The Candy People

"Hmph." A small sigh emanated from a small desk, and in the surrounding darkness, there was no reply. With the sound of shuffling papers, candlelight danced across the deep pink walls, the shadows collecting in the corners like so many dust motes. No matter how many candles were arranged on their little pedestals on the walls, there always seemed to be a collection of shadow that threatened to engulf the room. The pink décor did keep the room from descending into blackness, as the light color always gave the room a peculiar hue in the half-light. A scratching sound could be heard in the twilight, a quill across parchment. A noise quite often heard in the darkness late into the night here, there was always a sense of forced work when perhaps one should be sleeping.

A slight figure occupied the small desk. She could hardly be seen however; what with the sheer volume of work she surrounded herself with, as literally as figuratively. At times only the spire of her crown would poke above the papers, a single red gem fixed to the top. As she sits up, a shock of pink hair peaks above the work, and a soft face makes an appearance. Set with a look of equal parts determination and fatigue, she struggles to come up with the words to put to paper. A knock is heard from the door, a quiet and rather polite rapping sound.

"Princess, may I enter?" The voice was soft and soothing. If one could imagine the sound the wind would make if it spoke, one would know this to be that voice.

"Yes, Peppermint Butler. Come in, please." Without looking up, the girl continued her work. A small man in a suit stepped into the room, a red bowtie a defining characteristic of his aesthetic. He walked slowly into the room, took one look at the mess that dominated the space and shook his head.

"Princess, you know you can't keep this pace up. You need to take a break here and there." His voice was small, but the tone was imploring.

"But I must get these signed, I can't let this go…" Her voice trailed off, fatigue showing on her features.

"Princess Bonnibel Bubblegum. You will not work on these anymore tonight. And tomorrow, you will do no work either. I will not allow you to kill yourself over this matter." His voice was serious, and the tone made it obvious he would not take no for an answer. Still, the princess refused.

"But Peppermint, if I don't do these there will be unrest in the kingdom. If they don't get done, then the whole place will fall into pieces. I can't just leave-" She tries to make more excuses, but the little man silences her.

"And if you fall ill or die from overexertion, then we'll be even worse off. I'm sorry milady, but it's for your own good. I will have the Earl come and take care of the paperwork. He may be a bit…psychotic for my tastes, but so long as he's only put in charge of paperwork he'll do no harm. It's the one thing he won't mess up. And, if he's put up in a room all day he won't be able to put anyone in the dungeon." A fair argument, and the logic worked its magic on the young ruler.

"Of course…I can't go killing myself over these things…I suppose I haven't had a break in a while…" She looked about ready to pass out at her desk, so Peppermint helped her to her bed. There was scarcely time to roll back the sheets before she was asleep, and the small servant tucked her in gently. After he was quite sure she would sleep well, he doused the lights and let the darkness take over. He smiled and whispered quietly as he closed the door, "Goodnight milady."

As Peppermint Butler walked down the hallway, he shook his head. That girl will kill herself with exhaustion for all of us, he thought to himself. I can't imagine how we got so lucky.

The next morning brought light and heat to the Candy Kingdom. The lands surrounding the palace were abuzz with life, and the varied Candy People awoke to a beautiful day. All across the land the hustle and bustle of life would continue to flow, as it always had. But this day was to be different. Bonnibel could just feel it.

"I can sense the adventure, Peppermint. I can feel it out there, calling to me. I MUST know what there is out there!" Having gotten a thorough night's rest, it appeared the princess was in high spirits. Peppermint Butler was less than enthused about the implications.

"Milady, I wanted you to spend your day resting so that you wouldn't be constantly full of nothing but stress and work. I hardly think adventuring is wise." He clearly did not approve.

"Oh Peppermint you know how I can be. If I sat around today I'd just worry about not getting anything done. I simply must get something done; it just has to be enjoyable!" The little man thought for a moment. She was right, of course. She always was. He let out a sigh.

"Well…if you insist milady. But if I may ask, what do you plan on doing?" He didn't want to know, and he regretted asking it as soon as the words passed his lips.

"There are numerous accounts of a vault in the Badlands, hidden beneath The Rock there. I have always wanted to scout it, but have had no time. Today is perfect." He was right. He indeed did not want to know.

"I hope not alone?" He was apprehensive, and almost didn't want to know this either.

"Of course not, I'll bring my trusty Banana Guards. They're totally loyal." At this moment, Peppermint Butler noticed some Banana Guards looking fearfully at a butterfly.

"Yes Princess…Of course."