Hello and welcome! My name is Nuhanee, and you seem to have stumbled into my room somehow. Now that you're here, you might as well stay. Sit back, relax, pull up a bean bag chair! Perhaps I can offer you some tea? I have every flavour, strawberry, camomille, Earl grey... peppermint tea is very soothing, the smell almost helps me sleep.
Feel free to look around... just don't touch anything, please!
Age: 17 (human years)
Height: roughly 5"1
Weight: 105 lbs.
Hair colour: pale brown "mousy"
Eyes: vivid purple, often described as lilac
Health: suffers from insomnia and sleepwalking... otherwise, nothing notable
Hobbies: reading, cooking, sewing
Nuhanee was born in a small village just outside of Faerieland called Slaipe. It was (Slaipe is currently relocating to another plot of land) a gypsy caravaning town. Nuhanee's mother was a famous fortune teller whose profession took them to gypsy camps all across Neopia, but to Nuhanee, the permanent camp of Slaipe was always home. Nuhanee's mother, a woman named Ray, often left her precious daughter unattended in Slaipe for weeks on end while she travelled.
Raised as a gypsy, Nuhanee quickly learned the arts of palm reading and tea leaves. Ray had high hopes for her daughter's future.
And this is where our story starts: fifteen year old Nuhanee (human years) in the sleepy morning fog just outside of Slaipe.
In which Nuhanee discovers something sinister about her mother
Nuhanee shifted uncomfortably in line at the well pump. In front of her, a fortune teller with waist length purple hair and a swirl of perfumed skirts cradled a bronze pot underneath one arm, an old metal bath tub balanced on her hip while she tried to position herself to fill both with water. The girl was relatively new to the camp: she had pulled a handcart and a donkey up to the bonfire at midnight a week ago, and though Nuhanee still didn't know her well, she moved forwards to offer a hand.
Hey, hi. Do you need help? Nuhanee asked, dropping her two iron cooking pots onto the ground.
The girl looked startled. Oh, hello. Um, sure. How do you work the...?
Pump? Just pull the...
Smiling, the girl leaned forward. Lever? Thanks! I'm Ivy, by the way.
Nuhanee grinned foolishly and laughed. I'm Nuhanee. My mother is Ray, the head fortune teller... maybe you've heard of her?
Ivy's eyes widened. Ray is your mother? she demanded.
Suddenly, Nuhanee's spirit fled the conversation with gumption. Yeah.
Nuhanee, would you maybe mind... helping me carry the water to my tent? I can't manage it by myself, and I'd love to hear more about your life and the camp and... your... mother.
Nuhanee filed up her two cooking pots slowly, then turned. Sorry, can't. After years of people fawning over her because of who her mother was, Nuhanee had become sensitive to people only conversing with her because of the famous connection. Ivy was clearly one of those people.
As she walked away, Nuhanee heard Ivy yell something about stopping by to visit Nuhanee's camp later, and where was it anyways? but kept moving, determined not to feel too sad about this friendship not surviving the first ten minutes.
Later, Nuhanee approached the remainders of the bonfire. Every evening, the gypsies in the camp would have a roaring fire, building the flames and stoking them until they were twelve feet high. People had their own, smaller, fires to cook lunch and dinner with, but the bonfire was strictly for entertainment only. Gathered around the special fire pit on benches, rocks and stumps that had been placed in a circle the moment the camp had opened, the residents of the caravaning town would share stories and adventures.
Every morning, with the ashes of the bonfire still smoldering within the pit, residents would heat their water and cook breakfast over the fiery remains. A few of the younger children were poking at the ashes with long sticks they had collected from the sleepy, fog covered woods next to the camp.
Nuhanee slipped in between two women who she had known since birth and settled one of the iron cooking pots filled with the cool water of the well between the coals. Nessie, have you met that new girl?
Nessie traveled with Nuhanee's mother on a monthly basis to Faerie City, to purchase herbs and magical items. She was roughly thirty, and had fiery red hair that was never completely smooth. She was also a gifted seamstress, and Nuhanee's godmother.
The surly one? Sure have, pumpkin. She came by my wagon with an armful of ripped clothing that needed mending, and only a coin or two. I told her I could barely mend one of those fine dresses with the money she offered, but I could sell her some thread and she could do it herself. Nessie poked at the oatmeal she had bubbling in a small cauldron.
The woman on Nuhanee's left was Sage, who, at barely sixteen, was Nuhanee's best friend. Have you met her, Nuhanee?
Sighing, Nuhanee threw a handful of rose petals into her water. I just did. She was nice enough, until I mentioned who my mother was. Then she went all misty eyed and asked me if could tell her about Ray.
While Nessie and Sage rubbed small circles on Nuhanee's back and clucked and consoled, Nuhanee threw some more herbs into her pot and stirred slowly. She intended to use the water to wash her clothing; the sun was beginning to rise slowly in the distance, which meant the nearby creek would be warm enough to bathe in.
When the herbs in the water had disolved, Nuhanee pulled a vial of lemon juice out from the pouch around her neck and poured it in. I better get back. Sage, do you want to head down to the river before lunch?
Sage looked up from where she was boiling maple syrup down to a liquid. Sure. Isn't there a banquet today, though?
All the more reason to be clean. Nessie snapped. I've made you two dresses for the banquet, so stop by my tent before you head down to the river, alright? And polish those flat soled shoes.
Nuhanee's camp was next to Sage's, so the two walked back together in silence, each concentrating on not spilling their pots. Sage's tent was made of a t-frame of thick beams, covered in a worn canvas sheet. It was spacious enough for a hay mattress, a small crate filled with blankets and towels, a matching one filled with clothes, and piles upon piles of books. The two crates had pillows stacked on top of them, so they doubled as a chair.
Sage's kitchen, primary living space and remaining possessions were in the wooden wagon that she moved everything in. It had fold out features from the wooden sides, like a table, chairs and a few kitchen facilities, and storage underneath. The wagon was easily big enough for ten people to fit comfortably in, and needed to be pulled by two horses. Sage's father had fashioned it for her before he had left the camp years ago.
Nuhanee's tent was similar in design to Sage's, only the canvas covering hers was royal blue with gold designs, and was water proof. Her tent was twelve times as big as Sage's. Her wagon was twice as big as Sage's, and much more luxurious, since not as much was required for living space, as that could fit into the tent. It held a kitchen, and three trunks.
All of Nuhanee's stuff could be stored underneath when they moved camp, so the upper part could transform quite comfortably into a house if need be. There was even a rounded wooden cover that could unfold in case it rained. The wagon was painted in deep blues, greens, reds and purples, with gold brushed across the raised floral carvings.
All of this was a gift from Nuhanee's mother. Four horses were required to move Nuhanee's possessions out of camp.
See you later, Nuhanee! Sage disappeared into her wagon by climbing through the open driver's seat. Nuhanee could access hers through the folding deck at the back, or a set of ornate stairs at the side.
She set her water on the deck, and disappeared inside her tent.
The inside of Nuhanee's tent was simple, but elegant. Old velvet hangings with pretty, hand stitched designs hung from the chunky beams. Her straw mattress was wider and longer than the average one, and was covered in cool silk sheets. She had an old leather traveling trunk filled with clothes, and a long, flat wooden box that matched the wagon filled with blankets, towels, sheets, spare fabric, tools, and other provisions. She'd fashioned a table out of logs, and covered it with a canvas cloth with brightly stitched designs, when they had made camp two years ago. Stumps made up chairs. She and Sage had woven river grass into place mats.
This was Nuhanee's home. There was a comfortable stack of pillows in one corner, where Nuhanee went to read. Her glassware and plates were carefully kept in cupboards inside the wagon, along with her books, her baby toys, and presents from friends and her mother. A rug from Shenkuu was laid across the floor, atop the tarps and matts that kept the chill away. Nuhanee's home was, by all standards, the peak of luxury among the gypsy camp.
Except, of course, for the tent of her mother, which was across the camp.
After pulling an armful of laundry from the corner, Nuhanee headed back out to the deck. The sun was fully risen, and hitting her deck with frail, early morning light. Nuhanee dunked her laundry into the warm, fragrant water and pulled a half used bar of oatmeal soap and her washboard out of the drawer nearest to her, and scrubbed slowly and carefully at her dresses, skirts, blouses and underclothes. Once they were clean, she laid them carefully along the deck in the sunshine and scooped up her pot of water.
It was generally frowned upon to waste anything, so Nuhanee set about locating others who were doing their laundry. While she could clean her clothes fairly quickly, mothers with families of six could not. Eventually, she came across a harassed looking woman who was surrounded by piles of filthy child's clothes. Her metal washing tub was only half full, and already the water was dirty. Nuhanee poured her water into the woman's bucket and accepted a handful of dried fruit in return before walking away.
Halfway back to her tent, she was stopped by someone calling her name. Nuhanee, there you are! Is your camp near here?
It was Ivy. Nuhanee contemplated telling the truth, but eventually settled on lying. Yeah, pretty close by. She gestured vaguely at the expanse of tents, wagons, tarps and handcarts that stretched for practically a mile in each direction. After the core of the camp was set up, with about two hundred people in total, travellers, wandering gypsies and tired merchants would pitch camp as well. After two years in one location, the core was quickly outnumbered by those who stayed temporarily. They were separated by the bonfire and pump area.
Ivy was in the core section. There were approximately one hundred tents to search, which wasn't very many, but they were spread far apart, and the spaces between them were filled with wooden huts for storage. The livestock were kept in stables on the edges, or in the fields. Nuhanee and Sage kept their horses with Nessie's in her husband's fields, which he groomed with each new placement of the camp until they could hold his vast herds of livestock and grow enough vegetables for the core members of the camp.
The additions had to provide their own food.
So. I was wondering if I could ask you when your mother will be back? Ivy asked, pulled a handful of roots from the pocket of her apron and beginning to eat them. It had only been a week, but already Ivy had run out of the food she had brought with her, and since none of the core would share their food without handsome payment, she had had to gather it herself.
Nuhanee sighed, and told Ivy the truth. Next week sometime. She pitched a tent in the Faerieland festival. Do you want your fortune told by her? But Ivy had already begun to sprint in the other direction, into the heart of addition camp. After a brief hesitation, Nuhanee left her pot on the porch of her cousin, Meribelle, and follwed.
Ivy led her through the addition camp quickly. Here, the tents and wagons were more often than not tarps without walls on frail frames made of sticks and tiny, rotting handcarts. They passed the occasional tent of a merchant who stayed to sell his wares to the gypsies, which were similar to Nuhanee's in size. About halfway through the addition camp, Ivy stopped at a small handcart that could hold a few blankets, a tiny tent, and a small trunk at the most. That was exactly what Ivy proceeded to pack into it, folding frantically.
Nuhanee offered some sugar cubes from her pocket to Ivy's donkey, which brayed in annoyance at the sudden disturbance. Moving out so quickly? Although Nuhanee couldn't stand Ivy, she was curious: few left the camp after only a week, and on such short notice.
Oh, only temporarily. I have to... Ivy tugged frantically at her hair, which was no longer a tangle around her face, but instead an ornate braided design with gold rings threaded through the thicker parts. She was wearing a white dress that fell a few inches below her knee, revealing most of Ivy's tanned calves. Her shoes were dainty lace moccasins. The banquet. I'll leave right after the banquet.
After a moment's hesitation, Nuhanee carefully picked up a velvet cape. It was the same colour of Ivy's hair, and covered in fake rubies and gold leaf. Nuhanee pushed Ivy's hair back and secured the cape around her neck. Where are you going?
Ivy looked up from her packing. Why, to see your mother of course. I'm the girl whose fortune she lied about.
What? Nuhanee gasped. That broke many gypsy laws.
I'm taking my donkey to the stables. See you at the banquet.
In which the girls get ready for the banquet and Nuhanee discovers something extraordinary.
After walking back to her camp to prepare for her and Sage's walk to the river, Nuhanee settled on the decision that Ivy was crazy. Ray would never lie about a fortune and future that she had seen. It went against all that Ray taught.
Consoled by this idea, Nuhanee shook her hair out from under the scarf she'd secured it with this morning when she woke up, and slipped into a short burlap dress with a few ruffles down the front and a wide leather tie at the waist. She kept her feet bare.
Inside her wagon, Nuhanee filled her "bath kit" up: it was a waterproof canvas bag with compartments separated by more canvas. In it she put a handful of hair pins, a fistful of hair twine, a comb, two bottles of shampoo (cinnamon and mint/aloe), rose petal soap, a container of smooth goo that smelt like pine to make her hair soft, another container of similar goo to keep her hair from frizzing, and a final bottle of "smoothing cream" to make her hair straight and shiny. She included a kit of lotions, and some perfume in the scent of summer.
In her laundry bag, Nuhanee folded a navy blue lace night gown and a long wool sweater the colour of wheat. She also put slip ons into the bag to keep her feet clean between the river and home.
Sage! I'm all ready! Nuhanee shouted. There was some rustling next door, and Sage emerged. She was wearing a gown identical to Nuhanee's, only hers set off the pale blonde colour of Sage's hair, instead of blending. Sage carried her own bath kit, and a bundle of spare clothes. Both girls grabbed towels and set off across the camp.
They gossiped as they hurried across the river, sharing stories from the bonfire the night before, swapping tales about new additions to the camp, speculating about the banquet. Sage agreed with Nuhanee's assessment of Ivy, claiming that she was simply jealous of Ray's talent.
The river was a rushing pale blue with gently sloping, smooth rock banks bordered by grass. The bottom of the river was smooth stone as well, making it easy to enter and exit the river to bathe and collect water.
Set in the middle of the forest, the bathing section of the river was mostly empty at all times: some people preferred to heat up well water and bathe back in their tents, or shower under the water fall further downstream. The additions to the camp used a narrower, shallower stream that broke off from the main river about three miles before the camp.
When Nuhanee and Sage arrived, the river was completely empty. The path from the edge of the forest to the bathing section was bordered by small white marble rocks, and hewn birch logs.
Both girls stripped out of their matching gowns without shame, discarding them and their change of clothes in the grass. Their towels were left just out of reach of the lapping water, and their bathing kits were left right on the edge of the banks, on the damp rocks.
Nuhanee dunked under the water and began scrubbing at herself with her bar of soap: she bathed almost every day, but still loved the feel of grime coming off her skin. Sage handed Nuhanee a handful of sand collected by the addition's stream, and the girls began to rub off the dead skin that covered them.
After they had shared Nuhanee's hair products, and Nuhanne had secured Sage's hair with pins so that they would form tiny, delicate curls, they toweled off quickly and slid into their respective (clean) night gowns.
That was a quick bath. Sage remarked, laughing. They had been in the cool water for almost an hour, pumicing and plucking and shaving themselves. Both were almost pink from the effort, their skin raw. Nuhanee rubbed lotion across her legs and handed the bottle to Sage.
After another fifteen minutes of passing the lotion back and forth, Nuhanee stood up. The banquet began at one o'clock, and the sun announced that it was practically noon. We should head back. And stop by Nessie's on the way, she said she has dresses for us.
They set off into the forest, now sharing Nuhanee's perfume as they sprayed it in their hair. Both Sage and Nuhanee smelt like the most beautiful forest in the summertime.
There you girls are! So clean and beautiful too, oh! Nessie was sitting on her porch running green glitter through her hair. The glitter matched Nessie's eyes exactly. I have dresses for you two. Sit tight, beauties.
Nuhanee and I can't wait! Sage called. After a few moments, Nessie emerged from her wagon home with a grin.
Ta da! Sage, my lovely, for you! She held a pale yellow-green silk gown with a fitted waist, short skirt and detailed gold lace. It's straps were wisps of gold ribbon, and thick gold tulle to keep the skirt poofy showed below the hem. There was a lime green bow at the back. It was simple but so, so elegant. Nuhanee felt instantly jealous as Nessie handed Sage a pair of sparkly gold canvas boots that went to mid-calf, and laced up. They also had a slight heel.
Oh, Nessie! Sage gasped, and twirled with the dress held against herself. Nuhanee, take my pins out! That task completed, a breathless Sage ducked into Nessie's house the change. After a few minutes of suspense, Sage emerged, glowing and beautiful. The dress was pale enough to be considered understated, but still bright and eye catching.
Nessie clucked in adoration and seized Sage's small, pointy chin in one hand and began brushing pale pink cream across her lips. Sage also got white powder smoothed across her cheekbones and eyelids, and gold glitter around the rims of her eyes.
Sage, every boy will want to take you home, girl! Nuhanee said, knowing she was supposed to. Nessie smiled and nodded, then looked at Nuhanee.
For you, sweetie, I have something more special. Nessie reached into her wagon and plucked Nuhanee's dress out. It was an odd cobalt blue, and looked almost as if it glowed. It was incredibly tiny looking, with no straps or sashes to keep it up; it was strapless. It had a sweetheart neckline that added an unexpected innocence to it. Beads and gems covered the skirt, sprinkled lightly along the high fanning fabric until ending at the waist.
Nuhanee picked it up and held it. Oh Nessie. It's so...
It was gorgeous, but so understated. Like a creepy sparkly ballerina skirt with a completely random top. As much as Nuhanee wanted to love it, she couldn't bring herself to. It was like something Ray would have worn, something that would catch you eye but allow you to glance at other people before returning your individed attention to the wearer.
Oh! Sage gasped. Oh Nuhanee! Go put it on go put it on go out it on this instant!
Nuhanee was very tempted to accidentally catch it on a nail. It was nothing like her style, so un-gypsy, nothing like Sage's pretty but completely conventional gown. This was daring.
As she wriggled into the fabric, she caught sight of herself in one of Nessie's mirrors. The skirt was pretty, but it needed to be less poofy, and the cobalt blue needed to be a deep ash grey...
And the dress changed to exactly what Nuhanee had been imagining. The skirt didn't give her fake hips the size of a horse, and the top was prettily gathered with subtle layers of satin ribbon. Sequins lined the tulle that stuck out from the skirt now, and the sky high stick thin heels Nessie had left out on her table were now chunky lace up boots with wedge heels and fishnet cuffs folded down over the tops.
Nuhanee emerged from Nessie's seamstress workspace feeling bold and gorgeous. Sage frowned. It's... I thought it was blue, blue is so much more your colour...
Frowning, Nessie shook her head. No it isn't, Sage! Why didn't I think of grey? At least the dress is magical. Honey, it changes based on your preferences! Your mother charmed it, it works for you and only you. You can turn it into clean pyjamas or a fur mantle or a leather ensemble with just a few thoughts.
Nuhanee smiled faintly. Sage, will you do my hair?
Sage nodded frantically. Absolutely. I think that an elaborate updo, maybe some beehive curls, oooooh and a headband! Sage bubbled excitedly.
Sage, that sounds awful. Nuhanee shook her head. I think maybe just down, but with a couple braids gathered from the front to back, but French ones! And I'll wear Ray's sapphire earrings and her necklace, the one the size of a fist.
Sage frowned. Well, there is no accounting for taste. Sage looked pointedly at Nuhanee, from head to toe.
Coughing, Nessie turned away. Well, baby Nu-ha, I will do your hair. And makeup. And your mother sent that jewelry along with the dress, so she must have predicted what you'd want.
Thinking of predictions made Nuhanee think of Ivy, and that brought up horrible memories of her mother spending hours with tarot cards and none with her daughter, so Nuhanee shook her head. Um, that'd all be really great. I can meet Sage back at our tents and we can walk over together.
Sage interrupted quickly. I'll wait.
So while Sage watched, Nessie turned Nuhanee into a raving beauty. Her skin turned a flawless white, her eyes turned huge and luminous, and her lips turned a pale purple-pink.
While Nessie worked, Nuhanee changed the dress so that is was all black in colour, and her shoes to match Sage's, only Nuhanee's were silver. When Nessie hung the jewelry on Nuhanee, she suddenly felt very aware of Sage, glaring at her.
Wanna head back, Sage?
Before Sage could respond, Nessie burst in, nodding frantically as she buttoned her own grey velvet shift dress up the back and slid into loafers.
Sage walked quietly. Instead of being bubbly and enthusiastic, she walked with her head down and her bath things held studiously by both hands in front of her while she walked. After several failed attempts at conversation, Nuhanee finally threw her hands into the air.
Sage, what is wrong with you? Are you upset your mother didn't send you a magical dress? Oh wait, your mother actually lives in this camp, and sees you, and loves you, and cares about you by not bribing you with stupid gifts that you have to take.
Sage shrugged. Long speech.
Well one of us has to be chatty you selfish...
After a few more moments of silence, Nuhanee opened her mouth to apologize but Sage beat her to the punch.
I just thought that I was supposed to be the pretty one, and you the... best friend. The shy girl! The one who boys
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