The harsh cry that broke from the sobbing woman's lips fell upon the unhearing ears of Prince Rennit, his arms crossed over his chest and his lips slightly upturned.
'Pitiful,' he thought.
The woman, shaking as she clutched at the hands of the seemingly dead man lying on the ground, stared up at him with unbelieving eyes.
To the prince's right, a scribe had been silently recording events in his tablet, when he looked up and cast a sideways glance at the shaking woman.
"Oh stars, Rennit, not again," he drawled, lowering his tablet and throwing the prince a look of pronounced disdain. "This is the third time this week. Third. I can't take you anywhere without having you turn some poor person into a statue, can I?"
Rennit stared down at the stiff, unmoving man, with his ashen cheeks and unblinking eyes, and the still-sobbing woman, before he shrugged. "He...he got in the way."
"Oh yes, he got in the way, did he? And what about that poor guy you turned last Tuesday? He was half-way up the staircase, yet you chased him through five aisles and insisted that he got in the way. What about that, hmm?" The scribe asked, tapping his pen against his tablet and raising his eyebrows at Rennit.
"He looked at me funny." Rennit said bluntly, upturning his nose and acting very much like a five year old who was being scolded by his babysitter. "I don't see what the big deal is, Scribe."
Scribe, resisting the urge to bang his head against the nearest wall, took a deep breath and turned away from the prince and towards the woman.
"My deepest condolences, Ma'am. Please excuse Prince Rennit...he's a little..."
"Get away from me, you murderers!" the woman shrieked, lashing out at him and nicking his wrist.
"Well, yes, I'd be angry too, but no need to hurt people over it," Rennit said, smiling a bit at the woman.
"Are you both insane? You just killed my husband!"
"Technically," Scribe interjected, rubbing his wrist and wincing, "he's not dead; just a statue."
"That doesn't make up for the fact that he's not alive!" the woman continued to shriek.
"Ah, yes, well I suppose it doesn't, does it?" Scribe murmured, looking back down at his tablet and scribbling a few notes.
"I think I've made that perfectly clear!" she screamed.
"Enough of this, let's go, Scribe. We'll come back tomorrow night; the sun's rising." Rennit said, turning away and leaving the horror-struck woman behind, still clutching her lifeless husband's hand.
Scribe threw a last look over his shoulder before he asked, "Don't you think you should have turned him back?"
"Ah, let the art section have him. They need a new male statue, what with all the girls I've left all over the store. That blonde, for instance." Prince Rennit said happily, side-stepping an incoming Kappa with a spring in his step.
"Ah yes, how could I forget?" Scribe muttered sardonically. "One moment she's talking on her cell phone, the next she's screaming at you to leave her alone, and the next she's made of marble. I swear, every time we come to this department store looking for a princess for you, you just end up turning all eligible girls into statues."
"Well, I wouldn't have wanted her as my princess anyway." Rennit said, "Who wants a girl who does nothing but talk on a cell phone all day?"
"You did, until she rejected you." Scribe pointed out, as they reached the staircase leading up to the department store's exit.
And just where were they? Why, they were in the Tambertesque, the Market Place for Monsters, Myths, and Magical Beings. It looked rather like a department store, with its annoying employees rushing up at the most awkward moments and asking how your day was going, making sure to smile hauntingly at you as they spoke. It had shelves packed full of normal things like sink faucets, gaudy pink sweaters, shoes and knitting supplies.
However, there were also abnormal things, like scythes (Thirty percent off on Thursdays! See the Welcoming Jester for more details!) and the enchanted, bashed in skulls of creatures not yet defined as a species (Coupons available at checkout counter. Wizardry I.D. required.).
In fact, the only thing that made it truly different than a normal department store was the fact that it was not many stories tall, but many stories below. There was a grand staircase that descended right down into the bowels of the Tambertesque from a set of great big bronze double doors. It seemed to go on forever, although it was only 2,640 steps long. (Rennit had decided to count them one day.) Children delighted in running down it, letting its momentum make them fly. Of course, when it comes to running downwards at a high speed, you can expect a few crashes to occur.
Sighing at he noticed the sunlight spilling through the large bay windows of the store, Prince Rennit tensed his shoulders and got ready to begin his sulky ascent up the staircase, the young rays of light peeking just over the horizon. The prince sighed. Another night, another miss. He had to get Scribe back to the city of Kitsalpe before the sun fully rose.
He smiled wistfully as his heavy boot hit the first step of many on the staircase, looking up to the double doors at the top. Maybe tomorrow night, he'd find the one. Yes, tomorrow night.
Jack Red pursed his lips as he stared into his make-up mirror. It was always blush. With a sigh, he reached for the tureen full of water and splashed a bit of water onto his face. He never understood why his manager required him to wear blush. He really didn't need it. In fact, the hard ruby color of a blush seemed to have been imprinted upon his high cheekbones. All males of the Red family had that signature mark.
Nevertheless, he powdered a white substance over his face, increasing his pallor, and applied the rouge to his poor, make-up abused face. Adding the necessary element to a jester costume, the star under the eye, he stood up and pulled his red and gold jugglers' hat over his hair and threw a grin at his reflection. Maybe she would come today. She almost always did in the morning. Maybe he could 'accidentally' bump into her as she wandered the store, or maybe she'd rescue him from her horrid brothers again. He smiled wistfully at the thought.
Cursing his shoes, a flimsy pair of slippers that hic-cupped his steps and damaged his speed, he slammed his dressing room door shut and walked out to the top of the staircase, peeking shyly every now and then at the bronze doors to see if she waltzed in behind her brothers in that special way of hers.
With a squeak of fright, the jester launched himself down the staircase at a magnificent speed and Ink's two lugs of brothers, Redron and Hedron, took off after him. Ink, shrugging yet intending to stop any really bad wrath, followed.
They went through this routine almost every morning when they went to the Tambertesque, and Ink Whelle, the eldest of the three, was sick of their antics and their nasty habit of chasing Jack Red, the Tambertesque's Welcoming Jester, every time they saw him.
"But jesters are s'posed to be fun, righ'?" Redron had said, attempting to reason with his angered sister. This statement didn't do much to sooth her mood.
And now here they were again, running down the staircase in a cycle of monotony. Knowing that her brothers had no chance of catching the jester if he continued running so fast, she closed her eyes and drifted away from the path her brothers were taking, choosing instead to rush down the left side of the staircase.
No one truly knows what happened next. It happened so fast. But, they supposed no one would have been looking at them, no one would have been expecting the crash that tangled limbs and mussed up hair, causing his crown to fly off and her to injure her ankle.
He had every thought to simply transform her into a statue and get on with his life, but when he saw her face, all thought of that vanished completely. As soon as he saw her face, a face framed by thick, short black hair that seemed to tangle easily, his voice cut out right as he began to scream "WHY, I-". Her eyes were wide and she winced as she gingerly touched her ankle.
"...ought to be more careful." Rennit finished, his voice quiet and breathy, as he stared, struck, at her. She stared back, one of her eyebrows raised in a questioning manner.
Scribe looked on, the corners of his mouth lifting up in a half-smirk, and scrawled a note on his tablet.
"Rennit. Prince Rennit." he said, still in that light, demure tone, as he stretched out his hand for her to shake.
"So I've noticed." Ink replied, looking down at the golden crown she held in her hands.
There were three rubies on it; just three, crowded on one side of it. "I take it this is yours?"
"Ah...yes." Rennit replied, his usually blue-tinged cheeks turning just the slightest color of red.
Behind the prince, Scribe's smirk became all the more pronounced; that is, until he noticed the position of the sun. With wide eyes, he poked the prince in the shoulder and whispered urgently, "Rennit...the sun.", causing the dumb-struck prince to whip his head around and look at the brightened windows in horror.
"Oh...stars!" he yelped, standing up and grabbing hold of Scribe's wrist, yanking him with him farther up the staircase. Ink watched, her hands still clutching the shining crown, as the prince called over his shoulder, "Have to go! Keep it--I'll fetch it tomorrow!" and disappeared as the brightness of the outside engulfed them when they passed through the double doors.
Ink stayed where she was, mouth slightly agape, as the panting form of Jack Red appeared behind her.
"I...Ink...thank...the stars...you're alright!" he panted, crouching down as he breathed heavily, no doubt because of the running he'd been doing for the past ten minutes.
Ink didn't reply; she was too busy still staring in wonder at the gleaming, bejeweled treasure in her hands.
AN: lol idk. I wrote this a long time ago; 40 chapters of it, actually. I've decided to revise it and post it. I hope you all liked it! :D