Reminiscing Freedom's Memories
"You've got the wrong person!"
I didn't realise how much I would both resent and enjoy the new turn in my 'adventure'. Really, no one expects that while you're traveling, you suddenly decide to go to Meridell and while you're browsing through the stalls, knights just march up to you, drag you to Meridell Castle and frantically worry and scold you like you've known them and they've known you, but actually untrue to every detail.
And then you try to tell them that they've probably gotten the wrong person. Key word - try.
They didn't listen, and if it went further, they'd probably think of something entirely crazy that fit in somehow with the current situation. That resulted in my terrible furious outburst.
"First of all, my name is Firalle Tsunara, and I'm just a simple traveler from Shenkuu, which is over the mountain range! How do I, in any kind of way, look like someone else who was born in a place like this?" I forced venom into the key words, glaring angrily at each of the knights present. If they still didn't believe me, I was sure I'd hack my katana into something out of frustration. The coincidences can't reach so far that even my fighting stance, skills and weapon were exactly alike.
"What's all the noise here?"
Everyone looked to the door, revealing a blue Lupe in a simple leather armor - a new recruit that meant, if my memory's still good. Or it was possible that he was of a higher rank and he only wore such armor because it was comfortable, but like that was possible. One of the knights walked up to him, talking to him in hushed tones that I couldn't catch anything, though he occasionally nodded. The knight eventually moved out of his vision, now clearly able to see me.
He frowned at me. "She certainly looks like the Princess..."
...Princess? Were they talking about Meridell's adopted heir, Marianna Selfrey? I haven't heard or seen what she looks like, but most say she's quite pretty. Of course, they were just rumours. Even then, I was never interested in the topic.
"May I speak to you in private?" he suddenly asked me. I blinked, not actually expecting that but I nodded and followed him through the corridors. He arrived at a small room, having a simple bed, chair and a window for fresh air if needed. Looked like a place for new recruits to stay in. I sat on the bed while he took the chair.
"So... what do you want to talk about?" I asked him. "Is it about the Princess?"
The Lupe nodded. "Yes. Since this a sensitive subject only known by trusted people, I could not afford to speak it aloud should anyone overhear me."
"I understand." But then I frowned at him. "Is it the fact everyone is mistaking me for your Princess?" The sigh I got in response seemed to answer that.
"Not quite correct. Her Highness had gone missing several days back, which has been the reason for heightened defences around Meridell. The knights on the rounds had certainly mistook you for the Princess, since you bear an exact resemblance, and I am truthfully very sorry for that."
I only grinned. "It's okay. They had a good reason to drag me here, so I can understand." I looked at the door. "But can I go now?"
The Lupe only shook his head, much to my surprise. "I wish I could, but hearing the news from these knights, I had informed His Majesty about you. He wishes to speak to you, certainly about the Princess's disappearance from the Castle. He will want to know the details, and I cannot be of help to you there. Neither can I explain the misunderstanding or he will certainly return to his state of depression."
"But then I'll have to pretend to be the Princess! And if I were him, I would make sure the Princess stayed in her room with knights guarding the door and the windows locked for protection. Who knows how many years I'll be stuck here too!" I never looked too far into the future, but when it really seemed to concern me, I had to think of the many possibilities. "Aside from that, I have no skill to be 'like a girl'."
"That can be solved with the excuse of amnesia." How could he just say that with a straight face...!
I only stared down at the Lupe. "...You're really desperate, aren't you?"
He only nodded.
"Marianna! Are you alright? No one hurt you? What happened when you disappeared-?"
"I am... quite fine." I forced a smile. The Lupe - whose name was Jeran - gave me a few books of simple mannerisms before I went to see the King. I also decided to push in words that I had learnt for addressing higher-positioned people as well, just in case. "But I can't remember much... and I seemed to have lost a few memories too..."
My acting skills were probably horrible, but it somehow worked. Skarl's look of worry and delight (was that even possible?) twisted into a look of doubt and slight fear. "What do you mean?"
That was Jeran's turn to step up. "She seems to have slight amnesia. The knights told me of her having small doubts of her own identity and home. Perhaps it is the work of the kidnappers, but we still have to investigate and learn. It is not a solid thought." He too forced a smile. "But it appears she has not forgotten everything. She managed to recall your name and status in Meridell, but it seems her lessons and education having been replaced with those of another culture."
The Skeith looked confused. "I did not know such a thing was possible..." He glanced at me before returning his gaze at the Lupe. "But it is fortunate enough. Jeran, please escort her to her room."
He nodded, gesturing to follow him as he turned and started to leave.
I only wondered how long Jeran's ruse would last.
A month had passed since then.
I had gotten familiar with Meridell, and even more familiar with its inhabitants like Lisha and Jeran. But I suppose the person I could really converse with was the Princess.
No, not myself. The Princess.
I had found it certainly strange, though. She was like any other runaway royalty - a person who only wanted to see what the 'outside world' was like from beyond the cream walls, the perfectly maintained gardens and the grey brick wall that kept out thieves and other unwanted people, though I had high doubts that a thief would be able to get in. I even found out a hole near the wall that seemed recently dug, and was made by a local thief.
But returning to the main topic, she thought she had it hard.
My arrival here wouldn't allow entry for her, though. And so, a nice bargain with jewels (and high quality ones apparently. A thief's very dream~) and she received a Green Xweetok Morphing Potion from one of those rare people who had one in those days. Turning herself into a Xweetok, she decided to become a maid and well... even she had no clue what to do now.
We had brought up the idea of revealing the truth, but Jeran and Lisha weren't very sure if it would be a wise move anymore. Skarl possibly wouldn't believe us and Jeran, along with Lisha maybe, would be sentenced to something horrible for lying to Skarl. I heard it might even be worse than him getting angered over a joke, though it was just a rumour... probably.
At the very least, the Princess - who had given the false name Emerald Reigne - was friendly. She would talk to me over a different cup of tea every day about many funny things and when she had nothing to talk about, I would take her place. But I still missed my freedom whenever it managed to catch up to me.
I really had no choice these days. The distant times of adventuring seemed so blurry now...
"Firalle? What's that?"
The crimson Shoyru nearly jumped, but with reflexive restraining, she only succeeded in making a tiny "Meep!" sound out of fright. Calming herself, she closed the leather book in her hands and looked at the Xweetok next to her, garbed in a black dress with a frilly white apron over it. The only thing she liked about her dress was the emerald brooch that held the collar together, having a golden border to keep it in place.
"Oh, it's something called a Journal, but some people call it a Diary." She wrapped that one small, large leather belt already attached to the journal/diary from the back around the front, letting the end with a simple iron keyhole be right on top. She pulled out the key from around her neck and 'locked' it, an actual click appearing.
"I heard about those from before... it's a place to write your own personal feelings, isn't it?"
She nodded. "Something like that."
Placing the pen on the table, she sighed. She felt bored these days. Their talks had only been about small things or the major events like how Faerieland crashed because of some crazy speckled Xweetok. (Emerald was highly annoyed on hearing it was the Xweetok, since she adored her like all those Xandra fans. Firalle only wondered how in Neopia she actually came to hear that.) She had to pass the time in some way, and so she engaged in various conversations with Jeran or Lisha, and sometimes reading the interesting tomes in the Royal Library.
And then, she came to the point of reading her own journal.
Firalle straightened her posture as she was given her cup of tea, colored a pure white unlike most teas. It was actually her favorite, though why it was, no one knew.
She sipped the tea slowly, golden eyes idly looking out the window as she did so. The view of Meridell looked so plain once she got used to seeing this scene every day, and she could never open the windows either. Freshness never seemed so tempting to the Shoyru until she realised how many years had passed since she found herself taking the place of a rich, mannered Princess.
This was not like her.
Looking down at the journal on her lap, she wondered if she could sway Skarl into letting her 'try' fighting. There were so many good reasons to support her with that topic.
She carefully placed the china cup back on the wood surface. "One step at a time... don't be in a rush. Being in haste brings carelessness." She smiled bitterly on remembering who the words were said by. She didn't understand what the words really meant that time, but only the fact that she had to go slowly or things would become bad.
Just go one step at a time... then I'll be able to leave this place. Her eyes glittered with hope as she thought that.