The Royal Reputation: Part Three
I plopped myself down against the cherry tree and sighed in the direction of the Koi Pond. Listening to Mom doesn't really fit my style, if you know what I mean.
A slight breeze blew through, ruffling my sweatshirt. A few leaves drifted off the cherry tree, landing on my lap and nose. I brushed them off and sighed again.
Ripples appeared across the pond, disturbing the stillness and clearness of the azure waters. After a few moments, a head so blue popped out of the water, I didn't know it was there for a few moments. But a squeaking sound occurred from the middle of the pond, and I looked down uninterestedly.
A Blue Koi swam over to the edge of the pond, squeaking out this soft little hushing song I sometimes heard as night fell on our castle. He looked up at me understandingly.
The Koi stopped singing. "What's wrong, Cybunny Princess?" he asked cheerily.
I sighed at him, letting my crown slip off my hair and fall off into my lap. I picked it up and studied it tiredly, ignoring the Koi.
"Come on," piped up the Koi, "tell me what's wrong. Obviously, something's up."
I looked at him. "Okay, fine. Everything's not all right. You caught me."
The Koi smiled. "I'm Dingari, but you can just call me Ding." He paused. "What's wrong, Cybunny Princess?" he asked again.
I have to say, he sounded a lot like Mom with the stupid names. "Ding, my name is Aluendi, not 'Cybunny Princess'. Just call me Alu," I huffed.
"Okay, Alu," he said. "So, what is wrong, other than me calling you a stupid name?" He smiled, and I smiled back. "Wow," he whispered, "I never thought royalty would be so, well, kindly and un-stuck-up."
"Well," I said, "my mom is pretty stuck-up; she can't stand peasants and poor folk. I guess I'm the complete opposite of her. I'm more like my dad."
Ding thought about this. "Okay," he finally said. "Can you tell me what's wrong now?"
I looked at him. "No," I said quietly, turning my head away. "I- I can't. It would make everything worse."
Ding looked sadly at me. "Ok," he squeaked. "I hope I'll see you again sometime." He turned and dipped back under the water, disappearing in the azure waves to go back to the coral-filled town below the depths.
I hoped I would see him again, too.
I bonked my head against the tree trunk. How stupid was I? Talking to all these peasants, Mom would destroy me. I smacked my forehead in hatred and slumped on the ground.
Footsteps occurred behind me. I sat up in surprise, placing my tiny crown on my head once again. I wasn't kowtowing to any more peasants, I had done that enough already. Whirling my head around, I discovered the Cybunny leaning against an opposite side of the cherry tree.
His eyes widened when he saw me turn around, and he cheeks turned bright neon shades of pink. He got up from off the tree and turned. I wondered how long he had been standing there.
"Wait," I called, my cheeks flushing. He turned and stared at me in surprise, and he twiddled his thumbs nervously.
"I'm, um..." I trailed off.
What possessed me to talk to him, I have no idea. But Mom would kill me for sure if she saw me talking to a peasant like him. She would blow her top, and all that gentle Kacheek nature would go down the drain.
He blinked at me. "I'm Rinsly," he said in a hushed voice. "Call me Rin."
It was much quieter than I expected, and I could barely hear him above the lapping of the pond. His cheeks turned a brighter shade of red and he twitched nervously.
"I'm Aluendi," I finally managed to say. I grabbed my ears and ran my hands over the velvety insides. Don't judge, it's a nervous habit. And I had every reason to be nervous, what if Mom caught me right now?
This was most improper for a princess.
Rin fell over to the ground, slumping on a patch of dirt. It probably wouldn't make his clothes any dirtier than they were already.
To my surprise, he broke out laughing. The sound rang off the tree, off the ground, off the pond.
Rin looked at me, just staring (and not laughing,) and he snapped his mouth shut. He looked apologetically at me, and mouthed the word 'sorry'. It was like he had been muted.
He got up to go, but tripped over a cherry tree root and fell down again, landing in the dirt patch with a thud.
This time, I was the one to start laughing. Rin looked at me, and then started laughing too. He flipped himself over and sighed, lounging on the ground.
I picked up my crown off my head and studied it, trying not to make eye contact with him.
"Alright," Rin said, and made me jump. "I get it." I just looked at him sadly.
"You're a princess," he continued, "and I'm just a lowly farm boy. You're probably just keeping me here so you can call your guards and have them lock me away because I supposedly dumped sand on that Ogrin's head. I saw you watching me, from the window." He turned away and nearly shouted. "I didn't even do anything!"
"That- that was me," I said quietly. He turned and stared at me, his eyes shooting holes into my face.
"Well, I, um, my sister brought me some disgusting sand food from the Lost Desert, because we had just been there. I won't eat sand food if it was the last thing on Neopia. So I shut the door on her and poured the sand out my window, not realizing you and the Ogrin were there. It, um, kind of landed on him," I finished with a sigh. I studied my crown again.
Rin delicately touched the bandaged lump on his head. He winced as if touching it made it hurt immensely.
I wondered how he would do in the battle for The Kingdoms with a current injury like that. One hit to his head and he would be down.
I reached into my pocket and pulled out a small glass bottle. Inside, liquid churned and bubbled and splashed against the glass. I dipped it into the water, and the liquid sat still. It shone a brilliant purple hue, the light radiating on my face.
Rin turned and looked at the bottle. "What is that?"
I blinked at him. "It's a Healing Potion. From the Healing Springs. You don't know what those are?" He shook his head.
"Well," I continued, "you're going to need some if you're going to go fight with The Green Castle in the war."
I snapped my mouth shut, but it was too late. Rin turned and stared at me in shock. "How did you know I was joining The Green Castle in the war?" He looked at me hotly.
"I, um, was walking by your house. Um, hut, I guess. I heard you inside, so I kind of, um... listened in," I finished with a wince.
He rolled up his fists, and unrolled them. He looked like he was about to explode. "You listened to me talking to my parents? You spied on me!?"
Something clicked in his head, and made his face turn even redder. "I knew I heard something! That was you, wasn't it, Aluendi?!"
I was surprised he had remembered my name in his fit of rage. I took the potion and held it out to him. "Here," I said quietly. "Just take this. You're going to need it."
He took his hand, unrolled his fist, and slapped the bottle out of my hands in one swift movement. It clattered to the ground, shattering and spilling its contents everywhere. A few moments passed, and the whole thing disappeared in a puff of purple smoke.
My eyes watered as I looked up at him. That was the strongest healing potion you could get, it cost me a fortune. And now it was gone forever.
Rin's face didn't soften. He continued to drill holes into my skull with his burning looks.
"Hey!" shouted a voice from somewhere behind us. "That farm-boy Cybunny who attacked the Ogrin is attacking the princess! Get him!"
A muscular Brown Skeith ran up from a gathering crowd around me and Rin. He had a short mustache and long blonde hair tied up in a manly ponytail behind his head. Another Brown Skeith, almost identical to the first one, ran out a few moments later. From what I remembered, the two were twin brothers who both happened to have the same interest in fighting and guarding and stuff like that. Two peas in a pod is what Mom would call them.
The two ran up behind Rin and grasped his shoulders, and started dragging him backwards. He struggled and cursed, twisted and growled, but the guards' grips were much too tight for him. The two wouldn't let him free. "You're coming with us to The Pound, punk."
Rin settled down and turned his gaze to me. He growled and shouted hotly at me. "I'll get you, Aluendi!"
I was so busy staring Rin get dragged away I didn't see the shadow appear in front of me.
A tall and skinny Camouflage Lenny stepped out from the back of the tree dressed in a thick brown cloak. He grabbed my wrist firmly and started dragging me towards the castle. I recognized him from the castle's guards. "And you," he hissed, "are coming with me, young lady."
To be continued...