Three-part Short Story / Written 1/7/06 / Rated G
This story takes place with Raj's depart from her home and her arrival to the island Bed and Breakfast where she settles comfortably for the summer.
Chapter One - On Vacation
"Cast aside..." Narajma hissed to her handmaiden as she stormed into her bedroom and threw herself onto her bed. "Of course the suitors would call for Eri! She's the oldest; the heir to the throne!"
"Forgive me, miss..." the servant said with a bow. "Surely Princess Eriyah will be choosy in who she takes as a husband."
"Choosy!?" Raj shouted dramatically. "Why be choosy!? All she needs to do is get married and she'll have the right to my father's throne! And then Jelima and I will be cast out among the people to live as commoners!"
"Forgive me, your highness, but I truly believe your father wouldn't let that happen."
"Peh..." Raj scoffed as she drew a brush through her hair. "My father is getting old - all he wants is to know that his future is secure. It's not about rights anymore... oh no. It's a flat out race now."
"I can't take it anymore." she said, slamming her brush down onto her vanity. "I've got to get out of here..."
She silently began to pack several things while her handmaiden watched in horror. "Oh don't look at me like that, Shaden." Raj grumbled. "I'd rather be anywhere than this palace of sister worship. Here, hold these, will you?"
Shaden reluctantly obeyed while Raj unlocked her cupboard and withdrew a small oil lamp. She rubbed it quickly and barked into the nozzle, "Come on, Ruqaya, we haven't got all day!"
The mist trailing from the spout quickly formed the shape of a camel who looked slightly annoyed at being awakened so rudely. She tossed her mane and glared at her master, "How long until you start asking me politely?"
"I'm not in the mood." Raj explained as she started to strap baskets to Ruqaya's side. "We're leaving."
"Leaving!?" Ruqaya asked, looking shocked. "What happened!?"
"Eri's got suitors lining up on the streets - I can't stay here any longer."
"What if one of them wanted to marry you, though?" the camel asked as she adjusted her shoulders to even the load on her back.
"They don't." Raj said simply as she finished strapping the last basket and climbed up on top of her genie.
"Wh...where are you going?" Shaden stammered as the other two tromped towards the window.
"I don't know." Raj shrugged. "I'll write when I feel like it."
Shaden frowned, but didn't dare argue with the princess as she gracefully soared out the window on the back of her camel.
Ruqaya touched ground just outside the city walls and turned to face her master, "Okay, Raj, where are we going?"
"I don't care." Raj said as she folded her arms across her chest and nestled herself against Ruqaya's back. "Take me somewhere nice... somewhere where I can get away."
There was a short popping sound and their surroundings had completely changed, placing them somewhere else entirely. Raj loved traveling by genie - it was so easy.
"Welcome to a tropical island." Ruqaya said as she let Raj hop off. "I came by here once some thousand years ago with my previous owner... I heard it's turned into a really nice community since then, though!"
"Ooohh, well done, Ruqaya!" Raj said as she eyed the sparkling beach and lush rainforests. "Let's find a place to settle down, shall we?"
"How long are you planning on staying here...?" Ruqaya asked hesitantly. "You know Shaden's going to go running to your father to tell him you've run off again."
"Oh bah." Raj said with a dismissive wave. "Let them come - they'll never find me this time!"
No sooner had she spoken when they both heard the sound of someone clearing their throat behind them. Raj and Ruqaya both froze before they slowly turned around to find... nothing.
"Tsk, tsk, young lady. Running off without telling your father again, are you?"
Raj groaned, she recognized that annoying know-it-all voice. "Okay, Dawal - how'd you find us so fast?"
"Simple." the Moach said as he jumped into the air and began to levitate right in front of them. "Shaden came running out of your room and found me in the hallway. I asked her to describe one of the baskets you had taken so that I could teleport to it - knowing that you would use your poor camel to travel in an attempt to lose me."
"I really hate you... you know that, right?"
Dawal smiled and stroked his beard, "I know. Now are you going to come with me so that I don't have to call the guards and make a big scene?"
"Augh! Don't call the guards!" Raj and Ruqaya hissed at the same time. "Just let me have a little time off!" Raj pleaded, "I promise I'll be good - I just can't stand to be at home with all... well, with Eri getting all the attention she is."
Dawal closed his eyes and nodded a few times. "I will ask your father."
"I will ask your father and I will try to explain to him what you said... except I will make it sound less selfish."
"Thaaanks." Raj said sarcastically.
Dawal tapped on the top of his staff. "I want you to stay on this island. I'll return shortly."
"Yeah, yeah..." Raj said as she and Ruqaya began strolling up the beach. "Leave it to the cockroach to ruin my vacation."
"Maybe your father will let you stay, though." Ruqaya said. "As long as he knows where you are and that you're safe..."
"Yeah, maybe." Raj said, keeping her mind preoccupied with more escape routes incase the answer was 'no'. "Oooh! What's that?" she asked as she pointed towards a large white house just on the edge of the beach. "What a cute house!"
She led Ruqaya towards it and was pleased to find its owner tending to the garden out front. "Is this your place?" she asked the portly Diplodicus while admiring the trimming around the windows.
"Err... yes it is." the Diplodicus said with a confused glance towards Ruqaya, whose hooves dissolving to mist would probably cause anyone to be confused as to what they were seeing.
Raj noticed this and cleverly positioned herself between the Diplodicus and Ruqaya. "It's nice! I didn't know places like this could hold up on the sand."
"It's rather expensive." the Diplodicus explained. "I had to pay a lot to make sure I got a good foundation put in."
"Ah." Raj nodded, clearly not listening to a word the Diplodicus was saying. "Say, you wouldn't know of a good place to stay around here, would you?"
The Diplodicus blinked a few times before pointing to a sign on the porch, "You could stay here... this is a Bed and Breakfast."
"Bed and... what's that?"
The Diplodicus blinked a few more times, obviously thinking her visitor must be a total idiot. "Well, I let visitors stay the night and then have breakfast. It's kind of a touristy attraction, but it also makes a nice getaway."
"Getaway, you say?" Raj said as she stroked her chin. "Sounds good to me. I'll need the servants to retrieve my luggage and feed my camel as soon as possible. I'll go have a look around."
"Um..." the Diplodicus said, looking more and more confused, "I don't have any servants... I have a little brother who could help you out, though. I'm afraid my sharkat would probably be too small to help you with your luggage."
"No servants!" Raj gasped, "Goodness, how do you survive!?"
The Diplodicus ignored the question and climbed the steps to the front door to call for her brother.
Ruqaya took the opportunity to speak to Raj, "No servants!? Raj, not everyone lives in the lap of luxury like you do!! Will you please stop embarrassing me!? I mean, really - there are normal people out there, too! You really ought to get out more, just look at...."
But she quickly cut herself off when she saw the Diplodicus' little brother come out the door. After all, she could blow her cover if people thought she was a talking camel... it was bad enough that her hooves didn't fully appear...
"This is Tiri." the Diplodicus said as she motioned towards the small Rhyon, "and my name is Lani. Tiri can feed your camel and I will help you with your luggage."
"Wow!! You have a really cool camel, lady!" Tiri said as he gazed up at Ruqaya, "She's beautiful!"
Ruqaya tossed her mane vainly and snorted with pleasure as Raj rolled her eyes, "You can call me Raj." she said, "and my camel is Ruqaya. You'll only need to feed her and then you can bring her inside to where I will be staying."
"Inside!?" Lani choked, "Miss Raj, I'm going to have to ask that you keep your camel outside so as to not..."
"Oh she'll be fine." Raj said with a dismissive wave, "Let's just say she's used to living in small quarters."
Ruqaya shot Raj a nasty glance before being led off by Tiri. "I meant," Lani continued, "That, well... she's a rather large animal. I'd rather have her stay outside."
Raj bit her lip; she knew Ruqaya would kill her if she had to stay outside... but maybe they could just sneak her into the house later. "Oh, that would be fine." she finally agreed. "So... where am I staying?"
Lani struggled with three of Raj's baskets while Raj toted along the smallest one on their way to Raj's room. It was upstairs and to the right, with a lovely view of the beach. "Oh, it's great, thanks!" Raj said as she placed a gold coin in Lani's palm.
Lani mumbled a thanks before leaving the room and shutting the door.
"You'd make a pathetic commoner, you know that?" came a voice from behind Raj, causing her to jump.
"Geez, Dawal! Why do you always have to sneak up on me like that!"
Dawal didn't answer, but got straight down to business. "Your father said you can stay as long as I stay with you."
"WHAT!?" Raj roared, "Oooooh no, oh no you don't!! You're getting out, do you hear me, OUT!! I'm not letting you stay with me!"
Dawal simply eyed the jewel on his staff while he spun it in his hands, "You know... while I was there, I managed to whitness three Elephants arriving with gifts for your sister..."
Raj simply glared at him before she finally spoke again. "You can stay... but don't be nosy. And don't say anything to the family that lives here... and don't follow me around!"
"You have nothing to worry about, princess." Dawal said as he snapped his fingers and started unloading the luggage that had magically appeared around him. "I plan on using this as a vacation for myself as well. You know, I've been meaning to catch up on my reading..."
Raj rolled her eyes and turned back to the window. This vacation would be just what she needed. Even her father's cockroach advisor couldn't spoil her fun...
"Mmmmmphgh..." Raj groaned as she climbed out of bed on a Sunday after staying at the Bed and Breakfast for about a week. "Oi, I slept like a rock..."
She kicked Ruqaya gently in the side. They had been sneaking her in through the window so that she wouldn't have to sleep out of Raj's sight, but they'd have to make sure she made it back to the stables in the morning so Lani didn't find out.
Ruqaya groaned and opened her eyes before slowly making it to her feet and gliding out the open window towards the stables.
Raj rubbed her eyes and made her way down the hall to use the bathroom. She was still half-asleep when she opened the bathroom door, but what she saw behind it woke her up completely.
"AAAAAIIIIIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!" she slammed the door shut and ducked behind the wall to catch her breath as Lani came running up the stairs.
"What is it!? What's the problem!?"
"There's a man in there wearing only a towel!!" Raj shrieked as Dawal poked his head out of her room and smirked at her.
"Oh goodness..." Lani said as she opened the door and poked her head inside, "Cazal! How many times do I have to ask you to lock the door when you're using the bathroom!?"
The horse inside only smirked at her as the toothbrush he was using hung loosely from his mouth. Lani sighed and shook her head before closing the door.
"I'm sorry about that, Raj, he's used to being here by himself most of the time... there's a bathroom you could use on the main level if you'd like! Breakfast will be done in about fifteen minutes."
"Er... right..." Raj said as she gathered some towels and headed downstairs, still looking a little shell-shocked.
After she had showered and gotten dressed, she headed towards the kitchen for breakfast and was embarrassed to see the horse already sitting at the table and eating some scrambled eggs.
"Raj, this is Cazal." Lani said, "He's a sailor and visits here frequently. Raj is a visiting princess, Cazal."
"It's a pleasure to meet you." Cazal said as he stood, took her hand and kissed it. Raj blushed and stammered, "Nice to meet you too."
She couldn't help but notice that he was very handsome... very well groomed, seemingly polite... even if he didn't seem to have any sense of personal modesty.
"Well sit down!" Dawal barked at her as he stuffed his mouth with a few buttered toast crumbs. "You can't eat breakfast just standing there!"
Raj shot a nasty glance at him before sitting herself uncomfortably next to Cazal.
"A sailor, huh?" Dawal asked Cazal, "You dress pretty nicely for a sailor."
"Dawal!" Raj hissed.
Cazal eyed the mantis amusedly before responding, "The pay of a sailor deals heavily on the merchandise in which he deals and transports. You can imagine that a fruit-peddling sailor wouldn't be as well off as a silk-peddling sailor."
Lani busied herself with cleaning dishes to avoid the conversation as Dawal leaned back against a salt shaker. "Well there's my answer." he said with a studying look in Cazal's direction.
Raj was embarrassed by Dawal's behavior and quickly finished her breakfast before heading back up to her room. Dawal appeared out of thin air a few seconds later.
"Dawal!" she whined, "Why did you have to act so suspicious of the sailor!! He's just a sailor for heaven sakes!"
"Just a sailor..." Dawal scoffed as he rolled his eyes. "That man is a pilfering, plundering pirate!"
"What?" Raj asked, "How do you know?"
"His mannerisms give him away. I seriously doubt someone as innocent as a silk sailor would go to breakfast fully equipped with a loaded rifle and saber."
Raj just blinked.
"I want you to stay away from him... and keep an eye on your things. I'm not ready to trust him just yet. Did you notice the hostess acting suspicious when he was talking about his business."
"What? No! How the heck to you spot these things!?"
"Years of practice." he said simply. "Be careful around him... there's no doubt in my mind that he'd try to use you for a profit."
"I beg your pardon." Raj said as she placed her hands angrily on her hips, "Do I look stupid to you? I would know better if he was just trying to tap in to my fortune!"
"If you say so...." Dawal said, "I just thought it fair to warn you."
"I can look after myself!" she said, folding her arms across her chest. "You need to give me a little credit, Dawal!"
"Right well... he's leaving anyway, so I guess he was only staying the night. But Lani said he comes back frequently - so be on your guard for the next time.
She sighed and waved her hand, "Whatever..."
It had been a little over a month since she had first come to visit the island. She and Ruqaya had fallen in love with it.
"You mean she's magical??" Tiri asked Raj as he stood on a ladder and brushed Ruqaya's hair.
"She is." Raj said with a smile. "That's why she looks a little different from other camels... and that's why she requires a little bit of extra care."
"I knew there was something special about her!" Tiri said as he beamed up at Ruqaya, "She's the prettiest camel I've ever met!"
Ruqaya stomped her feet and tossed her mane to show her pleasure with the compliment as Lani came walking up the stone path to the stable.
"Er, Raj... I wanted to talk to you about this month's rooming charge."
"Oh, Lani." Raj chuckled, "You know I always pay you more than the amount you request!"
"Um... I know." Lani said, looking uncomfortable, "It's just that your payment was due four days ago. And I can't treat anyone differently; you have to remember to pay on time! You know, people don't usually stay with us for longer than a few days...."
"Don't worry, Lani, I'll have you paid by this afternoon. And I shouldn't be here any longer than a few more months anyway."
"You're going back home?"
"Heck no! I'm moving here!"
"You're.... you're WHAT!!?"
Raj grinned, "I've bought a modest plot of land just a ways inland from you, Lani! I'm going to build myself a summer home so that I can come to the island whenever I feel like it without inconveniencing the locals!"
Lani had to admit that she'd be happy to have Raj off of her hands, but she was still pretty shocked, "Well... that's great, then! Um.. I hope you'll be happy here."
"Cool!!" Tiri cheered as he jumped up, "You'll be here all the time, then!! Can I come over and visit you and Ruqaya??"
"Of course you can." Raj said as she patted Ruqaua on the neck. "And you're welcome to visit us too of course, Lani!"
"Okay," Lani forced a smile, "I'd like that, thanks."
Raj grinned before walking back up the path towards the house where Dawal had some blueprints spread out on the kitchen table. "How do they look?" she asked him.
"They're fine..." he said, "But do you really need all of this? I mean, this is no modest summerhome... it's a whole new palace!"
"Well we need a place for all of the servants to stay!" she said as she glanced over the blueprints herself. "Ooooh, it's going to be so cute!!"
"Whatever you say..." Dawal mumbled, "Your father agreed to pay for it, so I guess I can't argue."
"Yeah, and it's already almost halfway done!" she said. "We can probably move in at about the start of summer... in May or June!"
"Oh, I'm so looking forward to it..." he said. "Are you sure you wouldn't want to just go back home instead."
"No way! I like it out here! I'm old enough to be independent now!"
"If you say so." Dawal said in a tone of voice that showed he clearly didn't believe her. "Well, I guess I'll go see how construction is going, then..."