Pleasantly enough, the ashen sky of the Fire Kingdom actually appeared quite beautiful as several rays of pink sunlight pierced the dark globs of volcanic dust. The streets were bustling with busy fire elementals that were out on various errands, rushing through the fiery landscape so as to not waste time. It wasn't that there was a need to rush, but the fact that tomorrow was a national day off for the kingdom's citizens made it a necessity to finish any work now and enjoy full relaxation the next morning.
Up in the palace, all the guards were discussing plans for the following day, eager to have some fun out on the lava lakes or go out hunting for some wild fire wolves. As chatter filled the air for hours on end, the flame king sighed and rested her chin on her hand, wondering what to do for the following 24 hours. While it had been her who had suggested the day off in the first place it was actually to take a break from the irritating tasks she had to do every moment of her rule.
Flame Princess looked over to a nearby palace assistant and waved him over. The fiery man bowed and asked his king what she would request of him.
"I'd just like to know the time."
The assistant nodded and went to check. A minute later, he returned and bowed again.
"It is almost eight, your majesty."
FP huffed. The day would never end. If only there was something interesting to talk about with someone as the palace staff began to clear out. At this point, only a handful of guards were in the throne room, along with the assistant and Cinnamon Bun, who was trying to teach his fire wolf how to do a flip.
Just as the young king was about to call it a night and retreat to her chambers, the palace's front door opened, letting in a blue figure holding a massive gem under his arm. Flame Princess's flames came back to life a bit, having died down significantly since she'd become bored. Finn walked up to the flame king's seat and made a bow, smiling happily.
FP got up and took a few steps toward the human, overjoyed at the visit.
"Finn! I'm so glad you stopped by! It was getting duller than I could stand around here."
The heroic boy stood up straight and grinned with amusement.
"I'll bet. What's with all the commotion around here?"
Flame Princess watched as the remaining guards exited the room.
"I called a kingdom-wide day off tomorrow; everyone is busy getting ready for it."
Finn nodded, seeming in agreement with her decision.
"Cool. So anyway…"
He held out the giant gem he had tucked under his arm and grinned.
"I took care of that crystal golem you said was jacking up the mountains nearby. After I smashed it I took the awesome ruby from its forehead. I thought it would look good in your castle."
The flame king raised an eyebrow.
"Finn, that's an emerald."
The boy's expression fell down to a frown.
"Aw darn, not again."
He set the gem down and huffed. FP still didn't quite understand.
"Is there something wrong with your eyes?"
The human chuckled.
"Heh heh, yeah. I'm a bit colorblind."
Now she got it. The young ruler looked down at the large emerald, admiring its beautiful shape.
"You know, I like it. Somehow I think green would spruce the place up."
Finn smiled, recovering from his disappointment. He put down his backpack and started rummaging around inside. After a moment, he pulled out a hammer and chisel. The boy stepped over to the gem and began carefully aiming the instruments at the side of the emerald. FP was curious.
"Since when do you know anything about sculpting?"
"Nothing. This is an enchanted chisel though; it reads your brains and makes the perfect cut that you're thinking of."
Intrigued, the king watched as the human steadied his hands and made one quick blow to the end of the tool, sending off a small ping from the surface of the gem. Stepping away, Finn watched casually as several cracks began to form along the precious stone. As few seconds later, the emerald simply fell apart into about a dozen separate but identical pieces, all in the shape of a diamond, similar to the one on Flame Princess's forehead.
The human then took out a slingshot form his pack then looked to the king.
FP giggled then motioned towards the walls of the room.
"Be my guest."
Finn nodded and picked up one of the diamond shaped emeralds. He loaded it into his slingshot and aimed at the far wall. With a quick release, the stone hurled at high speed and became wedged in the volcanic rock that made up the palace infrastructure. The boy picked up another and shot it a few yards to the right of the first. He continued the process with the others, launching them all around the room until he ran out of stones.
Flame Princess gazed around and examined the human's work. She gave an admiring smile and looked at him.
"Wow Finn. You never told me you had a thing for interior design."
The hero laughed, joined a moment later by the king herself. They kept it up for a minute until another voice broke the chuckling.
"Bleh! It looks awful! Now I have to stare at this garbage every day? Can someone just extinguish me already?"
The two teenagers looked up to see the former ruler of the Fire Kingdom looking with disgust at the perfectly spaced emeralds now decorating the throne room. Flame Princess's hair grew in size as she glared at the man.
"Shut up dad! I think it looks great so get off of Finn's case!"
Finn smiled as he watched the girl stare down the imprisoned fire elemental, touched at her compliment. Soon enough, Flame King grumbled to himself and sat back against the wall of the lamp, tired of arguing. FP groaned and turned her attention back to her visitor.
"He just never quits. I think I'll be leaving the throne room tomorrow. No sense dealing with him all day."
"Haha, yep. So, what are you going to do on your day off?"
The king furrowed her brow and looked up to the ceiling, thinking hard. Eventually she shrugged.
"I honestly don't know. Haven't really come up with anything interesting. Any ideas?"
The human rubbed his chin, looking around the room for inspiration. Suddenly, he snapped his fingers.
"I got it! FP, does the Fire Kingdom have a dungeon?"
The fire elemental was caught off by the question but answered back regardless.
"Um, yeah, I think so. It should be down in the lowest level of the palace."
Finn jumped in joy.
"Sweet! What do you say we go down there and beat up a bunch of chumps and find loot? It'll be just like old times!"
As soon as Finn said the words he realized he had chosen them poorly. Flame Princess's face turned to a frown and she awkwardly stared at the ground. The hero quickly tried to rectify the mistake.
"I mean…that's not what I…ugh, you know. I meant like as just buddies not…dang it."
He was growing frustrated with himself as he tried to recover from the blunder. He stopped as FP placed a hand on his shoulder.
"Finn, it's ok, just calm down."
The human did as asked and the king took a few steps back, eyeing the floor sadly.
"I just…I don't really want to be reminded of…that type of thing."
The boy was still frowning as he took a seat on the floor.
"I understand. I'm sorry."
An awkward moment of silence filled the room, indicating that everyone else was indeed gone and probably of to bed by now. Well, everyone except Cinnamon Bun. He was still attempting to flip his wolf over. Flame Princess walked over to Finn and sighed.
"Finn, I told you it's in the past now. While I don't have a problem being friends I still have some reservations about trusting anyone. It's just the way it is."
The human got up and brushed the soot from the ground off his pants.
"I know. You have every reason not to. I hope someday I can make up for it."
Suddenly, a rustling was heard behind the two teens. They looked over to see Cinnamon Bun searching though Finn's pack.
"Uh, CB, what are you doing?"
The candy person kept rummaging as he answered.
"I wanted to see if you have anything that can teach a dog to do a flip."
The human scratched his head.
"Well, not really. All I have in there is a bunch of adventuring stuff and other random junk."
The hapless pastry didn't seem to be listening. He suddenly drew out a small pouch, examining it with interest.
"Ooo. What's in this?"
Finn's eyes grew wide as the candy person poured out a little pile of golden dust in his hand.
"Wait! Cinnamon Bun that's…!"
Before he could stop him, the hero watched as CB blew the magical sleeping powder right at him and Flame princess. The two quickly tried to fan away the dust as their senses became less sharp and their legs began to wobble. Sadly, the effect had already taken root. Finally, they were unable to stand and fell over, completely passed out.
Cinnamon Bun looked curiously at the two knocked out teenagers.
Finn awoke groaning, placing a hand to his head as he tried to refocus on the world around him. Nearby, FP had also begun regaining her composure and was already scanning the area. Oddly enough, they were still in the throne room, but it looked a bit different. It was completely empty, even the lantern. The king gasped.
"What the Bjork!? When did my dad get out?!"
Finn got up and stepped toward the girl, placing a hand on her shoulder.
"FP, relax. This isn't reality; we got blasted by magic sleeping powder. Right now we're in our memories."
The young ruler took in the information and released her bewildered expression.
She turned to the human.
"So how do we get out?"
Finn looked around, thinking out a plan.
"Well, usually we have to find our memory core and grab one of the weird spheres that are connected to it. I think the shock wakes you up or something like that."
Flame Princess pondered the process until she noticed two figures scurrying past and toward the entrance to the palace. They looked familiar, but their costumes prevented her from guessing. Finn however, laughed.
"I remember that! This is the time me and Jake went to go get your scented candles."
FP looked closer and saw the humanoid figure with a backpack. It was indeed Finn. She briefly smiled, recounting how dangerous it was to sneak around the palace of the most vicious beings in Ooo. Finn had really put his butt on the line just to bring her those candles.
"Thanks for that. It really helped to have them."
The human grinned.
"No prob. Come on, let's go find the core."
The fire elemental nodded and they made their way over to the exit. As the doors slid open, they were met with a new memory. The Fire Kingdom looked quite different, with not as developed architecture and a lot more raw fire spewing out of the ground. A moment later, the two saw a figure in a suit approaching.
It stopped, allowing Finn and FP to see a tiny fiery baby held in its arms. The little girl had a red gem on her forehead. Finn grew a giddy expression.
"Aww, look at that cute baby."
Flame Princess gave the boy a punch in the arm. He complained and rubbed the spot but then noticed there was no burn. The flame king was surprised as well.
"Huh, I guess in memories physics junk doesn't fly."
Turning back to the figure, they watched as it called out to Flame King, who was apparently standing on top of the building they had just exited. While the scene unfolded, FP's flames grew higher, her eyes narrowed at the thermal suited Princes Bubblegum. Concerned, Finn spoke up.
"You ok FP?"
The fire elemental gave him a glare.
"This is why I hate secrets. Bubblegum never told me about this. And she had plenty of time to do so."
The human sighed.
"That's PB for you, always with a bunch of weird secrets. It's basically her personality to keep stuff like that; she's always been a bit mysterious."
Flame Princess crossed her arms.
"Well I can't stand people like that, which is pretty much everyone."
Finn frowned and kneeled to the ground, beginning to knock on the rocky ground. He found a hollow spot and stood up. A moment later, he bashed the ground out with his foot, revealing an opening.
He jumped into the hole, followed by FP. The two didn't fall long before being thrown sideways into the tree house. Getting back up, they saw a memory of Finn and Jake in the corner of the room, next to a broken window. Finn had a hand mark on his cheek.
"Dude, I think I have a crush."
The actual Finn stared intently as his past reflection began talking with Jake about the fiery girl that had assaulted their house. However, FP suddenly grabbed him by his backpack and pulled him towards the sink.
"Come on, we're wasting time."
The human was disappointed but also confused.
"Why the sink?"
The fire elemental answered by opening the tab and allowing the water to flow. Soon enough, the drain started to grow, bursting out of the confines of the pipelines and creating a swirling whirlpool in the floor. Without hesitation, the flame king pushed Finn into the vortex, which instantly swallowed him as he yelled out of shock. She then stepped up to jump in herself.
"She ain't evil. She's passionate."
FP shook off the memory's comment and hopped into the draining water.
Flame Princess burst out the other side of the roaring liquid to find a desolate landscape, occupied by a number of partially melted mountains, exposed muddy hills, and an ankle deep pool of liquefied snow covering the ground. Finn was standing nearby, looking sadly at the scene before him.
"I-I need some time alone."
A memory of FP slowly floated into the sunset, leaving behind an ashamed Finn and badly beaten Ice King.
"You blew it man."
The real Finn plopped down on the ground, splashing a fair bit of water.
The flame king watched as well. Her reaction however, was frustration.
"Why does it keep bringing us to all my bad memoires?!"
Finn thought about it for a second as he sat there in the freezing water.
"Maybe our subconscious emotions are pulling in the ones that are most related to how we're feeling."
Flame Princess huffed again and turned away.
"I'm not going through this again. Just get us out of here."
The hero slowly got up and walked over to the Ice King, who was still lying on his back with a bitter expression on his face. Finn swiped the wizard's crown.
"Hey," the old man whined.
The human placed the golden item on his head and held out his hand, unleashing a blast of icy energy that began building a doorway on the ground. As Finn finished the exit, he tossed the crown back towards Ice King and opened it, gesturing for the princess to walk through. She briskly did so and the boy followed, closing the door behind them.
The next area was an underground tunnel, lit by a multitude of torches on either side. FP was already walking through, determined to get out of the whacky world they were in. Finn caught up to her and they strolled in silence for a moment. Finally, he decided to break the tension.
"So, what are you feeling right now?"
The king sighed, holding her gaze to the path ahead.
"I guess, hurt, confusion, sadness, what you'd expect from having all that junk brought back to my mind."
Finn frowned, looking down at the rocky ground.
"What about you?"
The boy ran through his thoughts for a minute as the tunnel continued on.
"Mostly regret, for everything I've lost by being dumb."
FP looked back to see her friend hanging his head, not bothering to really watch where he was going, just trusting that the fire elemental wasn't leading him into a wall. Ironically enough, it was the fiery girl herself who knocked her head into solid rock. After a shout of pain, Flame Princess quickly rubbed her now surly bruised cheek as Finn ran up to her.
"Oh Glob! Are you ok?"
He gently placed his hand on FP's skin, hoping to sooth the affected area. It was only a split second later that he pulled away and backed off, a worried look on his face.
The king didn't reply, just staring at the boy with a hard to read expression. Eventually though, Finn broke the moment by walking up to the wall Flame Princess had hit and running his hand over it. Acting on a hunch, he gave the rock a strong slug with his fist, instantly causing a network of cracks upon its surface. The two teenagers stood back as the barrier of stone crumbled, leaving a dimly lighted opening.
Finn offered for FP to go in first, which she silently accepted. The human followed her through and began observing the surroundings. It was quite easy to tell which memory they had fallen into now.
A reflection of Finn was shown crawling over to an oxygen deprived Flame Princess, who was shivering in the corner of the burned out hole in the earth. The slightly burned human desperately took the unconscious girl in his arms and spoke, trying to get a response out of her. This time, the real Flame Princess gazed at the memory with full attention.
"Please…I need you…to be ok."
The now sweating Finn pressed his mouth against that of the girl, reigniting her flames while his own consciousness faded, causing additional burns as his face slid down the princess's cheek. The reflection of FP gasped as she saw the boy's condition, before quickly being pulled up the hole by Jake's stretchy arm.
Silence filled the tunnel as Finn waited for the flame king to say something, or move. She remained frozen. Eventually, the human walked over and gently cleared his throat.
"Flame Princess, are you ok?"
The fiery girl turned her head just enough for him to see half of her face, which was set in deep conflict.
"Do you need me to be?"
The boy wasn't expecting that. He stared with concern at the fire elemental, who finally decided to turn and face him. Her eyes displayed somewhat of a pleading look.
"How did it go from this, to what we saw earlier?"
Finn didn't have an answer for her, not a concrete one anyway. He sucked in some air and looked the king in her amber gaze.
"I guess, I'm just stupid."
He sat down against the wall of the hole.
"I have a bad habit of being dumb, if you haven't noticed. I usual rely on Jake when it comes to anything besides beating up evil or dungeon crawling. He's the one with all the life experience. Don't get me wrong, I'm not blaming him for anything. Even if he was the one who pushed me to writing that rhombus letter it was my fault for not thinking clearly and giving in to something that I didn't understand myself."
The human sighed.
"Bubblegum once told me that boys don't get their fair share of common sense until a while after girls do."
He looked to FP, who had been listening closely the whole time.
"In a way, it was my fault from the beginning, to start a relationship when I'm only fourteen."
The fiery ruler walked over and sat down next to the boy, looking to the ground.
"So, it was a mistake meeting me?"
Finn jumped and gave the elemental an astonished look.
"What! No! No way FP. You're the best thing that's ever happened to me…I mean, ugh. Look, even if we didn't like-like each other it's still incredible that you got out of that awful lamp. And look what you've accomplished with just a little of the time that's been given to you, turned around an entire kingdom's people!"
The human forced through a smile.
"It's really ironic isn't it? For you to be free, just to be drawn back to where you left and realize it's your true calling?"
Flame Princess remained in her stiff position, looking into her companion's eyes.
"Finn…do you think you should have my trust?"
At first the boy was taken aback by the question, but quickly regained his composure and stood up, walking over to the opening back to the surface. He first looked up, examining the long journey to the next memory, figuring as it was the only way out. Then, his head tilted down, staring with intent at the dirt on the ground.
He waited. After a minute, he could hear the king stand up and slowly step over to him. She was a few feet away, as if expecting him to turn around and face her. Begrudgingly, figuring that that was in fact the girl's reasoning for silently standing behind him, the hero spun around and began to look the fire elemental in the eyes.
Oddly enough, her sight was not what met him as he turned. Instead, her full body had been brought to his chest, with her arms wrapped tightly around his sides. FP's head rested against his collar, her eyes closed and her flames extremely calm and stable, graceful even.
Finn was lost for words as he stood dumbfounded. His blue eyes were wide enough to burst while they drifted down to see the composed features of Flame Princess's face. There seemed to be something different about her, as if something that had been chaining her down was…removed.
"Well like it or not…you've earned it back."
She moved away from the stunned human and looked softly into his face. Finn still couldn't say anything but managed to keep himself together. Flame Princess shifted her expression into a warm smile. She then released he hold on the boy's arms and moved to the opening, holding out her hand to her companion.
Shaking off the frozen feeling, the hero reached up and grasped the offered grip. Her skin felt so pleasant and soft that he briefly thought he was dead and being given a lift to Glob world by an angel. Then he remembered, to him, this girl was an angel.
FP continued to smile as she began to raise the two of them into the air, heading for the opening that led to the next part of their quest. She flew faster and faster as the sight of the blue sky grew larger and larger. When the two neared the edge of the crater however, the color suddenly changed to a bright white. The teens shielded their eyes as the flash consumed them upon breaching the supposed open air.
When Finn and Flame Princess awoke, the environment was much different. For one, they existed as purely white silhouettes, with no distinguishable features. Around them was a world of clean darkness, inhabited by a grand mass of slender white vines, each branch of which contained a small orb with an image burned into it. Finn gazed at the intricate constructs, noticing that there were two separate stalks.
"Our cores, they were coiled together. That's why we experienced both our memories in the same space."
FP scanned the strange vines in wonder, eyeing the vague black images within each one. Finally, she looked over to Finn's blank face. No one would know, but she had a smile etched onto hers.
"How about this, we'll each yank a memory from the other's core."
The human's astonishment was somehow visible even with their present physical appearance.
"Really? But, that so, personal."
The flame king giggled a bit.
"Then have fun Finn."
With that, the fire elemental got into the air and started buzzing around Finn's core, searching for an orb to pull off. Finn just stood there, disbelieving that so much faith was placed on him. He could easily mess up and pull something important. Regardless, it was too late to change anything, so the human went about searching for an orb that wouldn't cause any damage.
After a few minutes, he spotted something promising. Gazing into the white sphere, Finn witnessed Flame Princess slumbering in her little house on the grasslands, peacefully cozied up and likely dreaming. Suddenly, the flames on her scented candles grew until they projected an image of Flame King's face.
"Evil evil evil evil evil, EVIL!"
FP awoke with a start and looked around. Her dad panicked and retreated from the flames. Finn smiled.
Frustrating harassment, sure, we'll take that out.
He positioned his hands around the orb, and called up to a higher point on his own core, where he had last seen his friend head to.
"Hey FP! Are you ready?"
He waited a moment for a reply.
"Yeah Finn! Pull them in three, two, one…"
The hero touched the sphere and pulled, instantly being engulfed by a bright light. Soon enough, he vanished from the plain.
The moment that Finn and FP opened their eyes, they both turned really, really red. While the two had been unconscious, their bodies had managed to scoot closer and the teens were now cuddling on the floor of the throne room, with nothing between them but the two grey orbs that contained the extracted memories.
Immediately, they shoved away from each other and got up, nervously looking around to avoid eye contact. Flame Princess caught sight of Cinnamon Bun, who had returned to playing with his pup.
"CB, how long were we out?"
The candy person stopped his chase of the fire wolf and scratched his head.
"Um...I don't know."
Disappointed in the lack of info, the king turned back and gazed into Finn's eyes. The two had recovered from the embarrassing event earlier and gave each other a grin. The human held up the sphere he yanked and proceeded to effortlessly pop it, erasing the memory forever. He then smiled wider at the fiery ruler.
"Don't you want to know what I took out?"
FP shook her head.
"Nope. I don't need to. I know it was nothing I would bother to keep, after all, you were the one who took it."
The human beamed, continuing to grow his smile until his teeth showed, making the fire elemental giggle.
"Then the same goes for me. It's pretty late, I guess I should get going."
The hero began making his way to the palace doors while waving a goodbye to Flame Princess, who returned the gesture.
"Get back here around noon, ok?" she called.
Finn was confused.
The flame king chuckled.
"For the dungeon crawl. I'll be waiting."
It took a minute, but the boy was able to process the statement and let out a small laugh.
"Haha. Ok FP, see you tomorrow."
As the human disappeared into the outside, the ruler of the Fire Kingdom turned and started making the trip to her bedroom for the night. A yawn escaped her as she gazed at the memory held in her fiery hands. She smiled, watching its contents one last time.
An image of Finn was frowning as it sat against a dirt wall.
"In a way, it was my fault from the beginning, to start a relationship when I'm only fourteen."
FP held the orb close for a moment, chuckling to herself quietly. Then, she held up the grey sphere and brought her finger toward its surface.
Well then, I guess I'll have to wait for your brains to kick in, ya dork.
Hope you enjoyed and thanks for any comments/reviews!