A Priceless Gem
Many years ago, in a small town by the mountains west of Neopia Central…
A cloaked Uni stood at the back door of a rundown little house at night. She looked behind her and sighed. “I don't think anyone's seen me…”
She turned back around and knocked on the door. A Striped Peophin, with bags under her eyes, opened the door and beamed.
“Lillille! You're here!” she cheered, before going into a coughing fit. Lillille looked at her, concerned.
“Um… are you okay? You even called me by my actual name.” she asked, nervously.
The Peophin nodded. “Yeah, yeah… I’m fine. Sorry to scare you like that, Lillie. Come in, quick!” The Peophin motioned Lillille in and quickly but carefully shut the door. Once inside, the Uni threw off her cloak, revealing herself to be Royal.
Lillille smiled sweetly. “How are you doing, Gemdom?”
Gemdom sighed. “I'll be honest… I'm not doing too well. I've been feeling pretty sick lately, but the shop hasn't had any customers in a while and the flowers are wilting, so I don't have enough NP to make the trip to Neopia Central to go to the Hospital.” She went into another coughing fit.
Lillille’s smile quickly turned into a frown. “You even sound awful. It sounds like Kikoughela, but worse. Maybe it's Neomonia, and that's real bad. Maybe I can fly you to the Hospital? These wings aren't for show, you know.” she suggested.
Gemdom shook her head. “No, I can't ask that of you. I don't want you getting in trouble. I mean, you're not even supposed to be talking to me. If your folks ever find out you were here, especially at night, they probably wouldn't ever let you leave the castle again! I like you, Lillie. I don't want you to get punished for my sake.” she begged.
“But I can't leave you like this!” Lillille cried. “You need help, Gemdom!”
The Peophin nodded solemnly. “Maybe I do, but I can't ask it of you, Lillie. Maybe I can ask Mr. Frigidness… he's a nice gentleman, maybe he could send a message to the doctor.”
Lillille looked down. “But would the doctor even know where to go? This little town isn’t even on the map.”
“What other choice do I have? I just have to place my faith in his arrival.”
Lillille gave her a mournful look. “You can always ask me for help. You're a good friend to me, Gemdom. There isn't anything I wouldn't do for a friend.”
Gemdom gave her a weak smile. “I'll keep that in mind. Now, you should get back home before anyone notices you snuck out.”
Lillille nodded. “Alright. I'll see you tomorrow. Goodnight.” With that, she left.
She snuck back into her home by flying through her bedroom window. Her Gold Mauket, Crystalluxe, was waiting for her. Her room was made for a princess; it was adorned with the most luxurious furniture, the bed was covered in rare plushies, and the entire room was drenched in the same light pink as her fur. She quietly shut the window and clamored into her Heart Shaped Bed, pretending to go to sleep. Her Mauket jumped up and curled up next to her.
Her bedroom door swung open. Lillille looked up to see an angry Royal Bori looming over her.
“... Greetings, Mother.” Lillille murmured.
The Queen narrowed her eyes. “Lillille, is it true you snuck out of the castle not too long ago?” she demanded.
“Of course not! I've been asleep!” Lillille lied.
“Then why are your hooves so dusty and dirty? Our castle is supposed to be spotless!” the Queen retorted.
“Ok, so maybe I went out for a late night stroll in the garden. I haven't been sleeping well lately.”
“Are you so tired as to forget proper etiquette? You are supposed to wash up after… frolicking in the dirt. Look, you've even soiled your rug and the bed with this awful dust! What kind of Uni even lets herself get so filthy? You are 17, for Fyora's sake, have some pride in yourself! You are going to the bath this instant!”
Lillille sighed as she was marched to the bathroom. At least she didn't suspect me going out into town…
She sighed. But I can't l can't live my life in fear of talking to people! Mother wants me to take the throne someday, but how can I rule over a town if I'm forbidden from getting to know anyone?
She looked back, where Crystalluxe was watching Lillille in confusion from her bedroom door.
Maybe it's time…
The next night was similar to the last. Lillille arrived at Gemdom’s house to check on her, but this time she was carrying a bag.
Gemdom opened the door. “Hi, Lillie…” she said, weakly before her cough started up again.
Lillille sighed. “You look and sound even worse than yesterday.” She walked into the house, and set down the bag.
“What's in there?” Gemdom asked.
“Oh, just a pal to keep you company for when I'm gone.” Lillille opened up the bag, to reveal a Gold Mauket sleeping inside. “I’ve been thinking about this for a while. I don't think I'll be staying here very long.”
“You're giving me Crystalluxe?! Lillie, I can't take him!”
“Please, I need someone to. I'm probably never coming back here again. You may think I have everything I could ever ask for, but I don't want to stay here where I'm not allowed to talk to people because my mom thinks I'm above them. You said it yourself, I'm not supposed to be talking to what my mom calls 'commoners,’ but there's literally nobody here that Mom approves of! I want to go to a place where anybody can talk to and be friends with anyone.” Lillille explained.
She rummaged through her bag, as Crystalluxe scampered out and quickly ran up the stairs.
“I don't have any medicine, but I heard a rumour saying that Relic Neopets don't get sick…” She pulled out a Paint Brush and a sack of Neopoints. “And if that doesn't work, here's 100,000 Neopoints so you can go to Neopia Central and get the medicine you need.”
Gemdom couldn't believe it. “You're seriously giving me all of this?” she asked, in utter disbelief.
Lillille nodded and smiled. “I told you. I would do anything for my dear friend. My... only friend.”
Gemdom's eyes started to tear up. “Th… thank you, Lillille. I'll take good care of Crystalluxe. You truly are a princess with a heart of gold.”
Then suddenly they could hear the front door get kicked open. They turned around, shocked, as a troop of guards marched in.
“W-Wha… What's going on?” Gemdom asked.
The Queen strolled in and glared at Lillille. “There you are. I had a feeling you were in here… My daughter, who sneaks out every night to prance among the commoners… What have I been telling you since you were little?”
“'The only ones who are worth our time are the ones who shine as bright as we do…’” Lillille repeated, begrudgingly. “But that's not right! You look down upon everyone who doesn't live in the castle and prevent me from talking to anyone except the butlers and you! I can't stand living in this bubble, cut off from the rest of Neopia! What kind of life is one that is not shared with others?” she retorted.
“It is a clean, pure and proper one for our lineage! We shan't muddy our image with the garbage littered around the towns!” the Bori screeched.
“Garbage?! These are living beings, Mother! And this one is my friend! She may be my only friend, but that one is much more than you have!” Lillille declared, standing in front of Gemdom.
The Queen narrowed her eyes. “The florist? The one who spends all of her time covered in dirt and grime? That's who you choose as a companion?” she said, her tone eerily refined.
Lillille stamped her hoof and nodded, in defiance.
The Queen flashed a small, sinister smile. “Seize both of them.”
“What?!” Both girls screamed as the guards shackled them.
“Oh, Lillille. I thought you would be better than this. Looks like I was wrong. Perhaps you need a bit of reeducation. As for this ugly creature, toss her in the dungeon for daring to sully my daughter's grace.” The Queen demanded as Gemdom gasped.
“You can't do that! She's sick! if you toss her in the cold and dirty dungeon, she’ll…” Lillille protested, with tears in her eyes.
“Then I shall let nature take its course.” The Queen stated, bluntly. “Take them away.”
The guards dragged the screaming two away, as the town woke up to see their suffering.
Lillille was locked away in her room. Her window was sealed shut, and the door was locked, only opening for when a meal was brought in. She was trapped for days on end, worrying about Gemdom's safety and wondering how she could escape. She could easily pick a lock with her horn, but the door was locked from the outside…
She looked to the window. That's it! She perked up. The window may be welded shut, but the glass is still as brittle as ever, and her horn is rather tough…
It took a bit of reassuring herself to convince her to go through with her plan, but at last she charged at the window and shattered the glass.
“What's going on in there?!” the watchman outside yelled. Lillille gulped and jumped out. She didn't have much time left before the guard called the others; she had to get to the dungeon and break Gemdom out, fast. That is, if she was still there…
She made a beeline for the dungeon, which was hidden behind a secret passageway behind the castle. She descended into the poorly lit catacombs, scanning each room for any sight of the Peophin.
But after tirelessly scouring each room for any trace of her, she found none. Her heart sank. I… I was gone too long. She's gone. Lillille began tearing up at the thought of having lost her friend. I should have escaped earlier… she thought regretfully, as she shedded a few tears.
She dejectedly turned back around, until she kicked an object across the floor. Curious, she walked over to the item and looked closely. It was a depleted Paint Brush! She looked back at the cell where the brush came from - the window’s steel bars were bent as if they had been kicked in, and there was a leaf stuck to one the bars with moss.
A message was written on the leaf.
I'm sure one day our paths will cross again; I look forward to it. Thanks for everything. - G
Lillille gasped in excitement. Gemdom had survived, and she had escaped, both thanks to the Relic Paint Brush! Filled with confidence, Lillille waited until the guards gave up looking for her for her to sneak out of the dungeon, and she took off into the night sky, never to return.
The sun had barely risen when she landed in Neopia Central. This is the city where all Neopets can gather and intermingle… she thought to herself, as she took in the sights. She took in a deep breath and sighed, relieved.
No more judgment. No more snobbery. No more unfairness. Here, everyone is equal.
She looked over to the Magic Shop. I'm not exactly sure if I want to be associated with a royal lineage anymore… Maybe here I can get a fresh start.
She walked into the store, only to see a Starry Kau busy with work. A few potion bottles were on the table.
“Come in, come in, look around.” the Kau said, welcoming.
Lillille looked over to a grey bottle lined with gold. “What's this?” she asked.
“That's a Pirate Draik Morphing Potion. That's worth a good one million Neopoints.” the Kau explained.
“Can I trade you something for it?” Lillille asked.
Lillille placed her fancy robes and hat on the table. “My Royal clothing?”
The Kau looked at the Uni curiously. “Well, this is rather unorthodox, but these are high quality, I'll admit. I'll give it to you. What's your name, girl?”
She hesitated for a moment. Now's my chance to put the past behind me and begin anew!
She gave a sly grin. “My name is Illyndra.”