Author's Note: Oh, my. I feel like I have a lot of explaining to do. haha. As I've promised many people, I haven't abandoned this story. Life just got in my way. I've accomplished quite a bit in the hiatus. My cosplays took off, and I was featured on Tokyopop, NerdReactor, Nerdist, and a ton of other websites, as well as having both Natasha Allegri and Pendleton Ward reblog my photos! Super cool. I'm also having my own graphic novel series published this year, annnd I'll probably give links to anyone that would like to purchase that. ^_^ I do apologize for the loooong wait, and I do hope I still have readers after this. This is a short chapter compared to the others, and it's only half of what I planned to write, but I figure you guys have waited long enough. The next chapter will be up soon.
As always, THANK YOU! Yes, you. For taking the time to read this. I wouldn't have even written this chapter if I hadn't gone back and reread the reviews. So thank you.
And noooowwww, I present to you...
CHAPTER ELEVEN: THE PRINCE'S GUIDE TO DEMON SUMMONING
Prince Gumball was a perfectionist.
Every detail was always looked at with an obsessed fervor, and never more so than when he was going into a bargain. He had read the Demon Summoning chapter repeatedly, obsessing over every detail. Then, he had reread the entire book once more just for good measure. Gumball had the critical eye of a good lawyer, which came in handy when dealing with demonic agreements.
A space had been cleared out in his large kitchen to make room for a summoning circle - An encased pentagram with a ridiculous smiley face in the center. The Prince placed his cheek near the ground to examine the starred angles and the perfection of his circle. With a satisfied hum, he stood up and nodded to Cake, who stared from the corner of the room with a mixed expression of terror and concern.
"Ooh, I don't know about this, PG," the cat stated, her eyes flickering to the circle then back to her pink companion.
"It will be fine, Cake. We just need to talk to Hannah Abadeer. She's royalty, just as I am. If we stick to civility, I'm sure we can work something out." The buzzer on the oven went off, and Gumball grinned suddenly. "Oh, the cupcakes are done!"
"Is it really the time for that, sweetheart?" She raised one eyebrow as the Prince removed the tray with an oversized pink oven mitt. "You don't think there are more important matters right now?"
"Nonsense, my friend. There's always time for cupcakes." And with that, he began adding icing with a pastry decorator.
With an over exaggerated eye roll, the cat stated, "Hannah's not the kindest ruler in the world. Have you ever dealt with her? I'm pretty sure she has a torture chamber for creatures that are too cute. Who does that?"
He shrugged. "Different species have different rules. Especially hell dimensions. I've dealt with many inter-dimensional rulers in my time." He dipped a spoon into a canister of red sprinkles and applied them liberally to two of the white-icing cupcakes. "This one just happens to be pure evil."
"You're too sweet, Gumball."
The prince blinked at her in confusion, his eyebrows lowered. "Of course, I'm made of Candy Biomass."
The cat could have slammed her head into the counter at that comment. Glob, they were going to die horribly. To comfort herself, she took the demon summoning book and looked over the page herself. "Don't you need candles?"
"Yes," he answered. "We do." And he pulled five birthday candles from a drawer and placed them atop the five cupcakes without the red sprinkles.
"Seriously?" Cake asked dryly, her lips twisted in horror to one side as she watched the Prince carefully align each lit-candled cupcake against the points of the pentagram.
"It works just as fine as anything else." Once everything was placed perfectly, the Prince clapped his hands together and looked at Cake. "Are you ready, my friend?"
A thrill of terror raced down her spine. She'd had multiple experiences with the Lady of Evil, and none of them had ever ended well. One tiny slip-up could land both of their souls in peril… And Hannah was an expert at finding slip-ups and loopholes. The only advantage they had was their friendship with Marshall Lee… And considering the rather rocky relationship of the two (and the fact that Hannah wanted her son to be evil anyway), that didn't go very far.
Gumball had already splashed bug milk on the smiley face and held the book up before him. He cleared his throat, glanced once more at Cake, then read off dramatically, ""Maloso vobiscum-"
A knock at the door startled both of them, causing Gumball to jerk his head up with wide eyes and Cake to frizz out her tail in fear. The entrance opened, and a prim Peppermint Maid stepped in. "My lord, the Sugar Princess is here to see you." The Maid then took in the sight before her, at the candles and pentagram and her ruler standing, wide-eyed, with a book of evil. Her eyebrows knotted together. "Is that a demon-summoning circle?"
Gumball placed the book on the counter and darted to her, laughing in a way that was supposed to be dismissive, but only sounded fearful, forced, and full of panic. "What? No, of course not. I'm just practicing a new recipe. See the cupcakes? Now would you mind keeping the Sugar Princess occupied while I finish this baking experiment? I believe I've purchased some fresh tea in the other room that I'm sure our guest would enjoy."
The Maid ground her feet against the tiled floor as the Prince ushered her out. "But-"
"No buts!" he stated in a soft princely chastising tone. "It would be rude to keep our guest waiting without refreshment." He slammed the door in a shocked Peppermint Maid's face and pressed his back against the door with a relieved sigh.
Cake raised an eyebrow. "Ditching your fiancee to summon demons?"
He straightened his spine, adjusted the hem his princely attire, and strode back to the center of the room. "She doesn't have to know everything. I'll join her before the tea is cold." But the jittery darting of his eyes betrayed his nervousness. He picked his book back up once more, smoothing down the pages with long, soft fingers, and returned back to the spell at hand. "Now, then…. Maloso vobiscum et cum spiritum!"
Stillness. And then a gust of wind that caused the candles to flicker in the room, hints of blackness brushing before their eyes. A dark cloud formed as the air was sucked toward the center of the circle. Cake hurried behind Gumball's leg, her yellow eyes never once leaving the ominous clouds.
To his credit, Gumball never once faltered or showed fear besides a subtle nervous swallow. His back remained straight in a royal posture, his hands calmly placed on the page to keep the increasingly brutal winds from damaging the paper.
And then the Mistress of the Nightosphere formed in all her glory: First the skeleton, then the muscles, sinew, and grey flesh. Then her neat business suit, neatly pressed from the depths of hell. And finally, those deep red irises set amongst an eerie yellow sclera.
Hannah had her arms crossed over her rather buxom chest, her eyes half-lidded in boredom, and a deadpan expression on her face. "Judging by the pastel walls and sickeningly sweet smell, I'm either in a new level of hell or the Candy Kingdom."
It took a moment for Gumball to regain his composure, and when he spoke, a slight shake in his voice revealed his apprehension. "Queen Abadeer. I am Prince Gumball of the Candy Kingdom, and I request your counsel."
The Demon Ruler blinked at him, sucked in air through sharp teeth, and raised one fine eyebrow. "It never ceases to amaze me how people think they can just drag me from my daily activities and issue out orders as if I owe them something."
"I have no intentions of ordering you around. I simply have a request."
"Most requests don't require traps."
"Yes, and most people aren't dumb enough to set free a soul-sucking demon. My subjects come first, but that doesn't mean I haven't called you here with the utmost respect, and I hope you offer the same to me."
Hannah smiled, a motion that was all teeth and threats and hunger. "I'm nothing if not professional."
A lie. Every syllable. A very crafted, well-thought out, and disguised lie to trick innocent people into offering a demon their soul. And Hannah was damn good at playing pretend.
Even as Gumball recognized it, he still managed to reply with an upbeat, "Excellent! I've called you here concerning Fionna the Human. I understand that she has gone to the Vampire Kingdom. Your work, I suppose?" At the tilt of Hannah's head, he continued. "Then I assume you understand the dangers that action carries with it. There is a good chance she won't be able to survive, and our Kingdom would be dealt a tremendous blow without her." Seeing the Demon Queen's indifference, he decided to add, "Your son has also grown quite attached to her, and her death would greatly trouble him. That is why I would like to make this request: Reverse whatever exchange the two of you had prior, and return our Fionna to us."
She smirked. "What's your name, Prince Gumball? Your full name?"
He tilted his head, his eyebrows lowering in confusion. "I don't see what that has to do with-"
"Come now. We're on good terms. Surely, you know my full name. I'd like to know yours."
"And I like to remain professional. Now… Concerning Fionna…"
A poisoned sneer played at the edges of her lips. The next word Hannah spoke was dragged out through her teeth. "No."
"No can do, Prince. Going to the Vampire Kingdom during Marshall Lee's return would be seen as an act of War. While I do adore a good bloody battle against Kingdoms, I would rather it to not be against my son's lands. Second, if Marshall cares about her as much as you claim he does, then she shouldn't have anything to worry about. He could order her protection with a snap of his fingers. To be honest, your human girl is probably the safest person in the Vampire Kingdom right now. So, no, I will not retrieve Fionna."
Fearfully quiet up until this point, Cake exclaimed, "You don't know she's safe!"
"It's not my responsibility to guarantee her safety, kitty. I simply took her there, per our agreement."
"Then take us there to help her instead," the Prince said with a desperate plea in his voice. "Surely, you can do that."
"I'm not a taxi." She glanced at the cupcakes near her feet. "Though it is a tragedy to see such a unique summoning circle go to waste." Leaning down, she dipped her clawed finger in the icing of a nearby cupcake. "Are you sure there's nothing else I can offer you? Revenge? Murder? Mayhem? Anything?" She brought the icing to her mouth and licked the sugar from her fingers, her eyes never leaving the Prince's. "These are good. Compliments to the chef."
"Thank you. Would you care for another?" Ignoring Cake's sputtering expression of horror, Gumball took the tray from the counter and held it out to the elder woman, careful to not let his hand cross the summoning line.
Surprised at the generosity, Hannah picked up a red-sprinkled cupcake and sank her razor like teeth into the dessert. A hum of delight left her mouth, and she smiled at the other two. "These are grand. But the Candy Kingdom is known for their desserts after all." Her eyes narrowed at that as if there was a hidden memory behind it. "Did you know that the souls of Candy citizens taste like candy as well?"
"I wasn't aware," the Prince said evenly, determined to not allow her intimidation attempts affect him.
She took another slow bite of her cupcake. "You're too kind, Prince Gumball. That's never a good thing. The right type of person could use that kindness against you."
"Then I suppose I should be smart as well then." There was something hollow deep within his irises.
"Perhaps." But then her body stilled and her eyes widened at the remaining dessert in her hand. "What's in this?" For the first time, there was surprise and a note of fear in her voice.
Prince Gumball said nothing, but kept his head held high and silently watched the Demon Queen.
With eyes glaring daggers into the young Prince, she dropped the cupcake on the floor, where it rolled to the side in a flurry of crumbles. "Did you poison me?"
"A light poison," Gumball answered evenly. "Nothing deadly to a being of your strength, I assure you."
Hannah pressed her fingers against her head, stumbling a bit to the side. "You pink little bastard."
"It's a poison that causes a gradual catatonic state that lasts for weeks. But where there's a poison, there is an antidote." He lifted his hand from his pocket, where a purple vial was cradled delicately between his forefinger and thumb.
A loud growl erupted from the typically business-oriented Lady of Evil. With teeth bared and eyes darkening not unlike her son's, she began hovering above the ground. Her hair floated behind her, the long black locks looking more similar to tentacles than strands. And yet, even so, the slight sway to her figure proved that the poison was working. "Do NOT spite me, Candy Prince."
With a deep breath, he stated evenly, "Hannah Abadeer. I demand Fionna's safe return."
"I will have your soul! And all of your subjects!"
At the mention of his kingdom, Gumball blinked, and took an almost-step back. "Just calm down and listen. Let's find a truce at least. I want a guarantee that Fionna will be okay, and you want this." The vial tilted in his hand.
Hannah's breaths were harsh and shaky, and with every exhale, a growl vibrated lowly in her chest. Her black eyes bore into Gumball's violet ones as she considered her options. Then gradually, her feet touched the ground, and she dragged her fingers through her black hair (and it was indeed hair once again). She inhaled deeply to calm her temper. "You make a tough bargain, Prince. I can respect that." She licked her lips and closed her eyes to stave off the onset of the poison. "Fine. I'll tell you what. I have spies all over Marshall's kingdom anyway. If anything happens to your human, it will be reported to you by one of my servants."
"And Marshall too."
Her head tilted as if she didn't understand the request. "If you want. Now. The antidote?"
Gumball gripped the cure tight in his hand, his jaw clenching tightly as he considered it. With a steely resolution, he fell to one knee and rolled the vial to the Demon Queen.
It spun into Hannah's red-manicured hand. She smiled viciously at the Prince, showing off all of her sharp teeth. "It was a pleasure doing business with you, Bubba," she stated in a way that said it wasn't a pleasure at all. A dimensional hole tore into reality, sucking the Lady of Evil back into the Nightosphere.
Gumball stared at the center of the circle. The words sank into his veins like venom, leaving him cold. She knew his name. The implication made his limbs numb, as though he had taken the poison instead.
"That. Was. Math!" Cake exclaimed. "You just totally poisoned the Mighty Queen of the Nightosphere with a cupcake!"
The cat's light-hearted laughter calmed his nerves, and he shook his head to clear it of all unpleasantness. "Yes. It wasn't exactly the result I was hoping for, but…" He hesitated, eyebrows furrowing in thought. "I need to attend to my other guest," he stated. His voice sounded hollow. "Before the tea is cold."
As he passed Cake, he dumped the cupcakes in the trash. The cat shivered from the eerie remaining vibe still left in the kitchen, then followed close behind, not wanting to be left alone.
Sooooo, I can already hear all of your shouts of anger: "BUT WE WERE PROMISED FLUFF." I knowwww. See, that was in the second half of this chapter. Which will be up very soon. At least it's something, eh?
Honestly, I just wanted to write a chapter where Gumball outsmarts Hannah Abadeer in the most Gumball way possible. I really do love writing him.
Please leave me reviews so I'll know people are still reading this! Much love. 3