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18

A New World

“We’re here!” I yelled causing Alais to throw a pillow at the back of my head. I stared out the window watching as we passed under a large gated arch in a stone wall. That’s when it dawned on me. “If it takes an hour to reach this wall from the palace… in any direction then… this wall should be about seven hundred miles long.”

“That’s impressive. Who was your teacher?” Kimi asked as she stood to my left and Apple to my right.

“Elyon, she’s the only dark elf in the palace.”

“Is that so?” She mused.

I gasped while turning to look her way.

“She might be as old as you, right? Does that mean you might know each other?”

“How dare you call me old! Do my breasts look like they’re sagging to you?!”

I took a glance at her head to make sure the crown was still on before her chest. Apple leaned to the side to gaze over her as well.

“All I see is fur,” I said.

“Squeeze here,” She pointed at her fur-covered breasts but my attention went back out to the window. We were already past the entrance, moving deeper into the city.

“These are… houses?” I asked.

“Hey! Don’t ignore me,” She said while nibbling my hand. Thankfully the crown was keeping the violent part of her brain under control.

“Mm… More or less, Your Highness,” He said flicking through a book my sister gave him for help. “It reads that most main roads that lead from a castle or palace are lined with extravagant shops and stores to help show off the city’s wealth and allow royalty to partake in shopping for the finest goods without much walking. Most shop owners on the main road live where they work, to allow round-the-clock service to the royal family when needed.”

“Really? That’s very kind of them. What of the buildings off the main road?”

“More shops, Your Highness. Sadly unlucky enough to be chosen by any of the royal family members for spaces on the main road.”

“So… could I choose someone to set up shop on the main road?”

“Acutely you can, and it’s a great way to grow the royal purse.”

Alais chuckled, still lazing in bed. More like Alais The Vexing Sloth if you asked me.

“I think I’ve read enough books to know a foreshadow when I see it, Mr. Apple,” I mused.

“That being said, it costs one platinum coin, and Your Highness’s purse contains four platinum coins and five golds.”

“I spent a bit building Alais’s home.” I turned to look in Alais’s direction and yelled, “That she still has not thanked me for, blah!” Alais chucked another pillow into my face.

I signaled Mr. Bark to stop. It was a pretty large road so simply stopping wasn’t much of an issue for others I assumed. Also given the fact not much of the traffic was that close to the gate.

“Apple? Some crackers, and water please.”

“Of course, Your Highness.”

Taking the water, drinking down as much as I could, before giving it back. I slipped my fingers around the cloth-covered crackers before he could unwrap them.

“Thank you very much,” I said before hopping out of the carriage. I walked briskly over to the horses that pulled us and started giving them each a cracker as I expressed my thanks. “Thank you… very much… Thank you… very much.”

“Your Highness?” Apple said with slight unease.

“Apple, you wouldn’t happen to be able to speak horse would you?” I asked absent-mindedly.

“If anything half of him should,” Kimi said.

She stood next to me almost causing me to believe she wanted to feed them as well.

“Is this true, Apple? Can you speak only half the language?” I asked.

“Perhaps,” He began patiently. “His Highness would prefer to reserve such talk for later?” He asked softly.

“Mmm I don’t know, I think we both would love to hear you say something in horse,” Kimi said with her fist to her hips. Now that I think about it, I think she already knew but was simply playing along with my childish ignorance.

“It’s true. Try as I might, I’m pretty interested in learning such a language from you,” I said.

“He’s probably jealous you didn’t give him a cracker,” Kimi said.

With a slight smile and sigh, Apple came closer to whisper in my ear.

“A small crowd gathers. I’d assume His Highness’s sister may appreciate a little bit of etiquette when in public.”

“Ah… yes, of course,” I said.

Kimi leaned into my other ear and whispered, “Give him a cracker.”

“Ah yes, of course,” I said while placing one in Apple’s palm before storing the rest.

“Now let us leave. Apple, please tell Mr. Bark, Alais will remain inside for now. And if for any reason Alais must leave, please tell her to cover her face.”

“Yes, Your Highness.”

We finally made our way to the line of shops. Thanks to their signs and products being on display behind glass, we were able to window shop without having to go inside. However, Apple seemed to be interested in a few of the bookstores we passed. As was I, if I’m being honest.

“Your Highness, we’ve passed many clothing shops. Are you looking for something… in particular?”

“Not really… While I am eager, would it not be responsible of me to at least see what’s behind the veil of this city?”

I directed our small group of three down a side road where things seemed to grow increasingly more… unkept the further we walked.

“Your Highness, while I understand your interest in adventure, perhaps it’s not safe to venture too far away from the main road. Less we get lost, robbed, or abducted.”

“If I’m being honest, Apple, I would be more concerned for the lives of the abductor. When my sister Violet came to save me… she burned most of the Owl folk that lived there… But, with that being said, we’ve Kimi here to keep us safe.”

“Me? Sorry, Your Royalness, but I can’t fight,” Kimi said with a smirk and her eyes closed as she walked on my other side.

“Really, how come?” I asked.

“I’m all out of juice,” She said nonchalantly.

I wanted to burst out into a laugh but I kept my composure.

“Anywho~ I look behind the veil of the city in search of a… diamond in the rough, so to speak. A shop, very few people have seen, like searching through a forest only to find a witch’s cabin. And surely my coin would benefit one in poverty much more. Like a sad but beautiful flame in the harsh rain. We shall find said flame, my friends, before it’s too late.” I said that with confidence, but before I knew it, it was dark and we were back at the carriage with little to show for it.

“Took you lot long enough. What the hell happened?” Alais asked as we entered.

She was standing outside guarding along with Mr. Bark. She had a pillowcase on her head with holes in it.

“I don’t really wish to talk about it. Come inside Alais, you need to eat something.” Alais refused to move from her spot so I turned my attention. “Mr. Bark, how are you and the horses?”

“Just fine, Your Royal Highness. No need to worry. You get some rest and try again in the morning. We’ll move the carriage back onto the other side of the gate. The city can get a tad loud early in the morning.”

He gave a comforting smile as the three of us sluggishly climbed into the carriage for the night. I had to remember to give Violet my thanks. The carriage was quite literally a home on wheels. Morning soon came as we were in the middle of having breakfast. Still, Alais refused to eat. I know she wouldn’t die from starving but… such a feeling must be unbearable. I had to find out why she was being so stubborn. At least more so than usual.

“Yesterday we walked all over and haven’t found a single shop owner in desperate need,” I said.

“I’m sure it has something to do with the war so long ago,” Kimi chimed in as she stuffed her face next to me. “We ate most of the population so there should be more jobs to go around.”

“Your Highness, I’d suggest we head into the nearest shop for your clothing,” Apple said.

“You mean to say, our clothing. Kimi has been walking about in the nude all this time and I need clothing for Alais as well.”

I glanced over towards Kimi who gave a calm shrug.

“In my kingdom, we wore as little clothing as possible. It tended to get in the way of breeding,” She said.

“I… see. Well… Alais still needs something to wear for the ball.” I looked down at my empty plate lost in thought. The fact Alais wasn’t eating, troubled, me. Forcing all other matters on my mind to the back and Alais to the front until an idea finally came to me.

“Apple, Kimi, can you both please wait outside? I wish to speak with Alais.”

“Of course, Your Highness.”

“I refuse,” She said calmly.

My gaze fell on Kimi with momentary question. I knew why of course. Apple, on the other hand, finished his meal and stepped out.

“Please ask Alais to come inside. As for you…” I turned to Kimi. “I would ask that you hide under the covers and stay there, please.”

“A little nap after a meal is always wonderful,” She purred, seeming deep in thought.

She slipped under the sheets though she hooked her tail around my inner thigh as I pulled an untouched basket of sandwiches. I took note that this was the last bit of food we had and we either had to go back home for more or buy it. And if I’m being honest, I didn’t really wanna go back to the palace. I closed my eyes and waited. It took a while and I assumed the soft muffled sounds of Apple’s voice was him trying his best to convince Alais before she finally agreed, begrudgingly. I kept my eyes closed as her heavy footsteps could be heard on the paved road before stepping into the carriage. With my eyes still closed, I held up a sandwich in my right hand. Feeling a tad foolish, I shifted in my seat at the foot of the bed before finally, I felt her hot breath on my fingertips. I fed her one after another until finally the basket was empty and I was holding the last one. She bit into it and with a little bit left in the grip of my index and thumb, I felt her teeth take hold of my index. It was gentle at first but then It stung. Still, I refused to open my eyes or jerk my hand away. I didn’t even make a sound. Finally letting go, I listened to her leave, somehow taking my worries with me. When I opened my eyes, my finger was covered in my on blood. My hand trembled as I looked it over as if it was a strange work of art. Kimi came out from under the covers and stared straight at my finger.

“You should be grateful she didn’t bite the whole thing off.” Said Kimi.

Kimi pulled my finger close and placed it in her mouth. It stung as she licked the wound. Eventually, she pulled it out and it was clear of blood. However, the cut on my finger seemed hell-bent on undoing Kimi’s work. She finally wrapped it in a clean cloth that she ripped from the slightly damaged bed sheets.

“Thank you, Kimi. Uhm… couldn’t you heal it with your magic? I would love to see more of it if I’m being honest.”

“As great as I am, I’m not made of magic. I’m all out of juice. Been tapped out since the day they put me in there. That Mr. Henry you sent to my cage didn’t produce much, and wouldn’t sit still, so I ate him. I used all the essence I collected from him on fighting your sister, healing those flowers, and making the bath bubble. Also fixing my ribs when Alais kicked me.”

“So you weren’t lying when you said you couldn’t fight? That’s a tad scary to think about,” I said.

“I use magic to boost my physical abilities. Speed, strength, even hardening my claws. Don’t worry, I know how to get some more.” She nudged me down to my back before straddling my lap. Her whole body vibrated as she purred softly. “Don’t worry, I won’t bite your finger off.” She said while lifting my silk nightgown and pulling back matching bloomers.

“You’re lucky, back in my kingdom you would be a pretty cat toy… and all the knowledge that elven woman drilled into you would be a thing of the past. Your troubles would just… melt… away… with every… drop…”

“Your Highness, your sister Mary just passed by towards the city.”

Apple’s gentle words pulled me from my sleep.

“Mary?” I whined, trying to wake myself up.

“Yes, uhm… why is your finger bandaged?” He asked.

In a daze, I brought it to hover just over my face.

“Oh… I was feeding… Alais… I fed Alais and she accidentally bit me. Kimi wrapped it for me.”

I sat up glancing over at Kimi who seemed to be grooming herself. And if you’re thinking it would be odd to see such a thing, then you would be right.

“I sure did wrap it.” Kimi began, “Without my quick thinking, I’m sure you could have lost your finger. So pay me.”

“Clearly an overexertion,” I said.

“Alais needs to be more careful,” Apple said, giving Kimi a sideways glance.

He began guiding me from bed to undress me from my nightgown and into my daily attire.

“Your Highness, are you well? I was concerned when I saw you sleeping.” My face grew flushed, though I didn’t wish to share with him such… delicate information. Even now as I write this, I feel a tad uneasy. Doing my best to push the feeling to the side, I figured I’d think about something else. Like umm… how long it took for my sisters and mother to get dressed. While they had clothing and jewelry of all kinds, I only had a single set of clothing. And one pendant from Grandmother. “As for you Kimi, thank you for bandaging His Highness’s finger. But please don’t forget, His Highness has little coin as is. And… perhaps it’s not wise to beg… after all your evil deeds from the past?”

I was conflicted on that topic so I said nothing. I could already see, Kimi, rolling her eyes in annoyance. Finally leaving the carriage, Mr. Bark gave me a farewell and good luck while Alais was lying in the grass. Apple, Kimi, and I walked back into the city where a motionless carriage grew increasingly more familiar as we approached between it and the shop it was parked in front of.

“That’s… most definitely my sister’s carriage. I’ll… just get a closer look at the horses to make sure.”

I eagerly stepped but was yanked back by Kimi’s tail.

“That hurt,”

Is what I wanted to say before a large fluffy blob fell at our feet from the shop. Kimi wasted no time sitting on it as my attention turned into the shop’s doorway. Their sister Mary stood with a frown.

“Oh, you’re awake.” Sister Mary said. “I tried to speak with you but your very well-mannered valet explained that you were busy. No doubt fucking your pillow or that THING with your disgusting little dick!” Mary said while jabbing her index at Kimi who seemed unfazed. “I told Mother to castrate you,” She added as a matter of fact.

I never really could decide whether to love or hate, Mary.

“Well I’m here now, what was,”

“Ah, I’m still talking,” She interrupted. “How much do you want for Apple?”

“How much?”

“Did I stutter? How much do you want for your valet?”

“Five platinum,” Kimi said nonchalantly.

“Done,” Mary said without skipping a beat.

“N..no! Apple is not for sale. Hire your own valet.”

“Hire?” She chuckled as she shook her small but bloated sack of coins. “Six platinum.”

“Wh, why are you so interested in Apple?” I asked with concern.

“My valet is worthless and can’t do anything right even though she’s much older than Apple. Regardless, Apple was supposed to be mine until Mother found out how badly damaged he was. So she gave him to you. Though he wasn’t supposed to live from it. Now that he’s all better, I want him. Guards?” She was clearly in a bad mood and the snapping of her fingers made it clear to me. Guards in armor spilled from the shop and some of them grabbed Apple. He stayed calm but his face wore a look of sadness and fear. I wanted to punch her in her nose, but my face remained neutral as well as my body. “But… I am your big sister so I could at least give you a chance. Let’s play a game. But if you lose, I get your pretty little kitty as well.”

“Finally someone gives me respect. May I call you Goddess?” Kimi said as she swiftly went to her side, cuddling up to her.

“And such a polite one. Yes, you may. Hmm…” Mary gave Kimi a once over. “You look familiar, have you always had white hair?”

“What game?” I asked before Kimi could say anything.

“If you can guess how many coins I have in this bag I’ll,”

“Twenty-Seven…” I said confidently.

She smirked before dropping the bag in Kimi’s paw.

“Count them for your Goddess.”

“It would be my honor,” Kimi sang.

“While she does that, you… I thought I told you to leave?” Mary said towards the fluffy beast still on the ground.

“Your Royal Highness, please have mercy. I’ve nowhere to go.” The fluffy woman begged with a helpless whisper of a tone, though I refused to look away from Mary.

“I am showing mercy. I could easily sell you or throw you in the dungeon. And yet I’m allowing you to leave the city alive. Now go, before I change my mind.”

I didn’t get a good look at the woman covered in fluff but she finally left, without saying another word. For a moment there was a slight thought in my head that I would have to offer her a job as my valet, in an attempt to right my sister’s wrong. But as if Mary could hear what I was thinking she motioned one of her guards. Snatching his rifle and taking aim outside of my focus. There was a bang, the sound of liquids hitting the ground, followed by screaming.

“Good shot! Right to the back of the head,” Kimi said with a bit too much amusement.

“I know what I did. But it’s good that you acknowledged it. Watch this…” Kimi gave the empty rifle back and took another one before swinging it straight at me. “If you keep looking at me like that, I’ll blow your head off as well.”

“My Goddess, there are exactly twenty-seven coins here, he cheated.”

“My brother is many things but he’s no cheat… he’s too stupid to cheat.”

A statement I found odd. She squinted a little before pulling the trigger. There was a click but no bang. She finally threw the rifle to the ground, bringing about a bang that made Mary flinch. Luckily it missed me but by the look on her face, it seemed like it hit her carriage. Before she could protest, a familiar thud could be felt as Violet’s voice was heard.

“Guards, take Mary home, now. Kicking and screaming if you have to.” And that’s exactly what happened. I could still hear her barking, screaming commands as she and her carriage left the city. Violet’s armor-covered lap moved into my field of view before she finally took a knee to look me in the eyes. Her eyes were filled with concern while mine was filled with a cold calm. “Don’t hate your sister, Adam… please.”

“She always does this, taking things from me. And now…” I whispered.

“I understand, but your sister is unwell. I believe she’s been… corrupted.”

“I’m going to fight her someday. I know it.”

“Don’t,” Violet said with pain in her voice. She turned to Kimi, my gaze did the same as she slipped to my side. “And you did nothing to save my brother’s life after he took you in and fed you?”

“I’m still waiting for the clothed part, Your Tallness. Besides, I’m not obligated to protect him. I’m not his mother… although I’m sure with a little bit of time I can make him call me mommy… or big sister.”

She smirked, staring down her nose at Violet even though Kimi was shorter now. I noticed Violet glancing at the ring that sat on Kimi’s head as well as her change in size and fur color. Though she seemed not to care as she snatched Mary’s coins from Kimi and walked over to Apple.

“Apple, are you okay?” Violet asked.

“Just… a little shaken, Your Highness.”

“I’m sorry, and I’m sorry for what I’m going to ask you to do. I ask that you never forgive Mary. Hate her for the rest of your life even if she somehow turns her life around. That goes for Her Majesty, The Queen. Now… hold out your hands.”

He did as he was told and she dropped ten platinum coins into his palms. Kimi started checking the ground around her.

“Hey, those are the coins I stole!”

My sister ignored her. I glanced in the direction of the woman Mary shot to see her body. But standing in my line of sight was surprisingly Neve the snow owl and Violet’s red dragon. My eyes grew wide when I saw Neve happy to see she was okay. As if knowing what I was trying to look at, Neve shook her head, wordlessly begging me to look away. The dragon was eating the woman’s body, I’m sure of it. I finally turned my head, grateful that such a thing wasn’t locked in my memories.

“This is to be used only by you if you promise to spend it only to keep my brother safe,” Violet began. “That being said, I order you to familiarize yourself with ranged weaponry and to keep enough of them on your back. Make use of them fully if anyone threatens my brother’s life. Even if the Goddesses themselves came down to challenge your resolve, kill them all.”

“But… I’ve never done… I’ve never taken the life of another,” Apple whined, making my heart melt.

“I… don’t… care…” Said VIolet.

Those were her last words before finally turning away towards her dragon and Neve who waited patiently for Violet to take off into the sky. Neve gave a small wave goodbye before doing the same. A could see blood covering the pavement but the body was gone. I looked to the sky to see the dragon my sister was riding. It took off towards the palace while Neve seemed to be circling the area.

“I hope she’s feeling better.” I thought to myself before focusing on Apple coming closer.

“Kimi, thank you for helping,” Apple said, “While it’s not nice that you stole, you helped, His Highness guess right.”

“You should thank me more often,” Kmi teased. “But I didn’t help him guess. He really did guess the right amount.”

“That’s… quite a bit of luck for one day,” Apple said with a small frown.

“I’d say so, I thought I was gonna have to see his brains spilled out all over the ground. Don’t worry, I would have healed him up good as new.”

“You can… bring people back from the dead?” I asked.

“Nah, that’s dark magic. My magic is a bit purer, mostly depending on who I feed on so… currently, my magic is as pure holy water. As long as I got to you in just a few seconds of having your head blown off, I might have been able to patch you up but… you would probably lose all your memories or something.”

“I’m just glad you’re safe, Your Highness. Let’s continue our search from yesterday and put this behind us,” Said Apple.

He gave me a smile that made a few moments ago feel like a slightly distant memory. Though I just got a wonderful idea.

“Speaking of memories, can your magic remove them?”

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Don't Cross The Bridge

A baby-faced little boy who's tougher than he looks with a smart mouth, and a pretty little girl with a mean right hook and a foul mouth.

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