The Princess of Flowers: Part Eight
PART EIGHT: THE TOWN MADE OF JELLY
"This place is…unbelievable!” Mildred breathed, her eyes widening as she gazed up a tall skyscraper. “Everything here is amazing!”
“It’s okay,” said Rose, shrugging. They had finally made it to Wobbleshire: a bustling city whose buildings, streets and sidewalks were all made of the same yellow-jelly substance. The street lamps were blue jelly; the bushes and trees at the nearby park were green jelly; and every mailbox were a mix of red and blue jelly. Despite being made of jelly, all the buildings, roads and sidewalks were solid—as if they were made of concrete. Everyone who passed them were jelly, and in an assortment of colours. Rose couldn’t help but be impressed by how many things in Wobbleshire were made of jelly: clothes, food, books, hats, the citizens, the grass, pencils, and even the mail! This place seemed too good to be true…so why was it being kept a secret from the rest of Neopia?
Mildred turned to Rose. “Where shall we go first?” she asked. “A café? Or should we seek that library Cassandra was speaking of?”
Rose looked around. “How about we stop and find us a nice café,” she suggested. “I’m terribly famished and I need a strong cup of coffee.”
“Good idea.” Mildred followed Rose as they walked down the sidewalk, her eyes fixed on the passing store windows. Just as she was slowing her pace to admire a pink-jelly dress, Rose grabbed her elbow and pulled her towards a café with blue-jelly tables and chairs. A yellow-jelly sign said Jelly Café and Sweets. “Ooh, this place is so cute!” Mildred squealed, taking her seat.
A jelly Kacheek approached their table. “Hi! Welcome to my café!” She smiled warmly as she passed orange-jelly menus to her guests. “My name’s Cassie. Are you two enjoying yourselves today?”
“Oh yes, very much,” Mildred gushed. “It’s been one, long adventure!”
Cassie smiled. “Splendid!”
“I’ll take a muffin with no butter, and a cup of your strongest coffee,” Rose said briskly.
“And I shall have a donut, please,” said Mildred, passing their menus to Cassie. As soon as Cassie walked away to greet another customer, Mildred coughed lightly and asked, “Um, Rose…would you mind talking about that fellow you were speaking of earlier? Maybe there’s a way I can help you?”
Rose arched an eyebrow. “You know who he is?” she asked dubiously.
“I’m afraid I don’t.” Mildred shook her head. “It’s just that, well, this Ixi may not have been trying to hurt you. Perhaps he was actually trying to help you and you took his words as being insulting rather than helpful.”
“I highly doubt it,” Rose scoffed.
“What else do you remember about him?” asked Mildred.
“He was invading my family’s rose garden,” Rose said haughtily, “and he didn’t mind being in the pouring rain. He wore a hideous white shirt with matching trousers, gloves and shoes. I also believe his hair was in a dishevelled state, though I honestly can’t recall so much and I don’t wish to care.”
After a moment of uncomfortable silence, Mildred smiled and said cheerily, “He sounds like such a proper prince!”
“A what?” Rose was completely baffled. Did Mildred truly, honestly believe that wretched Ixi was a PRINCE!?!? Was she being serious, or was she just teasing her for being insulted by the ill-mannered brute? She really is an idiot! I knew it all along! Ruse fumed, though instead of saying this aloud, she sniffed, “You’re poorly mistaken, Mildred. That brute was no prince and, quite frankly, he will never be one because of his lack of social graces.”
“I didn’t mean it as a prince of royal blood,” Mildred insisted, still sounding casual. “What I meant was, well, this Ixi sounds like the type of Neopian who’d swoop in and offer a piece of guidance. He may not be heroic or brave, but his appearance makes him sound just like a storybook prince to me—you know, without the saving.”
“You really don’t know what a ‘prince’ is, do you?” Rose sputtered. She groaned. “A true prince isn’t just born one; he learns to act as one and is taught how to behave in certain situations. Just because this twit is supposedly well-dressed doesn’t mean he should be considered as a true prince. Instead, he is a disgraceful impostor and nothing more.”
Cassie reappeared and placed a tray on the table. “What are you two talking about? Princes?” she asked, placing a plate in front of each customer.
“We’re just discussing this mysterious prince Rose had an encounter with,” Mildred explained.
Rose facepalmed. Shut up, you idiot! she urged angrily.
“Really? You’re so lucky!” Cassie gushed. She grabbed a nearby chair and pulled it to the table, sitting between Rose and Mildred. “So, what was he like? Was he handsome? Did he ask you out on a date?”
“He was an ill-mannered brute and I despise him with every fibre of my being.” Rose glared at Cassie, who—for who knows why—just sighed wistfully. She took a sip of her coffee, and was impressed that the steaming brown liquid retained its heat in the red-jelly teacup.
“It’s a shame you have nothing but unpleasant things to say, Rose,” sighed Mildred. “He could have been very charming.”
“Well you weren’t there, if I wasn’t mistaken,” Rose said crossly. She took another sip. “Besides, that whole thing is over and done with. So can we converse over something else?”
Mildred and Cassie agreed and struck up a conversation about their favourite jelly dishes. Rose ignored them, preferring to drink her coffee and eating her muffin—which, strangely, was quite solid and tasted like oatmeal. As much as she wanted to visit this ‘supposedly exclusive library’, she was beginning to question whether or not it was worth trying to track down that ridiculous oaf to confront him over his insensitive statements. Despite how much she deeply despised the intruder, Rose couldn’t shrug off the affect that oaf had on her; making her even more uneasy with her appearance and self-conscious about the comments of others. Surely no one else in Floritua thinks of me as lowly as HIM, she thought, finishing her coffee. Then again, who am I to assume such an unlikely assumption? I’m certain there was at least one filthy villager who despised me for trivial reasons. And it wouldn’t surprise me that much, either.
Mildred stifled a yawn. “Oh my, I feel a sleeping spell coming along,” she said, rubbing her eyes.
Rose sniffed at Mildred’s lack of etiquette—though she, too, felt tired. Must be because of this coffee, she mused.
“Can you take us to the nearest hotel, Cassie?” asked Mildred.
“You two can stay at my house,” Cassie offered, jumping out of her chair. “It’s only a few blocks away. I’ll take you there right now!”
Rose agreed and followed Cassie as she led them to her house, happily chattering with Mildred about their favourite flowers. By the time they approached a yellow-jelly house, Rose pushed her way through as Cassie unlocked the front door. The house was rather small: only a couch, a table and a refrigerator—all made of different types of jelly—were on the first floor. A short staircase took them to the second floor, where Cassie directed them to the guestroom. “This is your room for all your guests?” Rose gasped. The room was occupied with two beds and a dresser—all three furniture items made of the same pink-jelly.
“I’ll be back later, so please make yourselves at home.” Cassie smiled and swiftly left the room.
“Which bed would you like, Rose?” asked Mildred. “The one by the window or the one by the dresser?”
Rose made her way to the bed nearest the window. “I suppose this one will do,” she declared. She was surprised by how soft the bed was—the checked quilt was soft and not squishy. Although the pillow was horribly frilled, she didn’t mind resting her head on it for the night—and she also didn’t mind being as faraway from Mildred as she could in the spacious room.
“Oh Rose, look at this!” Mildred showed her two sleeveless dresses. “I found them in the drawer. Do you think they belong to Cassie? Would she mind if we borrowed them tomorrow?”
“I wouldn’t care to wear such ugly things,” Rose scoffed. “Besides, why must both of them be orange and made of JELLY? Haven’t these jellied-beings ever heard of cotton?”
“These would pair ever-so-nicely with matching hats,” said Mildred.
Rose pulled the quilt up to her chin. She had a splitting migraine and her eyes were aching with fatigue. While Mildred continued chattering on about her ‘remarkable discovery’, Rose stretched her arms and fell asleep. More than anything, she wanted to find this mysterious library and learn more about the Mirror of Reflection—and the dangerous entity that was imprisoned inside it. She also wanted this ridiculous quest she was stuck in to end so she could return home, relax, and spend the rest of her days being far away from that insufferable Mildred.
“Nighty-night, Rose,” a voice slithered from outside the guestroom window. A wraith Usul narrowed her eyes at Rose. “Queen Mira would be so pleased!” she smirked before poofing away in a cloud of black smoke.
To be continued…