part one. review, please! first one. be nice! unless you have any suggestions.
I awoke to the same "alarm clock" I've woken up to ever since I was 7. Master High Roller's screaming voice telling me to get something for him. Yawning, I woke up to pull on my black sleeveless top that was torn just right, my dark skinnies, my cropped leather blazer, and my black and white high-tops. He's like a child. I think I'm raising him, rather than vice versa…
"Muchi! WHERE IS MY TEA!" He screamed, his nasally, rheumy voice slightly staticy over the old intercom. I pushed the button, a little annoyed.
"Be there soon Master High Roller. Had to get dressed."
"Get dressed faster next time! My tea shall get cold!" said softer than normal, but it still had a dangerous edge to it. Strange, he seems to be in a good mood… I wonder why? Puzzled, I walked down the hall, nodding at the gorillas High Roller had in his employ. I was one of the very few maids he kept, and sadly, I was his personal favorite. I trotted to the kitchen, my feet hardly making any noise in their cloth coverings. I had a naturally quiet step, which I inherited from my father. High Roller hated it. So I solved the problem by stomping whenever I got anywhere near him. He preferred that. I got the tea tray from the big gorilla, and walked with it to his throne room. I stomped when I got closer to the throne room, and he roused from his daydream and reached for the tea.
"Took you long enough. Did you pick the tea leaves?" He said with a soft tone but the sneer was evident in the tone. I remained silent; knowing saying anything would make him angry. He looked triumphant, and it took a lot to keep my eyes from rolling. I bowed, and turned to leave.
"Why are you leaving? Did I give you the ok to leave?" I sighed underneath my breath. Why did this man have to be so damn complicated? I hated my job. The other maids just had to wash his clothes or do his dishes or clean his castle. I was the one that had to put up with him, sun-up to sun- down. I turned around to face the monster, and his eyes bore deep into mine, and, as usual, his white eye scared me a little bit. It was revolting. But I managed to keep my meager breakfast down.
"I have a job for you. You are to take the places of the zebra brothers and go to the Ox King and have them under our control. I have a feeling it will be an easy job for you. Now go." He stated, softly. Why Me! WHY! I bowed and turned away, running to my room. I ran through the halls and into the open door of my personal safe-haven, and packed a black bag full of my skinnies, a few shirts, and some socks and underthings. I looked around my room, grabbed my bow and quiver full of arrows, and put on my mother's necklace, and brushed out my hair. I braided my golden brown hair into two strands framing my face, and left the rest down. I looked at myself in the mirror, and my nervous grey gaze looked back at me. I fidgeted with the crystal heart around my neck, suspended on a lace and velvet choker, and stood up, a trifle shaky. I grabbed a small toiletry bag, and put my lipstick and some off my eye-shadow and eye-liner into it, and tossed it into the bag. I slung my quiver of arrows over my shoulder, and picked up my bow. I bit my bottom lip, threading it under it, looking at my little puppy, Roku. High Roller won't watch him… If anything, that single thought convinced me, and I put his collar and leash on, and together we trotted out into the unknown.
"Ox King! Ox King!" I yelled, going down the hall. I spotted him, and ran over to him, Roku trailing behind me. "Ox King! Master High Roller wants to confirm your alliance with him. Do you say yes, or no?" Ox King nodded in his version of a "yes" and I sat down by his throne, where the Zebra Brothers usually sat, and started to play with Roku. This isn't that bad. All I have to do is stay here. Hopefully Big Green won't attack, and I can have a peaceful day today. But, wherever High Roller's influence reaches, they can't be too fat behind. *sigh* I wish that either Big Green or Master High Roller will give up, so this will all be over with, and no one will have to worry about this ever again. Just a world of peace… but where there is power, there will be war. No peace is forever. I heard a weird sound, and saw a man carrying forth golden trinkets. At least, I thought it was a man. He had a box for a head, and a kimono on, and some weird umbrella type thing on his head. I ignored him, and went back to playing with Roku.
"Ox King! I come forth bringing gifts! Will you ally with Big Green, in our effort to keep the peace between animals and humans?" The boxy man said. It seemed he had a higher-pitched voice, but it was still nice to hear. Not too nasally, like High Roller's. I saw the King look at the other oxen, and they captured him. Then I saw the umbrella thing swivel on his head, and I realized it was an antenna! He was summoning Big Green!
"Ox King! The man you see here is summoning Big Green! Summon your own troops to protect you! Hurry!" Ox King got the message. He bellowed and many oxen, a little smaller than him, came. Roku and I nearly got flattened underneath all the hooves of the large oxen. They flanked to their castle walls, and out into the fields. Then I heard the familiar "thump thump" of turtles, and looked out. I saw Big Green approaching, and was dumbfounded. I thought Big Green were adults. These warriors seemed hardly older than 16, like myself! I saw a woman in a grey dress with red pants underneath, and some strange creature on her head. It puzzled me that her lips and eyes where the name blue color, and was envious of her strait short hair. My curls never behaved right, unless I brushed them out vigorously. Then I saw a little man in red, with eyes that kept popping out of his head. And a rabbit with a jump rope he was starting to jump with vigorously. Then I saw a man in the middle, dressed in a one-shoulder black shirt and pants that left half of his muscular chest open, and he wore a fur hat. Then I saw the long bamboo pole with a wooden tip poking over his shoulder, and wondered what the other's weapons where. I stood behind the oxen, and watched them charge at the humans. Big Green didn't flinch; in fact they jumped off their turtles and ran to meet them halfway. The only evident female in the group used her tongue and her little monster to fight. Then I saw the little man dressed in red hold his nose and shoot a banana into his mouth.
"I am Mighty Ray, fear my eyeballs!" the little man screamed, and out of his eyes came twin lightning strikes. The rabbit used some carrots and his jump rope to attack the oxen, and the man in the fur cap used the bamboo branch. But it wasn't a staff, as I thought it was. It was a sort of cannon that shot wooden chutes. His marksmanship was extraordinary, and I found myself awed. His dark eyes flashed to where I was, and I hurriedly hid, out of sight. I whistled low, and my pup walked over to me. I petted him, and looked at my baby Rottweiler, and smiled.
"He seems nice, doesn't he, Roku? Better than High Roller. But he will be expecting us back…" I scratched his ears. His eyes closed and his head leaned into my hand, and I put his collar back on. He looked up at me with his big puppy eyes.
"Cut it out! I know you don't like Master High Roller, but he is our boss. I know he uses you for guard duty, even though you don't like to hurt and bite, only growl, but still! He feeds both of us." I sighed. I had to agree wit h Roku, but now just wasn't the time. We had to go before Big Green found us.
"Ready to go home, Roku?" I asked. He nodded his big head, a little glum, and I smiled at him. I started to walk out the side entrance, but stopped to look to see how the battle was going. It seemed the human teens had the oxen tied up, and the Ox King was challenging them to who knows what! I resumed walking and about fifteen minutes later I checked again and they were allies. I cursed under my breath. Master High Roller won't like this, not one bit. I ran to the back exit, and was suddenly caught around the waist by the taller guy in the group.
"Where are you running to? The ox won't torture you with the smell of the fried rice anymore." He asked, perplexed. I started struggling for all I was worth, trying to get him to put me down. Roku was growling at him, and he hurriedly put me down. I pet my little rottie, and began to run again. Suddenly I tripped and came down hard on the floor. I felt a gash over my right eyebrow, and fuzzily saw the man running to me before I blacked out.
Uuughh….where am I…bright….light… I opened my eyes to see a bright light in my face, and I quickly recoiled from it. I looked around and saw the people around me, all looking at me with curiosity and some degree of concern.
"Wha-what are your names?" I finally said after I found my mouth. I reached up to feel above my eye-brow, and felt something poking up from my skin. I pulled on one to discover they were stitches. Uuughh,stitches. How bad was my fall, I wonder?
"I am Commander Ape Trully. I am the one who you saw when you were by the oxen. I know you work for High Roller. I saw the tattoo. But if you are willing to join us, we will welcome you with open arms." Said the weird boxy man. Then I saw a man with no arms, and he was only levitating by his tassel on his hat.
"I am Mr. No Hands, as you can see." Said the strange man with no hands. He smiled gently. "I hope you feel better. You had a bad fall. You landed on a rock." So, I did have a nasty fall. I feel better knowing that information.
"I am Mystique Sonia." Said the girl with the blue eyes, lips, and tongue, somewhat regally, "The only female in the group, as you can see." She smiled at me softly. "We can be good friends, if you'd like." She smiled hopefully. I couldn't help not being friends with her, after that nice, welcoming smile. Then a strange rabbit that was pure white with black ears hopped up to me.
"Me….Jumpy Ghostface." Said the kind rabbit. I gently scratched him between the ears. He seemed nice but I already had a pet. One I was neglecting, I realized.
"Where is Roku!" I screeched, panicked. The guy who held me earlier moved aside, showing my puppy with a muzzle in the corner, tied up, whimpering. I was insanely angry in a matter of seconds. "What have you done to my baby Roku!" I yelled, and tried to get up to go comfort him. I stood, swaying, having a strange moment of vertigo. After it had passed I shoved by the guy in black and went to him, untying him and taking the muzzle off. I turned to look at the monsters wondering who had done that to him. "Which one of you horrid monsters did this to my poor puppy! WHO!" I practically snarled, wondering who would do this to a poor, defenseless puppy. I looked around, angry and fuming, and the one in red stood and looked at me.
"I did it. I was scared your dog would bite one of us. So I muzzled him and tied him in the corner. I'm sorry. And, I am Mighty Ray" He said it so apologetically; I calmed down enough to not want to hit him upside the head with a bamboo rod.
"He may growl but he doesn't bite. He is only a pup, and has a sense of right and wrong. You didn't need to do that." I said, calmly. I had no forgiving feelings in me just yet but I didn't want to hurt the guy. At least, not here. Maybe I'll put a tack underneath his pillow later. I smiles easily at him, and turned to the quite guy next to the window. "And your name is…?" I said, curious and beseeching.
"My name is Lin Chung. The one you started running from. I know why now." He said, serenely. He turned to look at me, his dark eyes boring into my grey ones, and I looked around to see identical looks of curiosity on the other's faces. I suddenly realized they wanted to know my name.
"Uh… my name is Muchi. And this," I said bending down to look Roku in the eye and pet his head and cheeks, "is Roku, my Rottweiler." They all looked uneasily at Roku, knowing the breed was subject to protect those it loved most with ferocity unmatched by other dogs. I continued to pet his head when everyone started to go down the halls. I wondered what was up, so I followed them. It turns out it was bedtime, so I stood in the hallway, wondering what to do. So I went back to the main room and lay on the couch. I watched the sun set, and fell asleep.
I awoke in the middle of the night, sweating from my nightmare. I looked out to the moon and went to the window, watching it slowly rise higher in the sky, its full shape reminding me of High Roller's white eye, and I shuddered. I knew I must get back home, before High Roller got too upset. I saw some pipes around the table, and wondered where they led to. Knowing if they did lead to outside, I knew I wouldn't get Roku down on quietly, so I discarded that idea. I got up from my spot by the window, and looked around for anything leading downstairs. I saw a door, and opened it. I looked in, and happily saw some stairs. Smiling, I whistled softly for Roku, and together we walked down the stairs, out quiet steps hardly making any noise. At the bottom I saw there was a small scrap of grass, then sand, then ocean. I saw the mainland, way off in the distance, and groaned. I looked down at Roku.
"We'll never make that distance Roku! Even if the gods gave us unlimited stamina and strength, we'd make too much noise. Our hides are going to be tanned if High Roller finds out we didn't report to him after the Ox King allied with Big Green. We might as well kiss our skins goodbye now, Roku." I sat on the grass, looking out into the surf, fuming.
"Why do you seem so mad, Muchi? Why go back to High Roller?" said a husky voice behind me. I practically jumped of my skin. This guy was the strangest guy I've ever met.
"Because I'm not only his personal maid, but his favorite, and Roku is his best guard dog. We hate it there, but it's where we get our food and the money to get my clothes and his vet visits. Why you out here anyways, Lin Chung? Thought you'd be asleep seeing how you have nowhere to be other than your room." I said, a bit icily. I feel bad to be a little mean to him but hey, I'm pissed already so yea.
"Well, I went into our living room to see if you needed anything and I saw the staircase door was open, so I came to investigate. Good thing we're on an island, or you'd be long gone by now." He chuckled a little at the end. I only got madder but I kept it in. I blew my bangs out of my face, and tucked my knees up to my chest, wrapping my arms around them, and stared out into the ocean. I heard him shuffle and heard the dry crinkle of paper, and looked at him. He had moved to sit on the edge of the grass and sand, a few yards away from me, and was beginning to draw.
"What are you doing?" I asked, confused but curious.
"Drawing. The moon is at the perfect part in the sky to draw, when it just peaks over the mountains and casts a shine onto the ocean." He turned to look at me. "Why don't you join me?" I nodded and walked over to him, Roku walking with me and sitting on the other side of me, the side opposite of Lin Chung. I tucked my knees under my chin, and wrapped my arms around them. I looked out onto the ocean, thinking.
I wonder what she's thinking about? Her eyes…they look silver in the moonlight. NO! FOCUS, LIN CHUNG! The picture… I sighed and got to work before the moon moved from its perfect position in the sky, but I couldn't help looking at the strange brown-haired girl, so secretive yet so utterly trustworthy. She had courage, or else she wouldn't keep the bear-like dog as a pet. She was quiet, but I've never felt someone so like myself. I got back to work, and finished the painting in record time. Then I shifted so slightly so I could paint her, how she looked in the moonlight. She had her knees tucked under her chin, looking out into the ocean, eyes silver in the moonlight. Her hair turned dark, almost black, and her skin turned a creamy color. She was a nice tan color, with rosy cheeks and lips. Those lips…so full… they look so soft… Snap out of it, Lin Chung! She won't look at you twice! And you have other duties. You don't need a girl to slow you down, no matter how nice she looks. If you wanted a partner, you should have asked Mystique Sonia. So suck it up! I found myself staring at her, and quickly looked up at the moon. It reminded him of her eyes. Both her eyes and the moon where silver and full. Don't go there! Uuughh, time to go inside, before I do something stupid.
"Well, I'm going inside. It's getting a little too late for my taste. See you tomorrow?" I asked, and I prayed the hopeful tone in my voice went undetected by her. She smiled, and what a nice smile it was…
"Well, I must agree. It is getting a tad late. Walk me inside?" she asked, getting up. Her body was slim, with thin legs and a slim waist… and tall, too. Almost as tall as his 6'2" height. If I had to guess, I'd say she was about 5'6". Not bad, I think a perfect height.
"Um, ok? Let's go." With that, I turned around and walked to the house, hoping she was following me. I walked up the stairs, my heavy footfalls resounding on the wood. I listened for hers, and realized she made no sound as she walked. Quiet steps, well she will make a formidable fighter on the battle field. And her bow and arrows, I tested the tips of them and damn she sharpens them! And so perfectly balanced, that fly straighter than a bird can fly! Well, anyways it's time for us to part ways. I smiled at her.
"Well, your bedroom is here. I must retire to my own. Goodnight." I said, and turned around to walk down the hallway that led to my bedroom. As I got under the sheets, a single thought kept buzzing around in my head. Who is she really, underneath all that?
I awoke underneath a blanket, a pillow under my head. I didn't have these when I went to sleep… eh; someone probably gave them to me. I stretched, feeling my spine elongate and my back arch, and the tendons in my legs, arms, and hands stretching. I got up and reached for the sky, working the last of my muscles into alertness and shaking the drowsiness out of me. I brought my knuckle down to cover my yawn, and went to the table. I looked around and saw no one was up yet, not even Roku, so I decided to go out and look at the sunrise over the ocean. I walked down the steps, barefoot in my shorts and a tank, and walked outside only to see Lin Chung drawing the sunrise. Hmm. Guess we have similar times and likes? Whatever. I like the sunrise and sunset, and if he does too, well then ok. I can't let this aversion to him keep me from enjoying the sunrise over the ocean. I walked up and sat a few yards away from him, looking out at the ocean in awe. I never knew a sunrise could be more beautiful if it was over the ocean. I loved how the colors of the sunrise were mirrored on the ocean. If I could, I would freeze time forever and keep this moment alive. But, I can't, so the sun rose, and the blue of the new day began to form on the edge of the horizon, its mundane color chasing the pinks, golds, and oranges away. I sadly sighed but had the playful impulse to run into the waves. I fought with it, knowing that I'd seem childish in Lin Chung's eyes. Oh, what do I care? It's just a man. If I want to, I'll go play in the waves! Happily standing up, I ran to the waves and started to jump and play in them. My shorts quickly got soaked, and after I dove in the rest got wet as well. Then, instead of merely playing in the waves I was swimming in them and body-boarding, and in the back of my mind I was glad I chose to wear red instead of another lighter color. When I was done, I swam to the shore and lay on my back on a rock, drying out. I looked over at Lin Chung, who was busily drawing on the paper.
"Hello, Lin Chung! Nice weather, is it not?" I asked giddy from the swim and how the skin on my face and shoulders was delightfully raw, not so much that it hurt but enough that it felt different.
"Hello, Muchi. Had a nice swim?
"Yes! It felt good to swim again." I said, I flipped over to dry the other side of my body, and rested my head on my hands, and turned to look at him. He smiled.
"So, how was the water?"
"It was delightfully warm! Like bath water! No wonder you love it here! I never want to go back to High Roller's ever again!" Then a cold feeling went over me. "But I know I have to. Sadly." I turned my head the other way, and after I dried out completely, I went inside to enjoy breakfast.
I watched her go inside, and looked at my drawing. I had captured her when she was wet perfectly; she looked so much like the Mermaids the seamen talked about. Long, thick hair? Check. Wide, childlike eyes? Check. Thick, lush lips? Check. Thin waist? Check, check, check! This girl was like a god dam mermaid! She swam so gracefully through the waves… she had captured his eye, but not yet his heart. He couldn't help looking at her, feeling the need to protect her. How could you not? She seemed like a child in a woman's body, and her constantly changing moods made him feel like he had whiplash. She obviously had something in her past, something dark, and he felt the need to unlock the secrets of her. How could you not be perplexed? He looked through his sketches of her, some from last night on the beach, some when she slept, some when she swam, and some when she was laying on the rock. She was slowly taking over his mind, his soul, and he couldn't stop it. He didn't want to stop it. And that simple fact scared him. He cupped his eyes like binoculars around his eyes and looked up at the room where she was sleeping, and saw the others with his Panther Vision. Time to get up there and have breakfast… I roused myself enough to get up, and I hid the book in my shirt, along with the pencil and brush, and walked to the house. I came up the stairs to hear the others drilling her with questions, and her hesitant responses. I felt the need to stop that and I said as much when I got up the steps. They were silenced immediately, and I saw the thankful look in her eye as she looked deep into mine. Her eyes were so childlike, yet something wise was in them. He shuddered internally at her gaze, and sat down.
"Where is Ape Trully?" I asked, curious.
"He went to see the Cranes. Get ready. It's going to happen sooner or later. It always does." Said Sonia, boredom and inevitability dripping from her voice. She was right.
I heard an alarm ring and I heard Mr. No Hands yell
"First Squad, Deploy!" The others leapt into the pipes. Curious, I grabbed my bow and quiver full of arrows and took Mr. No Hand's pipe, and landed on a turtle. I whistled loud and Roku ran and jumped onto the turtle with me. I saw Lin Chung turn to look at me.
"Ready to fight?" I nodded and looked forwards as we were shot into the air and into a corridor. At the end of it was the ocean, and the turtles really went into overdrive, and ran across the surface of the water. We were on land, and racing through the trees at a breakneck pace. I saw the trees a solid green wall next to me, and the others were preparing for the battle. Jumpy was sharpening carrots and testing his jump rope. Sonia was testing her tongue and Yaksha. Mighty Ray was counting his bananas. Lin Chung was filling his bamboo rod with chutes. With nothing better to do, I looked at Roku and fixed his collar and mended his leash. Then I played with the string on my arrow, making sure it wouldn't break. Satisfied with my prep, I slung it across my back, and waited for my first view of Crane Castle.
"Crane Castle is up ahead." Lin Chung said. I looked through the trees and saw a glorious castle made of origami. I looked at the castle, puzzled. We dismounted our turtles and I saw the Zebra brothers in the shadow. They saw me, and scowled. I smiled prettily at them and waved. If they told on me, fine. All I knew was that I wasn't going back to High Roller. Then I saw the cranes. They were numerous, and had large origami cups suspended from their feet. I moved aside as the first was dropped, and shot a few arrows at them. They all had weights and they wrapped around the crane's feet, bringing them down to the ground. Mystique Sonia was making a strong updraft that lifted the cups high into the air, and Mighty Ray was shooting lightning at them. Jumpy was flinging carrots, and using his jump rope as a force field. Soon, we had them beat. But they wouldn't accept defeat until one of us made an origami sculpture better than their own.
"Let me do it. I'll win. Don't worry." So I stepped up and King Crane walked up. We were given one piece of origami paper, and I let him go first. He made a crane with flapping wings. I smiled at them and after about 15 minutes I had made a Ling Su Dragon. The cranes stared in awe at me, and I openly smiled at them. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the Zebra Twins rolling back to High Roller, and I grimaced. But I let it go. I walked back to the turtles, and waited for them to come with me. I pet Roku's fuzzy head, and the others walked back to their turtles, looking at me in sheer amazement. Lin Chung just openly gaped at me, and took the turtle closest to me. We rode back, me stealing glimpses of Lin Chung, and sometimes looking into his eyes as he stole glances of me. I smiled after the last time, and he smiled back.
oooooh! whats gonna happen next? part 2 comin soon!