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There always seems to be yet another room in castles. Everywhere you look, chandeliers glisten with jewels, butlers open doors silently, and tapestries hang reverently, as if to remind you of why everything is, in fact, so grand.
But no one ever sees where I live. It's not a secret passageway, nor is it guarded. No one asks, no one cares. The basement door is small and unobtrusive, but much less hidden than other entryways. In a way it provides a respite from the rest of the castle, with its door as a demarcation line between the excessively ornate or formal and the true nature of a home.
It's not that I don't enjoy the castle. I do. I just spend most of my time upstairs, tending to Her Royal Highness Clemede. Like a butler, I rarely speak, tending to blend into the rest of the decorations (an essential quality for any position with the royal family). At night, it's freeing to withdraw to the basement - practically an apartment of its own, with a fireplace, bathroom, and service entrance to the outside world. A world not interrupted with chandeliers and tapestries, not obsessed with formalities, not relying on servants for mundane tasks.
Yet it is here, in this somewhat archaic mini-world of the castle, that I feel comfortable. It is here that, somehow, I am happy, and enjoy the simplicity of absolutes and mundane tasks. Sometimes I feel that I should want more. And then I withdraw to my own secret passageway - for if no one sees it, or notices it, it's a secret! This cozy basement secret I hold reminds me of my larger secret truth: I enjoy my life of servitude. Why? I'm not sure. People will gossip, and I'm sure you can find a convincing, albeit 90% wrong, explanation there. But all I know is that I'm here, by the fire in my own hidden home, happy to work in the name of Irucien.
I have learned that beauty
Has to flourish in the light
Wild horses run unbridled
Or their spirit dies
You have given me the courage
To be all that I can
--"Butterfly" by Mariah Carey
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by the numbers
Basic Personal Info
Neopets Color: Pink Aisha with Desert clothing
Age: Twenty-one in Neopet years, or 65883 hours old
Companion: Geneve the Faerie Yullie
Other Family: Magus, her brother
Occupation: Servant and seamstress in the kingdom of Irucien
This is me, drawn by Jenn (drag to your address bar for full size):
the details of a personality
Born on the 16th day of Relaxing, Y6 (June 16, 2004), Promise's astrological sign is Gemini. Those with this sign are born between the 22nd day of Hunting and the 21st day of Relaxing (May 22 and July 21). Gemini's symbol is the twin, fitting for Promise because of her close relationship with both petpet and brother. Those under this sign are often smart, talkative, and curious.
Overall, Promise is a trademark Gemini. Her intelligence is strong, partially from the books she's devoured over the years but also because of what she's learned from her senses while creating jewelry. Her curious nature allows her to fearlessly experiment with designs, and her trust and dependence on Geneve have created a rock-solid bond between them. Since her birthday falls towards the end of Gemini's section, she is also sensitive and slightly clingy, like a Cancer, and she can be shy and overprotective.
When Promise can escape from the castle on errands, Promise and her dear friend Mathieau make a point to walk by the poor merchants' area as they set up shop for the day. Sometimes the pair gives a merchant a few bites of food or a few Neopoints, but without fail they stop to examine new items (Promise always praises the craftsmanship) and hear a story or two from the merchants.
promise's point of view
life in the present
While I possess most of the traits classic Geminis do, I'm also quite different. The most obvious thing is the connection I have with my craft. Just as Yooyuball players are completely devoted to their sport and working on new plays, I am always searching for unusual jewels and trying to find unique combinations.
But let me tell you a bit about my life in Irucien, as I haven't given you much context. You will hear soon about my beginnings, but in the present moment I live in the basement of the queen's castle in Irucien with my younger brother Magus. I am the queen's servant as well as her seamstress; I make all of her clothing and jewelry and help her as best I can with other tasks. This includes the mail: I am the only one with access to her mail, and I am under orders to destroy any and all hate mail immediately, so as not to upset her or to shed a negative light on her reign.
Art by Hannah.
a story of old times
My first memory was being underground, deep in the woods. And though we were underground, a brilliant light shone, but I still only saw the blurriest fuzz of shapes. I could not detect movement, and I could only hear one word in a whole conversation. Most of the day I was unconscious, and so today I consider each awakening a new day, though it may have been months. My first day I heard nothing; I suppose I was just too young then. For three weeks I strung words together. Parents, leave, alive, mother, eat, happy, new, child. After that, my parents left. Their shapes were there before I lapsed into unconsciousness and gone when I awoke. My eyesight improved, I grew, but my hearing worsened. One day I awoke to find a Neopet standing before me. Where my mother had been small but rather round, the stranger was filling the entrance. Somehow it struck me that she was female. I had no reasoning to support this, but I knew. Later I fell asleep even with her watching because I was still so young and got tired quite easily. She must have taken me then, in my most vulnerable state.
Waking up in a strange room, I got scared and fell off the bed, a foreign object to me. In strode the Soup Faerie, though I didn't know who she was at the time. I crawled into the corner and yelped when I found a creature smaller than me but looking more like me than the bigger animal who'd just walked in. The larger one picked me up gently, and I was surprised to find that I understood her language.
Child, she said, I know the two of us are quite different in both size and shape. We speak the same language, live in the same place, and are both affected by your parents' decisions, however. Please do not fear me, for I am not the one who stole you from your home. True, it was by a companion of mine, done for your safety.
I realize, she concluded, that this is a shock for you. There's some food for you over there, she said, gesturing to behind the bed. The friend you just met is a Yullie, and you can name her anything you want. Just before she left, she turned to look at me one more time. Please trust me, she pleaded, and please, do not be scared. She left and I went over to the food. By now I was about a year old, and so my eyesight had sharpened considerably. I could speak, as Aishas typically gain speech at a very early age, and I could eat, but I wasn't mature in any sense of the word. The Soup Faerie had left me some soup, which I devoured after both figuring out what the strange liquid was and also how to eat it. Grabbing the blanket from the bed, I laid it on the floor as far away as I could from the Yullie and promptly went back to sleep. It became a new hobby of mine, sleeping did, because while it allowed me freedom from my thoughts, it also allowed my eyes to rest and my vision to be clearer upon my awakening.
As I slept, the Soup Faerie would refill my food and that pesky Yullie would remain in the room, quiet and watchful. My captor haunted my dreams, no matter how much the Soup Faerie tried to get me to trust them both. I'd wake up and see a wet rag with a trail of water from the Yullie to where it lay beside me. She never said anything, and that's what initially scared me so much- the innocence and vulnerability that comes from knowing nothing.
I grew older and became bored more easily with sleeping and being stuck in the room. The Soup Faerie would give me books, which I read rapidly even though they were old and some pages had soup spills on them. She didn't know I was so bored; in retrospect I probably should have said something, but I was scared she'd abandon me on the street. To pass time, I listened at the door to the Soup Faerie making and giving out soup. I heard many languages spoken, all of which she was fluent in. One in particular interested me. I didn't know what it was, but I listened, figuring out words as best I could and saying them aloud. It was something to do, at least, and the soup always smelled wonderful.
I guess eventually she heard me. I'm not quite sure. All I know is that she silently walked in and saw me pressed to the wall, my back facing the door. She spoke in that tongue and I turned with a jerk. I climbed on the bed in a hurry with my ears down in shame. She switched to a language I could understand and sat down at the foot of the bed, telling me it was okay. I could learn the language. I could even come out of the room if I wanted. I could help her.
So I did. I served bowls of Minestrone soup, conversed with the pets who came, and generally had a wonderful time. Almost all of the pets who dropped by had sad stories, but not all, and those who had the sad stories seemed to grow happier just watching their bowl being piled high. I saw Royal pets stumble in, their owners having disappeared from Neopia but the pets having figured out where we were, and I saw millions of basic-colored pets, their fur rugged and their eyes hopeful. Sometimes these basic-colored pets came in with a loving owner who'd just lost all of his or her NPs at Scorchy Slots, but sometimes, like the Royals, they too came in alone.
It was probably a year or two later when I went to the castle. There were frequently more heated discussions in the Soup Faerie's kitchen at that time than there had been at any other point. It sounded like official business of some sort, but I didn't eavesdrop, wary of learning anything that would alter my simple, carefree lifestyle. Instead, I preferred practicing my second language or participating in one of my other favorite hobbies, design. The Soup Faerie always seemed to have fabric scraps lying around: from tearing up cloth to wrap a sick pet's paw to mending a Royal Zafara's cloak, cloth was always lying on a table or on the floor. Geneve liked to pick them up; I suppose it was her way of volunteering, or maybe just a way to pass the time. The Soup Faerie noticed, I suppose, and left a needle and some thread on my nighttable one day. She didn't say anything about it, nor did I. I stubbornly tried to figure out what the tool did; I think Geneve knew the whole time- perhaps she saw the Soup Faerie leave her gift?- but she wouldn't tell me, probably finding it more amusing to watch and wait. I ended up using it as a sort of knife, stabbing it into the cloth and yanking. I was content with that (even though I had no idea what the thread was for besides rolling the spools across the room), until one morning when I woke up to find one solitary stitch joining two pieces.
the gift of loyalty
Geneve has been my loyal companion for quite some time. I can't pinpoint an exact time when she came to me, but she was there as I moved from the safety of my room with the Soup Faerie to an unpredictable career in the castle. At first I was overwhelmed, faced with such stunning opulence as well as a steep learning curve and a lack of patience from my teachers. I also had to control my brother Magus, who came to live with me late in my tenure with the Soup Faerie after some mishaps in Terror Mountain. The Soup Faerie thought he was quite charming but ultimately allowed him to come with me when I left, despite the fact that we are not blood relatives - one of her many gifts.
I was not used to being in charge, and while Magus and I cared for each other, it was quite hard at first adjusting to living with him in such a small space and taming his adventurous side. Meanwhile, upstairs there was always something to be done, and such a lifestyle contrasted harshly with what I'd been used to. Actions were always the priority now; daydreaming like I had before was a ridiculous waste of time. Geneve helped me finish tasks as I adjusted to less sleep, continually chirped words of wisdom in my ear, and managed to always stay with me, even though some in the castle were initially wary of her influence.
Art by Hollie.
a fateful encounter
the start of something
Promise: Sir? Um, excuse me, sir?
Promise: Yes, you, sir. May I ask what you're doing wandering around the castle? Do you work here? I've never seen you before…
Mathieau: Do you work here?
Promise: Well, I live here, dear. I do odds and ends for the queen – help her with her wardrobe, bring in the mail…
Mathieau: Do you like her? The queen?
Promise: She's been generous to me, providing me with a stable job and home, and I enjoy what I do. I deal with her personally; I don't have anything to do with state affairs, if that's what you're wondering. Now, who are you, sir?
Mathieau: Have you seen…the prisoners? The ones that she keeps? My sister Biryn is in there – I can't leave! I'm not causing any harm, I swear – I just listen.
Promise: You can hear your sister from out here? You can't hear anything out here!
Mathieau: I have been blessed with acute hearing, but no, not here. *scans the vicinity* I can't say this with guards around or anything, but there's a secret passageway… I can't keep talking about it in open air like this. Come with me!
Mathieau: See? See how the noise echoes off the bricks in here? It's stone on the outside of the castle, but brick on the interior.
Promise: How did you find this place?
Mathieau: I'm not really sure – I got to the castle after lots of trial and error searching for my sister, and it kind of just…opened itself up to me. I know it's crazy.
Promise: It's okay. Lots of crazy things happen.
Mathieau: Like my sister's sentence.
Promise: Why is she in there?
Mathieau: She was locked up over a misunderstanding. Just because we lived in the forest does not make us dangerous. We were set up. I don't know why I'm still free – if anything, we should be in there together.
Siaiu: *whispers from her ghostly form* Hello again, Mathieau.
Mathieau: Good morning, SIaiu! Anything of note?
Siaiu: Nothing, good sir. No movement from your sister, or her guards. Hello, Promise – do you know who I am?
Promise: You look so familiar, madame, but I cannot place it.
Siaiu: I am the statue from the second floor hallway. Siaiu is my name, and every so often I escape into this form.
Siaiu: You said it yourself – lots of crazy things happen. I am a prisoner too. Promise: Why so many prisoners?
Siaiu: You've seen the queen's instability, I'm sure. That's part of it. Also, her spies are unparalleled. They see everything. But they cannot be perfect, and it seems they err on the side of overzealousness.
Promise: We must think of a way to fix this! Irucien will be better for it. Queen Clemede will be better for it. We will all be better for it. My brother Magus will undoubtedly want to help.
Siaiu: Mathieau and I can be the eyes and the ears of the castle. Mathieau can also monitor the world outside the castle, to see how everyone responds to Her Majesty.
Promise: I collect the mail every morning from a good soldier in the army – I can procure some information about their status pretty easily.
Mathieau: The mail?! That's a gold mine of information!
Siaiu: How so?
Mathieau: Hate mail will give us clues about possible uprisings or other problems, of which we can take advantage!
Promise: Violence is not a good idea…
Siaiu: …but acquiring all the information we can is! Promise, use your judgment, but please, help us! Biryn, me, even Mathieau – he's practically frozen here!
Promise: I will.
Siaiu: Psst…Biryn! Biryn!
Siaiu: I know you can barely hear me because the guards are right over there and I'm barely whispering, and I know you can't respond because they're there, but we're going to get you out of here! We are on the way to a plan! We have another ally! We're going to be free, darling!
pictures by jenn
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art by others
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