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New Beginnings


by nick_and_nickette

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Many years ago...

     Close your eyes, baby mine,

     May your dreams give you joy

     One day, you shall shine

     And I'll be proud of you, my boy...

     It had been almost two tears since that melody last reached his ears. Two years since he last saw his mother. Two years since he last hugged her, last played with her.

     Two years since he had been in this dreadful place.

     The young blue Ixi was not older than nine. He was quiet, and a little skittish.

     He didn't like living in the orphanage — it was a cold, sad, lonely place. Sure, he was fed, but there were many children there, so food was meagre. And he only had a purple sweater, dark green jacket, tattered trousers and a pair of boots to his name.

     Not only the lack of adequate nourishment and clothing, but the other kids—

     “Hey look out, here comes the dumb Ixi!"

     “What's up, dork, Angelpuss got your tongue or somethin'?"

     —were not the best. They picked on the boy's refusal the speak — he hadn't spoken since his mother died.

     The Ixi had been holding a ball in his hand. The three boys that were teasing him stole it, and tossed it around while he tried to catch it, but failed to, every time. This went on for a few minutes until one of the nurses came and stopped them.

     “You should be ashamed of yourselves!", she shouted indignantly. She turned to the little boy, who was sobbing. “Hansen? Sweetie, are you okay?" The boy kept on crying, so she hugged and comforted him.

     --

     Later that night, Hansen laid in his bed. In that clumpy, cold bunk bed. He slept with other three kids in the room.

     He couldn't manage to sleep, no matter how hard he tried. His mind was running with anxious thoughts. Thoughts of how those bullies made fun of him, pushed him around, stole his toys. It was unbearable.

     He wanted, no, needed to leave this place. But how?

     All appearances aside, the young boy was quite cunning. The bullies had trapped him a number of times before, but each and every time, he had managed to escape. How? He didn't know, but he had unintentionally become a master of escape.

     But leaving the orphanage wasn't going to be as easy...

     “Hey, Hansen, you up?"

     It was the boy in the bed underneath him, an orange Gelert, barely the age of twelve, by the name of Tyrone. He had been awoken by the Ixi's rocking.

     Hansen only blinked in reply.

     “You havin' nightmares again or somethin'?" Hansen nodded. Tyrone them signalled him to come down, at which the little Ixi did. The Gelert then handed him a book. “Here, read somethin'. It helps."

     Hansen grabbed the book with his tiny blue hands. It was a book of adventure tales. He enjoyed reading about heroes who would find treasure in ancient tombs — he often daydreamed about doing it one day, too.

     But that time wouldn't come if he stayed in this doomed place...

     “Han, are you okay, man?" The Ixi's ear twitched. “You haven't opened the book."

     Hansen looked down sadly. Then Tyrone looked at him, comfortingly. “Hey, it's okay. You can trust me. I'm your buddy, after all."

     The Ixi sighed, turned around and grabbed a sheet of paper and a crayon and hurriedly wrote a note.

     “I want to get out of here."

     Tyrone snorted, “Dude, you, me and everyone here."

     Hansen wrote again, “For reals, dude."

     “You mean you want to escape?" Hansen hesitated a bit before nodding. “Are you crazy?! This place is heavily guarded! It's impossible to get out!"

     “You always say that when there's a will, there's a way", Hansen wrote.

     Tyrone sighed. “I didn't mean- I mean, there could be a way, but-" The Ixi tilted his head. “But it's too risky, Han! If we get caught, there will be awful consequences!"

     “But if we escape?"

     Tyrone buried his face in his hands and groaned. “Fine! I have some friends who could help. But don't get your hopes up." Han smiled brightly. Hope? Oh, he had plenty. He wasn't the kind to give up easily.

     --

     The next day, after lunch, Tyrone took Hansen to the library, which was empty during lunch hours. They both entered a secret passageway hidden between the bookshelves.

     It was dark. A deep voice spoke, “Welcome. What is it you want?"

     Hansen's eyes widened with fear, but Tyrone raised an eyebrow. “Missy, it's me. Could you please stop that?"

     “Password first!"

     Tyrone rolled his eyes. “Fyora is the best faerie in all of Neopia..."

     “Yes!" The source of the voice was revealed to be a small speckled Acara, clad in a pink dress, holding a flashlight. “Hello!"

     Tyrone introduced the girl to his friend. “Hansen, this is Missy. Missy, Hansen."

     Missy chattered, “Oh yeah, I know this guy! He's the dumb Ixi all the kids talk about! The one who doesn't speak?" Hansen frowned at her words, and looked down sadly.

     Tyrone frowned too, but in indignation. “...wow. Missy, seriously?"

     “What? What did I say?", the Acara blinked, clueless at the Gelert's remark.

     Tyrone sighed and facepalmed. “Never mind. Do you have what I requested?"

     “That depends, do you?", she batted her eyelashes playfully.

     “Missy..."

     “Do you?", she repeated, this time in an angry tone.

     Tyrone then begrudgingly handed her an Usuki doll, at which the girl smiled gleefully. “Thank you!"

     “Okay. Do you have the map?"

     “Sure", she said while handing him a dusty scroll, “But what do you want to do with it? Maps are boring."

     Tyrone extended the dusty scroll on the floor. “Just give me the flashlight, will ya?"

     “Whatever."

     The orange Gelert examined the map - it was the construction plans of the orphanage.

     “What are you looking for?", Missy asked.

     “A way out."

     “Why?"

     Tyrone sighed, “My friend here wants to leave."

     “Why?"

     He scoffed, “You ask too many questions, kid. Now, scram."

     She stomped on the floor furiously. “Oh, come on! I got it for you, I deserve to know what's going on!"

     The Gelert stood up and faced her directly, anger burning in his eyes, “You wouldn't understand. He's an orphan, unlike you, and he's not here willingly. And to make matters worse, he has to deal with bullies who make fun of him every single day! He's scared, and rightfully so!"

     Missy faced him sternly, but tears started welling up in her eyes, tears she sniffed away before shouting, "Fine!". She then left.

     Tyrone turned to Hansen, “So, where were we?" But Hansen's eyes showed fear at his friend's behaviour.

     “Oh, come on, don't tell me you sympathize with her! She's a spoiled brat!" But then he sighed at seeing the young Ixi being disappointed. “I'm sorry...look, kid, I promise I will apologize to her, okay? She's a friend, and that's what friends do. They forgive each other's faults. So...back to the matter at hand..."

     He looked below, to the dusty paper, illuminating it with the flashlight. He pointed to a spot in it, “Ah, this looks like the exit...but it must be heavily guarded. Hm. Looks like we'll have to come up with an escape plan."

     Hansen's eyes glistened. An escape? He was an expert at those...

     ...or so he thought.

     --

     Two days later, the two friends woke up in the middle of the night to carry out their escape plan.

     While still in their room, Tyrone whispered, “So, understood? I'll distract the guard while you go ahead and unlock the door." Hansen nodded. And so, they both slowly opened the creaky door of the room and poked their heads out, examining the dark, empty hallway. Both Neopets then tiptoed outside, and advanced towards the end, peeking behind a wall.

     There, they saw the silhouette of a guard against the moonlit door, at the far end. Everything was going according to plan...until-

     “Whatcha doin'?"

     Both Neopet friends jolted in surprise - it was the speckled Acara again.

     “Missy! For the love of Fyora, what are you doing?!", demanded Tyrone.

     She giggled mischievously. “Oh, I'm just curious, silly! So, are you really going to try to escape?"

     “If you don't blow our chances, that is!", the Gelert complained.

     “Then I can help you..."

     “Oh?"

     “But for a price."

     Tyrone raised an eyebrow, “Oh. And what would that be?!"

     “A Fyora Usuki."

     “Are you serious?!"

     She crossed her arms petulantly. “Do you want to escape or not?"

     Tyrone sighed, “Fine..."

     “Oh, and also..."

     “What?"

     “If any of you ever get to meet Fyora, could you tell her that I think she's awesome and that I'd want to be a faerie? Please??" She batted her eyelashes innocently.

     Both friends looked at each other, shrugged, and agreed, but didn't take her seriously.

     What were the chances any of them would meet Queen Fyora one day, anyway?

     --

     A few moments later, a noise was heard from the outside. One that made the guard curious enough to go see what it was and leave his post.

     Missy had dropped one of her talking dolls from a window, to create a diversion. The boys didn't think it would work, but surprisingly, it did.

     After the guard left, both friends slowly walked towards the exit. Tyrone tried to open the door, but the guard had locked it. “Drat!", he muttered under his breath. That was going to make things harder for them. Or maybe- Ah! He noticed one of the windows was slightly open. Maybe they could go through there?

     But then-

     A sneeze?

     It was Hansen who had sneezed. And he sneezed, again and again. He couldn't stop.

     Tyrone whispered, “Dude, what is going on?! Why are you-" Then he heard a faint meow. It was an old, shaggy Angelpuss. Hansen sneezed again.

     “Oh, you just had to be allergic to Angelpi, didn't you?!", Tyrone groaned to himself, frustrated. The Ixi sniffed. The Gelert proceeded to open the window, hoping they hadn't been heard, but-

     “Kids these days...dropping their toys just like that..." Uh oh. That was the voice of the guard. They were doomed. Or were they?

     “Come on, dude", Tyrone said as he helped the Ixi go through the window. It was a cold, breezy night - he shivered as he easily set foot outside, given his small size.

     His friend wasn't so lucky, though. Just as he tried to climb outside, the guard arrived.

     “Hey! What are you doing?!"

     Hansen stood there, watching the scene, trembling. But Tyrone looked at him and shouted, “What are you doing? Run, dude! Run as fast as you can!"

     The Ixi hesitated a bit, but obliged in the end.

     He sprinted through the grassy fields, aimlessly, with an energy he hadn't seen in himself before. Perhaps it was fear, or excitement, or both. Was this how freedom felt like?

     He liked it. He was finally out of that dreadful place.

     But he was also concerned as to how his friend would fare. What was going to happen to him? Was he in trouble?

     He felt guilt, but at the same time, he had gone this far. He couldn't turn back now. So he kept on running. He ran, and ran, until he felt tired. Tired, cold...and a bit hungry.

     He noticed, in the faint moonlight, the silhouette of a cart. Oh, he had seen those before - carts like those brought food to the orphanage every week. Could this one have food too?

     He shyly approached it, but it didn't have anything to eat - just books. What kind of cart was this?! But as he tried to step down from it, it started moving. He figured, he didn't know where to go, so he might as well stay there just to see where it went. He accommodated himself as best as he could between the books, and fell asleep.

     --

     The following morning, he was awoken by the sunlight that hit his face. The cart had stopped, and he was still surrounded by books — they probably hadn't unloaded it yet, he thought.

     He slid down from the vehicle, and went a little further ahead. What was this place?

     It was much more different than the damp, cold, foggy woodland he had grown up in...it was sunny, and the grass looked bright and fresh. And green, not a pale shade of brown. Green, like his favourite kind of apple...which reminded him...

     He hadn't eaten since the day before and his stomach was rumbling quite loudly.

     But he had no money to buy food, what was he going to do?

     He went around the city, desperate to find something to eat. But no one noticed him, probably because he was such a small child. Until...

     “Hello, sweetie..." It was an old Yurble lady. “Are you hungry?" Hansen nodded. “Here..." She gave him a few coins. “Go buy yourself something, young lad..."

     He examined the coins the old lady had given him- They were few, indeed...very, very few...

     Suddenly, he felt an emotion he couldn't put a name to. Probably because he wasn't thinking straight because of the hunger he had, he wanted more money. Even if that meant taking it by force from the sweet old lady.

     And he tried.

     “H-hey! Stop it!", she cried as the young Ixi tried to desperately grab hold of her purse. But he wouldn't let go.

     Yet something made him stop. “Hey! Stop that! Thief!"

     Thief? That was something he hadn't been called before. He didn't like the sound of it. It startled him enough to make him let go of the purse. The lady, however, dropped it in shock.

     Then, a young orange Kougra approached the two and picked it up. She was the one who had shouted before.

     Handing the purse to the lady, she smiled, “Here you go. Are you okay?" The lady nodded, thanked her, and glared daggers at the Ixi before leaving.

     The Kougra then turned to the Ixi, and angrily scolded him, “And you. You should be ashamed of what you've done!"

     Hansen looked down at his feet sadly. The Kougra's expression softened at seeing him being genuinely regretful of what he had done, and, in a softer tone, said, “Hey...it's okay. We all make mistakes sometimes." This got the Ixi to look up, but still averted her gaze.

     Trying to put him at ease, she introduced herself. “I'm Brynneth, but everybody calls me Brynn. It's nice to meet you. What's your name?" But the Ixi was still too afraid to speak. He was also still hungry, and his stomach rumbled again, rather loudly, enough for the Kougra to hear it. She giggled, “Oh, looks like someone's a little hungry!" The Ixi blushed and smiled awkwardly.

     She then invited, with a warm smile, “Do you want to go home with me? I'm sure my mom could make something for you..." His eyes glistened, and he nodded.

     Brynn giggled as they both walked along the street, “Where did you come from? I haven't seen you around before." The Ixi didn't reply, though.

     “Okay, not much of a talker, I see...do you know where you are?" He shook his head. She added, “This is Brightvale! The land of books and stained glasses", she chuckled. “That", she said while pointing at a building, “is Brightvale Castle, where our King, Hagan, lives! It's protected by the Royal Guard." She sighed with a smile. “They're so awesome! One day, I want to join them and protect this land!", she said as she drew out a wooden sword from her belt and held it high. She then frowned, however. “At least, I want to. But no one takes me seriously. They say that I can't do it because I'm a girl and that girls are weak." She turned to Hansen. “You wouldn't understand..."

     The bullies made him feel weak and puny, too. So he did understand her, to a certain degree.

     They advanced a little further, and found themselves in a forest. “We're almost there! We live in a little house over here. Anyway, what is your name? I can't refer to you as 'this guy that I met today' all evening, you know?"

     Hmm...his name? He hadn't given it much thought, since he never thought he would make it this far, but he felt that, since this was a new beginning, a new life from his time in the orphanage, he resolved that he would have to use a new name, as well.

     But what? Then he remembered — many of the nurses in the orphanage called him a “handsome little boy". “Handsome." He liked that word a lot. Huh, maybe he could create an alias from there? Like, “Hansen the handsome", or something of the sort? Or-

     His reverie was stopped by Brynn calling, “Hey, kid?" The Ixi blinked. “We're here. Are you going to tell me your name or not?"

     He then spoke, or rather, blurted, for the first time in years, the first thing that came to his mind.

     “H-hanso."

     “Hanso?"

     He hesitated a bit before he nodded. “Hanso!", he repeated. “I'm Hanso."

     Brynn raised an eyebrow. “Hmm, that's a funny name. Hadn't heard it before. But, cool! I like it. Come on, Hanso, let's go inside."

     He had given to himself the new name by accident, but he liked it. It was different, but not too much from his real name.

     He was different. He wasn't the same dumb Ixi from the orphanage. He now had a new name, a new identity, and a new friend.

     This was the beginning of a new life for him, after all.

      The End.

 
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