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19

Kill It With Fire

“Your Highness, from what I’ve read, this city is pretty prosperous so there really shouldn’t be anyone struggling.”

“I know but… I feel that’s all the more reason to search.”

“Even if we did find a shop that’s struggling, there’s a very slim chance that they sell clothing.”

“I don’t know,” Kimi began. “I think the odds are pretty high. I just saw a nine-year-old male, magicless human create something from a sketch that turned my fur white and made me younger. He guessed how many coins were in a bag and not only did he stare down the barrel of a gun only for it to not fire but he also didn’t get hit by the misfire. I wouldn’t be surprised if just around this corner we find…” And there it was, an old shack that looked like it was falling apart. It was a Tailor shop but the sign read “Tail” as the rest was on the ground. “Quick, wish for raining money,” Kimi said, giving me a nudge.

“Please don’t elbow, His Highness… but maybe… wishing for raining coins might be something to think about,” Apple said, a tad stunned.

“I… was going to ask for an owl’s eye view but… here we are. It looks like… when the city was built, they ran out of materials and just… used old driftwood,” I mused. I had the biggest smile on my face as I took their hands and walked us inside. Kimi cursed when she bumped into the door frame. Turns out walking into a doorway, three at a time isn’t the best idea. “Hello? Is anybody home?” I asked.

We stood in the middle of what… appeared to be a waiting room? I say appeared because there was half a sofa and half a wall mirror that wasn’t even on the wall. It was on the floor. I would have said it was dark but there were a few large holes in the ceiling that let in a few rays of light into the dusty place. I could just barely spot Neve flying high in the sky.

“We don’t have all day. Come out now and die!” Kimi demanded.

“What kind of option is that?” I whispered, causing the two of them to start whisper-yelling the rest of the way. “Shouldn’t there be an or somewhere in that demand?” I asked.

“I don’t know, you try thinking straight after losing all of your hard-earned money,” Kimi said.

“You stole it,” Apple said.

“I earned it by being nice.”

“Why can’t you be nice to, His Highness?”

“Because he’s not gonna survive a woman’s world if you baby him. He’s a sweet little boy in a world full of evil bitches and everybody wants a bite of that ass,” She said while smacking my backside with her tail.

“You’re disgusting,” Apple spat.

“Says the one with his ass and dick hanging out all damn day. When I was his age,” Kimi stood up straight with a smirk. “I commanded an army and a harem half the size. Not whatever… this is.” She motioned, waving a paw over our group.

I cleared my throat, cutting through their bickering.

“Hello, I’m a customer! I seek a skilled tailor?!” I said.

“A paying customer? Well, why didn’t you say so? I thought you were just noisy children playing in my very respectable business.”

The voice was soft and alluring. During my time in the palace, I read enough books of adventure to know soft and alluring was something evil and sneaky. I hardened myself to what I was about to see. Or at least I tried. The moment I saw eight long and fuzzy legs, I fainted.

“Your Highness?” Apple said.

“Highness, as in a princess?”

“No, he’s a prince,” Kimi began. “Not much of one in bed but, he is.”

“Is he a sickly prince?”

“Not at all, His Highness is pretty healthy all things considered.”

“I was impressed by how he stared down the barrel of a loaded gun a little while ago. But seeing him faint from a pair of large breasts kind of undoes what little respect I had for him, maybe. He didn’t faint when he was about to get eaten alive so there’s still something to his character that drives me absolutely wild,” Kimi purred while baring her fangs.

“Says the one with abandonment issues,” Apple said.

“Unlike Alais, I’m not afraid to admit my faults, Mr. I don’t remember anything but I know what abandonment issues are,” Kimi said.

“Please stop…” I whispered.

My eyes opened to three faces staring back at me. The unfamiliar one was a fairly large woman in a simple but pretty sundress. And as Kimi said, she was endowed. However, the problem wasn’t her chest but her spider half. I hate spiders. Well, not hate, more like fear. In my mind, I used up to much good luck and I had a debt to pay.

“Excuse me for my appearance. I didn’t mean to startle a prince,” The woman said.

“I’ve not seen a faint since back in the good old days,” Kimi began, “Does this happen a lot?”

“I’m afraid that’s the case. Seems people are truly afraid of my other half. And it makes being a tailor a tad… bit difficult.”

“Thank you, Apple,” I said softly. Apple had taken the liberty to allow me to use him as a pillow. I caught myself rubbing his back as I would to a horse’s leg. I have to remember not to do that though he gave me a small nod and a warm smile, regardless. “My name is Adam. It’s nice to meet you.” I gave her a bow.

“It’s wonderful to meet you, Your Highness. Forgive me when I say this but… I can’t help but be suspicious. Not only have I never heard of there being a prince in the royal family but… you’ve somehow found my shop?… Are you here to tell me to leave the city?” She asked with pain in her voice.

I felt a twinge of regret for scaring her. I assumed in her mind I was either someone playing a trick on her or I was some hidden royal that only showed himself to those that needed to die or leave. I refused to ask her if she lived alone, lest she takes the liberty of showing me a bunch of spider babies.

“As I’ve stated before, I’m a customer.”

“Really? That’s wonderful news. I’ve not had a paying customer in ages.”

“Is… that so?” I asked, still feeling uneasy. ”Luckily for you, you should be able to go about two years without eating. At least… that’s what I remember about certain kinds of spiders. But… I still wouldn’t wish starvation on anyone.”

“You can tell what I am just by looking at me?”

“I… know you’re a type of Tarantula but… that’s about it.”

“You’re adorable and well-learned. How old did you say you were again?” The spider woman said while giving me a once over.

Apple cleared his throat for attention, “His Highness requires a new wardrobe specifically something for a royal ball that’s in two days.”

“Oh, how lovely,” She sang. “I can certainly do that. If you wouldn’t mind removing your clothing. I’ll just need to measure you.”

“No need, his penis is small,” Kimi, the former Chaton Queen chimed. “But for a male, I’d say he’s worth more than… a hundred male slaves?”

“Oh!” The spider woman said, sounding impressed.

I cleared my throat for attention. “I… uhm… would prefer not to remove my clothing, if you don’t mind.”

“There’s no need to be shy around Maman,” Maman said. “Maman will take good care of you. I may not look it, but I’m an expert at creating children’s clothing. I’ve practiced on dolls ever since I was a little girl.”

“It’s hard to believe you were ever little,” Kimi remarked as she leaned her head to the side, giving her spider half a once over. “See what I’m talking about?”

She gave me a nudge, knowing full well I was trying not to notice her spider half.

“I’m trying not to,” I said. “Ms. Maman, would you mind first making a purse? My friend Apple needs one to hold his coin.”

“Oh? Polite and thoughtful,” Maman said.

“No no, I think Apple and I should go for a walk while His… Shortness gets fitted for new clothing,” Kimi said.

I noticed her taking a few deep breaths as she stepped from my side and over to Apple, placing her paw on his shoulder.

“You’re not even trying to be respectful,” Apple said with a small frown as he carefully removed her grip.

“Of course you wanna go for a walk. Trust me, I don’t wanna leave either. I mean look at him, I’m sure the moment we walk out the door that big spider thing will capture him and bite his face off.” Kimi wasn’t even whispering and she was looking right at me when she said it. “Besides… you know who is watching to make sure you’re doing what you’ve been told to do.”

“Pardon, but you can’t go to another store without me,” I said. “I… kind of thought we would do these things together,” I said with a small blush.

“That would be the case but your sister gave Apple an order and I would hate for him to get in trouble. Besides, he’s a little inexperienced in the art of war so… I’ll go with him. Might even go get Mr. Bark and Alais so all four of us can pick out a few big guns for him.”

“But… that’s not fair,” I whined.

“Fair?” Kimi scoffed. “You get to spend alone time with this big-breasted, lactating spider over here for a few moments and I have to help this horse’s ass load up with enough guns and powder that he might explode. If anything I’m getting the short end of the stick here. Anyway, no sudden movements now, or it might put eggs in your brain!” Kimi said while pushing Apple towards the door.

“Spiders don’t put eggs in their victim’s brains, Kimi,” I said, slightly sure of myself now.

“You’re right! They put them in your butt!” She said before slamming the old door behind her. The door creaked before finally falling to the floor. We all glanced at the broken door on the floor before looking back at each other for a moment. Without a word, Kimi turned and left, pushing Apple even further out of sight.

“Your Highness has interesting friends.” Ms. Maman began. “I used to do a little adventuring when I was younger. Of course, I traveled, searching for all kinds of plants.” She said as she walked or… crawled over to the door, lifting it back into place. I turned away, gazing up into the ceiling to see Neve still flying around in the sky.

“Plants? For medicine I assume?” I asked.

“Mmm… originally yes… but I found something much more interesting. That if I consume certain things, my web can take on a different color. And in some cases different properties from flavor to strength, even enchantments if I consumed something with high amounts of magical energy.”

“That’s amazing!” I perked up. “If what you say is true, it would mean, you’re more or less a walking transmuter. That being said, there would have to be a catch. Such as… every time your body changes something into webbing you…” I took a moment to breath. “You become exhausted to the point of death, depending on what you’ve eaten and how much. And then there’s the chance of the conversion being tainted or corrupted because you might have eaten something a few days ago and you’ve not given your body enough time to dispel it. Oh, and perhaps you run the risk of destroying yourself if you consume two forms of magic that could result in an explosion big enough to destroy yourself or… even a kingdom. Unless maybe you eat one form of powerful magic, convert it before eating another form and converting it as well. Combine them in a way where they didn’t touch until you wanted them to and you could maybe destroy a mountain-sized monster. But on the less destructive side, you could also create clothing that never got dirty or never ripped. That would involve a constant check-up every time you produced such powerful material, less you run the risk of build-up or blockage. The possibilities of what you could do would be theoretically endless. Your only limitation being… the material… or imagination…. W-What’s wrong?” I asked as I noticed Ms. Maman simply smiling at me.

“You’re like a little angel. Without the smugness, of course.”

The whole time I was talking, she had stood me up on a pedestal to be at her eye level. Under the largest beam of light coming from the ceiling and she had removed my clothing and measured every part of me. I was so caught up in my reverie, for a moment I forgot she was a big hungry spider.

“Th… thank you,” I said.

“It’s true, I wish I would have met you when I was younger. I’d be with you and your little friends, seeing the world.”

“That would seem like an interesting foreshadow… if I didn’t feel like fainting again,” I whispered as anxiety washed over me. Surely I could have made her a mask to make her younger, however, I… I suppose I was too afraid. And the more I thought about it, the more I felt guilty for withholding such life-changing abilities from the world.

“Question…” Ms. Maman began. “Are you the reason why Neve has been flying around my shop?”

“You know Ms. Neve?”

“I do… There aren’t very many of us in the city compared to humans so most know Ms. Neve. I’ve not seen her fly in a few years, however. More surprising after learning what happened.” Pain struck my insides, feeling as if I wanted to melt away or vomit. “Where are my manners?” She asked herself, palming the side of her face. “I bet you’re thirsty. You get dressed and I’ll fetch you something to drink. If Ms. Neve mistakes you for a mouse and comes down to peck you, just scream,” She sang playfully as she left the room.

My gaze turned away when her spider backside swung around towards me. I didn’t personally feel like fainting again, not off this pedestal at least. I sat down and started dressing. At that moment I was alone and it felt pretty good. I loved it because it gave me a chance to… well… shed a few tears… for everything that happened this morning. When she came back out, I was dressed with my hands in my lap with a smile.

“Oh!” She flinched slightly. “Your eyes are red. You’re not allergic to anything are you?”

“No, ma’am… well… not to my knowledge,” I said calmly

“Then you were crying. It’s fine, children cry all the time,” She said as she helped me to the floor and moved the pedestal to the side. Her personality was so nurturing, even more so than Violet and Grandmother. But I couldn’t help but feel angry when she compared me to other children. It’s not the same kind of anger as I had for my sister, Mary. It was more like… someone trying to help you feel better only to accidentally make it worse by belittling you. Luckily I was smart enough to know it was coming from a good place and that… it was a personal problem. “Here, Your Highness, drink this.”

I took the cup and held it up to my lips. A bang from behind me, caused me to flinch slightly.

“We’re back,” Kimi sang.

I turned to see Kimi and Apple coming my way.

“We acutely never left,” Apple began. “We were standing outside for a little while.”

“I just wanted to see how you did when stuck in a room with a strange spider,” Kimi teased. “I kind of thought I’d hear you scream. Did the princess pass out again?”

“No, Prince Adam did well.” Ms. Maman said. “As to be expected for a royal.”

“Not really, all of them are crazy. This one here is crazy but in a childish way,” Kimi said.

I chuckled, however, Apple didn’t think it was funny.

“Kimi, I think your crown stopped working because you’re being rude,” Apple said.

I sat there drinking, giving Kimi a slight glance. Not only did I think about Kimi reverting back to being out of her mind but I also thought about how such a crown even worked in the first place. A question none of us seemed to be asking nor would I even know where to begin. Maybe I should just have Ms. Maman eat it to see what she could convert it into, I thought. As for Kimi’s mental state, I made a mental note to ask Alais about her. For the moment, she was enjoyable to listen to. A breath of fresh air if you asked me. I finally pulled the cup of chocolate milk away from my lips.

“This is amazing,” I said softly.

I gave some to Apple who seemed to enjoy it after one sip, however, when Kimi reached for the cup, Apple carefully pulled it away.

“That’s kind of you, Your Highness.” Ms. Maman began. “I only heated it in the fireplace.”

“Simply wonderful, Ms. Maman,” Apple said, “While I don’t mean to rush, about His Highness’s new wardrobe?”

“Ah yes, well… I’ve gotten his measurements. How many sets of clothing did you need?”

“Ten please,” Apple said.

“That’s… a lot of clothing for one male.”

“Why ten?” I asked, turning in his direction.

“Ms. Elyon requested that at least ten be made.”

“Six for myself,” I began. “And four for my friends, Kimi, and an Orc whom I’ll bring by another time and… two for Apple, one for a ball, and one for daily use, Ms. Maman,”

“Your Highness,” Apple began. “I think it’s for the best we stick with the original plan. Clothing for… an orc and yourself.”

“I see… than clothing for myself and a young Orc,” I said, quickly turning back to the spider woman.

“That can be arranged for ten silver.”

“Thank you, very much.” I gave her a gold coin and asked that she take both Kimi’s and Apple’s measurements for later projects.

“Might I ask a favor since you seem to be in the market for… guns?” Ms. Maman began. “I have a close friend right outside the city. If you could at least stop by and see her product, it would brighten up her world, I’m sure.”

“Why does she not have a shop in the city?” I asked.

She looked at me with slight confusion.

“Well… that’s because no royal would let her in.”

“And… you’re hoping that Adam helps her gain access into the city?” Kimi asked with a smirk.

“I… hope that… His Highness’s reasoning for coming this far into the city to give me business could perhaps be extended to my friend. Given how… tough it is for those who don’t live in the protection of this wonderful place.”

“I’ll do it!” I blurted out.

“Your Highness?” Apple shook his head with concern.

“And why should your friend be singled out and not any of the others?” Kimi asked but went on before she could answer, “Last I checked if it’s so tough out there, shouldn’t a weapon seller be making a killing? I think what your friend should do is simply get a different profession. Then just maybe she’d find a place here.”

While I didn’t personally like how rude Kimi was being, she had a point. Even if I didn’t want to admit it. And from how Apple didn’t say anything, he must have agreed as well.

“Is it wrong to simply wish to do what you love?” Her words quickly stumped Kimi, though she didn’t look it. After all, both Alais and Kimi did what they loved back in the day and their freedom had been taken away and twisted. Ms. Maman started to move, and right before my eyes, she pressed her forehead to the floor at my feet. “Tis but a small request, Your Highness. Over the world, the Princesses and Queens of your family do not favor our kind, anyone that isn’t human. While we may be allowed to live on their land, we may not live in their cities without their blessing.”

“I… personally see no problem with your kind owning homes and shops here,” I said. She looked up at me with a smile while I was still uncertain. There were far too many variables for me to predict. “However, I would request that you leave this place.” The smile on her face faded into sadness. I quickly caught myself. “As in, leave this house and find a new one. It’s not… safe. Whoever made you live here surely does not have your well-being in mind.”

“Well you see, Your Highness, I built it myself.” She began while standing up straight, dusting off her blouse. “I only had the money to buy the spot. The wood, I had to find.”

“I see… might I ask who gave you her blessing?”

“It was the Empress herself when she was about your age.”

“Grandmother?!”

“Yes, Your Highness. You remind me of her quite a bit. However, she… wasn’t followed by a Chaton.” She gave an uneasy smile towards Kimi.

“Your Highness, we should get going,” Apple whispered.

“Mm.” I nodded before looking back toward Ms. Maman. “I would love to hear more about this at a later date, Ms. Maman. I just recently met my grandmother and I wish to know more about her adventures.”

“Of course, Your Highness.”

“And as for your housing… I’ll see what can be done for you. This is all pretty new to me, so please bear with me.”

“Thank you and if you could, please give the Empress my regards.”

We spent about thirty minutes there. Though I’m not sure how accurate that is given the fact I didn’t have a watch. I made a mental note to get a watch.

“And before you go,” Ms. Maman said. “Here is the coin purse you requested. You can wear it slung over your shoulder and hip. I even made it out of stronger material so it’s harder to break.”

“Oh! Thank you, Ma’am,” Apple said.

“Might not wanna wear it around any part of your body. Just encase you get snagged,” Kimi said nonchalantly.

She cared little about spoiling the mood, though she did have a point. We said our goodbyes and headed back to the carriage. The blood on the main road was still there, now baked under the warm sun.

“Your Highness, welcome back. How did it go?” Mr. Bark asked.

“I uhm… A lot of things happened but… clothing is taken care of. We may have to go back with Alais on our way home.”

“Where to next?”

“We don’t have anything left to eat, so we will be heading back as soon as we can,” Apple began, “But we’re going just outside the city to find a gunsmith by the name Frelon.”

“Outside the city can be a bit dangerous. More so while traveling off the main road. If it’s guns you want, why not get them from the Queen’s armory?”

“Bark, who pays your salary?” Kimi asked.

“Originally the Queen but now Princess Violet.”

“Well, Apple has received coin specifically to arm himself for the protection of His Majesty, The Prince. If getting said equipment from the Queen was a good idea Princess Violet would never have given Apple the funding.”

Kimi surprised me quite a bit that morning. At the same time, I couldn’t help but feel a tad put off by it. Normally I solved my own problems but here Kimi was asking and answering a few interesting questions that hadn’t even crossed my mind. I turned from the conversation towards Alais who was laying in the grass. Walking up next to her, I leaned over with my hands clasped behind my back. I took a moment to study her. She seemed as relaxed as ever, enjoying the cool breeze.

“Did you get along with Mr. Bark today?” I asked.

“I didn’t talk to him.”

“… Are you mad at me… for not bringing you along? I wanted to see the world with you but… at the moment it’s just me and your friend… and Apple.”

“Are you kidding? I’m having the best time of my life.”

“Are you sure?”

“Of course! I didn’t have to hear or look at you for a good hour.”

I stared down for a bit longer before crouching. Ripping grass from the ground, I showered her in it, causing her to turn over on her side to avoid it.

“… About Kimi… What’s she like… rather, what WAS she like?” I asked.

“She use to be hot-tempered and fearless… but now she’s afraid to even leave your side.”

“I don’t think so. After all, she’s not here now.”

“That’s because she’s forcing herself. She may be talking to that human but she’s staring right this way. There’s clearly something wrong with her head.”

Lifting my gaze, Alais was telling the truth. Kimi’s eyes were wide as if she was trying to look through me.

“My… sister Mary almost shot me today.”

“I told you so.”

“But Violet said she was just unwell. Mary was a bit more irritated than usual.”

“Doesn’t matter. Your sister pointed a gun at you, she’ll do it again.”

“I’ll keep that in mind… Now we’re heading to the outer city. Violet gave Apple funds to arm himself. She seemed pretty adamant about it after she took Mary back home.”

“That’s gonna be fun. Tell you what, I’ll follow behind just to watch for anyone seeking you out as an easy target,” Alais said.

“Target?”

“I’m pretty sure those of wealth travel with plenty of guards. As for you, you may as well have a target on your back.”

“I see… Alais? Not to change the subject but I can’t help feeling like… I’m spending less time with you.”

“That’s just you being childish.”

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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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