Do you dream of me in the next life?
Violet cried into her bedroom pillow. She turned from her face down position onto her back and hugged the pillow.
“Why did I…”
"Sorry Sweetie. I'm too busy to hang out today. Maybe next week?"
"You said that last week! And the month before that. When can I be with you?"
Lucy took out her tele-crystal. She was about to speak until she looked through her window and saw Alice with someone else at the castle entrance.
"Let them in, I want to hear them out."
"A-Are you sure my queen?" questioned Charles.
"Absolutely. Please bring them to me."
"As you wish." he sighed.
Violet was speechless. She stood there open mouthed, then her lips quivered and her eyes shut for a moment. Tears rained down her face.
"Y-You pinky promised. Remember? A promise must be kept...you taught me that."
"Why can't we be together like all those times!? When we read books together, played hide and seek, or when we danced to music?"
"Because I am queen! As queen, the people of Illusha have expectations of me. I can't ignore my responsibilities. You have responsibilities as princess to study. One day, you'll be queen-"
"Who cares about responsibilities!"
"Go to your room!"
"You can't tell me what to do! You're not my mother!"
Lucy was shocked. Violet felt surprised and ran into the hallway. With tears in her eyes, she saw Charles with two strangers. Then she ran into her room.
“…Why did I do that!?”
Violet rolled back and forth in her bed. Eventually, she slowed to a stop and sat up.
“Maybe I’ll read that book again.”
Three Nightmares were running. A Nightmare signaled them along the way, avoiding the patrolling guards as they hid behind the topiaries. When the group approached the castle, one of the Nightmares tossed a grappling hook onto the roof. They swiftly ascended. The last Nightmare tapped the grappling hook away in their magic. Then the leader of the group donned his hat and took out a handheld mirror.
“How do I look?” said the leader.
“Like perfection itself!”
“Oh, stop,” he took rope out of his magic and tossed part of it to them. “Alright, don’t mess this up. I know not everyone can be as beautiful as I, Cortez! But this plan must not fail.”
Cortez walked across the roof. When the two Nightmares were ready, he jumped off facing them.
“How about this? Nope. Maybe that one? Nah…” said Violet.
Cortez was beside the window. He peeped over and saw the princess.
“Hmm…could it be over here?” she turned around and headed towards the window.
Cortez smirked. “Showtime.”
“Stay back! Or else.” the Nightmare growled.
“H-Help me!” whimpered Violet.
Josie back-peddled in anger and Lucy followed suit.
“Great. Beautiful…I commend your tact!”
He rushed out the window. After that he spun around. Nightmare energy was unleashed from his sword and propelled them to land on top of the building ahead.
“I’ll save her!” exclaimed Josie.
She quickly flew out the window.
“You’re highness! Let’s follow them by-” Charles saw Lucy jump out the window.
“Foot,” he sighed. “Follow me, miss Alice.”
Violet squirmed and squirmed but she couldn’t buy herself freedom from his tight grip.
“Not a chance, kid. I, Cortez, must kidnap you. Momma can get you back if she gives Illusha to-”
“Heeey!” shouted a voice.
“Let her go!” Josie was flying behind them.
He swung his sword. Nightmare energy thrusted forth in a wide, sweeping stroke. Josie managed to dodge it. More attacks swooshed onward. She barrel-rolled and countered with her own dream energy, which exploded upon impact.
“So annoying. I can’t swat that dragon down. Unless…” he said to himself.
The Nightmare stopped in his tracks and slid to face Josie. Nightmare energy swelled in his sword until he released it. Josie countered with dream energy. An explosion occurred, but the Nightmare energy kept going. She braced herself for the inevitable collision since she had no time to dodge.
A strong gust of wind intercepted it. The explosive force knocked Josie off balance and caused her to flip like a coin.
“Wah, my head is spinning…wait, is that?” she thought to herself.
Lucy stood there holding a rapier sword. The kidnapper was slack jawed for a moment until he regained his confident composure.
“Impressive. Not many people can best my charging technique.” he said.
“Flattery will get you nowhere. Who are you!?”
He laughed. “Cortez of the Order, at your service.”
“Then could you be of service and give me my daughter back?”
“Nope. Your cute daughter stays with me.”
Lucy let loose another burst of wind from her sword. Cortez jumped away and continued his rooftop run. They kept up their pursuit while magic projectiles were shot at both of them. Josie closed the distance gap and flew in to knock him off his feet. He dodged it only to block Lucy’s sword. Neither blade budged an inch. Cortez smirked and his sword glowed to her dismay. An explosion ensued.
Josie landed on the roof and ran towards Lucy. She gave her a hand and raised her off the ground. Suddenly, Lucy’s tele-crystal hummed.
“We saw a huge explosion just now. Are you ok!?” said Charles.
“I’m f-fine. I used wind magic the last second to shield me somewhat.”
“Is Josie ok!?” panicked Alice.
“Yeah, I’m ok. Where are you guys?”
Charles answered. “On the streets nearby. A group of Nightmares slowed us down for a while. Do you have Violet?”
“Not yet. Does anyone have any ideas on how to stop him?” asked Lucy.
Alice watched the knights who were still fighting the Nightmares. She looked at the knight who guarded their backs. Inspiration struck her like lightning at that moment.
“Excuse me, could I borrow that?”
“Uh, sure.” answered the knight.
Charles turned around. “Did you think of something?”
Charles and Alice ran down the street. When they got into position, Charles took out the big, circular shield.
She jumped on to the shield, she took a knee and held on to the rim. Charles lifted the shield up and tossed it. Alice steadily rose up as the shield got closer and then jumped down on the roof. To make sure she was at the right place, her eyes swept the area.
“There he is. Good…now I’ve got to use magic I never used before. Here goes nothing.” she thought to herself.
Alice pressed her hands against the roof. A mist formed, followed by ice that made a crackling sound. The whole roof became caked in twinkling ice in a matter of minutes.
Josie arrived and hovered. “All done?”
Alice was held in a princess carry. Josie found a safe street to land and placed her there.
“Have to admit, this must be the craziest thing I’ve ever seen you do.”
“I know. But it was worth trying.” she laughed.
Josie laughed along. “…You feeling ok?”
“My heart is still beating fast. I need a moment to catch my breath…”
A sound caught their attention. Explosions were coming closer and closer.
“Be right back!” Josie took flight.
Lucy zipped past the slashes which attempted to pelt her.
“Almost there…gotta keep this woman away.” said Cortez.
She took a swipe at him, which forced him to jump away and use his Nightmare energy. Suddenly on the next building, he began to frantically wiggle and slid across the ice.
Cortez slipped off the roof. He let go of Violet mid-fall. Josie swooped in and grabbed her, then placed her on the street below. Eyebrows furrowed, she flapped back to Cortez who was about to use his Nightmare energy again.
“Guh-fah!” he said in pain.
He crashed so hard into the solid surface below that a crater formed underneath him. Josie, Alice, Lucy, Charles, and Violet assembled along with knights at every direction.
“Give up! You’re surrounded.” announced Lucy.
Cortez staggered to his feet. He licked his finger and put out a fire on his hat then raised his hands. Suddenly he spotted something above.
“Cortez surrenders,” he jumped on a big Nightmare bird. “To no one! Ha Ha!”
Charles looked on as he flew away. “Cortez of the Order…no wonder he gave us much trouble.”
“What is the Order?” asked Josie.
“The order is an elite group of Nightmares. In history’s past, they used to be known as a group of heroes who protected anyone in need. Now they only listen to the Nightmare King.”
Violet sprinted and hugged Lucy.
“I’m sorry!…I’m sorry! I’m sorry for saying that you’re not my mom!” tears streamed down her face.
Lucy held her close and patted her head.
“It’s okay. I should be the one apologizing. I shouldn’t have made a promise I can’t keep. You made me realize I should put more effort into being with you now – in the present.”
“I love you momma!”
“I love you too.” She cried with a smile on her face.
Alice placed a hand on her chest. “It all worked out in the end. Thank goodness.”
Josie looked at the smiling Alice for a moment. “Yeah.”
Lucy, Charles, and Violet approached Josie and Alice.
“Thank you for saving my daughter. I’m forever grateful to you both.”
Violet bowed her head. “Thank you very much!”
“You’re welcome!” said Josie and Alice.
“Um, about what we talked about before all this happened…” asked Alice.
“Right, you two wanted to know if I could give you an army. Considering today’s events, I cannot help you. The Nightmare Kingdom may act again. However, if you ever need anything else, just say so.”
“We understand. Thank you for listening to us!” said Josie.
“No problem! Goodbye for now.”
Lucy, Charles, and Violet left for the castle. Josie took out the map from her magic.
“Our next destination is the Water Kingdom?” inquired Alice.
“Yep. Somewhere to the west of here.”
“Alright. Probably a good idea to leave now and pick a spot for lunch.”
“Sounds good to me!”
Later, Violet finished reading a book and kneeled down to slide it back into the bookshelf.
She looked at her hand and shook it. When she saw how her hand remained normal, she got up and went to bed. What Violet didn’t notice was that the book she held, laid on the opposite side of the room.