This is my first story on Fiction Press - I really hope I get some reviews, and I hope it amuses some of you!


Slipping her feet into the small, perfectly enamelled shoes, Tayla smiled. Tonight, for the first time in a year, she was going to be able to see her best friend, Arja, Princess of Zardia.

The maid behind her wrenched cruelly on the ties holding the metal and bone contraption around her. It tightened until Tayla though ribs were going to start snapping in the snake-like grip. Panting, she held out a hand.

"Enough, please." Anymore, and her eyes would pop with pressure.

The maid gave one last tug, and tied them off. Tayla's hand went to her sausaged torso. Her torturer, otherwise known as a maid, slipped her dress on, and started doing it up with practiced movements that spoke of years of expertise.

Her amber eyes lifted to look in the mirror. A reflection of a curvy woman in a forest green dress stared back at her, hair falling over her shoulders. The dress cupped her front, and flared just at the hips, ruffling into layers and layers of bunched material. The front had a tapering triangle of gems crusting the bodice. Her shoulders and arms were bare, accented by the neck collar she wore.

A small smile graced her lips. Once in a while, it was fun to get dressed up. Who knew if there was a cute guy there?

"Tayla! I didn't know that you were coming! You should have sent me a letter or something. I know that Sliya is far away and that Rendao probably didn't let you but you should have warned me. I would have been much more willing to come."

She grinned at her best friend, knowing that she had had no idea that Tayla was coming. It hadn't been set in stone that she would even make it to this event in the first place. Tayla mentally noted that Arja seemed a bit…different than she remembered. Well, that was to be expected after a year, but…this was a different type of off. She kept on zoning out. Most unusual.

"Sorry Arja but I was busy. Rendao had me playing translator again on some Elvin documents we captured recently. I don't know why he doesn't just learn to speak it himself. If he is going to be king he will have to get used to it."

She rolled her amber eyes as Arja snickered. She could just envision the imagery in Arja's highly unflattering mind. When the two of them had met for the first time, almost a decade ago, they had instantly hit it off. The little girls had jabbered to each other in Elvin, shot with each other, and decided that best friends for life they would be. So far, it was still holding true.

"Well I am not sure if he would be capable of learning such a sophisticated language as Elvin." Tayla blinked, and switched to Elvin as Arja quietly asked, "How is Sliya doing? I noticed that King Triode looked rather nervous. Your father isn't one to get nervous quickly- he doesn't seem to feel much. Is it about the war? Sliya is rather close to Faeladalin, the elves country."

Tayla smiled, lips pulled tight. "No it isn't that. Our country is not adjusting well to Rendao's new policies. Personally, I can't understand his viewpoint. How will raising taxes under the cover of war needs help our economy? Our people are overtaxed as is! Asking them for an extra two percent will not help. And now since we are so financially and economically ruined, Rendao is suggesting an alliance with Kaou! Of course this kind of alliance would have to be finalized with a marriage. Precious Rendao can't be asked to marry a Kaou royal- no since he is the crown prince I have to marry into the Kaou family! that is what my father is so nervous about! He is currently selling his daughter in exchange for security and I will be forced to marry either Nichle or Severn! I-I…"

The rant did her much good - she no longer felt like screaming. Although, if someone around here was obliging, she would definitely punch them out. Her voice hadn't gone up at all, something she was working very hard on. The closest it had gotten was hissing venomously in Elvish. The diplomacy training was definitely coming in handy.

Glancing into Arja's blue eyes, she saw sympathy. She knew the inner struggle that Tayla would be having. It was a debate between duty to ones country, as even a child would be able to see the obvious benefit of Sliya making a joining with Kaou. They were side by side and it would increase all of their treasuries.

She could see all the advantages, yes. She did not want to become a puppet though.

"Tayla, I know you are too good for any prince that you don't love. There is still the option of falling for one of them…." Tayla gave a pointed look to her friend. Arja's voice trailed off. "Um, maybe not. The deal could be called off? It isn't finalized yet is it?"

Smiling a little, trying to comfort her friend, she spoke quietly, "Only a idiot wouldn't take the deal. And King Nord is no idiot. The deal will be struck and I must decide on what I am going to do."

Straightening up and lifting her head, Tayla breathed in and released, looking resolute.

"I will decide when I need to what my choice will be. Now Arja, something is different about you."

Her lips quirked into a teasing smirk - there had been something a little off about Arja all evening.

"What happened? Severn kiss you or something?" she asked jokingly - that prince had had the hots for Arja for a while.

"Actually, now that you mention it…yes."

Tayla`s face froze. She blinked slowly in great shock, trying to absorb what she had just been told - he had actually did it?

Arja continued, "Well I suppose I should give you the whole story…" Arja's face blanked for a moment, then seemed to return to normal.

"Okay. First off, I'm not lying to you." Tayla grinned.

"You know, that's the first thing a liar says." She noted the scowl on Arja's voice, and the distant look again. She narrowed her eyes, concerned. "Arja?"

Arja looked at her. "Simple. Really simple. I'm hearing voices."

Tayla started in shock, then stared at Arja. "For real?"

Arja nodded. "They speak in Elvin. Yesterday, the first voice told me I was his. I was bathing - talk about freaky."

Shuddering, Tayla closed her amber eyes for a moment. "Stalker."

Nodding again, Arja smiled a little. A laugh escaped her. "That's what I said."

"And the others?" Tayla prodded. She noted how Arja's eyes seemed to dim at irregular intervals during the entire conversation - it worried her. Arja wasn't a liar, so that meant that she actually was hearing these voices.

"Then, I heard two others, whom I call Pervert and Frosty. So far, all they do is throw out perverted and sarcastic commentary on everything I do." She zoned out again, and Tayla blinked. After ten seconds, she was still zoned out, a dazed smile on her lips.

"Sorry to break up your romantic conversation, but I have few questions. Understandable of course due to the fact thatmy best friend just told me that she has voices in her head and has named them. In this situation I must ask a few questions." She needed to know a few facts.

Arja let out a heavy breath and nodded. "Go for it."

Tayla closed her eyes then opened them, eyes sparking. "Is there an enemy in your head? Has one of them tried to hurt you? I know you probably made them up with your overactive imagination so how about trying to get rid of them? Is this Frosty cute?"

Seeing Arja's face at that comment, Tayla giggled. "Sorry. I couldn't resist."

"Understandable," Arja commented. "So to the first- I don't think so. They haven't tried to hurt me in anyway…As for the last- I'll ask."

Tayla briskly nodded once and stepped back to let her friend talk to her head. Tayla frowned. When you put it that way it did seem a bit weird…maybe she was mentally unstable? That didn't seem that…reasonable for Arja… maybe that kiss with Severn had scrambled her brains?

For the next few minutes Arja's face twisted into amazing contortions. For a while she appeared to be shouting, then she frowned and finally, most interestingly, she blushed. Tayla bit her lip, and gasped. Arja was falling over. She caught the girl in her arms, and tried to hide the fact she had fallen by tugging the girl the few feet to the balcony. It was quite chilly out - no one else was on the balcony.

Setting Arja on the deck, she squatted beside her, unsure whether or not she should slap her and wake her or leave her. Finally, she settled on watching her carefully.

A sound behind her made her whirl around. Severn stood in front of her, a cocky grin on his lips. "Hey. What are you doing here where it is cold? Want me to warm you up?"

Okay, scratch the part where he had the hots for Arja - this creep liked anything with two legs and a top! "No, thank you for your kind and generous offer." Shifting in front of Arja, she adjusted her dress. She couldn't let his see Arja in this vulnerable state - who knew what he'd do then?

Her eyes flashed fire as his blue eyes wandered down her dress, darkening a little bit. "Nice dress. I think that you would look good no matter what you wore - even nothing."

Tayla clenched her fist, wishing in vain that she had the rank to slap him across the face as hard as she could. It would be less than he deserved.

He continued, smirking at her red and angry face. "I noticed that your sister and mother are wearing white."

"Oh, your powers of observation are thrilling," Tayla interjected, eyes flaming golden with anger.

He continued without losing a beat. "I couldn't help but notice that you aren't, and I wondered why?"

He moved forwards, and started to lean closer. She panicked. If he got too much closer, he'd be able to see Arja, leaning against the railing. Pushing back against his chest, she blinked once up at him. Arja, you owe me big time. Time for ditzy act, and hopefully he fell for it. Managing to push him across the balcony, she made sure that they were around the corner, so he could not see Arja. As she pushed, she talked, loudly. Maybe Arja would hear her, and wake up? "It's the funniest story, really! I had my white dress on, and I thought that if I stayed out of trouble, the dress would stay clean.

"Really, who designs white dresses anyways? Well, other than for weddings and stuff like that. So, I was hungry, but Mother told me to stay away from the kitchen - I was, honest! I walked past it, yes, but I didn't go inside. Then, a maid walked out, and she slammed into me! This rainbow of dyes spattered all over!" She flung her hands out dramatically, 'accidentally' slapping Severn. "Turns out, it was permanent, and I wasn't coming here wearing a disgusting thing like that!"

Severn grinned, hand still holding his cheek. She noticed that he wasn't very bright - then again he wasn't looking at her face at all, rather, he was looking about…ten inches below her face. Pervert. She hated men who weren't even remotely interested in what a girl had to say.

Then again, this was good - ish. As long as he didn't look over to where Arja was leaning against the wall, all was well. She was distracted from her mental deliberations when Severn's voice echoed huskily in her ear. "I didn't know you were like this - I have to tell you I like this side of you. Much more sexy with you pushing me into a secluded corner like this."

Before she could slap him away, or try and find a way out of this he was kissing her. She froze in shock. This was…assault! She pulled away, trying to get some distance between her, and the overly friendly prince.

He just started nibbling her ear. A voice whispered in her ear.

"Well, considering you might me my fiancée in a few months, why don't we get in some practice?"

Arms slid around her waist, and whirled her around, so her back was to the wall. She could barely move, and it wasn't like she had anywhere to run. Soft lips were on hers again. His blue eyes stared into hers, and his hands started moving; one up, the other down.

She closed her eyes. I'm sorry, but screw diplomacy. Tightening her fist, she socked him in the stomach. At first, it seemed smarter to hit his face, but that would leave a very noticeable mark - she didn't want to invite international trouble. If she hit him in the torso, he'd have to tell someone. Hopefully he was man enough not to tell.

He groaned, and crumpled down. She moved gingerly around him, heading for Arja. Once she got there, she shook her friend harshly - it was time to snap out of it.

"Arja, hey, Arja, wake up!" she hissed, smacking Arja's arm lightly. The brunette moaned slightly, her eyes fuzzy. Slowly, the blue orbs focus.

"Huh...What did you do that for? I was just getting to a good part in the conversation." Arja nearly spat in Elvin.

Tayla started to glare at her best friend. "Don't give me that! You've been out for ten minutes!"

"What? 10 minutes? That is longer that I thought it was...Maybe its because i was having such fun teasing Frosty...How did you get the swollen lips?"

Self consciously, she wiped her arm across her lips to rid them of the evidence. "Don't ask." She wanted her to drop the topic - inspiration came to mind. "So…what does this Frosty look like? What did he have to say?"

Her amber eyes were sparking with interest, but she was still a tad concerned for Arja - who knew how this would end?

A half snort, half cackle came from Arja's throat. Instantly, Tayla was concerned for her sanity. "Well, there was a difference of opinion and lets say, he doesn't look very good in a dress."

To say the least, Tayla was shocked. Confusion was running rampant through her body. She froze, then looked into Arja's eyes. "Is he a transvestite? How do you know he looks bad in a dress?"

Arja snickered again, only this time it was much more a cackle than a snort. "No, he isn't a trans, although that would explain a lot." For a moment, Arja's eyes went completely blank, then came back. "Well, his first description of himself was the most enlightening . He sees himself as having watermelon rind eyes and fluffy blood-soaked mud hair. Perverts opinion is that he looks horrible in the dress."

Tayla blinked a few times in shock, trying to comprehend the information. Arja's face was blank, again. How much did this happen? "I see. Any other enlightening commentary from the elusive brainiacs?"

"Well just now he was rather upset that I thought him a trans and the others found it hilarious. He also wants me to turn my head and look at some thing." Arja spoke as she turned her head to the side, face blank.

Tayla gasped. This 'thing' had so much power over Arja, it could control where she looked?! Reaching out, she grabbed Arja, and tried to shake sense into her. "What! You're listening to him! He has contirol over your body?! Don't listen, Arja, resist!" She continued shaking the slender girl, suddenly sure that Arja was in danger if she kept on listening to these so called 'Voices'.

An evil smirk came across Arja's tanned face as she stayed in Tayla's hands. "No, he wants me to look at the punch bowl. Personally I think that the door is much more fascinating."

Relived, Tayla let go of her friend. "Yes, I agree. Don't listen to him - I think you should really try to get rid of him. I'm worried about you. you keep on zoning out when talking to him."

A scowl graced Arja's smooth face. "Do I? I will have to get a handle on that." Her face smoothed of everything, a completely blank map of human flesh.

A few seconds later, her face came to life, lividly angry. "Oh, why you…" A sound, oddly reminiscent of a snarl rumbled from between her teeth. "Hey, Tayla. Let's go get a nice, big glass of punch, alright?"

Amber eyes clouded in confusion. "Um...sure, I guess I'm a little thirsty after Severn." Her teeth clenched, and she started marching towards the drink table, muttering. "Shoving his tongue down my throat." A shudder ripped through her body.

Arja's white hand grabbed her tanned arm. " Wait, back up a second- what was that last comment? He got you too?!? Maybe we should give him a nice present...an new hunting arrow sounds about right to me." Her face, at first so dark and foreboding suddenly blanked. She muttered. "Spoil sport."

"I think that is a fabulous idea, oh friend of mine." A scowl carved her face. "Wait - spoil sport - meaning Frosty?" The scowl became a full fledged glare. "Tell him that you are a free woman, and if a man kisses you she is allowed to use physical violence. Besides, just imagine smacking Frosty with a hammer later on tonight or something." She smirked, the glare lightening. "Maybe that'll shut him up"

Arja chuckled for a moment, then was abruptly silent. A few moments later she snorted. "That was fun! I've got to do that more often!" She laughed again, and spoke through her laughter, speaking the human tongue now. "Now on to the punch bowl - no delays!"

The two moved through the crowd like wraiths, converged on the drink table, and each picked up a carved glass flute of ruby red liquid.

Tayla looked into the drink and scowled. The color was the exact same as Severn's shirt. She downed it angrily in one gulp. A screamingly bright color at the corner of her eye caught her attention. She poked Arja in the side, causing her to flinch and almost drop her glass. "Um…how about that arrow?"

Arja knocked back her glass, reached for another and scowled, drinking it down as well. "All I have on me is my daggers...My bow wouldn't fit." She staggered a bit, leaning against the table, and drinking one more small flute of punch. "Its such a shame that I ... whoa...I'm kind of dizzy."

The world spun a bit, in an interesting and wonderful way. "This is really good punch. Like, really really good. I really like this stuff - what is in this?" Tayla weaved back and forth, eyes dilating and focusing swiftly. A blotch of red was in her vision. She looked up into Severn's handsome face. "Try this - it's really good, I promise." Thrusting the half-full glass into his hand, she stepped away, towards Arja. Suddenly, she paused, instantly feeling a little more alert.

Arja's face was really blank. Much blanker than before. Her face then opened, and twisted. Her eyes - they were in a twirled pattern of green and blue and more narrowed than Arja usually had them, like someone else was looking through them. The way she stood was distinctly more feline, and more powerful, almost…masculine looking.

"Arja? Are you…alright?" Amber eyes narrowed in worry. Arja looked into Tayla's eyes deeply, the green and blue swirling in a ying yang pattern.

"I am not that irritating human." Tayla froze in surprise and shock. Arja's voice answered, but she spoke slower, and more melodically. Not to mention in Elvin. Suddenly, Arja looked down at herself. "What the-" Her eyes widened, the only symbol of shock and surprise on Arja's face. Tayla nearly popped her eyes out in surprise when Arja cupped her breasts. Instantly, Arja dropped them, and flushed brilliant red. A slight jump was executed after this - Tayla had no idea why, but the impostor seemed to be quite frazzled at being somewhere they should not. Her eyes narrowed. If the way the person had acted was any indication, that person-impostor was a male. Arja's frantic, shocked voice spoke again, chopping her mental rambling. "I am a female?!? Explain why I am in this...form, friend of Arja's. I presume that you are the one called Tayla."

Pursing her lips, she crossed her arms over her chest. "You presume correctly. Am I right in assuming I have the displeasure of addressing the one known as Frosty?"

"That is another correct assumption. You are the one, if memory serves correctly, who suggested that she hit me over the head with a hammer? She used your advice most…liberally in a verbal matter." It was extremely disorienting to see Arja raise an eyebrow in apparent thought. Arja had never done that before. "Indeed it might be that this ...switch occurred from a mutual desire to hurt each other."

Red flashed in Tayla's overprotective mind. Her hand smashed forwards of its own accord, and smashed Arja/Frosty in the stomach. "You wanted to hurt her!? You cretin!" That blindingly bright red shirt was in her vision again. She grabbed the impostor's arm, and dragged a resisting, and slow moving Arja. It seemed that Frosty didn't actually have much experience in a dress at all.

"What is this ...restraining device on my legs?!" A thin hiss slid from between Arja's teeth. "I cannot move and my side keeps moving sideways!" A panicked and shocked expression was in her eyes, but the rest of Arja's face was kept completely smooth.

Tayla chuckled darkly. "Well, you proved you aren't a transvestite, I'll give you that much." She turned, and pushed Arja against a wall. "Where is Arja - what have you done with her! Give her back her mind!"

The voice she heard was desperate. "I would if I knew how!"

Suddenly, Tayla blinked slowly. Her body felt really…off. It had been for a while now - she wasn't usually the type for…violence at all. What was wrong with her? Her vision flickered a bit as she slid slowly down the wall beside the not-Arja beside her.

Quite gentlemanly, Arja looked over at her and spoke. "Are you quite alright?"

Tayla blinked, trying to dispel the fog in her brain. "Yeah - I just…woah, head rush."

Arja leaned in closer to Tayla. "Your breathing has elevated, and pupils are dilated." Suddenly, Frosty breathed in sharply. "Listen close, alright? You're going to lose consciousness soon - remember this. There is a man here with dark eyes, thin lips, greasy, long hair and a blue suit with gold piping. Do not trust him, understand!"

Tayla smiled slightly. The whole world was going fuzzy, and Arja's lips moving were all she could see. Apparently, she was saying something. Or since it was guy in Arja's head, did that make it a guy? Or was it still a girl? It was too confusing.

Faintly she heard her own voice. "What should I call you? Frosty?"

Just before falling face first into blackness, she heard his reply. "Call me Iauron."