Chapter ThreeMature

          “Well, Jerald is five,” replied Viv. She plucked a long crimson coat off the floor. It appeared to be a part of an old Alterran military uniform, now used as a costume for a young princess. Viv slipped it on, but it was easily four sizes too big. Viv took a step forward, holding up the hem of the coat. “What do you think, Addie? Does it make my butt look big?”

          “Viv!” exclaimed Addie, a look of shock on her face but a smile on her lips. Mentioning butts, as Viv had learned, was a no-no in Alterra. She could only talk the way she talked in Underland around Addie and her father. No one else really tolerated it. Not even Lottie, the most open of the royal servants, could accept talk of anything covered by underwear. Viv couldn’t imagine the looks Lottie would give her if she had said ‘ass’ instead. Addie gave Viv a playful swat, before climbing up onto the play ship. “Oh, wish I could go on a real ship. Father says I’m too young. Can you believe that? I’m thirteen years old and I’m too young to go on a ship.”

          “Papa takes me on trips all the time. Especially the overseas ones. Papa and Mother and I always have so much fun with the sailors on the open sea,” said Viv. She joined Addie on the small prow, closing her eyes and picturing the open ocean between Underland and Frosteria. Addie watched on as Viv began to wax nostalgically. “The air is salty. The sky was almost always bright blue. The water is a beautiful sapphire color. And the seagulls, oh, the seagulls! They make me feel so at peace, which is a strange feeling to get from seagulls. The creaking of the deck will either lull you to sleep or drive you to drink. When you get off the boat at last, your legs are all… wobbly for the rest of the day. All in all, it’s a wonderful experience, if you don’t have seasickness.”

          “I wish I could’ve gone on half as many adventures as you,” said Addie, removing her hat. Her eyes took on an inquisitive light as she sat and patted the ground, encouraging Viv to do the same. Viv complied. Addie scooted closer. “Tell me more about Underland. Tell me about Victor and Elizabeth and Candace and Marigold and Luna and…”

          “Alright, alright,” said Viv with a laugh, waving a hand to silence Addie. “What do you want to know?”

          “What’s the royal family like?” asked Addie, clasping her hands on her lap. “Victor and Elizabeth and their daughter?”

          “Oh, Turkey is the best,” said Viv. Her enthusiastic beginning served only to confuse Addie, which could be seen by her raised eyebrow and slightly cocked head. “Right. Turkey is Victor. I’ve called him Turkey since I was three. He was seven then. He absolutely hated it then, but he’s just used to it now. I can’t really remember why I started calling him that. Might’ve been because I couldn’t say Victor, might’ve been because of some weird inside joke. He hated it, yeah, but he could take and make a joke. In fact, it’s one of the things he’s best at. On his coronation day, just before the ceremony, he decided to bring three of the chickens from the menagerie up to my bedroom. I guess he figured I needed some new pets. They trashed my room, but I named them anyways. Chuckles, Jingles, and Frederick. Sad to say, they were delicious for dinner the next night.”

          “Well then,” said Addie, eyebrows raised in shock. Viv laughed, shaking her head. “But he stopped after he became king, didn’t he? I mean, kings wouldn’t have time for practical jokes, right?”

          “Well, if Turkey doesn’t have time for pranks, he certainly makes time for it. And he only ever seems to prank me,” said Viv. She couldn’t even count how many times he’d played an innocent joke at her expense. “Elizabeth mostly keeps him reigned in, though. She came from a lesser kingdom, Durock, I believe. Yes, Durock. She was...the daughter of the earl. Turkey was just passing through Durock on his way back to Underland. He ended up coming back months later with a fiancée. And she’s the only one that can get him to toe the line. Other than Uncle Peter, but...” Viv smiled sadly. “He was a bit of a jokester back in the day, too.”

          “Does Elizabeth lead the country while Victor’s prancing about, acting like a child?”

          “Oh, no. She does lead the kingdom, but only to an extent. Turkey can keep it together long enough to be a king. He signs treaties, looks over trading negotiations, attends the official festivals, holds audiences with commoners and dignitaries alike. He only lives by his motto. ‘All work and no play makes for a very bad day’.”

          “What about Candace? What’s she like?”

          “Oh, she is absolutely adorable. She loves to dance. If she hears music, she’ll dance until she drops if nobody stops her. As it stands right now, she’s more like Turkey, but then again, she’s three. All toddlers are like that. She finds it absolutely hilarious when people get hurt. She’s a sadistic little piece of celery like that. She also tends to get hurt a lot. She usually laughs when that happens, because, well, she’s a sadist and a masochist.”

The End

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