There are ants in my Lucky Green Boots Circulation: 191,058,652 Issue: 595 | 17th day of Hunting, Y15
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Bedtime Story


by exinspired

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The Thieves Guild had great membership diversity. Neopets of all shapes, sizes, colors, and species were part of it, and you could hardly go anywhere without passing by a Guildsman or one of their many secret bases. They were everyone, everywhere--quite inescapable though it was rare they were chasing someone down as a group.

      Not only were Neopets of all sorts(and the occasional faerie, so the surprise of even some members of the Guild itself) members, but Neopets of all ages as well. It was hardly uncommon to find children in a Thieves Guild base, though not every member condoned it. Generally thieving street rats taken in due to potential or children who ran away from home or simply had nowhere to go and, in an attempt to find shelter, stumbled upon a hideout, the Guild was home to plenty of young Neopians--some were even taken in out of sympathy of a particularly soft-hearted member of the Guild, and now and then some were simply born into the Guild as well. Kanrik himself, when faced with the possibility of a child entering the Guild, was fairly indifferent and generally permitted it so long as they or the one bringing them in assured him they would be of some use, wouldn't slow them down, and could either care for themselves or would be cared for and thus not be a hindrance to the group.

      However, somewhat unexpectedly, he wound up the father or uncle figure to many of the guild's children. He wasn't the only one, of course--there were even more adults and elderly Neopets in the Guild then there were children--but they were all taught to respect, fear, and obey him. But, as Guildmaster, he wanted to do his best for the Thieves. And he didn't want to be like Galem who was feared and respected(and hated) due to his bullying, threatening, ruthless behavior--he tried to portray that he wasn't always serious and that life wasn't all about working. He spent free time with them, just talking, playing games, training, simply enjoying their presences. They were almost like family now and then.

      And that included playing with and caring for the children himself, now and then, too.

      (A year or so into their friendship and his rising to Guildmaster, while out on an adventure with Hannah he'd asked her whether or not she thought he would make a decent father in the incredibly off chance he had children. Girls knew about that sort of thing after all, right?

      Hannah had, at first, given him a rather odd look--they were, after all, by themselves as Armin couldn't come along as he'd gone back home for a visit and the adventure had been fairly spontaneous--but eventually she'd simply shrugged and resumed setting up her bedroll, flopping down onto it to wrestle her pillow into a fluffier state before responding. "I dunno, Kanrik." She beat the pillow a few more times before leaning her elbow on it and leaning her cheek on her fisted paw, returning the gaze of the thief who patiently waited for her answer. "I can't really see it. Knowing you, you'd probably eat your kid or something.")

      Children were hard work and confusing. But he also didn't entirely mind them. However, he did enjoy the precious hours of night after the Guild children's strict bedtime when even many of the grown thieves were asleep and the base was a bit quieter. When he could simply sit quietly and think. While he could never fully escape the noise (Gelerts, after all, have rather sensitive hearing) its reduction was welcomed.

      And now was that time, 11:30PM and the children had been in their beds for the past half hour or so. Most had already fallen asleep, but some were still struggling.

      And one made his ears twitch as they approached through the halls.

      It had to be one of the children--the smaller adults wouldn't need to take such care in their steps. They, after all, didn't have a curfew.

      Kanrik had situated himself in the corner of this particular living room--and as much of the base was, this corner was typically dark and good for hiding in. And while it wasn't his intent, he was virtually invisible to the pajama-clad little green Kyrii who crept in, peering around the room for any adults and back in the hallway before entering. Her tail was stiff with tension and her whole body was quivering just a bit. The Guildmaster watched her as she approached the room's bookshelf full of non-magical books pilfered from an innumerable amount of libraries and non-magical bookstores from all over Neopia. The kind that wouldn't impart you with the knowledge they held the first time you read them, but they also wouldn't disappear the second you finished. Much less of a waste.

      This particular Kyrii he recognized. The proud little pilferer, dubbed Patty by the Guildsmen who had brought her in, been trouble for the past few weeks, possibly still restless from the War. She'd tried the best she could to help them and had done a good job despite being fairly weak. The injuries she'd received weren't so bad and she'd healed quite cleanly, though now and then she complained about not being able to sleep or having nightmares.

      War did that to a kid. But, really, she'd been warned there would be fighting--her pride simply got in the way of backing down. At least her complaints and reports of her unease were lessening--she was recovering quickly as most Neopets did and would surely be fine soon.

      He continued to watch her as she examined the books on the shelf, staying quiet until she'd pulled one down enough that the shock wouldn't cause her to drop it on her head.

      "Patty."

      She screeched--and still dropped it! Luckily Kanrik had somewhat anticipated it and darted over to save the book (and her foot), pushing it to her chest once he'd caught it. Shakily, her paws went to it, holding it where he'd placed it.

      "Isn't it past your bedtime?"

      "I-i--it's--" Her ears and tail lowering from their previous shocked and alert position to a more demure one, Patty nodded. "Yes, Lord Kanrik, I should be asleep--b-but I had a good reason--!"

      Kanrik, still kneeled down slightly from catching the book, reached over and flicked her nose, earning himself a sulky little huff and a pout. "Walking around the base won't help you fall asleep, you know. And I'm positive you have books in your room."

      "I already read those!" the Kyrii insisted with a stamp of her foot. Though, she slid said foot behind the other one when Kanrik directed his gaze to it as if concerned that he would punish her for the simple act. She, at least, had enough pride left to keep looking him in the face. "It'd be boring if I read 'em again!"

      Kanrik's tail flicked in slight agitation, as he plucked the book away from the Kyrii and placed it back on the shelf. He leaned in, practically nose to nose with her and, his expression equally as flat as his tone, asked, "Wouldn't doing something boring help you fall asleep?"

      Her ears darted up and she took on a more shocked look. As though, somehow, her ten year old mind didn't consider that. Suddenly, she started stumbling over her words, stubbornly trying to come up with some sort of convincing argument or explanation for her less-than-intelligent decision.

      At least she'd done a good job of sneaking this far without getting caught. He had to give her that.

      The Gelert grabbed the back of her pajamas and pulled her into the air despite her squeaking and light struggling. For a moment or two he stared at her, honestly unsure of how exactly he was supposed to hold her, but figured that she was still breathing and didn't look too upset, so he must have been doing alright. Continuing to carry her more like a bag than a child, he pulled her out of the room and back into the halls, using his sense of smell to find just where she was supposed to be.

      "I'm not in trouble, am I?" Several times she tried to shift her weight so that her feet were touching the floor. However, Patty's legs were too short and Kanrik changed where he held her, thinking she was beginning to fall. By the time they'd gotten back to her room, she was being carried under his arm, her own arms crossed while she scowled indignantly. "I don't wanna get in trouble for just not going to bed!"

      "You're not in trouble." Mostly. She might be in some trouble when he wasn't well-rested in the morning, if she was given a task to do or went out to steal on her own. It wasn't uncommon for the Guild to prey on the tired children to teach them the importance of going to bed on time. Kanrik opened her bedroom door, taking in the slightly messy room out of habit. The place was littered with toys and clothes, a few books stacked here and there, neopoints and other stolen goods scattered about the floor. The neatest area was the vanity which she must have pieced together herself, being too small to have been able to conceivably steal a whole piece of furniture, which was neatly ordered with combs, brushes, mirrors, ribbons and beads--Kyrii were, after all, very concerned with the upkeep of their hair...

      Taking a seat on her bed and dropping her onto it next to him, he leaned against the wall behind it. "So," he began, glancing at the ruby she'd stolen weeks ago, something she still treasured and carried proudly and protectively everyday, now sitting on her bedside table next to the candle she'd foolishly left lit, "children fall asleep when read to?"

      Patty laughed, rolling over onto her back to look up at him more comfortably. "I knew every adult couldn't've been a kid at some point!" But she nodded a bit. "You gonna tell me a story then?"

      "I had a childhood." Kanrik sneered but made himself comfortable. "I suppose you want to hear a story then? Won't you be kept up by trying to pay attention?"

      "'Course not!!" Her claws dug into his pants leg as she grabbed onto him and used one of his thighs as her pillow. "When you aren't angry, y-your voice is really nice to listen to. Tell me about when you were a kid!"

      Idly trying to detach her(and failing as whenever he got a paw loose it found somewhere else to hold onto) he considered it. "There aren't any interesting stories to tell. My childhood was normal."

      She obviously didn't believe him. "If your childhood was normal, someone would've read to you so you'd fall asleep." Or so she was sure. "I read in the Neopian Times that some Grundo stole your plushie when you were little; so you must be from outside Neopia, right?"

      As though Grundos hadn't been welcomed onto their planet! He tapped her head a bit. "Is that what you think."

      "Yeah." The little green Kyrii nodded, suddenly looking deep in thought. "He's purple so he's probably from the Space Station and not Kreludor--because the Kreludan Grundos are orange. So you must be from there, right?"

      "Hmm." Kanrik considered reminding her that she wanted a story, but decided against it, deciding to let her muse to herself. Maybe the thoughts would put her to sleep.

      "And maybe... everyone says you're really cold and mean and you kind of are sometimes--so maybe..." She glanced at him, as if worried he might take offense to her next line. "Maybe you were a robot. And you're so strong because you were gonna be a fighting robot. But you're heartless and cold because you didn't always have a heart and stuff."

      "If I was a robot, why am I normal now?"

      Pulling her paws from his now, she crossed her arms on his leg, leaning her face on them in thought. "Someone painted you."

      "Really?" She nodded, and he couldn't help but be amused by the thought. "Why would they do that? I don't think the people who built me would've liked that much."

      "No, they did! They made you so they were like--like your mom and dad or something. And they programmed you to fight and everything and they taught you things and gave you stuff and took care of you. You were like family and... and they didn't wanna see you turn into a tool for fighting people who didn't do anything wrong. They knew you'd have a better life if you were a proper Neopet like them.

      "So... so one of them--or maybe both of them--they took you to Neopia with them in an escape pod to run away from Doctor Sloth and the Space Station and hopefully start a new, better life! And they somehow got a paint brush, and it was blue, and they painted you with it."

      She nodded, seemingly pleased with this story, though she was starting to get a bit limp, probably getting too tired to keep herself up. "Then where are they now? Why am I a thief instead?"

      Patty yawned, but managed to keep her eyes open when it was through. "They uh... Doctor Sloth sent someone to get 'em. Because they knew secrets and stuff and they got taken away. But they didn't recognize you because you were blue instead of a robot." She blinked a bit rapidly. "And you tried... tried to stop 'em and that's why you... you got that scar 'cause they hit you. And then they took your parents away."

      Kanrik almost felt sorry for his story self. "An' we dunno what happened to 'em... they might be in trouble now, or maybe they had to go back to work... maybe they escaped again and they're looking for you right now..."

      "But you didn't explain how I become a thief." She mumbled something but reopened her eyes while she tried to push through the fog of sleep to finish the story. "You... you were programmed to fight...

      "So you were like... you were programmed to do bad stuff. Because you didn't have morals and conscience... and the programming and memories from being... being a robot went into your head when you got a brain after being painted. So you stole stuff because you didn't know what else to do to take care of yourself and that was a bad thing to do. 'n since you were a robot... you had a really prec... precise mind... so you were good at lotsa stuff like stealing and not getting... caught..."

      He managed to ease the Kyrii off of his leg, replacing it with a proper pillow. She blinked awake again and watched him take her candle and head for the door. "You got morals and thoughts and stuff now, though." She insisted. "You can think... feel... you kinda can, but sometimes you still don't... 'n you don't do bad things because they're bad... jus' if they seem right at the... time..."

      Kanrik's tail wagged a bit and he nodded. "Emotions are very hard--I'm sure I'll figure them out someday." She curled up a bit and may have nodded, but he wasn't really sure. "Good night, Patty. Thank you very much for the story."

The End

 
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