Nonlinear Companions: Dawn: Part Eight
After our day on the slopes, slightly damp, but absolutely buzzing with adrenaline, we retired to our cabin.
I was sitting, curled up under a blanket, in front of the fire with a mug of cocoa. Westron was opposite me sitting cross-legged with a blanket draped around his shoulders. We were playing cards and discussing plans for our return the Meridell in the morning.
The fire crackled comfortingly. I would have given anything to stay here forever, but we had to go back to the real world tomorrow, university, studying, working hard. But for now we were in our own winter wonderland.
I voiced these feelings to Westron, the pirate krawk gave me half a smile and sighed.
“It would be nice, yes,” He said. “But unfortunately, we have to go back to our lives. No matter how depressing that thought might be.”
“Why would that be depressing?” I asked him, I mean, yes, staying here would be amazing, but I liked my life back in Meridell as well.
“Maybe that's not the right word, but still, for me it's not so easy.” He grimaced.
This was it, he was finally going to divulge his big secret, finally explain to me about Drake, why he was keeping his true identity a secret, why he had all these spare neopoints to take friends on holidays, why his family owned a cabin at Terror Mountain, why he didn't have any friends in his own year group, and why supposedly (according to Drake), I was inevitably going to reject him.
I looked at him, and really saw him for the first time, I mean truly saw him. His face was lined and he had bags under his eyes, I could almost physically see the weight of all those secrets on his young shoulders.
And in that moment I found that I didn't really need to know any of the answers. He was my friend. He was kind and generous, friendly and smart, talented and humble. He was the sweetest neopet I had ever been lucky enough to meet. I valued his friendship more than I cared about his baggage.
I was about to tell him so when he looked up, his gaze caught mine and we shared a silent exchange. In which I made it perfectly clear that none of it made any difference to me. That I treasured his friendship more than anything, there was literally nothing he could tell me that would change my opinion of him, or make me like him any less.
“I think it's only fair that you know,” he started. “Drake doesn't think I should tell you, but I want us to have an open and honest friendship, and that's just not possible while I have all these big secrets hanging over me.”
“You know you don't have to…” I tried to say, but Westron cut me off before I could finish.
“No, I know, but I need to get this off my chest.”
“Okay, you do what you feel is right.” I told him.
He took a deep breath, I wiggled into a more comfortable position, I could tell it was going to be a long tale.
“It's probably best if you wait till I get to the end, if you have any questions, I'll try and explain everything fully.” He stated.
“Okay, Westron.” I said full of trepidation.
He took another deep breath and began.
“As I told you when we first met, I was born in Darigan Citadel. That’s about all of what I have told you so far, which is true. I was born a Darigan eyrie, like my father before me. Unfortunately during my first year of University, my roommate worked out my true identity, which in hindsight I guess wasn't all that hard. It didn't take very long before the whole year knew. That’s when I decided to change my identity, I used my family’s ill gotten fortunes to morph myself into the pirate krawk you see today. Unfortunately it was too late, the damage was done. Nobody wanted to associate with me.”
He paused to take another deep breath, part of me wanted to say something, but he had been so insistent that I reserve all questions until the end, that all I could do was bite my lip.
“In case you hadn't worked it out..... my father..... was.... Lord Kass.”
At this point I had to restrain myself from gasping. I looked into his eyes, and I knew that this had been incredibly difficult for him to say out loud. I smiled encouragingly. So he continued.
“My mother was a Darigan bruce, she had been working for the throne when my father took over, she was loving and kind, and he ruined her. When Lord Darigan returned, he banished her, along with me and my brother, Drake. He said we couldn’t be trusted.”
He paused to see if I reacted, I tried to keep my face neutral.
“After a few years of living in exile in Terror Mountain, my mother, after so many years of being silently judged by everyone we met, made the decision to leave us, in the hopes that we would be better off without her. She left one night and neither of us have heard from her since.”
He wiped a silent tear from his eye and continued.
“Before we were banished, my mother, had managed to keep hold of all the neopoints that my father had taxed from the citizens, during his reign. She left it all, and this cabin, behind with us, when she left. Drake went into a deep despair, he frittered away all his share of the neopoints, wasted them on scratch cards from the kiosk, trying to feel something other than the pain inside. Eventually, with my help, he realised what a mistake this was. He gave me his share of the cabin, which was all he had left, in return, I bought him a bika and a sled, found him a little place in Happy Valley to live, and helped him set up his business. Now he meets and greets at the Happy Valley ferry port and works as a guide for Terror Mountain."
Westron paused and looked at his hands for a moment, before continuing.
"After helping out my brother, I decided at that point to make something of myself, do good in this world. Make up for my father’s mistakes. At first I tried to return to the Citadel, but Lord Darigan didn't trust me, he thought I would be like my father. So instead I got myself a place at Meridell University, with the hopes that when I graduate I can prove to him that I am nothing like my father. I thought that if I studied in Meridell, he would see that I am a peaceful neopet. And that unlike my father I wish no ill upon the Meridellians. So far the correspondence we've had hasn't proved very fruitful on my part. But I still have a year and a half left of Uni, hopefully that will be enough time for me to change his mind.”
I stared at him, it was a lot to take in all at once. But everything made sense now. I completely understood why he had been so worried about telling me. But I found that it didn't matter to me. Westron was my friend, and his parentage made no difference to me. I mean it's not like I had the perfect mother myself.
He was staring at the ground. I wondered what he was thinking. I felt like I should say something. I just didn't know what to say. It was Westron who broke the silence.
“I understand if you don't want to see me again, after we go home.” He said.
I felt like crying. Did he really think he could frighten me off so easily? I shook my head in disbelief. Got up and moved over to him.
“Come here you!” I said pulling him into a big bear hug.
And we both burst into tears. Him from relief and me from, well, I'm not really sure.
“Now, you, look at me,” I said as he wiped a tear from his eyes. “You and I, we are friends, friends for life. And this, this is not a big thing, I will always be your friend, and you, you are the nicest, kindest, best neopet I know. This changes nothing. You are, and always will be, the best thing that ever happened to me.”
He smiled at me, I could see the relief wash over him.
“I knew you'd understand,” he told me. “You really are the best.”
I hugged him again.
The next day we returned home, back to our lives, but nothing was ever the same again, and everything that we'd been through, well, it had only made our friendship stronger. Over the years we had many adventures together, but I will always remember that first one, back when we were young.