PREVIOUSLY: While Cecil waffles about the sleeping princess, Paige and Viktor go at it! Who will come out victorious? (No pun intended.)
[As Viktor rushes forward with the scythe, he keeps an ear out for Paige’s voice or, in its absence, the sound of her breaths. He listens for anything he can use to place her and aim his attack across the side of her sleeve or just above the top of her head. He’s still trying to avoid making physical contact, all while leaving behind openings that he doesn’t bother to hide.]
[When she sees the large weapon coming towards her, her focus is renewed. However, she shakes her head with a smirk when she notices how careless he’s being in hiding his vulnerable spots. She ducks under the swinging blade with ease and drives the hilt of her sword into his abdomen.]
[He takes a faltering step back, exhaling sharply, but the pain is nothing really, compared to other injuries. As he catches himself, his arm sweeps forward to hook his scythe’s length behind her back, intending to draw her flush against his chest. Bending his head towards her, his lips part in the softest of whispers.]
Viktor: End it.
[She jams her heel down on his foot to distract him and then brings up her forearm to catch him under the jaw. Once, she has some space to move, her left arm moved under his armed right wrist and she twisted his arm behind his back, using the pole handle of the scythe to help lock it in place. She positions the blade of her sword against his throat and holds it there.]
Paige: Are we finished now? I’d really prefer not to knock out people I like.
[Viktor’s breaths are a bit ragged, but he manages a chuckle.]
Viktor: Trapping me at the point of death was one of the conditions of victory. I dare say you’ve fulfilled it. Congratulations, Miss Paige.
[Paige immediately releases his arm and trades weapons with him. Once she has her weapon back, she casually rests it up on her shoulders. Viktor sheathes his blade. He then rubs the underside of his struck jaw, while his other hand moves to unfasten the cloth around his eyes.]
Paige: Glad that’s over. It’s pretty crazy how talented you are, Viktor. And with a blindfold on no less.
[He blinks a few times to let his eyes readjust to the light and then in surprise at her unexpected compliment.]
Viktor: Eh? Me, talented?
[He almost wishes that he could hide behind the blindfold again because he can feel his face warming up. He ought to seem more cool by saying something smooth, but before he can think of a single thing, a familiar voice distracts him from the side of the room.]
Viktor: Well, aren’t you unkind? I can’t tell whether you’re disappointed the battle’s over or that Miss Paige is the victor. But considering how you were rooting for her before…
Bo-Peep: I’m booing you, Viktor. Or should I say Loser?
[She plants her hands on her hips and shakes her head, tsking. Paige twitches slightly in anger.]
Bo-Peep: Doesn’t the Hulder first learn how to fight with blindfolds on?
[Viktor’s mouth opens to respond, but he finds himself at a loss for words, which was becoming an increasingly common occurrence that day. She shrugs.]
Bo-Peep: Whatever. You chose your opponent well, Paige. I wouldn’t have gone so easy on another woman.
Paige: Shouldn’t you be out chasing sheep somewhere?
[Paige casts a sideways glare her way, while her scythe falls to a more active position at her side. Bo-Peep tilts her head, not catching the reference.]
Paige: I chose him as an opponent because I wanted a fight, not to decide what color drapes best suits the castle walls.
[Bo-Peep stares back at her agape for a moment before bursting into laughter.]
Bo-Peep: Well, I’m sure you’re right.
[Paige snaps out of her anger at Bo-Peep’s apathetic response before her temper can be completely lost. She blushes in embarrassment and feels lucky she didn’t accidentally start another fight.]
Bo-Peep: My brother really should’ve been here, not me.
Viktor: I do wonder, why is that?
Bo-Peep: Well, it’s not like this is a real battle and he’s a warrior. Being in a play fight would be an insult! No offense, Viktor, but he’s someone who can run circles around you.
Viktor: Mayhap that’s true, but I’ll believe this great legend when I see it.
Bo-Peep: Anyway, you’re giving her the key to the door now, right?
Viktor: Of course. She’s earned it, after all, fair and square. I have no doubt her companion is awaiting her with great impatience.
[He fishes out a little golden one from the depth of his cloak and steps towards Paige with a slightly uneven gait, the pain in his foot still humming soundly.
Paige frowns at the sight. She truly didn’t want to hurt him.]
Viktor: I entrust you with your prize, Miss Paige.
[He bends towards her, holding out the key in the center of his gloved palm. When he is inches away from her face, he speaks in a whisper.]
Viktor: I know you’re upset with Imugi – with Wind – but whatever you do, don’t attack him. You mustn’t provoke him.
Paige: Heh, I’ll do my best to control myself. I do tend to fly off the handle for stupid reasons.
[She laughs as she rubs the back of her neck nervously, but after a beat, she turns serious.]
Paige: But I can’t promise anything if Blake’s life is in danger.
[She leans next to his ear as she takes the key from his hand and speaks with with unflinching honesty.]
Paige: You weren’t the only one holding back.
[He blinks at her in surprise. She returns to her former self as she pulls back with a smile and gives him a friendly pat on the back, before heading towards the locked door.]
Paige: It was nice to meet you guys, especially you Viktor. Take care of yourselves.
[Bo-Peep gives a wave.]
Bo-Peep: Bye, Paige! Stay strong.
Viktor: I wish you great luck and fortune. May we meet again, Miss Paige. And be careful. If you need me for anything, I’ll be here.
[Princess Charming glanced once more at the prince, then once more at his weapon. It certainly looked hefty, and she suspected it drained him to swing. Would it be possible to win by exhausting him first? Perhaps it wasn’t the most noble of methods, but if it worked, it worked. Besides, if there were rules to be had in this duel, the prince must have had broken them first — multiple times, at that. Once by attacking her without a single warning, and twice by so-clearly trying to prevent her from retrieving her weapon. It was only proper that he waited until they were once again on equal ground. She stepped out of his range, deciding to merely dodge his attacks from now, exerting as little energy as she could each time.
He stepped forward, attempting to close the distance between them. All the while, he kept the blade pointed at her.]
Prince Shun: …Perhaps it would be the wisest course of action for you to simply surrender?
[Charming scoffed at the thought, only to remember her limited options. She wasn’t one to surrender, but this battle was dragging, and quite frankly, it was getting boring.]
Princess Charming: Alas, if only I had selected a better weapon…
[She certainly hadn’t expected to need to fight a human. She’d wished to overcome her opponent regardless, but there was only so much she could even try with a whip, and she’d never been much for pure physical fighting in the first place. She brushed her hair back and took a step forward.]
Princess Charming: Well, excuses are excuses. I enjoyed our fight, or what little we had of it. Thanks.
[He frowned as he considered her words. He’d been expecting more of a fight, but it seemed that she, too, tired of this silly game. Unless it was some sort of trick? His grip remained on his weapon.]
Prince Shun: There is hardly any need for such words. I do believe I have committed a faux pas so grand that it cannot be salvaged by your polite formalities.
[He laughed drily.]
Prince Shun: …But, I would thank you for your time as well. For what it is worth, I do wish we did not have to face off against each other. It is a rather tasteless way of doing things.
[He inclined his head in the ever so slightest imitation of a bow, never removing his eyes from her.]
[When Wind first reached the highest tower of the castle, he had simply dumped Blake on the floor in the middle of the room. It’s the kind of stereotypical chamber you would imagine Rapunzel’s home to look like. Velvet rugs cover the floor, a luxurious bed sits in the corner of the room, and there’s a window where you can let your hair down or pine for a rescuer.
His eyes narrow at the sunlight that filters into the room before he glares down at the human.]
Blake: ‘Or you’ll kill me’. I heard you the first time, idiot.
[Blake scowls as his eyes scan the cliched space and easily deciphers what he’s here for. He gets to his feet so he can at least face his kidnapper with some sort of dignity.]
Blake: So I’m the princess? Give me a break; you have some pretty poor selection skills, buddy. You picked the absolute worst candidate for this.
Wind: Tch. Be real. You’re weak, helpless – you can’t do anything against me, can you? Other than run your mouth off.
[He growls under his breath as his left hand tightens into a fist. Like is often the case, Blake acts before he thinks, and he throws a punch in the direction of Wind’s face.
Wind’s palm shoots up to snatch the approaching wrist with the reflexes of an animal. Running on the same instinct, his other arm hurls forward with his nails extended into claws. If he didn’t hear Ambrosia’s voice in his head just then, he would have slashed straight across the human’s chest.
“I hope you and Sir Blake are becoming fast friends, Sir Wind.”
The tips of Wind’s claws freeze at the skin above Blake’s heart, cutting into his flesh but without further injury.
Blake’s eyes widen briefly at the location of his claws. He bites back a grimace when he feels the pain within his chest, but he realizes it could’ve been much worse.]
[He speaks her name in a voice like a hiss. Her words are telepathic, only audible within his mind. It might have looked as though he was talking to himself.]
Wind: He’s fine. Enough.
[It’s a bitter admission. He glances at the wrist in his grip and thinks that he could snap it with just a little more pressure.
Blake tries to wrench his way out of his grasp with brute force, but he’s unable to budge him. He still refuses to show any fear, matching Wind’s gaze with his furious eyes.]
Blake: You can do whatever you want to me; it’s not going to make Paige show up any faster. Didn’t you hear what she said to me before this challenge even started? She hates me and so does the rest of that team.
[He struggles to hide the sting in his heart when he admits those words, but it only fuels his reckless behavior.]
Blake: Go ahead and break my arm, you’ll still be waiting half a century for any of them to show up. You did them a favor getting rid of me.
[A moment passes in silence before Wind lets out a long sigh and drops his claw from Blake’s chest.]
Wind: Settle down. You aren’t worth the trouble. Yet.
[He wonders whether Ambrosia was still linked to his mind. He hated when she left without saying anything because he could never tell when she did. He tosses Blake’s wrist aside with a scoff.]
Wind: Do you always wallow in self-pity like this? I wouldn’t have dragged you here if I thought nobody cared.
[Blake snorts in disgust as he rubs his wrist. Truthfully, he is troubled by how much it bugs him when Paige is angry with him. He walks towards the lone window in the room to gauge whether he could climb down himself.]
Blake: So what are you hanging around here for? You obviously aren’t going to let me go, so why don’t you go threaten someone else and leave me alone?
[Blake frowns at the significant drop outside the window. The smooth exterior isn’t exactly apt for climbing either. He leans back against the wall and crosses his arms with a sigh.]
Blake: I hope you don’t expect me to entertain you while we wait.
Wind: What are you even good at? Other than ticking people off, apparently.
Blake: What is this an interview now? I can cook, I’m good at hockey, and I can run a marathon without breaking a sweat. Happy? Any more stupid questions?
Wind: Like when a knucklebrain like you will ever learn to shut your mouth?
Blake: I’m sorry, I thought you asked me a question. You really should make up your mind.
Wind: And you wonder why everyone hates –
[As he folds his arms over his chest, Ambrosia speaks to his mind once more.
“Please take care of him, Sir Wind.”
He twitches. He glowers at Blake without really meaning to gaze at him. It’s the kind of look that could murder someone.]
Blake: Am I supposed to be intimidated?
Wind: Be glad that I don’t hate you like I do the Vi.
[He never could refuse her when she said “please.” Blake rolls his eyes. He doesn’t know who he’s talking about, nor does he care. Uncrossing his arms, Wind glances out the window before returning his attention to his captive.]
Wind: If I go, you sure you won’t try to off yourself? I know you have self-esteem issues.
Blake: Hilarious. Whatever gets you to go away, tough guy.
[He moves his gaze all around him, taking in the contents of the room.]
Blake: But don’t worry, if I wanted to escape, I’d do it without losing my life. I’m sure I’ll figure out something eventually.
[He stares back at him with a smug expression.]
Wind: Tch. You better not cry when your hopes come crashing down.
[He begins to head for the threshold. At the doorway, he hesitates and glances back at Blake. His injuries are mild at best, but there’s still the presence of blood.]
Wind: And do something about your wounds. You don’t want to scare your little hero when she comes carrying you out of here, do you?
[Without waiting for a response, he steps out of the room. The door swings shut behind him with a resounding thump. The lock clicks.]
Blake: Hero, give me a break. I should’ve never agreed to do this dumb competition.
[He recalls how Paige was adamant that he joined them. She always tries to include him in everything despite the rest of their company not being thrilled to have him along. It reminded him of how his former best friend treated him before he got tired of dealing with Blake’s sour attitude.]
Blake: Was only a matter of time before she got sick of me, too.
[He groans in disgust, realizing that Wind is right.]
Blake: Geez, what is wrong with me? I’m trapped in some friggin tower pining over–
[His eyes widen in horror at how aptly he was fitting the fairy tale stereotype. This is not okay. He looks out the window again to better analyze the height.]
Blake: There’s no way I’m surviving a fall from up here…
[He scans the room, but there’s not much he can use to make a rope. The bed sheets would work, but they wouldn’t provide much length. While he was looking around, he caught sight of himself in the vanity mirror.]
Blake: That idiot really did almost kill me. He ruined my shirt, too.
[He examines the tear and blood on his shirt with disdain before he slips his shirt over his head. He licks his thumb and uses it to wipe off the dried blood on his bare skin. It isn’t a terrible cut, he’s had much worse. Still, the location was a bit unnerving.]
Blake: They can’t seriously expect one of us to go up against that guy, right?
[His thoughts turn to Paige again, but this time, they are more of concern. That woman can get madder than a hornet, and she is remarkably lacking in self-preservation. It was good when it came to defense, but not so much in life and death situations.]
Blake: If she gets hurt going after me…
[At the same time, he’s gotten to know Paige pretty well over the last few months, and there is no one better in high pressure situations. He sighs and lies down on the bed.]
Blake: Fine. I suppose there’s no harm in giving my partner some time before I try something drastic. At least Colt’s not around, so I can finally get some peace and quiet.
[Cecil continues to stand in front of the slumbering princess. On the bed, one brown eye cracks open, She tries to speak without moving her lips as much as possible, which slurs her speech.]
Princess: Psst. Haven’tchu eveah read schtories where the princsh comes ta rescue the schleeping princschess?
[Cecil is caught off guard by the sudden voice. He looks at the princess, lips primed and ready for action. He gulps and wipes the sweat off his forehead.]
Cecil: Oh… okay. Alright.
[He leans in closer, blushing furiously.]
Cecil: (Okay. I can do it. I-I can kiss this girl.)
[He inches closer, now a mere breath’s distance between them.]
Cecil: (I’m gonna do it.)
[He scrunches his eyes shut and goes in for the kiss, gently laying his lips upon the princess’.
Her toes curl beneath the sheets. Her eyes pop open but only for a moment. They flutter back shut as one hand falls on the back of his head, pulling him further into the messy kiss.]
[As Cecil feels the hand on the back of his head, pushing the kiss farther than he meant for it to, Cecil tries to gently pull away.
She gets the hint at once and lets him go. Sitting up, she gazes at him with her face flushed.]
Princess: My hero!
[Finally getting a proper look at him, she does a double take, blinking a few times and tilting her head to one side.]
Princess: Oh, I didn’t know you had wolf ears!
Cecil: Uh, hello! Sorry I had to kiss you! A-and I’m hoping there’s no problem– with me having wolf ears, I mean.
[Cecil is a little surprised when he sees the princess so sprightly so soon after waking up. He steps back, maintaining what he thinks is a respectable distance between the two of them.]
Cecil: It’s nice to meet you, miss…?
[Beaming, she holds out her hand, waiting for him to take it and lead her out of the tower that was once her prison.]
Princess: And you, my knight in shining armor?
[Cecil still feels like a fight is coming. He does his best to keep his composure calm, however, as he takes her hand and gives her a handshake, as he was taught to do.]
Cecil: I’m Cecil! Uh, haha, I don’t know about b-being a knight in shining armor, but it’s nice to meet you, Rosemary.
[He smiles and rubs the back of his neck.]
Cecil: (I guess I’m supposed to take her out of here now? Oh, um…)
[He awkwardly takes her hand back in his and gestures to the exit.]
Cecil: Let’s get you out of here.
[She nods, the touch of his hand making her face grow rosy once more.]
Rosemary: All right. Oh, and don’t worry about your ears! I was just surprised you had them. If you ask me, I think they’re cute.
[Cecil can’t stop himself from grinning, but he hides his face.]
Cecil: I, ah, thank you…!
[He walks them towards the exit.]
[Wind doesn’t go far from that luxurious prison of a room. If that little girl fails her task, it’d be up to him to bring the boy back. Or, at least, that’s what he tells himself.
He hesitates at the thought of returning to the others and facing Ambrosia’s reaction. Would she feel upset? No, that woman wouldn’t know anger if it was staring her in the face. Disappointed, then? Did she even have any expectations for him?
He smacks his forehead with an open palm, hoping to slap the thoughts out of his brain. He didn’t care about her or whatever base impression she held of him. (After all, it wouldn’t be such a far cry from the truth, would it?)
Still, he decides to stand in the hallway with his back against the wall and his arms crossed, waiting to see whether Paige was a winner or a no-show.]
The matches are all but settled! With Rosemary safely rescued, what princess awaits Prince Shun? And let’s not forget about Paige’s confrontation with Wind yet to come.
Keep up with it on my brand spanking new Facebook, which I’ve updated to go along with the release of my demo (whoo!). You can also stick with my unchanged, oldie-for-goodie Twitter. Have an awesome weekend, everybody!
NEXT: Rescue Time