19. A Prince to Poison

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As in any story, the narrator chooses where to part the curtain. What to allow you to see, what to hide. In essence, the narrator has a lot of responsibility not to bore you with a bunch of drivel about characters using the chamber pot or picking food out of their teeth, but to give you enough information, so you're not confused.

For example, if in one scene the heroine is plotting sexual revenge in the Jacuzzi room, and the next she's creeping into an all-male entourage of heavily-armed, snoring, farting courtiers, guards, cooks, squires, and a one-eyed magician, the narrator has some pretty big holes to fill in.

You might say to yourself, "how did the heroine find herself there? (Keep reading.) Did The Vault give her a better masculine disguise, which perhaps included a jaunty Vandyke beard, mustache, and a codpiece the size of a teapot? (Yes.) Did she have to climb out the window once again? (Of course.) Did she remember to take some sustenance? (Yes, bannocks and a wineskin of whisky.) How did Louis react to the unicorn-napping of his mate, Louisa? (When Ashley showed him the bottle of Wane & Tale, he quieted immediately.) Did Ashley and Gerald finally kiss? (No, sorry. Way too soon.)

Once Ashley took to the skies, more questions might occur to you, dear reader:

Was the unicorn flight uneventful? (No.) Did she argue with Louisa along the way? (Yes.) Did she nearly fly into seven church spires and fourteen trees? (Yes.) Were there at least twenty-one times she thought she was insane? (YES!) Was she able to locate the entourage from the sky? (Yes. They were in a clearing, surrounding an evil campfire.) Did she run into any orcs, dragons, trolls, cantankerous parsnips, or apple-throwing trees in said forest? (Thank goodness, no.)

All of these questions are entirely valid.

Trust me. Your narrator cares about you deeply. She wants you to be informed and keep you on the edge of your seat. For this reason, she's decided to start with our heroine, Ashley, landing in the Forbidden Forest on her jittery stead and beginning her stealthy trek through untold horrors to reach the royal entourage—a swarm of unwashed male bodies in the middle of a clearing.

I hope that's okay with you.

👑👑👑

The first thing Ashley did when Louisa touched-down a quarter-mile from Charming's encampment was breathe a sigh of relief so profound every bird for a two-mile radius fell asleep due to the precipitous barometric drop in anxiety. The second thing she did was pick bugs out of her teeth. (No one anticipates this unfortunate dental side-effect of unicorn flight.)

By the dim light of the low-lying moon, which strained to be visible through the thick blackness of the Forbidden Forest, Ashley stumbled off Louisa's back and promptly fell into an aggressive patch of blackberry brambles.* In no mood for another setback, Ashley retaliated by relieving her full bladder on said brambles, at which point they whimpered like scolded puppies. She did feel a little bad about distressing them, but quickly got over the guilt when she got a good look at her scratched and bleeding fingers. How many passersby had suffered their thorny wrath? Blackberry vines lured the hungry with the promise of sweet fruit but tortured them for trying to partake.

Ashley stumbled out of the brambles back toward Louisa, whose ears and wings were pinned back as her sides rose and fell as vigorously as a bellows. "That was ..." Louisa neighed, breathlessly.

"I know! We made it alive."

"No, it was ..."

" ... great that we didn't get shot?" Ashley supplied.

Louisa shuddered. "No ..."

"Then what? Tell me. I have a prince to poison."

"Never mind."

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