Saturday, December 12, 2020

DWOA Princess Alliance: Chapter 08

Disney's World Of Adventures: Princess Alliance

Chapter 08 – Enter Lucitor, Harbinger Of Evil

    Moonlight poured through the stained glass window into the vacant chamber where Maria was held captive by Bruja Dama. The room remained silently still as it had been before being occupied by the witch and her prisoner. That silence was interrupted by a gust of wind that blew inside and stirred up a vortex. From that whirlwind appeared a plume of green smoke that spiraled upward from the floor to the ceiling.

    The wind and smoke disappeared, and in its place appeared a rangy figure. He was tall, thin, and slender. His skin was so pale that he appeared to be painted white. He wore a tight-fitting outfit with a long-sleeved shirt that was half-black and half-white and pants that were half-white and half-black. He wore shoes with curly toes on his feet, a ruffled collar around his neck, and upon his head, a jester’s cap with four dangly prongs with bells on their tips. His face was concealed by a white mask with two slits for eyeholes and a painted red smile. The eye slits glowed with a lambent green light, a similar color and glow as the orb at the tip of his scepter.

    With his free hand, the rangy pied-outfitted man covered his mouth to yawn. The smile painted upon his mask turned into an o-shaped mouth as he yawned, and turned once more into a smile when he finished.

    Releasing his scepter, which floated in midair beside him, he extended both hands outward to stretch his arms. His painted smile once more turned into a red circle as he yawned, and he twisted to his left as he stretched, bending his upper body a full 360-degrees three times, contorting his body and spine in an unnatural motion, before untwisting himself and returning to a normal stance.

    “Oy!” He sighed, one hand on his hip, the other holding his scepter. “A millennia or two in the abyss does numbers on your figure.”

    As he spoke, the painted smile on his mask glowed, flickering with every syllable.

    “By the way,” he continued. “How long have I’ve been gone?”

    He waves his scepter, its orb glowing green, and from it flew a green ray of light. From the light appeared an hourglass slowly dripping with sand, the bottom glass fuller than the top. The man bent forward and scratched his chin as the smile on his mask turned upside down into a frown.

    “Huh! That long?” The hourglass disappeared, and his frown turned upward into a smile. “Well, I guess time flies when you’re trapped in limbo between time and space.”

    Both arms akimbo, he surveyed the room around him. “Speaking of space, this place looks emptier than the skulls of most politicians.”

    He took a deep inhale through his nose before fanning it with his hand. His painted smiled twisted into a wavy frown.

    “Oh, and it reeks of old lady smell. Time to fix that.”

    He rose his scepter into the air and waved it several times, its orb glowing. “Eye of newt and five-leaf clover, give my place an extreme makeover.”

    In a flash of green light, what had once been a vacant chamber transformed into a well-furnished study with bookshelves filled with dusty old tomes and scrolls, and tables covered with test tubes and instruments of all shapes and sizes.

    The spellcaster dusted his hands and once more set them akimbo as he surveyed his surroundings. “Ah! Evil lair sweet evil lair. It’s good to be back!”

    He took hold of his scepter. “Of course, the fact I’m back indicates that the enchantment sealing away the abyss is starting to weaken. Only a matter of time until it fades away completely, and then my master will make his epic comeback.”

    Once more, he scratched his chin. “Hmm. Speaking of a comeback, I sense a certain magic still lingering in this room. Imma check and find out what it is—or rather, was.”

    He spun his scepter around several times before striking it on the floor and waving his other hand over the orb. “Magic orb, I humbly inquire, show me what events in this room transpired.”

    Inside his orb swirled green clouds that parted to reveal scenes of past events. He saw as the evil witch, Bruja Dama, stood overlooking Princess Maria as she lay still in her sleeping curse.

    “Hey, I know that lady!” he exclaimed. “Boy, the years haven’t been good on her. It certainly explains the old lady smell. And what’s this? A sleeping princess? Well, that’s certainly cliché. Imma fast forward things a bit.”

    He waved his hand over the orb, and the scene within shifted to when Susan and the others barged into the room to rescue her.

    “Oh, I’ve seen this all before. Here’s the royal prince and his entourage come to rescue the fair maiden, whom he’ll awaken with true love’s kiss.”

    Susan leaned over to plant her lips upon Maria’s.

    “Oh, well, that’s certainly progressive. Talk about subverting expectations!”

    Maria awoke to embrace Susan with a hug as everyone else cheered for them.

    “Judging by their royal attire, I’m assuming they’re all princes and princesses. That’s quite a few monarchs together in one place. Too many, if you ask me.”

    He snapped his fingers and the scenes within his orb vanished.

    “The spell binding my master away requires ten monarchs from ten kingdoms. The last thing we need is for these royal pains to grow their ranks. I’ll have to keep a close eye on them and stop them, or my name isn’t Lucitor!”

    He threw his arms in the air, arched his spine back, and cackled manically—before abruptly stopping and replying, “Which it is. It’s Lucitor. That’s my name.”, then returning to his maniacal laugh.

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    Under normal circumstances, Maria would be packing her bags, preparing to leave on her honeymoon. However, since the fate of the world now rested in her hands and those of her new friends, she was packing her bags, preparing herself to leave on a world-spanning adventure to other kingdoms. As she rummaged through her wardrobe, her father stood by her side, discussing matters with her.

    “So let me get this straight, Mija: you and the others were magically teleported away to meet with a wizard?”

    “Yes,” Maria nodded, folding a shirt from her drawer and placing it in her luggage bag.

    “And he told you all that an Ancient Evil was going to come back to take over the world?”

    “Of course.”

    “And now you need to travel across the world to find other princesses to help defeat it?”

    “That’s about right.”

    “And you sincerely believe all this?”

    Maria rummaged through her closet in search of a particular skirt she loved, then squealed once she found it and packed it in her bags. Upon being asked the question by her father, she answered him. “He’s a wizard capable of transporting us through time and space to a pocket dimension. I think someone with that power knows what he’s talking about.”

    “So you’re just going to up and leave to go on a potential fool’s errand?”

    “Papi, if what he says is true, then the fate of the world is drawing nigh. Me and the other princesses need to leave as soon as possible.”

    Her father crossed his arms and raised a stern eyebrow at her. “And what makes you think I’m going to allow you to do this?”

    “Because I’m 18 years old and married.” Maria pointed to the wedding ring on her finger.  “That makes me a grown woman capable of making my own decisions without your approval.” She returned once more to packing. “Besides, Aurora and Rapunzel are also going on their quests to help us.”

    Her father, his arms still crossed, rolled his eyes. “And if Aurora and Rapunzel leaped off a bridge, you would also jump off?”

    Maria rolled her eyes back at him. “I’m sure they would have a good reason to jump off a bridge. Besides, Rapunzel has long hair. She could bungee jump with it if she wanted to.”

    Once more, she pointed to her wedding ring. “Besides, I’m not going alone. My new wife is joining me, and if any woman is capable of helping me fight the forces of evil, it’s the daughter of the Captain of the Royal Guard. She’s even agreed to teach me swordplay.”

    The King could only sigh as he released his folded arms. “Mija, I know I can’t stop you from doing what you want to do; but could you at least promise me that you’ll stay safe.”

    Upon finishing packing her bag, she closed it shut and tight as she could, even sitting her rump onto it to close it tighter. She then planted a loving kiss on her father’s cheek.

    “Oh, Papi,” she smiled. “I know you can be stubborn, but I know you only have my best interests. I promise to stay safe. And I’ll also keep in contact with you.”

    “I assume you mean by carrier pigeon?” he asked her.

    Maria giggled, lifting the magic mirror hanging from her neck. “No, silly! With my new Magic Mirror. I showed you how it worked earlier, remember? And Merlin even installed a full-length mirror in the throne room. That way you can keep in touch with me and the other royals. He even installed mirrors in the castles of Rapunzel and Aurora, so you can even contact the other monarchs there. Merlin calls them landlines.”

    The King raised an eyebrow. “Landlines?”

    “That’s what he calls the large mirrors. He calls them that because they’re installed in the throne rooms and can’t be moved. And these mirrors, like the one hanging from my neck, he calls them handhelds because, well, they can be held in the hand. He also has another model. Here, let me show you.”

    From another bag, a smaller handbag, she pulled out a medium-sized mirror the length and width of a book. She held it up for her father to see.

    “He calls these mirrors tablets because they’re the size of a tablet, obviously. They can all be used to communicate with other people with mirrors. But the landline mirrors can only be used to make calls. These handhelds and tablets have special features called apps.”

    “App?” Her father asked. “What’s an app?”

    Maria shrugged. “No idea. It’s what Merlin calls the other things the mirror can do. Like take pictures.”

    “Those mirrors can take pictures?”

    “Oh, yes! Here. Let me show you.”

    Maria went on to demonstrate the camera app of her handheld magic mirror. With the swipe of her finger, she could look through the mirror and see everything on the other side wherever she aimed it. She could even use her fingers to zoom in on objects for a closer look. Then, by tapping he finger on the screen, she could take a picture.

    “Here, let me take a picture of you.” She pointed her mirror at her father and aimed it so that he was in the center of the frame. At first, her father was perplexed by this, but he graciously offered her a smile. With a “Queso!” she took his picture and showed it to him. He was shocked to see his visage frozen in the mirror’s glass as though he were smiling into it himself.

    “Why, that’s a clearer facsimile than even the most skilled artists could paint!” he replied, marveling at his photograph.

    “And that’s not even the neatest part,” Maria retrieved her mirror. “We can take as many pictures as we want, and we can share them to see in our mirrors. Merlin and Yen Sid want us to take photos on our journey, specifically of anything that looks suspicious, so we can keep them updated on everything going on.”

    “And you can do all of this with these mirrors?” The King marveled at Maria’s tablet. “It all seems so complicated.”

    Maria retrieved a large book from her desk and gave it to her father. “Here. You can read this while I’m away. It tells you everything you need to know about how to use them. Merlin calls it an instruction manual.”

    The King flipped through the pages and casually scanned its pages. “Huh? An entire book on how to use a mirror? Back in my day, we simply gazed into them to look at our reflections.”

    “Well, times certainly change,” Her remark made her gasp. “Speaking of time, I need to be heading off.” She planted a kiss on her father’s cheek, hugged him, and hurried with her case. “Hasta la vista, papa!”

    Before she could dart away, her father grabbed her by the arm and pulled her back.

    “Uno momento, Nino! Before you go, I wish to give you something important.” He reached into his pocket and withdrew a small bundle wrapped in a silk indigo handkerchief. “I meant to give you this gift on your betrothal, right after you accepted the proposal from the prince—you know, before you were snatched away by an evil witch. After all of the crazy things that happened, now seems like the best time to give you this.”

    Maria accepted her gift and unwrapped the handkerchief. Inside was a gleaming copper pendant in the shape of a triquetra, or trefoil knot—more commonly known as a “trinity knot.” The pendant hung upon a thin copper chain, and upon each interlaced arc was inscribed a phrase. Each phrase, read together, formed the following sentence:

    Omnes qui, Unus est, E pluribus unum.

    Maria studied the etching carefully, squinting as she read it. “I’ve studied the ancient languages in my classes, so I can almost decipher what this says, but I still don’t know what it means.”

    Her father, with a chuckle, scanned each phrase with his finger and translated: “All is One, One is All, Out of Many, One.”

    “Well, now I know what it says,” Maria replied. “But I still don’t understand what it means.”

    “It’s an old saying about the importance of familia,” her father explained. “How we are all part of the same family, and how we are all in this together. We may all be one person, but we are all united together as a family, together, forever, just like this knot.” He placed a hand upon her shoulder. “It’s an ancient family heirloom that’s been passed down through the generations. Your mother wanted to give you this herself when you came of age, and, well, even though she is no longer with us, she would still want you to have this nonetheless.”

    Maria tossed the chain over her head and hung the pendant from her neck, hanging slightly above her magic mirror. She took hold of it and examined it further.

    “Keep that pendant with you close to your heart,” her father continued, “and no matter where you are, you will always know that you are never alone, that you are one person part of a whole.”

    A smile across her face, Maria released her pendant and threw her arms around her father’s neck, kissing it.

    “Thank you, Papi,” she whispered in his ear. “I’ll keep it with me and treasure it always.”

*****

    Aurora and Rapunzel waited with their princes outside the castle’s main entrance. As they lingered, Eugene inspected the two sculptures set outside the doorway. Each was a stone statue of a guard dog standing in a truculent stance, their teeth bared in a frozen roar. Each dog was as large as a panther, and each appeared similar in breed to pit bull terriers, though they were shaped more like gargoyles, with pointed ears, razor-sharp teeth, and bulky frames. The glare from their eyes and expression from their teeth and stance struck terror into whoever looked upon them. Upon their pedestals were inscribed a symbol: one pedestal bared a key; the other, a gate.

    “Say, did any of you notice these two stone dogs before?” Eugene asked. “Ferocious pair, aren’t they? I take it these are the palace guard dogs? Well, at least they don’t need to be fed or walked, I can say that much.”

    Susan and Maria arrived through the doors carrying their luggage. They waved as they approached the others, and they greeted the couple likewise.

    “I take it you’re all waiting for the coaches, then?” Maria asked. “We’re about to head out as well.”

    “That’s great!” Rapunzel replied. “Eugene and I are heading to the Kingdom of Beaumont first.”

    Aurora nodded. “And Phillip and I are heading to the Kingdom of Perrault.”

    Phillip placed his thumb under his chin. “And where’s your coach taking you both to?”

    “Oh!” Maria replied. “We’re not traveling by coach. We’re on our way to the docks to take a boat to the East, then we’re heading to Agrabah from there.”

    “Yup!” Susan nodded. “I reckon if we all make haste, we should all be able to visit the other kingdoms and recruit each of the other princesses in at least a month.”

    Eugene placed his hand upon one of the stone dogs and rested upon it. “Sounds like we should all make it in good time, granted that nothing bad happens. Don’t worry, I’m not going to jinx it by saying—”

    A clap of thunder erupted over them as a green plume of smoke appeared in front of them. Everyone gasped and fell a good step back, bracing themselves for whatever would arise. The green smoke dissipated to reveal Lucitor, leaning upon his scepter with his free arm akimbo.

    “What could go wrong?” he asked smugly.

    Maria could only blink at the lanky masked monochrome figure standing before them.

    “Who—who are you?” she asked, pointing at him.

    “Well, where are my manners? Allow me to introduce myself.” Lucitor tipped his hat, threw his scepter behind him, and bowed. “The name’s Lucitor the Warlock.”

    “Warlock?” Susan asked.

    Lucitor rose, placed his hat upon his head, and struck his staff before him, leaning upon it. “Yeah. Warlock. You know? Like a wizard, only evil.”

    Susan grit her teeth and curled her fists. “Evil?”

    Lucitor merely cupped his hand over his ear. “Is there an echo out here? Yes, I’m evil. And not merely because I’m cranky about being trapped for millennia or two.” He turned his back to the others. “Though, if you think that would make ME cranky, you’d hate to see what my master looks like after he’s released from his prison.”

    Susan raised an eyebrow. “Your master? You don’t mean the Ancient Evil that’s supposed to come back and take over the world?”

    “Of course!” he replied, craning his neck at them.

    Maria marched a step forward and raised a finger at him. “Well, your master isn’t coming back because we won’t let him. We’re going to gather the ten royals to complete the spell sealing him away, and you can’t stop us.”

    Lucitor turned and casually dusted off his sleeve. “Okay. I won’t.”

    “Well, you better—” Maria soon realized what he said and cast a confused look at him. “Wait. What?”

    “I’m not going to stop you,” Lucitor replied.

    Susan exchanged a confused look with the others. “Well, then why are you here?”

    “To offer you all some advice.”

    Maria once more raised an eyebrow. “And what’s that?”

    Luctior struck his staff on the ground before him, leaned upon it, and twirled his free hand, answered: “Give up.”

    “What?” Everyone appeared as confused as everyone else.

    “You heard me,” Lucitor replied. “Give up. Even if you find other royals to join you, none of you stand a chance against my master. You don’t even stand a chance against me.”

    Phillip, no longer wishing to continue these word games, stepped forward and flung his arm forward. “If you consider yourself that strong, then why not stop us now?”

    “Because there’s no fun in that,” Lucitor answered. “Defeating you all right now would be too easy. There’s no challenge in that. Now watching you all try to defeat us only to fail miserably? Now that’s more entertaining. Oh, how fun it is to see what fools you mortals be.”

    As he talked, Susan whipped out her magic mirror, swiped it into camera mode, and aimed it at Lucitor while he boasted to himself. She was about to snap a picture when he noticed her. He immediately struck a pose.

    “Make sure you get my good side,” he said.

    Susan already took a picture of him and saved it to her mirror. Putting it away, she pointed at the warlock posturing before her.

    “Listen, buddy,” she warned him, “either you put your money where your mouth is and fight us or you step aside and let us get on our way. Ain’t nobody got time for this.”

    “So be it.” Lucitor swatted his hand in the air as he turned away from them. “Go on your hero’s journey, if you must. I let you all have your fun.” He turned back to sneer at them. “Though if you all insist on putting up a fight, I might as well give you all what you want.”

    He wheeled around and raised his scepter in the air. Everyone braced for a potential attack as they readied their respective weapon, be it sword or frying pan. But rather than glance upon them, Lucitor instead transfixed his gaze upon the two stone dogs.

    “Well, those two will do.” He waved his scepter, its orb beginning to glow green, as he chanted. “Treguna Mekoides Trecorum Satis Dee.”

    He flung his scepter forward, and from its orb shot two beams of green light. Each struck one of the stone dogs, casting them in a green glow. Their radiance subsided, and their eyes glowed a similar color. From their gaping maws erupted the roars as loud and ferocious as lions as the two dogs animated to life. From off their pedestals, they leaped, and the two now living dogs began pawing closer to the six royals, all of them fearful at this sudden animation.

    “Who let the dogs out? This guy!” Lucitor chuckled, tipped his hat, and disappeared into green smoke, leaving the others to their fate.

    The two dogs inched closer and closer. The royals slowly retreated step by step, their weapons brandished before them. Their breath remained collectively still, silently anticipating their beastly foe’s inevitable attack. As they paced cautiously back, Susan whipped out her mirror and snapped a picture of the two beasts.

    Eugene, his sword raised, turned to the others. “Anybody have a big bone we can distract these two mutts with?”

    No sooner had he finished that sentence, both dogs pounced toward them. Phillip and Eugene sprinted forward to intercept the attack, their blades each holding back the claws of both dogs. Each canine snapped their teeth mere inches from the faces of the two princes. Eugene and Phillip struggled under the weight of both dogs, and felt their flying spittle splash against their face. Both princes pushed back against their beastly assailants, and both beasts charged at them with claws raised, only for their swipes to be countered by flashing blades. Both men exchanged blows with the two beasts until both dogs struck their paws hard enough to send both men falling onto their rumps.

    The two dogs pounced to strike down their prey when they froze in place. Both were held back by two tethers: one by Rapunzel’s hair; the other; Aurora’s rosewhip sword.

    Rapunzel and Aurora pulled back upon their hair and whip respectively, both wrapped around the neck of each beast, keeping them raised on their hind legs with their chests raised in the air.

    Phillip and Eugene took this opportunity to leap onto their feet, retrieve their swords, and plunge their blades into the heart of each dog. With a loud whimpering yelp, both dogs reverted to stone. The flesh around their wounds solidified rock hard, and soon their entire bodies turned back into stone. Each one shattered into fragments as both princes drew their blades from each beast’s breast. What had once been two stone statues turned into vicious animals turned once more back into stone statues and now lay scattered across the courtyard in a pile of rubble.

    “Well,” Eugene remarked, sheathing his sword, “I used to be a dog person, but now I’m seriously reconsidering.”

*****

    “I see,” Yen Sid said, stroking his beard.

    The wizard spoke to Maria and Susan through their magic mirrors. Both princesses had left the castle long after the dust from their altercation settled. The coaches soon arrived to take each set of royals to their ultimate destination: Aurora and Phillip to Perrault, Rapunzel and Eugene to Beaumont, and Maria and Susan to the docks to board their ship en route to the Arabian Coast. Both princesses from Hermosa Vista boarded their vessel and entered their cabins when they contacted the wizard. Susan forwarded him the two pictures of Lucitor and the Stone Dogs. He had finished analyzing them once they called him to relay the events that unfolded.

    “Yeah,” Susan nodded. “The guy called himself Lucitor. Said he was a warlock.”

    Yen Sid closed his eyes, stroked his beard, and hummed to himself.

    “So I feared. Lucitor was the right-hand man to the Ancient Evil that once terrorized this world before being sealed away by the enchantment of the Ten Kings. The fact that he has returned from the abyss proves the enchantment’s magic weakens even further. If he can escape the abyss, then it’s only a matter of time until the Ancient Evil returns once more.”

    Maria bit her lip. “How long do you think the enchantment will hold off? Please tell me we have enough time to gather the other princesses?”

    “Hard to say,” Yen Sid replied. “Our best estimate is that, at this point, and at this rate, the enchantment has a good month or so until it weakens completely and fades away. I urge you, though, not to fret upon the matter, but do make haste.”

    “We’ll certainly hurry as fast as we can to recruit the other princesses,” Maria said.

    “Very well, then. And do keep us updated on your progress. And do report any other strange happenings that befall you upon your journey. With the enchantment weakening, the barrier between our world and the Abyss will thin away, allowing dark magic from the other side to seep into our world. Such magic could potentially bring about the most nightmarish manifestations. So remain vigilant.”

    Susan and Maria nodded, both replying, “We will.”

    “Godspeed!” Yen Sid waved at them before ending his transmission.

    Maria released her mirror, allowing it to dangle from her neck, as she let out an exasperated sigh. Susan consoled her by placing a hand upon her significant other’s shoulder.

    “Boo, what’s wrong?”

    “It’s this whole quest,” Maria lifted her eyes to meet her wife’s. “It just feels so daunting. That encounter was close enough. But what if others aren’t as close? What if we don’t make it back in time? What if the other princesses don’t join us? What if—”

    Her fretting was immediately interrupted by a kiss from her loving wife, who wiped back a strand of hair from her face. At first, the kiss startled her, but she quickly embraced it as she kissed back. Both lips parted, and their eyes stared longingly and lovingly into each other’s.

    Maria giggled. “You do make a good counterpoint there.”

    Susan stood from the edge of the bed and pulled Maria onto her feet. “Of course I do. Now let’s go and watch the ship cast off. Perhaps watching us sail away from the kingdom will put your mind at ease. Then maybe we can get started on your fencing. We have plenty of time to teach you the basics until we reach Agrabah.”

    Maria simply smiled as she returned a kiss to Susan and walked with her, hand in hand, out of their cabin to the main deck.

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