A/N: No, you are not crazy - this is a new story from me. I've been having a lot of trouble getting the upcoming chapter of Moonbite finished, so I decided to just drop it for now and start something fresh! I have some fun times planned here, so feel free to stay a while and see if you like it. :)
This story takes place in the future (53 years later, to be exact) of our Shuffle! universe, with the slight tweak that Rin chose Nerine out of all his suitors. Primula went to live with them, and has been serving them ever since, struggling to deal with her everpresent feelings. She has also not aged at all, due to her unique bioengineering design. Despite her efforts to do lead a full life, Primula finds herself unfulfilled and thirsty for some kind of love, though she is still unable to love anyone but the unobtainable Rin. And that is where our story begins…
There are a ton of OC's here, due to the nature of the story. I will endeavor my very best to make them full-fledged, living characters, not caricatures or mary sues or billy joes or what-have-you. However, if OC's really grind your gears, perhaps you will have trouble getting into this story. (It is my sincere hope that you will enjoy it, though, naturally) I'm not too experienced at writing kids, so hopefully the two kid characters will become fuller and more realistic after they grow a little bit. (Time will leap forward after every chapter for the first four chappies)
It is told from Primula's first-person point of view.
Disclaimer: I own absolutely nothing, period, not even Shuffle!
Rated T for language and suggestive or disturbing situations
80 Years Alone
53 Years after Shuffle.
King Rin's Noreol Palace, in the Demon World.
I let the upper half of my body dangle over the moss-blue marble of the palace balcony, gazing in empty indifference into the wilderness below. Sometimes I try to make myself play a game and count how many glimpses of feral cats I could spot in the surrounding jungles. My mind could play today, but my heart was sore and dull.
I hate when I run out of things to do. The times I am busy, I can smother out the truth that I regret being alive still. Whenever I stop and listen to my wasted heart tell me about my wasted life, I'm afraid, since I know I can't handle the pain of my own life.
I cleared my throat, but that did little to stop the aching dryness that ran down my esophagus. I feel dead. Maybe I died a long time ago. What am I doing here, living with those two? Even I know nothing good will ever come of it. Yet, I think Rin's continued life and well-being are the only reasons I have left to live…he's my one important treasure, as he has always been - the person I need to protect.
I sighed and put a hand on my chest (which had slightly grown after all these years, unlike most of my body). My heart was slow, sickly. Maybe I could be granted the escape I needed soon, by nature's course. Though my looks had never changed, I felt I had become old and decayed, chewed up by chasing obsession after obsession, trying to find something to replace Rin without really putting my heart into it.
Or perhaps I'm alright, and my body really hasn't aged. I still have energy, if I need to use it. Maybe my heart has just run down. I haven't been a very good keeper of it. Being aching, weary, and looking for something that can never happen aren't exactly the best pick-me-ups.
Every part of me still ached for Rin, even after all this time. The thought of his body intertwined with mine in the darkness makes my legs shake out of starving desire. However, I didn't want him to cheat on Nerine with me; I wanted them to be happy, and I would sooner kill myself that mess up their relationship. Heh. Like I even could. Rin wouldn't even bother fancying me for two seconds when he's got Nerine, his true love. I HATE that phrase. True love is what has cursed my miserable, insignificant life.
I had tried to date other guys, but nothing ever worked. Some of them refused to date women who look perpetually underage. Others wanted a little bit TOO much to date women who look perpetually underage. Overall, though, in all these long, long, awful years…I never was able to bring myself to love someone besides Rin. I am solely his, and always have been. Even if he doesn't want me…a part of me hates being trapped in desire with only him, but an even larger part likes it that way…the honest part of me.
I sighed and continued to look for cats down below without really looking.
Yet another call back to involvement with the mortal world. I know that voice.
"Good afternoon, Princess Lamica," I said, turning to the raven-haired daughter of Rin and Nerine and curtseying for her. My emotions dissolved away, leaving behind the pretense of a maid who is enthusiastic about her work and nothing else.
"You look like you're spending time wisely for a member of the working class," the woman said bluntly.
"This morning's cleaning patrol of the palace should be done by now," I said, "I trust my staff continue to meet your expectations?"
"I won't dignify that with a response," Lamica said, leaning next to me on the balcony. "So…once you've done your work for the day, you always just muck about like this?"
I shrugged. "I apologize for offending you, Your Highness." Their daughter is a truly egocentric jerk. Her apple fell a LONG way from her parents' tree.
Lamica rapped the railing with her knuckles before asking, "So, when are you going to die?" Thanks for proving my point.
"Does anyone know when they're going to die, Your Highness?" I said, stretching, but keeping an eye on her in case she wanted to push me off into the jungle below.
"Well, I mean…you've looked just like a little kid…ALL my life! It's strange," Lamica said, stroking her cheek as she looked at me. "I always figured you were about my age, when you taught me as a child. But you're really just a freak."
I took offense to the fact that she said I looked like a child, when in fact certain parts of my body (my butt in particular) had grown an ample amount since my creation.
When I didn't answer, she continued, "I enjoyed it when you came to visit, in between your time on the battlefield. I looked forward to it, actually."
Sometimes, like now, Lamica could be unexpectedly nice and friendly. I blinked and said, "You honor me, Your Highness. I looked forward to it, also." That was a lie. Lamica was always far too bratty for my taste. I was glad to know, though, that she at least enjoyed some measure of friendship with me in that time.
She seemed to catch herself and shook her head. "The only reason I bring it up is, I wonder if you'll drop dead out of old age during the task that I'm about to ask of you."
Oh yeah? I'm desperate for something to do, after all. "I feel healthy still, Your Highness. I will likely be able to handle it."
"Yes, I think you can." She glanced at me in thought before continuing, "I command you to mentor and…help…raise my children."
I nearly fell over from surprise. "Y-yes, Your Highness."
"I want you to be there for them as you were there for me," Lamica said. She flicked her eyes to me again. "Things…aren't going well with them so far."
"Well, I hope you realize I don't have ANY parenting experience whatsoever."
"They don't need a parent," Lamica said with an air of superiority, "They need guidance…someone who can teach them what they need to know as members of the royal family. And they need someone with whom they will feel safe."
I had rarely felt more honored in my life. Lamica thought I could be those things for her kids? I imagined I was her last resort, though, since she was fed up with her husband: Duke Arou. I had never met such a perverted, volatile and disloyal person as him. Most of the maids had reported hearing him screaming psychotically at the rest of his family, and I suspected he was physically abusive as well. I knew Lamica couldn't be happy with him, so I had no idea why she stayed with him, if not for political reasons.
"I would happy to provide everything they need," I said with a smile. Hooray for having something to do! I hope it's not too late to help them grow into people more like their grandparents and less like their parents. "Do you want me to continue doing my other daily work as well?"
"Of course. That goes without saying." Lamica then returned my smile, genuinely. "I am relieved you will do this. If things go well, I might have them move adjacent to your own quarters." So it really was a move to distance them from Arou.
"Anything you desire at all, Your Majesty, is my pleasure to provide," I said bowing to her.
"Very well, follow me. I will introduce them to you."
"N-now?" I whimpered, wide-eyed. I certainly hadn't been saving up enough energy for having to deal with kids. I hadn't prepared at all, either.
"Yes, Primula. Time is of the essence."
Lamica lead me through the flower-filled royal gallery and took me to her living quarters, which had a hall all to its own. I would have tried to make small talk with anyone else, but Lamica's the type of person who's offended by such harmless things.
I found myself growing nervous as I followed her. I was going to officially meet Rin's grandkids for the first time! I had to make a good first impression, but I wasn't exactly a kid person. And I certainly wanted to raise them in a way that would be conducive to proper behavior and social interaction (unlike their parents). The young Prince and Princess were both kept isolated in private most of the time; though I had indeed seen them before, it seemed they mostly spent their time in Lamica's or Rin's chambers (which were rather big, fortunately for them). I didn't know what they would be like…
I shook my head and tried to gather my confidence. I would have to make a plan when I got back to my room, to schedule the order and curriculum of things I would teach them.
Before I knew it, or was quite ready, Lamica and I arrived at her door. She hesitated for a moment and knocked on her own door.
"Alright, who the fuck is it now?" I heard the Duke's ranting voice spurt from within. "Did you call someone? Did you tell someone to come?" He must have been threatening someone inside.
"It's me, Arou," Lamica said. "Are you decent?"
"Of course not," I muttered in jest.
"Quiet, don't be disrespectful," Lamica berated me.
"Oh shit, oh shit, alright, uh, just…just hang on a second, honey," he said.
Lamica and I eyed each other awkwardly. The door then opened, revealing the sweat-covered Duke. He was wearing suspenders and pants, and his entire body was so massive and muscular (including a rather obvious erection) that it seemed primed to burst out of his modest garments.
"Hey, how's it going, gorgeous?" he said to his wife, brushing aside a stringy, sweaty lock of his red-gold hair. "And Primu! Wow, it's been a while! How are you doing, sweetheart?"
I threw up in my mouth a little as he addressed me, but tried to paint on a fake smile. "Hello, Duke Arou."
"I'm here to introduce the kids to Primula," Lamica said, holding her chin up to him, admirably maintaining an air of dignity around him.
His brow knotted in a spasm of anger, but he quickly hid it behind an expression of surprised excitement. "Well, that's great! They'll love her!" He beamed at me. "Does that mean Primu will come over more often from now on?" He seemed disturbingly excited at the prospect.
"It might. So, may we come in?" Lamica asked curtly but politely.
"Umm, uhhh," he looked behind him and seemed anxious about something. "Well, uh…they're still not really dressed yet. I'll, um…I'll go help them get ready, okay? Wait right here!" He winked at me and closed the door.
Lamica and I looked at each other.
"Permission to speak freely, Your Highness?"
"Permission not granted," she said, stroking her temples. I felt sorry for her. Perhaps being single for 68 years like me is better than some fates.
I took her right hand in mine and squeezed it, in a try at comfort. She smiled shyly and squeezed back.
"Um…his, um…he seems very, ah, well-equipped," I said, pointing at my crotch.
She groaned. "He's FAR too big, you have no idea."
"Really? I didn't know that could be a bad thing," I said. I have absolutely zero sexual experience, after all.
"Well, it is when…wait, WHY am I talking about this with you?" she said, looking dismayed at herself. She cleared her throat and stood much straighter than before. "It goes without saying that you are never to mention anything remotely vulgar at all to my children, I imagine?"
"Absolutely not, you have my word," I said.
The door swung open, revealing a young boy with crazy, mid-length blue hair that seemed to stand up in various untamed angles.
"Here's Ryo!" Arou said with a greasy, fake smile from inside the dark room. "Sarina'll be just a few more minutes. Okay? Alright? Just a few more minutes!" He grinned and shoved Prince Ryo out in front of Lamica and I before closing the door.
Ryo looked up at me with bright red eyes, utterly ignoring his mother's presence. They were alert, incredibly focused, intelligent, and liquid. "Hey, who are you?" he said.
"I'm Primula," I said. "It's nice to meet you, Prince Ryo. I'm going to teach you for awhile." I held out my hand for him to shake, but he grabbed it, pulled me down to the ground, spun himself around, stuck his butt in my face, and farted.
I was…SO confused. I could only blink in a bare registry of what had just happened.
"HAH!" he said, turning around again. I quickly got up so my face wouldn't be in his crotch. I was starting to realize that I had just about zero ability to do this anymore.
"RYO! Behave!" His mother said, and the area darkened around us momentarily. Ryo twitched violently in place for an instant, before the hall returned to normal lighting. It must have been an invisible punishment spell from his mom.
Ryo got up from the floor and stared in a loopy, blank way at Lamica. "I had to fart, so I figured I might as well!"
"How old are you, Your Highness?" I asked him politely.
"Twelve years old," he said extremely proudly. I thought it would be best not to mention that he was acting quite below his age. "And…" he said, poking me in my chest, which gave me a deeply annoying and unwanted jolt of pain and pleasure. "I don't need a teacher!"
"Yes you do," Lamica said. "And you need a whole lot more than that, too."
Ryo stuck his tongue out at her, and she slapped him immediately. It was a pretty loud smack.
What an awkward atmosphere.
Ryo tried his best not to look upset at the pain, I could tell, but he turned his head and scrunched up his face tellingly.
"Your Highness," I said, stooping down to him again. "I can teach you lots of fun things, not just boring subjects."
"What about sex?" he said, looking at me with a victorious, cocky expression. Lamica groaned.
"Nnnno…not sex," I chuckled nervously, "But check this out!" I turned to the right and spellcrafted a large pillar of ice in the middle of the hallway. It evolved out of the moisture in the air with thousands of tiny cracks and pops, the hall growing cold.
"W-wow! You can do magic?" he gasped.
"Uh-huh," I said. I then grabbed my portable broom and threw it like a javelin at one point in the right side of the cylinder, then caught it as it bounced back and threw it at the opposite side. The ice splintered from the second impact, most of it shattering away to reveal an ice sculpture of a fallen angel.
"WHOA! It's beautiful!" Ryo said, looking at me with rather embarrassing admiration. "You're so powerful, and you're only a couple years older than me?"
I grinned and snuck a look at Lamica before saying, "I've just had a very extensive education. Don't worry, we can make it fun." I hesitated. "Or are you saying you'd rather keep staying in…there?" I said, nodding to their chamber significantly.
"Well, ANYTHING's better than that," he said, lowering his voice. "But learning's so STUPID. I know everything I need to know already."
I patted him on his shoulder, and he followed my hand with his eyes in wonder, for some strange reason. "You'll be fine. I'll be there to guide you."
His expression warmed up. "Thanks, Primula."
"Oh, you were actually listening to my name, huh?"
"Sure I was. Can I touch your boob again?"
Lamica stepped forward and electrocuted him with the same invisible spell for a few seconds once again. "Ryo, a prince does not engage in lecherous sexual behavior!" she scolded. "I never want to hear you speak that way to Primula or any other woman again. Do you understand?"
Ryo looked up from the ground and glared. "I was just joking, Mom."
I ran my fingers through my hair (which I've taken to wearing down rather than in pigtails) nervously.
Lamica turned to me and folded her arms. "It seems like you two will get along alright. I do apologize for my son's incredible stupidity, though. He must get it from his father."
"Well, THANKS, Mom," he muttered. I gave him my hand to help him up, and he took it slowly. Our hands clasped together simultaneously and I slowly lifted him up next to me. I felt…an odd connection with him already, even though I had only known him a few minutes. I wondered what it could possibly come from.
"I, uh…I also think we will get along," I said, tearing my gaze away from Ryo and nodding to his mother with a fake smile.
The door swung open abruptly, and now Princess Sarina came out alone, gently shutting the door behind her. Her long, curly hair was the same color as her father's. Her eyes had dark rings around them, and her head was lowered to the ground. She sniffed once, but otherwise remained silent.
"Sarina, this is Primula," Lamica told the little girl. "Say hello."
Sarina looked up to about my stomach and said a very soft, "Hello."
After patting Ryo (who was still standing uncomfortably close to me) on the shoulder, I went to her and kneeled in front of her. "Good afternoon, Your Highness," I send in a reassuring voice. She hummed in response, playing with her dress and staring at the floor with dead, empty eyes. "That's a very pretty dress you're wearing." She hummed again, without even blinking.
She was clearly quite traumatized. No kid should act like she does. I didn't know what to do about that, though…but I hoped I'd at least be able to show some support for her.
"Hey Sarina, look at what Primula did!" Ryo said, jumping over to his little sister and throwing his arm around her shoulders to steer her into seeing my ice sculpture. "She just made that in like two seconds!" He was quite enthusiastic about it. His smiles seemed so incredibly spirited, despite his obvious past experiences of physical abuse, that I couldn't help but feel warm and happy just watching him.
"Wow…" Sarina said emptily.
I looked up at Lamica. She nodded at me, but I wasn't sure what that was supposed to mean.
"Sarina," I continued, "Your mother wants me to teach you for a while. Is that alright?"
The little girl laughed, once. "Ha." I'm not sure why she did, but it sounded impossibly cynical coming from her. She swiveled her glazed eyes towards me. "What kinds of things?"
"Well," I began, "besides several things about history and language and math that you need to know as a potential ruler, I'll also teach you fun stuff like archery, um…" Her face changed to slight interest when I mentioned that. "Fencing, eventually…um…magic…swimming…and lots of fun games, like chess and…"
"You'll teach me magic?" she interrupted, her lips ajar as she stared at me. The spark of interest started burning brighter in her eyes.
They both seemed to be very passionate about magic. "Of course," I said. I made to touch her gently on her shoulder, but she jerked abruptly away, probably as a reflex. "Um…" I looked up at Lamica, unsure of what to do.
"There, now you've met," their mother said, sounding a bit relieved for some reason. "Now, say goodbye to Primula…"
"No…" Sarina gasped somewhat disturbingly. "Don't want to go back in there…"
"Yeah, mom, we've only just met her," Ryo said, looking at his mom brightly. "Why can't we go play with her for a bit?"
Lamica hissed a little in disapproval.
"Please?" Sarina begged her.
"We've never met someone our age before…" Ryo added.
Lamica's eyes softened. "Okay. Fine! I'm leaving them in your care, Primula," she said. Turning to the kids, she said, "Don't you DARE misbehave. I'll hear from Primula if you do, and you will be sorry." Lamica took a deep breath and opened the door, sliding into the darkness.
Huh, wonder what that was all about.
"ALRIGHT!" Ryo said, ridiculously excited. From what he said, it sounded like he and Sarina had never had other friends before. I didn't know if I could provide that for them, though. I still feel dead, broken, and decayed, like how no one their age should feel. Perhaps, though…they both have felt some of that before?
I…I guess I could try.
"So, where are we gonna go, Primula?" he said, bouncing forward and hugging me tightly.
"Whoa!" I said, coughing and pushing him off. I wished he'd drop all the physical contact. "Um…"
"Before that," Sarina said in her hollow voice, helping to pull her hyperactive brother off me. "Can you show me your magic?"
"Sure," I said, folding my hands behind my butt. "What would you like to see?"
Sarina turned her pale yellow eyes to the ice angel. "Destroy that."
Ryo and I both jolted with surprise. "But…but it's so pretty," Ryo said. "Why would you want her to?"
Sarina scowled at him and then looked into my eyes, asking silently for me to do it.
I nodded and turned to face the sculpture. Concentrating on my anger and hate, I spun my palms around, flat at my sides. Two large discs of revolving, howling fire surged into existence, attached to my arms. I took a step back, then lunged forward, chucking the fire disks at the fallen angel. It was obliterated instantaneously, all residual pieces and water evaporating without a trace.
"How was that, Your Highness?" I asked, turning back to Sarina. I smiled nervously when I saw the stark, greedy hunger in her eyes.
"It was perfect," she said sacredly.
"Well, that was a waste of something gorgeous," Ryo said, yawning.
"When can you teach me to do that?" Sarina said, clutching my hand desperately.
I winked at her. "It will take a long time, with lots and lots of study. Are you up for it?"
Sarina clenched her fist. "Yes I am."
Ryo looked at her curiously. "You're talking a lot more than usual."
"That's cuz it's Primula, not someone I hate," Sarina told him simply.
"Oh, I gotcha…wait, are you saying you hate me?" he demanded.
Sarina ignored him, tossing her hair in a clumsy attempt at looking egotistical.
"You're retarded," Ryo informed her.
She snarled at him, still playing with her hair. "And you're a jerk!"
These kids talk too much.
"Hey, since we have some time to kill," I said, not really wanting to spend any more time with them today, but not really having a choice, either, "why don't we go to a favorite place of mine?"
"Alright, sounds good!" Ryo said, walking off down the hall with Sarina. I paused and listened to the sounds coming from within their chamber. Someone was screaming in agony, sobbing creepily. I didn't know if it was Lamica or someone else – it didn't sound like her at all, it was so strange and hoarse - but I figured it wasn't my business, so I hastily caught up with the kids.
"Follow me," I said.
I realized after a brief time hiking through the jungle that Sarina was pretty frail; she was having a hard time continuing to walk, let alone keep up with Ryo and I.
"Hey, Princess Sarina," I said.
She gasped breathlessly, "Just call me Sarina, okay?"
I grinned. "Very well, but only when we're in private, alright? We have to keep up at least the appearance of rule-following when we're in the palace."
Her eyes smiled at me affectionately. I could tell she had a fondness for rule-breaking.
Ryo glowered with competitiveness. "Then call me Ryo, too!"
I poked him in his side. "Only if you stop touching me all the time, PRINCE Ryo." He had already clumsily touched my thighs about three times during the hike, much to my discomfort.
"A-alright," he said, blushing and looking a little angry.
I turned back to Sarina. "Would you like a piggy-back ride?"
"Here, I'll show you," I said, kneeling facing away from her and scooping her up onto my back.
"I've got you, don't worry," I told her, securely gripping her legs. "You're not going anywhere. I'M taking you there, myself."
"Okay, fine," Sarina said, holding me fairly tightly from behind with her head on my shoulder.
I walked up to catch up with Ryo, who was looking at his sister with narrow eyes. "What's the matter, Ryo? Jealous?"
He bashfully broke eye contact. "I…no…um…how much farther is this place?"
"It's only a couple more minutes," I said.
"Where are we going, anyway?" he continued.
"It's a surprise."
"W-what if we're attacked by wild animals on the way? Can you still use magic with Sis on your back like that?"
"Nah, I don't think they'll attack us. They know my scent, and they know to fear it."
"Wow, really? I didn't think they feared anyone but Grandpa and Grandma!"
"Well, I've actually been their hunting companion a few times," I grinned. More than a few, in fact. "I typically get the most kills."
"REALLY?" Sarina and Ryo both said in amazement.
"Wow, so you're a friend of them, even? How'd you get so close to them when you're so young?" Ryo asked.
"Because I'm special, that's why!" I grinned. "And would you be able to resist me, if you were King?"
Ryo's face turned bright red again as he mumbled something inaudibly.
Hahaha, he's so easy to read.
I sat Sarina back down when we made it to the Crypt's entrance.
"This is my favorite place to hang out! It's like my secret hideout!" I told them proudly.
"Wow, sweet! It looks intense!" Ryo shouted. Sarina just looked at it apprehensively.
"Don't worry, it's safe," I told Sarina, which visibly disappointed Ryo. "Follow me, guys!"
I unlocked and threw open the rusted steel gates, taking Sarina's hand and guiding them down the stone steps into the earth.
"What is this place?" Ryo chirped. I could feel Sarina's hand shaking from anxiety.
"It's called Quartz Crypt. I've always wanted to show it to other people." The momentary darkness of the stairs subsided in favor for natural, neon lighting from within.
"WOW!" Ryo gasped as we came into the main hall. Vivid patches of blue, green, violet, and pink gems grew throughout the entire chamber, creating an enormous visual feast for the eyes. Many of the patches had striking crystal stalagmites piercing out of them towards the incredibly high ceiling. Everything was glowing sacredly, mystically, and ethereally.
"To me, there's no better place than this in the world," I told them, looking fondly into their shocked faces.
"It's so pretty!" Sarina breathed.
"I'm gonna run!" Ryo said, jetting off. "This place is HUGE!"
"Careful, Ryo! There are pits!" I shouted at his retreating form.
"Hahaha, I'm fine!" he said before plunging through the ground, disappearing.
"Ryo? Ryo!" I yelled. It was silent.
I looked at Sarina guiltily. I wasn't anticipating him going all uncontrollable, although I probably should have.
"Where is he?" she asked, her voice quivering. "Is he…alright?"
"I hope so…" I told her, feeling quite uncertain myself. "Let's go, okay? Hold onto me." Sarina nodded and accompanied me as I walked, as fast I could with Sarina in tow, to go see the pit he plunged into.
If he was dead…I didn't even want to think about the possibility. I was already responsible for Lamica's brother's death, and I shudder to remember what she did in response to that. And the thought of disappointing Rin and Nerine again made me want to just off myself immediately.
I squeezed Sarina's hand as we walked, to make sure she was still there and safe.
"He'll be alright. It's going to be okay. None of the pits are that deep," I told her, trying to reassure her as much as myself.
She hummed in response, holding onto me tightly.
We arrived at the place I where I thought he fell. "Ryo! Ryo!" I called into the deep, dark pit, but stopped when I heard the crumbling of brittle rock from the ceiling. A cave-in would assure his death.
"BROTHER?" Sarina called, and I winced at the sound of more rumbling.
"Please don't do that," I asked her, trying to remain calm. "Okay…Sarina, can you break off a piece of that green gem-bed, there?"
"Sure," Sarina said, walking to a nearby patch and picking up a loose, large green gem, lugging it back to me. I thought it would be prudent not to mention that these gems contained the souls of various demons, since this particular soul would soon be separated from his family forever.
"Thanks," I said softly, taking it from her. Let's see, Ryo looked like he might have angled left when he fell. So I'll drop it that way.
I positioned the glowing green gem and dropped it to the left, hoping he'd be there. To my total joy, I heard an "OWW!" when it bumped into something, stopping its descent.
"Ryo," I said, gasping with relief. "You're alright."
"Wha-what's going? Primula? Sis? Where are you?"
"We're up here!" Sarina sang in happiness.
"Wh-whoa! WHOA!" Ryo screamed suddenly. He must have tried to stand up too fast, not realizing his surroundings.
"I think you're on the ledge of a cliff, Ryo. DON'T move, okay?" I instructed. My heart rushed in fear for him. Interesting…I'm really feeling something, not faking it…that doesn't happen to me too often.
I stood up and made a very specific, complicated spell…I wanted to form a staircase of ice…with large, rough-surfaced steps. After my incantation, which took much longer than the spells I demonstrated earlier for the children, I tried out the stairs to make sure they were secure.
"Okay," I said, breaking off a piece of a violet gemstone that was next to me to use as a lantern, "I'm coming down now, Ryo. Please keep staying still."
"…I'm not going anywhere," he responded.
I smiled to Sarina, whose hands were clasped together worriedly, before descending the steps I'd made, which I was pleased to see swirled down to Ryo's current location, as I had intended.
"Primula," he whispered when I reached his ledge. My glowing gem illuminated the water in his eyes. "I…pooped my pants."
"It's okay," I said kneeling next to him on the ledge. "I'm just so happy you're alive. Are you hurt anywhere?"
"I hit my head really hard," he whispered, wincing. He might have gotten a concussion. I should make him rest easy for a while. "And, um…I pissed my pants, too…I'm really sorry about that." He sounded like he was about to cry from embarrassment.
I grinned and kissed his forehead. "I already told you, I don't mind. I'm going to carry you back up now, okay?"
"Alright…thanks…Primula, for saving me…I owe you."
"No you don't," I told him, gathering the shaking boy up in my arms before turning back to the stairs. "Hold this gem for me, okay? And you can just rest now." He snuggled up to my chest as I began my ascension, looking furtively around the dark cavern. This was such a terrible place to bring kids. What was I thinking?
The three of us sat on the cool floor of the Quartz Crypt for some time after my rescue effort, with Ryo's head in my lap so he could rest it.
"Are we going to have to go back soon?" Sarina asked with dread.
I shook my head gently as I continued to stroke Ryo's chest and neck, to comfort him. "What time do your parents go to sleep, usually?"
"I don't know…" she said, instantly looking much more dour.
"At about midnight," Ryo whispered.
"Okay," I said, looking at my watch. It was 8 PM now. "We'll stay out till midnight, then."
Both of them looked immensely relieved.
"I think we should get some food though, don't you?" I said, smiling at Sarina, who nodded quite seriously. "What do you want?"
"Fettuccine Alfredo!" she beamed.
Ryo scoffed. "We're not in the palace. How's she gonna get that human food out here?"
"You forget – I'm awesome!" I brought out a walkie talkie. "Hey Kule?" I asked into it.
"What do you need, boss?" My loyal second-in-command responded after a moment.
"I'm at the secret spot, with Prince Ryo and Princess Sarina. Could you bring us some Fettuccine Alfredo, for dinner, please? And some medical supplies, as well? Oh, and a change of pants and underwear for the Prince?"
Ryo blushed and looked embarrassed, needlessly apologizing again.
"Yup, got it. Anything else?"
"Nope, just please keep our location a secret, alright? Thanks bud!"
"Alright. But, damn, you really owe me some hot, steamy sex for all this!"
Both of the kids looked at me, wide-eyed.
"SHHH! There's kids here, idiot!" I said. "I'll just give you money. As usual."
"Oh, you know you want some of this! See ya soon."
I smiled apologetically at Ryo and Sarina. "Yeah, sorry…he likes to proposition me, but he's just joking. He has a girlfriend, actually."
Sarina giggled. "So do you have a boyfriend, Primula?"
I shook my head and smiled thinly. "Nope, I've never had one."
"It's okay, me neither!" she said, patting me on the shoulder.
I laughed. "Thanks. So, while we're waiting…would you like to start learning how to use magic?"
"Yeah!" both kids said.
"Okay," I cleared my throat, "It starts with learning the Arcane Syllables…these are what you stress, with your mind, BEHIND the incantations…"
I taught them well into the night. They both proved to be quite enthusiastic students, especially after eating (and Ryo changing his clothes).
A/N: Alright, that's a wrap! Sorry about the lack of classic Shuffle! characters so far. I hope you felt the new characters' souls, and that you like what I've done with Primula. The first three chapters are really just a lot of set-up, so bear with me. More info about stuff that's happened between the Shuffle! days and Primula's present will be revealed as we go along.
Next time we'll have a short time jump, to two months down the road.
And yes, in case you're wondering, Primula is, in fact, still a virgin.
Let me know what is and what isn't working for you! I absolutely love reviews, so feel free to say anything you want, or ask whatever you want. I'm typically quite willing to accommodate requests.