a royal advisor is to hold the fate of the kingdom in your hands. To be a planner of the country, a manager of all kingdom and inter-kingdom affairs. Only last week the advisors solved a major land dispute between Meridellian and Brightvallian farmers. The dispute was so pressing that it overshadowed other important matters. Matters of equal priority and urgency that should have been attended to straightaway. Which is why King Hagan has assembled his advisors for an emergency meeting today.
"As I'm sure you are all aware, the anniversary of our great kingdom's discovery is very fast approaching. Some of you may have noticed the decorations. The Royal Decorators have done an outstanding job, as usual."
"Regarding those decorations, Your Majesty." Theodore Craw, a disagreeable brown Lenny who is one of Vmep's non-supporters, launches his first complaint before the issue at hand has even been addressed. "Do we really need such an excessive display of green, white and gold embellishments? Brightvale Castle barely looks like a castle anymore! It more closely resembles a circus tent, or a child's birthday party..."
"Your Majesty, if I may speak in your defence," interjects Vmep."Those excessive embellishments as you call them, Advisor Theodore, are a reflection of our kingdom's spirit. If we cannot wave our colours proudly on the Discovery of Brightvale, when can we? We should enjoy the exuberant colours and decorations while we can, as after the celebration is over they will all be taken down."
Murmurs of discussion resound in the room. A handful of neopets nod their heads in agreement.
"Well said, Advisor Vmep, well said." commends the king. "Which brings me to the reason why I've summoned you all here today. In the confusion of the past few weeks, it seems we have been neglecting another very important matter. That is, of course, the arrangements for the celebration of the Discovery of Brightvale. Naturally, I would like to have a party of some sort, as we always do. I do realize we haven't left ourselves a great deal of time, but if it is at all possible I would like this party to be just as extravagant as," he clears his throat once more. "Some other kingdom's discovery celebrations. You all remember the one we attended on the 30th of the month of Swimming, I'm sure..."
"Your Majesty," says Mrs. Spencer, a yellow Wocky in a graceful white skirt and blouse."I'm afraid we've left it far too late to arrange anything so fantastic. We would need weeks to plan a party as grand. Maybe even months."
"Meridell's banquet this year was even grander than it's been in past years." points out Mr. Denten, an old blue Lupe with a prominent grey moustache. "I don't know how anything we do could compare to what they've done. Not with the impossible deadline we have to meet."
"It is absolutely impossible!" grouses Theodore. "We'll never be able to match the grandeur of Meridell's party. We're better off just to forget the whole thing and start planning for next year."
The hum of low mumbling fills the room once again as the advisors discuss this idea amongst themselves.
"We can't cancel the Discovery of Brightvale." says Vmep softly, too quietly at first for the others to hear.
"Speak up, boy!" grunts Mr. Denten. "Some of our ears aren't as young as they used to be, you know!"
"I said we can't cancel the Discovery of Brightvale." he says again, this time loud enough for the whole table to hear. "On the 11th of the month of Hiding, the eyes of all of Neopia will be looking to our kingdom, watching to see what we will do to display our pride for our glorious country. What will Neopia think when they see that we are doing nothing? Will they think, perhaps, that our kingdom is not worthy of celebration? Your Majesty, what will Meridell think when they see we are treating the Discovery of Brightvale as a day like any other?"
"I apologize if I am asking too much of any one of you, but Advisor Vmep is right. We cannot let the Discovery of Brightvale pass without doing anything for it. I only wish we knew what to do. We don't even have an idea where to start."
"Actually," Vmep says carefully. "Actually we do. Your Majesty, do we have a basic plan that we could possibly build upon? That is, can we take whatever you did at the party last year and try to make it bigger and better, so to speak?"
"Well," says the green Skeith thoughtfully, running his hand through his beard. "Last year, same as every year, the main event was held in the ballroom, and there was music and dancing, and, refreshment of all sorts."
"Alright," says Vmep slowly. "So we will have those things again, only this time we'll make everything twice as spectacular. We can invite the finest musicians in the kingdom to perform at our party. I've actually made a list for you of Neopians we can ask." The Kougra opens his burgundy binder, flips through the pages and hands over a sheet of paper covered from top to bottom with names. "You will see, Your Majesty, that the names I have highlighted in green are the Neopians I've already spoken with personally. They all said they would be happy to do it, and are simply awaiting the consent of the king."
King Hagan reads over the list, reads over it again and begins to smile. "Extremely impressive, Advisor Vmep." he beams. "These players will certainly make our party a celebration to be remembered."
Vmep glows with excitement and pride. "Those aren't the only Neopians who said they'd be willing to perform." He takes out another page from his binder, also covered in highlighted names. "I've spoken with some other entertainers as well. Jugglers, dancers, even some of the Royal Sorcerers have agreed to do magic for us! All awaiting your concession, my king."
Once again, the hum of low speech fills the room. Most of the advisors are smiling, and the general air is one of enthusiasm. Not everyone is happy, however. Theodore Craw is not a bit impressed, and is prepared to express his dissatisfaction to the king.
"Jugglers? You cannot seriously be thinking of hiring jugglers for our party, Your Majesty! Advisor Vmep is continuously proving to us that he is a child. He is immature, inexperienced, and he will insult our honoured guests with his fool-headed ideas of a sophisticated party. If I were you, Your Majesty, I'd buy him a ticket to the fun fair and send him on his way.And tell him to take those ridiculous decorations with him." he mumbles the last part under his breath.
A handful of advisors appear to agree with Theodore. (either that, or they are simply highly amused with his words) King Hagan will not stand for this kind of disparagement, however.
"Advisor Theodore, I will not tolerate you slandering your peers in this way." he says hotly.
"I'm terribly sorry if I've offended any one of you." Vmep cuts in. "I've never been to a Discovery of Brightvale celebration before. It is true that I am inexperienced, and in this case..." he pauses. "In this case, Theodore is right: I don't really know what I'm doing. My only intention was to assist with the festivities. I just thought that jugglers and dancers and magic tricks might be..."
"Might be what, Advisor Vmep?" the king presses for him to continue.
"Fun." he says simply. "I thought they might be fun."
"And correct you were!" the Skeith exclaims, his countenance full of glee. "I haven't seen good, wholesome entertainment like that since we fired the court jester! I still don't know why we let go of that clown. It wasn't my idea, for a fact."
The whole table turns to look at Theodore, who turns to look at an imaginary spyder on the wall behind him.
"If we are to have performers at our banquet," says Mr. Boid, a shadow Moehog in a glistening white suit. "I have a friend who is proficient in the art of mime, Your Highness. Perhaps I could persuade him to present, if it would please you."
"My daughter and son in law are excellent at caricatures, Your Majesty," says Vmep's neighbour, Mrs. Eileen. "They've made quite a successful little business of it, and I'm sure they'd be more than happy to offer their talents at our celebration."
"If we're going to be reaching such new levels of merriment anyway," continues Vmep. "We might as well think of some games for our esteemed guests to play. Round Table Poker and Cheat! are always party favourites."
"Well done, my brilliant advisors!" exclaims the king. "Your ideas will certainly make our celebration a fresh and original experience for all. Our guests will surely walk away at the end of the night feeling exhilarated and refreshed!"
"Speaking of guests, Your Majesty," says Vmep. "I did have one more idea that will be sure to make our Discovery of Brightvale a celebration unlike any other."
"And what is that?" asks the king. "Pray tell me, who would you like me to invite that has not been invited to one of our illustrious banquets before?"
The green Skeith's eyes open wide with surprise. "Everyone?"
"I couldn't help but notice at Meridell's discovery celebration that the guest list was comprised mostly of Meridell's nobility; dukes and duchesses, earls, and viscounts, and of course a plethora of knights, as can be expected. I understand this is the way it has always been done, and it certainly makes for an impressive, and interesting social gathering. But you must take this fact into consideration, Your Highness: It is the people who are the heart of a party. Much like it is the people who are the heart of a kingdom.
"Your Majesty, where would a kingdom be without its people? Where would Brightvale be without its scholars, its bookstore workers and its stained-glass window makers?" he laughs. "Brightvale would not be Brightvale if it weren't for the neopets who live in it.The poorest farmer in his field supplying food for the entire nation. Is he less deserving of an invitation than Theodore or I? I think we can all agree that the answer to that question is no. Therefore I propose that this year we leave the Discovery of Brightvale open to the public, allowing all Neopians everywhere to come celebrate our glorious kingdom with us. For it is not the geographic country we are truly celebrating, but the people who have made Brightvale the beautiful land it is today."
In an instant the room erupts in a sound far louder than muttering. Some neopets shake their heads in objection, but some neopets nod, and to Vmep's utter amazement, some of the advisors have actually started to clap.The king gives no indication of objection or approval. He sits in his chair as still as can be, running his hand through his beard, deep in thought.
"Advisor Peterson, will our finances allow for that?" the king says when he speaks at last.
"I reckon so." replies the Quiggle. "And if not, I'm sure we can stretch our budget a little for such a momentous occasion."
"Your Majesty," interrupts Theodore . "How do you think the nobles will feel about being forced to mingle with the commoners? It's never been done. Some of them may be appalled by the very idea."
"The social gap between classes will never be closed if we don't try." reminds Vmep. "And they don't have to mingle if they don't want to. There'll be plenty of room for all."
"And that is where you are wrong, Advisor Vmep." reproves the king. "There is certainly not room for all. Not in all of the rooms of the castle. That is why I propose that this grand celebration be held outside in the royal gardens, where there will be plenty of room for all Neopians, from all walks of society, to enjoy. All in favour of this motion, say I."
"I!" a great multitude of advisors shout in unison. The majority of the table is in agreement, a conclusion is come to, and the meeting of the Brightvallian Royal Advisors is adjourned.
"Thank you, Your Majesty." says Vmep gratefully. "If I may say so myself, you've made the right decision, for everyone."
"Thank you, Advisor Vmep." King Hagan says profoundly. "No matter what the issue is, you never fail to impress me."
The advisors bow one final time before the king. Then in a swarm of fine tailored suits and exquisite dresses, they file out of the room, one by one. Vmep is the first to leave, just as he always is. Mr. Denten finds this extraordinarily unusual, and he expresses his concerns to Theodore as the two take their leave through the castle halls.
"There's something wrong with that boy." the old Lupe says suspiciously. "He's always the last to arrive, and the first one to leave. There are so many questions I know we'd all like to ask him, but he never stays around long enough to answer them."
"Young upstart." snarls Theodore. "He thinks he's better than us, and the king gives him good reason to think so! He's got Hagan wrapped around his finger! Have you noticed the way he goes along with everything he says? I tell you, if Vmep advised him to hand over the thrown to him, that idiot king would do it."
"King Hagan does seem to pay particular attention to Vmep," says Mr. Denten. "But I'm sure it is only because he is new, and brings new ideas and insight to the team. You have to admit he has excellent ideas. Leaving the Discovery of Brightvale open to the public, allowing all neopets from all classes to take part, and be treated as equals. It's amazing that nobody thought of it before."
"Nobody's thought of it before because it's a perverted idea!" hollers Theodore. "Peasants being welcomed at the same party as lords and ladies? It's like he's trying to bring down the hierarchy or something!"
The old blue Lupe only sighs. "Well, I suppose we'll all get the chance to talk to him at the Discovery of Brightvale. You can ask him what was going through his head then. Though I couldn't help but feel at the Meridell party that he was going out of his way to avoid us..."
As soon as the Lenny and the Lupe are out of earshot, a grey Kougra steps out of the shadows of a dimly lit, adjoining hall. He tucks his burgundy binder under his arm and walks away.
Nothing would please him more than to attend the Discovery of Brightvale celebration, but unfortunately this year, he will not be going. He has risked far too much already, and if he goes to the party on the 11th of the month of Hiding, all he has worked for may be lost...
Vmep the grey Kougra is not who he claims to be. As long as no one knows this, he is safe. But if the king, the advisors, or anyone finds out, the consequences will be dire.
At the moment, everything is how it should be. Soon Brightvallians rich and poor will gather together to commemorate the founding of Neopia's glorious Kingdom of Knowledge. How things will turn out in the future for King Hagan's newest advisor... I'm afraid, dear reader, that that is a story for another time.