Ean: The long awaited second chapter!
Nexa: You know that the only reason you even did a second chapter was because Forgive- Forget- Princess asked you to.
Ean:Your point is...?
ALexenne: As is common, ignore the first line.
To open my eye is to say hello to the sky and bid my dream goodbye.
"Good morning, my princess."
My eyes fluttered open and I shot up, the floor lurching beneath me. "Who are you? Where am I?"
A melodic chuckle assaulted my ears. "You are with me, Nagihiko. We ran away last night. Or was that all just a pleasurable dream?"
Memories surfaced in my mind and I was ashamed of my behavior. "Forgive me, kind sir. I was merely startled."
The boy with the strange hair nodded and smiled. "All is forgiven."
We sat in silence as the calm water waltzed with our boat. Ever once in a while, Nagihiko would stir the ocean with his oar, guiding our capsule to a land far away. I sighed contently.
But my stomach was not content. It complained for all to hear.
"Might you be hungry, Lady Rima?" Amusement invaded his voice.
"I might be." He rummaged through his sack and passed me a bruised apple.
"We should be docking southern Lutek soon. I'll stock the supplies while you change." He glanced at my modest clothing. "Did you bring any money, by chance?"
I too glanced down at my dress. It was the least elaborate one I possessed. I sought out my own bag and retrieved the coin purse. "18 watts is all. Will that be enough?"
He let out a low whistle. "I've only ever been lucky enough to have thirteen sparks at one time, let alone a whole watt. What else did you bring?"
I bashfully looked through my many dresses and jewels. "Just a few necessities. He peeked into my bag.
"Your Majesty, if you don't mind me saying, you will need to sell most of that. It is not practical."
I gazed lovingly at my gowns and then glared at the offending male. "How are they not practical?"
He seemed to think. "I don't want to be rude, but do you expect us to stumble upon a ball?"
I got his point but that didn't mean I liked it. "Fine, we will do this your way."
We again sat in silence. This is not the adventure I expected.
"Shall I recite a poem to you?" I cut my eyes toward my companion.
"If you wish me to fall asleep." Poetry was so boring.
"Would you rather I sing?"
"Proceeding to do so would only irritate me." He blew his hair out of his eyes.
"What do you suggest, Princess? How am I to woo you?" His irritated side amused me.
"You are not to. I am perfectly content to not be wooed."
He sighed in exasperation. From his pocket, he drew out three more balls.
An orange one flew into the air, soon followed by a yellow one and then a purple one. I was transfixed.
The jester seemed to notice my attention. "Do you enjoy tricks?"
I raised my nose haughtily. "Do you not recall that the jester competition you entered was in my honor?"
He looked abashed. "Forgive me, it is hard to think with such a beauty distracting me."
I rolled my eyes. "I am a connoisseur of comedy, not compliments."
"You are not acting very lady like, your majesty." He seemed amused.
"I left the palace so I didn't have to be polite. Do not expect false words from me." The words may have been serious, but I smiled nonetheless. My mouth enjoyed this newfound freedom, this sensation of honesty.
"How can I not compliment someone who is so extraordinary?" Nagihiko's brow was furrowed as if he honestly didn't think it was a possibility.
"Easy." I responded. "Just keep your mouth closed."
His bewilderment deepened. "I never thought a princess would say such words."
"Maybe you shouldn't expect so much of someone you have never met." Why did it pain me to see the love in his smile start to falter? "You cannot claim to love me if you do not know me."
"Perhaps you are right…" He fell silent and kept rowing. I gazed at the far away land in longing. This solitude was new to me. As exhilarating as it was, it felt rather lonely.
Night was slowly creeping up again. The shadows elongated and the stars decided to show themselves. It was a full moon and the ocean became a mirror. The sky appeared to go on forever and it frightened me that something could be that enormous and me so miniscule.
I finally spoke again. "Nagihiko, where are we?"
He looked up from his oars. "Just west of Lutek." He studied the stars for a few moments. "Approximately five hundred and thirty- eight cords east from land. We are still in the Ocean of Glass."
If I had done my arithmetic right, which I should have due to so many tutors throughout the year, we were about three hours away from shore. "Would you like me to take the oars?"
He gave me a sour look. "Did you ever navigate a boat back in Chesire?"
I turned sheepish once again. "No. There was never a need in my kingdom. The only thing I ever learned to navigate were heels."
He chuckled. I was distracted by the way the moon reflected off his plum hair. The locks cascaded like a waterfall from the purest of blues to the most mysterious purple. That was this boy in a nutshell; pure and mysterious at the same time. He was so honest that it was simple to forget that I knew relatively nothing about him.
"Tell me about yourself. Where did you lean how to navigate?" I might as well get to know my traveling companion.
Nagihiko sighed. "It is not too terribly exciting. I grew up an orphan with my twin sister, Nadeshiko, in a small ocean side town called Port Telford. She was the brain and I the brawn. We made a living by stealing and befriending locals. We survived." He shrugged and continued his rowing.
"Where is Port Telford? I have never heard of such a place." The story intrigued my weary mind.
"I did not expect you to. Port Telford is between Chesire and Lutek. Quite close to where we are docking actually." He smiled. "Maybe I could introduce you to some old friends. Nade would love to know how her friend Amu is doing." His smile faltered.
"Do you miss your sister?"
"Very much. She always supported me and had the most ingenious plans. She is the reason we met and got out alive." He stopped paddling and pulled his cloak tighter around himself. "It is lonely not having her with me. Do you miss your brother?"
I thought of arrogant Tadase. "Somewhat. He has always been a pest and tried to decide things for me. But he has a gentle heart and I miss that certainty that he provided. He made me feel safe."
"I'll protect you now princess." He held out a hand and I shifted myself towards it, grasping it and snuggling into his warmth.
"Just call me Rima. Outside of the palace, we are equals." He did feel safe. The dark, infinite sky wasn't so scary anymore.
"About earlier, I am sorry to have forced my expectations on you. It wasn't fair of me to judge you on a stereotype. Maybe it is for the best that I take your advice and rethink this 'love' thing." Something inside me sank. I had started thinking that loving Nagihiko might not be that bad. Not that I loved him or anything. It was purely a hypothetical thought.
"Oh. All is right then. Thank you." Though it was a comfort to realize that something else had lifted. The burden of expectations was not present anymore. "Everyone has always expected things from me. I was trained to be perfect in every way. I did much better than an average person, but they still expected more from me. Tadase was straightforward and told them not to expect so much, but I have never had the courage." Nagihiko looked down at me with understanding eyes. Even though he literally was, it was the first time I did not feel looked down on. It was a good feeling.
Nagihiko eventually looked back up and started rowing again. The silence got awkward. "Why is it called the Ocean of Glass?"
He looked down at me and smiled yet again. "Curious, are we? It is said that there was once a conceited fire goddess. She loved gazing at herself so much that when she saw the reflective waters of our sea, she could not resist. She spent much time looking from up above that she decided to come down for a closer look. But I heard that when she touched the water, it cut her. Her flames shattered the tranquil surface. That is also the reason we have irregular waves. Her fire is boiling the water below us. At least, that is what I was told. A more logical answer is that it is reflective and cold like glass." His smile never faltered through his story.
"Why do you smile so much? There is nothing funny nor anything to be particularly happy about." I voiced my question.
He smiled wider. "How can I not be happy in the presence of someone like you?"
I raised my eyebrows. "Does that mean that you only smile around me?"
He hesitated. "No. Is it forbidden to be happy just to be alive?"
"It is foolish." I dropped the subject.
But Nagihiko was not finished. "But I am a fool." I became aware of his balls in his hand. He grinned wider, taunting me with his mouth. He is a stubborn boy. Of that, I am sure.
My eyes grew heavy and the boat was becoming more comfortable by the minute. I curled in on myself and rested my head more solidly on Nagihiko's leg. Eyes shut tight, I wrapped my arms around his calf for comfort. I was soon off in dreamland.
Back in Chesire
"Tadase! Get your royal hinny in here this second!" A very pissed off Nadeshiko was standing in Prince Tadase's bedchamber.
"Yes, milady?" His tone was sarcastic, as was his bow. This would not do.
"Respect! I demand respect! If you don't show it to me, then how can I expect you to show it to your kingdom?" She was straightforward and strict.
"Easy." Tadase replied. "Don't."
The girl took a deep breath. "Don't test me boy. Pick up these clothes this second."
"But mother!" Tadase whined mockingly. "Don't we have maids for that?"
Nadeshiko wanted to cry. Why couldn't he just take her seriously? What happened to the prince who had been her idol as a little girl? "Just… go. Do whatever the hell you want. I don't care anymore! I'm tired of trying to make you into a king!"
She descended the stairs from the top of the prince's tower to the bottom. She then entered her sparse room as tears dripped from her eyes. They beat out a gentle, yet familiar, rhythm.
"What gives you the right to cry?" Nadeshiko turned her wet face towards her roommate, Saaya. "You disrespect the prince, yet you are allowed to be by his side whenever you want. I have worked to get close to him since I knew what love was. What gives you the right to cry?"
The shamed girl wiped her eyes. "I am sorry about your misfortune, but he needs to learn to work instead of being served indefinitely."
"Why should he?" The curly haired girl replied. "He is going to be served his whole life and there is nothing you can do to change that."
As her tears dried, Nadeshiko became more and more irritated at Tadase and herself. "It is people like you that made him change. Tadase used to be a sweet and gentle little boy! Now he is just an arrogant bastard!" She took her anger out on her roommate.
"Do not speak of him like that! What can a newcomer like you know? You have no idea what he has been through to protect Ri-" Saaya was cut off by a dark presence.
"That is enough, Saaya. Would you be a dear and clean my room for me?" The maid left meekly. Nadeshiko shot him a glare.
"What? Did you know how many dead spiders were under those clothes?" The prince tried to look cheerful.
"Intimately." Nadeshiko did not elaborate.
Tadase shut the door behind him and sat himself on Nadeshiko's bed. "What is wrong my love?"
"Nothing and I am not your love." She crossed her arms and stubbornly stayed standing.
"You can tell me. I apologize if I offended you." He tugged on her arm and she had no choice but to look into his warm eyes. Only one thing came to mind when she tried to describe that pink color; frozen lust.
But right now they were softer and more vulnerable. They were more like… thawed love. "There is no need to apologize. I know you did not mean to bring back these cursed memories."
"Would you like to talk about it? Is that not what love and friendship is about? Listening to each other's problems?" Nadeshiko smiled a bit.
"You might be understanding this a smidgen better. My mother was a maid." She paused at the painful memory. "She was worked to death. Her life was not much better. No one appreciated the work she did."
Tadase though for a moment about all his maids from the past years. "I never realized that they worked so hard. Funny, no one has ever complained before. They even used to smile at me when I was a boy."
"Why would they complain? Do you think they like the threat of torture and royal punishment? They need this job." She dropped her voice to a whisper. "And you were different when you were a boy."
"How would you know that?" Tadase finally succeeded in pulling Nadeshiko into his lap. She blushed and looked awkward.
"I would rather not tell you."
"My love, that was a royal decree." He smirked. "Tell me or face my wrath."
"Oh I am so scared. As your love, I overrule royal decree." Her chocolate brown orbs rolled in their sockets.
"You admitted to being my love therefor I have the right to kiss you." He leaned in teasingly.
Nadeshiko pushed him away. "And here I thought we were having a moment. Fine, I revoke my status as your love."
Tadase leaned in once again. "Then face my wrath… in kisses." He pecked her lips teasingly.
He pulled away with a grin and stared into her wide eyes, waiting for a reaction.
"You stupid idiot! I hate you!" Once again, this section ends with Tadase being slapped.
Again, I woke up in a boat. But this time, the boat was docked. I was speechless as my senses were overloaded. The salty sea air was tinged with the smell of fresh bread and exotic flowers. So many flower stands were set up, many were kinds I had never encountered before. The colors were bright and the people lively. Soft music was being played somewhere in the village. Everyone seemed so happy.
"Good morning Rima. Welcome to Port Telford." I took Nagihiko's offered hand and pulled myself out of the boat. My dirty blue dress trailed through the water and I grimaced at its state.
Nagihiko noticed my dress apprehensively. "We will need to find you some appropriate clothing."
I glared down at my feet. "If we must."
We meandered down the main street and many people greeted Nagihiko as Negi. He wore his usual smile except that now it seemed more relaxed. He always greeted them back. One of them even hugged me, which caused me to have a minor panic attack.
"Oh! Young Negi! It has been too long! And who is this lovely lady you brought with you?" A portly woman stopped us as we passed her flower stand.
Nagihiko's smile was even larger. "Hello Sierra. I hope that you are in good health. This young lady is…" He hesitated.
I saved him. "Jasmine. My name is Jasmine." Nagihiko gave me an odd look but I just returned it with a polite smile. "Nagihiko and I have only recently met. It is good to meet you, Sierra."
See? I can be charming when I want to.
We bid Sierra goodbye and went on our way.
"Negi! Negi!" A girl that could have only been eight ran to us and hugged Nagihiko's leg. He reached down and ruffled her hair.
"How are you, Kora? My, you have grown since I last saw you." She smiled up at him, exposing her missing front teeth.
"Kora, leave Negi alone. Can't you see that he is with his girlfriend?" A boy closer to twelve pulled on Kora's hand but she stubbornly refused to let go.
"She can't be his girlfriend Kachi! I'm his girlfriend!" I was blushing and Nagihiko was laughing as they continued their argument.
"It is good to see that the Hanshin siblings are doing well." They both smile at him. What was up with these people and smiling?
Kachi and Nagihiko gave each other 'man hugs'. "Good to see that you came back. You brought home a girl too." Kachi looked at me appreciatively. "Nice catch."
I felt ignored. "My name is Jasmine. You must be Kachi." He shook my hand.
"Nice to meet you Jasmine. Treat Negi well, okay?" I smiled.
"Will do." The siblings left and we once again started walking.
Nagihiko led me to a clothes vendor. "Wow." Was all I could say as I say all the pretty dresses.
He nudged me playfully. "Those aren't for you." I shot him a quizzical look.
"Laurent!" A dark skinned man came out from behind some clothes and greeted Nagihiko.
"What can I do for you today?" He asked with a warm smile.
"This is my assistant, Jasmine." He lied. "We need to get her an outfit to perform in."
The older man looked me up and down. "I have the perfect one, but it will cost you."
"I have money." I didn't want to feel so useless anymore.
"Alright then." He disappeared behind some hanging clothes again.
"Why Jasmine?" Nagihiko whispered into my ear.
"In one of the languages I studied, Ri means jasmine flowers. All those stalls reminded me about it." Laurent returned.
"Why don't you try this on?" He handed me a bundle and pushed me towards a small curtained off section.
I removed my dress and squeezed myself into the outfit. Self consciously, I stepped out to be seen.
Nagihiko's jaw literally dropped. I can't blame him. The top was a corset with nothing over it. The, ahem, chest part of it was gray covered in black fishnet. The stomach part was gray and white vertical stripes. It had off the shoulder white sleeves and black lace trim. The bottom wasn't much better seeing as it was black and white checkered hose with white flaps at the belt. I looked like a free lance jester.
"We'll take it." Nagihiko forced out. Laurent grinned.
"Thirty six sparks please." I handed him a watt and he gave me two sparks in change.
I started to walk off but Nagihiko stopped me. "We have some dresses we would also like to sell you."
The shop owner seemed eager to have more business. "Show me what you got."
I reluctantly pulled out my bag and removed all the dresses but one. Laurent let out a low whistle. "Did you rob a palace or something." I was insulted!
But Nagihiko stopped me before I could run my mouth. "Nothing of the sort. Just an inheritance from a rich aunt, that is all." Laurent accepted the lie.
"I will give you three watts for the lot." We took the offered money and were on our way.
"What now?" I asked Nagihiko as we wandered the streets.
He shrugged. "What do you want to do?"
"I cannot believe that we didn't plan anything." I looked around at the happy families and smiling children. "Though I must admit that I love this atmosphere. It is so peaceful here."
Nagihiko grabbed my hand and led me towards the center of the market place. I did not complain.
Once there, he stood in the dead center and pulled out three more balls. These ones were orange, green, and yellow. He threw them into the air and started his routine. Round and round they went. He threw in a blue one and switched up the pattern.
Nagihiko tossed the orange one to me. I threw it in the air and missed. It fell to the ground with a muted thud. A warm-hearted chuckle was heard. The jester winked at me and threw the green ball way up high. It silently exploded and slowly rained down. Next was the yellow one. It zinged as it burst to life and it spread out in all directions. Finally, he tossed the blue one. But instead of releasing sparks, water showered down on the crowd. Many laughed while others complained.
I retrieved the fallen orange ball and tossed it experimentally. Nothing happened besides it rejoining the ground. Nagihiko came over to me and pocketed the ball.
"Hey you! Onion head! You are under arrest for unlawful pyrotechnics!" A man who was clearly a guard rushed towards us. Nagihiko once again grabbed my hand and pulled me after him.
We wound down back streets at lightening speed. As a pampered princess, I had never had much need for exercise like this. He was more dragging me than me running.
The guard got farther and farther behind, but he was not giving up. Nagihiko pulled me abruptly down another street and onto the doorstep of a non- distinct house.
He knocked on the door frantically before calming down. A blue haired man opened the door, took one look at us, and then closed it without a word. From inside the house you could here a loud female voice and a soft male voice. After much shouting, at least on the female's side, the door was once again pulled open. This time, it was by a woman about our age with pink hair. Nagihiko hugged her.
Ean: I hope you liked it!
Alexenne: If you haven't noticed, they live in a fictional world with a different currency. 1 watt = 38 sparks. Rima is the princess of Chesire and they are in Lutek.
Nexa: The TadeShiko parts are probably going to be a big thing. Do you think we should make it a seperate story?
Ean: Tell me what you think! And also, I drew out Rima's outfit and it is much better than it sounds.