Friendly neighborhood reminder: the book for January & February of B&B is The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen.
At the sound of thundering hooves, the party wakes up in the Cracked Crown. Trumpets blare in the morning light: “Hear, hear! The coronation party of her Majesty the Princess Charlie of Razmiran is tonight! At midnight! All are invited, all are to dress! Hear, hear!”
The whole party shakes their head in disbelief. “Is she even coronated yet?” Flekt asks.
“Who cares!” Biskut exclaims. “A party? Yes please! Let’s go get dresses!”
Po looks down at himself, raising an eyebrow at the prospect of dresses.
“I want a special dress,” Charlie explains. “One of you guards, go get food for the party from Nat Wyler’s. You guards, there, clean up that statue in the front. We have to go to the market. It’s even clothing day!” A few guards nod at the princess, and some head out on their horses to Nat Wyler’s while the rest in the room move to lift up and remove the statue in the middle of the entrance. They take it around to the back of the castle and examine in for a few minutes.
After some mumbles about the stupidity of market days, the group hauls down the ladder to the market. They find that all of the food from yesterday was taken out and replaced with lush dresses, suits, and hair salons. All of the stores are advertising the best prices and highest quality products for Princess Charlies’ party.
The group makes their way into the same candy store they were in yesterday when they met Elias, but they find that it is completely stocked with clothing of the finest fabric.
“You majesty!” the woman from behind the front counter says. “How may I be of service?”
The woman eventually helps everyone but Po find the best dress, even sewing a unique dress for the princess.
Flekt gets a purple dress with a tulle bottom, absolutely drowned in sparkles. It is cut down at the bottom to fit her size and matches her blue skin and black hair well.
Biskut receives a blood red dress, strapless, with a silk-look about it as it flows all the way down to the floor.
Sippele picks a darker red dress than Biskut, but it has the same form, with a single shoulder instead of strapless. The fabric is twisted around at the shoulder, to give a rope-like look to compliment her fur.
Charlie requests a sky blue dress. She thinks it up on the spot. “No fluff,” she nods, “and I want it strapless, but with lace on the shoulders, you know, and I want it fitted. But no fluff! And no sparkles.”
“Your dresses will be ready at twelve, and delivered to the castle,” the woman from behind the counter confirms.
WHAT’S A CLOCK?
Charlie contemplates something for a moment. “Po, what are you going to wear to the party?”
“What does it matter?” the dwarf scoffs, patting his stomach. “I’ve got fine enough clothing on!”
“No, no, no,” Charlie says, leading him and the rest of the group outside of the candy-store-turned-clothing-store. “Let’s find somewhere to get you something nice.”
“Okeh,” he says, turning down the market avenue. “Here.”
The group stops in front of a small cluster of stores, slightly set apart from the rest of the market by a corner and an inlay of bricks. This part of the market looks older than the rest, like it is untouched by time.
There are two stores that are bright on the inside; twinkling lights illuminate the clothing inside. The store between those two looks completely empty. The lights are not even on, from what the party can see, and the windows look as though they were untouched for centuries. “There,” Po points, “I’m going into that middle store.”
And he does so. Inside, Flekt casts a light spell to find faded wall paper and a single lit lantern on the other end of the store. Broken shelves and dusty boxes line the walls of the store and there is no one shopping inside.
“Helloeh?” someone calls from the darkness. Instantly, the entire group twists toward the noise.
“It’s an old man,” Biskut whispers.
“‘Elloeh?” the man asks again. “Who’sh tehereh?” Slowly but surely the sound of a walker hitting the floor and dragging feet gets closer to the group. The lantern moves as the man picks it up. Half of the group moves back towards the door, and the other half steps closer to the noise.
“Oh!” the man says, lifting up his lantern to see them more clearly. “Customers! Yeh, yeh, ‘ow may I help yeh?”
The whole group is stunned into silence except for Po. “I want a tunic. Do you have one?”
After a bit more deliberation and an asthma attack later, the group finds Po a fine, century-old tunic that is light blue with gold embroidery, trimmed with a darker blue and with accents of white. Charlie is absolutely appalled by the sight of it, but Po looks satisfied.
The group names the man “Al” since he does not seem able to remember his own name, but they also learn that he has two children: Samantha and Thomas. They both live in the Sandshacks and they pay to keep up Al’s shop. Sippele offers for the man to join the group of adventurers on their quest up to Dyinglight to find Soares, the man who stole the documents, and Al is overjoyed. He agrees without hesitation. A collective groan from the rest of the party ensues. Al puts on a top hat for the occasion.
Once back upstairs, Biskut scares the entire plaza, causing a few children to cry. Charlie goes to carry Al (since he cannot walk that fast), and while she succeeds, she breaks most of his ribs. He cries out in pain, but is then intimidated out of his mind by Po, and falls silent. Charlie heals his ribs.
Charlie then goes to run to Mumbledore’s library to learn more about Al, but on the way she trips, falls, breaks Po’s arms, heals them, and leaves him on the ground without his walker (which she forgot to bring).
In the library that looks only slightly healed from the entire dominoes yesterday, Cassra confirms Al’s backstory: He is an old man named Alexander who has lived in Razmiran for many years. He has two kids named Sam and Tom and they both live in the Sandshacks.
In the Plaza with Al on the ground and the rest of the party waiting around for Charlie to get back, Sippele decides to take out her huge bag of mugs and smash all 25 of them. After the help of the army-general-man they met during one of their first days in Razmiran, Sippele stands in a pile of broken mugs. “I’m satisfied, I think,” Sippele says.
Suddenly, the group shakes. Buildings sway all around Flekt, Charlie, and Biskut, though no one else seems to notice. After a second, everything goes black.
EHRLACH’S TRAVELING CIRCUS
Charlie, Flekt, and Biskut all suddenly stop where they are, and look around. Sea ports, people checking pocketwatches and proper American English-sounding Common suddenly surrounds them.
“Oi,” someone says, walking over to them. He has short brown hair and a thread-worn shirt on with tall workboots and pants. “What was that? Where are you from?”
“We, uh, just got here,” Biskut says quickly.
“Did you?” the man asks, raising an eyebrow. “You aren’t… magic, are you?”
“No,” Charlie lies. “Are you?”
“No,” the man nods curtly. “No, I’m not. But you have to be sure these days, you know, with the borders closing so soon. But okay. Where did you come from?”
“We.. are.. part of the Circus,” Biskut nods slowly.
“Yeah,” Flekt agrees.
“Oh! Ehrlach’s traveling circus! They just left! They’re trying to beat the border! Good luck! Go on then, to that warehouse over there!” the man points behind him.
After finding out that the warehouse has been what looks like ransacked, the group is lead over to a man’s house who might be able to help them: Shadrack, the famous cartographer.
His door is open, and when they walk inside, they meet three people: two young children (girl and an older boy) and an older woman who stands protectively in front of them. They explain that Shadrack is the girl’s uncle and that he has been kidnapped. Their house looks like it was ransacked for something specific, though no one at the house knows what it is. The group takes a large atlas book written by Shadrack himself and the group observes one of the maps inside of it. The little girl is able to identify where they are as “New Occident”, on the middle of the coast.
All names and maps, respectfully, are from The Glass Sentence by S.E. Grove.
Though, before Biskut, Charlie, or Flekt can say anything else, their world goes black once more and everything goes silent.
Where did Charlie, Flekt, and Biskut go? Who was Shadrack and is he okay? What is a clock? Will Al actually be of any help? Can the group get to Dyinglight in time? Will Charlie’s coronation party be a success or a royal fail?
Find out next Books and Battles, January 30th, 2016.