The Land Of Ice:
Sir Alphonse wondered why the land was called that way, when it was so green. Well, a bit chilly right now, but it might just be the season. He could see a wide swath of it from the balcony of Princess Stephanie's castle.
The princess herself entered a moment later. "Not thinking of trying to escape, are you?" she said wickedly.
"I know perfectly well that I would not survive fighting your troops" he responded bitterly.
"You are mine now, Alphonse. The sooner you accept it, the better."
"I'll never be yours" he said calmly. "Even if you force me to marry you, you'll own my body, but not my heart."
The princess became angry. "I DON'T CARE! You'll be MINE, and that's all that matters to me!!" She then pointed at a clock in the wall. "See that? Our wedding is only 12 hours away. 12 hours! Prepare yourself, you hapless knight. In 12 hours, you and I will be bound, forever!!" and then she stormed out of the room, leaving the handsome knight glancing sadly at the grandfather clock...
Meanwhile, way above the clouds, the crew of the ornithopter finally spotted a large circular platform, moored to the top of a mountain; above it, several tents could be seen.
"That be the Flying Circus, I'll bet!" Bullet said.
"How does it stay up in the air like that?" Benedict asked.
"Magic, most likely" Cornudo snorted. "How unscientific."
Cornudo piloted his flying machine to land right on an open area at the center of the circus. The staff scurried around in fear at the sight of the odd, noisy machine, especially when they noticed it had a dragon dangling under it. But after it landed, they came back, more curious than scared.
"Well, I'll be. What the heck is that thing??" one of two identical obese, bearded men said.
"And who are you people?" the other one asked.
"The world's first true flying machine" Cornudo explained. "And we are, uh..."
"Magnolia the Magnificent's Traveling Performing Crew!" Bullet said, all cheers. "I be Magnolia, in case ye can't tell!" (wink)"We heard 'bout this circus of yers and decided to give ye the privilege of adding our acts to yers! For a good pay, o'course!"
"Well, well, spunky, isn't she?" the first man said. "I'm Frank, and this is my brother, Oz. We're the Skyward Brothers, owners of the Flying Circus."
"We only accept the best acts" Oz interrupted. "So, besides this admittedly interesting contraption, what else you got?"
"What else? How 'bout the world's only talking dragon?"
"My name is Benedict. A pleasure to meet you" he said to the Skywards.
"Hmm, talking dragons aren't THAT unique, but, yeah, I'll accept it" Oz said. "How about you, do you do anything?"
"Do ye have anyone who shoots 'erself out of a cannon?"
"Well, now ye do!" and she laughed.
Frank laughed as well. "OK, I think you're hired. Come over to my office so we can discuss the details."
"My pleasure!" 'Magnolia' said, and followed them into a tent.
Her two companions stayed by the ornithopter.
Slowly, the other circus folk came closer to them. One was a young man dressed in a raggedy cloak. "Umm, Mister Dragon, sir, if I may speak to you..."
"You may" Benedict said, reassuringly.
"I'm Bob the Sillyurge, and I was asked to-"
"Pardon, but, the what?" the dragon interrupted.
Bob sighed. "Sillyurge. It's not a real magic term, it's something my bosses came up for my act, since I'm basically, well, a magical clown" he said with a sad tone. It sounded like he did not enjoy the appellation. "You see, I specialize in Chaos Magic. But, most people don't get what that is about. They think it's all about causing random things to happen. And, well, it is, except a powerful chaos magician can bend the chaos to his will, and make it do what he wants" he explained. "...I'm far from good at it right now, though, so, you never know what's going to happen when I cast a spell. Most of the time it's fairly simple, harmless things, because I'm still so weak. The result are often- silly."
"I see" the dragon said, thoughtfully. "That is actually very interesting. I'm sure that with enough training, you will be able to do much better conjurations."
"You think so?" Bob reacted, cheered up. Then he remembered, "Oh right, I had something to tell you. The shepherd of our golden sheep flock asked me to beg of you, not to eat them, please."
"Golden sheep?" the dragon said, lifting an eyebrow. Now that he thought of it, there was the smell of sheep in the air. He looked around, and spotted the flock, at the feet of an old shepherd. But they were tiny
sheep, the size of lap dogs. Their wool however shone like gold in the sunlight.
"Ah, I see" Benedict exclaimed. "It is Okay, I will not devour them"(though he secretly admitted, they looked delicious.) "Is their wool actually made of gold?"
"Oh no. We would have sheared it off by now if it were!" Bob assured him. "It's more like copper, in fact. It does some amazing things, especially during thunderstorms."
Meanwhile, Cornudo had wandered out on his own, looking at all the exhibits in the carnival. One in particular interested him: a statue of a middle-aged woman. Very well carved, almost lifelike. He couldn't help but reach out to touch it, to feel its makings by hand.
But just as he was about to, it suddenly moved out of the way!
"Hhhheeey!" it said.
"It's alive!!" Cornudo gasped.
"Yyyess. III'm nnot a ssstatuuue. Mmmy nnname isss Roca."
It was then that Cornudo noticed that the 'statue' had been standing next to an exhibit labeled "Roca, the amazing Petrified Woman!"
"Oh my" he old scientist said, still amazed. "How did this happen to you? Were you born this way?"
"Nnnno. Iiiit sstarted aaa few yyyyears ago. Iiiit's a ssssicknnness off ssome kkkkkind. III hhave nno idddea werrre I ccccaught it."
"Ohh" Cornudo said, both sorry for the woman yet intrigued by the situation. "Could I take a closer look at you? I might be able to help, I'm a scientist."
At first, Roca seemed doubtful, but then nodded; really, she had nothing to lose.
From somewhere in his messy outfit, Cornudo produced a combination of lenses of his own invention, that could be rearranged to be used as a telescope or, in this case, a microscope. He used it to look at the skin in Roca's arms.
After several minutes, he suddenly gasped. "Newton's Apple!! This- THIS IS UNBELIEVABLE!!"
Roca just stared at him.
"There's- people! Tiny- no, microscopic
people- living on your body!!!"
She stared at him like he was mad.
"Look by yourself!"the scientist insisted, and lent her the glasess.
With some difficulty -and very slowly- the living statue was able to do so. And what she saw amazed her.
There were indeed human-like beings, tinier than ants, scurring around the folds of her skin. They seemed to be picking at it, building roads and caves, as if her body was a mountain they were bent on inhabiting.
"Responsible for your transformation?" Cornudo finished for her. "I'm not sure yet, but it seems likely."
"Gggget ttthem oooff me!!
"I'll work on it!" he said enthusiastically.
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