Marna the Grarrl loved her position as court cook for the mostly grumpy King Skarl, but something was wrong of late. The King had not laughed for some time and was becoming more and more grumpy by the day if that was possible and the poor Meridell cleaners were being overworked with their more and more frequent trips to the Rubbish Dump. They were starting to grumble and complain about the smell they could not remove from their clothes and the fact the King himself did not even notice the stench!
She had been with him ever since that chance meeting at the fancy Kelp restaurant when she had spilled her soup on him and said something witty that made him laugh. She remembered the long pause as he looked at his stately robe and the darkening stain that graced his collar. He had stared at it for a long while and then suddenly without warning let out a bellow of laughter that was strong and loud. It lasted for just a few seconds and stopped as quickly as it started but it was enough for the King to take an immediate liking to her.
He hardly ever laughed so he hired her there and then mostly for the possible chuckle but also for a vacancy that had just so happened to become available that very day, court cook. It seems that that the previous cook had not given the King an accurate summary of what was in his casserole for lunch that day. The King hated any orange food and his lunch had carrots in it. They were masked with plenty of gravy, but the King still discovered a small piece not cut as finely as the others and was furious.
The court cook had told the King when questioned that King Hagan had suggested it as he had been concerned about King Skarl’s health. King Skarl was by no means amused and dismissed the cook immediately, hence his presence at the Kelp that evening.
The problem was that she had not made him laugh or even crack a smile since then and she was in fear of losing her position in the court and it was no easy task finding employment in Neopia these days.
She was not a favorite among the castle staff they all feared her because of her big teeth and the fact she had replaced a dear friend of theirs as the new court cook, but she shared the same staff quarters as many of them and heard the chatter and rumors about Neopia from time to time. They were concerned about the behavior of the King too and during one of their whispered gossip sessions, she over-heard them talking. In that conversation she heard the ever-present grumbling again about the rubbish dump but one of the staffers had been saying something about the possibility of finding rare treasure there. It
This gave her an idea, find the treasure and give the King something that would change his sour mood. If she could do this then maybe could keep her job here at court, restore her favor with the King, and maybe just maybe gain the respect of the other court staff. She was tired of eating alone at the end of the staff table having to ease drop on conversations instead of being a part of them.
She would go to the Rubbish dump this very night under darkness and find the treasure that was hiding in that stinky place if it was the last thing she did as court cook even if it was just a rumor.
As soon as she knew everyone was well asleep, she grabbed a knap sack and headed from the castle down the path to Meridel farms where the fowl smell of the junk from the dump lingered in the air as a guide to its location. It did not take her long until her feet meet the squishy mess of the dump. She looked around in the darkness trying to decide where to begin looking in this heap of mess when she thought she saw something move slightly under a bunch of apple cores and barbed wire. Well she thought that is a good as place as any to look even though she was sure nothing could possibly be hanging out in this unsavory place.
No gloves and sticky stuff that she did not even want to think about clung to her thick hands as she dug for hours in the muck of the dump. She had to find something before dawn as the King even in his deteriorating state would be wanting some sort of breakfast and she would be missed by the staff if for no other reason than missing toast and coffee.
Pale pink glimmers of day ever so slightly began to creep up on her as she frantically dug and just as she thought she would have to give up her mission and return to the castle, her had grazed something that was a little soft and wet but different from the gross things about her. She reached deeper into the muck and grasped hold of it. When she pulled it out and looked it was an old blue plushie. This was not what she had in mind for treasure, but it was something and maybe she could clean it up and give it to the King and it would put him in a little better mood? One could hope. She stashed the plushie into her knap sack and rushed back to the castle.
She had made it back just in time and had the coffee brewing as the staff began to enter the kitchen. As soon as they all had their breakfast toast and coffee and the King was given his breakfast, Stitch began the task of cleaning the plushie she had found in the dump. A few times as she was cleaning it a few staff had popped in and out sniffing and giving her fowl looks but none of them cared enough about her to ask what she may be doing.
When she finished cleaning the plushie it did not look or smell too bad. It was a blue fuzzle not too special a gift for the King, but it would have to do. She gently put the now new looking plushie in a nice gift box with lots of ribbon and placed it on the Kings lunch tray. They King did like gifts even if it was just for the pretty paper that they came in.
She watched intently as the King was served his lunch tray and she heard him snap, “What is this? A gift?” He grabbed the box off the tray and pushed the tray aside. He tore through the paper without hesitation and pulled the plushie from the box. He sat on his throne holding the plushie making various faces at it the way he did with his other toys. He did this for a long time and then in an instant the plushie suddenly came to life and hummed a low BOO! At the King. The King was so startled by it that he dropped the plushie. There was no sound and the plushie did not move but the King was staring at it the way he had started at her at the Kelp that evening. For a moment she though he was going to yell but then it came, a low stirring grin followed by a bellow of laughter so hearty and strong the whole castle came running to see for themselves the King laughing.
Standing there as the King kept laughing and laughing at the mysterious plushie that scared him into a giggle Marna was greeted with glances of approval and smiles from the courtiers and she knew that she had won them over and there was once again peace in the castle. She had no idea what that mysterious plushie was or how it worked but she was thankful for it at this moment. I guess all the King needed was a good scared to get him laughing again she thought.