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Shinnen omedetou gozaimasu!
Who: Sway, cameo by Sabretooth
When: Morning, January 1st
Where: undisclosed motel
What: Typical celebratory morning after...for the criminally insane
Warnings: kidnapping, implications of sex and violence



“Happy new yeah to you, Happy new yeah to me…” Sway sang choppy English words to the tune of “Happy Birthday” not knowing or caring for accuracy. Everything was right as it should be as far as she was concerned. She brought in the new year literally with a bang, thanks to her feral accomplice who now lay sleeping in the queen sized motel bed.

Anything in the room that was glass or fragile was broken; the walls and floor were littered with dents and cracks, speaking volumes of their tryst. Blood splattered on a trail to the most revealing sight of all: two bodies, a man and a woman, tied up, unconscious, sitting up against the wall near the door. Sway danced around them checking their pockets as she hummed her made-up tune. So far she came up with some loose change, gum, chapstick and both their wallets. She opened the woman’s wallet and read her driver’s license.
“Sah-lah. Gleen-feld.” Sway looked at her to compare her to the picture on the card. She wore too much makeup, the Japanese girl decided. Otherwise she was very pretty. Sway had spotted Sara Greenfield across the street from the motel and pointed her out to Creed like she was picking out a toy to play with. Sarah was then kidnapped invited, along with James Nader, who fatefully booked the room next door, to ring in the new year violent psychopath style.

Sway had gotten used to Creed’s fast healing and her knife happily became an extended appendage for a while. She had most of her fun with James and James was now dying of bloodloss.
Sarah stirred awake, hearing Michiko’s song. Immediately her eyes darted around for Creed. She thanked whoever she believed in that the man was still asleep in bed. He didn’t slice and dice as much as Michiko; he rather implied it, wanting to enjoy the full extent of their fear first. Sarah discovered there were worst things than physical mutilation. She began to whimper as she realized she was still trapped in this place, tied to a dying man she didn’t know but had been forced to do things with. “Please,” She looked up at Michiko, “Let us go. He’s dying.”
Michiko was busy gliding the chapstick across her lips. She noticed Sarah was awake, but ignored her. She belonged to Creed.
Speaking of which she cast her boring discoveries aside, humans quickly forgotten and went back to the bed to straddle the man who was twice her size. She knew he wasn’t sleeping because he was tired; the man had more stamina that all the people in the room combined. Maybe he was dreaming. Having a peaceful illusion all his own that was seldom allotted to creatures of violence. She lightly ran a hand across his chest, noting that all her marks were gone; the scratches, the bites, the cuts, the rope burns. It would be disappointing if it weren’t so fascinating. Her body however, displayed various bites, scratches and bruises that would be around for a little while, not that she minded. They healed. She was sore all over but that went away too. With a smirk, she rustled his long mane then rolled over to start gathering her things.

The humans would stay. Michiko figured the man could live long enough for the owner to find them and get help. If not, oh well, he wasn’t meant to be worth anything anyway. If Creed decided to do more with them, that was his business; she just made sure to gather anything that could lead authorities to their future whereabouts.
When Creed woke up, Sway would be gone. She’d miss him but she wasn’t concerned; if he wanted her again he’d easily track her down. Certain people needed killing and she’d wasted enough time already.

When all her things were gathered, Michiko looked at the humans and put a hand to her lips to shush them, pointing to Creed. She moved to the window, waving off the tragic scene. All the sudden, the small woman sang at the top of her lungs, “Shinnen omedetou gozaimasu!” Sarah looked in horror in Creed’s direction, while Michiko slipped out the window laughing. Things were looking up already in the new year.
The Kiss

The odd events at the Castle began in the summer. The grounds flourished into a green paradise, and more specifically, Princess Giselle's playground. Giselle spent all her days in the garden and the woods behind the house. She always requested to be alone during these times so her servant, Anura, could only fathom what she did to amuse herself. Just her and that little golden ball.

It was the second week of June when she emerged from the woods with a sad smile and tear stained eyes. Anura rushed to her side. "My lady, is everything ok? What happened?" Giselle looked at Anura, her eyes suddenly revealing nothing. "All is well. Anura. I have my ball, what more could I want?" Anura accepted that answer with a smile, hoping that was all there was to it.

Later that night, events became stranger still. The royal family joined together for dinner in the dining hall, a room where Anura wasn't allowed. She could only put the pieces together from the noises she heard, the sounds of an argument between father and daughter. Anura was almost caught with her ear at the door when Giselle came storming out. "You keep your word, Giselle!" Her father, the King, bellowed after her. Anura quickly followed after Giselle to tend to her. The princess cried all night, but wouldn't tell Anura why. The homely young servant comforted Giselle the best she could, giving up on inquiry.

Days later, a new face appeared at the house. A manservant now accompanied Giselle. When he was around, Anura wasn't allowed. Whatever was going on, Anura started to worry. What was troubling the princess so? Was Anura not closest to her? Why couldn't she confide in her?

Well Anura supposed, they weren't that close. Giselle didn't get close to anyone really. She was the youngest of three beautiful girls, well educated, and dutifully spoiled. Everyone annoyed her, repulsed her. She was convinced she was too good for anyone and would live her days alone, unlike her sisters, who planned to be whisked away by some far off prince to be married happily ever after. Giselle often spent her time with the old sorceress who supported the throne. An apprentice of sorts. Such a shame, really, such beauty and talent destined to live alone in a tower. But that's what Giselle wanted and Anura's duty was to support her.
Giselle liked Anura, who had been her servant since she was young. She didn't gripe about Giselle being single forever, like her mother. She didn't try to flaunt Giselle as a prize in front of the royal court, like her father. She didn't compare and poke fun, like her sisters. She didn't gossip, like the other servants. Anura seemed to understand her. They had much in common.
Anura wasn't born with a silver spoon, by any means. If her father was a king, she would never know. From what she understood, her mother was a harlot who succumbed to a curse. The wisest thing she did was abandon Anura at the castle gate, advising her to beg for work. She was taken in and raised to be the personal servant of Giselle. Thanks to the sins of her mother, the unembellished girl was a little slower than the rest, but determined. She devoted her life to Giselle. She knew nothing else, she had nothing else to live for.
Giselle seem to be content alone, but every now and then Anura would catch her staring into space, and knew she was thinking about a prince. Whenever her sisters chatted about their suitors, Giselle would get uneasy and find an excuse for exit. Anura saw this, but didn't judge. She was not the romantic, hopeful type. She wouldn't try to encourage Giselle to dream of a fairytale future. She had no ambitions of her own, let alone for anyone else. She was simply that unpretentious girl that served the youngest princess . Giselle usually trusted her, confided in her. She told herself it was because Anura had no one else to tell, no one cared enough about Anura. She was a simple gift, left at the castle gate just for Giselle. The naïve maiden was most impressionable, and oddly enough, Giselle sought to impress her the most.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Giselle left the woods that day looking very shaken, like everything she believed in was crumbling around her. But, as was her manner, the prideful princess quickly regained her composure and assured Anura nothing was wrong. That evening, her father gave her the command to keep her word. Soon after that, Bufo, the manservant, was hired.

Bufo hardly spoke and many were convinced he was not from around here. He was a tall gangly man, awkward in movement and stature. He was not bad looking, but like Anura, his homeliness appeared to magnify when standing next to Giselle. He didn't seem to care though. While his whole presence was shrouded in mystery, his demeanor was the oddest thing. He hardly showed any emotion, any reaction to anything. He only did as he was told by Giselle, and whatever it was he was hired for, he was very devoted to it.
The days had new ritual. Anura would tend to Giselle in the morning, midday, and evening. Bufo would accompany her at meals, occasionally in the woods, and even in the bedchamber. Anura was not allowed around during these times. This went on for weeks. Both Anura and Bofu would join Giselle on trips, however, and it was on one of these trips that Anura discovered something particularly peculiar about Bofu's situation.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
During this trip, Giselle opted to make her shopping rounds alone, while Anura and Bofu stayed to tend the carriage. As Anura thought on Giselle's needs for the evening, Bofu suddenly spoke the most words he'd ever spoken to anyone.
"You've grown up with the princess, yes? Does she seem any different lately to you? Has she always been so …selfish?"
"Mistress is not selfish, she just knows who she is and what she wants. Not many people can claim such confidence." Bofu smiled. "You are very devoted aren't you?" Anura didn't answer, as that was obviously a rhetorical question. Bofu asked another. "What about you? Do you know what you want?"
At this Anura hesitated. "Yes…I want my mistress to be happy." When she met Bofu's eyes, he surprised her. His eyes seemed to be sparkling. "I've watched you, Anura. You and I are the same. My master comes first. There is nothing I won't do for him. But I suspect soon he won't need me and I will have to move on..."
Bufo watched Anura intently, but the simple girl remained surprised. She could only think of one thing to say: "Don't you mean her?" This whole situation was making her lightheaded...
"Goodness, you two. I deal with enough displays of affection from my airy sisters. " Giselle stepped in between the pair, arms garnished in bags and face covered in distain. Anura immediately tended to her. "I'm so sorry my lady, Bufo was merely telling me a story." She lied. Giselle looked at Bufo and smiled. "Oh a story ? I fancy stories. Tell me which one and I'll tell you if I've heard of it or not."
Bufo looked between Anura and Giselle, clearing his throat. "The story of the fair maiden Rapunzel…"
"Ah yes. Poor thing had a lovely tower with the whole world in her sights, incredible beauty, gorgeous hair, care of a sorceress, and gave it all up for a prince. I don't know who thought that made a happy ending-"
"Maybe those who choose to follow their hearts and not live in fear of the unknown." Anura barely acknowledged Bufo's words as she blissfully tended to Giselles things, but Giselle froze, eyeing Bufo with a look of surprise, that quickly turned to anger. "Who are you to be so bold? You are only here because of my father and when this is all over, you will be thrown back to the swamp from which you came!" She hissed. "Come Anura, Bufo has indicated that he would like to walk back." Anura watched both in bemusement, but quickly followed Giselle into the carriage. In the small back window she watched Bufo grow smaller and smaller, finding the smile on his face quite unnerving.
~~~~~~~~~~~~
It was Giselle and Anura alone together on the ride home. Giselle hadn't spoken a word since they left. Anura couldn't understand how a simple statement riled up the princess so much, but finally the beautiful girl spoke. "Anura, you understand, don't you? Why a silly prince can't take me away…"
Anura watched Giselle with wide eyes. "Of course, my lady. You are much too wise and beautiful to just be a mere prize won by some man." Anura simply repeated the words Giselle told her several times. "Exactly." Giselle nodded. Anura noticed her eyes welled up with tears. "This is why I need you around, Anura. You don't judge like everyone else. Your view of me keeps me going and that's why….why I can't tell you…."
"Tell me what, my lady? I promise I would never look down on you…" Anura leaned in, anxious to finally know why she was no longer allowed in the dining hall, the bedchamber, the woods….
Giselle laughed, the saddest laugh Anura had ever heard. "It's irony, really. I've always seen men as the lowliest of creatures, and here I am, falling for..."

Anura never did get to hear the rest of the story. The driver announced that they had arrived and Giselle quickly departed from the carriage, mumbling a 'goodnight' to her humble servant. Anura acknowledged that this was the last time she would see Giselle until morning. It was Bufo's time now, whenever he arrived. With a sigh, the young servant thought briefly on what just transpired. For some reason, Bufo's sparkling eyes staring into hers stuck out the most. Giselle couldn't be falling for him, could she? Shaking her head, the unadorned young woman made her way to her own chambers.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Anura wasn't expecting visitors that night. A knock on her door startled the poor girl out of her slumber and she stumbled for a robe to answer the door. Maybe Giselle finally needed her at this hour. She yanked the door opened, expecting it to be her master. "Yes...Bufo?" The much taller man bowed deeply. "Forgive me, Anura, but I had to speak with you. There's something so familiar about you. I've watched you often and I can't stop thinking about you..." Bufo walked in uninvited, taking Anura's hands. "Please, tell me what it is." Anura gazed open-mouthed at the man standing before her. She never had anyone really given her attention besides Giselle, and here was Bufo, confessing that he couldn't get the plain maiden out of his thoughts. Being unprepared for this was an understatement, and Anura began to ramble something she hoped would satisfy this man. Something that would make him back off, and stop making her feel these unfamiliar feelings.

"Well...I wouldn't know anyone outside the castle, I've been here most of my life. My mother was...well I remember her being very beautiful. I don't think I look anything like her really. She was always so sad...she often spoke of a castle much like this one, but there was a prince instead of princesses." She kept talking, hoping Bufo would ease away some, but he only stared more intensely.
"You have your mother's eyes atleast?" He finally inquired. Anura raised an eyebrow. "No actually, my mother's eyes were green. Mine are blue, like my father's I suppose. My mother also had dark hair, but you see mine is blonde. Maybe that's why my mother rid herself of me. I reminded her too much of him."
At this Bufo finally did ease away, staring at Anura as if he was really seeing her for the first time. "What was her name, your mother?"
Anura looked distant, letting nostalgia wash over her. An image of her beautiful mother dancing and chanting entered her mind as she spoke a name. "Lucia."
Bufo's reaction was not what Anura was expecting. His expression was incredulous, and soon joined by a sad smile. "I believe I knew your father, Anura, and it seems that fate has brought us here together-"

"That's so sweet, it really is, but why you two are up confessing your love, no one is tending to my needs." Giselle stood at Anura's doorway, looking very flustered.
"My lady!" Anura quickly slipped from Bufo's grasp and ran over to the princess. "I'm so sorry, what is it you need?" It took every fiber of her being not to look back at Bufo, but Giselle did enough looking for her. "Leave us, Bufo. I wish to speak to Anura alone."

"But I-"

"Leave at once! Go take care of….it." She said the last word as if it left a horrible taste in her mouth, and Bufo all but noticed. His voice was cold and emotionless once again. "As you wish." He left, avoiding Anura's gaze completely. What just happened here? Before she could ponder it further, Giselle pushed the servant girl back into her room and shut the door. "Anura please tell me you're not falling in love with that man. He is worthless, even you could do better than that. Forget about him, I need you now. I think I'm going to leave this place, I can't take it anymore."

Anura couldn't believe what she was hearing. First Bufo, now this. She had no idea what brought this all on. "What is it that troubles you, my lady? Can you tell me? What can I do?" Anura now held Giselle by the hand, feeling much more comfortable than earlier. Giselle spoke softly, enticing Anura to lean in further. "I'm going to get rid of him. Tonight, I'll finally give him what he wants, a silly kiss, and while he's distracted, I'll do away with him! It will be quick and I'll need you right away Anura." Anura simply nodded, wide-eyed. Giselle continued. "I'm going to run away. I will find my own tower and watch over the world. But I need you to help me escape. And…" Giselle hesitated, not use to begging someone else's help, "..to accompany me, if you wish."

Anura didn't hesitate. "Of course madam! My loyalty lies with you, not this place. Ask anything of me and it shall be done!" Giselle began to cry, pulling Anura into a hug. "I knew I could count on you, Anura. Never again will I be beguiled by his lies of far away lands and adventures. He's just a stupid creature that retrieved my ball for me and now my whole family is using him against me. But you are always on my side, Anura." After a moment, Giselle finally regained her composure, sitting up and wiping her eyes. "Alright. Before the sun rises, I need you to enter my chamber. We will pack my things and slip out to a carriage that will be waiting by the woods. We must be gone before the sun rises, not a moment later!"

"Of course, my lady! I won't let you down." Anura gave Giselle a reassuring smile, glad to see the relief that washed over the princess's face. She really wasn't sure who Giselle was referring to, who would be done away with, but there were already too many questions that needed answers. Her duty was to serve Giselle in whatever way she needed. Surely those answers would come in due time.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Giselle left soon after and Anura had no trouble drifting to sleep; it had been a trying day. She dreamt of her mother. The beautiful exotic creature danced through a forest clearing while her daughter looked on, but she wasn't alone. A faceless man with long blonde hair joined her and they held each other, beckoning a younger Anura to come join them. She did and as her mother took her hand, she began chanting. Soon the three of them were floating through the air, laughing joyfully. Anura looked over at the man and saw that he had blue eyes, which seemed to sparkle…

The sparkle became bright light and Anura was woken up by the sun shining through her window. Panic came the instant she opened her eyes. It was sunrise! She had failed Giselle! With a gasp, the servant jumped from her bed and dashed to Giselle's chamber. What she found, she was not ready for.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Anura hurried to Giselle's chamber and burst open the door, bracing herself. "My lady, please forgive me, I will take full responsibility for whatever happens….oh!"

There was a naked man lying in bed, with an equally naked Princess Giselle. Anura had never seen this man before but there was something vaguely familiar about his long blonde hair and blue eyes. The pair were smiling and holding each other, only startled by Anura's sudden arrival. The poor servant couldn't help but stare in confusion. "My lady…..?"

"Oh Anura! All is well, don't worry. It was all true! The stories he told, he really is a prince!" Giselle acknowledged her handsome suitor. "Lucas, this is Anura, my faithful servant." Lucas sat up, revealing enough of his perfect body to make Anura blush for a lifetime. "Anura. Giselle always speaks highly of you. I am honored by your presence. Thank you for taking care of my future bride." Giselle giggled at the statement. Anura was speechless. Where had this man come from? What happened to Giselle's vows of solitude? Did this mean Anura would no longer be needed? What would she do? Her thoughts suddenly fell on Bufo. Where was he in all this?

"The lady looks very confused." Lucas observed. "Did she not know of me?" He look to his bedmate. Giselle nodded and sighed. "How could I tell the only person who looked up to me that I was falling in love with a frog? While everyone else gossiped and sneered, I could always go to Anura and know I was pure in her eyes. But that isn't important anymore. You're free of your curse, love, and you've freed me of my fears. I'll never have to worry about such things again."

Anura listened to Giselle and slowly the pieces came together. This prince was once a vile creature. A talking frog that had been spending time with Giselle, due to a word that her father forced her to keep. As they spent time together, Giselle found herself attracted to him, but couldn't face it. Last night was her last desperate attempt to fight, but the kiss she was going to use to distract him became….this. Everything changed before her eyes.

Anura finally understood enough to breath in relief. So Giselle, in the oddest of circumstances, had found her prince. He hopped into her life and before she knew it, she had fallen in love. She had her fairytale future set. What did this mean for Anura? Giselle would no longer need her for support, would she? What would she do then? Once again her thoughts fell on the one other person who'd shown interest, who talked about moving on…

"BUFO!? What are you doing?! NO!" Giselle's sudden scream caused Anura to whip around in surprise. Right into the blade of a sword.

The tall mystery man stood at the other end of it, shaking in sobs. Pain, shock, and confusion came over Anura, who looked from Bufo to the sword in her chest. He retracted the blade, and the maiden collapsed. There was so much Anura didn't understand. Why? Why was this all happening to her?

Bufo turned to the royal couple. "F-forgive me, Prince Lucas, I had to. I couldn't bear to see her, to be reminded of what happened to you, to your family. As long as she lived, the curse would remain."

Giselle choked back tears, running to Anura's side. The young servant's life was slipping away quickly. Lucas stood up to Bufo, glaring. "I really hope you have a better explanation than that, Henry."

Giselle looked up at the two men. "Henry?" she questioned. Lucas nodded. "That's right. Henry, loyal servant of my family for many years. He learned that I made my way to this castle to seek love and end my curse. He followed me and got himself hired here so he could watch over me. Tell me, Henry, what did this poor girl do? Tell me!"

Henry responded desperately. "Her mother is Lucia, sire, the witch that seduced your father, the King, and drove your mother, the Queen, to ruin! It was Lucia who gave you that wretched curse, because the king loved you more and would not acknowledge his own daughter. This girl here, was the cause of your family's demise! But I've taken care of her sire. I have proven my loyalty!"

Lucas looked over at Giselle, his future bride, sobbing over a fading Anura. "What you have proven, is that this whole ordeal has hardened your heart, Henry. I watched you around her. You loved her, but because you binded your heart, you couldn't take it. You are the vile creature, Henry. It is you who is truly cursed." At these words, Henry dropped the sword and fell to his knees, broken. "My feelings tried to betray me, my lord. How could I fall in love with the very one that destroyed everything I was devoted to? You came first, you must understand!"

Lucas simply picked up the sword. "During my time in that humble state, I learned about many things, Henry. Understanding, patience, forgiveness, love. I am not the weak man my father was, and I will not uphold his ideals, the ones you stay so devoted to. You are a man of old, just like he was, and because of your manipulative crimes, you will join him in the grave."

Henry slowly sat up to face the prince, all emotion lost once again. The sword he used on Anura now pierced him through the heart, but he felt no pain. In his last moment, he looked over at the pale maiden in Giselle's arms. He reached out as his life gave way and soon he was no more.

Luca quickly joined Giselle over Anura. The ill-fated young woman smiled weakly. She devoted her life to Giselle and now that Giselle had her prince, Anura had lost her purpose. This was how it was supposed to end, she thought. Otherwise she would be living a meaningless life. "Lucas will take care of you now, my lady, don't worry.." Anura whispered.

Giselle cried softly as Lucas reach over to caress Anura's face. "This world was not kind to you, my sister. Be at peace, finally." That seemed to be what Anura needed to hear. She closed her eyes, quietly passing away. When this story was to be told to future generations, Anura's part was left out, out of respect.

And to the rest of the world, Lucas and Giselle lived happily ever after.
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