Chapter 24 Four Lovely Ladies
Steel stood on the badly damaged stage, peering out over the ruins of the once festive celebration. She had been sent back out to try and save the dragon by the Queen herself. The dragon lay in a heap, most of it had been burned to a crisp from the fire; the other parts were soggy from the rain. The scent of burned paper hung in the cool night air.
Seto had been forced to accompany her on her futile quest, leaving Trevor behind to stew in his jealousy. He kicked his black boot against the damaged snout of the once vibrant beast.
“I really don’t want to be the one to tell her about this.” Seto was saying as he squat down and tried to pick up the dragon’s damaged head. The pieces crumbled and slipped out of his fingers like sand falling back to the beach.
Steel folded her arms over her large chest and tilted her head to the left. Something that was moving in the shadows of the trees had caught her attention. A wolf? No, it was much larger and seemed to be moving with purpose.
Seto was speaking again, but Steel was not listening. Her emerald eyes staying focus on the animal. “Oh, of course, she was adopted first because of her crystal.”
Crystal? The word was like a slap in her face and brought Steel back to the stage.
“Crystal? What are you going on about on?” She asked, turning her blonde head to look at the now confused man. Seto’s eyes widened and then he scrambled to look normal. He realized he had said something wrong.
“Oh, I was just saying the moon looks like a crystal.” He sputtered quickly in a voice that was not his own. Steel narrowed her lovely eyes.
“I see. Now, this is your hometown, is it not?” She asked even though she knew the answer. Seto glanced around and gave a sort of, ‘ha’ as a laugh. “What? Well, maybe. I don’t know. I was adopted.”
Steel turned away in annoyance. It did not matter anyway; she had the answer she needed. She glanced back to the trees to see the wolf was gone.
“You’re telling the Queen her Dragon is dead or you’ll be wishing you were!” Steel said, jumping lightly off stage and strolling away.
Fenrir found Valeena sitting in the mud near the bridge, crying softly. He knew he should not have left her alone. It had taken quite a bit to reach her once she had left the Zula continent. The animal nudged Valeena softly in the back, startling her.
“Oh, it’s you,” She said her voice barely above a whisper.
“What happened?” Fenrir asked, sitting beside her in the mud. He smelled terrible, like wet dog and rotten meat. Valeena glanced at him and whispered, “You said the castle was unsafe and yet since I have been on this journey I have been hurt just as much if not more. And for what? To live? If this is living just let me die in peace.”
“Oh, come now. Once this is all over, you’ll see that it was worth it! You cannot let Thanos win!” Fenrir barked, standing on his feet and raising his fur. Valeena gave him a look of disgust and rolled her blue eyes.
“You do it then,” She said falling backward onto the rain soaked grass. “My turn is over.” Fenrir let out a growl of frustration and sniffed the air catching Elden’s scent.
“Wait- him. All this is because of him?” The animal groaned in frustration. He watched as Valeena put her arm over her face as a fresh batch of tears began to fall.
“Are you kidding me?” Fenrir watched Valeena roll over, getting a face full of mud. “Having a bad day does not mean you have a bad life!” He growled as Valeena did not react, she sniffed loudly, coughing. Fenrir sighed.
“Look, this journey, it’s going to be hard! It’s going to knock you down, break you and leave you to rot on the side of the road like yesterday’s garbage! But you need to stay strong, a new day is dawning!”
Valeena stopped crying, peeking out from under her arm at the beast. She sat up, spitting pieces of dirt out of her mouth. Valeena tried not to laugh at the look of amusement on the gray face of the animal. She felt foolish suddenly and was glad her friends were not around to see her. Slowly, Valeena pulled herself together and brushed the mud and dirt off her dress.
“You have a stick in your hair,” Fenrir informed her as he watched her comb her fingers through her ebony and blue hair, embarrassment burning on her pale cheeks.
Valeena stood up slowly, thankful the rain was helping to wash the layers of grime off of her as she turned to go back to the little house she was staying in. Valeena paused a moment, looking back at the animal as it walked in the opposite direction.
The animal paused briefly before shaking its head and moving on. Valeena almost did not hear his response as she turned back around.
Valeena forced her tired body to stay awake as the morning sun landed on her face. She had received little sleep and felt stiff and sore. They had made plans without her last night, deciding that if Kingyosou was now part of the Star Kingdom, then it was no longer safe and they needed to leave the city at once. Star Kingdom guards were already on patrol, their dark uniforms a harsh contrast to the vibrant pinks and tans of the city.
Akari had allowed Valeena to borrow one of her lovely blue tops and a short, black skirt. She herself was dressed in a short orange skirt with a thick red belt. Black shorts barely stuck out under her skirt. Her shirt was brown with an orange peace sign on it. Valeena realized that Akari had been wearing a wig the day they met her for her hair was short and choppy with orange and red highlights.
Akari had made up her mind to join. “Pyro Rook had attacked right after the Queen appeared! She must be evil.” Aira had nodded in agreement and filled her in on the Titan attack. Rowan left the house via the back door, not wanting to relive his piece of the story. A guard was knocking forcefully on the front door, yelling about inspections.
“The back door!” Akari said, putting her hands on Aira’s back and pushing towards the open door, the elf protesting.
“We’ve got trouble,” Rowan said as he slid back into the tiny home and shut the door. Along with the guards, the Queen had enlisted the help of Cryscales. Cryscales were ugly, mutated dogs with hard red scales. Their snouts were pushed in and always leaking puddles of drool, their trails were short and spiked. They had an excellent sense of smell, however, and their powerful jaws were capable of snapping human bones with ease.
“With those things around, there is no way we can sneak out.” Rowan continued, crossing his arms over his chest and sighing. Akari watched her friends begin to panic. She scanned the room and saw her discarded wig sitting neatly on the table.
“Do you trust me?” She asked them, a sly smile forming on her lovely face as confusion spread on theirs.
An hour later Akari opened the door to a very angry guard. He was a short, bulky man with a pathetic looking mustache and a scar on his forehead.
“I have been knocking on your damn door for an hour now!” He said angrily, holding the leash of the snarling Cryscales. “I need to inspect your home!” Akari held an open fan over her face as she motioned for the guard to enter.
“The Queen requires… us… to…” The guard’s voice trailed off as Aira, Valeena and Rowan appeared behind Akari, each one wearing a lovely Kimono of a different vibrate shade. The guard had spied Rowan, who was dressed in a pink Kimono with bright cherry blossoms of red spotted across the taut fabric. His wig was obviously too small and looked out of place on his large head. He kept his head tilted downwards, hoping the guard did not inspect him too much.
Valeena, who wore an ice blue Kimono with swirls of white on it, lightly placed a hand on Akari’s shoulder. She had made sure to use ample makeup to cover her crystal, the result made it appear as though she had a tumor under her skin.
“Let him do his job, we will be late,” Valeena said in a tiny voice, doing her best to not sound like herself. The guard was still staring at Rowan in disbelief, he took no notice of Valeena until the Cryscales tugged against its leash, snarling.
“Oh, relax Ogre!” The guard demanded, pulling back on the leash, fighting the ugly creature. Aira, her Kimono a vibrant summer’s green with koi fish swimming on the Obi, shoved Valeena a little too roughly.
“Go.” She hissed as the Cryscales continued to drool and pull on its restraints.
Valeena followed Akari, trying her best to match her tiny steps. Rowan stepped off the curb, losing his balance and falling face first into a puddle. “Shit!” He said in his usual gruff voice, instantly gaining the attention of a second guard who was also making his rounds.
Akari was quick on her feet. She was near Rowan, holding a fan over his face where the water had washed off his makeup, streaking it and giving it the appearance that his skin was melting off.
“She is new,” Akari said sweetly, the guard losing interest and entering Akari’s tiny home. Akari removed a small container and applied more makeup, making sure to blend it together to hide the streaks. The four of them then made their way down the city streets, keeping their fans held over their faces.
“There you are!” A plump man in a brown Kimono shouted huffing as he caught up the team as they walked passed the theater.
“You are late! The Queen will start throwing things again!” Akari barely had time to protest as he grabbed her sleeve roughly and pulled her into the theater.
“GO!” The man said, pushing her towards the stage. He did a double take at Rowan. “Um…” But Rowan followed Valeena, Aira and Akari on the stage, which was littered with debris that the Queen had hurled, upset her show was late.
“Follow my lead!” Akari hissed, standing center stage and bowing her head, the fan blocking her face. Valeena mimicked her, glancing at Aira who was a natural, standing on the right to Akari. Rowan stayed in the back, doing his best to blend in with the curtains.
“Boo!” Queen Maylee shouted, a sesame roll smacking Valeena in the forehead. Before she could react, the music began and Akari twirled, extending her left arm and closing her fan. Aira and Valeena were a step behind as they copied her, doing their best to keep up as Akari continued her lovely dance.
The Queen quickly grew bored of the act and stood up, twirling a red dragon fan and poking fun at the four of them on stage. Princess Aurory joined her mother, smacking her rear and laughing.
Rowan, who was having the most trouble keeping up, stumbled over his heavy boots and fell, tearing the purple curtain down in the process. The music ended abruptly, the Queen roaring with laughter as Princess Aurory bounced around laughing like a donkey.
The four of them fled the stage as a new set of dancers quickly replaced them, each one dressed in a matching kimono, twirling large, golden fans.