PREVIOUSLY: The Physical Challenge kicked off with the teams going at it strong! They’ve armed themselves for battle. Are they ready for what comes next?
[A circular room lies at the end of each team’s journey up nearly a dozen flight of stairs. It’s a simple chamber with another red door. There are simple words engraved directly above it:
“To unlock the door, defeat a dragon.”]
Cecil: Defeat a dragon…?
[Cecil’s eyes scan the room before settling on the red door.]
Cecil: Seems like… um, there’s not much else to do, huh.
[Prince Shun stepped into the room, looking around with curiosity. Spotting nothing of interest save for another red door, he walked up to it. His gaze traveled upwards, to the inscription above the door. A shocked and offended expression played across his face as he read the words.]
Prince Shun: Defeat a dragon? That is blasphemous!
[Though he had little fondness for many of the rigid customs of royalty and society, he was not a savage. In his home kingdom, dragons were treated with reverence by commoners and royals alike. Back in Nantu, depicting a dragon being slayed in an etching, or even portraying one in any negative light at all, would be enough to get you executed.]
Prince Shun: Had it been a wild beast — or even a human! But – a dragon! This is barbaric!
[He turned away from the door with an expression of disgust on his face, gripping his polearm tightly in anger. He took a step towards the stairs — ready to lose this challenge, rather than commit a grievous sin — and his eyes fell upon the weapon in his hands.]
Prince Shun: (…But we are in a new world. The weaponry is different — much of what we have encountered so far is. Perhaps… dragons are not the same here?)
[He frowned, struggling to separate the image of dragons in his homeworld from whatever might lie before him here.]
Prince Shun: (Perhaps I could stay, if only just to lay eyes on this dragon for myself. I will decide for myself what might be the best course of action from there on.)
[He looked down at his weapon again, wondering if he would be able to take on a dragon in battle, even if it was not the same object of worship he was used to seeing depictions of.]
Prince Shun: (Are dragons not meant to be rather… large? That might pose a problem. The heaviness of the polearm may be able to make up for some of what I lack in raw strength, but the poison… It may not end up being effective against such a large foe.)
[He glanced around the room again.]
Prince Shun: (It is a spacious enough chamber, I suppose. But is it really large enough to house a dragon? Perhaps they are smaller in this world.)
[Seeing neither hide nor hair of a dragon, he let out a sigh.]
Prince Shun: (I do hate being left in the dark like this.)
[After a dozen flight of stairs, voices become audible over on Paige’s side. One is higher pitched, feminine, and almost musical, every word imbued with its own jaunty lilt. The other clearly belongs to a man, who speaks in unobtrusive tones easily overshadowed by his voluble partner.
They grow more and more distinct with each step taken.]
Woman: …and curtains! Curtains! Real, big fluffy – no, lacy – ones that let you see right through them.
[Paige chuckles when she hears the man’s dull reply to the excited woman.]
Woman: Oh! And dangling baubles! Glitzy ones that glitter this way and that, all gold and silver. They would brighten up the room beautifully!
[The stairway ends at a circular chamber. Another door lies ahead, scarlet like before, and engraved over it are the words: “To unlock the door, defeat a dragon.” However, no fantastical creature is present. Instead, there are only two individuals.
A tall blonde stands by the door, his arms crossed in front of his dark cloak. He’s a handsome man, with an icy blue gaze and a beauty mark some ways above the upper-right corner of his mouth. A redheaded woman faces him from the center of the room – a slender, little thing with round emerald eyes, an aquiline nose, and a heavy dose of make-up.]
Woman: Don’t you think so, Viktor?
Viktor: Uh-huh, well…I would be overjoyed to continue this conversation, Miss Bo-Peep, but it seems our guest has arrived.
[As Bo-Peep whirls around to take in the newcomer, Viktor inclines his head in greeting.]
Paige: Hey, sorry to interrupt your riveting interior decorating conversation.
Viktor: Hello – Miss Page, was it? Ah-ha, you must be. You were the only female in the group. Though, it’s beyond me how you managed to earn a name like ‘Page.’ It gives me the impression of someone very dull and empty like a blank sheet, but I do believe you have fire in your eyes. You seem very much like someone full of life.
Paige: Huh, that’s a new one. Not sure if that was meant to be a compliment or not.
Bo-Peep: It’s Paige. P-A-I-G-E. Not ‘Page’! Come on, Viktor. It’s like how your name’s V-I-K-T-O-R, not V-I-C-T-O-R-Y.
Viktor: Hold on, don’t you mean V-I-C-T-O-R?
Bo-Peep: What are you talking about? Your name’s spelled like V-I-K-T-O-R, right? Don’t be trying to confuse me.
Viktor: What? You accuse me of your own doing.
Bo-Peep: Doing what?
Viktor: What what? I’m saying, “Pot, you’re calling the kettle black.”
Bo-Peep: Now you’re calling me a pot?
Viktor: Miss Bo-Peep –
[She breaks into a giggle before flashing him a wink.]
Bo-Peep: I’m kidding. I know what you mean. Obviously. I don’t agree with you, of course, but enough about that.
[She turns bright eyes towards Paige.]
Bo-Peep: So! How do you do? I’m Paige – I mean, Bo-Peep. Blargh, sorry. I was saying your name too many times earlier. Can I start over?
[Viktor chuckles, a smile turning up the corners of his mouth.]
Viktor: Miss Paige, allow me to introduce you to Miss Bo-Peep of the Garrulous Clan.
Bo-Peep: Excuse me? Well then, this is Mr. Viktor of the Stuff-Stuff Clan.
Viktor: Eh? What in the world is a Stuff-Stuff?
Bo-Peep: You don’t know the name of your own clan? Shame on you! Just use your big brain to figure it out, hon-hon.
[Viktor shakes his head, smiling. Paige sighs, pinching the bridge of her nose with her fingers.]
Paige: Starting to wish for the dragon…
Viktor: Before we lead our guest into further confusion –
Bo-Peep: My specialty, right?
Viktor: Miss Bo-Peep is from the Cucuy clan, while I hail from the Hulder.
Bo-Peep: The Stuff-Stuff clan!
Viktor: Pleased to make your acquaintance, Miss Paige. I haven’t said that already, have I?
Bo-Peep: You don’t know? Aww, are you feeling shy?
Viktor: No, I’m not feeling shy, per se. Rather…
[His gaze slides to the floor, and his voice drops to a mumble.]
Viktor: My mind has this annoying tendency to…draw a blank around fair faces.
[The redhead cups her ear and leans towards him.]
Bo-Peep: What was that? You’ll have to speak up.
[His head snaps back up, very nearly knocking into the side of Bo-Peep’s skull.]
Viktor: I-It’s nothing. You heard nothing, right, Miss Page? Pardon – I mean, Miss Paige?
[Hearing no difference in the pronunciation of the two names, Bo-Peep bursts into giggles once more.]
Paige: Look, guys. You seem like really… fun people, and I’d love to debate names with you any other day, but I’m in a bit of a hurry. You see this big, angry, bruiser of a guy kidnapped one of my friends and I don’t know if he’s ok or not…
[Paige loses her train of thought for a moment as she thinks about the possibilities. Wild had already threatened to kill Blake if he was too much trouble. And trouble was one of Blake’s defining characteristics. She shook her head to physically clear her thoughts.]
Paige: Sorry… anyway, could you tell me how I’m supposed to enter that door? No offense but neither of you looks much like a dragon.
Viktor: No offense taken. You have my sympathies, Miss Paige. Haah, I scarcely understand the working of that Vi prince’s head. If there’s mischief afoot, then you call for a surcease of festivities. Then again, this does demonstrate great skill in improvisation. Never would have guessed that – though, it shouldn’t have to be at your expense.
Bo-Peep: Mm…I don’t really know how a dragon is supposed to look like, but that’s supposed to be one of us.
[She holds out her arms, gesturing to them both.]
Bo-Peep: Take your pick. Which “dragon” do you want to take on?
[Paige lowers her voice to a mumble, speaking more to herself.]
Paige: I was afraid of that but, I suppose I should be thankful I don’t have to take on a giant fire-breathing lizard.
[Bo-Peep’s hands move to cup her cheeks without touching them. She bats her lashes for good effect.]
Bo-Peep: Would you rather take on the cute one?
[She brandishes an open palm at Viktor.]
Bo-Peep: Or the stuffy one?
Viktor: Oh, is that what you meant earlier? For some reason, I was of a mind that it had more to do with stuffing.
Bo-Peep: What, like you’re full of it? Hate to break it to you, but you’re not really that plump. In fact, you’re downright ripped.
Viktor: Huh? How did you know that, Miss Bo-Peep?
Bo-Peep: Well, your reaction told me just now.
Viktor: T-That’s beside the point. We’re wasting Miss Paige’s time, and she’s made it very clear that she’s in a considerable hurry.
[Paige can’t hide her smile when she sees how flustered the man gets.]
Bo-Peep: Mm-hmm. Right. So…
[She winks at Paige.]
Bo-Peep: Choose your opponent.
Viktor: If you decide on me, Miss Paige, I promise I won’t use my special ability on you.
Bo-Peep: Neither will I.
Viktor: You can’t, Miss Bo-Peep. It isn’t possible in this situation. Unless you’re trying to make a rather unsavory assumption…but given what I’ve learned about you in the last few hours, I find that highly doubtful.
Bo-Peep: Ohh, just…just stuff it! Hmph.
[As she crosses her arms with a huff, Viktor mimes zipping his lips shut.]
[In the meantime, Banality Man enters the circular room with the engraving.]
Banality Man: Hello? Princess? Are you in here? Darn, I know this is a castle and all, but why did they have to make it so big?
Cecil: Whoa!! Um!!
[Cecil jumps at the suddenness of Banality Man’s voice, echoing throughout the room. He spins around to face him, trying to calm his nerves.]
Cecil: O-oh, sorry! I didn’t see you there, sir, um… Banality Man, right?
Cecil: (So we are looking for the same princess. Meaning… wait – does that mean only one of us gets to leave?!)
[He tenses up visibly at this realization but tries to calm himself down again.]
Ooh, it looks like the dragon turned out to be a person! If Cecil is facing off against Banality Man and Paige has her hands full with the two…then, it’s Prince Shun versus Princess Charming?!