In retrospect, Clorinda really should have guessed that the dress would be A Problem. The girl she had met in the forest was so very nice and quite unexpectedly persuasive. She had been exchanging dresses with her before she really thought about it, and then she’d had to fly to catch up with her friends. It wasn’t until she opened the gate that led to her father’s bakery with their home above it that she realized she wouldn’t be able to explain why she was wearing a brocade dress with rather a lot of nice beadwork in place of the plain and undramatic frock she had left in that morning. She needed a plan, and she needed it right away. Quickly she tucked up the dress all around the edges in much the same way the nice forest girl had done it, and gathering her courage, she made a dash for the door and the stairs up to her room. Her luck almost held out but just at the last moment she ran smack into her sister in the hallway, and if anyone can tell when you’re Up to Something, it’s a sister. Her sister called for her mother and her mother called for her father, and they all wondered where on earth she had gotten such a lovely dress, and Clorinda could only stammer that she had… found it? In the Forest of Faraway? While gathering bluebells? It really might have gone quite badly for her, but then the next morning the news had broken about the Ordinary Princess going missing from the castle and no one had any time to spare for her. Clorinda hung the exquisite dress in the closet because in the end it wasn’t very practical for making beds and sweeping floors, and it was really only a vague wondering she had about the princess going missing just a day after her odd encounter in the woods. It couldn’t be. Could it?
Her Serene Self, the Crown Princess Pearl of Crystalvia, was feeling just a little down in the dumps. And more than a little piqued to know that at that very moment, a dozen courtiers were probably looking at her thinking “my goodness, Crown Princess Pearl seems overcome with melancholia” or some such nonsense. It is all well and good to say that she was a princess and princesses must have a certain air about them and when they were not feeling their absolute best they would be considered pensive or wistful or disconsolate. But Pearl was not, in fact, any of those things. She was down in the dumps. And why shouldn’t she be, with her younger sister just… missing? Of course, the royal court of Phantasmorania had tried to keep the disappearance of Princess Amy a secret but there is no hushing up something like that once the servants know, and they especially couldn’t keep it from Family. And thus, Pearl was left to wonder where her sister Amy had gone and worry about whether she was warm and safe and dry. She knew Amy would likely be surprised to hear that Pearl was worried about her, as she had always rather acted as though because she was Ordinary and drove their Royal Mama to distraction that none of her sisters cared all that much for her or ever understood how she felt. But Pearl knew that despite their perfect complexions and rippling blonde hair and straight small noses, all princesses are really just people. She had always felt a little envious of her sister Amy and how she got away with running so wild, but she also felt a little hurt that Amy never wanted to talk to her or notice how hard she had worked to master a difficult melody on the harp. She decided that if Amy ever turned up again, she would make more of an effort to reach out to her and be real true friends. Feeling somewhat cheered, she turned to the complex planning for the next Crystalvian Royal Congress of Emissaries and Envoys and its accompanying banquet. Logistics and Supply had always been her specialties.
Bernard the Dragon
Bernard genuinely despised working with amateurs. These days it seemed like every Tom, Dick, and Louis thought a fire-breathing dragon was the end-all, be-all problem solving maneuver. He really shouldn’t complain, he supposed. Business was booming and he had mouths to feed. (And a growing family of dragons required quite a lot of feeding.) But he was starting to worry that people weren’t thinking strategically about the whole thing. He considered his services to be an art as much as a trade, and as such, he needed the elbow room for some flair and pizzazz. But on his last couple of waste-layings, things had gotten a bit out of hand. At the most recent, he’d been startled to find that they hadn’t even warned the populace in advance, and that just wasn’t cricket. He guaranteed in the standard contract that he would only burn the fields and folds as indicated, and if they had a convenient “hastily abandoned” town, so much the better. But when he had descended only to find that there were actually people still milling about, screaming real horrified screams? What a nightmare. And he definitely had to start requiring a deposit. Take this latest fiasco with Phantasmorania. A full week of negotiations with the Minister in Charge of Hiring a Suitable Dragon (talk about having too much staff on your hands), planning, packing and saying good-bye to Marie and the kids, and then just as he was preparing to take off? Boom, the MCHSD had cancelled the booking without so much as a thank-you-for-your-time. Apparently the princess in question (there was always a princess involved somehow) had gotten the wind up and done a runner before they could get her locked away in a tower. Frankly, Bernard thought it was good for her, too. Such a silly way of going about finding suitors or giving away kingdoms or some such ridiculous behavior. But still, he had turned down three other gigs to take this job. It was going to be cash up front next time. He wasn’t made of money, you know.