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Sat, Nov. 13th, 2004, 09:14 pm

The ball was certainly an experience, though I am not cut out for the royal life! Ana seemed to enjoy herself, however, and it was lovely to see the palace and the beautiful gardens up close. I am not sure that I got my royal mannerisms right at all- I kept laughing, much to poor Ana's chagrin! It took place in an open courtyard surrouded by beautiful gardens with a string quintet and a flutist playing nearby. I recognized the violin and harp, and flute of course, but the other instruments were so covered with gold and ribbons it was impossible to make them out. There were many, many elegant and distinguised nobles, and their lovely ladies in their gowns of velvet and lace. I spied Prince Construe, a nice fellow, if a tiny bit affected due to court life, and he took a delighted Ana away for a waltz. I stood around awkwardly for a bit and tried a tiny bit of white wine punch and examined the decorations, but soon I was asked to dance by a domineering ixi in a fancy pink gown. Her name was Lady Tsukainina Mandalya Pernetilian Gallantis of the Brightvallian provence of Gallion, or something to that effect. I kept thinking of her as 'Lady of that place with the petpets'! I had to steer, and was very careful about not stepping on her feet, so I did not participate much in the one-sided small talk. She was a bit odd and mysterious, and kept calling me 'Lord Yoryik of the provence of Potionery'. I got the feeling that there was something important going on- not in the talk of weather and fashion and wine, but in the queer movements she was making with her tasseled fan. It was all a bit dizzying, and though her rose perfume was discreetly applied, it gave me a pounding headache, which did not help matters much. I'm not one for fancy scent. Eventually I pried her politely from my arm and was immediately faced with a new dance partner, an extremely pretty acara in Brightvale colors with masses of curled yellow hair and immense blue eyes that were just a touch crossed. She was much easier to handle, as I merely had to whirl her about and listen to her giggle and prattle with no pause for my speech, so I was thankfully allowed to just smile and nod. Apparently she is Hagan's half-sister's brother's aunt's niece, or something to that effect. She was nice, but exceedingly vacant, and I was a bit relieved when she left, because my headache was getting worse. I skulked around by the bushes, bowing to passerby and looking for a place to sit down and rest for a bit-- all benches were occupied by royal couples, each in a hushed tete-a-tete. Eventually I saw Ana, and watched her and Sir Construe dance for a while. She was having the time of her life, though she seemed to be talking rather intensely the slighlty cowed prince. He had my sympathies- I know what she's like. We met up when the song ended and sampled some 'sweetmeats'. Ana and I have been invited to the next Ball! Ana was delighted, but I not so much. It's very interesting, but tiring, and not something I'm cut out for. I like people who are genuine, and frank, and real, not false and constrained. I do not like acting like someone who I am not, with these strange pretentious manners. Everything is perfectly constructed, like glass, and one tap will break it. This is surely not how to live life! I politely declined and went home as soon as possible, though Ana stayed past midnight. I stayed up for her, and found her flopped into a chair in the kitchen as soon as she entered, completely and utterly asleep. Her hair was coming out of its elaborate upweep, and her skirts were rumpled from the carriage ride, and her necklace was on backwards. Her mouth was slightly open. I stroked her hair and carried her to her room and wrapped a blanket around her, feeling surge of pride and love. She may be an experienced dissembler and a pretty young lady and a sharp wit, but she's still my innocent little sister.

The next day I had off from work, when Ana awoke- gushing about the ball and her wish to be royal for hours- we went to the seamstress and sold my and Ana's Ball outfits and bought two new ball gowns for her-- one is rose-colored silk with an elaborate neckline and a sweeping train and gold embroidery, and the other is a deep midnight blue with a full skirt and trailing sleeves and little silver leaves all over. At least she is allowed to wear the same gloves twice! Then I stopped by Mathilda's and we returned her jewlery. She and Ana chatted for a while, and I could hear the name 'Madden' pop up a few times. Finally I wrenched Ana away and we went shopping for the week's food. Ana was enamored of the little bakery stand, and ate all of the sweet rolls before we got home. Then she ate some of the apples and spat the pips at me and laughed, still crazily happy from the ball and talking of nothing else. I merely ambled along smiling and let her talk at me. I took her to meet Madden and he gave her a book on royal etiquette. We spent a happy day together, practicing daggers and reading beneath the apple tree. It is getting quite cold. Ana bought us some hot chocolate and I watched the steam curl into the air and float off towards the mountains. There is a crisp feeling of late fall in the air, and soon there will be frost on the leaves.

Sat, Oct. 30th, 2004, 06:56 pm

I was so busy at work yesterday that I did not have time to write, but now I do-- I have the weekend off, and this evening Ana and I are going to a magnificent Ball at the palace! We were invited by Brightvale's Sir Construe, an heir to Hagan's throne! I must concede that I am excited to have the chance to observe such a new world. As this is a special, once-in-a-lifetime occasion, I used the last of our funds and my first paycheck to buy wonderful outfits for Ana and I. Mine is simple but very high class, made of fine linen and muslin and silk in brown and cream and amber colors with dark green trim. I even have a pair of new, dark brown boots, polished to an impossible sheen! Ana is combing and fixing my hair, which makes it very hard to write! She had a wonderful time picking out a gown while I waited impatiently. She looks lovely, though.

The dress is deep violet satin with a graceful bell skirt and modest off-the-shoulder puffed sleeves and a hidden corseted back. There is delicate gold embroidery around the sleeves and sweeping bottom hem and train. She wears long white gloves, and when Mathilda heard that we were going to the Ball, she leant Ana a gold necklace and little diamonds for her ears and fingers. She has let out her back legnth coppery brown hair and pinned it in an upsweep, and looks just like royalty, what she has always wanted to be. She has a very regal bearing that I only notice now, and her chin is up with pride as she carefully side-parts my hair, but I also notice that she is trembling with excitement. I am very fond of her, really. She is a very sweet little sister, but perhaps she knows more about this world of royalty than I do.

I will wrie more later! Time for the ball!

Wed, Oct. 27th, 2004, 10:18 pm

Who could guess that working in a bookstore could be so fascinating- or so tiring? I've had an extremely enriching and exciting day!

Reporting to the Bookstore promptly at 7AM, I helped my kind boss- Madden, he insists that I call him, though I kept slipping in a 'Mr.' by accident- to prepare everything for the day's sales. Brightvale Books really is a very pleasant place, with sun streaming in through the big windows and the high green roof. Mr. Madden is a thirtysomething orange ixi, very smart and knowledgable; in fact, his wisdom is so recognized that he often has to dash over to the Wheel of Knowledge when he is called upon to give advice about the Neopian Games! I believe he has quite the crush on the raven haired twenty-seven year old acara, Mathilda, who runs the scrollery. She's quite pretty and knowledgeable about ancient scrolls, and she comes into the bookstore to talk to Mr.-- I mean, Madden. He talks about her almost all of the time when she is not there!

I expected the day to be quiet, almost boring, but I could not have been more wrong! Immediately as we opened up, five boxes of books came in for me to shelve. I used to like the book 'Advanced Poetry', but I feel my ardour for it has faded after lifting about seventy of the immense volumes onto high, spindly shelves. My wings are of some help to reach high places, but my arms ache after all of the work! Once I was done shelving all of the books, I had to dust everything off and fetch a dozen and more things from various shops- herbs to hang above the door for sweet scents, fine yellow parchment for notices, dozens of novelty quills to sell by the front desk, window polish. Once I came back, customers had come and ruined the alphabetical shelving of the books, and I had to fix that. Scarcely was I done that it was time to polish the windows- and while I was doing that, a new box of books came in to shelve! When I put the last one in place, it was time to put quill to parchment and write notices in my best calligraphy to advertise our new stock, and then pin them all over Market Square. When I came back, I had to help customers find books, repair a warped ladder and arrange the herbs in attractive bunches- after first going out and buying ribbon for them, of course, which turned out to be the wrong color.

Once I came back with the right color ribbons- IVORY, not WHITE, and tied and hung the sachets of sage, thyme, and rosemary, Mr. Madden surprised me with a lunch break. He had bought some fine pastries and fruits as well as a loaf of bread and cheese, and we ate in the back room (which is filled with books for me to soon shelve). Mathilda from Scrollery joined us, and we had a very pleasant meal, even though I kept having to dash back into the store to help customers. Madden and Mathilda are full of fascinating information, and Madden gave me a pile of free books that he thought I would enjoy! He was very interested in my poetry, and said that he would sent some bits of to a publisher he knew; a very exciting affair. Lunch was over all too soon, and it was back to the hustle and bustle of work. It was a bit quieter now, and I shelved in relative quiet peace while Madden filed the new arrivals into his big blank book. He keeps meticulous records. He works as hard as I do, if not harder, but says he will never have more than one assistant. His last one recently left for University in Neopia Central. University... Madden says I am very smart and thinks I should consider it, but I could never find the money-- and how could I leave Ana? She thinks she is self-sufficient, but she is really quite innocent of many things. Even now, working near home, I worry about her.

At 9PM, Madden let me out for home with profuse thanks. Ana was already asleep, and I took great pains not to wake her as I tiptoed into the cottage, eyelids drooping. My arms ache and I have to stop them from making shelving movements, but I am content with my new job.

And very, very tired.

Tue, Oct. 26th, 2004, 06:59 pm

Market time is over, and I cannot help but be a bit thankful for it. Everything is quiet again in my beloved Brightvale, though impatient Ana claims that it is too quiet. A bit of peace is a good thing sometimes, I think, though doubtless I will regret this sentiment in a few days. At least Ana will practice daggers with me, now. We had rather a good bout-- she is getting better, I must say, but she'll never best me at my own game! Afterwards we went outside and gathered late apples around the cottage. While we ate them on the soft, leafy grass, she told me about her new draik guard friends, Gaan and Tristam- must have been half skieth for how stupid they looked, I told her. She agreed reluctantly, but I wasn't really listening. It was a lovely day out, crisp and smelling of fall. As I cought a leaf on my paw, she poked me irritably with a twig and asked if I was listening. When I replied in the negative, she repeated that Tristam had said he would recommend me to the head of the guard up at Brightvale palace. Ana doesn't seem to understand that I don't really have a wish to be a guard. I would take a job at the bookstore, I told her, but I would surely be bored...

Then why, she reasoned, did not I become a guard? It was exciting enough, and I could fight very well.

She tried to convince me for a further half of an hour of the merits of guarding. After a while I gave up and went to take a job shelving new arrivals at the bookstore. It is dusty and quiet in there, and though pleasant, I doubt I will be able to stand it for long.

I start tomorrow. We'll see how things go. Anna is a little displeased with me and has dissapeared into the apple tree outside for a spell, but this is not such a bad thing, as I am free to write in my journal.

Untill tomorrow!

Mon, Oct. 25th, 2004, 07:37 am

I got up early this morning and made a wonderful find- a sack of neopoints beneath the loose stone in the living room. It is the money that I gave to Ana to put away for the house decorating, and of course she had forgotten where she placed it. She was not awake yet- she sleeps late and is impossible to wake, as always- so I went out to the Glaziers and the furniture store to buy things to make our cottage a bit more liveable. I bought some cheery rugs for the cold stone floor and two bedspreads- green and brown stripes for me, blue and red stripes for Ana, and a few watercolors of the countryside, placemats for the table, and a vase of green glass. In the Glaziers I bought two small, beautiful stained glass windows for my room and for Ana’s. The one for mine is a lovely view of the mountains with many birds in the sky and mountain ferns, and Ana’s is Brightvale’s flowering hills. I had just enough neopoints left for a very large stained glass window of the flag of Brightvale for the living room. It is not as detailed or as finely crafted as the other two but the colors of the glass are beautiful and bright enough to make the stark room cheery. With neopoints out of my own pocket I bought a red tablecloth and some fat yellow cushions for our chairs and lugged it all home in boxes and bags and set it all up before Ana awoke. The once gloomy cottage is now a riot of bright colors and soft fabrics. I must say it all looks very nice.

Ana was very pleased when she woke up, but as she cannot be all nice, reminded me that I had forgotten to buy food and that I couldn’t match for my life. Still, just sitting here at my desk (with new vase and blotter) and looking at the patterns the stained glass makes upon the wood, I cannot help but feel that the house has become a home instead of just a place to live.

And I think it matches fine.

Sun, Oct. 24th, 2004, 06:59 pm

When mountains high their cloaks of mist outgrow
And ragged clouds persist the beaten sky
When darkened cliffs are wrought with pearly snow
I unfold my lonely wings and make to fly.

I like this poem-- I have not flown in a while as I have been so busy, and the green mountains of Brightvale are currently aflame with autumn trees.

I'm not sure about the lonely wings bit, though- is it easy enough to understand that I have not flown for some time and am lured by the mountains?

If whatever else, I enjoy the rhythm. Not bad for a day's work.

Sun, Oct. 24th, 2004, 05:08 pm

Today was market day in Brightvale, a rather loud affair. Tourists came from all over Neopia to gather in the market square, pushing each other and trying to grab all of the bargains like it was half-price day. I dared not go outside among the muck, so I wrote some poetry and tried to get Ana to practice knife-fighting with me. She refused, and tried to get me to leave the house. She seems to enjoy the hustle and bustle of the market, and would not let me sleep. Eventually I let her drag me outside into the noise, since I was tired of resisting. She is far too strong-willed, though she says I am even worse when I want to be, something I don't doubt, but still...

I was jostled about for a bit in a bad temper but eventually began to enjoy myself, though Ana and I both guarded our coin purses with ferocity against the giggling lupe pups darting underfoot, not willing to take chances as we can barely afford the rent for our new cottage (it is quite nice, though, a daub affair right next to the Potionery). She tried to insist that I enter the poetry contest that was going on, but I refused (little sisters, hah!) and though she pouted, she eventually began to have a wonderful time. She found some young male draiks that she wanted to go talk to, and would not listen to me even though I warned her that they looked like they were from Meridell, and she accused me of being prejudiced and flounced off to speak to them. They seemed very pleased for her company, and Ana said it was probably becuase of her new dress, which I don't doubt- my sister is getting too pretty for her own good, and reckless.

When she was gone, I wandered around for a bit, feeling rather lonely and pensive. I bought Ana a carved cedar clip for the end of her plait and thought about replacing my boots, as they are getting old, but did not have the neopoints for it. I must find a new job. The palace looks rather promising.

After a while the sun was dipping low, so I bought dinner for Ana and I- vegetable pies, very fresh- and returned home to wait for her. I wrote a bit more, but I am afraid I fell asleep on the parchment and smeared the ink all over my face. I woke with a raging headache to Ana's prodding. We ate our pies and I gave her the clip, which she adored, and she presented me with this journal- very attractive, with a green cloth cover and cream colored parchment- and a new quill. Apparently the draiks she had been speaking to are guards up at the palace of King Hagan, and they get paid very well, but... I don't know...

I'm very tired. I believe I'll go to sleep, as the moon is obscured by clouds and this guttering candle provides too little light to write by.