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13.4

"Princess Tutu," Fakir gasps, with what remains of his breath. "You must see to Mytho's future."

Good. That's the last thing. The Prince's sword is broken; Mytho won't lose his heart, and Tutu will keep him safe. Fakir can fall now.

The lake closes over him.

(Happiness, to those who accept their fates.)

***

It's quiet down here, lit by a strange and peaceful turquoise light. Fakir knows he's wounded in a dozen places, but he doesn't feel pain. Perhaps he's past pain altogether. Fakir doesn't care very much either way, as he drifts slowly downward. The light is getting dimmer, and the water around him becoming a deeper and deeper shade of blue.

...Shouldn't I have drowned by now?

13.1

Scene, a lake in an underground cavern, separated from the gap by a narrow shore. In the center of the lake, there is something like a white branch, or a great ivory tusk, or the silhouette of a swan's neck. On it stands Princess Kraehe, in black tulle and satin.

Beside the branch, or tusk, or neck, lies a sort of bier or bed, white marble covered over with red roses, and on top of the roses lies Mytho, his eyes closed, as still as death.

On the near shore of the lake, Princess Tutu stands, all in pink and white, and the Knight of the story, dressed in black, a half-step behind her.

You might think, watching these four, that the stage has been carefully set. If you thought so, you would be right.

Fakir, being a character in the tableau rather than a neutral observer, isn't thinking about it. He stands in second position, hand on his swordhilt, waiting. (If it occurs to him that this is a ballet stance, not a swordsman's stance... well, it doesn't occur to him.)

12.6

The tunnel opens on a spiral staircase in red sandstone, and then on a set of rough, uneven paths overlooking a cliff face.

Faint light, radiating from nowhere in particular, shows that these paths, too, and the great stone walls to the right of the paths, are also built of red sandstone. The air is damp and cool, and something, somewhere, is dripping.

Fakir walks quickly; there's no reason to dawdle. Duck can just do her best to keep up.
When the battle comes at last, Fakir has decided, it's likely to occur on rough terrain rather than in a salle with a flat wooden floor and a mirrored surface. He ought to practice his sword forms on uneven ground.

That's why Fakir has found a convenient ruined tower in which to run through his Marozzo routines.

12.5

Princess Kraehe has kidnapped Mytho, told Fakir and Duck all about it, delivered a string of threats and insults and vanished in a cloud of raven feathers.

The meadow by the gazebo seems unnaturally quiet now that the crow-princess is gone. Duck and Fakir stare at each other. What now?

Then the silence is broken by a hand-organ playing "Music of the Automatica." Apparently, now Fakir and Duck can have a conversation with a cryptic puppet. That's all their day needs.

S1 Finale: OUTTAKES!

Because every plot requires them.

12.1

Thunder cracks, or perhaps it's Fakir's head throbbing. He opens his eyes.

Where-- I'm in our room, of course. That's my ceiling. But--

He has a vague sense that something's wrong about the ceiling, but he can't place it.

"How did I--" Fakir says, out loud. How did I get here? There was -- there was a battle. Princess Kraehe. I couldn't fight, and then she attacked, and now--

that's right. Tutu helped me. Tutu brought me here. Damn her, I could have walked by myself.


Fakir pushes himself up on aching, stinging arms, which, he notices with disgust, are wrapped in bandages. "She bound my wounds. What kind of a useless cham--"

Fakir breaks off, staring. Princess Tutu is beside him, head down and dozing on Fakir's bed. That's what's wrong with the ceiling. I'm in Mytho's bed. She even put me in bed. "Hey," Fakir says, and if his face is pained, his voice is gentle.

Thank you!

[partially cross-posted to rymenhild]

Whoever gave this journal a paid account extension, thank you so much. I am both surprised and very pleased.

Do you like drabbles, anonymous giver? Send me a story request. Anonymous comments are enabled if you prefer to remain unknown (but I'm curious!).
Not long ago, Fakir said to Tutu, "When the Raven faces you, strike!"

But when at last Fakir held the Warrior's sword, and the raven princess danced before him, he couldn't touch her. She shielded herself with Mytho's body, and Fakir hesitated --

and then she was gone, and Fakir did nothing.

He couldn't even attack Princess Tutu with the sword. She stood before him, with that maddening smile, and with her pendant (impossible!) around her neck again, and said, "I don't have any wish to fight you."

Fakir should be furious right now. He isn't, and he isn't really sure why not.

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