Royal Card Game

There's a lot of inconsistencies here, but there you have it.

For example: I know Elena isn't the daughter of a prince, but of some other form of nobility, so therefore, this story takes place in an alternate universe/ different details mode.

Warnings: possible OOC-ness

Disclaimers: It all belongs to the amazing Akira Amano (if I owned KHR, everyone, even Genkishi and Rasiel, would come back XD)

Walk straight, smile pleasantly, and wherever you are, whatever the situation, never, ever take off your shoes, no matter what.

This is what Elena was taught since she was able to walk. No, since she was able to crawl on her little, princess limbs. Crawling straight into walking straight into smiling pleasantly at faces she would never know. This was her life—the daughter of the prince, the soon-to-be king.

Every day was the same schedule, over and over. Elena felt as if she lived the clichéd life of a picture-perfect princess, the one that all the little girls in the country wished they had. However, this princess longed for the life of a commoner, one in which she could do whatever she liked and take her sweet, peaceful time. The clichéd opposite of a regular princess story.

It's always the same routine with princess stories. There's that girl who always wants to change. Wants the life that is not hers, and the one she knows she cannot have. But, in the end, for the sake of the story, it happens anyways. Knowing this, Elena keeps along with her role, an endless cycle that repeats every week, every day, every moment she knows what she's supposed to do next. To be honest, it gets boring after a while.

Lying in her soft, comfy, princess bed, Elena stared at the ceiling. The decorated, expensive, princess ceiling. Like everything else she had, but would probably never really use or appreciate.

The morning light was peeking gently through the curtains, allowing the dust floating in the air to reveal itself in meandering clouds. The poor dust that would be vigorously swept away by maids and servants, allowing Elena to have the typical princess life she obviously had.

Sighing, Elena watched the little dust particles, still drowsy from sleep. She wished she had the time to float around aimlessly, to be no one in one world, but to be someone in the other.

There was a knock at the door. The maid who attended to her every day peered in, curtsied politely. From there, Elena's new day would start. Well, it was rather like reliving the repeat of another life, over and over again. Having déjà vu of a déjà vu in which you had déjà vu.

Hour one: A small meal and then answering the local's questions/complaints/requests for her father who was supposedly busy with foreign meetings of some sort.

Hour two: Meeting the plump duchess who always brought pearl necklaces for Elena and talk about some sort of food that she'd tried from the next country over.

Hour three: Presenting the candidates for marriage chosen by Elena's father. Each and every one was different, in ways both good and bad. Each and every one immediately rejected by Elena. No, she would not marry that strong, blonde one over there with the sea-green eyes, and no she definitely would not marry the one with the girlish lips and the red pimply nose.

Noontime: Another meal with dishes similar (or exactly the same) to the ones from the day before. The only difference was the people sitting in the seats. This middle-of-the-day meal would sponsor different people from different countries…for what reason Elena wasn't really sure. She would never remember their names, especially the ones too difficult to pronounce, and she would without doubt forget their faces minutes after their departure.

Afternoon activities were split differently. Elena would adhere to whatever it was that the head maid told her it was her duty to do (though the question remains: Why was she taking orders from the maid, anyways?).

Sometimes it was "meet-and-greet" with the townspeople. She would be taken out in a carriage with some other marchioness, or a baroness, or maybe the countess of another land. Yet another face to be forgotten, and perhaps seen again much, much later.

Other times, it was more "candidate hunting", where Elena would be taking "shopping for husbands" and "browsing aristocratic families". Would it be that one boy with the red hair from somewhere west of here, or that other one, the son of the military leader? Today, the plump duchess was leading Elena around the rich neighborhoods, home to aristocrats or royal friends and leaders.

"Elena, what about this boy," asked the plump duchess, pointing to a young man across the street, drawing the attention of many girls competing for his affection.

"No," came the automatic answer, one so ingrained within Elena, she thought it might one day overtake her vocabulary, and she'd become a doll that could only say one thing.

"Elena, you didn't even look." The duchess prodded her with her fleshy elbow, and Elena spared a glance at the boy. She couldn't even see him; so many girls were crowded around in a messed up circle. It wasn't worth the effort, so she continued, plodding along, scuffing her sandals in the dirt. She kept drawing circles in the sand until the duchess gave a disapproving glare and cleared her throat.

Walk straight, smile pleasantly, and wherever you are, whatever the situation, never, ever, take off your shoes, no matter what.

Elena looked up, produced a trying smile, and straightened her back. What was the point when there was a scarf over her head and no one would recognize her shuffling around town?

"That's a nice young man," the duchess said. "He's the son of an army lieutenant."

Sighing, Elena just followed the duchess wherever she went, trailing behind the larger woman's energetic waddle. Lately, her father had been trying harder and harder to find a man suitable for Elena. It was tiring for him, seeing as his daughter was so stubborn. But then again, Elena found it tiring too. Hour three had seen her curtsying politely to each young gentleman, and now she was yet again searching for someone in vain. Well, it was a useless effort by the chubby duchess, anyways.

"If you don't spot someone now, you'll have to tonight," the rotund little lady was saying. She was beginning to huff and puff, clutching her heavy layers of clothing in her round, wide fingers. Absentmindedly, Elena wondered if the lady had any common sense—she was wearing one of those fancy, layered dresses in the summer. It must've been at least five times as thick as Elena's own garment. Besides, why would you wear that on a casual outing.

"What?" Elena responded, suddenly realizing what the duchess has said. Having guests to supper was no big deal, but what was the meaning of "you'll have to tonight"? Had her father set some sort of deadline for her?

"You'll see, my dear," the duchess told her, "the banquet tonight will host all the finest men in the country! Plus some more guests, just for you."

Elena mustered up the most pleasant smile she could come up with, but really, she just wanted to spit with disgust at the other lady's fat, grinning face, her cheeks so rolled up her eyes were nearly slits.

Just for Elena, always for Elena. Wasn't it always like that?

Dressed in a sharp, pinstripe suit, shoes polished and new, Giotto strode confidently across the crowded market street. He waved away several vying market vendors trying to sell him various different items, ranging from apples to hats. He deftly wove between the bustling masses of people moving every which way, making his way to a small bakery just down the avenue.

"Hey Giotto, slow down a bit, will you?"

Behind the Vongola boss, wearing a simple jacket and slacks, Cozart struggled between getting caught in outrageous offers (the prices were too high for pineapples) and getting bumped into by large, hustling people. The Shimon Famiglia leader repeatedly apologized to the fussy mother leading a pair of boisterous, loud children.

"Sorry." Giotto slowed, but his urgent stride didn't change.

"Where's the fire?" joked Cozart, coming up alongside his friend. He was a little concerned— Giotto wasn't usually sprinting through crowds (not to mention in the opposite direction of the general current) as if some terrible beast was at his heels. Cozart had barely had breakfast when the other man appeared at his door, telling him that he needed to come along and that it was urgent. No "how are you" this particular morning. Sighing, Cozart had followed his friend out the door, leaving his poor, untouched breakfast behind. The only thing he could think of was how it was going to be cold and unappetizing when he got back home.

"There's no fire," replied Giotto, standing on his toes, looking for something. A lady started yelling at him to buy loaves of bread—burnt bread, Cozart noticed, and not so fresh—while waving away other competitors. When Giotto didn't answer, Cozart gently sent them away with an apologetic shrug. One of the crabby bread-sellers snapped something in Italian that Cozart didn't want to repeat. He also hoped that no children nearby heard it either…

"Then what's the rush?" Cozart threw up his hands when something hit the back of his head, presumably a hard, moldy loaf of something that looked like bread. Why were they all aiming for him? It wasn't his fault he wasn't as fast as Giotto, and that he wasn't in a good mood because he hadn't had his breakfast. He hoped that one day his great-great-great-great-great grandchildren wouldn't be so grumpy in the morning, and they'd be eagerly running to school.

Giotto didn't answer. He was still looking for that bakery. He hadn't been there in a while, and being forgetful sometimes, he wasn't quite sure whether the bakery was in this area, or down the street a little more. He decided it was down the street.

"Giotto!" Cozart was lost on the other side of the river. And the current was just getting wilder and wilder, with one man screeching nonsense at the lady just next to him, and the lady spouted something very appropriate. The calling of names continued on and on, and Cozart just wanted to tell them all to shut up and sell their stupid bread already. Giotto kept walking until he noticed the lack of a certain Shimon boss by his side. Stopping and turning, he sighed when he saw that Cozart was still way behind, fighting to get to this side in vain.

"Cozart," Giotto called, "just meet me at the bakery."

With that, he simply turned and walked away. This was important. He knew Cozart would catch up to him…eventually.

"GIOTTO!" hollered Cozart, muttering some swear that sounded suspiciously like that of a crazy costermonger's (or should it be bread-monger?) under his breath. Giotto's actions belied his words. If he said he was fine and there no fire, why was he dashing towards the bakery? Besides being really irritable from lack of a morning meal, Cozart really didn't want to go to a bakery. He'd had enough of bread. And other miscellaneous baked and burnt items.

The black stallion tossed his sleek nose in the air and laid his ears back, eyeing the trees warily. His rider, a young man with a straight back and regal posture, reined in the prancing horse. The animal's nostrils flared as it pawed the forest floor nervously, anxious to get away from whatever was behind that dense copse of pines. The metal of the bridle's bit jangled, the silver gleaming in the midmorning sunlight.

"Calm down, Ace," the rider said, giving his mount a reassuring pat. He gave the trees a dubious glance. Perhaps it wasn't the best idea to go venturing in the forest alone, out of sight, dangerously near the castle. Some guards might stumble upon him and arrest him for…well, for something. The young man wasn't even sure where the forest ended and the area deemed as part of the royal castle began. Maybe the whole forest, from the town to the two streams bisecting the river, was considered property of the royal family.

A round little rabbit sprang out of the bushes and darted into the undergrowth, flitting between the stallion's legs in the blink of an eye. The horse violently jerked backwards, blowing fretfully through his muzzle. He tugged at the reins, and the rider sighed. It wasn't really a good idea to take his horse out here, either, knowing how jumpy he could be.

"Fine, fine. We'll go home."

As if he could understand human words, the stallion pivoted on his hind legs and set off an a steady trot, heading back where they'd come from. The young man brushed a few branches out of his way, but he couldn't care less if the twigs and leaves got stuck in his dark hair. Maybe he would exchange his edgy stallion for his old, trusty mare. She would surely get him to his destination and back without any trouble. Yes, that sounded like a good idea. The young man nodded. That was exactly what he'd do next.

Until the arrow flew past his face.

Mmm. Questions, comments, reviews, IDEAS, SUGGESTIONS?