The Royal Reputation: Part Two
Someone pounded on my door the next morning, and I fully expected it to be Noliona. I was surprised when Mom's voice echoed through the wood.
"Aluendi, my sweet bunny, can you unlock your door please?"
I sighed and stretched my hind legs. After rubbing my eyes, I grabbed my feather keys and unlocked the door. It swung open to reveal that, in fact, my mom was the one who had knocked.
"Sweetie," she said in a melodic voice that she used to talk to me. "We missed you at supper last night. What were you doing?"
I looked at her. "Sleeping." I turned to close the door, but she grabbed the doorframe before I could.
"One more thing," she asked. "Follow me."
She walked out the door and towards the stairs, beckoning me to come. I reluctantly followed, wanting to just stay and sleep the whole day. What the heck did she want?
We arrived in the living room, (I yet again avoided the broken step,) and I saw Noliona and Jakuliani were already sitting on the couch, playing rock-paper-scissors. Noliona laughed as she won by throwing paper, and Jakuliani grumbled at her. How they did it with paws, I had no idea.
Mom led me over, and I begrudgingly sat between Noliona and Jakuliani. They frowned at me and turned forward to face Mom, as did I.
She was sitting in a light lavender loveseat, and Dad came in the room and sat next to her. They whispered a few things to each other and smiled.
"Kids," Dad started, "we brought you here to help us decide something."
I sighed tiredly. This wasn't going to be fun.
"We just got word from a few farmers that there is a war going on between a few separate kingdoms near Altador, over the mountains."
Duh, I thought. That's really old news, Mom. You should try reading a magazine other than Fashion Monthly.
"We need your help," Mom continued, "to choose a side for our soldiers to join, and help fight for the cause."
"The Red Castle!" Jakuliani yelled. Mom looked at him with surprise. "How do you know who the Castles are? We haven't told you yet."
Jakuliani just looked at her. "It's all over the news. Don't you read the Neopian Times?"
Mom blushed. "No, I just read Fashion Monthly. That's the only thing I find interesting."
I told you.
"Well, I think we should join The Blue Castle. They're the only ones who know how to rule correctly and nicely," Noliona declared.
Jakuliani looked behind me and glared at Noliona. She glared back. The two broke out fighting, grabbing everything in their reach and whipping it at each other. Everything narrowly missed me as I ducked and dodged, stuff whizzing past my back, ears, head, shoulders, and chest.
Mom looked at me. "Which would you like, my snuggle bunny?"
I just shrugged my shoulders, causing a throw pillow to smack into the side of my head. I glared at Jakuliani, and he shrunk down against the armrest.
"I need time to think about it. Just give me the rest of the day," I said angrily, still staring at Jakuliani. I got up and walked towards the door.
"Where are you going, Alu?" Dad asked. He just called me 'Alu', and didn't waste time with silly nicknames such as 'snuggle bunny', like Mom did.
"I'm going for a walk," I snapped. The door slammed behind me, which made me remember I forgot to lock my room. Whatever.
I walked to the pond and stared at the Koi in the pond. They weren't owned, and were going to stay in the pond forever. It was like that in my town.
I heard footsteps pass by, and I looked up. The Cybunny was walking by; a pale, smoky-grey bandage adorned the bump on his head. He stared at me, just sitting on the grassy spot next to the cherry tree. I looked up at him, and it startled me how sharp, clear blue his eyes were. It was like staring into the crystal-clear depths of Maraqua.
The ruff around his neck, which was red in contrast to my yellow ruff, rustled in the slight morning breeze.
He continued to walk, reaching his hand up and brushing it against the soft cherry tree leaves. He smiled as he walked, as if the squabble he had yesterday had never even happened. I envied his happiness.
My eyes followed as he walked into a ramshackle hut on the edge of acres of farmland. I saw crops of puny pumpkins, tiny tomatoes, and rotting radishes. It was sad, really.
I got up after I was sure he was staying in the hut, and tip-toed over to the window. This was how I would decide which faction we should join. I could listen in on his family; surely they would be talking about it. This was huge news, nothing interesting had ever really happened in Tyrannia.
I peered in through the window, smoothing my ears backwards so I had less chance of being seen. Sure enough, the Cybunny was inside, and he was talking to his parents about the war.
"Son," said a Cybunny, "our crops have been failing miserably this year. Your mother and I hope you've chosen a side to join so you can help support this family."
Another Cybunny nodded beside him, her tender eyes giving me a feeling of comfort.
"I have," the young Cybunny said. "I'm joining The Green Castle, for their love of knowledge and books fit my personality so well. I need to put my intelligence to good use; you have spent so many Neopoints buying me books and supplies. I would like to pay you back."
He said it modestly; I thought he would say something like 'I want to join The Red Squad because they're tough'. It made him an even more interesting character. I could probably write a book about him.
"I'll get packed up, and probably be off and over the mountains by dawn. You will both be missed dearly, but I will be back when this war is over with enough profits to fully support our farm. We can afford nicer things when we get back, I promise," he said.
Tears threatened to spill from my eyes, he was so heartfelt. I immediately made up my mind. There was no one who could change my mind, I was set. Our troops would be joining The Green Castle.
"The Green Castle for sure," I whispered, then thought about how cheesy that sounded.
The Cybunny turned his head back and forth. "Did you hear something?" He whipped his head toward the window just as my ears whisked out of sight.
I scampered home, crawling on the ground until I was sure I was out of sight from the hut. People walking by stared at me, the daughter of the King and Queen crawling like a baby on the ground. My pajamas were coated in dirt (and I then realized I forgot to take them off) when I got up, and I ran towards my house in clouds of dirt.
I burst through the door to our castle, dirt mixing with the sweat pouring off my face and leaving blobs of mud all over our gold engraved red doormat. Mom and Dad were still on the loveseat, talking about the war.
They saw me standing in the doorway, a mess of mud, dirt, sweat, and bits of clean fur sticking out here and there. They looked at each other, then back at me as if I was Lord Darigan selling cookies.
Mom gave her doormat a concerned look, and then walked over with Dad. "What happened, Alu?" Dad asked with an exaggerated gasp. Mom brushed my shoulder, but pulled her paw away when a stray droplet of mud splashed on her Royal-colored purple-tipped paws.
"Let's get you in the bath, sweetie. You really need one," Mom said musically.
I sighed and hopped up the stairs, again avoiding the broken the broken one. I wondered if we were ever going to get that fixed.
I walked into the bathtub, the water warm against my fur. Mud washed away down the drain, and I felt the embarrassment of the morning washing away down the drain as well.
Someone knocked on the door, and Mom came in. "Don't forget to wash behind your ears, and use plenty of Super Shiny Shampoo, and make sure to thoroughly clean your ruff-"
"I get it, Mom," I said, cutting her off.
I was sitting on the couch; Mom was sitting behind me and running a Faerieland Comb through my wet hair. It slid coolly through my wet locks and snarly lumps.
"So, sweetie, you think we should join The Green Castle? Whatever for?"
"Well, they're smart, and strong, and kind, and they can definitely win the war, and they just want to learn more while everyone else just wants more power and stuff," I rambled to Mom.
She pondered this. "How did you come across the decision of The Green Castle?"
I blushed. Mom wouldn't be happy if I told her it was the Cybunny who supposedly was rude to the defenseless elderly Ogrin that wanted to join The Green Castle, she would drop the idea of The Green Castle altogether.
"I love knowledge, and books, and I want what's best for the kingdoms," I lied.
"I have one more question for you, snuggle bunny," Mom sang. "Why were you covered in dirt and mud when you came home today?"
"Um, I went to the pond and tripped over a tree root from the cherry tree. I fell into the pond and some Koi helped me out, but I climbed out onto a patch of dirt and got covered," I lied again.
"Oh," Mom said quietly. "So for sure," Mom said a little louder, "we're going to join The Green Castle? Are you sure?"
"Yes, I'm sure, Mom. We need to join the Green Castle."
Mom smiled. "Okay. We can announce it later today."
I gulped. Was she seriously going to announce it to the whole town? My muscles stiffened, and all the worries and embarrassment returning from the drain, flooding back into me. My cheeks turned bright red and I twiddled my thumbs nervously.
Mom sensed my worry. Don't ask me how; she just knows that kind of thing. A Kacheek sixth sense, if you will.
"Something wrong, honey?"
"Do we have to announce it? I mean, we announce everything. Can't it just be, like, undisclosed this time? So I don't get bombarded with questions every time I leave the house? Seriously?"
Mom pondered this for a moment. "Well, we do have to announce it, the kingdom has to know."
See? Mom is like that. She says 'kingdom' even though we rule a tiny little town that's more than fifty percent farmland and crops.
"But if people smother you with questions, we can set a guard to stay with you to protect you, if you like," Mom suggested.
I winced. "No, I'm alright," I said meekly. I couldn't imagine someone following me around all the time.
"Okay, sweetie," Mom said, "we'll think about it." She scratched her chin thoughtfully.
She continued to brush through my hair. I pulled away from the brush, and snarled my hair in the process. Mom gave me concerned looks.
"I'm going for a walk," I said flatly. I ran my fingers through my snarled hair.
Mom looked at me with surprise. "Again?" she asked.
"Yes," I said hotly. She looked at me a little sadly.
"Alright," she said. "Try to not get all muddy again. Stay away from that messy Koi Pond. You certainly don't need another bath today."
I growled at her and backed towards the door. Turning, I ran out the door and slammed it behind me.
To be continued...