Princesses, Palaces and Pranks
Cadria was not your average Aisha. Born into one of Neopia"s most powerful families, Cadria was the heiress to a small fortune, and the hefty expectations accompanying such wealth. Yet, Cadria was not your average rich Aisha either. Cadria, much to the exasperation of her high-flying parents, was rather, well… difficult.
"Difficult?!" she had screeched, the first time her mother had used the term. "Difficult?! I"m not difficult!" She had proceeded to flounce, seething, to the other side of the family"s stately library – for the whole situation had arisen as a result of Cadria"s mother pleading with the young Aisha to please take more interest in books, sweetheart – where she had begun to hurl tome after tome from the shelves. They had fallen to the floor, each emitting a dull thud as they hit the wood. "If you think I"m difficult," she shrieked, finally seizing upon the volume she had been looking for, "Perhaps you should stop relying quite so heavily on this!" Cadria had then hurled a rather large book across the library before storming from the room, muttering to herself. Her mother had let out a sigh as she retrieved the volume from the floor. The Medieval Dictionary. "Very funny, Cadria," she had thought, as she began to restore her treasures to their shelves.
Cadria had no interest in books. She refused to read anything more highbrow than the Neopian Fashion Trends Magazine – although in June she was an avid reader of any and all Altador Cup news and gossip – and the assortment of tutors her parents had hired to educate her in everything from etiquette to Ancient Sakhmet had each either refused to continue teaching her or requested a sizeable pay rise. She simply hated lessons – whatever was the point in sitting in a stuffy room for hours and hours and hours when one could be out exploring? The best that could come of it, in Cadria"s opinion, was that in amongst all that boredom, a daydream or two would somehow metamorphose into a perfect plan for mischief.
Today"s lesson – mathematics – was breeding ground for all kinds of daydream. Cadria yawned as she turned the page in her Math Workbook. Her tutor had handed it to her two weeks ago with a smile Cadria found quite repulsive. "I thought you"d like it, since it has a little white Aisha on the front," she"d exclaimed, "It"s you!" Cadria"s face had remained expressionless. She had not considered such a comment worthy of a response. She stared at the sea of numbers in front of her and yawned again, this time loudly, hoping Miss Patronising Maths Whizz (Cadria didn"t know many of her tutors" names. They never lasted long enough to bother remembering, after all) would take pity on her and let her leave a little early. It did not appear to be working. She sighed to herself. It was sunny outside, and here she was, stuck in this horrid, stuffy library, with a bunch of silly squiggly lines that didn"t seem to mean anything at all asking her to solve them.
Eventually, Cadria decided she"d had quite enough. This was not a day to be wasted on maths. She"d been planning a certain piece of mischief for quite some time now, and with her parents away all weekend and only Mrs McGuire the Elderly Xweetok housekeeper to evade, the time was ripe. Overripe, she thought. Solve yourselves! she scribbled across page four of her workbook. She closed it and turned to Patronising Maths Whizz. "I"ve finished!" she exclaimed, with a beaming smile, dropping the workbook in front of her. "See you later!" she called, already running out the door with a gleeful grin still etched upon her face.
"Sweet, sweet freedom," she thought to herself as she rushed upstairs to collect the things she would need for today"s adventure. It barely took any time at all – she had been planning this for quite some time, after all. She snuck back down the stairs, leaving the family home through a convenient glass-panelled side-door in the conservatory. She ran out into the open air, breathless and full of childlike excitement. And so her adventure began…
Sakhmet City was scorching, scorching hot. Cadria was beginning to think she should have brought some sunscreen. Still, there was little time for such trivialities. She had mischief to make, after all. First, she was going to need some place to prepare for her little escapade. She had heard that across the river from Sakhmet City was a smaller city of less prestige, and it was to there she journeyed first, thinking she was far more likely to find a quiet place to prepare in Qasala than in the hustle and bustle of Sakhmet. How right she was! In no time at all the Aisha had found a small alcove, perfectly sized for a quick change of clothes. And so it was that the high society daughter of Neopia"s elite found herself donning a whole new persona in the back alleys of ruined Qasala.
Cadria was no longer Cadria. As she emerged from the alcove, she was born anew, veiled in golden silks and precious stones. Her dress shimmered in the bright sunlight, her long, dark tresses hanging in loose waves around her mischievous visage. She had adorned her pale skin – partly for disguise, partly for effect – with golden markings suited to her new Desert design. Around her neck hung layer upon layer of golden beads, with a perfect opal at her chest, while her head sported an exquisite diadem of jewels and stones. She looked quite the princess.
As she made her way back to Sakhmet City, back straight, head held high – just as her mother had taught her – heads turned to admire her finery, and she greeted passers-by with a gracious smile. She felt like royalty… and indeed, her walk took her to the steps of the great palace, where step by step the troublesome white Aisha made her way towards the gates. A small crowd began to gather behind her golden train, murmuring among themselves as to the identity of this newcomer to their city.
The guards stopped her, of course. "Who goes there?" they cried in unison. "What business have you with the Princess?" Cadria spoke effortlessly, "I do not expect you to know my face. I have travelled long and far to reach my cousin. I have been hiding in the mountains of the north for many, many moons, but now that peace and order has been restored to the Lost Desert, it is my wish that I see my remaining family once more." The guards looked stunned. An audible whisper of shock rippled through the crowd. No-one knew that Princess Amira had a lost cousin!
Cadria waited, trying to keep a straight face. This was simply too easy. The guards returned from their deliberation and gestured for her to approach the palace doors. "You are most kind," Cadria said, in her best high society accent. She tried not to laugh as she imagined her parents" faces if they could see the use their etiquette lessons were being put to now. As she entered the palace, however, she was simply lost for words. Ornamental pillars stood at each turn, the floor was dressed in purple and gold, and the view… it was breathtaking. "This is learning," Cadria thought to herself as she was escorted through the palace"s twists and turns. Eventually, the guards stopped. They waited, and Cadria craned her neck to see past them before they parted, revealing at last the Princess herself.
"Greetings, cousin," the Princess said, steadily. "I hear you have travelled far."
Cadria suddenly felt her courage fail in the presence of someone so majestic. "Why- Why yes, yes, er, all the way from the m-mountains…" she stammered. She blushed, and Amira"s lip curled a little.
"From the mountains? And why, may I ask, were you so far from home?"
"I fled," Cadria lied. "I fled after the murder of King Coltzan. I did not believe it was safe here."
Amira ushered the young Aisha inside her chamber, and gently closed the door behind her. "My dear," she said, "Since we discovered Nabile"s unknown relation to Princess Neera, I have commissioned many of the Desert"s greatest and wisest historians and scribes to find anyone who may be welcomed as part of my dynasty."
Cadria felt her smile fade, rather rapidly.
"And it is thus that I know you are no relation of mine."
Cadria began to launch into an apology, but was quickly rebuked. She noticed the Princess was smiling, and there was something in her eyes – a glimmer, a mischievous sparkle. A glint Cadria knew all too well.
"You have impressed me with your sheer audacity, young… Well, what is your name? Your real name?"
"Er… Cadria, your highness."
"Don"t "your highness" me! Sorry. I hate that," she said. "Well, Cadria. How about we play this little game of yours a while longer?" She winked. "Maybe we can think of a few more ways to make mischief… My staff here simply hate jokes."
Cadria grinned. Everything was going to be alright after all.