Sam's POV

It's been two days since I left the borders of Seattlonia. Two days since any sign of human activity. Two days since I had any quality meat.

"Argh... I'm starving..." I lamented. "Why did I volunteer to do this anyway?"

I remembered that an old man on the edge of the kingdom told me about the Tigress Desert just a few miles away from Seattlonia. His son was temporarily living in the deserts, so he might be able to help me. But now, all I really need is a good piece of meat. Barbequed... Roasted... Fried... Wait, what's that sweet aroma? It smells like... fried chicken!

"Who's there?" a voice came out of no where. "What are you doing here in the middle of the Great Tigress Desert?"

"The name's Sam Puckett," I introduced myself, trying to be formal. "I come from Seattlonia."

"Seattlonia?" he seemed to know something. "Oh, that kingdom place! Why would you want to live there anyway when you can live in the Tigress Desert?"

I raised my eyebrow. "The Tigress Desert? This is the Tigress Desert? You mean I can find tigers here?"

"No," he smiled. "But you sure can find lots of tiger's mane here!"

"Tiger's mane? Tigers don't have manes!" I laughed. This guy sure has gotten his animal facts wrong. "Only lions have manes!"

"And that's where you're wrong, young lady!" he went behind his tent and came back with a bucket of orange stuff. "This is the tiger's mane!"

I looked at the orange gooey substance in the bucket. They looked like strands of hair, except they are gooey and sticky. Did I mention that they also looked disgusting? "What?"

"The Tigress Desert is full of these! They can be sold for a high price at the kingdoms nearby!" he exclaimed.

"Who would want to buy this type of stuff?" I asked.

"You would be surprised!" he grinned. "The tiger's mane can be used for all types of things! Especially spell-casting! It's really popular in-"

I sighed. "Do you have any food that I can eat? I'm starving..."

He rolled his eyes at my rude interruption. "Fine, fine. Come in." As he motioned me into his tent, apparently distracted by my 'hunger', I took the chance to grab a handful of that tiger's mane thing. I wasn't sure whether this would be enough for the spell, but it's definitely better than having to find some sort of tiger and trying to get a bunch of its hair.

"There isn't much in my home, so you'll have to make do with this," he brought out a platter of fudge.

"Fudge?" I asked. "Don't you have any fried chicken or something?"

"What gave you that idea?" he laughed. I knew that I was following the scent of fried chicken all along, but it led me to this place. Surely, he had some chicken hidden behind his tent. "Besides, this fudge is the only thing you can cook up in this sort of place. My great grandmother gave me a special recipe which would prevent the fudge from melting in this hot desert."

I glared. "I could smell fried chicken a mile away. Where did you hide that chicken?"

"You must have been hallucinating. The desert heat can produce all sorts of hallucinations, especially your greatest desires..." he smiled.

"You're a nerd, aren't you?" I frowned at his knowledge of mirages.

He shrugged.

I sighed, giving up. "Never mind. I'll better be heading back to the kingdom now. I promised my best friend that I'll be returning back to the kingdom by tomorrow. I should be starting on my journey for now, before it gets really late."

"I'm actually heading back to Seattlonia too," he smiled. "This is actually my temporary home. You see, I live with my great grandmother and my grand parents. They're living in Seattlonia now and it's about time that I return home too. They're going to be so proud of my tiger's manes."

I smiled in all the awkwardness. Why is he telling me all this?

"By the way, we haven't made a proper introduction yet, have we?" he held out his hand. "My name is Brad."

I shook his hand in friendliness. "I'm Sam."

"Wait, you're Sam?" he asked. "You're the one who's competing for the People's Princess pageant, aren't you?"

"How did you know that?" I was curious. He had been living in the desert and I only started my campaign a week ago.

"I've been keeping in contact with my cousin and he's been telling me about how you helped our grandmother with the window cleaning." he replied.

Throughout the campaign, I had only helped one old lady with cleaning windows. And that's also Jake's grandmother. "You're Jake's cousin?"

"You know my cousin too?" he laughed.

"He's my boyfriend," I replied. "I didn't know you guys were cousins."

"Yeah, not many people know about that either." He smiled. "Since you're Jake's girlfriend, I've gotta warn you first."

I raised my eyebrow. "Warn me? About what?"

"Jake has a little habit of boasting about his talents," he explained. "While most of them may be true, one thing that you should never trust him about is his vocal talent. Never ever let him sing for you, unless if you want to damage your own hearing."

"Oh-kay..." I smiled in response. "Thanks for letting me know about that."

He packed up his stuff in less than two minutes. "No problem. I guess we should be moving on then?"

"Yeah... sure," I picked up my backpack from where I left it at the entrance of the tent. I had left Jake back at Seattlonia, without telling him about what I was doing. Carly had assured me that she would take care of Jake for me, so I didn't really have to worry about him and I could focus on gathering the ingredients for the potion.

I didn't want Jake to misunderstand anything. I had already gotten over his highness, so I was ready to focus on Jake for now. But now that something has happened to Fredpus, I can't possibly just leave him alone, right?

Like I said, it was all just to save a damsel in distress. And also, to destroy that ridiculous face of a princess!

A/N: Hi guys, I'm not really back from hiatus, but I'm just randomly updating whenever I get the chance to. Since I was taking a break from studying this morning, I decided to type a whole new chapter of this for you guys. I won't be able to update regularly and all, but I'm going to try. Thanks for your support!