Forgotten Princess

“Guys, I need help with a quest,” Frank said. The 14-year-old boy sat on a metal picnic table in the school’s courtyard with his friends. Dozens of other students sat in their own groups enjoying their lunch hour.

“What quest?” Jasmine, a girl with long dark hair, asked before stuffing half a burger in her mouth.

“It’s on Oren’s server. We have to rescue a princess from a goblin cave,” Frank explained. Jasmine could not reply with her mouth full of half-chewed food and she pointed at another girl named Paz. Paz nodded and pulled her node out. She swiped at the small, clear rectangle until she found the reviews; then, she made a face that was half disgust and half annoyance. Her dark brown eyes narrowed in Frank’s direction, then she turned towards Jasmine.

“It’s a lowbie quest on a retro server. It’s easy, but,” she held up her node, “no one thinks the loot is worth it.” Paz shrugged as she reported her findings to Jasmine. Then, she turned towards Frank, “Levels don’t even matter anymore, anyone can solo it. What do you need help with?” She asked him.

“The princess that needs rescuing…,” Frank paused and looked around. He did not really know any of his friends yet. He was still a freshman and only met them that year. He guessed Jasmine and Paz would believe him. Hector, a short, sturdy teenager, might. Hector’s friend Ricky definitely wouldn’t, and Alanna hardly ever talked. Worst case two of them wouldn’t believe him. He decided he could live with that. “I talked to her. I think she’s real. A Unique.”

“Is she pretty?” Ricky sat up attentively. Hector slugged Ricky in the arm.

“Why do you think that?” Jasmine asked, then took another bite.

“She talked to me. I mean, she talked to ME,” Frank brought his hand to his chest and patted his green t-shirt. “Off script. She asked me for help.”

“Probably just a follow-up quest,” Paz suggested. Frank shook his head.

“I’ve been going back pretty regularly, she remembers me every time. If you guys meet her, you’ll see what I mean.”

“I’ll go,” Ricky offered.

“Me too,” Hector said. Jasmine and Paz also agreed to go.

“I can’t. Tutoring with Dirge,” Alanna shook her head. “But let me know what you find out,” she asked Jasmine. The girl replied with a thumbs up gesture, Alanna did not know if the girl had food in her mouth still or again.

After school, the five of them met in front of a dark cave as a group of adventurers. Frank was a monk clad in green robes embellished with gold thread. Ricky wore black necromancer robes, Hector was a bard in leather armor. Paz a plate wearing knight with a large battle axe strapped to her back. Jasmine wore a long-bow over her shoulder and leather armor in greens and browns.  Paz placed a heavy gauntlet on Frank’s shoulder and locked eyes with him.

“I want you to know I hate retro servers,” she shifted uncomfortably in her armor. “If it is just a follow-up quest, I’m gonna hit you. Hard.” Frank chuckled, but he caught sight of Jasmine nodding.

“She will,” Jasmine said.

“Trust me. C’mon,” Frank led the way into the cave. “There’s no monsters on the way in, but we’ll be ambushed on the way out,” he explained. He led them deep into the cave to a giant cage made from what appeared to be bones. The group saw a dark-haired princess standing patiently.

“She’s really pretty,” Ricky commented.

“Focus,” Frank said. He rushed to the cage and unlocked it. The princess stepped out and looked at the group.

“Thank you for rescuing me. Please guide me to the entrance of the cave. From there I can journey safely to my home,” she said.

“Can I hit him now?” Paz asked Jasmine.

“It’s okay,” Frank told the princess. “They’re here to help me. They know.”  The princess’ body relaxed from its tense posture and her eyes sparkled to life.

“Really? THANK YOU!” she stepped forward to hug Frank. Frank glanced at Paz and pointed at the woman hugging him as if to say, “see?”

“What do you know about yourself?” Jasmine asked the princess. The woman shrugged.

“Nothing,” she shook her head. “This stupid quest is all I can remember, but I feel like there’s more for me if I could leave the cave.”

“How long have you been here?” Paz asked.

“I don’t know. I don’t even think I was conscious until I met Frank,” she replied.

“Hmmm,” Paz’s iron gauntlet on her right hand disintegrated into white dust and formed her node. She began navigating it with her thumb.

“Oren’s server is about 900 years old,” Paz said. “If you’ve been here since then…”

“What?” The princess asked with wide eyes. She grabbed Paz’s metal shoulders and shook her. “What did you say??” Jasmine placed a hand on the woman’s shoulder to try and calm her down.

“900 years is a long time, but we’ll help yo-“

“NO!! The name!”

“Oren?” Frank asked.

A quivering smile grew on the princess’ face. Her crystal blue eyes began to water.

“I know that name!” she shook her head. “I can’t remember anything, but I know that name!!! Bring him! Please, can you bring Oren here???” Jasmine squeezed the princess’ shoulder and shook her head.

“No one knows where he is,” she apologized.

“I do,” Paz said quietly.  “Jenny made me promise not to tell anyone… but if I go alone, then I didn’t tell anyone, right?” Jasmine nodded.

“Is it something quick?” she asked. Paz shook her head.

“Not even a little bit.”

Lullabye & Pizza (5-10-18)

[OT] Theme Thursday – Media Prompts: Female Vocals [Link to post.]

Alanna White bowed to the crowd gathered around her, and collected her tips from the sparkling green prop top hat with a black band and plastic golden buckle sitting on the cobblestone walk way in front of her. As she bent down her eyes glanced across the street to her right. They were standing there again. The two women, one tall with bone-white spiky hair pointing upward, and a shorter one with long draping curls the same shade of white. Alanna noticed them about a week ago, but she had no idea if they’d been watching her longer than that. 

“I’m gonna take a break folks!” Alanna chirped brightly to the crowd and they began to disperse. The previous night she lay in bed after putting her mom to sleep wondering at the what ifs. What if they were talent scouts? What if they wanted to sign her? What if they wanted to kidnap her? She decided the next time she saw them she would find out. That sunny Saturday afternoon in the crowded downtown district she found her chance. After a deep breath she pocketed the money and moved to cross the street. They seemed to notice her walking towards them. The shorter one wearing a white and orange gothic lolita type dress elbowed the taller one in the ribs. The tall woman wore blue jeans and a red shirt with a tiger and shark logo on it in a yin-yang formation. She turned and smiled at Alanna as she stepped closer. 

“Hi!” Alanna waved at them. The tall woman nodded, the short one smiled and waved in return.

“Hi!” she said. “I’m Dirge, this is Dread.” She gestured to the taller woman. 

“I’m Alanna,” the redheaded girl said. 

“Yeah, we know.” Dread said. Alanna nodded.

“I’ve seen you guys watching me for about a week. Something I can help you with?” Dirge elbowed Dread in the ribs again.

“See? I told you that’s when she noticed us.” Dread shrugged, but Dirge turned her attention to Alanna. “We’ve been watching you sing, and we have an opportunity for you,” Dirge said. Alanna squeezed her fists tightly as her heart leapt in her chest. 

TALENT SCOUTS!” she screamed internally, but she smiled at them and nodded her head. “What’s that?” she asked. Dirge cocked her head to the block of buildings behind them.

“C’mon, we’ll buy you lunch and we can talk,” Dirge said. Without waiting for Dirge to finish speaking Dread turned and began walking up the street. After she invited Alanna Dirge also turned and walked away assuming the ginger girl would follow them. She followed, reasoning that she could bail the second they tried to lead her into a blind alley or back of a van. They ended up walking into Alanna’s favorite pizzeria a block up the street. Dirge and Dread sat on the same side of a green and red booth leaving Alanna to take the other side. After the waitress took their order Dirge leaned over the table and spoke in a hushed tone. 

“You’re starting high school next year, right? We’re here to recruit you for a special, uhh, private school.” Dirge said. 

“You mean like a school for artists?” Alanna’s face lit up, but Dirge shook her head. Her white curls bounced as she made the motion. 

“No. More like a school for your other talents.” Alanna’s face went pale. 

“We could use a Banshee,” Dread said. Alanna wasted no time sliding out of the booth while Dirge elbowed Dread in the ribs again, this time hard enough to cause the taller woman to complain. “Owwww.” 

“Don’t go!” Dirge said. “Watch.” She opened her mouth and sang a simple, single low note; she held it steady while staring into Alanna’s emerald eyes. The tone sounded peaceful to Alanna, almost like a soft lullabye whispering in her ear. Dirge stopped singing as Alanna yawned. She pointed to the patrons at a table in the corner. Alanna looked towards them and realized they were both asleep. Her head jerked around as she eyed everyone else in the restaurant. They were all asleep. 

“Wake ’em up.” Dirge said to Alanna. “You can do it.” Alanna looked around at the restaurant then back to the the two women. Dirge smiled and nodded. Dread gave her a thumbs up gesture. Alanna opened her mouth and sang a note without thinking. Her note was a higher pitch than Dirge’s, and not quite as steady. She sang while she stared at a sleeping woman. In seconds the woman’s eyes began to flutter open and Alanna stopped singing. She took one more look around and realized everyone was awake again. She slid back into the booth. 

“So like a school for Banshees?” Alanna asked. Again, Dirge shook her head. 

“Not quite. It’s more like a school for heroes. You can do a lot of good with your skills.” Dirge said. At that moment the waitress walked up.

“I’m sorry. Unfortunately your pizza was burned and we have to make another one. It’s going to be a bit longer but as an apology your meal will be free of charge.” Dirge smiled at her.

“No problem, thanks!” Dirge said. Alanna used the interruption to think. After the waitress left Alanna spoke up.

“I’m in.”