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The Beauty and her Beast

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The Beauty and her Beast

Iopification

When did this happen…?

She clearly remembered meeting this idiot for the first time and thinking he was such a darn fool hero. She used to look at his annoying handsome face and get the urge to slap that stupid cute grin right off it. Every time he had opened his mouth, she had used to roll her eyes at him. Now? She smiled! Why? It's not like the quality of his speech had improved at all! If anything, it had only gotten worse with every passing day.

Sometimes she was really worried for him and his tiny Iop brain…

No! See! She did it again! Why would she, the bodyguard of Princess Amalia Sheran Sharm waste her time with thinking about the wellbeing of some dumb Iop boy with a short fuse and too much energy to spend when she already had enough on her table looking over her spoiled and arrogant childhood friend?

Look, she could somewhat understand how she had become the unofficial mother of this weird band of adventurers they had turned out to be, given how she was the only one around here either old, responsible or intelligent enough to fit the bill and it was not like she particularly hated doing it, either.

It was a given to look after Yugo, since he was still young. Amalia had been her responsibility from the get-go and Ruel…sigh…was just Ruel. Still, these three combined weren't even half as troublesome to deal with as this so-called knight turned out to be.

Always charging in headfirst with a childish brave battle cry, never even stopping for a second to think of a strategy or a backup plan. Those were for cowards and wusses, clearly, when you could simply swing around your sword recklessly and endanger the whole groupalthough he had also saved them all numerous times, too…

There, again with these thoughts!

She grabbed her head on each side in frustration and shook it fiercely.

Cra, just end this madness, please! Free her from this cruel curse you have put on her.

Stop this weird iopification of her brain before it was too late!

But her prayers remained unanswered as her thoughts continued to torment her still, shoving this darn redhead's face right back in just as she had momentarily succeeded in pushing it out.

She sighed in defeat, letting her head hang.

Why, Cra, why? Why did you punish her so? What had she done to deserve this cruelty? Had she not lived her life in a way befitting of a Cra? She had never slacked off during her training, had always maintained her bow to her utmost best, had never abandoned her duty, never dishonored nature…

So, why? At least tell her that!

But again, no answer. Cra must be really mad with her, huh. Such misfortune.

Of course she knew what weird ailment was befalling her. She wasn't stupid, after all. Not yet, anyway. It's just that she would never have thought something as stupid as this would happen to her.

This was supposed to happen to everyone else. You know, the foolish ones. The ones with too much time on their hands and too little to do to make up for it. Those kinda people. Not her, no. She had a job. A mission. And she took it very seriously, mind you. She had no time for this nonsense. These distractions.

Beautiful as they may be…

Another sigh.

Really, she had been supposed to keep herself focused on her goals. To hone her skills and perfect them in order to remain at Amalia's side as her bodyguard and protect her forever. She had been supposed to guide the princess and teach her the way to behave properly so she would, one day, make a fine queen. The king of the Sadida kingdom was counting on her here.

She had been so sure she could do it, so determined she would not fail this task…only to have one self-declared knight waltz right over all her plans, swinging his sword around like he always did only to leave nothing in his wake but utter chaos.

Urgh, this could not be happening! This was not the path she had envisioned for herself. She had made the resolve to devote her life solely to her duty a long time ago. Why could fate not accept that?

She gritted her teeth in frustration and with a clenched fist, she thought she should:

Smack the fool right in the lips. You are supposed to kiss those, silly.

Put her arms around his neck and strangle him with a loving hug?

Shove him into Ruel's bag and make him suffocate in there! Wouldn't it be better to climb in there with him when no one's looking?

Nooooooo!

She tangled her fingers in her hair as she screamed internally.

"Calm down, Eva. You can do this! Just think about all the things you hate about Dally. Easy." She told herself. She took a seat on a big stone near her and assumed a meditative position. Alright. Deep breaths. She could do this. Focus!

Going on and on about stupid stuff like becoming heroes and entering the legend. Check.

Complete lack of common sense and etiquette. Go on.

Can't even spell etiquette. She smirked. Good one.

Snores like a log. Dumb like one, too. Keep going.

The way he called her name. Makes your knees go weak, doesn't it? H-huh? Hold on.

The way he always showed up at the perfect time to save her from harm… So heroic! What are you doing?

Always seeking to aid the weak and protect them from the wicked. His brain may be small, but his heart is all the bigger! Stoooooop!

Time out! Time. Out!

The hell is your problem?

You are my problem! I am trying to save us from doing a grave mistake.

Nobody asked you. Who are you supposed to be anyway?

The voice of reason, obviously.

See, Eva, there is your problem. You try to listen to reason when you should be listening to the only thing that really matters. Me. The heart.

The blonde Cra face-palmed. Okay, that was it. Not only had she started hearing voices, they were also fighting each other in her head. She had finally lost it. She was nuts! Nuts!

The only thing nuts here is that we are having this kind of discussion in the first place. Over this Iop brain nonetheless.

You are the Iop brain here for always holding Eva back. No more! Her springtime of youth has finally arrived!

Oh for the love of….! She hid away her face in embarrassment over her own stupid delusions. These voices were starting to be even more annoying than Percedal.

See this? You are inconveniencing Eva. Cease this nonsense.

You cease!

No, you!

You!

You!

Enough!

Evangelyne shut her eyes in anger and annoyance, gritting her teeth and letting her brows tremble in anger and frustration. She gave up. If this is how it had to be, then she would just admit it already. Anything to let this madness end at last!

She took a deep breath to calm down, then opened her jade eyes and accepted defeat in dignity.

She had fallen in love with Dally.

Her cheeks flared up with heat at that realization, but her mind, having been an utter clusterfuck just seconds before, had finally calmed down. The mental war was over. The voices had finally died down. There was peace at last. That alone had made it worth it.

She sighed. Another one of the many sighs she had let out over the past days, albeit this one was slightly different, for it had been one uttered out of relief. It was finally over.

Though, now that she had come to terms with her new situation, she wondered if she hadn't merely ended one fight to start a new one in its stead? After all, when It came to love, was there ever a point where it was truly over?

She leaned forward on her hand, letting her head rest on it tiredly as she narrowed her eyes listlessly. Oh Cra, why her? She had never asked for this! Although…now that she had given up resisting all these feelings welling up inside her, she had to admit that they felt quite nice to have, as stupid as they may have been. There was this certain warmth coming from deep within that had never been there before. It reminded her of being wrapped up with a warm blanket on a cold winter night in front of the fireplace, drinking her favorite tea and reading an interesting book. Not many things managed to make her feel this way. Love sure was something, huh. She smiled contently.

"How rare to see you smile, Eva!" Amalia said with a surprised expression as she stepped in front of her, followed to show some concern as she began touching her blonde friend's forehead. "You are quite red, too. Are you feeling sick?"

No, unless lovesickness counted.

That was the moment Ruel passed them by with his shovel in hand, taking a mere glance at Eva and already figuring out what was going on with those experienced eyes of his.

"Don't worry, Amalia. It's nothing, really. But you might wanna stay away from the boys, lest you catch the same." He told the princess with a knowing grin. That was before Eva managed to grab a nearby rock and threw it against his head to shoo him away angrily.

"Eurgh, really? I bet it's Dally, that filthy germ factory!" The oblivious princess exclaimed with visible disgust while the old Enutrof's smug grin grew even wider as he eyed Eva.

"I suspect the very same. Ah, to be young again." He laughed heartily before getting the tip of one of the Cra's energy arrows shoved into his face as she drew her bow threateningly at him.

"Don't you have some kamas to count, old man?" She smiled at him, yet couldn't have looked any more hostile if she tried. Luckily for her, Amalia misinterpreted her now beet-red face as a symptom of anger instead of shame.

Getting the hint, Ruel began sweating nervously and backed away slowly, still grinning.

"Q-quite so. Now, if you would excuse me, girls…" And just like that he scrammed, allowing Eva to relax again. Great. She hadn't even come to terms for longer than 10 minutes and was already getting teased for it. Off to a good start now, wasn't she?

That was the moment the notorious Sir Percedal came running at them with an excited grin, carrying three sticks in his hands which each held a still steaming piece of meat on it.

"Food's ready, food's ready! Everyone, feel free to eat as much as you want. Yugo and I caught lots today. Here, for the ladies." He was about to hand one over to Amalia but was surprised to see her back off in disgust.

"From you? Eww, no! I will go get my own one before I catch whatever it is that you have, thank you." And like that the snobby princess turned on her heels and left them on the spot, leaving a very confused Dally behind.

Raising a brow, he threw a questioning look Eva's way. "What's her problem?"

"Sometimes not even I can tell." Eva could do little but laugh guiltily as she took one of the portions he was carrying for herself.

"Well, more for me, I suppose." Dally chose to think nothing of it, given how Amalia was known for throwing around her hissy fits every once in a while. He had given up on trying to understand that girl a long time ago. He was about to turn around and leave when Eva stopped him by putting a hand on his shoulder.

"It's quite boring to eat all alone, no? Now that Amalia has ditched me, would you like to keep me company instead?" She asked him with a slight blush, bashfully avoiding his gaze. Cra, what was she getting flustered about for...sheesh.

"I don't mind, but we would be better off going back to camp before Yugo and Ruel eat away the best parts." He told her while pointing back to the camp site near them.

"Moron." They heard Rubilax utter in between fake coughs, his eye rolling at his guardian's idiocy. Eva could do little but narrow her eyes on Dally, somewhat agreeing with the demonic sword hanging at his waist.

"Iop brain…" She muttered with a sigh.

"W-what? What is it?" He asked them in bewilderment. You could easily catch the exact moment he finally realized where exactly he had messed up simply by reading his facial expression. At first, confusion, followed by shock, then slight panic as well as a nervous grin that was hastily plastered on his face in a vain attempt to mask his blunder.

"O-oh, I meant it would be quite an honor to share your company, my lovely Evangelyne." He gave her a clumsy bow and scratched the back of his head nervously, hoping he hadn't blown his chance. His relief was quite visible in his sparkling eyes when she chose to merely smile at him, followed by tapping the empty space next to her, which he gratefully accepted.

The evening was then spent laughing together at jokes of which Ruel and Amalia ended to be the butt of, stories of their past as well as them staring into the cloudless sky, marveling at the stars. They ended up having so much fun together, neither of them seemed to notice how much the time flied and they tiredly ended up falling asleep shoulder on shoulder.

If anyone of their companions had ended up noticing their absence, none had bothered to go fetch them. Eva would consider being thankful for their mindfulness if she weren't so absolutely sure it would all come and bite them back in the morning to come.

Oh well, a small price to pay in the end…