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The Farmer and the King


by nick_and_nickette

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Once upon a time in the merry land of Meridell, on one of its many farms, lived a family. They had owned this farm for many generations, and it supplied the kingdom and its neighbour, Brightvale, with much of its produce.

     Now Brightvale and Meridell, despite their stark differences, have one thing in common: snobby nobles. And, unfortunately, one of them supervised this particular farm as per orders of the king. His name was Saralot, Baron of Meridell, or "Snarlsalot" as the farmers nicknamed him, much to his annoyance. He was a chubby Quiggle with haughty eyes and an arrogant bearing.

     "I abhor these peasants", he often uttered to himself. "Always so filthy and disrespectful."

     One of the farmers, in particular, rated him the most - a Red Kyrii by the name of Buxton Shettrick.

     "Morning, Lord Snarlsalot, how are things with ye?", he greeted him that particular day. Saralot snarled, fuming with anger towards the Sneaky Kyrii.

     "Why, you- you pathetic, foolish little peasant", he mumbled under his breath.

     Buxton shrugged. "Ey, just jokin' with ye. Nae needs t' get testy, milord. Doesn't do ye any good." After informing him of the work that was to be done that day, he bid him farewell in a more respectful manner and went his way.

     The baron hated the man so much, he wished he didn't have to talk to him every day - but Buxton was in charge of the farm, after all, and he had been appointed by King Skarl himself to supervise his labour, and he wasn't going to ask the grumpy Skeith King for a change of assignment, for fear of being yelled at, or worse.

     So he huffed, crossed his arms, and pouted.

     Later that day, the Red Kyrii made his way in a cart to the Brightvalean castle in order to deliver some products of the land.

     One of the servants there approached to receive them.

     "Good eve, Ernest."

     "Good eve, Buxton", the servant, a Blue Kacheek, replied.

     "All good with ye?"

     "Yes...", replied Ernest absent-mindedly, ordering other servants to unload the wooden cart.

     Buxton examined the man intently. "Have ye been crying?", he then asked.

     Ernest looked up from the papers he was signing, and blinked. He sniffled. "Y-yes, how'd you-?"

     "Your eyes are puffy... what happened?"

     "Father passed away a few days ago."

     Buxton frowned. "Oh, I'm so sorry 'bout that, Ernest."

     "It's good. He's in a better place now", the Kacheek said sadly.

     "Ey, Ernest. You'll get through this", he encouraged. "If you ever need anything, you know where to find me", the Kyrii offered.

     "...thank you, Buxton", Ernest replied sincerely.

     Buxton smiled. "No problem."

     After he finished delivering the produce, he returned back home, to the neighbouring kingdom.

     But both Neopets were unaware someone else had been watching them this whole time - and no one else than King Hagan himself, who was in his balcony at the time. Shortly after this exchange, the Kacheek servant went upstairs to inform him of the delivery. Hagan, inquisitive as we were, asked about the conversation. Ernest explained the matter to him, and, after doing so, left and went back to his own quarters, while Hagan stayed in his study, looking outside pensively.

     The Skeith King liked to watch his kingdom from the balcony every day, and while most days he was joyous to gaze upon his subjects, the people he cared so much about, recently, however, he had been rather despondent.

     Why? Well, he had noticed his people were not being wise. Intelligent? Yes. Scholarly? Also. But were they wise, in the full sense of the word? No, no they were not.

     The knowledge they had acquired had made them haughty. He had seen this among many of his nobles, and other educated individuals in his kingdom.

     All the sneering between themselves... It repulsed him.

     It had dawned on him that he, too, had sometimes acted this way, particularly in regard to how he treated his brother, Skarl. He was foolish and frustrating, but... he was his brother, after all.

     He had been conceited, sometimes, unwise, too. He was aware of this, and felt ashamed.

     All those books read... All of that knowledge... But also... All that disunity...

     And now... Someone with less education than himself, than his nobles, had shown something that most of them didn't show: empathy, politeness... And that was better than having all the knowledge and wisdom the world had to offer.

     Because what does being the smartest person in the world mean, really, if you have no friends? No one that cares about you? And that was him for the longest time...

     Thankfully, though, not all of his nobles were like that. And he had been making the effort to change into a more humble person. But had he been giving his subjects a bad example all these years? Ah...

     "Your Highness, you've been standing there brooding for a while now", said a voice. It was a Royal Boy Kyrii, and he was standing alongside a Royal Girl Skeith, the queen.

     "Have I?", asked Hagan.

     "Yes...", said the other Skeith. "Anything troubling you, my dear?"

     "Many things, my queen..."

     "Could you tell us, sire?", inquired the Kyrii. "We're rather... worried, about you."

     Hagan looked outside once more, sighed, nodded, and went outside to talk to them.

     The weeks passed by, months, even. Then it was wintertime, and the family farm was still very busy, preparing for the harvest in spring.

     Saralot was still supervising the labours, bundled up in many thick layers of coat, grumbling something about how he hated this particular weather. Of course, he had no fur, so the chilly gales of winter affected him more.

     "Morning, Lord Saralot. All good with ye?", asked Buxton, who was carrying some firewood.

     "No. I'm freezing out here", he growled.

     "You could come inside if ye wish. It's warmer in there. We have tea and cocoa as well."

     "And be under the same roof as you peasants? I'd rather stay out here in the snow", he spat.

     Buxton shrugged. "As ye wish, milord. But the door's open." He left and made his way back to his family's little house.

     The Quiggle shivered, and sat down, grumbling something to himself. He then heard some noises nearby - noises of a carriage being pulled by some Alabri. He saw King Hagan and his right-hand man, a Royal Boy Kyrii, in it, along with some other Kacheek servant, who was the driver, that he didn't know.

     "Huh", he exclaimed. "How peculiar. Wonder what the king's brother is doing over here- hmm, what if there's an important meeting I haven't been invited to? Has the King forgotten me- How dare he! I-"

     "Ahem?"

     Saralot jolted, surprised by the interruption. It was the Blue Kacheek servant who had approached.

     He took of his hat, and bowed slightly, "Good morn, milord."

     "Good morning...?" he responded, but, still, he thought "Ugh, what does this fool want?"

     "Milord, I come looking for Buxton Shettrick. I believe he owns this farm."

     "I believe he owns his farm. Bah!", thought the irreverent Quiggle. Yet, this was a servant of the king's brother, so... maybe he had come to look for Buxton for some important reason. Maybe he could benefit from whatever that Kyrii peasant was going to get. After all, this Kacheek had come looking for him, specifically.

     He exclaimed with a forced grin, "Ah! Of course, Buxton, yes. Let me go get him."

     But he didn't have to, since the Kyrii in question had gone outside to look for more firewood.

     "Ah, good morn, Ernest, my friend!", said Buxton.

     "Good morn, Buxton!", replied the Kacheek.

     "How's everything at home?", he asked.

     "Good, good, thank goodness. You? Your family?"

     "Everyone's fine, thanks. You came for what ye asked?"

     "The pies, yes. I... I'm sorry I came this early, just that I took the liberty of asking the King to let me come here, since he had come to visit his brother, and was kind enough to let me."

     "That's alright, Ernest. They're almost done."

     The Quiggle fumed. This Kacheek had come only for pies. Ugh. How absurd. And how irresponsible of him to leave the King and his right-hand man out there in the cold! Albeit... they didn't look angry, at all. They seemed to be in good spirits. Apparently, he was the only one who was angry here. Maybe... maybe he had a problem... no, no, perish the thought! He didn't have any problem, he was a baron, part of the nobility, an illustrious man! He was just doomed to be in this lowly peasant farm and that was the only reason for his attitude.

     Hmm... what if he could do something about that? He could sneak out without drawing too much attention to himself, and talk to the king's brother about his situation... after all, he was known to be wise and open to listening to anyone...

     And so, he went and did just that, uneasily treading his way through the snow.

     "Lord Virgil, who is that?", asked Hagan to the Kyrii as the Quiggle approached.

     Virgil explained, "Some... baron, I think, his name was Saralot of the royal house of so-and-so. I've met him before, he has spoken to me..."

     "And? What can you tell me about him?"

     The Kyrii snorted, "He's a contemptible man, sire. I would not bother listening to him at all."

     Not long after he finished saying this, the Quiggle arrived. "Ahem! Good morning, King Hagan!", exclaimed the Baron.

     "Good morning, Lord Saralot. That is your name, correct?"

     The King knew his name! What an honour! He felt pride surge through his dark heart. "Yes, Your Majesty! What brings you and your noble friend Lord- erm-"

     "Virgil", replied the Kyrii dryly, not amused, whilst crossing his arms.

     "Virgil! Yes, Lord Virgil. Of course! I never forget a face, especially not that of a Kyrii's, they're good folks", he lied, as he actually detested Kyriis. That was another reason he hated Buxton so much. "But I'm bad with names...! Ha ha."

     Virgil smiled, but it was the kind of smile that diplomats gave when dealing with someone they didn't like; in other words; fake. "What is your business in coming here, Saralot?", asked the Kyrii bluntly.

     "Oh, just wanted to greet the honourable King Hagan to our humble land!", he replied.

     Hagan nodded, while Virgil replied, "And...?"

     "Pardon?"

     "Anything else you wish? You seem to be seeking favour from him..."

     The Quiggle laughed nervously, "Oh, me, ask a favour from a king? Why, no, no, perish the thought! How dare I! I-"

     Virgil explained, clenching his teeth, with contained anger, "Well you could have, if you did want that, had you shown up at Meridell Castle earlier. But right now we're on our way home, and the King is tired and needs to rest."

     "Wha-a?", blinked the Grey-skinned Quiggle.

     "You didn't receive an invitation? The King held a banquet and everything."

     "N-no-" He got furious. "Why, that little-" He saw Buxton approaching with Ernest. "Buxton!", he yelled. "You contemptible little fool, why didn't you tell me I had been invited to a banquet at Meridell Castle?"

     "I gave the invitation tae ye two days ago, Lord Saralot, but ye didn't bother t' read it", the Red Kyrii explained.

     "And why did I not get it from the courier directly?!"

     Buxton continued, respect in his tone, "Well, you were busy elsewhere, milord. I received it from the courier and left it on your desk, then handed it tae ye once you arrived, but, like I said, you didn't bother to read it, since you were... erm... drowsy, at the time. You threw it into the trash bin and ordered me away."

     The Quiggle huffed, and turned to Hagan. "Pah! Your Highness, this is all just a pack of filthy lies! I couldn't- I wouldn't dare to do such a thing!" Hagan and Virgil looked at each other, unimpressed.

     "No? Then why do I have the invitation here?", asked Ernest as he took out an envelope from his pocket. "Buxton showed it to me to ask if it was legit, and it is. That's... the other reason we came here, actually."

     "Because of me not showing up at the banquet?!"

     Ernest explained, "No, because of complaints from the farmers. It appears you have been secretly stealing part of their revenue for whatever it is you're doing, and this has been affecting the farm's activity and in addition, their overall lives."

     Saralot cried, "Lies! All lies! Buxton!" The Kyrii's ears perked up. "Have I ever treated you unwell?!", he roared, trying to intimidate him.

     Buxton, however, looked at him calmly. Bravely, he replied, "Well, aye, milord, I know ye don't like me, you've shown it with your words an' actions, and, frankly, while I really don't care about ye not liking me, what I do care about is you hurting my family. I suspected something was going on, and thought that, of all people, the culprit would be you. My brother, the one pulling the pie cart over there, followed you and confirmed my suspicions. I spoke to Ernest about it, and he informed his contacts in the castle here. I would've just gone to the castle myself, but I am too busy to do such a thing, and, besides, why would the King listen to someone like me? I'm just a simple farmer."

     Saralot blinked, puzzled. Then, he furiously rushed to attack the Kyrii, but his cape was yanked by the wheels of the carriage, and, after it tore apart, he fell down face-first. He then looked up at the Kyrii, grimacing. Buxton offered his hand to help him up, but the proud Quiggle refused, disgusted.

     "Morning- well, afternoon, now. I apologize for the delay", said another voice. "I'd say good afternoon, but I hate being out in this blasted cold."

     The Quiggle gasped. "Y-Your Highness!"

     It was indeed King Skarl himself. "Ugh, Saralot, whyever do you cause me so much trouble?"

     Saralot managed to get up by himself, and swiftly wiped off the snow and dirt from his clothes. "My king, I can explain-"

     "Oh, I know what you're going to say, you fool. My brother's servant already informed me of your actions, and so did that one Spotted Kyrii over there, the one pulling the cart. Are those pies, by the way? They look delicious."

     Buxton turned to his brother. "Ye told him too?"

     The other Kyrii nodded, "Aye, I really don' trust them nobles but th' king... I didn't want ye t' know, I knew you'd be upset, but, ah well. Everything comes t' light and all that."

     "I'm not upset, Axton, but next time, don' go behind my back like that."

     "Aye, brother."

     Saralot pouted. "You don't understand, Your Highness! Dealing with these insufferable peasants is something I never wanted."

     "Oi, whatever have we done tae ye?", exclaimed Buxton, actually angry this time.

     "Exist", said the Quiggle darkly. "I hate having to deal with you every day."

     "Well, now you won't have to", replied Skarl. "You", he ordered to two of his guards, "Take him away."

     "What?!", Saralot gasped. The two guards seized the man and cuffed him. Then, they put him in a prison cart, and shut the door.

     "BUXTON!!", yelled the Quiggle from inside. "I'll get you one day!"

     The Neopets heard cheering coming from elsewhere - it was the rest of the farmers who were joyously celebrating the just punishment of the ignominious noble.

     "Gee, how y'all get here so soon?", said Buxton, surprised. Then he turned to the two kings, took off his blue hat, pressed it against his chest, and bowed. "Thank ye, Your Highnesses."

     "Buxton, that's your name, correct?", asked Skarl, to which the Kyrii nodded. "Well, no need to thank me. I wouldn't have done anything had you not taken action. So I guess it is you who deserves the merit."

     The Kyrii replied humbly, "But, Your Highness, I just did what needed to be done."

     "And yet not everybody does it. You did. Accept the commendation. You're a good, noble person, the kind this world lacks... I'm, admittedly, a pessimist, but those like you restore my faith a bit. So for that, thank you, Buxton." The Kyrii smiled shyly.

     "That's... quite nice of you to say, brother", said Hagan.

     "What, teasing me, are you now, Hagan?", grumbled Skarl.

     "No. I mean it." Skarl looked at him, and managed to smile briefly.

     "Anyway", the Blue Skeith added, diverting attention from this odd instance of him being emotional, "The pies. Would it be too much of me to ask for one?"

     "No, of course not", replied Buxton, smiling. "It would be our pleasure."

     Later that night, Hagan was once again looking outside the window of his study pensively.

     Both Virgil and the queen found him in this state. "Oh, look, he's doing it again", whispered Virgil. "I wonder what he's thinking about now?"

     "Well, he does think a lot, you know", giggled the queen.

     "True, dear sister. But I wonder if he's worried about something." He rose his voice, "Your Highness", he called. Hagan turned to see him. "Everything alright?"

     "Ah, Virgil, my dear Mireille. Yes, it is. I was just... musing about today's events."

     "The farmers and that fool, Saralot?", inquired the Kyrii.

     "Yes... Ernest had told me about Buxton, but I had never seen the man personally. I must say, I'm impressed by how he handled things with such wisdom... since he wasn't dealing with an easy situation..."

     "And with such a despicable person like Saralot", Virgil interrupted, "I honestly don't know how he could've borne with him for so long." He then mumbled, "I would've probably punched the man in the face after a while, or something."

     Mireille patiently corrected him, "Virgil, dear, but think about it. Did they have any other choice? Could they really do anything about it?"

     "...well, no, but-"

     "Sometimes we have to deal with difficult people, even when we don't want to, you know that as well as I do, right?", she continued, smiling at him patiently. He sighed, bowed his head down, and nodded.

     He added, "Well, at least he got what he deserved and now the family is at peace."

     "He did. And they are", replied Hagan. "My brother said that he'll have to appoint someone else to supervise the farm, but that he'll be more careful about it this time... well, he's even accepting suggestions from our people here... we'd have to look over that, Virgil."

     "Yes, of course, Your Highness."

     "Anywho... back to what we were discussing... I'm impressed by the man. Truly, it shows that true wisdom isn't limited to the highly educated... or that the highly educated are always wise", Hagan uttered.

     "Yes, that's true, my king", nodded Virgil.

     "Well... that's enough thinking for today on my part", the King chuckled. "I'm tired."

     "So am I", yawned the queen. "Good eve, brother", she bid to Virgil.

     "Good eve, sister. Good eve, my king."

     "Good eve, Virgil."

     The End.

 
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