The Princess of Flowers: Part Seven
PART SEVEN: CONFIDENCES
"Cassandra, what is this ‘evil entity’ that you’re speaking of?” asked Mildred.
In a low voice, Cassandra leaned forward and said, “Many years ago, an evil Darkest Faerie was sealed inside that mirror. As legend goes, the mirror was originally kept within this very palace and was heavily guarded. However, one day, the mirror had mysteriously vanished! No one knows where it went or if it remains intact—if even a single shard of glass is broken, the imprisoned Faerie could find a way to free herself from her prison. Others believe the mirror was smuggled out of the palace and sold for a high number of neopoints.” She sighed. “Unfortunately, we may never know the truth.”
“Indeed,” Rose squeaked. She could feel her forehead dampening with perspiration. Should she open her mouth and reveal the truth to Cassandra? Would the Queen understand if she knew the mirror was given as a Christmas present from her parents, who purchased it from a local merchant? And, worst of all, would she be enraged when she heard about how a peculiar Kyrii—Rose—felt so self-conscious about her exterior appearance that she, in a blind fit, threw the mirror to the ground while she wept on her bed? No, I mustn’t tell her a thing, Rose decided. I’ll just keep it a secret for now—just like how I handle that forsaken encounter with that jerk.
Cassandra directed a map towards Rose, who caught it in mid-air. “Take this map and read it properly,” Cassandra directed. “It will lead you to the exact location of Wobbleshire.”
Mildred curtseyed. “Thank you, Your Majesty.”
“Yes…thank you…” Rose said softly, gazing at the yellow piece of paper in her hands. She turned to Mildred. “Now then, shall we get going?”
“We shall,” said Mildred, nodding. “But wait, how will we get to the ground? The gilded stairs were destroyed!”
“The gilded stairs are designed to self-repair themselves if such situations occurred,” Cassandra explained. “Don’t worry about a thing, girls. Just be careful and say vigilant. I have the utmost faith in you both.”
Rose nodded. “Yes…we shall take our leave immediately.” She led Mildred out of the room, her heart beating rapidly per second.
“Those gilded stairs were lovely, weren’t they?” sighed Mildred. “And they weren’t slippery at all!”
Rose rolled her eyes. With Cassandra’s map in hand, she was leading Mildred down a seemingly-endless trail. They kept passing the same-looking trees and the sun seemed to be stuck in the same place, too. Mildred seemed perfectly content with the boring scenery, while Rose wanted to find a place that had at least one blooming flower. Instead of expressing her annoyance about everything, she grunted, “They were fine.”
Mildred smiled. “You know Rose; I’ve been having the swellest time during our adventure! Seeing the Air Faerie Kingdom and meeting Bee, Wesley and Gary was so much fun. How I wish we could have stayed for just a little while longer.”
“Well, we couldn’t,” Rose insisted. “We have to solve this mystery and, besides, neither of us belonged in that kingdom of Air Faeries.” She sighed. “Our only home is Floritua.”
“Yes, of course,” Mildred agreed. There was a brief silence between the girls as they continued walking. Then Mildred broke it by asking, “Rose, what were your parents like? Were they nice and caring?”
“They were…they were fine,” Rose stammered. She could feel her face heat up tremendously. Why was Mildred—draft, clueless Mildred—asking questions about her family? Did she really not understand the meaning of ‘privacy’ after all? “How were yours?” Rose asked, forcing herself to sound interested.
“My parents fell ill when I was young,” Mildred explained solemnly, “so I was primarily raised by my grandfather.” Her eyes sparkled. “He’s a wonderful baker, you know. He may be an elderly Kacheek, yet you should see him in the kitchen!” She laughed. “He’s as swift as a fiddle whenever there’s bread that needs baking or if a cake needs frosting. Or even if it’s only a small batch of cookies—”
Rose tuned Mildred out. She didn’t care an inch for her grandfather or how he was ‘as swift as a fiddle’—whatever that meant. Truth be told, she was absolutely bored and didn’t wish to hear her travelling companion go on and on about a stranger she never met or a place she only visited once. Should I really open up about my family? Rose felt torn. A part of her still regarded Mildred as a lowly stranger, yet another part of her was growing to trust her. Unlike her own parents, Mildred didn’t seem like the type of Neopian to enjoy spiting others or look down at them with critical eyes. At the same time, she was still a stranger, and not even one who was willing to stay by her side this entire time could be trusted entirely—
“Are you alright, Rose?” Mildred noticed Rose had stopped walking, and she halted to place a hand on her shoulder. “Do you feel ill?”
“I’m fine.” Rose was annoyed. Did Mildred really need to interrupt her train of thoughts with such a stupid question? Then again, she has already interrupted me a few times already, she mused. Not wanting to say anything more, the girls continued their walk in an eerie silence.
Mildred continued her admiration of the passing scenery, gushing over the trees they’d pass and pointing to a Pteri seen flying in the sky. “Aren’t Pteris the most graceful flyers in all of Neopia?” she asked, admiring the blue Pteri hovering above.
Rose shrugged. “I never cared for Pteris.”
“Faerie Pteris are the most wonderful kinds of Pteris,” said Mildred. “Their colours and the way they elegantly flap their wings are breathtaking.”
“That’s nice,” said Rose, not caring a bit. She opened the map and peered down at it while she walked. “There should be a yellow jelly rock nearby,” she explained, rolling the map up again. “If you see anything made of jelly, tell me immediately. It could help lead us to Wobbleshire’s location.”
“Yes, of course,” Mildred obliged. She remained silent for a long while, following Rose without uttering a single peep. Rose was surprised—Mildred was accustomed with endless bantering and carrying on conversations by herself. The silence was unnerving, but also great appreciated...that is until Mildred decided to blurt out, “Rose, may I ask you a question?”
“Have you seen any jellied rocks?” Rose asked.
“No, I haven’t.” Mildred hesitated and then, as if she was forcing the words out, said, “I was wondering why you were nervous during our meeting with Queen Cassandra. Where you really under the weather, or did something Cassandra say frighten you?”
Rose halted. “Why…why do you ask?” She felt perspiration forming on her forehead again. She couldn’t believe how observant Mildred was—though she didn’t really need to be so shocked, since her companion was quite vocal on everything she laid her eyes upon. Then again, for Mildred to suspect that something Cassandra said had frightened the wits right out of her was a scarily accurate thing for anybody to assume.
“Are you feeling alright?” Mildred looked at Rose with concern. She placed a hand on her shoulder. “Do you need any medicine?”
Yearning for her insides to stop quivering and her face to stop sweating, Rose found herself exclaiming angrily, “It was I who broke that stupid Faerie mirror!” She stamped her foot. “And, wouldn’t you believe it, it was the exact same Faerie relic Cassandra was holding in one of her portraits!”
“You’re kidding!” Mildred gasped.
“I’m afraid I’m not,” Rose sighed, her shoulders slumping. “It was an idiotic thing I did and all because…” She sniffled. “All because I believed I was…ugly.”
“Ugly?” Mildred wrapped her arm around Rose’s shoulder. “Why in Neopia would you think of yourself as ‘ugly’? Why, I think you’re one of the prettiest Kyriis I’ve ever seen!” She smiled tenderly and added, “Besides, true beauty isn’t on the outside. It’s—”
“On the inside,” Rose finished, pushing Mildred away. “I know.”
“So you have nothing to worry about, then,” Mildred insisted.
Rose sniffed. “You’ve got to be kidding,” she scoffed. “How am I, the Rose Princess of Floritua, supposed to live her life happily when she knows her looks don’t compare to the likes of the other princesses of Neopia?? Is true beauty really all about one’s good nature, or is there not a tiny bit of it that relates to the surface?”
“Well I—” Mildred began.
“As a princess,” Rose insisted, “it’s one of my primeval duties to be beautiful and fashionable. Unfortunately I was blessed with a less-than-average appearance, so of course I became smitten with my looks and of course I yearned for actual beauty!”
“But your personal quest may be an endless endeavour,” Mildred insisted. “Who knows if you’ll ever be fully satisfied?”
Rose shook her head. “No, I won’t listen to such talk,” she chided. “Especially after…” She kicked a rock and grunted, “Especially after that stupid, ill-mannered, poorly-dressed Ixi dared to call me ugly! He told me I was ugly and that I would never be beautiful, nor will I never be ‘his princess’—whatever that means.” Realizing she was sniffling, Rose straightened her posture and concluded her rant with, “If I ever encounter that insensitive dunce again, then I would surely march straight towards him and—”
“Oh my, look at this!” Mildred picked up a small, yellow rock and held it out to Rose. “Look what I found! It’s made of solid jelly!!”
Was she even listening to me? Rose fumed. Then again…perhaps it was a good thing she has such a short attention-span.
Mildred pointed ahead. “Perhaps we have neared Wobbleshire!”
“Yes, quite so,” said Rose, silently breathing a sigh of relief. “Well then, let’s go. I wish to have our visit to Wobbleshire be as quick and peaceful as possible.”
“Yes Rose,” Mildred said softly, placing the rock in her apron pocket.
To be continued…