When One Leads
"And I'm telling you, it shouldn't be like that! Why can't you do as you're told?!"
"Sheesh, Hallis! It's just where I get offstage! Why the fuss?!"
Hallis growled, "I told you already, right? If you exit that way, it'll look really strange since you'll be leaving as Bryce enters from the same way."
"So what?! So, don't you think that you'll be seen "meeting" Bryce when in the previous scene, you and he swore to go for each other's throats "the next time you meet"? And you ask "So what?"!"
"Hey, Hallis... Let's take a break? I'll talk to Emeran for you," offered Bryce who could see that their school play producer was about to blow her top and probably go for the defiant Kacheek's throat herself. The whole team was in fact, silent because of the real drama they could see unfolding before their own eyes.
"Fine," harrumphed Hallis. "Everyone, take five! And make sure you all know your lines for the next scene when we come back! I don't want any more hold ups for that."
"What a bossy Wocky," was heard before a glare from Hallis silenced the complainer.
"You try be the producer for this play! I wonder if you can do half of what needs to be done, to the point you lose sleep," she thought to herself somewhat bitterly. Then in her mind she heard the voice of a certain faerie, as she always did whenever she had an outburst like this, adding a few more words into the letter that she always wrote in her mind but never on paper. "Your Highness, what would you've done if you were in the same situation now?"
Five years earlier
A group of students from one of the more prestigious schools in Neopia Central walked around in the labyrinth of the Gardens of the Palace of Faerieland in amazement at its beauty.
"Come now, everyone! Don't lag behind Hallis!"
Hallis, the only Royal coloured Neopian in her class hung towards the back of the group and trudged along sulkily without heeding her teacher's words. Even Faerieland, the place where their school were visiting for their long awaited day trip was not cheering her up though she, like other schoolmates had waited for this day impatiently. It was already spoilt when she, Hallis Davenport was made to give her place at the front of the line and at the same time, her position as class leader of the day because her classmates had complained to the teachers that she insisting that everyone goes to the places that she wants to go to. Hallis couldn't get why everyone made such a big deal out of it... What was the point of being the "class leader" if she isn't allowed to do as she wants or pleases? Why couldn't the others see that the places she wanted to go are by far, more interesting than just wandering in the Faerie City and the Gardens of Palace, like the Rainbow Fountain or the Palace itself?? Suddenly, she bumped into an earth faerie tending to some plants who was startled by the "sudden appearance" of a Wocky kit.
"Hey, I know you Neopians are allowed to come visit and all, but watch where you're going!"
"It's alright... But are you with a school? Where are your friends?"
"Oh yes, they're-" Hallis trailed off when she realised that her classmates were not even in sight anymore. Fear wasn't even the first thing that struck the young Wocky, she's far above feeling such things if she were to lose sight of the Neopians she was supposed to stick with. This is Faerieland after all, and she's in the grounds of the Faerie Queen's palace what more! Rather, she was stumped as to what to do next. She wasn't sure whether to wait where she was or to go along her own way and hopefully bump into her other schoolmates, whether they're her classmates or not.
"Dicentra, what's happening here?"
"Oh, Your Highness! Good morning. We've got here, a young one who's lost her schoolmates."
"Is that so?"
Hallis turned to look at the owner of the voice and was lost for words when she saw that is was none other than the Faerie Queen herself, Fyora. She had with her, an entourage of higher ranking faeries and it looked as though they had been taking a morning stroll in the gardens while in discussion about something. Looking far more regal than she had ever imagined her to be, Hallis half wished that "closed minded" classmates could see her now! There was silence form the entourage now, as the Faerie Queen looked at Hallis closely.
"Young one, what is your name?"
"Hallis. Hallis Davenport- Your Highness," she added quickly, remembering in time whom she was addressing.
"Hallis Davenport..." the queen repeated slowly.
"Your Highness? I think we can try and trace where her school is at the moment. Shall we do that now?' enquired an air faerie.
"Please do, Ismene. In the meantime, we shall continue with our walk and I'll talk a little more with this young one. It has been a long time since I did so."
"Of course, Your Highness."
"Come along, Hallis Davenport. Walk next to me."
Stunned and feeling light headed at the events taking place, a light faerie had to gently nudge her and urge "Go on now, the Lady is asking you to walk with her," as Queen Fyora praised and thanked Dicentra for her work in the gardens. Hallis numbly took her place next to the queen as they continued their walk in the garden. She barely heard what was being discussed over her head, though she did hear something regarding a Lutari, a Wocky and a young Kougra stealing something from the Healing Springs and even a name sounding like "Rockston" being mentioned. She wondered about it, it became a burning question to her but she dare not ask. In normal circumstances, she would already be demanding to know more, whether it was concerned her or not. But in the presence of one of the more powerful beings in Neopia, even Hallis who was already becoming well known for being opinionated and pushy among her students in her year in school felt she had to be a little more mindful of her actions and words. Somehow, Fyora must have read the young Wocky's mind.
"Young Hallis, I believe you have something to ask."
"Well, Your Highness, what was it that you were talking about? I want to know too."
Some in the entourage were amused and the rest, amazed at the directness of the young Neopian's question. But Fyora appeared to take no notice of it. "Some Neopians had stolen a part of the machinery that helps bring in spring water for the Healing Springs."
"That's bad! Aren't you going to do something about it Your Highness?"
"Ah, that was question that we're all discussing about right now."
"We'll let this pass."
"What?" This didn't come only from Hallis, but also from the whole entourage. "Your Highness, are you sure about this? You do remember that Marina had a hard time after what Roxton Colchester did since he was last here?"
"Yes Tamara, I do and will remember as I gave the order for all water faeries to help Marina after that incident. Naia herself also was not excluded from this if I recall?"
"That's right, Your Majesty. We saw to it personally. But, we don't understand... Why?"
The Queen looked out past the trees in the gardens, past the clouds that hold up the entire land and towards the lands below "Why? The three that did this were doing it to prevent disasters from occurring again."
"Disasters, your Highness?" asked a fire faerie worriedly.
"That is right. Long ago there used to be disasters until a group of Neopians came up with the solution to stop it. The machinery that was taken will be part of it"
"But still they stole what was yours, right?" persisted Hallis. The Faerie Queen turned to face Hallis and replied with a small smile "Stole? I rather say that we faeries, "borrowed" the machinery. The time had come for it to be returned to its owners and that machinery had a much greater need than bringing in spring water."
"Your Highness, so we will do nothing about this?"
"We will get something else to compensate for the machinery that we had been using. Form a team of three capable Neopians and get them to see me after this."
"At once, Your Highness."
"Good. Is that all for now, Rissa?"
"That is all. You will be having an appointment in your office in the next fifteen minutes with Xandra, though," replied a bespectacled dark faerie.
"Alright, thank you. Meanwhile, do find out what happened to Ismene and see if she had found this young one's teachers."
"Of course, Your Majesty."
At that, the whole entourage left, leaving their Queen and Hallis except for a few faerie guards. Both the faerie and the Wocky kit stood in serene silence, looking out past the clouds and watching the scenery below change from land to sea. Presently, the Queen again stated, "You still have something else on your mind, young Hallis."
"Eh, well... You're right about that..."
"The thing is..." and Hallis poured out about what had happened to her that day; how her classmates wouldn't listen to her, even if she was the leader of the day. The whole thing had been on her mind the whole trip and was also the reason why she ended up missing her classmates. When she was done she felt somewhat embarrassed in telling in what appeared to her eyes now as a petty problem compared to what she heard the Queen and her courtiers discussed. At the same time, she hoped that the Queen will be able to tell her something about it, maybe even say that she and her schoolmates are invited to come into the Palace.
Hallis was therefore a little surprised when the Queen just turned to face her and ask, "And why do you think your classmates aren't willing to listen to you?" "Wha-?"
"There must be something that made them unwilling to hear out what you're suggesting to them."
"Oh. That... Well, I was told that I was being pushy and bossy. I'll admit that I always want things to go my way and that I don't take "No" as an answer," the Wocky kit revealed shamefacedly. "But, isn't that what a leader does? They tell what others what to do and it gets done!"
But Hallis got more surprised when the Faerie Queen laughed with mirth. "Telling others what to do and it gets done... You do have a point on that, young Hallis. Still, there's more to being a leader than that."
"How? I even asked my mother when I was younger and that was the answer I got from her. She can't be wrong, Your Highness!"
"It wasn't wrong of her to say that though she may have tried to make it easier for you to understand. I mentioned earlier that a leader does much more than telling others what to do, yes? For example, I, as the Faerie Queen must ensure that affairs of Faerieland runs smoothly and my people will safe if any danger threatens this land. I also have to make sure that there is peace between the lands below and be ready to step in when must."
"You mean to say... You don't step in every time there is trouble?? But aren't the faeries supposed to help Neopians in trouble?"
"That is right; however, not all problems will require help from the faeries. You Neopians are capable of accomplishments that are even beyond faeries... And that is where I must determine whether we need to step in or leave it to the Neopians. To do all that, a leader must have both wisdom and a sense of responsibility, and that is just two of the things that determines the type of leader one is."
"Wow... You sure have a lot to do..." Hallis never saw being a leader in that way, but hearing just what a Faerie Queen will have to do made her rethink everything that she knew about being a class leader.
"When one leads, it's less about one's self and more about others' well-being. After all, with power and its benefits, comes the expectations to use that same power wisely for others."
As the final minutes for that short break ticked away, Hallis was approached by a slightly less indignant Emeran. "Hey Hallis, thought I should say sorry for talking to you in that way." Though she was still tempted to reply with "Oh, at least you know that!" Hallis had grown over the years and had learnt along the hard way when to keep such remarks to herself. Feeling that there was a bit more to be said, she kept quiet and listened to that Kacheek.
"Me and Bryce talked and both of us agreed that though you tend to be too bossy, you are the one who had brought the school play this far with your ability to get everyone together and lead. And that is something I can acknowledge, even if I don't like you."
Well, this wasn't quite what she expected! To be acknowledged for this and what more from a Neopian who said that he had no liking for her in the same sentence! Hallis responded gracefully, "Apology and compliment accepted. But I'll expect you to do as planned unless you have better ideas and discuss with the rest of us after this. Got it?"
"That... sounds doable." Emeran nodded with acceptance.
"Good. Now, get to your position, we're going to start soon!" Feeling a sense of accomplishment and eagerness to tackle the next obstacle, she bellowed out to the rest of the team to standby for their next scene as everyone scuttled to get things ready. In her head, Hallis Davenport added yet a few more words to her letter to the Faerie Queen that she knows she must soon put in paper and send off to its recipient. "Well, though I don't know and still have much about learning to leading others, your words of enlightenment have not left my heart once. That will be a principle I'll hold on to for as long as I breathe. For that, thank you so much, Your Highness... I hope you'll one day lead your subjects and country back to the skies of Neopia!"