There are ants in my Lucky Green Boots Circulation: 194,748,823 Issue: 791 | 28th day of Swimming, Y19
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The Princess of Flowers: Part Two


by downrightdude

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PART 2: NEW PROBLEMS

      Rose sat up on her bed. Sunlight was streaming heavily through the bedroom window and the red satin curtains were swaying gently. After the royal Kyrii looked around the room, she raised an eyebrow. “Hello? Maids?” she called.

      Very strange. Rose had expected one of her family’s various servants to be standing beside her bed, ready to pull off the covers and then smooth them back in place once their beloved princess was removed. There would have been ten maids in her bedroom by now: at least eight of them would assist her in dressing up for the day. Of course Rose was perfectly capable of dressing herself, and she didn’t need anybody to be fussing over what to wear, how her hair should be styled, or which shoes would look nice with the day’s dress. Should she wear stockings or short socks? Would a sparkling diamond necklace be too much? Which purse or clutch should the princess wear for the day’s events? Do the events of the day even call for any handheld items? What about gloves? Or earrings? How about a tasteful watch?

      “You would look ever-so-swell in your pastel blue gown, your highness,” a maid would say.

      “No, she should wear that fancy white gown with the lacy collar and cuffs,” a second maid would suggest.

      “Whatever she wears has to match those gold shoes she got yesterday”, a third maid would insist. “The queen said so herself.”

      “Then what would she pair with her flower embroidered clutch?” The first maid would ask. “You know, the cream coloured one?”

      The third maid would shake her head and say “For today’s garden tea party, the princess has to dress as simply as possible. So I suggest she’d only accessorize with a pair of those lacy gloves she got for Christmas two years ago.”

      While all of these pointless conversations would converse, Rose always found herself dressing herself in whatever she felt like wearing and heading downstairs to the dining hall, having no regards to the squabbling mass that was supposedly trying to dress her themselves. For today, since nobody had the manners to greet her and re-make her bed, Rose decided to wear a pale pink gown with cuffed sleeves. “This is much nicer than that white gown,” she declared aloud, turning in front of her floor length mirror.

      It was while she was admiring her reflection that Rose noticed something behind her. She turned and walked over to pick up the peculiar object. “This is where you were,” Rose mused as she examined the silver hand mirror. Despite the five intricate roses carved on the mirror’s frame, Rose had thrown the mirror yesterday in anger after she had yet another self-appearance fit. All the glass had shattered, with only one small triangle remaining in the top right corner of the round frame.

      “Poor thing,” Rose muttered. Before the sudden outburst, she was very contented with admiring her reflection in the mirror. Even though she thought her snout was too long and her eyes were too far apart, she would persist in trying to find at least one feature of hers deemed suitable of real beauty. Unfortunately nothing had been found, and her frustrations…well, you know what happened afterwards.

      After slipping on a pair of pink pumps, Rose walked elegantly down the gilded hallways of the palace. She didn’t care to admire any of the various paintings she passed, nor did she care for the dainty vases her mother enjoyed displaying on Altadorian-style pillars. Besides the obvious absence of rushing servants and cleaning maids, Rose was most looking forward to partaking in her daily breakfast meal. She hoped the chef had prepared some fancy waffles. Yet despite her famished state, she also couldn’t shrug off the uneasy feeling that something…something 'odd' was afoot.

      “It better not be another birthday surprise,” Rose muttered aloud, despite remembering nobody in her family had a birthday to celebrate tday. Still, she didn’t understand why everything was so quiet and peaceful. Usually the servants would be squawking at each other as they did their work, gossiping or sharing boring stories that would make them gasp in surprise or laugh with amusement. Rose had always viewed the servants as being a lot of boring Neopians who could do nothing more but take orders and clean every inch of the royal palace of Floritua. It was because of this she was somewhat grateful her parents forbade her to socialize with the wait staff. She was certain they would bore her silly with their recollections of childhood games and Neoschool teachers–

      “There you are.” A cloaked ghoul was standing in front of her now. He was covered with a dark purple mist and his eyes were glowing red. “I havebeen expecting you, Rose Princess.”

      Rose took a step back. “Who are you?” she demanded.

      The ghoul floated toward her. He reached at her with a cloaked hand and hissed in a deep voice, “YOU WILL BE NEXT!”

      Fearing for her life, Rose ran down the hallway, holding her skirt up and scolding herself for wearing such impractical shoes. She was relieved that nobody was around to look at her or scold her for running in the palace. Not wanting to follow any of the impractical ladylike etiquette rules, Rose burst through a door and continued running, nearly tripping as she cascaded down a stone staircase. Through the tulip garden and past the Shoyru-shaped fountain, she continued to run and pant, not daring to look over her shoulder.

      Finally! Rose thought as she ran down the steep hill the royal palace was built upon. When she reached the bottom, she continued her pursuit, huffing and puffing until she reached the village. Rose had rarely ever visited the village, mainly because she viewed the quaint area as being incredibly boring. All the building were made of wood and topped with roofs made of straw. The roads were made of dirt and some streets were rutted. Although it was the morning, not a single villager was around, and surely there would have been such a commotion if they’d seen their beloved princess panting in the town square!

      “Why, ain’t that the lil princess that lives in ‘em royal palace?” a villager would say in an awful accent.

      “What on earth is she doing here?” a second villager would inquire.

      And why is she so sweaty?” a third villager would ask.

      “Maybe she’s running away from something?” the second villager would suggest.

      “Like a lil petpet, you’d mean?” the villager with the awful accent would ask.

      The second villager would nod and say, “Most likely so. In fact, I believe that she–”

      A green Acara approached Rose and gasped. “Oh my heavens! Are you alright?” her tone showed great concern, and it was, thankfully, not riddled by a horrendous dialect.

      “I’m alright now,” Rose insisted.

      “Do you need water?” the Acara asked. “How about I take you to my shop? It’s nearby and you can rest there.”

      Not wanting to be confronted by the mysterious ghoul again, Rose obliged and followed the Acara to a nearby shop. She followed the Acara to the kitchen and plopped on a small stool. “This place sure is clean,” she remarked, looking around the small room. Besides a small pink oven, a sink and a white refrigerator, there was nothing else in this 'supposed kitchen'. Did this villager not have any fancy kitchen gadgets or assistant bakers?

      The Acara blushed. “I try to keep this in tip-top shape, milady,” she said softly. “Now, would you like anything to drink?”

      Rose shook her head. “I’ll be fine. So what do you sell here?”

      “I sell baked goods, milady,” the Acara explained. Do you like muffins m—?”

      “Stop calling me that,” Rose insisted. “Either call me ‘Rose’ or dismiss me from this cramped space you call a store.”

      The Acara curtseyed. “Please accept my humblest apologies, Miss Rose.”

      Rose sighed. “Close enough. So what may I call you?”

      “My name is Mildred,” said the Acara. She twisted her apron in her hands. “It truly is an honour to meet you, your highness. I’ve never seen anybody from your family visit our village before.” She sighed forlornly. “It’s a shame no one else is here to greet you.”

      “Nobody’s here?” asked Rose. “Where’d they go?”

      Mildred shook her head. “I woke up this morning and found the shop completely empty. None of my employees were here, and we had no customers waiting for bread.”

      “It must be such a fussy pain to be the one to bake bread for everyone else,” Rose assumed. She didn’t want to add her thought about Mildred’s paisley dress possibly costing mere neopoints, but she withdrew her comment to seem polite.

      “It’s a living, miss,” Mildred insisted. “Now I have a question for you: why were you panting so heavily? Were you running away from something?”

      Rose was aghast. “How…what would make you say such a thing?” she demanded.

      “That dress you’re wearing is fit only for tea parties, not for vigorous exercise,” Mildred explained. “Those shoes you wear are also not suitable for running, either.”

      And who asked for your opinion, peasant? “I suppose your points are valid,” said Rose. “Though, to be completely honest, I don’t know what I was trying to escape from. It was so strange and everything was so sudden.”

      “May I ask what scared you so much that you run all the way here?” asked Mildred. “Was it something frightening?”

      “It’s a bit hard to explain,” Rose confessed. “I was walking down a hallway when a—”

      A deep voice interrupted Rose. “HERE YOU ARE, PRINCESS. I’VE BEEN LOOKING FOR YOU EVERYWHERE!!”

      Mildred screamed. Rose rushed to confront the ghoul, shielding Mildred behind here. She was going to speak, yet now she was uncertain. If I use a spell, would Mildred freak too? she wondered. Or should I take the risk and summon my weapon?

      To be continued…

 
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