Amelia sat up slowly, groaning. She must've hit her head pretty hard to be knocked out like that. Sure enough, blood was oozing from a small cut there and she could tell that a bump was going to form. Her cheeks felt bruised as well, but she hadn't a clue what that might be from. She wondered how long she'd been laying there, unconscious, and if she was late to work yet. Also if anyone had decided to rob her. After all, this was Central Park.
Her bicycle lay a few feet away, turned over in the grass. What on Earth had happened? The last thing she remembered was riding down the path, not really paying attention. And wings. There had been wings flapping in her face. Had she been nose-dived by some kind of bird? Amelia lifted a hand to her forehead and wiped away the blood trickling down it. She released a thin cry as she saw exactly how much blood was there. How was she going to go to work like that? They would certainly send her home, and she wouldn't get paid until the wound healed. What terrible luck!
The dark-haired girl rose stiffly and surveyed the scene. Her bike was unharmed, from the look of it. Beside it lay the contents of her purse, scattered all over the path. Next to that was an oddly shaped lump of rock. No...it was something else.
Amelia went to investigate. The rock was two different shades of blue and, strangely, someone had sculpted it into the shape of a chicken. Chicken? she thought, remembering the sound of wings flapping and the bruises on her face. No, that can't be right. How silly of me. It's just a rock.
Then the rock moved, and Amelia let out a startled yelp. It was a chicken! And it was alive!
The chicken clucked in irritation and hopped to its feet awkwardly. It flapped its wings unnaturally, and the girl wondered if she'd hurt it in the collision. "What are you doing here?" she murmured, thinking it odd that there was a chicken in the city. "And what in the world are you?"
The chicken cocked its head to one side, and she found herself looking into a startlingly intelligent eye. She hadn't thought chickens (especially stone ones) could be expressive, but this one clearly seemed to be saying, What does it look like? I'm a chicken, you fool.
"I wonder where you came from," Amelia murmured, her curiosity piqued. "I've never seen anything like you before." The chicken clucked at her and began hopping around, waving its wings wildly. She shook her head. "I'm sorry, I can't understand you," she said, feeling silly about talking to an animal.
"I must be losing it." She spun on her heel and stooped to collect her scattered belongings. The stone chicken chased her, clucking and running insistently in circles around her. Well, it certainly wasn't going to leave her alone. Did chickens make good pets? She slung her purse over her shoulder and knelt to stare at the strange creature again. It almost seemed to be pleading with her...
A large gust of wind swept over the area, sending shivers of warning down the girl's spine. There was an overwhelming presence of...something...in that wind. The chicken scrambled to hide behind her, and she stiffened in fear. Someone was out there. Someone male and frightening, there in the shadows. She hadn't heard him come up. Amelia panicked and grabbed the chicken, prepared to run.
Out of the shadows stepped the most stunning man she had ever seen. The air around him tingled and shimmered with darkness, and the blackness of night seemed to bow before his presence. He walked toward her in slow, almost choreographed steps, his purple-colored cloak billowing out behind him in the wind. Amelia sucked in her breath at the sight of him, frozen to her spot. She was vaguely reminded of the Goblin King Jareth's entrance Labyrinth, so profound was his arrival. She stared. The man wore dark trousers to match his cloak, and a tunic of complimenting yellow. His hair was a brighter violet and was cut in a style resembling that of a medieval priest's, not quite touching his shoulders. But the oddest thing about him was his eyes. They were completely closed as he advanced toward her, and remained closed as he stopped mere inches away.
Amelia suddenly remembered where she was, snapping out of her dreamlike fantasy. She took an uncertain step backward. His smile was almost too innocent, his demeanor too appeasing. "What do you want?" she demanded.
His smile widened almost imperceptibly. Oh, this one was dangerous. "You seem to have found my pet," he said lightheartedly, his voice bordering on the obnoxiously cheerful. "I was so worried. He usually doesn't run off like that."
The chicken squawked in denial and tried to hide itself in her arms, clearly afraid of the new arrival.
The man chuckled softly. "What's the matter, Prince Zelgadis? Don't you want to go home?"
"Prince? That's an odd name for a chicken," Amelia whispered to herself, struggling to keep the aforementioned animal from burrowing into her bosom. He was frightened. She could easily see why, and began to slowly back away.
"May I have my pet, please?" the man asked her, still cheerful. "It would be appreciated wholly, I assure you..." He took a step toward her.
Amelia pointed a shaky finger at him. "It is unjust to threaten defenseless girls! And it's unjust to frighten poor defenseless animals, even if they are made out of rock!" The chicken made a derisive noise at this comment. "Stop your wicked ways! You should know that justice is the burning light that shines down from the heavens! And justice always triumphs!"
The man slowly opened his eyes, and the girl was shocked to find that they, too, were a bright purple. "Is that so?" he said, his mouth stretching into a dark and seductive smile. With his eyes open like that, and with the shadows falling across his face, he looked decidedly...evil.
And Amelia's heart thumped loudly.
Yes, she could feel the evil exuding from every part of him. The danger, the inner wolf threatening to devour her soul. But... She blushed visibly.
The man's smile wavered. His eyes were beautiful. She could almost lose herself in them. The chicken - what was his name again? Prince? - squawked fearfully in her arms. Amelia's eyes widened. How long had she been standing there? In Central Park, at dusk, with a stranger. A stranger who wanted Prince. And who Prince obviously did not trust. Amelia started backing away fast, suddenly frightened. Her feet almost tripped over themselves as she broke into a run, her purse leaving litter in its wake.
The man watched her disappear into the trees, feeling slightly confused. He stooped to retrieve one of her discarded items and fingered the cover. It was made of a strange kind of leather with a translucent...something...over it, covering lines of smudgy writing. "Property of Amelia Tesla," he muttered to himself. "If found, please return..."
The Queen glared dangerously at the three pathetic excuses for Mazoku before her, frowning in disappointment. Her expression was matched by that of their father, who she was certain didn't really care about the Prince, but about his children's failure. "So you say Zelgadis had disappeared."
"Yes, Your Majesty."
"What of the other Mazoku?"
The three exchanged a wary glance. To refer to him as merely another Mazoku implied ignorance. "He has also vanished."
A slow smile spread across the Queen's face. That one would take care of it. He would not fail, like the others. She had nothing to worry about. "I want you to wait here until he returns with Zelgadis. I have placed a sleep spell over the prison, so no one should bother you. Report back to me later." She motioned to Shabranigdo, stepping outside the Snow White Memorial Prison into the bliss of fresh air. Oh, how she'd longed to go outdoors...but now, on to other matters. The red-haired Queen led him out to the prison road, out of earshot from the fools inside.
She turned a vicious smile upon him. "Now, my dear Ruby Eye, I have heard of your recent conquests in the kingdom of Seiryuun. I have a little gift for you in return for what you've done for me. Darkness beyond the blackest pitch, deeper than the deepest night..."
Amelia was panting hard by the time she reached safety, finding the little chicken almost too heavy to carry. She could have run faster without him. But she didn't want to leave him - Prince - behind, not while that scary man was after him. That scary, threatening, and oddly seductive...
She shook her head. What am I thinking? she scolded herself, struggling to mount the stairs that would reach her aunt's apartment. The building was much closer to the part of the park she had been in than her own, and she didn't want to risk running out of energy. Luckily, the man didn't seem to be following her. She huffed up the last flight of stairs and stumbled down the hallway, barely making it to her aunt's door. The key...did she leave it on the bike path? Nope, it was thankfully still in her purse. Her Aunt Luna wasn't home to let her in. She was also a waitress and worked at one of those medieval theme restaurants over on the West Side.
The job definitely paid good money, Amelia decided with a wistful glance around her aunt's plush apartment. She locked and bolted the door behind her, knowing her aunt wouldn't be home until the next morning. Flopping down onto an armchair to catch her breath, she was finally able to take a good look at the little animal whom had wrecked her entire schedule. The girl stared at him quizzically. "You're definitely not what you seem," she told him. "I just wish I could understand what you're trying to say." The chicken just looked at her. "Are you hungry?" she asked after a few moments. "I'm sure I can find something for you in the kitchen..."
She awoke sometime around midnight, curled up in the bed that had once belonged to her mother when she had lived with Aunt Luna. Her mother... She tried not to think about that too much. In any case, she had heard a noise, and looked over at Prince. He was sleeping awkwardly in the laundry basket, which she'd filled with clean towels. So then what...
Amelia gave a start as she felt wind on her face, rustling through her hair. Her head snapped to the right, and she nearly had a heart attack from the vision presented to her. He was there, sitting on the sill of the window she hadn't left unlocked, with his hair and cloak drifting in the breeze and a smug smile on his pale face.
Maybe this was a dream. Maybe it would all go away when she woke up. Amelia squeezed her eyes shut for a moment. When she opened them, he was gone and the window was closed. She sighed with relief. I must be going nuts, she thought, putting a hand to the bump on her head and laying back down on the soft pillows. Perhaps I'd better make an appointment with the psychiatrist next door, Akahoushi Rezo. She rolled over.
Amelia nearly screamed with fright. She scrambled backwards and fell off the edge of the bed in a heap, her legs thoroughly entangled in the sheets. The violet-haired man peered down at her. "Goodness. How clumsy of me," he said offhandedly, the corner of his mouth twitching with amusement. "Here, let me help you up."
The raven-haired girl stared at his proffered hand with trepidation, but something inside her moved her to take it. He pulled her to her feet, his smile mysterious. Amelia swallowed nervously. This was no ordinary man. "Who are you?"
"My name is Xelloss," he answered cheerfully.
"How did you get in here?"
"That is a secret," he told her, smiling and shaking his finger in a no-no gesture.
The girl blinked, slightly taken aback. She wasn't exactly comfortable standing there and talking to him. Especially when he was in her bed. "W-what do you want from me?" she stammered. "What are you doing here?"
"Well, I - "
"You can't have the chicken," she interrupted, hoping her voice wasn't as shaky as it sounded to her. "Please leave immediately."
Xelloss's smile widened. Did she really think he was still interested in the prince? "Are you certain about that?" he murmured.
"Yes," she said defiantly, as though that could stop him if he really wanted to take the prince. Or her, for that matter.
Xelloss shrugged. He had all the cards in this game. "As you wish."
Amelia's eyes went wide as his form vanished into thin air, no trace of his presence left behind. "What the...?"
Knock, knock. "Excuse me...Mr. Tesla?"
"What are you doing, waking me up this early in the morning?"
"I have a bit of a...proposition for you..."
Part 2 | Fanfiction