[UNEDITED FIRST DRAFT] Untitled Spark & Vainstrel Story 2

PLEASE NOTE: This is a ROUGH DRAFT. It is the VERY FIRST DRAFT OF THE STORY. YOU are the very first person to read it – I haven’t even read it in its entirety yet!

You WILL come across numerous issues including:

  • spelling mistakes;
  • grammar issues;
  • weak sentence structure;
  • repeated words;
  • unnecessary words;
  • missing words;
  • lack of details/descriptions;
  • confusing details/descriptions;

Critiques/criticisms, while appreciated, most likely will be discarded at this stage! Thank you.

Additional Note: Doodles, Sketches, and Artwork may be added over time. These are not the story illustrations! They do feature characters and places within the story, however.

About a quarter of Vainstrel’s body hung over the side of his bed. His fingers fiddled with his phone while looking at it upside down. His lips were exaggeratedly puffed out and his brows wrinkled his head so deeply. He let out a large, noisy sigh that seemed to echo off the walls of his bed chamber. 

He let his hands and arms hang loosely, his freehand resting upon his forehead. “Oh is the woe of the vampire who has desire for his one and only mistress!” 

He then grasped his shirt with his freehand, still allowing the one with his mobile phone to hang loosely and touch the ground. He leaned his head back into the matress. He raised his voice even more than he had before. “How cruel is she to be, not answer my request for her call or letter! Not a single sound from that single day.” 

He clenched both of his fist, tightly grasping both his shirt and the phone at the same time. “Was that moment just a mistake?” He dramatically looked to his left and closed his eyes. “Is fate truly the cruel mistress she seems to be?” 

“Vainstrel!” 

Vainstrel didn’t move. 

“What is your problem?!” 

SLAM. 

Vainstrel didn’t even need to look up, knowing his bedroom door had been slammed into his bed chamber walls once more. The raging storm has appeared once more, threatening to put another hole in the walls of my sanctuary. 

“If you’re going to practice your lines, keep your door close, you cheap background standee!” 

Vainstrel suddenly found the crown of his head on the floor.  With it, his whole body fell. 

“Ria, dear…we really should be ––” 

“Vladmir, SHUT IT.” 

Vainstrel stood up, dusting himself off. He slipped his phone into his pants pocket, just before adjusting the cape to his back. “My dear sister and my dear brother-in-law, what a pleasure.” 

Ria held up a fist, shaking it at him. “You aren’t fooling anyone with your bad acting or your poorly written script.” 

“Script?” echoed Vainstrel. “I am aware I have a show coming up that I have a significant role with soon, but today is a rest day.” 

“Vainstrel,” said Vladmir. “We have noticed you have been down lately. Whatever could be wrong?” 

Vainstrel whipped out his phone once more, holding it up in the air as if looking into a compact mirror. “My dear, sweet brother-in-law!” He pouted, scrolling on his phone. “A mistress whose blood is so electrifying has captured my cold heart. One could swear it was fate…” He brought his phone-holding hand to his forehead and tossed his head backwards. He put out his right leg as he did so, slightly turning his heel. His free arm extended over and out to the side as a single tear came raining down from his eye that wasn’t hidden by his long bangs. “And yet no words have been spoken since!” He then squatted down and hugged his legs. “…why does the mistress of lighting have to be so cruel…no words…spoken or written…since then…” 

Ria’s face scrunched. “How gross! Why do you sound like you are in love?” 

Vainstrel suddenly popped up and over to his older sister, leaning into her face, wide-eyed, his barring his fang teeth. “Because, my dear older sister, I have done just that.” 

Ria’s face scrunched up even more and she stuck out her tongue. “BLEGH! YAK! YUCK!” 

As Ria was making noises of disgust, Vladmir gentle folded his hands and smiled at Vainstrel. “How awe-inspiring! Who is this ‘mistress’ that has caught your eye?” His smile stretched even further. “A fellow actress, perhaps?” 

Vainstrel touched his cheeks, blushing like an innocent maiden. “Not an actress, but a lightning queen.” 

“A queen?!” 

Vainstrel held up his index finger, pouting for a moment. “Not an actual queen.” He then placed his hand over his heart. “Just the one in my heart.” 

“Oh.” 

Vainstrel looked up at the small stained glass dome in his room where bits of light helped to color his room with distinctly colored spots. “My lightning queen is no other than a witch who sent electricty through me like no other.” 

Ria gagged. She leaned over, placing one hand on her knee and the other in the air, waving it side to side. “I do not need to hear about my little brother’s new-found sexual expression! I’m out, I’m out.” 

Vainstrel scoffed. “ME? Sexual expression? I have not yet hit that point with my mistress – I simply want to taste her blood once more on my tongue and feel the electricity pulse through my body once more.” 

Ria’s face turned a greenish-yellow. 

Vladmir rubbed Ria’s back, but kept his smile directed towards Vainstrel. “What does ‘electricty’ refer to?” 

Vainstrel drew back his head and blinked a few times. “It refers to true electricty, like lightning on a stormy day. The mistress I desire is none other than an elemental witch, specializing in lightning magic, if I am no mistaken. It coarses through her body to the point it truly gave me the greatest jolt of my life when I sunk my teeth into her soft flesh and got the first taste of her blood pulsing with frantic electricity that was so strong, it knocked me out cold.”

Vladmir’s eyes popped. “Oh my.” 

Vainstrel held his clenched phone up into the air. “And now I am robbed of such an opportunity to speak with her once more!” 

“What are they ways you have tried to contact her?” 

“Through my own voice on my phone and through the letters sent through the air.” 

Vladmir looked at Vainstrel questionably. Ria waved her hand up and down. “The cheap background standee is just saying he called and texted her.” 

Vladmir chuckled. “I see.” 

Vainstrel covered his eyes with his arms, crying. “But nothing! Nothing at all!” 

Vladmir placed a hand on his chin. “Perhaps you could try writing her a physical letter?” 

Vainstrel stared at Vladmir, utterly horrified at the meer suggestion of such an old fashion way of sending letters! This wasn’t a holiday, you know! 

Vladmir laughed. “I suppose not. What about her physical address?” 

Vainstrel hung his head. “I was far too enthralled with my lightning queen to ask for something more than a phone number.” He then threw it back. “So deep is my sorrow for such an unfortunate oversight! HOW CRUEL FATE IS, PLACING PERFECTION IN FRONT OF I, YET TAKING IT AWAY ALL THE SAME!” 

Vladmir and Ria stared at Vainstrel, beads of sweatdropping down their faces. Vainstrel didn’t pay any attention to them – instead, he stood in a freeze-frame dramatic pose with his arms out stretched towards the sky, his head back, and his legs spread front and back, looking as if he was about to kneel. You could almost see lightning dancing behind him. 

“So, this is what you were doing?” asked Ria. 

“Yes,” replied Vainstrel, super flatly. He stood straight, looking at them both.  

She glared at Vainstrel and pointed at him. “Shut the damn door next time!” 

Ria grabbed onto Vladmir’s wrist, yanking him out of the room, slaming the door behind her. 

Vainstrel watched as the door knob from his end fell off and rolled on the floor in a circle. 

Vainstrel fell to the floor, groaned, and looked at his phone once more. With his thumb, he slid his finger over the keyboard and wrote “I want to see you once more” and hit “send”. 

Then he sighed. 

***

Vainstrel dragged his feet. If it had been a rainy day, his normally prestine shoes would be covered in mud. Luckily for him though, it hadn’t rained. Instead, he flatted and kicked up the grass under his feet. He, at some point, gotten off the cobblestone path while continuing to pout at his phone. 

“If only my lightning mistress would allow me to see her once more…” He brought his phone to his chest. “But alas, it shall not be. My only hope is that the freshly brewed coffee from beans so fresh will soothe my aching, cold heart.” 

He lifted his hands up in the air as if praying to the Gods, making his way back onto the pathway. He continued to keep his hands raised as he turned a corner and down a street lined with numerous buildings of various shapes in sizes, but all uniform in color scheme. 

bzzzzzt bZZZZZZZT 

Vainstrel ignored the sound of buzzing electricty coming from near him, just past a park bench and a lamp that clearly had just been illuminated based on the sheer brightness of it. He continued to walk past the park and managed to get to the building next to it, just before stopping in his tracks.

Hands still up in the air, he pivoted on one foot and turned his head at the hay-colored, curly/wavy side ponytail accented with a small witches hat clipped to the other side. He stared for a moment, his eyes lowering to the phone in her hands being zapped repeatedly with electricity. 

Vainstrel gasped, tears forming in his eyes. He leaped into the park over its fences and slid right in front of her. 

Just as she finished zapping her phone once more, Vainstrel grasped her hand. “My dear lightning queen, Spark!” 

He watched Spark visibly jump. Immeditately, his hand was zapped. Vainstrel winced. Spark gasped. “Vainstrel! I’m so sorry.” 

Vainstrel smiled, flashing her his fang teeth. “It is alright, my dear Spark. Seeing your light and feeling your zap is truly the highlight of my long life.” 

Spark giggled. Vainstrel watched her cheeks slightly flush. 

“I have been attempting to contact you by voice and electronic letter, yet I heard no word,” said Vainstrel. “I was worried you were not willing to see me once more.” 

“Oh!” Spark lifted up her phone, pointing to it. “I thought someone was trying to contact me!” She tapped her phone to her cheek, prompting the screen to turn out. Vainstrel could see that about half the screen was out and about a third of it had insane amounts of discoloration. If Vainstrel could go any paler with his skin, he would…instead, he just kind of turned blue, seeing the sight. 

Vainstrel grabbed her hand holding the phone, drawing it closer to him, staring at all the cracks and scratches upon its surface. “My! What happened to your phone?” 

Spark, as if she was teasing, poked the side of her own cheek with her free hand, giving him a warm smile. “I dropped it into water the day we met.” 

Vainstrel hung his head, his forehead tapping the phone.

“Oh! It’s not all that bad. A lot of features still work. Not all the time, but like…sometimes in the middle of sleep or something!” Spark waved her hand in front of herself, as if attempting to shoo away the bad. “Sometimes it wakes me up, but it’s not all that bad.” 

“How cruel it is to see you with a device that no longer does its job well enough,” replied Vainstrel. 

Spark jumped up. Vainstrel, who had still been resting his forehead on her phone, backed up, giving just enough room for Spark to lean in his face. She lifted up her phone, showing it being surrounded with electricty once more. “Well, that’s where I got the most brilliant idea! I could just use my electricty to fix it!” 

Spark then took a step back and looked down at her phone. As a result from her electricty, the discoloration on the screen changed…but nothing else. She frowned. “But it still doesn’t look like it’s going to work properly…

Vainstrel took a look at her phone once more. He raised an eyebrow and asked: “why not treat yourself to a new phone that will work for you?”

Spark gapped at Vainstrel. 

Vainstrel stared back at Spark, a bit surprised by her reaction.

“Whoa! I hadn’t thought of that!” 

Vainstrel turned around and wiped a single tear away from his eye while smiling. My lightning queen, mistress of my heart…who would not think of that. 

“Where would I even purchase a new one? I received this one from my mom…oh my goodness. I still haven’t told her that I broke it.” 

Vainstrel’s face lit up. He whipped back around and grasped her hands. “Spark, my love, I know a place most well suited for such a venture.” He raised a hand to the air, as if politely showing Spark something in the sky. He looked up in the dirction of his hand. “COME! Let me show you the way to the castle of celluar phones – with the best prices and selections as varied as gemstone.” 

He heard Spark giggle. Then he felt the warmth of her body draw closer. His arm that had been holding Spark’s hand was now fully covered in the warmth of Spark. Vainstrel’s cheeks flushed, looking over to see Spark smiling up at him. 

“Any place you call a ‘castle’ must be amazing” 

Vainstrel rested his hand that had been up in the air over Spark’s, leading her out from the small park. “I would only recommend the best for you.” 

Spark’s smile seem to twist a slight bit more and her eyes half lowered. “What other ‘castles’ do you know of?” 

Vainstrel returned the seemingly flirty smile back. “I will be more than happy to guide you there too, my dear.” 

***

The streets widened just a bit and the cobblestones changed to a notably darker color and slightly harsher shapes that helped to compliment the off-white buildings with pointed structures that raised up into the clouds. Vainstrel glanced over at Spark, whose face was lit up. A warmth he didn’t normally feel overtook his heart. He could see the pointed structures around them reflected in Spark’s eyes. For some reason, seeing them in her brown eyes made them just that more beautiful.

“My dear Lady Spark, have you ever entered into this haven before today?” 

Spark continued to look around. “No, I don’t believe I have!” 

Vainstrel stopped walking for a moment. He took Spark’s hands into his, gently bringing his lips to her right hand. “It is my uptmost desire to have you accompany me for coffee after we make our way to the castle of cellular devices.” 

Spark giggled. Her smile shifted from the scenery to Vainstrel’s face. “I’d love to!”

Vainstrel gave her a gentle kiss on her hand. Just as his lips rested for a brief moment upon her skin, he felt slight zaps of electricity. He lifted his head back up and stood back, seeing Spark slightly flushed. 

“Uuuuh, um…” Spark started to poke her cheek as she had done earlier. “I don’t drink coffee though. Do they have hot chocolate with chili peppers?” 

Vainstrel brought Spark’s hand to his chest. “Dazzling Spark, you are in luck – they have the finest, widest selection of hot chocolates within their coffee haven.” 

BA-THUMP BA-THUMP 

Vainstrel and Spark gazed into each other’s eyes. 

Spark’s smile widened and her shoulders lifted as she slightly shifted her body. Her hair bobbed a bit as she tilted her head. “Okay! Sounds yummy.” 

Vainstrel immeditately turned away from her and crotched, holding his head. Oh my dear goddess, this woman of lightning mastery is adorable. How forutune smiles upon me today! He clenched his fist. A river of tears dripped down his face.

“Are…you okay?” 

Vainstrel immediately stood back up, grabbing Spark’s hand once more. HIs tears instantly dried up and a smile grew within milliseconds upon his face. He lifted his free hand up into the air. “COME! It is just up ahead!” 

“What is?” 

“The castle housing cellular devices.” 

***

It was a meer two minutes when they arrived in front of the “castle of cellular devices” in which Vainstrel was talking about. 

The building itself wasn’t much different from the others around it: cream-colored white with accents in a dark grayish-blue color that perfectly complemented the rest of the walls. The “castle” only had two features that made it stand-out: extra ornate designs over windows that stood as tall as the building itself in the same cream-color as the rest of the structure and a sign that read “Count Cellular’s Electronic Castle” in a cursive font that was barely legible. The extra accents were illuminated by a back lighting, reminding one greatly of a lit screen in the dark. 

Vainstrel looked over to Spark. Reflected in her eyes was not only the light from the ornamentation, but also the inner walls of the store that could be soon through the windows. There seemed to be a twinkle in her eye that made everything so much brighter. Vainstrel couldn’t help but blush at her unabashed joy.

Spark gasped. “How beautiful!” Her smile seemed to freeze. Vainstrel lifted an eyebrow. 

“what is wrong, my dear?”

Spark looked at him. “I thought you were using ‘castle’ to mean a building. I didn’t expect it to have ‘castle’ in the name!”

Vainstrel couldn’t help but smile. “Spark, you are correct. I had been using it to mean building.”

Spark suddenly sighed, grasping her chest. Vainstrel reflexively put a hand on her back. “What’s wrong?”

“okay, PHEW! I thought you’d get mad if I said this place doesn’t look much like a castle!”

Vainstrel stared at her blankly for a brief moment, then laughed. “Oh my dear! How could I be mad by such a statement that is true!”

Vainstrel leaned into her face with a larger smile. “Although for this particular castle, the looks outside deceive the mind.”

Spark cocked her head. 

“Would you like me to show you?” 

Spark wrapped her arm around Vainstrel. Her smile seemed seductive. “Tee hee, sure!”

Vainstrel opened the door to the cellular castle and lead Spark inside. He couldn’t help but smile at everything.

The walls towered with electronic devices, each one neatly placed like the bricks of a castle. There was a low amount of light, but the amount there was was cozy-like, contrasting with the rather foreboding towers all around. Deep inside at the other end was a lit fireplace, numerous couches, and a large tea table – something that resembled a king’s den. 

“Vainstrel! What a pleasure and rarity it is to see you!”

Vainstrel and Spark both turned into the direction of the voice. Appearing out from the shadows was a tall, elegantly thin man with gorgeous long locks of hair framing his face. His ponytail of hair seemed to curl around his body. His pointed-teeth smile would have been full of otherworldly charm had Vainstrel and Spark hadn’t been otherworldly themselves. 

“Dermot!” Vainstrel extended a hand to the man. “A pleasant surprise to see you once more!”

Dermot approached closer. “And who might this be?”

Before Vainstrel had a chance say who was holding onto his arm, she introduced herself. Spark kicked up her leg behind her and lifted her hand, greeting Dermot with both her electrifying smile and a flash of electricity in her hand greeting him. 

“Hey! I’m Spark Alamental!”

“Ooooh,” said Dermot. “An Alamental? I’m an acquaintance of one of your brothers. It is a pleasure to meet you.”

Dermot reached out his hand to Spark, shaking it. 

“Welcome to Count Cellular’s Electronic Castle. We specialize in cellular electronic devices, but we have much more than that available. I am Dermot and I am more than happy to be at your service today.”

Dermot leaned in to give Spark a kiss on her hand, prompting Vainstrel to glare. Dermot wrinkled his brow and paused, switching to a simple bow of the head. His hair briefly brushed against Spark’s hand. Vainstrel, whose body had tensed up, relaxed.

Dermot returned a glance, standing back up straight. He clasped his hands and gave them a salesman’s smile. “What has brought you in today?”

Spark reached into her skirt pocket and pulled out her broken phone. “To get a new phone.”

While Dermot maintained his smile, beads of sweat started to roll down his face at the site of the badly damaged device. “I would be more than happy to help you find a phone today. Was there anything in particular that you were looking at?”

Spark tapped her bottom lip. She soon smiled. “Something waterproof and can be easily charged with my electricity.”

“Is your element electricity?”

“Yes! How’d you know?”

“Everything about you reveals your true nature, Lady Spark.”

Vainstrel leered at Dermot. Dermot, noticing his friend’s glare, backed up a bit from Spark. He shot Vainstrel a rather puzzled look before turning back to Spark with his usual salesman smile. “Come right this way – I believe I have the best selection of phones for you.” 

Spark squealed. She let go of Vainstrel’s arm and began jumping up and down, clapping her hands with pure delight. Vainstrel felt his cold heart thump more than usual, watching the young woman live up to her name in more than one way. 

Vainstrel and Spark followed Dermot into a room that was just as lavishly decorated as the others, continuing to give the feeling of a castle built with electronics. Dermot extended his hand towards a section on the wall in which everything displayed was back-lit by an almost white blue colored light, resembling the light of the stars dotting the sky. 

“These phones were made and designed for witches by witches. Every one of them works with magic of any kind. They are also water and fire proof.  I am sure there will be one that will suit your fancy.” 

“Ooooooo!!” Spark jumped up to the wall, looking over everything. “There’s SOOOO many!” 

Dermot laughed. “Indeed. Do you have any other specific requirements for your phone?” 

Spark stopped for a moment. Vainstrel couldn’t help but think the little scrunch of her lips to the side was adorable. 

“Nah, I don’t think so! I think I just need to decide what one.” 

“Very well. I shall leave you too it. If you have any questions, feel free to ask. I shall be standing just outside the entrance.” 

“Thank you!” 

Vainstrel watched Dermot lightly tug his sleeve as he walked passed him. Vainstrel nodded, fully understanding the gesture. He walked over to Spark, grabbing her chin.

“Whoa! Vainstrel – you startled me!” 

“Sorry, my lady Spark. I need to speak with Dermot for but a single moment. Will you execuse me?” 

Spark’s brown eyes twinkled. She lightly brushed his hand and smiled. “Okay, that’s fine. I’ll be here waiting – but please come back.” Spark pouted. “I’ll get lonely without you.” 

Vainstrel’s lips quivered. My, what is this magnetizing feeling in the depths of my body by a single look of her lowered eyes and lips so pursued. 

Vainstrel nodded serveral times. “Yes, yes, my dear Spark, I shall be right back.” 

Vainstrel slipped out and away, turning to Dermot. 

Dermot folded his arms, looking down on Vainstrel. His face was dark and his gaze sharp.  “Tell me – what were you doing, glaring at me?” 

“You attempted to kiss the hand of the lightning queen!” 

“…I do that to every customer.” 

“But you didn’t do that to me!” 

Dermot thrusted his hand in Vainstrel’s direction. “I know you!” 

Vainstrel pointed at Dermot. “Do not dare touch the queen of lightning!” He grabbed his cape and dramatically pulled it partially over his face. “For she is mine.” 

Dermot sighed, covering his face with one of his hands. “What did you do?” 

“Nothing yet.” 

Dermot was surprised. He stumbled backwards. “Nothing yet? You made it seem like there was something going on.” 

“Well, of course there is.” 

“…did you hang out with Tarhean vampires again?” 

“What? No!” 

“They’re the only ones who ever get jealous over any relationship their significant other or people they like have.” 

Vainstrel put down his cape and sighed. He placed his hand over his heart. “As I walked home, so weary, I happened upon her that day. So innocent and open. I bit in her smooth neck, sinking my teeth deep inside. Within that single moment, I was struck by lightning! I woke up to her beautiful smile, mocking me for my lack of consideration that, perhaps, she would have some defense. For the first time in my life, I felt alive.” 

Vainstrel then folded his hands together, as if in a prayer. He looked up towards the sky, tears in his eyes. “I feel for the lightning queen in an instant! I want nothing more than to form a blood contract with her, so that she will be mine and I be her’s.” 

Dermot frowned. His eyes closed in annoyance. “So, you just want her for food?” 

“NO!” said Vainstrel, pointing back at Dermot. “I see her as more than a food source. She truly gives me life.” 

Dermot waved his hand in the air. “I’m sorry I have to say this, Vainstrel, since you and your family have been so kind for me, but that’s just not going to happen.” 

Vainstrel’s eyes narrowed. 

“I mentioned I’m friends with her brother, right?” 

“…?” 

“The Alamentals are notorious for hating other species that are not witches nor elementals. If you aren’t either – which you aren’t – you have no chance.” 

“Then how are you friends with one of them?” 

“Because I’m not trying to get with them in any way other than a friendship. You aren’t going to have a chance.” 

Vainstrel leered intensely at Dermot. 

“Hey! I know what phone I want!” 

Spark’s cheery voice cut through the tension that had built up.

Dermot’s salesman smile returned back, glittering as it had been before. “Coming! Please, show me what you would like so that I may fetch it for you!” 

Vainstrel followed closed behind Dermot, sneering. 

***

Dermot had disappeared into a backroom, Spark’s old phone and her new phone in hand for a free transfer. Vainstrel and Spark looked at each other. The humid air in the cellular castle seemed to clear as they smiled pleasantly at each other. 

Spark tapped her cheek, leaning forward at each other. “You and that salesman seem to know each other!” 

Vainstrel nodded. “Yes, I do know Dermot. I see him periodically, when the moon is high and thirsts need to be quenched.” 

Spark giggled. “What does that mean?” 

“My family runs a blood bank, the largest one in all of Ghopre. We have volunteers from all over who help us, the vampires, with our plight.”

“Tee hee. And what ‘plight’ might that be?” 

Vainstrel leaned into Spark’s face, smirking, and holding up a finger. “To respect the free will of all those who are living, so they may not need to fall to our dasterdly jaws. Most vampires do not drink the most fresh blood, preferring to take it from ones that are voluntairly given.” 

Spark cocked her head. “They don’t create blood with alchemy?” 

Vainstrel laughed. “Of course not, my dear. But I am surprised you have heard of such a legend!” 

Spark narrowed her eyes, completely confuzzled. Vainstrel almost-smug smile kind of fell, seeing just how deeply she seemed to be going through her brain for a response. He extended out his hand to her. “Where might you have heard such a thing from?” 

Spark’s head snapped back up straight. “I sometimes provide extra electricty to Dr. Gladier.”

“I don’t know who that is.” 

“Do you know Dr. Hadley or the secretary, Victorina?” 

“No?”

“Well, they’re vampires like you and they drink blood made from alchemy?” 

…there is no way that is possible. Vainstrel turned his head away from Spark, unable to see the curious look on her face. Blood through alchemy? What a legendary feat! Is it worth seeking out this “had-lee” and “victor-reena”? My curiousity is almost aroused. 

“If you own a blood bank and none of you vampires want to attack the living, why did you attack me?”

“Ah, yes. What a wonderful thing to question!” replied Vainstrel. He lifted up his index finger. “You see, my family and I are of a unique vampire species creatively titled ‘witch-hunting vampires’. We get the most from witches – the magic that is embued within it truly brings up back to life, for as long as we consume it. While we have reserves for such things, fresh blood offers the briefest boost in life force, restoring us to a life we never knew.”

“Oh.”

“…” Vainstrel blushed and hung his head. “I may have also forgotten to take my extra blood along with me that day and was about to collapse.” 

Spark gasped. She leaned forward, tilting her head. “Oh my! What were you doing that would make you forget to take blood with you?!”

Vainstrel sat back up, placing one hand on his heart and the other in the air. “I am a stage actor! I was rehearasing for opening night so intensely and for so long, my mind had wandered deeply into my role and forgot to come back out.” 

“What happens when you don’t get blood?” 

“Well, we are simply inanimate. I would collapse, unmoving. We vampires are mostly certainly a type of living dead, after all – so we must sustain ourself with the life force of the living to continue on! Otherwise, we would be inanimate for all eternity!” He dramatically covered his face with his cape, while leaning into his arm. 

“Woooow,” said Spark. “That sounds awful.” 

“Yes.” 

Vainstrel grabbed Spark’s hand with both of his. “I do apologize, Lady Spark, for my absolute rudeness during that time.” He gave her a kiss on the back of her hand.

“Don’t worry about!” replied Spark. She flashed him in a toothy grin. Her cheeks seemed slightly flush. “We met because of it, didn’t we? And now we are out here, with you helping me get a new phone!” 

Vainstrel blushed back at her.

“Phone’s done!” chimed Dermot. “Now, that will be 310.31 GP.” 

Vainstrel, seemingly clamoring,  immeditately pulled out his own phone and payed for it with his electronic wallet. 

He could hear Spark audibly gasp happily from beside him. 

***

“Oh my goodness, thank you!” Spark exclaimed, holding her brand new phone in her hand. She was feeding electricity in through the socket at the bottom. Vainstrel could see just how fast her phone was recharging from the charge she was sending in. 

“Lady of Lightning, is your gift something you use on the world at large or just something that you keep close to your heart?” 

“Tee hee, you can just call me Spark, Vainstrel!” 

Vainstrel paused for a moment and nodded his head. “Yes, my dear lady Spark.” 

Spark flipped her side ponytail behind her shoulder. “And to answer, I use my electricty for pretty much everyone! It’s my job, after all, to provide electricty to the surrounding towns.” 

Vainstrel’s eyebrows raised. “What a way to use the gift that has been bestowed up you! May I ask how you do it at all?” 

“Hmm…it’s pretty easy. I just make a ball of lightning and feed it into a special device that will sustain it for about a week, although some places have machine that can sustain it for three months!” 

“How magnificent!”

Spark’s eyes glittered. “It really is! You should see how beautiful these giant balls of lightning are!!!” She turned to Vainstrel, as he was guiding her down the cobblestone pathways towards the café. She balled both her fist pumping them up in the air. “And the best part is that I get to help lots of people by cutting costs! I make good money and I have a special, rare skill, so it’s so much fun. And I get to be out all day!” 

“What a wonderful time that sounds. Do you see many sights and sounds as you go about?” 

“At first, yeah, but it’s kind of boring now. It’s all the same sights. But sometimes I have interesting things happen to me…like you biting me!” 

Vainstrel put a hand over his face and blushed. “I-I do a-apologize.” 

Spark waved her hand up and down. “I already told you it’s fine, right?” 

Vainstrel nodded in response. I cannot help but be embarassed by my own lack of foresight. 

Spark tapped her cheek. “Did you say you were an actor?” 

“Yes, I did!” 

Spark tapped on her phone. From what Vainstrel could see, she was pulling up the web browser. “What show are you in? I’d love to buy some tickets?”

Vainstrel gently place a hand over her hand, lowering the phone. “Spark, you do not need to do such a thing. When my next show is ready to perform, I will personally deliver VIP tickets to you.” He glanced up into Spark’s golden-brown eyes. He could see the witch meeting his, her cheeks read. 

“Me? VIP?” 

“Yes.” 

Spark placed a hand on her cheek. “Wow, first you buy me a phone and now I’m being given VIP tickets to a show…” She tightly shut your eyes. “I almost feel inspired to do something for you!” 

“But you are, Lady Spark!” replied Vainstrel. “You are accompany to the coffee shop.” 

***

Vainstrel opened the intricately detailed door to the coffee shop he had lead them to. The inside, in contrast to the door, was actually very simple – all black and silver with lots of tables and spacing. The only thing detailed inside seemed to be the handwritten menus and signs that plastered the walls. Even the bits of color from the plants were simple. 

Vainstrel and Spark walked up to the counter. 

“Oooo!!” squealed Spark. Vainstrel looked over, seeing the spunky witch jumping up and down. Spark pointed to a menu category on the wall entitled “Hot Chocolate”. Vainstrel glanced over it and saw exactly what she was so excited about.

“They have it!” 

“Did I not inform you of such a thing, Lady Spark?” 

“You did, you did!” Spark raised her hand up in the air, prompting one of the baristas – a partially transformed werewolf with quite a few piercings and a rock star-edge – to go to the register. 

“How may I help you today?” 

“Can I get a medium spicy hot chocolate with coconut milk?” 

“Right away…and for you?” 

Vainstrel lifted up his finger. “Ah yes, my usual.” 

“Plain earl gray tea, medium?” 

“Yes.” 

The werewolf quickly moved their fingers over the cash register’s touchscreen. “Will that be all?” 

Vainstrel drew out his phone and opened up an app. From this app, he pulled up a barcode and scanned it on the scanner right in front of the register. 

The werewolf nodded. 

“That will be all,” replied Vainstrel. 

With three taps on the screen, the register dinged and Vainstrel lead Spark over to the tables. 

“Wow, you must come here a lot!” said Spark.

Vainstrel smiled as he took a seat. “And what, my dear, has prompted such a comment?” 

Spark sat down. She folded her hands and rested her chin on them. She grinned. “Because they knew your order.” 

“You are indeed right. I do come here quiet often. I do not get to drink very often in the castle that is my home, as I am not active during the times in which my parents make it.” 

“I don’t get to drink spicy hot chocolate too much either.” Spark sighed. “My siblings think I’m weird for it, so usually there’s just plain hot chocolate.” 

Vainstrel dramatically covered half of his face “How I know the feeling of such a dilemma! For my very dear older sister, Ria, hates tea. As I try to ask for her to brew, she rejects me hard and acts so cruel.” 

“Oh? You have a sister? How many other siblings do you have?” 

“Just my older sister, Ria, and her kind-hearted husband, my brother-in-law Vladimir. I am unsure on how they work together, but I suppose he is just far too kind to my wretched sister.” 

Spark giggled. “I think I know what you mean. Most of my family doesn’t really like me much.” 

Vainstrel eyes popped. Spark’s normal sparkle in her eyes seemed to die. Her gaze was downcast at the table. He immeditately grabbed Spark’s hands. “Well, I like you!” 

Spark was clearly startled. 

“Ah, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you like that.” 

Spark blushed, scratching her cheek. “It’s okay. I didn’t expect you to say something like that. Thank you.” 

“ORDER 62!” 

Vainstrel lifted up his finger. “I shall be right back.” He slipped out of his seat and went to the counter. 

Vainstrel placed a hand over his heart. My, she had such a look unbefitting for someone who is full of the spark of life. Who could possible hate her? Although I suppose one could ask why my wretched sister hates me so much too..

Vainstrel grabbed the drinks and returned to his seat. 

“Why…does your sister hate you?” asked Spark, grasping a hold of her cup on both sides. 

Vainstrel paused for a moment. …I am aware she is a witch, but is she a mind-reader too? He folded his arms and sat back. “I am not too sure myself. She has wailed for days on end that I ‘stole’ from her, but I have no idea what of.” He clenched his fist. “Worse of all, she repeatedly calls me a ‘cheap. background. STANDEE’.” 

Vainstrel huffed as Spark giggled in response. “I’m a pretty well-known stage actor around here and have roles that suited me quite well. Not one since over a decade ago would qualify as such a terrible thing as a cheaply-made background prop!” 

“Where would she even get that from?” 

“I am not quite sure myself. She has never attended a single one of my stage plays. There is no way that she would have such insight into my abilities or my position!” 

Vainstrel brought the pipping hot tea to his lips and took a big gulp to calm his nerves. Just thinking about that wretched sister of mine fires me in such a destructive way. 

“And what about you, my dear Spark? You said your family does not like you very much – may I ask for the reason why? If I am not overstepping boundaries.” 

Spark slowly sipped her hot chocolate. Vainstrel watch her gaze down cast once more. Her lips were smiling, but he knew they were just full of sadness. “I don’t mind you asking,” replied Spark. Her normally cheery voice fell fairly flat. 

Vainstrel flinched. Although the thought wasn’t full formed, he couldn’t help but feel like he had made a mistake asking. 

“Hmmm…where do I start??” wondered Spark. “I guess it’s got something to do with the Grand Uncle?” 

“‘Granduncle?'” 

“Yeah. Um…hmm…” Spark took a sip of her hot chocolate. “Our family is descendend from a woman who was the child of a witch and King of the Elementals. Uuuumm…I guess…how do I explain this.” 

Vainstrel removed the cup from his lips, carefully listening to Spark. He watched her nervous taps on the side of her cup and sparks of electricty dance over her head. Despite the sadness, she looked beautiful. 

“So, the witch – who we call the Grand Mother – had a child with someone else, I think before hand?? And my ancestor cursed her half-brother so no one can talk to them?? Something like that. Well, anyway, supposedly Grand Uncle is that child…but like, I don’t know. My family doesn’t usually refer to him as ‘Grand Uncle’ either, but I think that’s weird because the Grand Mother is his mother??” 

The sparks floating around Spark’s head were getting larger and more winding. Vainstrel reached out a hand. “Spark, my dear, you are sparking.” 

Spark took a few deep breaths, placing a hand on her heart. “Phew, thanks for telling me!” She rubbed her forehead. “Who would have known what would happen if they had gotten any more intense?” 

“Would you like to continue to talk about your Grand Uncle?” 

Spark smushed her cheeks together. “I think my mind might get fried if I talk anymore.”

Vainstrel took her hand and kissed it. “Perhaps another day, when you are ready.” 

Spark shrugged and giggled awkwardly. 

Vainstrel sat back and sipped his tea. I have not a single clue in what she is speaking about. But it may perhaps be an important piece as to why Dermot has stated that her family do not like outsiders, hmmm? 

“Do you need blood in your tea?” 

Vainstrel put down his cup, cocking his head at Spark. “Could you repeat that once for me, my lady Spark?” 

“You said you need blood to live, right? Do you need blood in your tea?” 

“What a wonderful question! Yes, normally I put some in, but I did not bring any vials out with me today.” 

The next thing Vainstrel knew, Spark’s hand was hovering over his cup of tea, close to his face. “Would you like some of mine?” inquired Spark. Vainstrel couldn’t help but blush. 

Vainstrel slid back a bit in his chair, looking up at Spark. “A-are you sure?” 

“Yeah! Sure! Let me just turn down my currents.”

Again, there was her beaming, radiant smile that set Vainstrel vampire heart ablaze. 

Vainstrel gently, but firmly, grasped her wrist and her hand. “Let me know when.” 

“Hmmm. Okay! They’re turned down. You can add some to your drink now!” 

Vainstrel opened his tea with his free hand, moving the lid over enough to allow Spark’s blood to drop inside. He barred his fangs – which had grown considerably in length as he went in for her hand – and nicked her just enough to draw a bit of blood. He watched his tea stain crimson and little sparks of light dance upon its surface.

When he finished, he withdrew his fangs for the most part and licked her nicked finger with his tongue. The coppery, irony taste of her blood and the clear remnants of her electric current lit up his body, even though it was such a small, brief moment of contact and mere drops. 

He released Spark’s hand, seeing her flushed. She gently wiped her hand with a napkin. Vainstrel covered back up his tea and swirled it around. 

“Thank you, Spark.” 

“Y-you’re welcome.” 

Vainstrel watched Spark as he took a sip of his earl gray tea mixed with the blood of his lightning mistress. He wasn’t sure if she was frightened from her stuttering, but he could see her body language and facial expression told a totally different story. If Vainstrel had to guess, she was probably fidgetting her feet underneath the table from how much she seemed to be moving around. 

He could feel the dancing sparks of electricty on his tongue and down his throat. The rush of the blood mixed with tea gassed his body up like an automobile and a quick glance down at his own skin indicated the effects of drinking the blood was working: he was becoming alive. His normally his deathly white skin flushed a beautiful shade of that was closer to peach. The extra jolts from the electricty made his heart pump. 

“Whoa.” 

“Hm?” 

Spark pointed at Vainstrel’s hand. “You totally changed color!” 

Vainstrel nodded. “Yes. As I said once before – we are witch-hunting vampires. One of the gifts is a temporary restoration of life when we drink the blood of witches…such as yourself. My skin is doing nothing more than turning to its form had I ever been alive.” 

“What does that mean?” 

Vainstrel continued to sip his tea. “We are unique amongst the vampires for we can leave our very own offspring – there is no need to convert, as we can birth. Of course, that still takes a considerable amount of resources. It is not recommended except for those with such resources, like my family.” 

Spark nodded her head. “Ooooooh, so like the fact you guys run a blood bank allows you to have extra access to witches’ blood so you can actually be alive long enough to have children…right?” 

Vainstrel lit up and snapped his fingers. “That is quite right! How marverlous!” 

Spark giggled. 

“It’s quite amazing the amazing feat that my own mother managed to have both my older sister and yours truly. For most witch-hunting vampires like us are not so fortunate enough for such a feat.” 

“Wow, that seems really hard.” 

“Indeed.” 

“We don’t have anything like that – but we are born with these birthmarks.” Spark outstretched her arms. 

Vainstrel looked down, observing the markings on Spark’s arms. The black markings cuffed around her wrists and ran up her arms, creating a lightning bolt shape as it run up her arms, disappearing underneath her sleeves. Vainstrel’s eyes followed the markings through where they disappeared and soon realized something. They run over her body

Spark pointed to her eyes. “They’re all over our bodies, even my eye ‘make-up’ is a marking too.” 

Vainstrel grabbed Spark’s right arm, gently stroking the birthmarks. They were clearly no different from her skin – they were on her skin. “Do you all have the same marks of beauty?” 

Vainstrel’s eyes stayed on Spark’s markings, but could see from his perphrials, Spark was shaking her head. “No. They’re all similar, but they shape differently depending on what element we are. Kind of like how you’re a witch-hunting vampire, we’re elemental witches. We’re born with the ability of an element of some sort…well, sometimes a sub-element like me…and we all have markings that represent them on us.” 

Vainstrel, his hands still grasping Spark’s hand and his thumbs gently pressed on her wrists, looked up at Spark. His lightning queen’s face continued to look flushed and she still seemed someone fidgety. 

Most of all, she looked beautiful. 

Vainstrel slid his hands into Spark’s, grasping it lightly. Their eyes met. 

“U-um, I suppose we should finish drinking our drinks…they’re probably cold by now.” 

“Ah yes, we should.” Vainstrel let go of her hand and watched Spark sheepishly drink from her cup. 

Vainstrel continued to sip his tea. He couldn’t but watch Spark and he could see her watching him back. 

Everything about Spark was beautiful. He couldn’t even pinpoint one thing – her looks, her personality, her facial expressions. Just everything was so beautiful. And there was something more he wanted than to form a blood contract with her.

He couldn’t help but feel that way – deep from within him, rising up, was the desire to only draw blood from her. Her blood was perfectly balanced and pontent, plus the electricty…goodness, what a charge! 

But it wasn’t even just her blood.

The way she smiles true to her name and the way we get along like flow of water. He closed his eyes and slightly blushed. And how could I not forget the generaosity she offered through kindly giving me her blood today. With no hesitation. 

I MUST, thought Vainstrel. I must absolutely get a blood contract with her. There is no one else who is as perfect as Lady Spark. 

He was pretty sure it was the lighting, but Spark seemed to be glowing a bit more in his eyes. Or perhaps it was the blood in the tea restoring him to life. Either way, she seemed to be absolutely glittering. 

DING DING DING BRRRRRING 

“Ah!” exclaimed Spark. She jumped up from her seat. 

Vainstrel put down his cup, looking up at Spark. She was staring down at her brand new phone. She then glugged down her spicy hot chocolate, wiped her mouth with a napkin and put her phone back into her skirt pocket. 

She clasped her hands together. “I gotta head out to do work now! Thank you SO much for today, Vainstrel. I appreciate everything you done, from the phone to the drinks!” 

What? She is leaving! Vainstrel himself stood up and grabbed her hand. 

They both gazed into each other’s eyes long enough that time seemed to stop. 

Vainstrel could feel himself trembling inside. He was hoping she wouldn’t notice. 

“Will you be able to grace me with your prescence once more through the short electronic letters from your cellular device?” 

Spark smiled at Vainstrel in such a way he couldn’t help but start to melt. Indeed, she was glowing. “Sure.” Spark took back out her phone and after a few swipes and taps of the screen, Vainstrel heard his own phone ding. 

He let go of Spark’s hand to grasp the sides of his own phone to reply back.

He looked up, seeing Spark wave to him. “I’ll be waiting for your reply – I will see you later!” 

And then she left. 

Vainstrel felt his face completely heat up, watching her, as if in slow-mo walk out the door and disappear down the streets with only the briefest glance back at him. He looked down at the simple text message she had sent to him: “Hi Vainstrel! Thank you for everything for today!” 

He plopped down in his chair and covered his face. 

She…she replied back to my letters. I got to spend the day with her. She was not ignoring me. She was not reject me. She willing gave her blood over to me and listened to me. She understands the dramatic way in which I speak. I…I…

He lifted up his tea and chugged it down, finishing off every last drop that made its way out of the cup. He slammed the empty cup down back on the table. His face was still deeply flushed. 

…WILL get a blood contract from her. 

**END**

[UNEDITED FIRST DRAFT] Clyde’s Typical Day (Temp. Title)

PLEASE NOTE: This is a ROUGH DRAFT. It is the VERY FIRST DRAFT OF THE STORY. YOU are the very first person to read it – I haven’t even read it in its entirety yet!

You WILL come across numerous issues including:

  • spelling mistakes;
  • grammar issues;
  • weak sentence structure;
  • repeated words;
  • unnecessary words;
  • missing words;
  • lack of details/descriptions;
  • confusing details/descriptions;

Critiques/criticisms, while appreciated, most likely will be discarded at this stage! Thank you.

Additional Note: Doodles, Sketches, and Artwork may be added over time. These are not the story illustrations! They do feature characters and places within the story, however.

From the floor “MMMMMWWWWWWWRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR,” groaned the zombie…

…cat. 

Clyde groaned back and flipped over onto his stomach, burying his face in the pillow. He pressed the sides up towards his ears in a fatal attempt to block out the sound of the zombie cat’s cries.

MMMMMMRRRRRRRRRRRWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWRRRRRRRR,” the zombie cat on the ground once more. 

Clyde let go of the pillow and punched it, using the force to lift himself up and send a death glare at the already dead zombie cat staring up at him with a single eye. 

“You’re lucky it’s not tea time!” 

“Mmmmmrrrrrwwwwwwwrrrrrr.” 

Clyde pushed himself up to sit, his usual morning scowl firmly planted on his face as he did so. He stared at the cold cave walls for a brief moment, before reaching out to his left and grabbing the bathrobe that hung off from the headboard next to his pillow. He stood up, feeling the cool ground beneath him. He wiggled his toes as he covered his naked body with his blue robe. His body felt more grounded each each tap of his toes on the ground. 

Clyde pulled his long pink hair – almost bubble-gum pink with a tinge of silver – out from underneath the robe, allong it to drape in its full length, past his behind. He glanced at the zombie cat, who was still “mrwring” behind him. “You are one annoying cat…” he grumbled. He put his face to his palm, shaking his head. “Why did I ever take you in?” 

“Mrrwrrr?” 

“Come along now. You’re just hungry, are you not?” 

The zombie cat stared at Clyde, cocking its head. The eye that was hanging loose from its socket bounced with the slight tilt of the head. 

Clyde and the zombie cat had a stare down for a good, long moment. 

Clyde flicked his arm out towards the staircase. “You went up yourself yesterday. Why do you just stare at me like that?” 

After another good long stare, Clyde had ENOUGH. He couldn’t help but scoop the cat into his arms – tightly to his chest to prevent the wraps he had so kindly placed around it much earlier in their days of meeting – and stomped up the stairs. “There better not be a call before we’re done.” 

“Mrrrwwwrrrrr.” 

Clyde shut the basement door behind, turning the corner into the kitchen. The dull color kitchen – shades of blue-black – was accented by blue-silver appliances and furniture. The refridgerator was no exception. Clyde placed the zombie cat on the ground and opened the refridgerator door. He knelt down and peered inside, onto the second to last shelf, just above the drawers. He pulled out a slightly condensation-filled jar of rat brains. 

His eyes scanned the remaining two jars. Goodness, I have to go shopping too? Perhaps Sadia…no, I can’t deal with someone that annoying today. Perhaps Celestyn or Gork– 

SPLAT 

SQUISH

Clyde whipped his head, looking behind the his dining room table that was in the center of his kitchen. 

Attached to the head of the nail sticking out the side of the table was the wrap that had been keeping the zombie cat’s insides inside. Following it was a trail of those insides. 

“CALICOOOOOOOOOOO!” yelled Clyde. 

“Mrwrrrrrrrrrrrrr.” 

Clyde slammed the glass jar of rat brains onto the table and stomped on over to Calico. He unlatched the wraps from the nail head and grabbed Calico’s insides. 

Before Calico could run away – it had begun turning around as soon as Clyde was walking towards it – he had grabbed it and shoved it’s insides back into its partially open cavity. “You really need to stop doing that!” 

“Mrwrrrr.” 

Clyde tightly wound the cloth back onto Calico, holding the cat with one hand and wrapping with the other. Calico cried out, attempted to run away. Clyde quickly lifted him up and held the squirming zombie cat close to his chest. “Hold on a moment – I need new safety pins!” 

Clyde went over to the drawers beside the refridgerator, pulling the top drawer open. He rummaged through papers, rubber bands, scissors, and other sorts of office trinkets, but there was not a single safety pin to be found. He opened each drawer after that. Finally, the second drawer from the top, farthest from the fridge, revealed to have some safety pins. 

Clyde bent over just a bit to have a good reach inside, while still holding Calico firmly against his chest. The cat had since stopped squirming, instead staring up confused at Clyde. 

BUMP

CRACK 

Clyde pulled out the box of safety pins stashed in the back of the drawer all the while turning to the floor covered with broken glass and rat brains. 

As you can probably imagine, his frown – the one that was already on his face, intensified. He turned to the innocent stare of Calico, who continued to peer up at Clyde’s face. He rolled his eyes and placed the box of safety pins onto the table, quickly opened them and stitching Calico’s wrappings closed with them. 

He released Calico from his grasps onto the table, returning back to the drawers behind him. He shoved the safety pins back into the drawer they had been hiding in and went back to the top middle set of drawers to pull out a pair of rubber gloves. He slid them over his fingers and flexed his hand, letting the gloves settle into place. He turned to the mess on the floor and began carefully picking up the rat brains, examining each one for glass just before placing them on the table. 

“Mrwr!!!” Calico gleefully dug into the slowly forming feast of brains before it on the table. 

After each one was picked, Clyde grabbed a broom and dustpan hanging by the pantry closet and began to sweep up the glass. 

He sighed, followed by a groan, sweeping up the pieces of glass and the no-good rat brains that shards protruded from. 

***

Clyde returned back to his basement bedroom, shutting the door behind him. Not that it really was going to keep Calico out anyway – he had a pet door built right in, so it was of no use for that. It didn’t even have a way to lock it. 

Clyde returned back to his mirror taking a look at himself. He glanced at his hands both physically and in the mirror. Although they had nothing on them, the vague feeling of the zombie brains through the thick rubber gloves was enough to make him feel as if he was covered in dirt. He combined his hair with his fingers, as if trying to wipe them clean. 

“I suppose bathing is in order.” 

He stripped himself of his bathrobe and proceeded to an off-shoot room of his basement room – a full-fledged bathroom, completed with a toilet, sink, bath, and shower. It was decked out in marble and crystal, alongside many other materials. It was significantly brighter than the rest of his home, with pearl whites and faint grays. 

He turned on the shower and walked away, going to the closet that offshoot from the bathroom. The closet was divided by clothing and linens. He took a set of clothing off from the hangers and grabbed a towel, returning back to the bathroom. He draped the clothing over the counter next to the sink and hung his towel on a silver knob right beside the shower just above his head. 

Clyde entered into the shower, allowing the warmth cover his entire body. He let out a sigh and the scowl that had once covered his face no longer was there. Instead, he was clearly relaxed. What tea shall I drink today? 

SCREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEECH

Clyde jumped, his hand landing on the handle of the shower. He glared out the door at the deafening screech that he knew was coming from a particular lanturn situated on his bureau. 

“I didn’t even get to have my TEA!” 

He quickly scrubbed his body and washed his hair within minutes. “Could have the decency to wait once? If it’s not before the tea, it’s just as I am about to taste it’s leafy, herby splendor!” He yanked over the shower door while turning off the water. He reached over towards the silver knob, removing his towel in one fellow swoop. He quickly patted himself dry, then proceeded to wrap it around his waist. 

Clyde rushed over to the screeching lanturn, seeing it glowing rotating colors of green and purple. “Yes, yes, I hear you! Interrupting my time once more, I hear you.” He grabbed the lantern with both hands. His eyes bore into the middle of the lantern into the ball of light of green and purple.

The light brightened, turning pure white, and appearing within it was an image. Dark and dreary trees were illuminated by the light of the full moon overhead. Ghastly beings of all kinds ran in terror as a single ghost – one with almost no form – flailed around. It bounced off the trees, hit people passing by, and honestly, to Clyde, was clearly just another headache for him to clean up. Deep from within his mind, the location emerged – Death Forest. 

Clyde rolled his eyes. “I’m supposed to meet up with Celestyn and the others at early afternoon.” He glared into the lantern’s fading light. “This had better be quick.” 

The lantern screeched, as if responding back to him. 

Except it wasn’t ’cause the lantern simply helped Clyde direct his own energy and was imbued with magic strictly to help Clyde with his job of clearing away mindless Ghopreans who had clearly lose their mind and were so far gone, there was no way to lead them back. 

Clyde lifted up the lantern, holding the base from the bottom with both his hands. He peered into it and the light that had faded began to glow once more – first white, then to that of orange fire. He held the lantern up in the air in front of him. A vortex spilled out from the top, spreading out and raining down like a fountain of pale fire over Clyde. The energy spilled onto the floor and ran deep down into the earth

After a mere few seconds and the fiery energy fading, Clyde was completed dry. He lowered the lantern and grasped the handle with one hand, returning back to the bathroom. 

He placed the lantern beside his clothes. He quickly put on each layer – his unitard and socks, followed by his white undershirt and pants, then his cropped long-sleeve top (only a smidge shorter than his undershirt) and his capri pants. 

Clyde then turned to the mirror, staring at himself. He reached to a large trinket tray beside the sink and pulled one of many clear octopus clips from it. He grabbed his hair, pulling it all to one side of his head. He wound the base just a bit to create a tight cylinder. Holding it tightly in place, he put the octopus clip on the base. He then let go of his hair, allowing it to unwind and drape down the side of his head. 

He flipped his long side ponytail behind him and gave himself a nod, just as the lantern begun to screech once more. Clyde slammed the top of it, quickly causing it to shush up. 

“I’m going, I’m going!” 

Clyde grasped its handle and waltzed right out the bathroom door. He burst out of the basement, causing Calico to give him a confused stare from its bed in the corner of the living room that occupied the other side of the staircase. 

“I’ll be back,” said Clyde. He stopped at the mat by the door to slip on his buckle shoes and then he was out the door, trudging towards Death Forest with an eye on the sky. 

*** 

Sure enough, there it was. The ghost with almost no form. It looked like a melting green orb with a face. It bounced around, hitting each gray tree, hacking away at the trunks. It’s shrieks were almost ear-drum piercing and the few people who hadn’t fleed the area was desperately trying to stop it with ineffective nets and other weapons, which it easily cut right through. 

Clyde rolled his eyes, watching the chaos in front of him. He began to walk forward into the center of the action. 

“Move it,” said Clyde, snapping his fingers. 

Immeditately, out from the the top of the lantern spurred dozens of long arms and hands, grabbing each person attempting to capture the mindless ghost. Each one was tossed aside, further back into the woods, without a single care whether or not someone would get hurt. Clyde paid no mind to the yelps and cries from the fellow ghoulish citizens. 

As the hands finished clearing everyone out of the area, a light blue, translucent force field came down from the sky, creating a dome around the are of the forest the mindless ghost bounced around. 

The hands all returned back into the lantern. The orb of light in the middle of it quickly flashed a bright indigo, before fading and changing to green. 

Clyde let go of the lantern from his hands, allowing it to float in mid-air. He used his hands to guide it to align in the center at the same height as his chest. He continued to walk forward, approaching the center of the dome. 

The mindless ghost bounced around from wall to wall, nearly hitting Clyde numerous times. Clyde, however, simply took a step aside each time. The most it ever seemed to do was ruffle his side ponytail. 

Clyde cupped his hands underneath the lantern. The green light began to whirl around like an ominous cloud of gas. It seeped out from the top and all the little nooks and crannies. The haze rose up and out from the top. It curled up like a drill and went straight ahead to the mindless ghost that wasn’t even aware of it. 

The mindless ghost rammed into the haze. Like a mouth, the haze swallowed the mindless ghost whole. The green haze retreated back quicker than it had left back into the lantern. The haze formed back into a ball, flashed white a few times, before shrinking down to a single dark indigo flame. 

The lantern fell from the air and plopped right into Clyde’s hands. The forcefield around him disappeared and surrounding him now were the people he had tossed away. 

Clyde let out a loud sigh as he grasped the handle of his lantern with his left hand. He wiped under his one eye and yawned. “No matter how many times I do this, I just cannot get used to not having my morning tea…” 

He turned around on the ball of his foot and left the Death Forest. The peopel whom he had tossed simply just stared at him and exhcanged awkward looks, not even saying a word. Although, they were definitely thinking something – something along the lines of “should we thank him or yell at him”.

*** 

Clyde turned to the sky as he approached his home. The position of the moon overhead hinted it was just mid-noon for him alright! His steps became faster as he turned his head back forward. 

“Hey, Clyde!” 

Clyde promptly ignored the zombie leaning over the stone fence that clearly had seen better days. The zombie waved to him as Clyde sped right past him and down the dusty pathway back to his home.

“Clyde! Hey! Clyyyyde!” 

Do not even say it. They must have already arrived. 

After a few more minutes of kicking up dust with his feet, his home came back into view. 

Sure enough, standing there were three fellow Ghopreans – Celestyn the ghoul/banshee, Gorkkobin the goblin, and Tarny the giant baby tarnantula. 

“CLYDE!” cheered Tarny, jumping up and down. If it hadn’t been for its tone of voice, you would not have been able to tell the giant baby tarnatula was so happy to see its friend. 

Celestyn simply raised her hand brief and smiled, while Gorkkobin snickered. 

“Nyehehehehehe, that thing got you workin’ before your tea time?” asked Gorkkobin. He slapped his knee as he cackled, prompting Clyde to leer at him. 

“They just don’t know how to respect a good old tea time, you know?” replied Clyde. He proceeded to his front door, slipping the key into its lock. He ignored Gorkkobin’s michevious cackling and pushed open the door. 

“Mrrrwwwwwrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr,” greeted Calico, staring up from right in front of the door. Clyde’s eyes followed the mouse dead in between its jaws to the trail of blood drizzled around the entrance way. The blue of Clyde’s face dropped a few shades icier. 

“CAL. I. COOOOOOO,” he growled. 

Gorkkobin gawfawed, hitting the side of Clyde’s home with his hand. 

“Oh my,” gasped Celestyn, peering into the room, right down to the trail of blood. 

Clyde whipped around to Gorkkobin, grabbing the goblin by the collar of his white tank top. If it hadn’t been for Gorkkobin’s long, french baguette-esque nose, Clyde would have drew his face close to his friend’s. However, Gorkkobin DID have a baguette-esque nose, so long and bulky, there was no way Clyde could get in close to him. Instead, he simply glared. “You knew all about this, did you not?” 

“Nyehehehehehehe.” 

Clyde scoffed and dropped Gorkkobin. “Now the tea is going to be delayed!” He placed his hand on his forehead, stepping over the mouse blood and into the household.

Gorkkobin and Celestyn followed right behind him. 

“I’ll make the tea then, nyeheh!” 

Clyde glared at him with darts. “I wouldn’t trust you within 10 feet of tea making!” 

Clyde turned on the ball of his foot and placed his free hand on his hip, looking to Gorkkobin, eying his pocket. “You most likely have some sort of practical joke just waiting to be used on us, yes?” 

Gorkkobin just gave him a toothy grin. Clyde frowned deeper. 

“Celestyn,” said Clyde, turning his head to the light-purple haired half ghoul looking around awkwardly. “Could you please start the tea for me while I clean up Calico’s unforunate mess?” 

Celestyn nodded. “Yes, right away. Was there anything in particular you were looking for today?” 

“Hmm…no. Just grab what you feel from my tea cabinet.” 

Celestyn stepped past the snickering Gorkkobin and into the kitchen. 

Just before Clyde turned, around, he called to Celestyn once more. “Make sure Gorkkobin gets no where near the tea!” 

“I got this! I got this!” exclaimed Tarny, immedtiately standing tall. Out from its front legs spat out silk that quickly covered Gorkkobin’s large feet. 

“Wah, nyeeeeeh?” 

Clyde turned around and flipped his hair, smirking at the scene unfolding behind him of an adult goblin being restrained by a young giant tarantula’s silk. 

*** 

With his lantern placed back on his bureau and cleanin supplies in hand, Clyde returned back to the entrance way to clean. 

Calico was no where to be found, but the blood of the dead mouse still remained. He filled the small bucket in his hand with warm water from the kitchen sink, getting a whiff of the tea Celestyn was brewing and the cookies that were baking in the oven. 

It’s been quite a while since we’ve had something with our tea, has it not? thought Clyde. His tense shoulders relaxed each time his inhales took in the scents of the air. 

He went back to the entrance way and scrubbed the floor clean with a large sponge as quickly and thoroughly as he could. His eyes scanned for each spot, following the trail to a small hole in the wall. He looked tapped it with his glove covered hand. Inside, he knew that this was exactly where the mouse had come in and how it became an extra meal for Calico for that day. 

Clyde took a look at his hand free hand that had just tapped the wall. Although he wasn’t thinking anything in particular, he was definitely feeling it – the inability to control his own magic without an object to direct his energy through. A slight sense of melancholy over took him. Somewhere deep within his body, he could feel that this strange inability plagued him even in his previous life, but he wasn’t quite sure what he did back then. He still didn’t and couldn’t remember the details. 

Quite the shame though – he would have loved to use magic to instantly seal the hole. But he wasn’t about to go back down to his room to grab his lantern and he didn’t trust any of the other objects in the area to direct his magic through.

A familiar screech rang through the area. Clyde stood up from the floor and turned to the kitchen. 

“Clyde, the tea is done!” called Celestyn. 

“Thank you, I’m coming!” 

Clyde walked to the kitchen and placed down the bucket and sponge into the sink. He removed his gloves and threw them into the box labeled “to compose” on it right underneath it. He washed his hands and dried them with a towel hanging beside the sink on a hook. He then turned to the kitchen table and sat down. 

Celestyn poured him a cup of tea and placed a small plate of shortbread cookies right in front of him. Clyde leaned back and sipped his tea – certainly green tea this time with a few extra herbs – feeling the warmth spread down through his esophegaos and across his chest. Soon, his whole body was warmed and relaxed. 

Clyde looked up, seeing Tarny nawing away at the silk bonds it had made around Gorkkobin, who didn’t seem to thrilled for once in his life. Clyde couldn’t help but smirk. 

After a few minutes of watching the struggle, Gorkkobin was set free and sat down in between Tarny and Celestyn. 

“Are you okay?” asked Tarny. 

Clyde tilted his head. “Are you speaking to me?” 

“Yes! You look tired.” 

“Well,” said Clyde. “I was woken up by a certain zombie cat who caused or lead to multiple messes today. I also had to deal with another mindless ghost before tea time once more.” Clyde took a sip of his tea. “I suppose you could say I am okay. And I suppose you could say I am tired.” 

“Ooo!!! Another mindless ghost?!” Tarny’s front legs pushed against the table top and Tarny’s multiple eyes gleefully stared at Clyde with anticipation. “What kind of fight did you have today?” 

Clyde found himself leaning on the table. “None.” He sipped his tea. 

“Huh? Noooone? Awww.” 

“‘Aw’ indeed…” Clyde put his tea cup down and swapped it for a cookie. He let the buttery shortbread melt in his mouth, lending sweetness that his tea lacked – the absolute perfect compliment. 

“Hmm…it sounds like they have not been fighting back much lately,” replied Celestyn. 

Clyde slammed his tea cup on the table., causing the crack in it to crack even further. He then slammed his other hand down, followed by standing up, gawking at Celestyn. “They used to put up so much of a fight when I first started, I nearly thought I’d be killed!” He sat back down once more and crossed his legs and his arms, turning his nose up towards the ceiling. “But now they are all terrible dull.” 

His friends looked at him in silence. Clyde turned back to them, rolling his eyes. He picked his tea cup up once more bringing it to his mouth. “And it’s certainly not because of anything I did. Unlike those who came before them, all the seem to do now is bounce around.” 

“Are they playing?” asked Tarny.

“Most certainly not – they’re mindless. They couldn’t have a shread of thought to play.” 

“Nyehehehe, sounds like my kind of people!” 

“They’re not people,” snapped Clyde. He lowered the tea cup from his lips, leering at the grinning Gorrkobin. “They’re merely a fraction of their former selves, left behind with no recollection of who they were.” 

“Like you?” asked Gorkkobin. Clyde did not like the smirk that was stretching across the goblin’s face.

“I at least remembered my name and that I like tea.” Clyde went back to sipping. 

Celestyn grabbed another cookie from the tray she had placed in the middle, filled with additional ones that didn’t fit on the plate distributions from earlier. Her eyes down casted. “That sounds sad. I couldn’t imagine it.” 

“You don’t want to,” replied Clyde. “They’re simply nusances.” 

“Wow, Clyde, you sound like you really hate it!” remarked Tarny. Everyone looked at Tarny – Gorkkobin snickered, Celestyn’s eyes popped and her lips flickered between a smile and a frown, while Clyde simply eyed the young tarntula. “Why do you go?” 

“It truly is an annoyance of mine. I don’t particular like it. At least before they were hostile and made it feel like a job well done, but now, their damage is so minor, I’m not even sure if it’s worth me using my magic on them.” 

Celestyn sat up and grabbed the tea. “You said that put up a fight before, but now they just bounce around. What kind of damage are they doing instead?” 

Clyde held out his cup towards Celestyn. “They used to kill people and damage properity like a hurricane. Now they chop down trees, break windows, and knock down little old men walking back from the food market.” 

“Nyehehehe, you sure it isn’t just the types dyin’ and turnin’ into the mindless beings?” 

Clyde shrugs. “I do not know. All I know is —” 

SCREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEECH

Clyde slammed down his tea cup again, the cup finally shattering. Celestyn gasped, pulling the teapot close to her body. Gorkkobin and Tarny simply just stared. 

“I HATE when my tea time gets interrupted!” 

Clyde got up from his seat and rushed down to the basement, grabbing his lantern. 

“Where? WHERE?! Show me, now!” he commanded. He peered into the white light and clearly saw the image of the area. And just like before the information was downloaded into him.

Clyde quickly rushed back up the stairs. He turned to his group of friends and pointed to his lantern. “The damned mindless are at it again. Please excuse my rudeness, for I must get this solved. It should only take 20 minutes.” 

Celestyn waved. “We are fine Clyde, go do your job.” 

Clyde bowed his head and headed on out, ignoring the zombies and ghosts that were attempted to chat with him in the graveyard on his way to the place. 

***

Clyde hadn’t needed to go very far. It was only on the other side of the graveyard. 

Sure, it still took him 15 minutes (speed walking) , but it was still more or less in the area. 

Trodding around was a zombie. Well, it was mostly a zombie. 

Clyde could clearly see the zombie was only partially solid. Parts of it was fragmented – it’s normal blue magical glow was spotted with orange. Anything that had been solid within those orange spots had completely disintergrated into oblivion. It was clear it was in the midst of transforming. 

The zombie wasn’t really doing anything. Other than few fallen headstones Clyde couldn’t remember if they had been standing before or not (after all, the graveyard was in grave need of repair, yet none of the zombies or other residents even wanted to do anything. BAH.), it seemed pointless. 

Clyde stood a good few yards away, staring right at the mindless zombie. The zombie didn’t even look towards him. 

Clyde lifted up his lantern, still staring down the zombie and…nothing. 

The zozmbie just kept waddling with an occassional lunge forward. 

Anger surgered up Clyde’s back – so much so, the flicking indigo flame within his lantern turned a vibrant red. Clyde’s eyes locked onto the zombie like a video game’s targeting system. He narrowed, honing in on the zombie’s head. 

He reached out his opposite hand, aligning it with the hand that held the lantern, and snapped his fingers. “GO!” he roared. 

The red light twisted and turned, shooting out from the top. As it sped to the zombie, the red light shed itself to reveal an eerie green underlayer. The underlayer formed a hand at the very end and with one single grab, the hand yanked the zombie into it’s vortext. 

The zombie’s body folded in the middle like a book and the hand seemed to vacuum the rest of it up. 

The green light retreated back to the lantern and returned to its former shade of blue-purple.

Clyde huffed. 

Just as the numerous residents of the area of this part of the graveyard popped out from hiding – from underground, from behind and under the headstones – Clyde turned on his heel. 

He was so fast, the collective yell of a handful of the residents fell deaf to his ears. 

The last thing I want right now is bad tea! 

*** 

Clyde slammed the lantern on the bottom of drawer in the clearing he had just made. He proceeded to cover it up in numerous blankets that had once occupied the drawer. Other than the few that didn’t fit, he stuffed the drawer and slammed it shut. He made his way back up the stairs and into the kitchen, where he promptly sat back down and folded his arms. 

Celestyn walked over with a piping hot pot of tea and a new cup, placing it down and serving it to Clyde. Clyde unfolded his arms and partially refolded them as he brought the cup to his mouth. He took a sip. His tongue sung with delight at the perfectly balance between water and herbs. 

“You remade the tea?” 

“Yes,” replied Celestyn. 

Clyde couldn’t but laugh. “It’s a good thing I put you in charge.” 

“Nyehehe, you came back in quite a hurry.” 

Clyde narrowed his eyes at Gorkkobin, glancing over at Celestyn. “Please tell me you did not let him touch the tea.” 

“Of course I did not,” replied Celestyn. Her own lips curled, perfectly ghoulish. “I am certain you would have heard my banshee shriek if he had.” 

Gorkkobin flinched, sweat crossing his brow. He leaned over to Tarny, mumbling, “remind me never to cross paths with her, nyeheh!” 

Tarny’s front legs clapped the table. “What kind of ghost was it this time? What kind of ghost?!” 

Clyde frowned. 

Tarny cocked its head. 

“It wasn’t a ghost. It was a zombie in the stage of being a mindless ghost,” replied Clyde. He took a sip of his tea once more. 

“Ooo!” squealed Tarny. “And what kind of fight did it put up?!”

The cookie Clyde had picked up off the tray near him became crushed in his hands. “One of the worsts yet!” he grumbled through his teeth clenched. “The damned thing did nothing. I couldn’t even tell if the headstones that were knocked over was its doing or not!” Clyde tossed the cookie crumbs onto the tray. He then proceeded to grasp his head, shaking it. “And I thought the other ghosts were terribly inactive…” 

Tarny’s let out a disappointed sigh. “I’m sorry, Clyde.” 

“Not your fault – I just do not understand why this even happens in the first place. Surely my abilities could be part of something far more useful, like getting rid of nusances in the council.” 

“Nye..heh…getting rid of council members…” snickered Gorkkobin, with a tinge of discomfort revealing itself in his voice. 

Clyde leered at Gorrkobin, who flinched under Clyde’s single eye. “What? Do you not agree that some are nusance?” 

“Nye heh heh.” Gorkkobin nothing but grin. Clyde’s eye narrowed at his friend – clearly, Gorrkkobin was uncomfortable with such a suggestion. 

Does he know something I don’t? wondered Clyde, carefully sipping his tea. 

“Why do you two seem awkward?” asked Tarny. Clyde and Gorkkobbin’s eyes widened in surprise at the young trantula’s words. 

Celestyn immeditately jumped in and placed a hand over Tarny’s mouth from underneath his body. “Tarny, there is no need to be rude! Clyde and Gorkkobbin are just communicating the way that they do.”

“Right,” agreed Clyde and Gorkkobbin. Clyde took a sip of his tea, while Gorkkobbin bit into a cookie as if checking for the authenticity of a gold coin. The two glanced at each other as the air seemed to become more dense. 

Celestyn released Tarny, who let out an “oooooooooooooh”. The tarantula then giggled. “Wow, humanoids sure are weird!” 

Celestyn patted Tarny’s back. 

Clyde leaned back, enjoying his tea to its fullest depths. 

A faint screeching sound could be heard coming from the basement, but it was so light that Clyde could easily ignore it. For once. 

He took a big gulp of tea to drown out the sound of his lantern warning him about another mindless ghost that was probably being a minor problem somewhere out there. 

*** 

Clyde released his hair from his side pony, letting it rain down on his body once more. He then walked over to his closet and stripped off his clothes in every single layer – from the top most to his unitard, he removed them all to release his body from the hold it had on him. He place each one into its own hamper and returned back to his bathroom once more. 

He walked over to the bath and turned on the water, allowing it to run for a good minute before adjusting the water temperature that felt more friendly to his body. As the water in the bathtub ran, he stepped into his shower and brought a small stool from the corner to underneath the shower head. He turned on the shower and after a good few seconds, sat down on the stool and began to rinse himself.

He reached over to his right-hand side, grabbing a large jar filled with a sugar scrub. He removed the cap and out poured the smell of florals with a hint of citrus. He scooped his hands inside of the jar, removing a large amount of sugar. He placed the scrub jar beside him and began to exfloate his body. He made extra sure to scrub the bottoms of his feet – every part that ached the most – just before washing everything off. He replaced the cap and the jar back into their rightful positions, stood up, and shut off the shower. He patted himself down with the towel that hung beside the shower just before getting out and going back to the bath. 

Halfway full, Clyde popped open a jar full of salt, herbs, and oils and scooped out two cups full using the large wooden scoop inside of it. He sprinkled it above the surface of the water. He placed the wooden scoop back into the jar and sealed it once more. He then took his finger and dipped it inside. In the water he traced a sigil, reciting: “Water heal me, Earth ground me, Fire warm me, Air relax me, Spirit Fill Me. So mote it be!” 

The water flashed numerous colors. Clyde trembled as the magic flowed from his own being and into the water. 

His magical ability was simply far too strong without some sort of surge protector, like his lantern. In this case, the water itself acted as the perfect middleman and the tub held it all together. 

He took a handful of lavendar out from an open container beside his tub and sprinkled it inside of it. In his mind, he pictured himself relaxing. He didn’t dare do anything more than that though – if he had even remotely tried, the lavendar itself would’ve been fried…the last thing he wanted in his nice, relaxing bath! 

As the tub finished filling, Clyde made his way upstairs and into the kitchen where he had a kettle full of water sitting. He turned out the heat and waited a few moments, just to hear the kettle’s screech. He removed it from the heat and removed the top off of it, just before dipping a ball of a tea mixture into it and let it seep for a bit. 

Once the tea had seeped for long enough, Clyde transferred all of it into a large ceremic cup with a lid and a hole for drinking. He tossed the kettle into his sink – causing the sleeping Calico to wake up, shriek, and scurry – and returnd back to the basement where the bath was perfectly filled. 

Clyde stepped in, left foot first, into the water. He lowered himself in slowly and leaned back onto the specially designed pillow for his bath. He couldn’t help but feel his whole being relax. 

After a few moments of just simply being, he lifted the ceremaic cup to his lips and sipped his tea, enjoying each and every relaxing moment. 

***

Clyde was finally all dry, minus the very tips of his hair. He placed his book down on the small end table beside his couch and stood up. He walked over to his bed and placed his bathrobe back onto the rack nearby. 

He clapped his hands twice and all the lights in his home, minus the few floorlights he kept on for walking’s sake, and slipped into bed. 

He drifted off into the deep abyss that is sleep and dreamtime. 

* END * 

[UNEDITED FIRST DRAFT] Untitled Bedelia Story 1

PLEASE NOTE: This is a ROUGH DRAFT. It is the VERY FIRST DRAFT OF THE STORY. YOU are the very first person to read it – I haven’t even read it in its entirety yet!

You WILL come across numerous issues including:

  • spelling mistakes;
  • grammar issues;
  • weak sentence structure;
  • repeated words;
  • unnecessary words;
  • missing words;
  • lack of details/descriptions;
  • confusing details/descriptions;

Critiques/criticisms, while appreciated, most likely will be discarded at this stage! Thank you.

Additional Note: Doodles, Sketches, and Artwork may be added over time. These are not the story illustrations! They do feature characters and places within the story, however.

Bedelia stood, hands folded, with bated breath. Her eyes stared at the most horrifying scene she had ever witenessed unfolding: the brand new servant boy, holding the hands of the princess – the ONLY child to the King & Queen. Not only that, the young boy proudly declared the princess to be his future wife! 

And EVEN WORSE – the Princess agreed! 

Bedelia watched Lillian, the brand new servant who brought her only son along, immeditately jump and grab the young boys shoulders, pulling him back. “I am SO sorry!” Lillian deeply bowed her head. “I apologize for my son’s rudeness…” 

Bedelia slowly let her breath escape from a small parting between her lips as she pushed up her glasses. Good. She understands her place. She turned her face torwards the King and Queen. Now, what of the boy? 

Images of a stern face king and his quiet, but equally as stern queen demanding retribution for such rudeness flashed across her mind as she turned towards the King and Queen. Her brows furrowed seeing a scene that conflicted with her own expectations. Instead of sternness, the King and Queen looked like they were about to melt.

“There is no need to apologize,” assured King Engelbert. “He’s just a child.” 

“Ooooh!” cooed Queen Pleasance. “And an adorable one at that!” 

Bedelia gawked, watching as Queen Pleasance reached over to King Engelbert, pulling him closer. The Queen, was in fact, melting. “They’re so cute,” Queen Pleasance whispered. 

Giddy?! She’s GIDDY?! 

“No, no! I am so sorry! My son shouldn’t have done that – Brent, don’t do that!” 

“But she’s going to be my wife,” replied back Brent, pointing to Princess Angelica, who seemed to swoon just as much. Princess Angelica trotted over to Brent, grabbing his hand. 

“I have a husband!” 

“Oh, Princess, I do not mean to be rude, but you don’t need to entertain my son’s –” started Lillian. 

Bedelia tightened her folded hands, turning her attention back from Brent and Princess Angelica, back to the King and Queen. She widened hr eyes at them. Do something! This peasant is being extremely rude! 

King Engelbert and Queen Pleasance appeared to not even see Bedelia’s silent begging. She followed their gaze back to Princess Angelica who began chatting up with Brent, holding his hand, and then back to them. 

“Lillian, yes?” 

“Yes, that is my name.” Lillian stood up straight. 

“Your son and our daughter seems to have taken a liking to each other,” said the King. 

Will they address the issue? Bedelia’s brow sliglhtly bent.

“Y-yes. I am so, so sorry for his rudeness.” 

“I would aruge you are being rude to us by ignoring us saying no apologies necessary.” 

Bedelia watched Lillian flinch. 

“Your son is absolutely wonderful!” commented Queen Pleasance. Bedelia watched the Queen lay her head on the King’s shoulder.

The King nodded. “We can already see how much they love each other.” 

Bedelia’s chest tightened. Do not….do not…tell me…

King Engelbert stepped off from the throne and walked over to Brent. 

Bedelia’s shoulders relaxed. Good. He’s going to put the child in his place. 

King Engelbert knelt down to Brent. “Hello, Brent. I’m King Engelbert. Welcome to castle.” He extended his hands out at Brent. 

Bedelia felt parts of her upper arms and parts of her legs began to heat up and tense up. She grasped her index finger and squeezed it, attempting to reroute the memories of pain shooting up from her skin. Put him in his place, King Engelbert. She briefly cast her gaze down. In the next moment she looked up, she saw Brent shaking the King’s hand.

“Thank you for letting my mom and me work here, King Engelbert! I love Princess Angelica!” 

“Will you protect her?” 

Brent leaned back and placed both of his hands over his heart. “Of course! I would give my life for the Princess!” 

“And will you be her friend?” 

“Yes! With all my heart!” 

King Engelbert then patted Brent’s head and turned to Lillian. “I will have Bedelia arrange playtime for the two of them.” 

Bedelia slightly stumbled backwards. No…hitting? She gasped and straightened herself up. She pushed up the rim of her glasses and nodded. “Yes, I will be able to make the arrangements.” Surely there must be a more approrpriate child for the Princess to play with. 

“We will make living arrangements for the two of you. Welcome to the castle.” 

Lillian curetsied. “Yes. Thank you for welcoming us.” 

“Brent, come on now, let’s go to the servant quarters that we were shown yesterday.”

“Okay…bye Princess Angelica!” 

“Bye, Brent!” 

She watched the two children blow kisses in the air at each other as Lillian dragged Brent out of the room. Bedelia let out a small sigh. King Engelbert and Queen Pleasance are far too kind, sparing that boy. She watched Lillian quietly nag Brent as the turned the corner out of the throneroom. At least Lillian knows her place and promptly reacted. She must not discipline her son enough if he thinks it’s okay to proopose to the Princess of Astral Isles like that. 

“Bedelia?” 

“Yes, your highness?” asked Bedelia. She stepped into the middle of the carpet, facing the King and Queen. 

Queen Pleasance pouted, leaning onto the side of her throne. “Why didn’t you tell us that she had such an adorable child?!” 

“Was it necessary for the job?” 

“Well, no…” 

“Queen Pleasance, I apologize I had not informed you more about the child.” 

King Engelbert laughed. “Now, now, it’s fine. It’s not a job requirement for a child to be ‘cute’.” 

Princess Angelica stood beside her father. “Father, when will I be able to see Brent again?” 

“Soon, dear.” 

Bedelia watched Kign Engelbert turn his attention back to her with a smile that Bedelia could only interpret as being entertained. She cocked her head. 

“You may want to take out some paper.” 

“Yes,” replied Bedelia. She whipped out a small, tattered brown notebook and a pen. She flipped open to a blank page and nodded at King Engelbert. 

“Prepare one of the connected rooms for Lillian and Brent. I do not want them sleeping in the servant quarters.” 

Huh? 

“What?” Connected rooms? 

King Engelbert folded his hands into his lap. “I would like to keep parent and child together. Set up one of the connected rooms.” 

Bedelia lifted up her finger. But they’re SERVANTS! Before she could say anything more, King Engelbert gazed at her knowingly. “We have plenty of space for it.” 

“Y-yes, your highness.” 

“Please also prepare their schedules. At least three hours of playtime with Princess Angelica.” 

Bedelia nodded, although inside she was screaming. Separate rooms from the rest of the servants? PLAYTIME? With the PRINCESS? They are far too kind. Far, far too lenient. 

“And that should be all for now.” 

“Yes, your highness.” 

Bedelia placed her notebook back in her pocket. “Anything else, your highness?” 

“No, that will be all. You are dismissed.” 

Bedelia bowed and headed off. Underneath her skin, she fumed. Her neck felt hot, as did her upper arms and various spots on her legs. Parts of her adomen seemed to pulse with pain she had long forgotten about. Why didn’t they hit him? 

She balled her fist and held her breath. She shoved the feelings down as much as she could. No, no, they’re not King Siegbert. She stopped walking, looking down at the textured carpet underneath her feet. No…even if they are not, it’s still not acceptable. She looked up to the foryer. I’m only a servant. I’m here to serve the King and Queen. My opinions do not matter. But I can still do what I can. 

***

“It has been a long time since we hired a child,” said Bedelia, handing Lillian the schedule. Her eyes observed the gracefulness that Lillian embodied. “I know that King Engelbert and Queen Pleasance, as well as Princess Angelica, have taken a strong liking to him, but please remind Brent of his place.” 

Lillian tucked her pin-straight hair behind her ear. Bedelia watched as Lillian’s black hair’s purple sheen shifted in the candlelight. What unique hair. She eyed Brent, who was playing with some wooden dolls on the ground, noticing his wavy black hair with a dark blue sheen. Both unique. 

“I do apologize for my son’s behaviour today. I did not expect him to do anything to the Princess, let alone a proposal.” 

Bedelia forced a smile. What 6 year old says such strange things? “He is a child.” 

Lillian nodded. 

Bedelia observe Lillian carefully go through the schedule, her long, slender fingers running across the dried ink. 

“You and your son shall start working next week,” explained Bedelia. “Brent will be given scrubbing duties up until 3 PM, after Princess Angelica’s lessons. From 3 PM to 6 PM, you are to take Brent and supervise their playtime.” 

“Yes.” 

“Your schedule varies from week to week, other than the 3 hour block. Brent’s schedule will not vary until he is old.” 

“Yes.” 

“Would you like some paper to mark down your schedule?” asked Bedelia, standing up. “Most servants have to check back regularly the first few weeks.” 

“No,” replied Lillian. Bedelia’s eyes followed a plum purple glow sparking from her index & middle finger and thumb. She watched Lillian tap them together a few times before touching the paper. The paper faintly glowed a plum purple and just as quickly faded. 

Bedelia jumped. Magic?! “W-what was that?” Bedelia took off her classes and wiped them with a cloth. 

Lillian gasped. “Is magic not allowed?” 

“N-no,” replied Bedelia. Magic! MAGIC! I haven’t seen anyone other than the royals and teachers use it before. And even then, it’s not used all that often. “It’s not. I apologize for my…sudden reaction. It’s not too often I see magic being used.” 

“It’s not?” asked Lillian.

How does she not…oh yes, she is not from here, is she? “You said you were from the planet, Magirery, yes?” 

“Yes, that is correct.” 

“If I am not mistaken, on Magirery. magic is a regular occurance.” 

“That would be correct.” 

Such oddity. Bedelia crinkled her nose. “While magic isn’t illegal, per se, it’s not widely used here, at least in Astral Isles. Please refrain from using it, at least in front of other servants.” 

Lillian deeply bowed. “I apologize. I was not aware.” She sat back up. “I don’t…have much access to my magic in the first place, but the bits I do have make life more convinent. I’ll make sure to conceal it.” 

Bedelia paused for a moment. ‘Conceal’? “Y-yes, very well.” 

A knock sounded on the door. Bedelia stood up and walked over to it. What now? She opened the door, seeing a servant about a decade younger than her standing there. 

“Yes, Esma?” asked Bedelia. Out with it. 

“The rooms are ready,” 

Bedelia felt herself heat up in anger once more. And once more, she stiffled it. “Thank you, Esma. You are dismissed.” 

Esma bowed her head and walked off.

“Lillian,” called Bedelia. 

“Yes?” 

“Your rooms are ready. Let me take you there.” 

“Coming!”

Bedelia closed her eyes and took a deep breath – this is the King and Queen’s orders. This is the King and Queens orders. This is the King and Queens orders…

*** 

“They’re the same age as me?!” exclaimed 8-year-old Bedelia. She pointed at the princess twins, Alida and Alina, who had just nonchalantly walked into the room up to the side of the throne. Her mother, Mona, had whispered the fact they were the same age as Bedelia, without getting to finish her sentence. 

Bedelia’s eyes glittered. I can make friends! Before she could swoon at finally being able to achieve her biggest wish of all, her eyes caught her mother’s pale face becoming even paler. “Mother?” 

A dark shadow suddenly hovered over Bedelia. She jumped back a foot, looking up. Towering over her was King Siegbert – the King who was ruling over Astral Isles when she and her mother arrived. 

Bedelia watched the king’s large hand raise high up in the air and come down, almost in slow motion, across her mother’s face. 

“Mother!” cried Bedelia, watching Mona hit the ground with a hard thud. Mona sat up, her head hanging. 

“Loose mother! What folly you have commited, allowing your child to exclaim in the presence of us!” 

“HEY!” snapped Bedelia. “DON’T HIT MY MO–” 

SLAP 

SLAM 

CRACK

Bedelia was no longer looking up at the king, but the intricately decorated ceiling of the throneroom. Her mouth tasted of copper and she felt a tooth swimming around. Her cheek was stinging so bad, half her face was numb from the pain. 

“Baadur, you were the one who hired these imbeciles, yes?” 

“…yes, your highness.” 

SHING. 

Bedelia heard Baadur gasp. Then there was a disgusting sound that was a mixture of squishing and breaking for a brief moment. Bedelia ever so slightly turned her gaze towards the lifeless head staring back at her. 

She held back her desire to vomit. Instead, she silently cried.

It’s my fault. 

*** 

Bedelia held her head, standing in the door way as Lillian and Brent explored the rooms. Her hand moved to her cheek, the same one she had gotten hit with as a child. How did I…almost forget about that? It’s rude to speak to royalty and become friendly when we’re just servants. We can’t…. Her chest tightened. A scream stared to call up from the depths of her being. ‘I do not want anyone else to get hurt! It was my fault! It was all my fault!’ 

“Ms. Bedelia?” 

Bedelia jumped. She straightened herself out. “Yes, Lillian?” 

“Are you alright? You look sick.” 

“Yes, I am fine. Just a bit tired.” 

She forced a smile upon her face. The child and his mother are cursed. “Do you have any other questions?” 

“No, I do not. But may I request an opportunity to thank the King and Queen for their generosity?” 

Bedelia nodded. “Yes, of course.” Far too generous for measly servants. “I will make…arrangements.” 

Bedelia watched Lillian curtsey, followed by calling to Brent. “Brent, thank Ms. Bedelia too.” 

Brent scurred next to his mother’s side and saluted Bedelai, just before bowing. “Thank you, Ms. Bedelia!” 

Bedelia simply bowed her head, directing her attention back to Lillian. “Please let me know if you have any additional questions. Cecily will be here tomorrow to take you around the castle.” 

“Yes.” 

With that, Bedelia turned on her heel and quietly shut the door. She walked a few feet down the hallway and stopped just before one of the lamps hanging on the wall. She held her chest and glanced around, before huffing. Her mind went back to Brent and Lillian. Lillian’s grace and Brent’s innonence just…made her blood boil. Her stomach clenched. She balled up her hand that was holding on the wall and she slightly bent. The flickering light of the lamps only amplified the intensity of her leer. 

She wasn’t even leering at anything in reality – just down the long hallway partly illuminated by the mid-afternoon sun. Instead, it was herself. As she looked down, to the ground, she could almost see herself as a child staring up and back to her. 

Her eyes narrowed. 

Had I stood here before? She asked, looking down at her child self. Tattered and ragged, bruised and cut, her child self looked up at her. The coldness in her own eyes only fueled the rage she was feeling. Her mind drifted back to Brent in comparison. His eyes were so bright and warm. Her own, just slightly older than he was, had lost its own wonder.

“Why…” escaped from her lips. 

She pulled herself up straight and grasped the fabric over her heart. King Engelbert is not King Siegbert nor is he King Wilibald, King Gerhardt or King Leberecht. He is just far too kind. He’s a romantic. His goal is for happiness and fulfillment of the kingdom, is it not? Yes…yes. There’s no need for me to get jealous over a child. Who am I to do such a thing? I’m in my in my sixties…goodness me. Am I child? 

“Bedelia?” 

Bedelia jumped. She quickly shifted over to her usual stance and turned around, seeing one of the servants standing there. “Yes, Thomas?” 

“There’s a water leak in the kitchen. There are repairers working on it, but it’s really bad…” 

Bedelia’s stomach unclenched. A smile rose to her face. “Thank you for letting me know. Let me go access the damage. Have all the works left the kitchen?” 

“Yes.” 

“Good. Please inform the King and Queen dinner will be delayed while we access the damage.” 

Thomas bowed. “Yes, right way.” 

Bedelia straighted out her top and looked over her shoulder. Her child self was gone. 

*** 

Bedelia sat at her oak desk, sorting through her reports. She lifted up a small rag from the corner of her desk, from the one almost-clear spot and wiped her glasses. She placed them back upon her nose and flipped through the various size papers. 

Every week, the servants report back to her. Not all of them, of course, but many of them report back to her in written form. She carefully read and every report that went through her desk and inside of a small notebook that she had stashed inside of a drawer, she went through and made a list of everything that needed to be addressed within each letter. 

Manure is running low once more…fertilzer needed…problems with the hose systems… she read in her head, skritching down each concern. She paused for a moment. It’s almost time to redo the gardens, yes? She glanced over at her calendar with numerous mark-ups and highlights. Yes…yes…better order extra…

skirtch skirtch

She finished reading off the note – torn at the edges and lightly dirty with dried soil that had once been wet and sat back. She reached over to her right and pressed down a stamp that had been sitting ontop of an open ink pad. She then lifted it up and stamped the letter in a bright red ink. The stamp was of a large circle with the words “DONE” written in the middle of it. Surrounding the word “DONE” was numerous decorations of vines and flowers. 

She placed the stamp back over the ink and picked up the rest of the letter. 

“Head Servan Bedelia, the King and Queen have requested your prescence.” 

Bedelia looked up, seeing a young man holding out a letter sealed with wax. Bedelia stood up and leaned over, lightly grasping the high-quality envelope. Her fingers felt the woven texture as she sat back down. “Thank you, Antonius.” 

Antonius nodded in acknowledgement and exited the room. 

Bedelia sat back in her wooden chair, neatly cushioned with red crushed velvet. She opened up the wax-sealed letter careful as not to rip it. She could feel the wax was still moderately warm – cool enough not to get on her fingers, but warm enough to tell that it was sealed not too long again. 

Head Servant Bedelia, 

We request your prescence tonight in the royal study to discuss scheduling details at 8 PM. 

Signed, 

King Engelbert and Queen Pleasance 

Bedelia nodded as she read the note. A special request? She smiled softly to herself. “I don’t get these too often.” 

She taced the letter up on the wall beside her and got back to work. 

***

Bedelia walked down the dimly lit halls and up to two large, dark wood doors. she knocked firmly. “It is Head Servant Bedelia.” 

“Yes, come in!” replied the voice of King Engelbert. 

Bedelia opened the door and stepped inside. She quietly closed the door behind her. She smoothed out her skirt and walked inside, greeting the King and Queen with the bow of her head. 

While most of the room was dark, the King and Queen were illuminated brightly by the crackling fire dancing around in the fireplace. Queen Pleasance was seated on a chair, her legs propped up with a foot rest. King Engelbert, on the other hand, had been pacing around. His faced seemed to glow just as brightly as the fireplace. 

“Thank you so much for coming, Bedelia!” 

“Of course, as it’s my job,” said Bedelia.

The King and Queen both laughed. 

Bedelia pulled out a notebook from her skirt’s pocket, along with a pen. The cover was more intact than some of the other ones she kept. This particular notebook was a dark teal color with a contrasting red strap that kept it closed. Little tabs hung out from the book, but not too many of them. Bedelia removed the strap and opened the notebook up to a blank page that had been marked by a red bookmark. “What would you like to discuss today about scheduling?” she asked, very matter-of-factly. The smile on her face was calm, although she was just brimming with delight. Oh, how I love serving the royal family. 

Bedelia watched King Engelbert and Queen Pleasance exchange looks. Bedelia could feel her own smile dropping a few notches. Her swelling chest full of delight started to sink. They seem far too giddy for an event. 

King Engelbert pressed his palms together. “We both have discussed and agreed…” 

Bedelia bit the inside of her lip. staring at the King in anticipation. Oh no. 

“We want Brent’s schedule to be reduced further,” said both King Engelbert and Queen Pleasance.

Bedelia gawked. “Wha…w-why?” 

Queen Pleasance stood up from her seat and walked over to King Engelbert, wrapping her arm around his. The dreamy, delighted smile pricked Bedelia all over. The giggle coming from the Queen’s mouth almost seemed like it was mocking Bedelia – before Bedelia could even finish such a foolish thought, she shoved it away and focused on the royals right in front of her. 

“We want Brent’s duties to be reduced to 3 hours in order to increase studies and playtime,” replied King Engelbert. The King and Queen exchanged romantic grins with each other before they looked back to Bedelia. Bedelia could feel herself tensing up in anger once more. Only a brief, quiet deep breath seemed to keep it at bay.

“You would like me to reduce is hours…?”

“Yes.” 

Bedelia folded her hands and stood up straight. “Your highness, the child has only been here for a little over two months. He is doing well enough as is, is he not?” 

“The poor child keeps falling asleep while doing schoolwork,” replied Queen Pleasance. She rested her head on King Engelbert’s arm.

“We’ve received feedback from numerous servants, including Lillian, as well as feedback from Princess Angelica and witnessing with our own eyes. Brent does an outstanding job serving as well throughout the castle, but a child ought to spend more time on play and learning.” 

Bedelia’s head briefly shook and she stared at the two wide-eyed. Learning? Learning what? “What does he need to learn?” He has all his duties down, so there’s nothing left to learn for now, is there?

Queen Pleasance cocked her head. “The same education as all the other children in the Kingdom.” 

Bedelia gasped. Yes, that’s right, they passed a law regarding education shortly after King Engelbert became king, didn’t they? Bedelia deeply bowed. “I apologize for my rudeness.” 

Clip clop clip clop 

Bedelia felt a warm hand on her shoulder. She looked up, seeing King Engelbert warmly smiling down at her. “It’s okay, Bedelia. You’ve been with us for a very long time and we don’t normally have children other than royals in the castle. It isn’t necessarily your job to remember every law we create.” 

Bedelia touched his hand. “Thank you so much for your grace, your highness.” 

King Engelbert nodded. 

Bedelia lifted up her notebook as King Engelbert removed his hand from her shoulder. “You would like Brent’s schedule to be reduced to 3-hours, correct?” 

“Yes.” 

“Should I keep playtime as is?” 

King Engelbert glanced at Pleasance. “Keep playtime with Princess Angelica the same, but allow him time to play and explore for himself…so perhaps another 3-hours.” 

“Alright. And what should I increase his lessons to?”

“Make it 6-hours for now.” 

“Would you like me to make arrangements with Ms. Hendry for extended tutoring hours?” 

“No.” 

Bedelia drew back her head in shock. 

‘We would like you to arrange Taliesin to take over his lessons.” 

The teacher of THE ROYALS?! 

“W-when would you like Taliesin teach Brent?” asked Bedelia. She could feel herself starting to shake. Don’t tell me.

King Engelbert’s smile grew. Bedelia could see love and delight radiating from it. For her, however, it seemed to yank her gut down.

“At the same time as Angelica,” responded King Engelbert. 

SHATTER

Bedelia mantained her smile. Inside, anger started to seep through the cracks in her calm demenor. “Will that be all?” she asked, listening to her voice crack ever so slightly. 

“No, that will be all.” 

Bedelia bowed. “I will make the arrangements right away.” She scribbled down the notes, put a tab on the page, and turned towards the door. 

She quickly opened the door. Within the door way, her hand still on the knob, she wished the King and Queen good night and shut it as quietly as her body would allow…which was a quiet slam. 

She walked at top speed down the hallway and back to her own study, where she collapsed on a couch by the window. She looked out into the moonlit night and the illuminated star grass – grass with bioluminense that looked like the stars were being reflect on the Earth (the very reason why Astral Isles has its name). She pulled the notebook out of her pocket and briefly glanced over the notes she had taken. 

How improper of me…I was quite rude to the King and Queen…

She gently tossed the notebook off to the free seat beside her and sighed. How I wish I could scream. She swallowed, tasting complete bitterness. How dare a SERVANT child learn! Learn with the Princess! And the royal teacher! She pressed her fingers to her forehead. I agree that children ought to have a proper education, but is it really necessary to have the royal teacher teach a child who is just going to serve all his life. Goodness me, I know that King Engelbert married a peasant woman, but he was third in line…is he so much of a romantic that he is truly entertaining the idea of his only daughter, his only heir to the throne, marrying a SERVANT? 

She glared at the notebook. And he’s going to be learning with the royal family’s teacher. 

A thought bubbled to the surface from the depths of her body and into her head: “You don’t need an education. You’re just a servant.” 

***

Young Bedelia, 14-years-old, was in charge of cleaning the royal library that day. She carefully dusted each and every book on the shelves, plus washed each and every bookcase in the whole room. She celaned th efloors, the desks, the lamps – literally everything – until there was nothing left. The room seemed to be shining and new again thanks to her thorough cleaning. Her chest welled up in pride, but she just as quickly stuffed it back down. This is just my job, I have nothing to be proud about

Bedelia turned to the very first bookshelf in the room – the one staring right at you when you walk through the door – and pulled off the top most book. She laid it on a desk and flipped through each page carefully one-by-one, remove little bits of dusty and crumbs and unfolding pages that were bent dog-eared. Her fingers brushed over every paragraph on the page. She could feel the slightly raised print of every paragraph on the page tickling her fingertips. She smiled at the pleasant sensation, but her shoulders revealed another emotion: sadness. I wonder what this all says…

Click

Bedelia jumped looking over her shoulder, seeing Princess Johanne struting into the library. Bedelia quickly stood up straight and curtsied. “Good day, Princess Johanne.” 

Princess Johanne returned an obligated smile. “Good afternoon.” 

“Is there anything I can help you with?” 

“Yes, I am looking for ––” Princess Johanne started, just before walking over to the book Bedelia was in the midst of cleaning out. She lifted it up and looked at the cover. “Oh, yes! This is exactly what I was looking for.” 

“I was in the middle of cleaning out the book,” stated Bedelia. watching Princess Johanne flip through it. 

“’tis fine – I am just here to look up a paragraph for study.” 

Bedelia watched Princess Johanne sit down in the chair at the study desk, going to the beginning of books to a list of spaced out words and numbers. Princess Johanne then flipped to the back of the book and started going through numerous pages of smaller font with words and numbers mixed together. 

“What are those?” asked Bedelia. 

Princess Johanne jerked her head, then laughed. “You don’t need to know.” 

Bedelia’s stomach tensed up. She immeditately hung her head. “I apologize for my rudeness. My curiousity got the better of me.” 

“You are fine,” replied Princess Johanne, flipping the book to another page. “I won’t tell my father.” She then rolled her eyes. “His punishments are too severe anyway. I’m waiting for Willibald to ascend the throne.” 

Bedelia curled her lips inward, looking at the book with curiousity. She inched in slightly closer to Princess Johanne. “If it is okay with you, may I asked what the words say?” 

Princess Johanne laughed again. “You are a curious one, aren’t you? What is your name again?” 

“B-Bedelia.” 

“Bedelia, I appreciate your curiousity, but it’s not welcome here.” 

Bedelia cast her gaze downward. “I apologize, I was out of line.” 

“As I keep saying, you are fine. You are keeping me entertained.” Princess Johanne pulled out a notebook and began to copy down some notes. “The homework this time around is rather dull and I would rather not do it, but you know – politics!” 

Bedelia nodded. She watched Princess Johanne pull over an ink bottle and a pen and she began to write. Bedelia’s heart fluttered at the beautiful calligraphy that was being painted onto the pages of the notebook the Princess was using. A quiet, but audible gasp escaped her mouth.

“Is there something wrong?” inquired Princess Johanne.

“No, your highness,” replied Bedelia. “It’s just that your handwriting is most beautiful.” 

“Did you never learn how to write?” 

“No, your highness. Never. I never learned how to read either.” Bedelia frowned. “I would love to learn though, if given the chance.” 

The next giggled from the Princess cut into Bedelia’s skin unlike the previous ones before. Her stomach nodded. Princess Johanne replaced the pen into the ink jar for a brief moment and turned to Bedelia. “You don’t need an educationt,” she said. “You’re just a servant.” 

Bedelia felt as if King Siegbert slapped her again like the first day she had arrived. Her hands jerked to touch her face, but she held them back – she wasn’t actually slapped, not physically, at least. 

The Princess turned back to her notebook to write. “I, on the other hand, have a duty to become educated – must be perfect, you know? Whether to prevent my future husband from embarassment or ascend the throne if none of my siblings before me bear heirs before they pass.” She began to skritch in her notebook.

Bedelia’s eyes glossed over. “Do you need anything, Princess Johanne?” 

“Just for you to clean up the crumbs.” 

Bedelia nodded her head. “Yes, right away” and began cleaning. 

*** 

Bedelia’s face was stained with tears. If anyone heard her, they were certainly being quiet about it. Her heart – no, her whole chest – felt like it was in pieces. Her shoulders jerked and she sniffled, muffling her sounds with her pillow. I want to learn…why can’t I have an education as a servant? Is the only reason I exist is to work and do nothing else? 

She slightly moved the pillow to glance over at her mother, a woman she hadn’t talked to for almost as long as she had been in the castle. Is it such a terrible thing that I desire more than this? she asked herself. 

Unable to sleep and wanting to cry even louder, she got up from her bed and through on her day clothes. She placed her coin pouch into her belt and wiped her tears with her sleeves. She made her way quietly out of the room and down the corridors, out to one of the many doors to the castle yards.

She walked out into the partially moonlit night and walked down the long cobble walkway towards the gates. She waved to one of the guards who waved back at her and within a few minutes, the gate had opened and she walked out beyond it. 

She ventured past the lantern-illuminated, treelined streets leading to the castle and went down into the village. It was relatively quiet, but she could hear the faint sounds of insturments being played from one of the many pubs in the village.

She took in the damp air and spread out her arms. Maybe I can just run away, she thought. She saw herself in her mind, leaving Astral Isles and going across the water, into another land. Something, however, kept her wanting to turn back to the castle. I…I don’t know much else, do I? 

She stopped in front of an illuminated pub and collapsed on one of the benches, hiding her eyes that were filling with tears once again. “What am I doing?” she whispered. I can’t run away…what if he kills mother? Bedelia paused for a moment. Is that woman even ‘mother’ anymore? 

“Hey, girlie, why you so sad?” 

Bedelia looked up, seeing a middle-aged man – clearly drunk – looking down at her. He was squinting his eyes at her. Who…? Bedelia squinted back at him, notiicng his face.

“Ah! I know you!” said the man. He sat down on the bench next to her. “You’re that, uh, girl, Bedelia!” 

Bedelia froze and backed slightly away from the strench of alcohol. “Y-yes?” 

The man snapped his fingers. “You’re one of the servants in the castle! I’m one of the gardners!” 

Bedelia breathed a sigh of relief. 

“Whatcha doin’ out here?” asked the man. 

Bedelia shurgged. “Nothing…” 

“Doesn’t look like nothing!” 

“Bernard!” came a voice. Bedelia and the man looked up and over, seeing a thinner, younger man peering out from the pub. The young man had a scowl on his face. Bedelia turned to see Bernard giving him a loving, but goofy smile

Bernard, the middle-aged gardner, waved and began to point at Bedelia. “Hey, hey, Henry! Look! It’s Bedelia.” 

Henry looked surprised. Bedelia watched him hop over the pub steps and peer into her face. “Well, look at that, it is!” 

Bedelia could feel her face starting to blush. Why do they both know my name? 

Henry frown. “Are you alright? You look like you’ve been crying.” He then galred over at Bernard. “What did he do to you?!”

Bedelia waved her hand. “H-he didn’t do anything. he was just asking why I was so sad.” 

Henry sat down beside Bedelia on the other side. Bedelia leaned slightly closer to Henry, who seemed to be free from the stench of alcohol. “What happened tonight?” 

“Huh?” 

“I sometimes see you wandering around here, but not usually crying. Did something happen while you were exploring?” 

Bedelia shook her head. 

“Then what?” 

Bedelia kept her mouth shut. I really don’t want to tell anyone. 

“If someone hurt you, I’ll beat ’em up!” announced Bernard. He stood up quickly, nearly falling over. He swung his fist forward and began to punch the air repeatedly. “I’ll beat ’em up! Makin’ anyone cry for no good reason….”

Bedelia looked between Henry and Bernard. Henry was rolling his eyes. “Ignore him. Unless you want him to get beat up.” 

Bedelia giggled.

“There’s a smile!” Henry pointed out. 

Bedelia nodded and sat back. The brokenness she was feeling seemed to slowly float away, but she was definitely still left with such heaviness that was almost comparable to the time she got Baadur killed simply because he hired her and her mother, 

“So, what would the Great Bedelia like to drink tonight?” 

Bedelia tilted her head, looking at Henry. Not alcohol. 

“Non-alcoholic, of course,” he replied. 

Bedelia pasued for a moment. Wait…“did you just call me ‘great Bedelia’?” 

“Yeah!” 

Bedelia looked at him confused.

Henry light punched her arm. “Oh, come on, like you don’t know your nickname.” 

Bedelia slowly shook her head. I have a nickname? 

“The Great Bedelia, Cleaner Extradoniare! The most resilient servant of them all!” 

Bedelia gawked. “I…I am…what?” 

Henry nodded and folded his arms. “You win for the most abused servant who comes back stronger than ever. Even your abusers are impressed. You should just hear the Head Servant!” Henry held out his hand into the air in front of his face and began to flick it open and close with every word he spoke. “‘Bedelia – that girl just keeps getting better and better and brighter and brighter.'” 

“From what I hear, you’re the most resilent, he’s ever witnessed over the past few decades.”

Bedelia blushed. “There’s no way…” 

“You’re really well known.” 

“But Princess Johanne didn’t even know my name.” 

Henry raised an eyebrow. “Oooh, you got to talk to the elusive Princess Johanne?” 

“Yes, she came into the library while I was cleaning.” 

Bedelia could feel her face heating up more, with Henry’s eyes boring into them. She felt herself to shiver in embarassment. “W-what?” 

“Did…the Princess say something to you?” 

All of a sudden, tears burst forth from her eyes once more. No, no! Don’t cry now! Her shoulders trembled and her voice crackled with wailing. She clasped her skirt tightly between her fingers to try and negate the pain that was coming up.

“HENRY! WHAT DID YOU DO?! I’m gonna beat you ––” 

“Bernard, no, wait! I think it was Princess Johanne!” 

“Princess Johanne?” Bernard looked down at his balled fist. He frowned. “I can’t hit the princess. I don’t wanna get killed.” He began to sulk. 

Henry placed his hands on Bedelia’s shoulders. Bedelia covered her face with her hands. “What did she say to you?” 

Bedelia bit her lip and shook her head. “I-I c-can’t say it. I-I can’t!” 

“Was it a secret?” 

“N-no.” 

Bedelia pulled her hands over her face, dragging her tears along with them. She looked into Henry’s calm brown eyes and took in a deep breath. She then exhaled. She took in one more breath and said: “She told me I don’t need an education because I’m a servant.” 

Bernard and Henry went silent. Bedelia casted her gaze down towards the cobblestone and looked away in shame. 

*** 

Bedelia pulled a cloth from her skirt, removed her glasses, and wiped the tears that had started raining down her face. “I…I had forgotten about that.” She picked up the teal-colored notebook from beside her and lifted it up, looking at her own scribbles of writing. 

Henry ended up finding me a tutor that I could meet at night who taught me to read and write and I took advantage of the castle’s library to educate myself in other subjects. She closed the notebook and stood back up, softly smiling to herself. In the end, the education I received lead me to be where I am right now – the Head Servant. She looked forward to her oak desk, covered in papers. 

She walked over to it, carefully touching the desk with the tips of her fingers. She chuckled to herself. “How could I forget my own rebellion helped me get to where I am today?” She placed the notebook onto the desk.

“Perhaps the best thing for Brent would be the education…who knows, perhaps he could be the next head servant?” 

Although a smile was on her face, her heart ached even at that thought. Her stomach twisted. When she looked over into the dark corner of the room, she could see herself as a child once more, staring at her with cold eyes. 

She flicked her wrist as if she was flicking off water. 

What is with me? Feeling jealous a child? I’m beyond that, am I not? 

***

Bedelia carefully checked over the work of the servant walking two feet behind her. She dragged her finger periodically against each nook and cranny. She looked down at it and rubbed it on her thumb. Good, she thought. She turned the corner and checked the parameter of the wall. Her eyes looked up and over the window frame. 

Did they get it up here? Bedelia turned to the younger person behind her. She jestered at the step stool sitting folded beside the door. “Please.” 

The servant nodded. “Right away. Ms. Bedelia!” 

Bedelia folded her hands and watched the servant awkwardly scurry over the wooden step stool, bringing it over besides the window. The servant unfolded it and locked all of its pieces into place. Bedelia nodded at the servant in thanks. 

She slightly lifted up her skirt, just above her ankles, and stepped up onto the step stool. She very carefully traced the top of the window frame. She drew back her finger, feeling it just a smidge drier than it should be. Bedelia cracked a smile. She glanced over her shoulder at the servant, who stood rigidly in place. “Lilac?”

“Y-yes, Ms. Bedelia?” 

“You were almost perfect.” Bedelia looked at her fingers, seeing specks of dust. “I am aware of how difficult it is to get to these spots. May I ask what tools you used to clean this window?” 

“Y-yes, r-right away!” 

Bedelia nodded. She watched Lilac step out of the room. She turned back to the window frame and continued to trace down it. It really is almost perfect. Was this carelessness or improper use of equipment? 

Bedelia stepped down from the stool. She bent at her knees and folded the stool back up. She grabbed it with both her hands and stood straight back up. 

And then her eyes locked to two giggling figures playing away in the garden, holding hands. 

The sight was like a large knife being dragged quickly down her chest. Her muscles tightened and her eyes narrowed.

“I-I g-got the supplies, M-Ms. Bedelia.” 

Bedelia shoved the stool into Lilac’s chest, who could barely grasp it with their arms. She didn’t even look at Lilac – her eyes were too occupied at the giggling children outside the window. “Stay here and do not move – I will be back within 20 minutes.” 

She barely heard Lilac respond “okay” as she rushed from the room and down the corridors. 

She made her way down flights of stairs. She could vaguely hear people’s voices directed at her, but she didn’t hear a word they said – it didn’t matter. There was a far more pressing matter to attend to! 

She finally hit the ground floor and cut through the kitchen, shoving each and every person occupying the space out of the way. She left through the side door and followed the long, outdoor patio hallway into the central courtyard where the largest garden in the whole castle was located. 

She trudged past the vibrant green bushes and the fruity colored flowers towards the giggles and delighted chatter. She turned the corner and walked into a wider clearing in the middle of the garden, where she saw Lillian sitting straight up in a chair, carefully observing Brent and Princess Angelica, who were sitting down next to each other, holding hands and sharing tea. 

“Lillian!” snapped Bedelia. 

Lillian immeditately stood up and she curtesied. “Good day, Head Servant Bedelia.” 

Bedelia’s eyes locked into Lillian’s. Inside of Lillian’s deep purple eyes seemed to be a layer of nervousness combined with the unnatural elegance Bedelia still could not lay her finger on. Bedelia glanced over at the children, who were staring at the both of them. 

Bedelia could feel her rage expand and just as quickly lose all momentum. She glanced over her shoulder and gestured to Lillian. “Come around the corner – I must talk to you at once.” 

Lillian nodded. Bedelia walked around the corner, feeling Lillian closesly behind. 

Just around the corner and out of sight of the children, but still at an angle where Bedelia and Lillian could watch them themselves, Rage returned to her body once more. She briefly wondered if her face was red with the amount of heat it was producing. “I thought I told you not to let Brent get too close to the Princess!” 

Lillian flinched. “Yes.” 

“Then what. is. THIS,” hissed Bedelia. They are FAR too close. “They are holding hands. They are leaning in on each other. They are GIGGLING! What part of this do you think is acceptable?!” 

Bedelia watched Lillian lower her head slightly, however, she could see the rest of her body remained perfectly calm. Bedelia put her hands on her hips. “Do you think this is a joke? This behavior is completely unacceptable! They are meant to be playing, as in a form of exercise, not having a date!” 

Bedelia watched a flame flicker in Lillian’s eyes. Bedelia leered. 

Lillian lifted her head and raised her hand. 

“What?” spat Bedelia. “What is it?” 

Lillian flinched once more. 

“I had been following your orders exactly as you had requested them. However…” 

Bedelia’s stomach dropped.

“…the King and Queen ordered that I allow the children to do as they please, including holding hands and leaning on each other.” 

Bedelia’s face completely drained of color. 

“The only thing they requested is that they do not kiss or consumate.” 

***

Bedelia burst into the King and Queen’s study, her face changing from almost green to a bright red. Her jaw was clenched and se couldn’t help but sared intensely at the king and queen, who had looked at the door suddenly, clearly startled. Bedelia watched King Engelbert stand up from his chair, facing her with a sternness that reminded her of his grandfather, King Siegbert. Something akin to an electric jolt ran its way down the left side of her back, snaking its way down just short of her leg. 

Bedelia was brought back to the reality of her own actions. She curtsied. “I apologize, your highness for my rudeness, but I really must discuss this issue with the both of you! You surely will agree that it is most urgent!” 

“What may it be, Bedelia?” asked King Engelbert. 

Bedelia watched the king’s face relax. All traces of King Siegbert were instantly wiped away. Her shoulders dropped. I am not talking to King Siegbert. 

Bedelia lightly held her hands together. She lifted her sternum and her chin, looking at the king with her own brand of sternness. “I was doing my cleaning checks when I witnessed Princess Angelica and that servant boy playing in the garden in a way most unacceptable! They were loud and giggling.” 

Bedelia paused for a moment as a chuckle came from the King and Queen themselves. King Engelbert and Queen Pleasance both smiled. King Engelbert extended out his hand. “Bedelia, they are children. It is expected that they are loud and that their playing will produce giggles full of joy.” 

Bedelia’s lips pursed a bit more. “They were holding hands!” 

Queen Pleasance placed her cheek on her hand. “We are both aware they do that,” she sighed. Bedelia could feel a pinch in her upper gut. 

Did she romantically sigh? Goodness, goodness me…

“And they were leaning against each other,” stated Bedelia. 

The King and Queen exchanged glances. King Engelbert took a step forward, entering into Bedelia’s space. “Bedelia, I appreciate your concern,” he said. “However, we have already informed Lillian that these behaviors were perfectly acceptable. It was a decision that Queen Pleasance and I have made jointly for the continued well-being of our only daughter and for the only young child in the castle.” 

Bedelia lowered her head, keeping her eyes locked onto King Engelbert’s. “I am aware that you are both supportive of the development of their relationship. I am highly concerned about the servant boy’s behavior towards the princess – it may seem innocent and harmless right now, but what about when they are older? What about when the Princess reaches the age of marriage? They are servant and master – not friends! If the boy does not know his boundaries now, how will he know them later? How will the princess be able to separate herself from him when the time comes when she needs to do that?” 

Queen Pleasance appeared out from behind King Engelbert, wrapping her arm around his. “Bedelia, thank you so much for your ongoing concern – however, the behavior is quite alright by us.” 

King Engelbert placed his hand over Queen Pleasance’s hand. Bedelia looked at the warm, loving exchanges in their eyes. Her heart, on the other hand, felt like it was being crushed under a bolder. “We have no intention of separating them, even as they age.” 

Bedelia shifted her hands to clasp them tightly together. If her fingernails had been long enough, she would have dug them into her skin. 

King Engelbert softly smiled at Bedelia. “Once again, thank you very much for your concern. However, this is perfectly acceptable behavior. They are not allowed to kiss nor consumate – everything else is fine.” 

Bedelia’s eyes widened and glazed over.

“You may return back to your duties.” 

Bedelia took in a deep breath and gave him a nod. She curtsied. “Yes, right away, your highness.” 

She turned around and walked out the large doors, shutting them behind her with both hands. 

Her throat seemed to ball up in her neck. ‘Acceptable’? What about their actions are ACCEPTABLE! I am so very frightened that the boy will cross boundaries in ways that are irreiverable! 

She let her arms fall to her sides, off from the door handles. Her bottom lip quivered. I do not understand why they let them be so close – yes, they are children and I am aware the kingdom’s outlooks have changed, However, has it really changed so much so that a servant and a princess can be friends? That they can fall in love without any serious repercussions? 

She closed her eyes and took in a deep breath through her nose. No… she thought. The King and Queen are simply far too soft, far too lenient. Is it because King Engelbert married purely out of love, rather than duty? Or is it simply because they have only succeeded with bringing a single child into this world? 

She exhaled, bringing her hand to her heart. Water slowly dripped from her eyes and glided down her cheek and dripped onto the floor in spots you could barely see. Lady Johanne…

*** 

Bedelia excitedly made her way to library once more for clean up duty. Hanging over her shoulder was the bag of cleaning supplies and behind her was the trash cart, which she dragged quickly down the hallway. She slipped into the library when dawn was barely peeking through the top-most windows of the room. She lit the gaslights next to the entrance way and pulled the trash cart further inside, placing it beside a desk. 

She made her way around the library, turning on each and every gaslight there was that wasn’t hooked up to the few study desks that had them (most of them had candles instead). She soon returned back to the trash cart and clapped her hands together. A large grin spread across her face and her eyes lit up brighter than any of the gaslights flickering away. No one should come in this early. 

She whipped out her duster as if it was a sword and got to work, carefully, but quickly working her way around the room. Her eyes honed in on each speck of dust they could spot and each rub she did, the more vibrant the bookshelves and the books themselves seemed to come. She read each and every one of the spines at a glance – her heart swelled with pride. It may have taken her almost two years, but she could read. 

She could read with ease. 

And she could read complicated things. And understand them. 

She whipped out an even smaller duster and scrubbed in between everything and the normally hard-to-reach corners. She blinked hard with delight, fully smiling at the tiny duster. Who would have thought a book would have directions for such a wonderful tool? She kept going down the shelves, all the way to the floor. 

The room was soon flooded with sunlight from the dawn and just as fast, Bedelia had finished with the dusting. She grabbed went to grab the broom and dustpan from the trash cart, only to hear the sounds of ever-elegant footsteps step through the doorway. She turned her head, her face lighting up. 

She curtesied. “Good morning, Princess Johanne.” 

Princess Johanne seemed to light up just as much as Bedelia. “Good morning, Bedelia.” 

“I apologize for the —” 

Princess Johanne lifted her hand up. “No need. I catch you more often than not cleaning – you do not need to apologize.” 

Bedelia bowed her head. “Yes.” 

Bedelia watched Princess Johanne place her hand underneath her chin. The fingers slightly bent except for the index finger, her limp wrist, the way her right elbow rest ontop of her left hand, and even the crossing of her legs…there was a certain alluring air Bedelia struggled to put into adequate wording. Her mouth couldn’t produce anything more than a quite exhale as she stood mesmerised by the Princess. 

“I’m here for just another book today – do you suppose you can help me get it down?” 

“Absolutely. Will I be needing the ladder?” asked Bedelia, beginning to walk over to the book ladder hanging off the wall. 

“Mmhmm!” 

Bedelia grabbed the ladder with a bit of a skip in her step. “What book?” she asked. 

Archedukes of the Valley. Some stuff old book we must read, as always. It’s on the top shelf, near…” 

Archedukes of the Valley by Simon Cheshire! Oh goodness me, that was such an interesting read! Who would have known how many archdukes from beyond the isles influenced Astral Isles so much? Bedelia laid the ladder against a bookshelf nearby a large oak desk where the royal teacher would often lecture in front of. She climbed up it and after a brief scan of her eyes, she picked up the book. 

Bedelia turned to Princess Johanne with a large smile. “Archdukes of the Valley: the Outside Influences that Shaped Astral Isles by Simon Cheshire!” 

Then she froze. 

The princess was staring at her funny. Bedelia maintained the smile on her face, even though her heart began to beat so hard, she felt like it was about to hurt her. Did I do…something wrong? 

“…I thought you couldn’t read?” 

Bedelia’s eyebrows raised and her smile disappeared. Her eyes shifted around nervously. Her body tensed up. Oh no. I didn’t when she spoke to me the first time….

Bedelia slowly climbed down from the ladder with the book underneath her arm. She hung her head. How I wish I had bangs to hide my embarassment…please, please, do not get me in trouble…

Bedelia extended the book out with both arms to the princess. She bowed her head. “Here you are, Princess Joanne – the book you requested.” 

Bedelia stood there, bowing her head, her arms extended with this heavy book in front of her and waited. And waited. And waited. Even though she waited, nothing seemed to move. Her arms were istarting to get sore in that position! I must have done something wrong…. “Please forgive me, your highness.” 

Bedelia felt the book and her arms being pushed back into her chest. A pair of cool hands with long nails meticilliously manicured and painted grabbed her cheeks. Bedelia hugged the book to her chest as she shivered, her eyes meeting Princess Johanne’s. She doesn’t look mad. She felt the tips of Princess Johanne’s long, pointed fingernails brush against her bottom lip. To Bedelia, Johanne’s eyes looked like a gemstone polished by the Gods. 

“Bedelia, dear, you didn’t do anything wrong,” assured Princess Johanne. Her eyes lowered into a curious leer. “Now tell me…” she said in a breathy whisper. “are you able to read?” 

Bedelia blushed. Her head wanted to turn to tear her gaze away from Princess Johanne’s eyes – but she could not with the princess’s hands caressing her face. “Y-yes, your highness.” 

Princess Johanne’s hands moved from Bedelia’s face and onto the dark green, fabric-covered book with gold lettering. Bedelia could hear the sounds of the princess’s nails lightly clacking against the book. Soon. she felt the weight lift off her arms and chest and finally noticed her mouth was gapping. The princess’s smile seemed to be on the verge of a giggle. 

“How did you learn?” inquired Princess Johanne. 

Bedelia flinched briefly before standing up straight. “I had lessons after work was over for the day.” 

“‘Had’? You are no longer taking them?” 

Bedelia shook her head. “No, your highness.” 

Bedelia watched Princess Johanne look down at the book and run her fingers over the cover. “Have you read this before?” 

Bedelia hung her head. “…yes.” 

There was a brief moment of silence before Princess Johanne’s voice cut through: “Good! You can help me with my studies in the future then.” 

Bedelia cocked her head. “Huh?” 

Princess Johanne stepped into Bedelia’s space once more, looking at her in the eye. Bedelia took half a step back. 

‘You know,” said Princess Johanne. “I never thought a servant needed to read.” 

Bedelia’s stomach flipped.

“But just knowing you have read something like this —” Princess Johanne held up the book just below her chin. “— I am starting to believe I am wrong about that.” 

Wrong? Bedelia placed a hand over her heart. There is no way Princess Johanne could be wrong…

Princess Johanne turned around. Bedelia watched the shifting of the princess’s long hair as her head lifted. “Oh yes…thank you for grabbing the book.” 

Bedelia’s lips cracked a small smile. 

Princess Johanne looked over her shoulder. “It’s almost a shame you are cleaning at the moment. I would have had you help me otherwise.” 

Bedelia gasped and looked at the bag still hanging across her body, then over to the trash cart with the broom and dustpan. 

*** 

Bedelia found herself summoned later that night by the Head Servant that night. Her body trembled and her breaths were short. It’s not time for schedule changes yet, is it? Her eyes whirled around. She pressed her palms against her forehead and threw her head back, feeling the sticky sweat the covered it. Her throat seemed to be swelling with each step she took.

She turned the corridor and walked straight to the end of the hall. There stood two fairly large doors in a dark wood. She grasped the handles and pulled them open, hoping her own nervousness wasn’t going to tear them off the door itself. (Even if that was probably impossible for her.) 

Bedelia entered into the room as quietly as her body could muster and shut the door behind her. Her eyes glanced up at the man standing in front of the fireplace, only for her to lower them back to the ground a second later. 

The man turned to her. “Ah, Bedelia. As expected, you’ve finished your duties in a timely manner.” 

Bedelia curtesied. “Y-yes, Head Servant Roldan. Y-you r-requested me?” Be still, my trembling voice! 

Roldan turned away from the fireplace and walked over to his desk. He lifted up a piece of paper and tapped it with the back of his hand. “It seems you’ve earned favour with the elusive Princess.” 

…Princess Johanne? 

Bedelia folded her hands and stood up straight. I’m not in trouble? 

Roldan laughed. “I’m not going to hit you this time. You haven’t done anything wrong.” 

Bedelia fllinched as soon as her ears heard “hit” leave Roldan’s mouth. Her stomach tightened and the places where her bruises had long since disappeared heated up. Her heart went to scream, but her lips kept it sealed. Instead, Bedelia simply nodded her head into the silence. 

Roldan walked up to Bedelia and handed her the letter. Bedelia face scrunched, unsure what she was looking at. Her eyes gave a quick glance over the letter. Head Servant Roldan….Bedelia has been pleasant to interact with…smart servant…request to serve me exclusively….Princess Johanne of Astral Isles…

Bedelia’s head slightly cocked. Her eyes re-read the words: ‘request to serve me exclusively’.

Request…to…serve her…exclusively? Bedelia’s eyes slowly began to widen and her head straightened. Bedelia opened her mouth to speak, but the words became stuck in her throat. All she could do is blush and look up at Roldan. 

Roldan nodded his head up. “She’s requesting you to serve her and her alone.” 

The firewood cackled with delight behind him just like Bedelia’s heart. She couldn’t help but place her hand upon it in a futile attempt to quiet it down. She wants me to serve her…just me? She could feel her cheeks turn hotter than the fireplace behind Roldan. Can I do that? 

Bedelia raised her hand. 

“Yes?” 

“D-don’t I have to be approved by King Siegbert, i-if I am to serve a member of the r-royal family ex-exclusively?” 

“That is correct.” 

Bedelia’s heart sunk. 

“But you have already been approved.” 

Bedelia gasped, covering her mouth as the air left it. Her eyes began to well up with tears. Don’t cry….don’t cry…you don’t want to get hit…

“You are to finish your duties for the week. Starting the first day next week, you now exclusively serve Princess Johanne. Galiena will explain your new duties to you.” 

Bedelia. nodded enhustatically. “Yes! Yes! I will serve Princess Johanne until she needs me no more.” She held the letter out to Roldan, who took it back from her. He folded up neatly and placed it back on the desk. 

“Serving the Princess, eh? You’ve come along way, Bedelia.” 

***

Bedelia had been serving Princess Johanne for quite a few months by then. She stood behind the princess, carefully combing her hair to keep her curls intact. There was something pleasant buzzing around in the atmosphere and Bedelia couldn’t help but lift her sternum full of delight. She loved feeling the princess’s hair – it was thin and silky, but she had a lot of it. It was almost like the highest of high quality doll hair. Heck, Princess Johanne herself looked almost like a doll of an adult in a lot of ways. 

Bedelia peered out from beside Princess Johanne’s head, watching the princess’s calm gaze shift over to the small prayer book on the corner of the vanity. Princess Johanne’s long, slender fingers reached over and pulled the book towards her. Bedelia moved her own gaze back to Princess Johanne’s hair. 

“Have you read this before?” inquired Princess Johanne. She lifted the book over her head and into Bedelia’s view. 

“Princess Johanne, please don’t move!” 

Princess Johanne’s hair pulled out from the comb that had been pampering it and over her shoulder. Bedelia and Princess Johanne’s eyes met. Johanne’s eyes seemed to glisten with mischevious intent to Bedelia. And that playful grin that arose across the princess’s face reinforced it. 

“Do you really like my hair that much?” asked Princess Johanne.

Bedelia blushed. “Yes, your highness. It is beautiful.” 

Bedelia’s eyes followed Princess Johanne’s right hand reach out to her own hair. Bedelia’s cinnamon brown locks were slowly being stroked between Princess Johanne’s fingers. The princess twirled Bedelia’s slightly thicker strands and slightly drier locks. Princess Johanne brought Bedelia’s lock of hair up to her mouth. “I think yours is quite beautiful too.” 

Bedelia’s face heated up. She hugged the curl comb to her chest and stared at Princess Johanne. 

KNOCK KNOCK click 

Bedelia’s attentioned turned to the door. It was then she realized that she had been holding her breath the entire time Princess Johanne had been touching her hair….no…even before that. When they had caught each other’s eyes. She bowed in the presence of the woman a few years older than Princess Johanne. “Good morning, Lady Clotilda.” 

Bedelia flinched under the gaze of Lady Clotilda’s leer. 

“Good morning, my dear sister,” said Princess Johanne. Bedelia glanced over her shoulder, seeing all traces of playfulness removed from the princess’s face. In its place was pure unamusement. 

“What do you think you’re doing?” asked Lady Clotilda. 

All sense of safety began to drain out from Bedelia. Her gaze lowered to the floor. I don’t want to be hit…I was just doing her hair…

“Discuss hair with my personal servant.” 

Just discussing?” 

“…yes. What else would we be doing?” 

“If it was just discussing hair, why are you holding your servant’s?” Lady Clotilda pointed at the lock of Bedelia’s hair still held between Princess Johanne’s fingers. 

“Can I not enjoy the hair of someone else’s?” 

Bedelia could feel the lock of her hair that was still being held move again. She didn’t dare look behind her. 

“She’s a servant, Johanne.” 

“Does that matter?” 

Lady Clotilda clicked her tongue. “I’m telling father what you are doing.” 

Bedelia managed to stifle her own gasps as Lady Clotilda went to close the door and Princess Johanne sprung forth to stop her. She watched Princess Johanne grab Lady Clotilda’s wrist and yank her back. 

“Don’t. You. Dare.” 

Lady Clotilda yanked her wrist away. She rubbed it, glaring at Princess Johanne. “…just remember she’s a servant and you are her master. You are not friends. Understand your place and her’s and I won’t say a word. Do not let me catch you again.” 

Lady Clotilda disappeared down the hallway and Princess Johanne slammed the door behind her and locked it shut. Bedelia jumped at the sudden noise. 

Princess Johanne’s hands grabbed Bedelia’s cheeks and she placed her forehead on Bedelia’s. “She’s right, you know…” 

Bedelia’s body began to tremble, feeling the warmth of tears streaming out of Princess Johanne’s eyes and down both of their cheeks. She took in a deep, shaky breath, listening to the rest of Princess Johanne’s words. “…you and I are just servant and master…” 

Bedelia couldn’t tell whose tears were who and who was actually shaking. Nor could she understand why it felt like someone just shattered her heart. 

In between the quiet sobs of the two young woman, Princess Johanne whispered, “I am going to protect you.”. 

Bedelia gently squeezed the princess’s hands without even considering their position. 

*** 

Bedelia was halfway down the hallway, far away enough from the king and queen’s study, to sob and pull out her hankerchef. She wiped her tears away and promptly began to shoved back down everything she had feeling surfacing. Why I must I remember such a thing now? 

She sniffled. And how did I forget it? 

Her hand rested over the slightest bump in her multi-layered shirt. She could just about feel the shape of the pendant that laid layers underneath. Lady Johanne… 

Bedelia placed her hands together and silently recited an old prayer from the book Lady Johanne had once asked her if she had read. She hadn’t at the time, but ended up reading it shortly.

*** 

=== NOTE TO SELF: This might be a part 2 section….but I’ll write it in here just for now ===

  • Bedelia hears a scream. She chooses to ignore it, but is promptly grabbed by one of the other servants, saying Lillian is dead. She goes to the scene and after trying to dismiss the King & Queen, is shocked at their decision to continue letting Brent stay at the castle and continue as normal. Bedelia is told to assign him caretakers; 

Bedelia was carefully combing over the paperwork of requests and events when a bloodcurling scream echoed throughout the castle. She cringed just as the screams faded back into the distance. She exhaled, as if that was going to stop her beating heart. What was that? She stood up for a brief moment, staring at her door, but quickly sat down again. 

if it is something important, someone will inform me. She took in a few deep breaths in an attempt to calm her nerves. Soon enough, she was back skimming through the requests loaded up on her desk. She meticliously copied each request – clear, concise, and all the important details listed – to a notebook for further review. 

KNOCK KNOCK 

Bedelia found herself holding her breath as she stood up from her desk. “Come in,” she called. 

A middle-aged servant, several years younger than Bedelia, stumbled into the room, completely pale. Bedelia looked at him, feeling her heartbeat speed up again. She took a deep breath. “Jaan, what is it?” 

“Lillian is dead.” 

If Jaan wasn’t on the other side of the room, Bedelia honestly would have thought he had slapped her with a bag of bricks. She hadn’t even noticed she had stumbled backwards from the shock of the sudden news, lightly bumping against her desk. She grasped onto the edges for support – otherwise, she was pretty sure her legs would have given out. 

Bedelia glanced up at Jaan, seeing the man tremble in his boots. A strange calmness washed over Bedelia and she stood up straight. She bowed her head. “Thank you for informing me. Who else is there on the scene?” 

“Aubrey and Lamech a-are investigating what h-happened. Mx. Taylor is d-directing everything. Helix i-is m-making s-sure Brent is s-safe.” 

Bedelia paused for a moment. Oh, yes…the boy…something will have to be done about him. 

“Please let the King and Queen know that Lillian has died and they will need to decide what to do with her child in the morning.” 

“Y-yes, Ms. Bedelia!” Jaan saluted Bedelia and walked out of the room. 

She let out an annoyed sigh. It cannot be helped. She walked over to her wall where the premade schedules hung up on the wall. She tore them off and threw them onto her desk. She grabbed a brightly colored piece of paper — different from the others she normally wrote on — and wrote a note to herself: remove Lillian from schedule. 

Her eyes narrowed for a brief moment before writing down another note: remove the boy from the schedule (?). 

She replaced her pen into its holder, pushed in her chair, and walked out the door. 

She walked up the nearby staircase and down a corridor, firmly knocking on a powder blue door close to the end of the hallway on the right hand side. 

She took a step back and waited. 

click 

Bedelia looked up at the woman smiling down at her. “Ah, Ms. Bedelia! Good evening!” 

“Good evening, Dr. Allard.” 

“What brings you here at this time of night?” 

Bedelia pursed her lips. Dr. Allard’s curled. “Ah…the scream. Wowee, that was sure a loud scream…who got hurt?” 

“According to one of my servants,” said Bedelia, folding her hands. “the servant, Lillian, is dead.” 

Dr. Allard gasped. “Elegant Lily?!” 

“Yes.” 

Dr. Allard covered her mouth. She turned away from the door. Bedelia couldn’t see what face she was making, but seeing the doctor’s stance made her pretty certain it was of disbelief. 

“Isn’t…isn’t her son only 13?” 

“I do not know.” 

“Wow…13 years old…only family member known to him…dead!” Dr. Allard gasped and turned back to Bedelia. “How’d she die?” 

Bedelia raised an eyebrow. “I am here to ask you to figure that out.” 

Dr. Allard’s eyes popped. She then awkwardly smiled and scratched the back of her head. “Ah…right…right. I’m the royal physican. For both the servants and the royal family….right…” 

“Let me get some of my equipment and I’ll be right there.” 

Bedelia nodded. “Yes. I will see you there.” 

Dr. Allard waved her hand and disappeared into the examination room. 

Bedelia turned away from the doctor’s room and took a brief look into the air with thought. Who else shall I reach out to before I see the scene for myself? 

TICK TICK TICK TICK 

Bedelia’s head turned to the clock hanging above the office. Goodness, it’s half past 3 in the morning? She pushed up her glasses. There is no more time waste. I must get…

Bedelia felt into her pockets. She patted around, quickly realizing something important to her was missing — my notebook! 

Bedelia rushed off back to her quarters to fetch the notebook, fully well aware that it was just sitting on her desk, wide open, waiting to be written in. 

*** 

Bedelia fixed her postured and took in a deep breath as she entered the proximitiy of Lillian and Brent’s rooms. She could hear the buzzing noises of the castle staff investigating and taking care of Lillian’s only child. 

She also heard 3 voices she hadn’t been expecting, at least, not so soon. 

Staying calm and collected on the outside, frantic and panicking on the inside, Bedelia walked into the room. Standing in front of her, facing the bed where Brent sat was the King and Queen. Bedelia’s stomach flipped, seeing the only Princess to the Kingdom sobbing and holding onto the servant boy, as if they were friends. 

The only thing more horrifying than seeing the princess hugging the boy around her age was seeing the King of Astral Isles gently stroking the boy’s head. With kindness! Bedelia’s stomach knotted up. It didn’t help either the Queen was hugging him as well. 

Bedelia took a deep breath as quietly as she could, stepping within the vacinity of the royals and the boy. She could feel the eyes of the servants around the room on her. She acknowledged their gazes before turning her attention back to the royals and the servant boy. 

“Your highness,” said Bedelia. Anger started surging up the sides of her body, but she managed to mentally shove it back down into the depths of her being. “neither one of you had to be here.” 

King Engelbert, his hand still on Brent’s head,, turned to Bedelia. “Bedelia, this child just lost his mother.” 

Bedelia stuck up her nose. “We simply asked you to decide what to do with him in the morning.” 

Bedelia watched as the Queen let go of Brent and placed a hand on his back. Queen Pleasance and King Engelbert exchanged glances, before King Engelbert removed his hand from Brent’s head. He extended out his arms, giving Bedelia a small smile. “We have already made a decision.” 

Bedelia’s lip quivered as she lowered her nose, peering up from behind her glasses right into the eyes of the King. “Oh?” 

King Engelbert lifted up his arms higher into the air. “Brent shall stay in this castle. He shall continue his studies as is and will be assigned caretakers until he turns 16. From there, his duties as a servant will be increased, although he is free to continue his studies in his open hours.” 

If she wasn’t where she was standing, Bedelia was fairly certain she would have vomitted in that exactly moment – the King, announcing that Brent the Servant Boy was just going to simply continue almost as nothing had happened. She tightly squeezed her folded hands together. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH, she could hear herself scream in her head. Or at least, a younger part of her did. 

Bedelia quickly forced a smile on her face, hiding the agony the best that she could. She had far too much of an audience around her to act the way she was inside. It is like he had done a speech for the people! His own father would never have done this. She lifted up her head a bit and pushed her glasses up the brim of her nose. “Are you sure, your highness?” 

King Engelbert’s leer shot Bedelia right in the center of her being and slashed across her like a sword. Bedelia’s whole body tensed and her mouth gapped open. In the split moment, King Siegbert seemed to be in the room with her, staring her down, threatening to kill her for incomptience. She could feel her 8-year-old self quake. 

“Are you questions me, Bedelia?” snapped King Engelbert. 

Bedelia held up her hands just below her chest. “Ah…I apologize, your highness.” Bedelia quickly bowed forward, creating an almost perfect 90 degree angle. “I spoke out of line.” 

“Please pick the best servants for the job.” 

King Engelbert’s kind smile she was used to seeing had returned to his face, but Bedelia couldn’t help but truly see King Siegbert – his grandfather – behind those eyes. How…how dare I think kindly King Engelbert is King Siegbert. Bedelia, dear, you must be far too exhausted…yes…that must be it. 

Bedelia bit the inside of her lip, nodding to King Engelbert’s request. “Yes, your highness. I shall assign him them in the morning.”  

She glanced over at Brent, who she could feel was staring her down in a way she hadn’t seen in years. It was the same look of disgust the Princesses had given her when she had attempted to speak to them on her first day at the castle. Her heart completely sunk and she couldn’t help but wince a little. 

She gave everyone in the room a small curtesy and began to leave. 

The second she was out the door, her body began to tremble controllably. 

Only shifting her thoughts over to who could watch after the 13-year-old boy stopped the old hurts from surfacing. 

*** 

Bedelia finished scribbling in Brent’s caretakers – Lilac, Jaan, Peter, and Timothy. She let out a huff, folding the last letter and slipping it inside of an off-white envelope. She wet her fingers inside a shallow glass dish of water and sealed the evelope up. She took all four and slapped them on her opposite palm, stood up, and walked over to the servant, standing at the door. 

“Take the letter to the receipient on the envelope,” instructed Bedelia. 

“Yes, right away, Ms. Bedelia.” 

The servant opened the door and got about halfway through it before Bedelia yelped. “Lalana!”

Lalana jumped. “Y-yes, Ms. Bedelia?” 

Bedelia folded her hands. “Please make sure that they come see me tomorrow – many of us need the extra rest.” 

Lalana nodded. “I will deliver the message.” 

“Very well – you may go.” 

Bedelia gently closed the door behind Lalana, locking it quietly. Everything about her demenor appeared calm – from the way she closed the door, to her light footsteps to other side of the room near the window. Her heart was calm, but something deep inside of her was bubbling. 

She sat down on the brown armchair nearby the window, looking out to the fields surrounding the castle. The morning sun was just peeking over the horizon. The sky was still mostly a dark blue with hints of twinkling stars slowly fading into the background of the lighter blue horizon. The clouds in the sky were beginning to be dyed a light orange. Below on the ground, the biolumensent grass of Astral Isles (mostly where it got its name sake, besides from its North Star location) continued to twinkle brighter than the stars above. Bedelia couldn’t hear it, but she could definitely see a soft breeze rolling over the grass. Each time she could see the evidence of the breeze upon the grass, she let out her own gentle sigh – it was just enough to lessen the anger attempting to surface. 

She removed her glasses from her face and rubber her eyes. She let her hips sink into the cushions as she placed her glasses on the table. She sat back and leaned her head on the back of the chair. She let go and her body slouched. 

Do I hire someone new to replace Lillian? It is not time yet…I suppose King Engelbert will inform me if it is needed…

Bedelia’s heart jumped and she lifted up her head. “I need to redo the schedule!” Her attention quickly shifted from the thought of redoing the schedule to her eyes. She rubbed them in an attempt to clear the extra blurriness from her eyes, but to no avail. Ah…I must sleep…must sleep. It’s no good if I cannot even see, let alone think. 

She lifted herself off slowly from the armchair and slipped behind her partition. She quickly slipped into a cozy white nightgown with lace-like embrodiery around the edges. The clothes she had been wearing were neatly drapped on the rack beside her and her skirt over the top of the partition. She smoothed everything out, gave herself an affirming nod of a job well done, and made her way over to her bed. 

She pulled her covers up to her chin. Her eyes started to flutter close the more her head sunk into the pillow. Lillian’s dead and all we have is her son, Brent. 

Her mind went back to King Engelbert, who declared what he and the Queen had decided on for Brent – their decision to keep him there and continue his studies. But why? 

Far too kind…they are far too kind…

“I’m worried about the princess,” she mumbled, dozing off. 

The boy is treated far, far, far too well for a servant. Anger bubbled up as she drifted off into sleep. 

***

Bedelia lifted up the box, raising an eyebrow. “And what might this be?” 

“From my understanding, it’s letters from Brent’s father,” replied Nakisha, one of the servants from the night before. 

“…from your understanding?” Bedelia’s lips pursed. She watched Nakisha every so slightly flinched. 

Nakisha paused for a moment, extending their hand to the box. “I briefly looked over a few of the letters. It’s pretty clear that they are from Brent’s father.”

Bedelia placed the box of neatly opened envelopes onto her desk and pulled out one letter. She randomly picked one from the pile – a light pink envelope on high-quality woven paper with gorgeous calligraphy on the front reading “Lillian”. She flipped ran her thumb over the raised textures and flipped it over, pulling out the letter. The letter inside was also written on high-quality cream-colored paper and ink Bedelia could just tell was of the upt most quality. 

Her eyes narrowed curiously at the quality of the papers and the handwriting. Who IS this man? 

“From what I can gather, his name is Kegan. He has been in contact with Lillian this whole time. Brent is often mentioned, but it looks like it’s in reply to something Lillian had said.” 

Bedelia scanned the letter briefly. Indeed, it was signed by someone named “Kegan” and throughout the whole letter were sprinkles of love and fatherly pride towards Brent, as well as a much deeper love for Lillian. Where…is he from? 

“Did you find anything about his location?”

Nakisha squinted. “Huh?” 

“Where’s Brent’s father?” 

“I saw him mention moving into his villa, as well as something about Magirery?” 

“Magirery…” mumbled Bedelia. Isn’t that…one of the neighboring planets?  “Did any of the letters say where in Magirery?” 

“Not that I saw, but I only looked at a handful of them.” 

Bedelia placed the letter back into the envelope and put it back in the box. I suppose I will have to take a look…it’d be much better to send that boy somewhere far away from the Princess. “Thank you, Nakisha.” 

“My pleasure. Is there anything else?” 

“No, you are dismissed.” 

Nakisha bowed her head and slipped out the door. 

Bedelia took the box and placed into one of her drawers. She then took out her notebook and skritched into “read letters sent to Lillian”. 

What was Lillian doing with a man of such high status? Bedelia paused for a moment, replacing the notebook back into her skirt pocket. I suppose all of Magirery could just write on paper such as that…something so high quality for a peasant or a servant would be proposterious… Bedelia grasped her chin. Unless Magirery does not have a class system? She let out a sigh. I truly do not know much about the other planets out there – it could very well be that way. Or perhaps it’s similar to us…maybe Lillian had been his mistress?

Bedelia’s mind quickly flashed images of Lillian’s gestures and postures, her way of speaking when she was just simply talking and not attempting to cater to those around her. Her eyes slowly opened and a cold, sinking feeling ran down her spine and in her stomach. She…no…no. 

Bedelia cleared her throat. No point in digging deeper into a dead woman. I’ll put someone onto digging deeper…but whom? 

KNOCK KNOCK 

Bedelia glared at the door unintentionally. “Come in.” 

The door opened and in bumbled in a short, stout man with rosy cheeks. “Uh, Ms. Bedelia?” His clothing and body were dusted with dirt and his overalls in particular looked oddly damp. 

“Hello, Gerald.”

“The sprinklers broke.” 

Bedelia slapped her forehead. “Again?!” 

Gerald quietly nodded. 

“I’ll be right there,” said Bedelia. 

Gerald quietly slipped back out the door. As soon as he was gone, she let out a loud groan and went to the door herself. 

**TO BE CONTINUED**

[UNEDITED FIRST DRAFT] Sadia Meets Clyde

PLEASE NOTE: This is a ROUGH DRAFT. It is the VERY FIRST DRAFT OF THE STORY. YOU are the very first person to read it – I haven’t even read it in its entirety yet!

You WILL come across numerous issues including:

  • spelling mistakes;
  • grammar issues;
  • weak sentence structure;
  • repeated words;
  • unnecessary words;
  • missing words;
  • lack of details/descriptions;
  • confusing details/descriptions;

Critiques/criticisms, while appreciated, most likely will be discarded at this stage! Thank you.

Additional Note: Doodles, Sketches, and Artwork may be added over time. These are not the story illustrations! They do feature characters and places within the story, however.


Ding Ding Ding, La la la, teddy bears are everywhere! 

Sadia finished putting the last stitch on her newest teddy bear – a small, bluish-grey coloured one with soft fur and coal grey eyes – just under her neck as her phone went off. The ringtone repeated the same song over and over as she snipped the thread and placed down the bear on the ground in front of her. She lifed herself up and off the giant teddy bear of different shades of bluish-grey, no fur, and just a few inches shorter than she was, and shuffled her way through her ocean of plushies to her phone. 

She lifted up her cellphone and slid her finger up on the screen. She tapped the speaker button and listened.

“Hello?” asked a young woman’s voice. 

“Hiiiii,” replied Sadia. 

“Is this Sadia?” 

“Of course!” Sadia giggled. 

“Great. Professor Shady and Professor Brat wanted me to invite you to the lab to greet the newest do–” 

Sadia let out an excited gasp, prompting the young woman on the other side of the phone to go silent. Her face lit up and she leapt up in glee. “He’s awake?!” 

“Yes,” replied the woman with a slight infliction of annoyance in her voice. 

Sadia yelped. “Does Flavio know?!” 

“…that’s the other thing. He hasn’t replied yet. Are you able to make sure he got the message?” 

“Yes!” replied Sadia. 

“Great, see you soon.” 

BEEP 

Sadia clapped her hands together, her cellphone still in one hand. She jumped up and down a few times, giggling as she did. Her sugary blue pigtails bounced with each motion she took. 

She slid her phone into her pocket hidden in the seam of her dress. She skipped out of her bedroom and into the living room, stopping in front of a three shelves of teddy bears with more colours than the rainbow.

Each bear on the shelf was no more than 6 inches tall. Each one was made from solid colour fabrics, with varying hues, tints, and shades. Each bear sat in a short, square bin the same colour as the bears  that was full of additional items, ranging from candy to tea. Each set was wrapped in cellophane and tied closed at the top with a ribbon matching the colour of the bear. 

Sadia placed her finger on her lip and stood on the tip of her toes. She leaned forward, scanning each teddy. She ended up settling on a pink and bluish-grey bear. 

Sadia walked to her front door, grabbed a small book bag, and slipped the bear inside. The grin on her face grew as she skipped out the door. 

***

Sadia stopped in front of a purple door with a yellow sign reading “FLAVIO” on it. The door pulsed with the musical beats coming from just beyond it. Sadia rocked on her heels, awaiting for a moment of silence in the music. 

Ah, and there it was, the moment of silene. 

Sadia began to furiously knock on the door. 

“Sadia, is that you?!” called a flamboyant young man’s voice from the other side. 

Sadia then burst through the door and into the entrance way of the apartment, which also acted as a living room. “Yep! It’s me!” 

“I didn’t say you could come in.” 

Sadia hopped over to Flavio and stood behind him. 

Flavio stood in front of a DJ’s turn table. His setup was designed to be both analogue and digital, so he could do whatever he wanted. His turn table lit up with neon lights of various colours. 

His living room was lit up my a black light, making everything that could glow in the purple light glow. Whites stood out, the neon paint splatter on the walls really stood out. Additional coloured lighting on the ceiling really transformed Flavio’s living room to a night club’s dancefloor. 

The only furniture he had in the living room was a couch and two side tables and a lamp that sat on the left-side side table. Above his couch were shelves filled mostly with vinyls, although books and CDs were scattered throughout. There also was a single teddy bear drooping at the end of the bottom shelf farthest to the right. 

“Did you get the phone call?” asked Sadia. 

“No, I’ve been practicing all morning,” replied Flavio. He turned around behind him and flicked a switch. The black light turned off and on came the regular lighting. He then reached over to the side table on the right-hand side beside him and lifted up his phone. 

“The other dolly woke up!” announced Sadia, leaning in over Flavio, who was scrolling through his messages. “We should get going before it gets any later.” 

Flavio raised an eyebrow. “It’s not even noon yet.” 

“But you know Dr. Gladier likes to do a lot of exams on us. If the new dolly JUST woke up, there will be even more exams for him to be doing.” 

“He didn’t call you right away when I woke up,” replied Flavio. He clicked his tongue as he continued to scroll through his list of messages. They were all from various people, although it did appear the woman who called from Dr. Gladier’s labortary spammed him more times than he would have preferred. 

“Oh, no, he didn’t, but we don’t know that! He’s gonna be the…the…” Sadia looked down at her fingers and counted. Under her breath, she listed both her and Flavio’s names. She then held up three fingers over Flavio’s shoulder. “Three! He’s gonna be the third one!” 

Flavio shooed her hand away and turned. “I suppose I could go.” He folded one arm, holding the other one with his cellphone up. “I do need a bit of a break.” 

Sadia gleefully giggled. She grabbed Flavio’s arm and yanked him. “Come! Let’s go meet him.” 

“I can walk myself, thank you very much!” 

***

Sadia giggled and tapped her fingertips together repeatedly. “What do you think he’s going to be like?” she asked, looking to Flavio a short distance behind her. 

Flavio made a shooing motion with his hand. “It doesn’t matter.” 

Sadia stopped in her tracks, turning to Flavio. She was puzzled. “You’re not excited about making a new friend?”

Flavio continued to walk past her down the long hallway. “Who said he’d be my friend.” 

Sadia trailed behind Flavio. “Huh? What else would he be?” 

If Flavio’s hair wasn’t shaped like a waxing cresent moon at the top of his head, he would have flipped his hair. Instead, he brushed his neck just underneath his ear. “Just another nusiance, like you.” 

Tears filled Sadia’s eyes as she shuttered in place. “I’m a…NUSIANCE?!” 

Flavio laughed. “I suppose you are not that bad.” 

Sadia’s face immeditately lit up again. “You think?” 

Flavio flashed her a smug smile. 

The two of them rounded the corner and went into the first door on the left. Inside was a recepitionist desk with a computer and several waiting chairs were scattered about. The strong scent of fresh-baked apple pie filled the air. 

A young woman with black hair in a ponytail walked out of an open-door room, carrying a slice of apple pie. Her apple hair pin glistened under the ceiling lights as she walked back to her seat. 

Sadia skipped over to the desk and raised her hand with a wavy. “Hiiii, Victorina!” 

The young woman forced a smile, her fang teeth showing more promintently. “Hi Sadia.” 

Flavio and Victorina exchanged looks. Flavio smirked and Victorina frowned. 

Victorina placed her apple pie down on the desk and walked around it. She motioned to the two of them to come with her and the walked with her to a door. They entered and walked down a short hallway, just before entering through two large double doors. 

Inside the double doors was a large warehouse lined with numerous electronic equipment, books, vials, and other sorts of things. If it hadn’t been for the electronic equipment, it would have been significantly colder. However, it was a pretty comfortable temperature – not warm enough to not wear a light jacket, but not cold enough to be unbearable. 

In the middle of the room was an operation table, a tray, and various supplies. A short distance away was a monitor on a rolling cart, as well as a stationary desk with two computer monitors and numerous binders, notebooks, papers, and a few pens. 

A young person who couldn’t be any older than 15 with blonde hair, styled to look like a conical beehive, clacked away at the computer. Standing behind the young person was an older gentleman with small glasses, slightly hunched back, and an oversized head faced a young man with blue skin and long, wavy pink hair. The older man and the younger one engaged in idle chatter. 

“Brat, Shady,” called Victorina, who stopped a short distance away. The young person at the computer, the older gentleman, and the younger one turned to her. “Sadia and Flavio are here.” 

Sadia immeditately skipped up to the young man with the pink hair. She scooped the teddy bear gift from her book bag and held it out to him. “Hi! I’m Sadia and I’m so happy to meet you. Let’s be best friends.” 

The young man looked at teddy bear for a moment, before reaching out his hands to grab it by the bin. “Why, thank you Sadia.” He held the gift in one arm and extended out his other. “I’m Clyde. Charmed to meet you.” 

Sadia grasped his hand with both of hers and ferciously shook it. “Oh! It’s so nice too meet you too Clyde! Wow! I’m so happy we have another dolly! It’s so great! Don’t you think? Where’d you get that name? What do you like? What do you ––” 

A smile rose on Clyde’s face as his one eye widened. 

Flavio placed a hand on his hip. “Sadia, can you not see the man does not like that?” 

Sadia gasped. She took her hands away and covered her mouth. “Oh, you don’t like that? I’m so sorry!” 

“It’s fine. I was not expecting such an enthusastic greeting,” replied Clyde. He placed the gift onto the bed behind him.

Clyde then turned his attention to Flavio. His one eye bore into Flavio’s two. “Who are you to try and speak for me?” 

“Oh, I’m sorry,” quipped Flavio. “Did I misread your face?” 

Sadia extended a hand out towards Flavio. “Clyde, this is Flavio! He’s a DJ.” She started making a rectangle with her hands. “He lives in this artsy apartment that’s one of the brightest in Ghopre and there’s a whole bunch of other artsy, music-loving people in it.” 

Clyde smiled. His smile soon twisted ever so slightly. “That sounds a bit obnoxious for my personal taste.” 

“And what blandness do you like?” Flavio spat back. 

“Something more…refined.” 

“Refiiiined?” Sadia thought for a moment. “What kind of music is refined?” 

Clyde turned to Sadia. The slightest hint of annoyance twitched in his face. “I am thinking something like classical music. Orchestrated. Something that you would hear when sipping a hot cup of tea.” 

Flavio snorted. “Orchastral? Tea?” 

Clyde’s brows furrowed. “I do not like your tone very much.” 

“What century are you from?” Flavio flipped his hand. “Coffee and synthized beats are much better.” 

Clyde pressed his fingers to his head with his right hand, turning slightly away from Flavio. He shut his eyes and reached out a hand towards him. “What a way to produce a headache. I understand the allure of coffee is it’s smell, but it lacks the refinement of tea. The synthized beats are computerized trash, devoid of soul.” 

Flavio puffed out his chest and took a step forward, leaning into Clyde’s personal space. “Are you sure you have a soul because your lack of taste seems to indicate as such.” 

Clyde’s one eye glared. 

Heated sparks seemed to start flying between Flavio and Clyde. The air in the room begun to felt like the humity that happens before a summer thunderstorm. Dr. Gladier and Victorina exchanged looks. Sadia’s lips pursed as looked back and forth between their faces. The young person at the computer desk hacking away at the keyboard stopped typing and turned around.

“Heh, heh,” said the young person. “Looks like the clash of personalities.” 

Clyde and Flavio both rolled their heads towards the young person. 

“Shut up,” said Flavio

“Quiet,” said Clyde.

And then they both said the young person’s name “Hadley!”.

Hadley flashed them a toothy vampire smile, once again laughing. Victorina walked over and bopped Hadley on the head with her palm. “Shut up, you old brat. They aren’t that much alike.” She then turned her attention back to Clyde and Flavio. “Ignore him. He’s only good for that brain of his.” 

Sadia skipped in between Clyde and Flavio, throwing her arms over her shoulder and huddling them close to her. Both of them glared up at Sadia, who didn’t seem to notice. Sadia flashed a huge smile. “Hadley’s helped a WHOLE lot, hasn’t he?” 

Victorina extended her palms towards Hadley. “Of course!” 

Flavio pulled himself away from Sadia. He glanced over at a giant clock at the wall. “I think my break is over.” 

Clyde gently removed Sadia’s arm from his shoulder and brushed it off. As he stood up stragiht, Flavio glared at him. “See you never, tasteless.” 

Clyde rolled his eyes as Flavio walked away. 

Sadia waved her hand. “See you later, Flavio!! I’ll come see you tonight!” 

Flavio gave her a non-chalant wave as he walked out the room. 

Victorina whipped out her phone and pulled up an app on it. Her eyes widened. “He’s playing tonight?!” 

Sadia turned to Victorina with a nod. “Oh, yes! I think it was a last minute gig though.” Sadia giggled. 

Victorina whipped to Hadley. “I’m leaving early, so don’t you even think about giving me extra work.” Hadley smiled and laughed as he always did. Victorina’s eyes narrowed. 

Clyde’s eyes darted between the two of them. He then relaxed. He raised his hand, “Victorina, are you able to make me a cup of tea? I think I would like some mint.” 

Victorina nodded. “Yes. Let me get it now.” She disappeared from the warehouse and back into the reception area. 

Sadia clapped her hands with delight. “I’m so happy I chose the right bear for you!” 

Clyde curiously lifted up the gift from the bed behind him. He first looked at the bear, then followed it all the way down into the inner bin. The bin itself was loaded with numerous packets of tea, along with sugar cubes and shelf-stable liquid sweetners. Clyde seemed a bit taken a back before a delighted smile cracked on his face. “Indeed you did. Were you informed for my love for tea?” 

Sadia fevernetly shook her head. Her pigtails whipped in her face. “No, not at all! I was looking at all my gift bears and out of all them, I just knew it was the perfect one to gift you, but I didn’t know why!” 

“You have many more like this?” 

“Yes! I do!” Sadia pulled up her phone and pulled up a picture of the gift shelf. She shoved it into Clyde’s face, who stumbled backwards. “This is the shelf! See all the bears? I made them myself.” 

Clyde lifted his head to slowly give her a single nod. “I…I see.” 

Sadia hopped next to Clyde and leaned in. She missed Clyde frowning at her as she began to rapidly scroll through her images. “That was just the living room. I have the least amount of bears there because I know not everyone likes them as much as I do and it’s the only place I really spend time with others. Oh! And this is my room. See all my bears?! Sometimes I trip over them, there are SOOOOOOO many, but that’s okay, beause I love them all! Here are all the bookshelves in my room with bears and all the floor, and oh, this is the bear I sleep on and –” 

Victorina returned and handed Clyde the mint tea as Sadia continued to babble on about her room and all her bears. 

“How wonderful,” flatly said Clyde. 

“Isn’t it?!” replied Sadia. She jumped up and leaned into Clyde. Startled, the tea cup clanked and a bit spilled out to the plate underneath. Clyde scowled. 

Just as Sadia looked at Clyde, confused why he suddenly seemed annoyed, Dr. Gladier took a step forward and placed his hand on Clyde’s back. “Now, Sadia, I think it is time I get back to my observations with Clyde. We will be heading to another room for an exam now, so you can head on home.” 

“Awww.” Sadia pouted and hung her arms. 

“But before that, please speak to Hadley. We have some instructions for you.” 

Sadia’s face lit up once more. 

Clyde nodded to Sadia as Dr. Gladier gestured at him to come along. The two of them began walking towards another door in the warehouse that was not leading to the reception area. Sadia waved good-bye after them, receiving a loose wave from Clyde just before he disappeared behind the door. 

“Heh heh, Sadia, Dr. Glaider and I have a prospoal for you,” said Hadley. He grabbed a sheet of paper from the print beside the computer monitor and handed it to her. 

Sadia skimmed through the paper. She turned back to Hadley with a huge smile. “Ooooh! You want me to do the same thing I did for Flavio, but with Clyde? I would love to!” 

“Heh, heh! I knew you’d be the best one for the job, heh heh!” 

Sadia bent over the computer desk, placing the piece of paper in front of her. She grabbed a pen and began to doodle. “I think I already know the kind of clothes I’m going to give Clyde…” She stopped for a moment and looked up at Hadley. “But what kind of place do you think he should live in?” 

“Heh, that’s what we are trying to figure out, heh heh. We do not know much about, heh, him yet. Other than his name is Clyde and, heh heh, he loves tea.” 

Sadia returned back to doodling. “I can come up with something! Let me know if you have any suggestions because I want to find the perfect home for Clyde and his teddy bear!” 

Sadia placed down the pen and held the paper in front of her, looking at her doodle. It appeared to be all the pieces of an outfit, plus how they all fit together. it looked like the layers included a black leotard of sorts, loose white under garments including a shirt that showed the midriff, black pants,  a long-sleeved jacket that also showed the middriff, and slip-on dress shoes with a decorative buckle. The sketch that showed everything all together appeared that the white undergarments were longer than the jacket and pants, making them appear like ruffles. 

“Heh, do you need his measurements?” 

Sadia shook her head. “Nope! I got them all up here!” She tapped her head with her index finger. 

“Heh, as expected.” 

Sadia tremebled with excitement. She hugged the paper to her chest. “I’m going to go get started!” 

“Heh, see you later then, heh heh. I’ll let Victorina know to message you, heh, any updates.” 

“Byyyyyyeeeee!” Sadia waved as she run back to the corridor. 

*** 

Sadia sprawled out the fabric across the table and with tailor’s chaulk, began to mark out exactly what she was going to cut. She hummed a nonsensical tune with each line she drew. 

In the corner of her room, her phone started buzzing. On the screen flashed a single message from Victorina: Clyde needs a home near the zombie graveyards. 

***END***

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[UNEDITED FIRST DRAFT] ??? (Clyde Story 1)

PLEASE NOTE: This is a ROUGH DRAFT. It is the VERY FIRST DRAFT OF THE STORY. YOU are the very first person to read it – I haven’t even read it in its entirety yet!

You WILL come across numerous issues including:

  • spelling mistakes;
  • grammar issues;
  • weak sentence structure;
  • repeated words;
  • unnecessary words;
  • missing words;
  • lack of details/descriptions;
  • confusing details/descriptions;

Critiques/criticisms, while appreciated, most likely will be discarded at this stage! Thank you.

Additional Note: Doodles, Sketches, and Artwork may be added over time. These are not the story illustrations! They do feature characters and places within the story, however.


His consciousness seemed to press against his brow as he stirred awake. His muscles seemed to creak like rusty as he started to slowly move around his limbs, gettin a feel for them once again. Cool air brushed against his exposed skin. A symphony of whirring murmurs sung all around him. He wondered to himself how long he had been out, sitting up on the hard bed beneath his body. His face briefly scrunched just before he opened his eyes. 

The light that quickly filled his vision transformed into a large warehouse filled with numerous electronic machines along the walls. He shifted his body to let his legs dangle over the bed. Just as he turned, a voice said, “oh, he’s awake.” 

He narrowed his eyes at the two people in front of him – one an older gentleman with a slightly hunched back and a large head, the other a rather androgynous person who looked no more than 15 years old. The older man had turned to face him fully, while the younger person turned enough to see a bit more than what they would’ve just looking over their shoulder. 

He looked down at himself, a scowl on his face, as he ran his fingers over the large stiches down his chest and all the way to the bottom of his stomach. He couldn’t exactly pinpoint why, but something about his blue skin made him feel slightly uneasy. 

“What do you remember?” asked the older man. His voice was kind, almost like what you would expect from a loving grandfather. 

He looked up, glaring at the man. “What do you mean ‘what do you remember’?”

“Anything really,” said the older man, walking towards him. “Name, hobbies, what you last did or ate. Anything, really.” 

He leaned back, using his arms to support him. His musles ached pretty badly, but he chose to ignore it. He was awake, after all – they would have to stop being so tight at some point. He swung one leg over the other, gently pulling the small white towel that covered his crotch. “What kind of ridiclious question is that? My name is Clyde.” 

The older man and the young person exchanged looks. Smiles rose on their faces. The younger person turned to the computer in front of them and began to clack away at the keyboard. 

“What else?” 

“Before I answer that, who are you?” 

“I am Dr. Gladier,” said the older man. He then extended his arm out to the younger person. “And this is Dr. Hadley. He helps me here in this lab.” 

Clyde looked at both doctors back and forth. “What would I be doing in a labortory with two doctors?” 

Dr. Gladier’s smile extended further. “Well, why do you think?” 

Clyde opened his mouth to speak. He managed to say “ah”, before pausing. He closed his mouth and turned his head away from the doctors. He began to run through his memories…only to find out, he had none. He grabbed his head and looked down towards the concrete floor, shocked. 

“I…I do not remember anything!” 

“Nothing else?” inquired Dr. Gladier. He frowned for a brief moment before smiling. He turned to Dr. Hadley. “It’s amazing he remembered his name.” 

“Heh, heh, amazing indeed.” 

“Is remembering my name so funny?” snapped Clyde.

Dr. Gladier put up a reassuring hand. “Not at all. You are the first dolly to remember anything more than how to speak.” 

Clyde’s tongue started to roll around in his mouth and saliva started to coat it. Clyde swallowed before glaring at Dr. Gladier. “Dolly? What is that supposed to mean? And remembering? I…I must remember more…” 

“Do you remember anything else?” 

Clyde’s tongue squirmed. “Tea…”

“Tea?”

“Yes, I want tea.” 

“Do you like tea?” 

Clyde’s eye lit up as his preference came flooding back to him. “I love tea. I love all kinds of tea. It does not matter what kind of tea it is, for I love and drink them all. I could use some peppermint tea at the moment, however.” 

Dr. Glaider clapped and turned to Hadley. “Did you hear that! Tea!” 

“Heh, heh, yes! Let me tell Victorina to get, heh, him some peppermint tea then,  heh heh!” 

“Very good, very good.” 

Clyde rolled his head back to leer at Dr. Gladier. “Why did you call me a dolly?” 

“Ah yes, about that. You see, Clyde, you had been dead.” 

*** 

Clyde sipped his peppermint tea as Dr Gladier explained what the heck a dolly is and what he meant by that Clyde “had” been dead. 

“I’ve always been so saddened by the young people who have lost their lives to tragic deaths and have wanted to do something about it. I began running experiments back on my home planet, but alas, I became misunderstood and driven out from there and to here. I am quite foruntate that taking refuge in this place turned out to lead me to find my missing ingredients for a full revival.

I was able to build this lab and continue. It took many tries, but I finally had managed to give young person a second chance at life. However, I had not been prepared for the kind of second chance my experiment would lead me to – the first dolly could not even speak. She appeared to have the mind of an infant.

All hope had not been lost, as Dr. Hadley had been able to find a specialist to bring the young woman to where she needed to be in life in a small amount of time. I knew for my next dolly, however, I had not wanted to go through such a thing once more. After tweaking the revival formula, we proceeded once more and revived a young man. We were successful in bringing back his memory of acting his age, however, he could remember nothing else.” 

Clyde lowered the peppermint tea from his lips. “Which number dolly am I?” 

“You are number three. We tweaked the formula cautiously when deciding to revive you, hoping that you would retain more of your memory. It appears that we have been both successful and a bit too cautious. You only remembered two things about yourself from your previous lfe, after all.” 

Clyde gazed down into his tea, lookng at his reflection in the tinted water. His right eye was missing and instead, there was a giant hole. He had stitches on both sides of his mouth running all the way up to under his ears. His eyebrows were also made of stitches. His single dark blue eye turned to Dr. Gladier. 

“Why do you call us ‘dollys’? Are we not people?” 

Dr. Gladier laughed. “Of course you are people. I have called you ‘dollys’ because of the amount of stitching required for each and every one of you! I have chosen to focus on those who had a most unfornuate deaths. Many are mutilated in some form, including yourself.” 

Clyde could suddenly feel a pit in his stomach. He begun to feel cold as Dr. Gladier continued on. “The only stitches from cuts I made was your chest and stomach. As for the rest, your body came that way. I stitched it right back up – it is not right to leave someone in such a condition. I also fixed your eye socket that is missing an eye – it’s an inverted black half-sphere. I had not been sure if you would want a glass eye of some sort, so I left the option up to you.” 

“Well,” exsaperated Clyde. He looked up from his peppermint tea. “I am not quite sure what to make of all of this. I do not know if I should thank you for this second chance at life or condemn you for it.” 

Dr. Gladier’s smile twisted. “Whichever one you end up chosing is fine.” 

Clyde began to sip his tea again. 

I’m dead. Or rather, I was dead. I wasn’t just dead either – I had been mutilated in some way. What kind of life had I previously been living? A creeping tension began to work up his arms as he continued to gulp down the tea that didn’t seem to work very well on his nerves. I don’t think I want to know. 

“You must be cold,” said Dr. Gladier. 

Clyde lowered his tea. “No, I’m quite warm thanks to the tea.” 

Dr. Glaider chuckled. “You have been sitting naked for a long time.” He extended his hand towards Clyde. “That tea isn’t going to keep you warm forever, you know? Let’s get you into some clothes.” 

***

Victorina had brought in a set of black scrubs with two large, rectangular pockets towards the bottom of the top. Clyde slipped on the soft cotton fabric pretty quickly and stood on the cold, concrete floor with bare feet. The rest of him warmed up quickly. He patted the loose shirt lightly as Victorina, Dr. Hadley, and Dr. Glaldier looked on with delight. 

Victorina stuck up her nose. “I knew black would be perfect on you! It goes well with your pink hair and blue skin.” 

“Heh, heh, nice job, Victorina.” 

Victorina puffed out her chest and placed her right hand over it. “Of course!” 

Dr. Hadley flashed her a toothy smile. “Heh heh, I’m surprised it wasn’t, heh, more apple-themed!” 

Victorina glared at Hadley. “Shut up, ya old brat! I have good colour sense, you know! Who do you think planted all those luscious plants out in front of the building?” Victorina puffed her chest out once more. “Oh yes, that was me.” 

“Now, now, I don’t think Clyde wants to hear banter between the two of you,” said Dr. Gladier, putting his hand up to silence both of them.  

Dr. Hadley shot Victorina one more tooth grin and Victorina one more harsh glare before they both turned thier attention completely to Clyde. 

Clyde had a lot of questions, watching the interactions. Something seemed oddly casual between Victorina and Hadley, but he couldn’t tell why – they certainly looked nothing alike. He placed that question of to side as he redirected his attention to the comfy scrubs he was wearing. “I do like these myself. They are quite comfortable. Thank you for taking your time to pick them out for me, Victorina.” 

Victorina blushed and waved her hand. “Oh, you.” 

“Heh, heh, don’t say that to her! It’ll go to her head!” 

Victorina suddenly leapt at Hadley. “OH! THAT’S IT, YOU BRAT!” 

Dr. Hadley let out a giant laugh as he slid out the way in his rolling computer chair from Victorina’s leap. Victorina quickly caught her footing and begun to chase him around. Clyde’s eyes went wide and shifted, exchanging looks with Dr. Gladier. 

“You look like you are curious about their relationship.” 

“Quite.” 

“I’ll explain it on the way to the room you’ll be staying in.” 

Clyde’s ears perked up. “Oh? There is a room for me to sleep other than this one?” 

“Would you really want to sleep in here overnight?” 

“I suppose not.” 

“I thought so. Come.” 

Dr. Gladier motioned to Clyde. Clyde followed, leaving Victorina and Dr. Hadley behind. 

*** 

“You have just reawakened from Death’s cold embrace. To ensure that you are in good health, you must stay in this facility in the meantime so that I may monitor you for any complications,” explained Dr. Gladier as they walked down a short hallway. The finally stopped in front of a door on the left and wallked through. 

The room was decent-sized and appeared to be a cross between a hotel room and a hopsital. Numerous pieces of medical equipment were strategtically placed around the room to check vitals and repair minor issues at a moments notice. The rest of the room was rounded out with a well-made bed, couch, nightstand, and lamp. Mounted on the wall was a high-definition TV. Below the TV was a set of drawers and cabinet with a coffee brewing machine on top of it. In the left-hand corner of the room was a small bathroom with a stand-in shower, sink, and toilet. The bathroom was painted a pastel green, while the bedroom itself was a pastel indigo colour. 

“This is your sleeping quarters for the next month.” 

Clyde looked over the room. “Impressive for being a room to monitor my health. What will I be doing after a month?” 

Dr. Gladier clasped his hands together. “I will be working on getting you a permnant residency and occupation while you are here. Once a month has passed, you will move to your new home and start your new occupation.” 

“Sounds quite alright,” said Clyde, sitting down on the bed. He turned his attention back to Dr. Gladier. “And what would my occupation be?”

“During this month, we shall be running a series of test to determine what would be best for you.” 

Clyde cracked a smile. “I shall look forward to it.”

Clyde cast his gaze down to the floor. His smile slowly faded as he looked at the slightly worn tile. He listed to his mind for memories to come flooding back to him, but nothing other than longing curiousity surfaced. What had I been doing in my past life? 

After a moment, Dr. Gladier broke through the heavy silence. “Are you still curious about Dr. Hadley and Victorina’s relationship?” 

Clyde perked up. “Yes, I still am. Something appears off to me about them, but I cannot put my finger on it.” 

Dr. Gladier lifted up his finger. “Ah, the first thing you must understand is that looks can be decieving – especially when it comes to vampires. Dr. Hadley and Victorina have been a team for a very long time now. Dr. Hadley once told me he chose Victorina to be under his care simply because of her extensive knowledge of Vampires, Plant, and Fungi.” 

“Oh? How long?” 

“Several hundred years.” 

*** 

The machines in the room were nearly silent. The loudest machines looeked the clunkiest and oldest. Clyde laid in bed, staring up at the ceiling. No light was on in the room whatsoever, although light from the hallway peeked underneath the crack under the door. This did not bother Clyde one bit. In a way, it helped him to know that he was alive and that he could see. 

His mind was blank. Echoes of the conversations of the day floated in and out of his consciusness. He didn’t pay much mind to them whatsoever, as he knew his mind was just filtering them. He was more interested in seeing if anything from his previous life would resurface. 

My name is Clyde. And I like tea. 

And just like earlier in the day, that was all he could remember.

He flipped over to his left-hand side and dozed off in time to the quietly whirring machines.

***END*** 

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[UNEDITED FIRST DRAFT] Record Deal with a Demon

PLEASE NOTE: This is a ROUGH DRAFT. It is the VERY FIRST DRAFT OF THE STORY. YOU are the very first person to read it – I haven’t even read it in its entirety yet!

You WILL come across numerous issues including:

  • spelling mistakes;
  • grammar issues;
  • weak sentence structure;
  • repeated words;
  • unnecessary words;
  • missing words;
  • lack of details/descriptions;
  • confusing details/descriptions;

Critiques/criticisms, while appreciated, most likely will be discarded at this stage! Thank you.

Additional Note: Doodles, Sketches, and Artwork may be added over time. These are not the story illustrations! They do feature characters and places within the story, however.


Violet behind the curtain of the stage, inspecting her violin one more time. Well-polished, well-tuned…everything was in place. And of course it was – this was Violet after all. The violin prodigy! If Foreligis had been more connected, she would be better know – but it was fine. At least her home, the large city-village of Aurum, had enough space for her…supposed. 

She turned to the mirror that stood beside her, posing with her violin. Her purple hair rained down her shoulders and she gently brushed it away to brush it off from one of her many precious violins. Excitement almost immeditately bubbled up through her stomach and into her heart. Soon it was circulating into her system, transforming from nervous-excitement to pure energy. She lowered her violin and her bow, smiling widely in the mirror in front of her – she was ready to perform. 

“…um’s prodigy, VIOLET BAUM!” 

Applause thundered so loudly, the whole stage shook underneath Violet’s feet. This served only to cause her steps to lighten even more as she placed her violin on her shoulder and began to play intensely for every person in Aurum, even if they weren’t attending. She stepped out in almost a skip, quickly silencing the outdoor concert hall. She swung her body in time to the music, dancing along with the sound she produced with just herself, the bow, and the violin. 

She stepped along the stage, allowing the flow of her dancing to energize her very core. The audience began to clap again, adding an additional layer behind her. She giggled to herself, remember the brief thought she used to have when she was just a young child – the very annoyance at the clapping before she was done and how distracting it once seemed that they would be clapping along with her music. But now they’re a part of my performance.

CREEEEAK

Violet’s gut pinched at the sound of creaking from around her. Tension hugged her upper arms, but she kept on playing anyway. It’s nothing, ignore it. She told herself, mentally pushing herself back into the music. She took a few steps towards the back of the stage, walking backwards to amp up a powerful, speedy performance. The crowd cheered, yelped, and clapped. She began to spin around and around, swinging her head.

CREEEEEAK CREEEEEEEEEEEEAK CREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAK

The stage and its surroundings moaned once more. Violet’s gut pinched and twisted again. Although her face was smiling, internally, she was starting to get really angry. Her ears moved from the music to the unharmonious creaks of the stage. How dare you! she spat in her head as she continued to smile and play on the outside, hoping underneath no one was going to notice her anger. You’re messing up my rhythm! 

CREEEEEEEEEEEEEAK CREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAK CREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAK

Up from her stomach shot up a single word to her head: DANGER. 

CREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAK

And what did she do? Attempt to push it down – she was at the best part in the song! 

CREEEEEEEEAK CREAK CREEEEEAK CREAK CREAK CREAAAAAK CREAK

She began to slam her foot to the ground to each note that she played, banging her head in the air as she did so. The audience clapped along. Her notes became hire and she turned around, looking up at the ceiling with her up body, leaning her head back. Normally, she’d look briefly at the audience, but that obnoxious creeeeeeaking caught her attention instead. 

Her eyes watched as the creaking metal above her swayed violently. 

Her gut shouted to her DANGER, DANGER, DANGER! 

Her eyes widened, watching everything become unhindged and then…

CRAAAAAAAAAAAAASH! 

Screams came from behind Violet, but she couldn’t see where – on top of her was metal and wood. And in her. 

[UNEDITED FIRST DRAFT] The Princess and the Shark Boy

PLEASE NOTE: This is a ROUGH DRAFT. It is the VERY FIRST DRAFT OF THE STORY. YOU are the very first person to read it – I haven’t even read it in its entirety yet!

You WILL come across numerous issues including:

  • spelling mistakes;
  • grammar issues;
  • weak sentence structure;
  • repeated words;
  • unnecessary words;
  • missing words;
  • lack of details/descriptions;
  • confusing details/descriptions;

Critiques/criticisms, while appreciated, most likely will be discarded at this stage! Thank you.

Additional Note: Doodles, Sketches, and Artwork may be added over time. These are not the story illustrations! They do feature characters and places within the story, however.


Midnight Star sat on the rock bench, leaned back against the warm stone. All around her seaweed of numerous shades of green swayed in the gentle ocean current, almost hypnotizing her to relax with their rhythm. Some of the leaves gentle brushed her from behind, tickling her shoulders over the fabric of her crop-top. Although her gaze was softened and her body calm, she moved to touch a long piece of seaweed that was draped over her shoulder. She held it in her hands, her fingers running over the varied surface of the green plant. The texture was like a bunch of cracks, similar to the stone bench she sat on, but much more uniform. 

Each time she ran her fingers over the seaweed, feeling every single detail, she further relaxed. Her breathing slowed and her consciousness seemed to sink deeper and deeper into the depths of her being. And her eyes weren’t even closed! But oh, did they want to close. The silence of the seaweed garden, the ocean currents moving like underwater wind, and the beauty of the small details all around relaxed her deeper with each passing moment. A peaceful smile slowly spread across her face as her shoulders fell. She slipped down from her seat – just enough to still feel fully supported and comfortable. 

Time stopped as her eyes flickered closed. 

Then YANK! 

Midnight Star jolted awake and jumped up, whipping around, seeing a boy around her age snickering at her. Midnight Star snarled at the shark merman in front of her, “NEN!”

Nen laughed. “You better wake up, otherwise some fishermen is going to think he lost his rope!” 

Midnight Star slapped his hand away as Nen tried to reach for her hair once more. Her mouth spread across in a straight line and she closed her eyes. “Nen, do you think that is funny AGAIN?” She then turned a bit, folding her arms, pouting, “And I wasn’t sleeping.” 

Nen grabbed one of her pigtail braids. “Every time,” he replied. He laughed again. “It really IS like a rope – do you see how big and long this braid is?” 

Midnight Star snatched it back. “I really don’t like when you do that…” 

“What? Touch your hair or call it a rope?” 

“Both.” 

The blue-gray shark merman swam up from behind the bench and lowered himself down onto it. He leaned back, one arm resting across the backboard. His other hand was halfway in the air as he spoke. “But have you looked at it though?” 

“…” Midnight Star pursed her lips. “All I see is questionable genes.” 

“I know, I know,” Nen threw his head back. “You wear them in braids to hide the fact you’re the only one in your family with straight hair.” 

Midnight Star took one of her braids in her own hand, gently stroking it. From her heart to stomach seemed to be swirling with nausea, she couldn’t help it either – every single time she sees her hair, she questions it. Brown and straight – was she really a member of the royal family? She lightly tugged on the braid.

“Rope hair.” 

Anger rose up from her stomach and spat out of her mouth. “If I’m rope hair, then you’re a curve-boy!” 

Nen flinched. Midnight Star, cheeks flushed from her anger, watched him hug his body and eyes glaze over. Nen, indeed, did have curves. He curved higher up than the average male. Something about his overall physic was much more androgynous and feminine than anything else about him. 

Nen’s eyes shifted around for a moment. Midnight Star watched him carefully. He’s about to do som–

With a twist smile and mischievous furrowed brows, Nen sprung up from the stone bench and yanked the blue star hair clip from her hair. 

Midnight Star gasped as a few lose pieces of hair swayed in front of her like a miniature seaweed garden. “NEN!” she gasped. 

Nen stuck out his tongue. “Come and get it, if you want it so bad!” 

Midnight Star grumbled. She lunged forward to grab the clip, but Nen gracefully moved out of the way. “Give it back! Ugh! I hate when you do this!” 

Nen’s only response to was to laugh. 

Midnight Star and Nen kept going around in a circle, zigzagging each and every way. Midnight Star grabbed and grabbed and grabbed, but Nen always managed to get the clip out of her grasps. Her stomach turned and the tightness of panic overwhelmed her chest. “I don’t want you to break it!” 

“I’m not going to break it. If it breaks, it’s YOUR fault!” 

“No, it’s your fault because if you didn’t take it, it would have been safely holding my hair back!” 

Nen laughed, swiping it away from Midnight Star once more. 

Midnight Star stopped and looked up, watching Nen bump into a gorgeous woman with mystical air about her. The half-swordfish merwoman looked down at Nen, unamused. 

“There you are,” she said. 

“M-mom!” exclaimed Nen, startled. He quickly turned around and looked at her nervously. 

Nen’s mother’s eyes darted to the clip in Nen’s hand, promptly swiping it. She rubbed it with the cloth of her arm band, cleaning off any grim that had been stuck to it. She then swam over to Midnight Star and presented it with both hands. “Princess Midnight Star, I am sorry that my son keeps doing these things to you.” 

Midnight Star leaned slightly over, seeing Nen’s nervous wide-eyes. His bottom lip was quivering. “He called my hair a rope again,” said Midnight Star, flatly. 

Midnight Star bowed her head in thanks as she took the hair clip from Nen’s mother’s hands. “Thank you, Lady Medeba.” 

“The pleasure is mine, Princess Midnight Star,” Lady Medeba replied, curtesying. Her attentiveness was soon shifted to annoyance as she turned to Nen with a forced smile. 

Lady Medeba yanked Nen by his upper arm fin. 

“Ow! Mom…” 

Lady Medeba’s forced smile never faded. A vein clearly popped out from her forehead. “My son, please stop harassing the Princess. I fear the engagement will be called off otherwise.” 

“What? No way!” objected Nen. “She knows I’m just joking around!” 

Lady Medeba turned to Princess Midnight Star. “Do you know he’s just joking around?” 

Midnight Star frowned. It doesn’t feel like it. 

Lady Medeba whipped her head back forward. “I’m going to take that as a ‘no’.” 

Nen attempted to protest, but no words came out from his mouth. Lady Medeba pulled him towards the garden exit. “Come, I need you to help me with something.” 

Nen slapped his mother hand on his fin, repeatedly saying, “Mom, that hurts, let go!” 

Lady Medeba, unmoved, turned her head to Midnight Star. “Oh, yes! I almost forgot – Princess, the King and Queen are looking for you.” 

Midnight Star looked confused. “Thank you,” she said to Lady Medeba. 

“See you for lessons,” replied Lady Medeba, dragging Nen away – moving her hand from his fin to his wrist. 

Midnight Star giggled, watching Nen shake off his mother’s hand and the two of them laughing. She could barely make out Nen nagging her for yanking on his fin again. Their voices faded off and once again the seaweed garden was full of silence. 

Midnight Star began to lull off where she floated. A jolt ran through her and her eyes popped open. “My parents!” she gasped, scurrying off towards the castle. I wonder what’s wrong? Did I get in trouble for something? I don’t think I did anything wrong…

***

Midnight Star sighed with relief as she swam out of the courtroom. I’m not in trouble…good. She laughed to herself. Of course I’m not in trouble, I didn’t do anything wrong, right? I don’t think I ever did…

“You look like you’re overthinking again.” 

Midnight Star looked up fom the ground she had been looking at, seeing Nen smirking at her. He leaned against the door frame, his blue-gray hair swaying in the ocean currents that ran through the castle. Midnight Star blushed. “Yeah, I guess I am…” 

“Come on, let’s head to class.” 

Nen extended his hand to Midnight Star and she took it. The two swam together down the hallways to the other side of the castle, where the study was located. 

“What did your parents want anyway?” asked Nen. 

“Oh, um…I thought I was going to get in trouble, but it turned out to be about Glitter Light’s graduation.” 

Nen chuckled. “Why would you get in trouble?” 

Midnight Star shrugged. She placed a hand over her beating her. “I don’t know. Maybe I forgot about something? I don’t always have the best memory…” She slightly trembled. 

Nen’s hand tightened around her’s. “I think everyone knows you need reminders, so I don’t think that’s a problem.” 

Midnight Star felt a stab in her stomach. Oh, I suck. No one should have to remind me…what’s wrong with me? 

There was a moment of silence as Midnight Star ran through her head. I have straight, brown hair. I can barely remember things. I don’t really have any majour duties. I get to marry the Official Court Witch’s son. I mean, that’s definitely not the worst and I love Nen and all, but aaaaaaaah, do my parents have any confidence in me? I’m such a disappointment…

“Um…what was it about Glitter Light’s graduation?” 

Midnight Star jumped as her line of thought broke. “Oh! Um…it was…it was about food. They were asking me if I had any special request for dinner during the celebration. It’s a small celebration and it’s not for me, so I don’t know why they’re asking me.” 

Nen laughed. “They should be asking Glitter Light!” 

“Right?!” exclaimed Midnight Star. She laughed too. “I thought the same thing! Why ask me? It’s her celebration!” 

The two laughed for a moment more before Midnight Star changed the subject. “Lady Medeba wanted you too, right?” 

Nen nodded. “Uh-huh,” he grumbled. 

“Uh-oh, what did she make you do?” 

Nen suddenly stopped and turned to Midnight Star, grabbing both of her hands. Midnight Star’s eyes widened and she glanced around, seeing the servants in the castle pass-by with only the slightest of glances. Oh no, they’re all staring at us. Wait…that’s okay. That’s fine. We’re engaged, it’s normal. It’s normal. “Um…” What is he doing? Why did we stop? Wait, what’s he doing with my other hand?? Oh, he’s just taking it…but why? 

“Mom chewed me out for making fun of you again,” replied Nen. His eyes darted to the side and he slightly blushed. Midnight Star held her breath, unsure where he was going with his actions. Nen tightened his grip on Midnight Star’s hands. “She’s really worried that one day I’ll take it too far and the engagement will get called off.” 

“No!” yelped Midnight Star. Nen jumped. She took one of her hands back and covered her mouth. “Ah! Sorry! I didn’t mean to make you jump. I just, um, know that’s not going to happen. I don’t think you could even take it that far. And even if you did, I don’t think that would happen.” 

A warm smile spread across Nen’s face. His eyes gazed at her lovingly. “You don’t think it would?” 

“No.” I don’t think my parents love me all that much to call it off…NO, wait! I’m fine with this arrangement, right? Midnight Star shut her eyes really tight. Yes, I am. I think…AH! I DON’T KNOW.

“Mid-Star?” 

“Ah, sorry.” 

“You don’t need to apologize…are you okay?” 

“Yeah, sorry…I mean…ah sorry! Err, um….” Midnight Star let out a sigh. She gave Nen an awkward smile. “I think I relaxed too much today because my head is freaking out.” 

Midnight Star flinched as Nen took her on both sides of her head. “I wish my head was freaking out! My mom had me rearrange her ENTIRE bottle collection in 20 minutes by size, shape, coloured, and design.” 

Midnight Star’s face scrunch and she stuck out her tongue.  “Ew, that sounds AWFUL.” 

One of Nen’s hands fell to Midnight Star’s shoulder, while her put the other on his head. “I was so bored and all I want to do is sleep, but then I had to come pick you up. Mom knew I had class today and she’s teaching!” He balled the fist that had been on his head in the air. “It’s her fault if I can’t think because she gave me something so boring to do!” 

Midnight Star giggled. At the same time, she became increasingly nervous. “Nen, we should probably get going…lessons are going to start soon.” 

“Ah, yeah, we probably should.” 

Midnight Star began to swim once more, but was yanked back by Nen. “Um, Nen…”

“Sorry.” 

“…huh?” 

“Um, I’m sorry for earlier. And any time before that. I’m really just playing around, but you didn’t really take it that way, right? Your hair is like how I feel about my body.” 

Midnight Star held up both of her hands. She felt her upper back and chest tighten and her stomach flipped. “Oh no! Oh, no, no, no! You don’t need to apologize! You really don’t! I don’t need an apology…you don’t need to apologize!” 

“But I hurt you, right?” Nen looked into Midnight Star’s eyes.

Midnight Star swallowed, staring back at him. Her heart winced. No words came out of her mouth. Only in the depths of her being could she even admit that yes, he did. But her mind’s response quickly shut her down: you obviously deserve it. 

Midnight Star cast her gaze back down. THe only thing to bring it back up was Nen gently taking ahold of one of her braids. She trembled a slight bit, nervous about what he was doing. His gaze was still soft and loving, no different from when she had been touching the seaweed.

“Nen, what are you doing?” she asked, holding her breath.

“…” He continued to gentle stroke her hair. His cheeks slightly flushed. “I…wish you would wear your hair down. They really do look like giant ropes.” 

Midnight Star could feel the fire of anger start to rise up from her stomach. She yanked her braids back and took in the biggest gulp of water she could. “Just ignore them,” she snapped unwillingly. Wait, was I too mean? But he just apologized and he said that. He..he wasn’t serious, was he? She threw the pigtail behind her. “Let’s…let’s just get to class!” Her anger made its way up to her eyes and began to push out as tears. She went to swim off once more, but Nen stopped her once again. 

“Crap,” mumbled. Nen. “Ugh, I’m not good at this, am I?” 

Midnight Star avoided looking him in the eyes.

“How do I…hmm…” 

Midnight Star cautiously turned to Nen, looking at his face. His cheeks were slightly flushed. Her gut twisted with anticipation. 

“I really…like your hair. It’s different and unique.” 

Midnight Star flushed herself, looking at Nen slightly covering his face. She looked around in a panic, relieved to see no one in the hallway at the moment. “N-nen! We’re in the middle of the hallway!” 

“What, I can’t compliment you?” 

“You can, but…this is the hallway? What if someone hears us?” 

“Does that matter?” 

“Um…I just don’t like it.” 

Nen grabbed one of Midnight Star’s hands and held it, keeping his other hand on his face, partially covering his mouth. “I just wanted to tell you I want to see you wear your hair down because I like it.” 

Midnight Star shook. “T-thank you, b-but I’ll still be wearing my braids.” She looked down.

Nen nodded. “I figured as much…” 

Midnight Star tightened her grip around Nen’s hand, who appeared to be startled by the action. Midnight Star took in a gulp of water and nodded. “Nen, I don’t feel confident enough to wear my hair down.” She pulled him off to the side of the hallway and leaned into his ear. “I used to hear all the time people question if my dad is really my dad because of my hair. I’m the only one who looks different.” I don’t want to have to go through that all over again…

Nen frowned. He nodded. “I know.” He then gave her a soft smile. “Hopefully one day, that will change.” 

Midnight Star cast her gaze down to the ground. I doubt it. 

Nen gentle pulled her. “Hey, let’s get to class before mom comes and finds us!” 

Midnight Star nodded and let herself be guided down the halls by Nen. 

The hand being held by Nen’s felt calm, but the rest of her body was tense and tight. A fear stirred up in her core – I am no good. 

[UNEDITED FIRST DRAFT] ??? (Brent’s Story Part 2)

PLEASE NOTE: This is a ROUGH DRAFT. It is the VERY FIRST DRAFT OF THE STORY. YOU are the very first person to read it – I haven’t even read it in its entirety yet!

You WILL come across numerous issues including:

  • spelling mistakes;
  • grammar issues;
  • weak sentence structure;
  • repeated words;
  • unnecessary words;
  • missing words;
  • lack of details/descriptions;
  • confusing details/descriptions;

Critiques/criticisms, while appreciated, most likely will be discarded at this stage! Thank you.

Additional Note: Doodles, Sketches, and Artwork may be added over time. These are not the story illustrations! They do feature characters and places within the story, however.


Brent  shot up from his bed. He felt as if he were buzzing. He slipped out and opened his curtians. The rising sun greeted him with its gentle, warm glow and the night sky seemed to wave good-bye. He opened up the windows and took in the fresh air. The last bit of grogginess he was experienced washed away with the breeze that brushed his face as it poured in through the window and flooded his room. 

Brent quickly got dressed and left, rushing down the corridor. He walked into the servants quarters and looked at the servants schedule one more time with nervous anticipation, only to be grinning up to his ears.

Listed on the schedule for the late afternoon was Brent assisting Angelica with her ball gown. I cannot believe it is still here. I cannot belive it did not change. 

Brent couldn’t fathom how he was fortunate to have been assigned such an important duty. It didn’t even bother him with the fact that he wasn’t going to be the only one – Bedelia and Natalia were both going to be there too. Okay, sure, he didn’t really like the idea of Bedelia being there, but just the fact he was even going to be within the vicintiy to assist with Angelica getting ready for the ball was more than enough. This was exactly why he needed to get the choker done today. He tapped his pocket, checking to make sure it was still in there.

Brent quickly skimmed over the rest of his schedule – he was to first help set up the ballroom with the final touches for tonight’s ball, then the kitchen for additional ballroom preparations. From there, he was to report to the dressing room and be on stand-by beside Princess Angelica’s newest dress that was to arrive later today. 

Brent began to tremble. He could not wait to get the day started. 

***

Brent stared up at the dress that had been wheeled in not too long ago. He could only imagine what Angelica would like wearing it, with its boned top and skirt made of layers upon layers of tulle. And what he could imagine, he knew she would be absolutely beautiful, even if she continued to look miserable at the ball. 

He pulled a small book out of his pocket and leaned against the wall. The book’s cover appeared to be well-loved with its rough edges and fading ink. The binding appeared to be curling, but the book held together surprisingly well. It was simply tilted “Air Magic Notes”. Brent had no idea if he had any genuine magic power – although in all honesty, he suspected he did – but the book was interesting to him. It was written by King Aerlden, before he was king – back when he was just a simple court mage. The notes were brief and to the point, but detailed enough for Brent to follow along. A part of him longed to try them for himself, but fear of him causing harm stopped him. 

I wonder how much of the ability described in here is a natural gift or due to hard work? Brent looked at his own hand. He wjggled his fingers, as if trying to warm them up somehow. A faint blue glow began to surround his hand. His stomach clenched, noticing the faint outline. 

“Brent, bring the dress, now!” 

Brent jumped, whipping his head towards the door. He stuffed the book back into his pocket and ran behind the dress. “Yes, ma’am!” he replied, watching Bedelia promptly turning her back to him. Brent’s heart pounded as he pushed the dress out the door. 

Brent stumbled forward as Bedelia swiped the dress from him and whealed it behind the partition. 

“Natalia, get back here!” yelled Bedelia. 

Natalia and Brent exchanged smiles before Natalia raised her hand. “Yes, Ms. Bedelia!” 

Just before Natalia slipped behind the curtain, she said, “The princess requested her baby pink folding fan with the dark pink sparkles. I need you to grab it!” She winked and disappeared behind the paritition. 

Brent mumbled “yes” under his breath as he turned his attention briefly to the curtain. Although he couldn’t see anything in detail, he could still see the outline of Angelica’s body. He watched the sihollhoute of her bathrobe drop to the floor and her standing with nothing on, surrounding by both Bedelia and Natalia on either side. He smirk spread across his face, which quickly softened as his heartbeat dropped. I can’t even see how she fully looks, but I can tell she is just so beautiful. He watched Bedelia and Natalia quickly dress Angelica just like a doll.

Brent suddenly felt jolted. He looked around, only to remember there was no clock in the room. Her fan! He ran out of the room, down the corridor, going one floor up to Angelica’s bedroom. He quickly, but quietly opened her door and slipped right in. He held his breath, feeling as if he was doing something he wasn’t supposed to be doing. He walked over to her armoire and opened the double doors. He turned his head to his right, scanning the long row of folded fans hanging off from it on hooks. He spotted the requested fan, grabbed it, shut the armoire, and slipped back out of the room. 

Brent’s eyes met with Angelica’s as he entered back into the room. He couldn’t even breath a word. His face lit up as he watched her’s do the same. Angelica skipped up to him, exclaiming, “Oh, Brent, you brought my fan!” 

Brent presented the fan to Angelica. “Yes, of course Princess Angelica, anything you desire, I will do my best to fulfill your request,”

Brent shivered ever so slightly as Angelica brushed her fingers against his hand as she was taking the fan out of it. They looked at each other right in the eyes: Brent’s was just screaming about how beautiful Angelica looked. Angelica’s seemed to be asking him what he thought about her. 

Just as Angelica finished removing the fan from Brent’s hands, Bedelia stepped in between them. She leered at Brent, who returned it right back to her. Bedelia slightly turned her heads towards Princess Angelica, keeping her angered gaze on Brent. “Princess, there is no time!” 

“You keep saying that! It’ll take no time at all – just watch,” said Angelica. She yanked the tie that was in her hair, allowing her wet hair to settle on her back.

Brent silently snickered watching Bedelia become speechlessly flustered as Angelica walked passed her to the lit vanity. With swift movements, Angelica used her fan and air magic to quickly dry her hair and flair out her her bangs. His smirk grew as Angelica whipped her head back at Bedelia with smugness. “I told you it would not take me all that long.” 

Bedelia clicked her tongue.

Brent laughed internally. 

Brent’s attention briefly turned away from Angelica, who was putting on her tiara, by Natalia who let out a whispery gasp and ran out from behind the partition, holding a pair of heels from behind the partition. 

“I would say my outfit is complete.” 

“Oh, but princess! Your shoes!”

“Thank you, Natalia.” 

Brent watched Angelica lift up the bottom of her dress high enough to expose half her calves. Natalia knelt down and slipped on the princess’s heals. Bedelia walked away from Brent and moved closer to Angelica and Natalia. 

“You are lucky that we have such efficient staff. Now, put on your gloves. We best be going.” 

Angelica slipped on her gloves and turned to Bedelia with her fan. “You and Natalia are dismissed.” 

Natalia stood up and bowed. “Yes, Princess.” 

“Thank you for all your help.”

“You are too kind.” 

Natalia passed by Brent, gave him a smile and a wink, and exited out of the room. Brent couldn’t stop smiling. 

Brent moved closer towards Bedelia and Angelica, entering into their vision fields. 

Angelica raised her head. “I dimissed you as well.” She bore her stare into Bedelia’s eyes.

Bedelia turned her scowling face towards Brent. “You are to head to the kitchen next.” 

Brent’s smile disappeared, his face seeming blank of emotion. “Yes, ma’am.” 

Angelica moved beside Brent, immeditately causing him to relax his body. “Bedelia, I dismissed you, not Brent. I understand that you are head of all servants as appointed by my parents, but I am second to my parents in terms of final say. He is to stay with me until I dismiss him.” 

“Princess Angelica, the cooks need help preparing the feast for tonight.” 

“Brent is to stay with me until I dismiss him.” 

Bedelia paused for a moment, leering at Angelica. Angelica and Brent both leered back.  “…as you wish. But please be aware, I shall bring this up to your parents.”  

Bedelia walked past them and out of the room.

Brent and Angelica stood there in complete silence, listening for the footsteps to completely disappear down the hall. 

“Is she gone?” 

Brent first started walking backwards, but soon pivoted and poked his head out the door. He looked both ways down the corridor, seeing no one in sight. The corridor was so empty, it was as if it was keeping a secret. He pulled himself back inside and flashed a smile at Angelica, still holding on the doorframe. “Yes. No other servants besides from myself in sight.” 

Brent watched the layers of Angelica’s dress bounce up and down as she scurried towards the door. She grabbed his hands and gently pulled him further inside, getting him out of the view of the door. “How do I look?” 

Brent’s gaze softened, looking at her pink multi-layered gown. It had been finished up only a few hours ago in a rush – from Brent’s understanding it was missing a few minor finishing touches, but there was no time left to out them out. The top of her gown appeared to be similar to a corset and pushed her bosoms up and together. Ruffles ran down the seams of the top. Her sleeves exposed her shoulders with longer pieces cascading down that flowed behind when she walked. Spilling out from the bottom was layers upon layers of sparkly tulle, making it hard to distguish one layer from the other. 

Brent grasped Angelica’s hands tighter, pulling them closer to his face. “You are the most beautful lady in all the land as always, Princess. Shame I couldn’t accompany you.” 

Angelica gave him a solemn smile. “Such a shame, indeed.” 

“I’m sure there will be many fine gentlemen to your liking.” 

Brent lowered his & Angelica’s hands. He began to take a step back, physically distancing himself from her. The scowl that appeared on Angelica’s face halted him from doing anymore. “Why are you distancing yourself from me now?” 

Brent forced a big smile on his face. “I’m just concerned about your future.” 

Angelica removed one hand from Brent and place it on her hip, slightly turning away from him. She lowered her head, gazing into his eyes with a succulent pout. “Do I even have to say it?” 

Brent’s toes curled looking back into her eyes and he bit his lip. 

The edges of Angelica’s mouth slightly turned upward. “There are no other gentleman but you.” 

Brent mirrored back Angelica’s smirk. He lifted her hand up to his mouth. “Good thing I’ll still be there when you get bored, ya?” 

Angelica giggled in return. “I might just have to bother you then.” 

Brent kissed her hand. “I welcome it.” 

[UNEDITED FIRST DRAFT] ??? (Brent’s Story)

PLEASE NOTE: This is a ROUGH DRAFT. It is the VERY FIRST DRAFT OF THE STORY. YOU are the very first person to read it – I haven’t even read it in its entirety yet!

You WILL come across numerous issues including:

  • spelling mistakes;
  • grammar issues;
  • weak sentence structure;
  • repeated words;
  • unnecessary words;
  • missing words;
  • lack of details/descriptions;
  • confusing details/descriptions;

Critiques/criticisms, while appreciated, most likely will be discarded at this stage! Thank you.

Additional Note: Doodles, Sketches, and Artwork may be added over time. These are not the story illustrations! They do feature characters and places within the story, however.


Brent gasped as he came to, hearing his mother’s screams quickly died down. He slowly lowered his eyes to his hands. His entire body was engulfed in what resembled a deep, dark blue flame, nearly the colour of the midnight sky. The edges of it glowed a significantly brighter blue. The dark blue flames quickly died out as the blood all over Brent, from his face to his hands to his feet, disappeared. 

Brent turned to the mirror across from him looking at himself. It wasn’t just his hands engulfed in the flame-like energy – it was his entire being. His body tingled with varing sensations. Sometimes it felt prickly, while other times it felt no different than someone running their palms over his skin. He felt hot in parts and cold in others. 

He had no idea what was going on. 

His head turned back to his mother. 

As soon as the flame-like energy faded, reality hit Brent like a sledgehammer. He fell to his knees and tears poured from his eyes. He let out a scream of his own.

His mother was dead.

And he killed her. 

*** 

Brent was wrapped in a heavy, warm blanket, as two of the servants sat next to him. He cast his gaze down to the floor. He had been moved to another room while the royal phyisicans exammed his mothers body. He lifted his head only when he heard a soft click on the door. 

“Brent!” 

Brent felt the warmth of a hug around him before he could even blink. Princess Angelica, the daughter of the king & queen, his best friend, and (hopefully) future wife, wrapped her arms around him. He could feel from the dampness on her cheek that she had been crying. Brent hugged her back, while looking up. To his surprise, the king and queen had also showed up. They too walked up to him and gave him a hug. 

“Poor child,” said the queen.

“We are so sorry for what has happened.” The king stroked Brent’s head. Brent was on the verge of tears. 

“Your highness, neither one of you had to be here.” 

Everyone looked over. An older woman with a stern expression had entered through the door. 

“Bedelia, this child just lost his mother.” 

“We simply asked you to decide what to do with him in the morning.” 

Brent could barely breath with how tight Angelica was hugging him. Brent could feel warm tears falling down her cheeks again. The king stopped touching his head and the queen let go of him, instead placing a hand on his back. 

The king lifted his head. “We have already made a decision.”

“Oh?” 

“Brent shall stay in this castle. He shall continue his studies as is and will be assigned caretakers until he turns 16. From there, his duties as a servant will be increased, although he is free to continue his studies in his open hours.” 

Brent stared right into Bedelia’s face. What a fake smile

Bedelia pushed up her glasses. “Are you sure, your highness?” 

“Are you questioning me, Bedelia?” 

Brent held back the smirk that wanted to grow on his face. I’m supposed to be sad. Well, I suppose I am in fact sad…but her face. 

“Ah…I apologize, your highness. I spoke out of line.” 

“Please pick the best servants for the job.” 

“Yes, your highness. I shall assign him them in the morning.” 

Brent returned the leer Bedelia gave him. Angelica, who was still clinging to Brent, watched the silent exchange. 

The king walked into the next room, where the murder of Brent’s mother had taken place. It was full of numerous staff, each doing their part to access the murder scene and figure out the next moves after it – after all, her blood was splatter all over the floor and on the surrounding beds. Brent’s mother at this point, however, was placed underneath a sheet, hiding her terribly mutilated body underneath it. He stood tall as each person turned their attention to him and bowed. The king turned to two knights. “Sir Inwyn, Sir Scotrick, please house Brent in your quarters tonight. I suspect the boy will have dreadful nightmares and we will need to figure out his proper relocation tomorrow.” 

Sir Inwyn and Sir Scotrick knelt down in front the king. “Yes, your highness.” 

“Very well.” 

The king returned back to the room with anyone else. He extended his hand to the door, where Inwyn and Scotrick still knelt. “Brent, you will be sleeping in the knight quarters with Sir Inwyn and Sir Scotrick. It is of uptmost importance that you are safe.” 

“Thank you,” quietly replied Brent. 

He turned towards Angelica, who met him with a faint glint in her eye and the two of them rubbed their cheeks together. The softness of her skin raised his mood just enough for it to be pulled back down by the reality that he would never see his mother again. 

*** 

Brent had been relocated to a mixed servant sleeping quarters with his own bed in the corner of the room with a beautiful view of the sky. It wasn’t as nice as the room both he and his mother had been generously granted by the king and queen, but it was agreed that he shouldn’t be alone, especially with the trauma still fresh. Still, the room itself and the corner he was in was more than enough. It was a beautifully furnished room for the more high-ranking servants who had more responsibilties in comparison to the rest, but with that, a lot more freedom. 

Brent leaned against the light gray walls and looked up, seeing the waning cresent moon above. The stars above the castle glittered brightly, but that was to be expected considering that Astral Isles got its name for such a spectcale, afterall. Something about seeing it all made him begin to relax, forgetting his troubles.

Until he heard the whisperings near the crackling fireplace. Two of the woman servants had been looking over to him and Brent had noticed something was odd, but he couldn’t figure out what. His attention had faded and turned to the sky instead as they talked about how the day had gone. It seems they had watched his attention turn to outside because their idle chatter suddenly changed tone. 

“Bedelia said to keep an eye on him, but is it even safe to do so?” 

“Do you really think a child his age could kill his mother like that?” 

“What if he gets upset at us? I do not want to end up like her.” 

“To think he could even do such a thing…it doesn’t seem possible.” 

“It is not more strange that the child had no blood on him? You saw the room – it was everywhere.” 

“Could he have just entered?” 

Another servant in the room walked over to the couches around the fire place with the two woman servants were chattering. He leaned over in between the two of them. “I heard his father was involved with some evil magic.” 

One of the servant woman gasped. The other one clicked her tongue. 

“Where do you get your information from?” inquired the one who had clicked her tongue.

“I heard from Bedelia as they were sorting his mothers things, they found some letters. She said they were dreadful and burned them.” 

Brent grasped his pants tightly as the blood drained from his face. His mind thought back to the shoebox his mother always had on her desk and the letters she was always writing. The box itself had been packed with letters from his father. And now they were gone. 

Tears streamed down his cheeks. I wanted to read those one day. 

He slid down off the wall and laid on the bed, staring up at the ceiling. His body trembled and withered in pain. He opened his mouth to wail, but choked it back. I can’t…I cannot cry…mother…mother…MOTHER. He sniffled, pulled himself towards his pillow, and buried himself under the covers, hoping it would smother his sobs. 

*** 

Brent sat slumped in his chair. He let his arm and the book in his hand fall to his lap as he looked off in a daze. Once again, he withered in pain and agnoy. I killed my mom and people know, he thought. I killed her and I don’t know how I did it, but everyone knows I did it. He wanted to start screaming and crying again, but he wasn’t alone. He couldn’t do anything like that. Everywhere he turned, he felt like at any moment, someone was going to point out he killed her, no matter how little he knew about doing it. 

Princess Angelica, who had been grabbing a book off a nearby shelf, turned to him. The arm that held the book she just grabbed fell to her side and she held her fan to her heart. “Brent? Are you alright? Are the lessons boring? Or is the library too stuffy?” 

Brent sat up and turned to her, grabbing her hand with the fan. “I am okay, Princess Angelica. I’m just still sad about my mother.” 

Angelica’s eyes swelled up and she hugged him. “I’m sorry she’s gone. I hope they find whoever killed her.” Her embraced tightened around him and the agony within him increased. 

I killed her! I killed her! I killed her! 

Brent’s hands balled, grasping into Angelica’s dress as he hugged her back. Angelica simply hugged him tighter. 

After a good minute of embracing, Angelica stuck her fan into her pocket, placed her book on the ground, and knelt down beside Brent in the chair. She placed her own hand on his and looked up with a sparkling smile. Her indigo eyes seemed to reflect the stars that appeared at midnight in the sky, lighting up Brent’s heart. A smile spread across her face. “I love you.” 

Brent’s heart warmed. “I love you too.” 

Brent’s face blushed as he watched Angelica’s do the same. He lightly grabbed her hand and raised it to his lips, giving it a soft kiss. 

I can’t keep hurting like this. I’m going to end up hurting Angelica… 

Brent’s grab on Angelica’s hand tightened as he looked up at her red face that was partially blocked by Angelica’s free hand. I can’t let anyone know. No one. I need to do better! 

***

Brent could remember when he first met her. Him and his mother were newly arrived at the castle as the new servants to the king, queen, and their only daughter, Princess Angelica. He could still remember the golden-haired girl with indigo eyes giving him a smile that rivaled the brightest star in the sky. He may have only been 6 years old, but it seemed so obvious that Princess Angelica was to be his future wife. He announced it that day to the king, queen,  his mother, and the princess herself. Looking back, he was certain that was when the king and queen took a liking to him – how often is it that one child says to another they will take care of them for life? He also remembers his mother profusely apologizing to the king and queen for his “rude” behaviour, but the king and queen seemed not to mind at all. The most amazing thing to him was that Princess Angelica seemed to agree.

As far as Brent and Angelica were concerned, they could open admit their love to each other without consequence. As his 15th year has gone along, he more recently started to question more things, especially with the increased sophistication of the study material in front of him. Bedelia would be aflutter if she knew I was being taught more about how the kingdom is run. He couldn’t help but think he was in the running for Angelica’s husband. 

He let a romantic sigh. 

It was followed by a girlish giggle from across the room. Brent looked over at Princess Angelica who sat across from him, books sprawled out around her. Placed in front of her was a large journal and a smaller one. 

“What is so funny?” 

“Your sigh resembles the village girls sighing as Sir Inwyn and Sir Scotrick passby.” 

Brent laughed in return. It bounced off the walls of the library and right back to their ears. A single tear fell from his eye, he was laughing so hard. “I-I can see why you would say that.” 

“What was so dreamy that you were thinking about?”

“You.” 

Brent gently smiled at Angelica, watching her face flush. Angelica took out her fan and hid her face. “Do tell, what were you thinking about me?” 

Brent stood up and moved to the seat across from her, grabbing her free hand. “I was thinking back to the day we first met and I knew you were going to be my wife one day.” 

Angelica’s eyes slowly batted. “Go on.” 

“I have noticed that my studies have grown outside of what one would expect for a servant boy such as myself. It seems the king and queen have made it a priority that I learn about how the kingdom is run.” 

Princess Angelica put down her fan. Her eyes were wide. “They’re…they’re what?” 

“I am being taught how the kingdom is run. I suppose it could help me to be a better servant,  but the material is so detailed. I feel that I would be halfway to running the kingdom myself.” 

Angelica put her fan to her mouth as if she was covering it with a fan. “Thank the stars Bedelia doesn’t know that!” 

Brent laughed. “Quite right! She would be mortified if she knew. I can already hear her objections now.” 

Princess Angelica and Brent laughed for a moment. 

Angelica then lowered the fan from her face and looked at Brent with her indigo eyes. Brent’s breath was stolen from him and everything else seemed to fade away other than Angelica herself. He watched her lips brief purse before she spoke. “Brent, we are both coming up to our 16th year next year and I have been wondering about marriage between us. I love you as I know you do too.” 

Brent stood up and leaned over the table, getting closer to Angelica’s face. “There has not been one moment since I met you that I did not want to spend my life with you – not as your servant, but as your partner,” 

Angelica’s angelic smile lit up Brent’s heart.

“Angelica,” he said. “What if I discuss the possibility with your parents tonight?” 

Angelica’s eyebrows lifted. “How fast!” 

“Can it really be so fast if it has been since we met as children?” 

Angelica giggled. “I suppose not.” 

I must arrange to speak to the King and Queen right away when I have a moment to do so. Would it be best to find a private time? Brent’s face showed a hint of grimance. But if I do, would others be scared I would do what I did to my mother? 

Immeditately, he squashed that thought down. No, no, private or not private, I will respectuflly ask the king and queen for Angelica’s hand in marriage for next year. 

[UNEDITED FIRST DRAFT] The Princess and the Servant Boy

PLEASE NOTE: This is a ROUGH DRAFT. It is the VERY FIRST DRAFT OF THE STORY. YOU are the very first person to read it – I haven’t even read it in its entirety yet!

You WILL come across numerous issues including:

  • spelling mistakes;
  • grammar issues;
  • weak sentence structure;
  • repeated words;
  • unnecessary words;
  • missing words;
  • lack of details/descriptions;
  • confusing details/descriptions;

Critiques/criticisms, while appreciated, most likely will be discarded at this stage! Thank you.

Additional Note: Doodles, Sketches, and Artwork may be added over time.


Astral Isles – where the stars shine down from the sky both day and night. The stars glistening rays kiss the lusious land with its gently rolling hills, scattered forest, and hundreds of flower-covered meadows. The sand on the beach and its watery companion that surround the isle always are twinkling back to the stars with a silent giggle. 

Spread throughout the land were homes where hardworking people worked and played. You wouldn’t be able to tell from their medivial-style homes that they had many modern devices within. 

Right in the center of Astral Isles – where the North Star shined down – stood a grand castle. It’s light gray stone walls piled high, reaching towards the star above that so kindly graced their prescence. The castle itself seemed to glitter like the stars throughout the day, as the sun’s rays kissed its walls. 

Up on the second floor balcony of the castle (there were technically four floors, but some of the towers easily made it twelve), a young lady stood in a pool of water, completely naked, as the a waterfall poured onto her golden locks from the mouth of a lion statue. Soapy suds glided their way down her wheat-coloured skin and into the water below. As the soap finished washing out of her hair, she turned around and faced the waterfall. She slowly stepped underneath it, allowed it to gently wash over her face. She moved her hands of it, guiding the water to every part of her face. 

“Princess, you mustn’t stay under the water for long.” 

If her eyes had been opened, she would have rolled them. The young lady – a princess – whipped her head into the direction of the voice of the older woman. “I know, I know,” she said. She waved her hand towards the woman as if she was trying to shoo a fly. “My skin will prune if I do. I’ll be out in a second.” 

After one quick wash to the face, she stepped a few steps backwards towards another woman who stood by the steps. The woman held a pink towel out to the princess with both hands, slightly bowing to her as she did. The princess thanked the woman, grabbed the towel, and began to dry off her body. She turned to the woman, only a couple of years older than her, with a smile. The woman bowed her head in acknowledgement to the princess’s position. 

The older woman from earlier, with her graying blonde hair tied up high in a bun and high-collared dress, hissed to the princess. “Hurry, we do not have much time.” 

The Princess glanced to the woman with slight disdain. She walked behind a changing screen, opened her arms wide to allow the towel she had wrapped around her loosely to fall to her feet. Another woman – older than the first one by the tub, but younger than the naggy one – grabbed a white bathrobe and helped the princess get into it. Once it was all tied up and the princess and the servant nodded in acknowledgement to the process being done, she headed off to re-enter the castle . The nagging older woman followed shortly behind. 

“The guest will be arriving soon and you are not even close to being ready!” 

“Is that not what the dressing room will get us to do?” 

The older woman glared at the princess as they rounded the corner. “Your hair – ” 

“Will be fine,” assured the Princess. “Just get me me a folding fan.” 

Before the woman could say anything more, the princess burst through double doors. The room itself appeared to be long, but small – one side was set up with a large vanity, while the other side had a changing partition and a large mirror. However, in the middle of the wall directly across from the entrance way was the doors to the closet that house mannekins upon mannekins of royal wear specifically for the princess. 

The princess turned to the servant woman that stood a few feet away from the door. “Please get me one of my folding fans.” 

“Yes, right away, princess. Which colour would you like?” 

“Make it the baby pink one with the darker pink sparkle.” 

“As you wish.” 

The older woman huffed. “I cancel that order – I will need her assistance! Princess, you do not have tiime!” 

“Bedelia, do not raise your voice at me.” The princess spun around and held out a finger to the older woman. Bedelia paused for a moment. Her face paled for a brief moment before she groaned. 

“Just get behind the partition.” 

The princess did as she was told. Bedelia followed shortly behind. Before the princess could relax, Bedelia had pulled a hair tie from her apron and yanked the princess’s hair and twisted into a bun. 

“Ouch! Do not be so rough!” cried the princess. 

“Forgive me, Princess Angelica,” said Bedelia without an ounce of regret. “I do not want your sopping wet hair to ruin the dress.” 

“As I said, there is no problem.” 

“You cannot be so relient on magic. I understand that it’s a tradition that you are carrying on, but it has proven to be unreliable over the long run.” 

“Unreliable for who?” Princess Angelica asked, glancing over her shoulder. She could see Bedelia’s eye subtly twitch. 

Without saying a word, Bedelia finished with the princess’s hair and quickly opened the doors to the dressing room. “Brent, bring the dress, now!” she hissed. 

“Yes, ma’am!” responded Brent. The blonde-hair teenage boy with a short goatee grabbed the waste of a mannekin and begun to roll it out. His sunflower-yellow locks of perfectly curled hair bounced as he pushed it down the middle of the closet and into the main changing room. The moment it was out of the closet, Bedelia yanked it from him and pushed it behind the curtain. 

“Natalia, get back here!” Bedelia yelled. 

“Yes, Ms. Bedelia!” replied the servant from earlier who had been standing near the door. 

Natalia turned to Brent. “The princess requested her baby pink folding fan with the dark pink sparkles. I need you to grab it!” She rushed off. 

Brent smirked as he watched the middle sillhouette behind the changing screen go from clothed to unclothed. He let out a quiet sigh and his face relaxed as he watched the middle sillhouette turn around, allowing the other two to put on articles of clothing. Princess Angelica yelping from her corset being pulled too tight brought him back to the reality that he was staring too lovingly at her sillhouette for far too long. He took a deep breath and rushed out of the room and down the corridor. 

The moment Princess Angelica emerged from behind the screen, Brent reappeared back in the room with the requested fan. Princess Angelica’s face lit up as she saw his and the fan. She skipped up to him.

“Oh, Brent, you brought my fan!” 

“Yes, of course Princess Angelica, anything you desire, I will do my best to fulfill your request,” replied Brent, holding out the fan to her with both hands.

Princess Angelica took the fan out of his hands slowly, letting her own brush against his. The two of them stared into each other’s eyes. Their smiles may have been small and humble, but their eyes told a completely different story. 

Bedelia stepped in between them. She bore a spiteful gaze into Brent’s face as she spoke to Princess Angelica over her shoulder. “Princess, there is no time!” 

“You keep saying that,” complained Princess Angelica. “It’ll take no time at all – just watch.” 

The princess yanked the hair tie from her head and let her damp hair fall to her back. She rushed up to the vanity mirror and flicked open the fan. With a fell swoop on the left and on the right side of her body, heated air ran down from the top of her head to the ends. As the heated air was followed with a distinct sizzle, crackle, pop, and then utter silence. Her golden locks returned to their slightly wavy natural state. With a slight curved swoop on both sides of her bangs, they straighted and flared outward. It had taken her less than a minute to do all of this. 

Bedelia stuck up her nose as the princess turned around, A smug look spread across the princess’s face. “I told you it would not take me all that long.” 

Bedelia clicked her tongue. 

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