Chapter 10: A Kingdom Shall Fall...Into Slumber
"Are you sure they'll understand?" John Smith asked nervously as he and Pocahontas made their way down the corridors of the castle.
"Positive," Pocahontas nodded. "Just have faith, John."
Smith gulped; the prospect of telling Cloud and Aerith that their son had fallen in love with another young woman was frightening, to be sure. But they had to do it. Smith could feel himself sweating profusely as they approached the throne.
"Erm...Cloud? Aerith?" Smith gulped nervously. "There's, um...there's something that we need to tell you."
"Sorry, guys, not at the moment," Cloud waved them off.
"But Cloud, it's about our son," Pocahontas said quickly.
"Oh? What about him?" Aerith asked curiously. "Is he okay? He must be nervous about tonight being the big wedding."
"Well, perhaps he is," Smith gulped. "But what's more important is that..."
Smith was immediately cut off by fanfare in the streets. "Okay, people, the sun's set, and Maleficent's curse is kaput!" Kronk boomed. "Get ready to make welcome, the one and the only, Princess Jaqulin Strife!!!"
The crowd erupted in cheers and applause, as fireworks shot off everywhere. Yes, the kingdom was surely a happy spectacle to behold.
...All except for one lonely tower.
High above all the commotion, there was a single tower that housed Jaqulin, fast asleep and with the crown on her head. The three Mages of the Rose, still regretful of their failure, looked over her sadly, while Jaqulin's friends looked on in sadness. Papa T stepped forward and placed a rose in her hands; he exhaled deeply. He stepped back as Reminy came up to the bed, her eyes overflowing with tears. Her entire body trembled.
"Jaqulin...I'm sorry," Reminy choked in between sobs. "I'm so, so, so sorry...for all of this. I...I feel so horrible...we never should have left you alone back there..."
Belle placed her hands upon Reminy's shoulders. Reminy herself turned around and hugged her mother gently. "She was like a sister to me, mom," she said, her voice an audible, yet uneasy whisper. "A real, honest sister."
"I know, sweetie," Belle sniffed, trying to keep a straight face and stroking Reminy's hair gently. They slowly walked out of the room, with Flonne and the others close behind. The group walked up to the railing of the balcony and watched the celebration sadly.
"I can't believe this all had to happen tonight," Papa T sighed, removing his cap and brushing his hair back. "Jaq succumed to Maleficent's curse, yet the entire kingdom thinks she made it. If only they knew the truth..."
"The poor king and queen," Kira sniffed, wiping tears from her eyes. "I can't bear to think of what their reaction will be when they hear this..."
"They'll be devestated!" Flonne sobbed.
"So, what do we do now?" Phantom asked. "Tell them that Maleficent won and their daughter's asleep for all eternity?"
"At this point, we don't have much of a choice," Taylor nodded gravely. "There's no way we can hide it from them." She turned to Belle and asked, "What do you think, Belle?"
Belle wiped a tear from her eye as she recollected her composure. "No," she shook her head. "No, we won't tell them."
Everyone, even Reminy and Flonne, gasped in shock. "Mom, are you serious?!" Reminy gasped.
"Now, c'mon, Belle, let's be reasonable here!" Essteka pleaded. "I know this is a terrible occurance, but not telling King Cloud and Queen Aerith about this won't help! They'll find out eventua---"
"No, no, you don't understand," Belle interrupted. "We'll put the entire kingdom to sleep...at least until Jaqulin awakens."
Essteka thought for a moment. "Oooh, I get it now," he nodded at last.
"I dunno if that's such a good idea, guys," Dr. Dude said, shaking his head.
"What do you mean?" Reminy asked.
"You said that the only way the curse can be broken is by true love's first kiss, right?" Dr. Dude asked. "Well, suppose we don't find someone to kiss her, or at the very least we fail trying to find an alternative. The entire kingdom will be collecting cobwebs if either one happens!"
"That's true, but it's a chance we'll have to take, Seth," Belle said, gripping the two drapes to Jaqulin's chamber. With one last sad look, she closed the drapes on the princess.
"Okay...I know it sounds like a risky plan," Molly said, "But we'll go with it. We'll make sure everyone's asleep as you go."
Belle nodded, and then looked to the girls. "It's time," she said silently. Flonne and Reminy nodded, and drew their instruments as Belle did her Keyblade. The three of them touched the ends of their tools together, and an orb of light formed at the end. White, sparking dust settled around the three; Flonne's wings grew larger in size, while two new pairs of them formed upon Belle and Reminy's backs. With a quick swipe of their tools, they shrunk in size, becoming unrecognizable to the naked eye. They flew all about the kingdom putting everyone to sleep; the guards, the peasents, the arisocrats, all of them couldn't help but fall under Belle, Flonne, and Reminy's spell. Flames and candlelight were extinguished, and the fountain was shut down. And Reminy was able to catch Homer, who had been knocked out from the sherry earlier, and put him to sleep.
Meanwhile, Belle cast the sleeping spell onto Cloud, Aerith, John Smith and Pocahontas. At this moment, Smith began to speak.
"So, so anyway, I was speaking to Carter earlier," Smith yawned. "Turns out he fell head over heels for some...peasent girl..."
Immediately, Belle stopped. "Wait, peasent girl?" she repeated. Quickly, she flitted over to Smith, whose eyes were drooping quickly. "The peasent girl, who was she?!"
"Just some...peasent girl he met..." Smith repeated.
"Where?! WHERE did he meet him?!" Belle pleaded.
Smith yawned loudly. "Once...upon...a dream..." Smith finally gave in to the sleeping spell and fell into a deep slumber.
"Once upon a...oh...oh, my," she gasped. "This is bad!"
Immediately, Belle flew out of the throne room and into the courtyard, where she saw the others coming towards her, and Flonne and Reminy coming in from the other sides of the kingdom. Immediately, they returned to their normal sizes; Belle and Reminy lost their wings as Flonne's shrunk.
"Everything's A-OK, guys," Papa T nodded. "The entire kingdom is sound asleep."
"That's good, but there's no time to waste!" Belle said quickly. "We need to get back to the cottage in the Forest of Hope, quickly!"
"How come, mom?" Reminy asked.
"The boy Jaqulin mentioned...he's really John Smith and Pocahontas' son, Carter," Belle explained. "HE was the one Jaqulin met in the woods today!"
The group stood looking at Belle in stunned silence. They were in the presence of the prince the whole time, and they didn't even know it. "Waaaait, wait, wait, wait," Phantom said after a moment of thinking. "Wait...so you mean to tell us that we met a peasent boy who wasn't really a peasent boy, but never told us who he really was? Huh...this story just got a lot more interesting."
"Story?" Kira raised her brow. She shook her head before scooping Phantom up in her arms and running with the others. "Nevermind, we have to hurry if we're going to find the prince!"
All the way back in the Forest of Hope, the prince rode Altivo up to the cottage by the river, whistling Once Upon a Dream as he went. He couldn't wait to see the girl he met today. As he pulled up to the cottage, he jumped off Altivo's back and cracked his fingers. "Welp, time to work your magic, Carter," he said to himself with a smile. Carter strode up to the door, and knocked three times.
"Come in," came a voice from inside. Carter slowly opened the door and walked inside.
"Hello? Is anybody home?" Carter called as his eyes scanned the room. Suddenly, the door shut. And then...
The next thing Carter knew, he was hit by four hundred pounds of fur and muscle; he tried to wrestle the whatever-it-was off of him, but to no avail. His captor was simply too strong. With Carter pinned, another figure appeared and violently slapped a piece of tape over his mouth. Carter felt himself being jerked up by his captor; the next thing he knew, he saw a flame light up, with the plug-ugly face of the Super Skrull looking him in the eye.
"Wait! This is not the princess, Pete!" Super Skrull said in shock. "We've captured the wrong person!"
"Did we?" Pete asked. "Huh...coulda sworn it was her..."
Carter looked to Pete and Super Skrull; he remembered seeing them way back when he was a little boy, and Maleficent first cast her curse on Jaqulin. He looked out the window and saw some of Maleficent's henchmen tying down Altivo, with Altivo struggling mightily. 'This can't get any worse,' he thought to himself. 'There's just no way that it can...'
And just when he thought things truly couldn't get worse...
"Do no worry, gentlemen," Maleficent's voice chuckled coldly. "This is quite the pleasent surprise."
Out of the shadows, Maleficent strode into the dim light. Carter's eyes widened in shock. "I set a trap for a peasent maiden...and lo! I catch a prince!" Maleficent cackled.
"Hey, what about us?!" Pete snapped. "We did most of the grunt work, see!"
"You shall be rewarded in due time, Peter," Maleficent said. "Now, away with him! But gently...I have great plans for our royal guest tonight."
Pete slung Carter over his back as he, Super Skrull, and Maleficent left the cottage, disappearing in a burst of green flame outside.
Meanwhile, the Mages of the Rose and the authors raced past the outskirts of the Forest of Hope, desperate to make it back to the cottage before anything happened. "Oooh, I sure hope the prince is okay," Molly mumbled to herself as she ran. And then, all of a sudden...
Something ran into Molly, prompting the others to turn around and see what had happened. Molly lay sprawled out on the earth, with Sonic and Joe jumbled on top of her.
"Toldja to watch where you were going, Sonic," Joe complained.
"Oh, shut up and get off of me," Sonic grumbled.
"Sonic! Joe!" Flonne gasped.
As Joe rolled off of Sonic's back, the hedgehog stood up and helped Molly back to her feet. "Sorry 'bout that," he blushed.
"Oh, no worries," Molly giggled. "That was actually kind of a funny way to meet a childhood favorite!"
"We can talk about that later," Sonic said. "For now, we gotta find Carter and make sure he's okay!"
"You boys are looking for him, too?" Reminy asked.
"Well, duh, why do you think we're all the way out here?" Joe asked. "C'mon!"
Immediately, the group set off again. They finally made it back to the cottage; Joe kicked the door open, only to find that the cottage had been ransacked...all that was left was Carter's feather.
"What the shell happened here?!" Essteka asked aloud. "It looks like someone tried to rob the place!"
Dr. Dude noticed the feather and picked it up. "The Angry Birds?" he asked.
Belle snatched the feather away from Dr. Dude. "This feather must be Carter's..." she said. "No...no, he couldn't have. But it's the only explanation. He must've been kidnapped!"
"Kidnapped?!" Flonne gasped.
"To the Forbidden Mountains," Reminy said.
"Oh, my," Taylor gasped.
"You've gotta be kidding us," Kira groaned, her arms flopping to her sides.
"Oh, joy," Phantom cried, covering her face with her paws. "That's the LAST place he had to be kidnapped to! Of all the places in the land to get kidnapped to, WHY THERE?!?"
"What now, Mom?" Reminy asked.
Belle thought long and hard before saying, "We'll have to go there."
"Ahh, a search-and-rescue mission, eh?" Papa T asked, rolling one of his shoulders. "I'm in...but it's not exactly going to be easy as walking in unannounced and freeing him."
"Exactly!" Flonne gulped. "We can't go there, it's too dangerous!"
"We can...and we must," Belle said sternly. "If Jaqulin is ever to awaken, we NEED to go there and rescue Carter."
"I've got no problems with that," Joe shrugged. "Danger's my middle name! Just give me a sec..." Joe raised the arm with his v-watch; it glowed with a bright white light as he shouted,
In another instant, Joe's outfit changed from his ordinary one to a red skin-tight suit with a large helmet, white gloves and boots, a large v-shape on the front of his helmet, and a long, flowing pink scarf. "Viewtiful Joe, at your service!" Joe triumphantly exclaimed.
"Count me in, too," Sonic said, pointing to himself. "I could use a little action after playing babysitter for the past few years!"
A tiny smile crept across Belle's face as the others nodded in agreement with Sonic's statement; they were willing to help as well. "Right," she said at last. "Looks like we won't be going to the Forbidden Mountains alone, girls. Let's go!"
End of Chapter 10