Chapter 35: The Impenetrable Castle Studio

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As soon as her foot touched down in New Delhi, Kim broke out into a run. Time was of the essence. If she did not solve the mystery of who leaked her villainess footage, and set things right as quickly as possible, all would be lost, and she would be banished back to the dark hell of the C-list, or worse. 

Since the footage had clearly been stolen from director Ram Patel’s castle studio, that was where she went. 

She was stopped at the gate by two armed guards, carrying pens and messy piles of ancient-looking paper. 

“Halt,” the guards said. “We are the Script Supervisors. State your name and business.”

“I am Kim of House Kardashian and I seek an audience with Ram Patel on a matter of urgency most grave.”

The guards conferred silently with their scripts, then turned back to Kim. 

“We were not made aware of this scene. No visitors. Fast forward and be on your way.”

“But I must speak with him,” Kim pleaded. “His filmmaking empire may be in jeopardy!”

The guards shared a small laugh as they drew themselves up to their full height and uncapped their pens, brandishing their razor-fine tips. “No visitors. No exceptions. Walk away while you still can, Kim of House Kardashian.”

“Ugh whatever,” Kim said. She played the Scissors emoji and a half a dozen scissors flew out of her phone and began tearing and snipping away at the pages of the guards’ script. In the ensuing panic she invoked the No Pedestrians emoji, knocking them off balance and sending them falling to their floor, their pens scattering away and the pages of the script flying in every direction.

“Don’t worry boys,” Kim said, running past them. “Maybe you can fix this scene in post.”

Once inside the castle studio, Kim found herself in the Great Hall. Ram was seated at his desk, surrounded by his crack team of elite filmmaking professionals. Each of them possessed a highly specified magical skill. She recognized many of them from The Big Wish shoot and knew their powers all too well. The Cinematographer, who controlled people’s mood and appearance. The Stunt Coordinator, with her ninja-like parkour abilities and her imperviousness to fire. The Clapper, with his razor-sharp clapper board. The Key Grip, wielding his fearsome and potent magical Key.

Ram looked lazily up from his work, seemingly unsurprised or unconcerned by Kim’s presence in his studio castle.

“And what is this?” he asked.

“Mr Patel, please,” Kim began. “Your studio has been compromised. Some footage from The Big Wish was stolen and has been leaked online. The footage has not only damaged my character and reputation, but it also contains spoilers, and the very act of its appearance online constitutes piracy. I come not only to warn you, but to discover who has perpetrated these crimes, and make them pay.”

The speech came out better than Kim had hoped. Her needs and Ram’s were aligned. With his elite team of filmmaking professionals at her side there was nothing they could not accomplish, no evil that could not be righted.

Ram took his time responding, seeming to carefully regard Kim’s words. 

Finally he turned back to the dusty parchment script he was reviewing. 

“There has been no leak,” he said, waving her away. “My studio has not been compromised, by pirates or by anyone else.”

Kim had not expected this response at all. Did he not understand what was at stake? “What? No, please, Mr Patel. It’s all over social media. The footage of me acting as a villain that we filmed right here, yesterday. Someone must have broken in and stolen it during the wrap party.”

Ram raised a question with his eyebrows, looked curiously over at his Boom Operator, whose control of sonic waves was the stuff of legend. She shook her head at Ram, to erase the question.

“You are mistaken, Miss Kardashian. Our vault is quite secure. Leave my studio at once. We have films to complete and you are entirely too distracting.”

“Please!” Kim begged. “There is a leak! Someone is trying to sabotage me! If I could see the vault perhaps I could weave a spell to reconstruct the burglary. I know Willow Pape is behind this, I can fix this for both of us, I just need your help!”

“You say Willow Pape is behind this?” Ram said. “But my reports indicate she was outside the club, having a very loud and visible argument with you during this so-called, “burglary”, as you say. So how can that be?”

“I...I don’t know,” Kim admitted. “A glamour, or a time-travel spell perhaps. But I am certain she is behind this. I just need proof.”

A wave of quiet laughter roiled through the room, among the filmmakers.

“You will not find it here. Your business with Willow Pape is your own, of no concern to us. The studio is quite secure, as is our vault, and all the filmmaking secrets it contains. You have reached the end of my courtesy, Miss Kardashian. I’ll thank you to remove yourself from my presence.”

Ram gave a quick, almost imperceptible motion and two burly giants strode forward. Kim recognized them as The Weapons Master and The Best Boy. Before she could react they had each grabbed one of her arms and were dragged her out of the hall. 

“No! Wait! Mr Patel, please!”

“Goodbye, Miss Kardashian,” Ram Patel called after her. “Enjoy your stay in New Delhi, although I hope it will not be a lengthy one.”

The Weapons Master and the Best Boy threw Kim out into the street and walked back into the castle studio. Kim stood up and dusted off her outfit.

“What the HELL. RUDE!” Kim said. Even if he didn’t want to help did they have to ruin a perfectly good Alexander McQueen? UGH! She vowed revenge. Another time. She had to think quickly and figure out a Plan B. 

Maybe there was another way into the studio? If she could find an unattended window she could use the Snail emoji to scale the building and get inside? Maybe? It was worth a shot. 

She turned the corner and ran through the open air market, looking for a way around to the back of Ram’s castle studio. The market was dusty and crowded, with rugs and  clothing hanging from everywhere, flapping in the breeze and making it difficult to see. It was close and hot and crowded and noisy, and her senses were flooded, so that she didn’t notice until it was already happening, when a hand reached out from inside one of the stalls, grabbed a tight hold of her arm, and pulled her into an alleyway before she could even scream.

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