"Why did he have to think so far ahead?" Arianna moaned, collapsing back onto her bed. "How did he get word out to every person for ten miles that he didn't want his name to be told to me!?"
"I imagine it was the Servant's Network." Fiona said, chuckling. Arianna turned onto her side and glared at the girl, having absolutely no idea what she was talking about. "It's an underground message group. Why else do you think the courtiers are so dressed up when you go to visit them? We servants relay the messages so our masters can prepare. It's far more efficient then most of the upper class people would believe possible." Arianna sighed and nodded.
"I'm going to go take a bath. Make it a bubbly one, I want to relax." The girl said, waving Fiona away. The girl smiled and moved off, doing as she was told. Ten minutes later, Arianna slipped into the bath, and sighed in contentment. "This feels so good."
"I always wondered if royal baths were as comfortable as people said…" a male voice said. Arianna screamed and turned around, finding the boy relaxing against the wall.
"Y-y-y-y-y-y…" the girl sputtered out.
"Relax, your craziness, I shut my eyes when you came in." the boy said, rolling his eyes. "I have standards, you know. If I were going to lower myself to peeking on a girl, I'd at least peek on one I like."
"W-what are you doing here!?" Arianna shrieked, glad that her body was completely obscured from the neck down by the white bubbles. Laughing, the boy bent down and stared into Arianna's eyes.
"You stole something from me." He said quietly. Uncomprehendingly, Arianna just stared. "So I'm here to tell you that I am going to give you exactly what you deserve for stealing that from me." Arianna flinched as the boy's hand shot out. But a moment later, she blinked as the boy pat her head. "Now have a good bath, Arianna." he thought for a moment, grabbed her right foot, pulled it out of the water, and inspected it. "Hmm… It is clean after all…" he said musingly as he left. Arianna just gaped.
"I…. Can't… Believe… Him…" the girl whispered.
"When did you get here?" Fiona's voice asked from outside the bath hall Arianna used.
"Oh, a little while ago." The boy replied. Arianna heard him leave the room.
"Wait a second… If she didn't let him in, how the heck did he sneak into the castle?" Arianna asked, now seriously confused. The security at Hitara Castle was very tight around all entrances, and it was really rather unlikely that he could ever sneak in. "Ooh, he must have had help. I'll find out who let him into this castle and drag his name out of them. Wait, I have a better idea." She smiled broadly. "I know just who to go to about this." Laughing madly, she finished her bath, put on a nice, clean gown, and hurried out into the castle proper without even glancing at the startled Fiona.
Inside the highest tower of Hitara Castle was where the Court Magician lived. Arianna smiled brightly as she pounded on the door. It swung open of its own accord, and the girl was immediately assaulted by the smell of a thousand different potions.
"Who dares to disturb me!?" a thunderous voice boomed out as an evil shadow appeared in the center of the room.
"Oh, shut up, Ralph." Arianna said irritably. "I'm not in the mood for your Evil Overlord theatrics today. I need your help." The clouds and smell both vanished, leaving behind a middle-aged and balding man who did not look remotely evil.
"My help, eh? You don't ask for that very often. Come in, come in." Ralph said, pulling up a chair for Arianna. Nodding, the girl sat down at the table. "Tea? Juice?"
"Juice will be fine…" Arianna muttered. There was a flash of light and a goblet of frozen juice appeared in front of the princess. She raised an eyebrow.
"Whoops, wrong spell. They're very similar, you know, so hard to keep straight." Ralph babbled. He snapped his fingers, and the goblet of frozen juice was replaced by a goblet of cold juice. "There we go." He sat down and conjured another goblet for himself. "So, your highness, what seems to be the problem?"
"I'm having trouble with this irritating peasant boy…" Arianna began. Ralph raised an eyebrow. "No, not that kind of trouble! I hate him! But just now, he somehow got into my bathroom and pet me while I was taking a bath! I need something to put him in his place!" Ralph frowned slightly.
"Were you… In your chambers?" he asked quietly. Arianna nodded. "Most… unusual." At Arianna's dark, inquiring glare, he explained. "I set up a network of extremely powerful defensive spells around your room. So either he is a greater magician then I am, which I highly doubt, he is somehow immune to magic, which I also highly doubt, or he meant absolutely no harm whatsoever to you."
"But… I was naked…" Arianna muttered, blushing furiously.
"Well, the spells don't care if somebody wants to embarrass you, only if they want to hurt you." Ralph said dismissively. "Let me think…"
"I want to know his name, too!" Arianna said quickly. Ralph smiled, checked several shelves, and finally pulled out a small box which he handed to the girl.
"Inside that is some chocolate." He explained. Arianna quickly opened the box. "No, don't eat it! It's spelled chocolate; truth spelled, to be exact. Get him to eat one, and he'll be forced to answer any question he's asked, truthfully and immediately. He can't cover his mouth, he can't not answer. The only time he can't reply is if he doesn't actually know the answer." The princess of Hitara nodded and closed the box again.
"Thanks." She said, truly meaning it. "I need to get revenge on that awful boy one way or another…"
"No problem, your highness. Just remember… When the world is mine, I'm going to have you chained up in your undergarments inside my main hall to lure in heroes." Ralph said, laughing madly. "And have rats."
"…Funny, that boy said he was going to do something remarkably similar." Arianna said, blinking. "Is there something going on here that I don't know about?"
"Probably." Ralph replied, shooing her off. "Go on, get your revenge on him. You deserve to have a little fun after putting up with all those idiots who call themselves Professors and Magicians." Arianna laughed and hurried off, carrying the box of spelled chocolates like it was the most precious treasure in the world.
Some time later, the girl rode onto the lands where she figured the boy would be by now. She was correct; he was out in the courtyard, practicing swordsmanship with a number of the other males of the household.
"Your highness…" everybody except the boy said, bowing.
"Arianna." The boy said, nodding to her. "I'm surprised you didn't bring along a battalion of soldiers with you." The girl smiled sweetly at him.
"Chocolate?" she asked, opening the box and holding it up. Raising an eyebrow, the boy took a piece and slowly brought it towards his mouth. Arianna watched eagerly, only to jump in shock as the boy flicked the chocolate into her mouth. She swallowed before she knew what she was doing.
"So, why were you so eager for me to eat that?" the boy asked.
"It's truth spelled; I wanted to find out your name." Arianna found herself replying, to her growing horror. The boy grinned very widely.
"I think I'm going to have fun with this." He said. Arianna noticed that everybody else had discreetly left. Sighing, the girl turned around her horse and prepared to gallop off. "Nuh-uh." The boy said, grabbing the horse's reins so it couldn't move off. The princess noticed that his hold was professional; he was obviously used to working with horses. "So, then, why are you so eager to learn my name?"
"I'm curious and I want to find out more about you." Arianna answered promptly, turning red.
"Is that so…" the boy said, smirking. "When is the next royal ball?"
"A week from today at seven." Arianna replied. "Wait, why are you asking me that? If you dare crash it…" the boy laughed.
"I should ask you all sorts of embarrassing questions, but I think I've done enough of that for one day." The boy said. He let go of the reins and smacked the horse's rump to get it moving. And move it did, shooting back towards the castle with a terrified Arianna gripping its neck like she would die if she let go. It was only then the girl realized that the boy, whatever his name was, had taken her chocolates.
"Oooooh! That's another thing he'll pay for! I was going to force his name… Oh, wait, Ralph must have more! I can get his name from Fiona!" the girl laughed madly as she sped towards the castle at an astonishing pace.
Unfortunately, however, Fiona was not to be found. She had taken a vacation with the blessing of the King. Nor was the boy to be found anywhere after Arianna had taken the truth spell. Arianna could only conclude that they were planning to do something at the Royal Ball, and as a result tripled the security around the castle. Finally, the evening of the ball arrived, and Arianna donned her best red and gold gown to make the best impression she could.
"Kings, Queens, and Noblemen of all ages, I present to you her highness Princess Arianna of Hitara!" a man yelled as Arianna entered the massive ballroom via the main doors. Smiling brilliantly, the girl greeted people by name as she went by, all the while searching for the troublesome boy and her whipping girl. Neither was anywhere in sight.
"King Sukal. Queen Ersian. Prince… Prince…" Arianna trailed off, having come to the last person in line.
"Leo." The prince replied, bowing to kiss the girl's hand. Arianna blinked as the prince's golden hair reflected the light in such a way that the effect had obviously been planned. "I have not had the pleasure of meeting you like this before. I am usually at my own kingdom, a very distant place, but for awhile I am visiting a relative of mine here in your kingdom. The rumors of your beauty and spirit do not seem to do you justice."
"I see." Arianna said, giggling. She rather liked this Prince. "Well, seeing as that's the case, then I simply insist that you dance with me first, to be fair." The prince laughed and straightened, looking at Arianna with his odd green eyes, and pulled her onto the dance floor. A lively tune was struck up a moment later as more people found partners and moved on to the dancing floor. "So, what relative is it you are staying with? Perhaps I know him."
"Oh, I have no doubt that you do." Prince Leo replied, grinning at the girl. "He says you have been visiting his household almost daily, searching for one of his servants." Arianna's eyes shot up as she realized who he was talking about.
"Mmm, so true." Arianna said. "The rumors say I like him, but that's nonsense. That peasant boy is simply so out-of-line that I must punish him properly." Prince Leo laughed.
"Ah, that boy is extremely fickle. He talks in riddles, does two different things while claiming to do a third, and regularly flouts the rules because he can. You shouldn't judge him too harshly, though, because if he's bugging you it is most likely because he wants to help you. He's annoying that way." Arianna nodded as the music changed to a slower, more romantic tune.
"Another dance?" Arianna suggested. Prince Leo grinned.
"I'd accept but everybody else waiting to dance with you would tear me to pieces. And since I am not quite brave enough to take your first kiss, this will have to do." He replied, kissing her on the cheek before moving off. Arianna's face was still beet red as the next man approached her. The girl danced with the Prince several more times throughout the night, growing fonder of his gentle humor and good looks each time. Finally, he excused himself because he was tired and not used to so much dancing, and moved off. Arianna chuckled quietly and finally collapsed onto her throne to rest her legs. Dancing was hard work, after all, if one was doing it for hours on end.
The music changed again to a very lively tune, and Arianna smiled as the scent of food appeared under her nose. Opening her eyes, the girl found a tray of unusually delicious-looking fancy pastries on her lap, with a note saying 'Compliments from Prince Leo'. Smiling, Arianna bit into one, marveling at how nice they were. Each bite was like an explosion of flavor, but a nice explosion.
"Mmm mmm mmm." The girl said, devouring another pastry at such a speed many servants wondered if she would choke. "These are incredible. I'll have to thank him for this." The girl said. She burped a moment later and wiped her lips with a handkerchief, blushing slightly. Stretching, the girl announced she was going to retire to her rooms and gave the pastries to a servant to store properly so she could have more in the morning. Smiling at the memories of Prince Leo, Arianna moved into her outer waiting room and found that not only was the fireplace, but the irritating boy was relaxing in a chair, smirking. "YOU!"
"Me." The boy said, laughing. "It's about time you got here. So, have fun at your party with that prince?"
"Prince Leo is a true gentlemen, unlike a spoiled brat like you. How did you get in here?" the girl asked. The boy just laughed and stood up.
"I flew." He replied mysteriously. "I flew past the guards so I could cage you." Arianna blinked, then let out a muffled scream as the boy kissed her on the lips. Chuckling, he moved out of the main doors.
"I-I can't believe he just stole my first kiss…" Arianna whispered, groaning. "What will I tell my father?" sighing, she padded into her room and stared. The fireplace there was roaring as well, but on the shelf where she usually kept the precious locket she had received years ago there was only a note. "I thought I would take a souvenir as long as I was here. Look around your room carefully. Me." Arianna scowled and looked around, and finally opened a small box that had been set onto her pillow. Another note was inside. "Now that we're both thieves, we're even. I'll be sure to give Prince Leo your fondest regards. Again, Me." The girl snarled. "That stupid, stupid, stupid boy. He's gone way too far this time." The girl tossed the box onto her floor, changed into a nightgown, and climbed into her bed for some sleep. It took her some time to finally manage it.
The next day, Arianna hurried off to the estate, searching for that boy once again. This time she was determined to punish him for daring to steal not only her precious locket, but her first kiss as well.
"Where are you, you stupid boy!?" the girl yelled. An apple hit the top of her head a moment later and, rubbing the injured spot, the girl looked up. "Oh, there you are! Get down here!"
"Why?" the boy asked, wondering if he could trick the princess into climbing into the tree so he could steal her horse as well.
"I need to punish you for your thievery!" she said. The boy held up her locket. "Give that back to me!" the boy raised an eyebrow. "Oh, fine. Please give that back to me!" he dropped the locket into her upheld hands. "Now please come down here!" the boy climbed out of the tree, and Arianna dismounted from her horse. "Why did you steal my first kiss!?"
"Because you're a thief too." The boy replied calmly. "You stole something very important from me, so I stole two things that were important from you." Arianna glared at him. "Hey, it seems fair to me…"
"It is not fair, you little brat!" Arianna shrieked. "You should have only stolen one thing, if I'd really stolen something from you, which I haven't!" the boy slowly began circling around her, a grin wide on his face.
"How much are you willing to bet that you've stolen nothing from me?" the boy asked. Arianna glared at him. He sounded like he was trying to milk something valuable out of her. The girl grinned; she wouldn't play his game by his rules. She was going to play it by hers.
"I will bet my hand in marriage." The girl said, tossing her hair back. The boy groaned.
"Darnit, I'll have to call off the bet. I don't want to marry you." He said, sounding disappointed. "Can I convince you to change it to something in the vicinity of a thousand silver coins?"
"Nah, I see enough of that…"
The boy let out a mild curse, one just strong enough that Arianna's cheeks turned slightly red instead of brilliant crimson. He muttered something and sat down against the tree, staring at the princess. She stared right back at him.
"Looks like I win this round, peasant." The princess said, smirking.
"Look at your horse." The boy replied. Arianna turned to look.
"What about her… Wait, where is she!?" the princess shrieked. The boy just shrugged.
"Maybe she didn't like you…" he said quietly. Arianna just glared at him. After a long moment, she stood up decisively and glared at him as hard as she could.
"You know what? I'm tired of waiting to get revenge on you; I'm going to get it now." She said as she walked over and bent down to look into his eyes. "You are the lowest, most wretched piece of slime the world has ever seen. I'll probably get a reward for disposing of you." The boy raised an eyebrow, an act that only served to irritate her highness further. "And do you know what exactly it is I'm going to do? I am going to tie you up in chains and drag you along the road to the castle. Once we're in there, I'll have you used as a target for the archers, but I'll give you a chestplate so none of your vitals are hit. Then I will take a knife and carve a tiny piece off of you every single day until you die."
The boy wrapped his arms around the girl, pulled her in, and kissed her.
"Looks like I win this round, Princess." The boy said, letting go of her and scrambling off before the girl could react. Arianna spit out a variety of words and terms that royal girls normally wouldn't know, and certainly wouldn't use. Once again she could come up with nothing to top what he did.
"I… Will… Get… You…" the princess said. "If it's the last thing I do, I'll kill you. I'll start by going twenty miles to find out your name; you can bet on that."