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The Princess and the Pearl (A Maraquan Faerie Tale)


by lafee_dans_gris

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Once upon a time, in the great kingdom of Maraqua, there lived a picky prince named Orion the Koi. Having grown up an only child in the palace, he was very lonely. The highlight of his year had always been his grand family reunion ball at the palace. This year, his parents had even agreed to allow him to bring a friend! However, this presented a new problem: where could he find a suitable friend? He was determined to find the coolest friend of all, and every Pteri Princess and Prince Peophin came from far and wide to meet him.

      Each came in their beautiful satin collars, sparkling tiaras, and tee-shirts. The females looked ravishing with their nail polish, lipstick and eyeshadow, and every strand of their hair was in place as they consulted their golden mirrors. They stood tall and proud as they greeted the prince, and giggled charmingly at all his jokes. Each was certain that she was precisely what he was looking for. The males brought along their Faerie Slingshots, Hannah Action Figures, and Hubrid's Puzzle Boxes with the hope of impressing the prince. However, Orion turned each away, his hopes of finding his perfect friend diminishing before his eyes.

      Later that evening, his parents, the famed King Xavier and Queen Jezebel of Maraqua, heard a light tapping at their door. The king answered it to reveal a small, frightened Maraquan Kau. Her long, red hair was in a state of disarray, and she wore only a tattered green cloak. The bright Earth Faerie Hair Clip that she wore was askew, and it did little to make her appear more well-groomed. No superstar earrings hung from her ears and it was clear that she had left her Eau De Daisy at home.

      King Xavier began to close the door, thinking her to be only a beggar, seeking a piece of their fortune. The girl stepped forward, and stammering as she spoke, managed to speak, "Ex-excuse me your Highness, my n-name is Princess Amber and I am here to meet your son."

      Even Queen Jezebel, a queen usually known as a just and friendly woman, had to bite her lip to hold back a giggle. A princess? This girl could hardly pass for a chimney sweep. However, they were too kind to turn her away after she'd come so far, so they reluctantly let her in. A somber maid led Amber to a purple coral table behind an ornate glass divider in a large dining room. Her breath was still as she heard official-sounding commands to send for the prince echoing down an empty hall to her left.

      Slowly, Orion's regal face appeared at the top of the red carpetted stairs with a bored expression. Her heart sank slightly, but she managed to flash him a weak smile. Orion's eyes brightened; how had this amazing girl had found her way here, to his undeserving home? After a series of brief introductions, Orion invited Amber to have a cup of borovan and his mother's famous maraquan gumbo. The two clicked immediately, and they talked long into the night.

      Jezebel snorted and shook her noble head in disbelief. They could not live with the shame of their son being friends with a common pauper! However, Queen Jezebel had always been a quick thinker. During the course of the night, she devised her plan. A real princess, even snug in the most comfortable bed in all of Neopia, could feel a pearl. It would bruise her delicate skin and make sleep uncomfortable, if not utterly impossible. She excused herself (regretfully, of course; a good hostess never leaves her guests) and set off to prepare the test.

      As the last of the Magenta Coral Lamps was turned off, Amber was led to her bedchamber. She stopped at the doorway and gasped in awe; this was the most beautiful room she had ever seen! It had a warm sunset coral bed, piled high with extra pillows. Next to the bed was a matching armchair, with a tall lamp behind it. The Sunset Coral Wardrobe on the other side of the bed was large enough to fit all of the clothing owned by all of her family, and she was surprised to see that all of her belongings dried, fluffed, and hung up. Looking at her surroundings, a blissful smile crossed her tired face. Never had she felt so blessed in all her life, and she could not have been more grateful. Unaware of Jezebel's plan, Amber slid into bed and was instantly washed away into a sea of beautiful dreams.

      When Amber awoke, she set about making the bed, as any good houseguest would. She was lightly tucking in the corners and was surprised as a pearl rolled to her feet. She picked it up and examined this simple, perfect charm. Inspiration struck immediately -- she knew a perfect way to thank the wonderful woman who had obviously set this magnificent room aside for her. She braided a few strands of her chestnut hair together to form a light rope, and set the pearl into the center. As she held her handiwork to the light to examine it, she kissed it gently and it glimmered with perfection. Slipping this necklace into her pocket, she headed down to the dining room below. As she descended, she could see the puzzled look from the maid who had been escorting her around. A princess that made her own bed was not something that one would often see in this great kingdom.

      Upon a quick scan around the dining room, the girl somehow remained oblivious to the tension in the air. Prince Orion was seated at the head of the table, staring glumly into his Enchanting Strawberry Cereal. King Xavier's eyes darted about the room, as if he were looking for the smallest crevice in which he could find a spot to hide. Queen Jezebel wore a smug smile on her face as she nibbled on her Taelia Muffin and sipped her Kabuggle Mocha. A fight had obviously just occurred, but Amber skipped in as merrily as ever. She took a seat next to Orion and across from the queen, and fluffy faerie pancakes with a cup of tea were set before her. The food both looked and smelled delicious, but she was careful to eat it slowly and daintily. She didn't want to do anything to ruin her chances here.

     Jezebel pounced before her first bite was even fully chewed.

     "How did you sleep, dear?" she asked, with icicles in her tone that dripped with disdain.

     "Wonderfully, thank you," Amber replied enthusiastically, her eyes shining bright with happiness.

      Jezebel's smile at that point could have blinded anyone within a ten block radius, but she, in her benevolence, decided she would wait until after Amber's first and only decent meal to break the news.

      Amber finished every bite, and ran to the kitchen to personally thank the cook. The snappy Jetsam couldn't even help but smile as she carried out the plates to the fancy sink herself. She almost begged to wash them, and the gesture was far too sincere to be overlooked. As soon as she was finished, she decided it was time to give the queen her gift.

     Upon returning to the dining room, Jezebel stood, and Amber rushed to her.

      "Before I forget," she said, "I made you a gift to show my gratitude. I found this pearl cleaning up, and I thought it would make a pretty necklace." She held it out, and the sunlight danced on the perfect little stone.

      The bitter Queen's heart melted as the young girl's gesture set in. It was only then that she realized that a true princess could come in any form, because what really mattered was the kindness in her heart.

      Princess Amber and Prince Orion attended the great royal family reunion the twentieth day of the month of Relaxing. It is even rumoured by those who attended that the fashionable Queen Jezebel ditched her usual Air Faerie Token for a much simpler and more exquisite necklace, one that no one else in all of Neopia could ever duplicate.

The End

 
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