In one of the cells of Corona's castle, Camalia was bored. Well, to be fair, she's been less bored lately than the last ten years. First of all, at the beginning of the year, she overheard the guards saying that the princess has returned. Which was quite surprising, since she was, well... dead. And since then, the usually so calm castle never was anymore. There was screaming, falls, and endless entertainment for Camalia. When nobody was around in the prison besides the guards, it was very boring, very quickly. Recently, there's been a lot of weird things. First, some kind of giant monkey was thrown from one of the castle's windows and landed somewhere in the city. After that, a weird purple fog entered Camalia's cells through her small window, waking her up. She went to the window and saw some kind of... werewolf attacking people in the castle courtyard. Then everyone left in a hurry and nothing happened until the next evening.
Camalia was in her couch, playing with her precious guitare when she heard the door to the prison open. She jumped out the bed and ran to the bars, eager for entertainment. She thought it was the evening lunch, but no. The guards were taking a new prisoner to the cell right in front of hers. A big smile appeared in her face as she saw he was about her age. She opened her mouth to say something but had no time as the guards threw the boy in and closed quickly. She was surprised by the violence at someone so young, and her mouth closed. It seems it wasn't just a common thief or something like that. The captain turned and walked up to her.
-Please don't free this one. Said Cap with a big sigh. I am keeping him under your watch, as he is very dangerous and I am uncomfortable leaving him with other prisoners. But if anything happen, Camalia, this will be on you. Understood ?
She nodded. Usually, when Cap was leaving prisoners with her, he was just giving her that dirty look to be sure she wouldn't try to free them, but it was the first time he actually said it to her. It made her more curious. She watched as the guards left the prison, and her attention fell back to the bo- the ball. The ball curled up on one of the two couchs. The... trembling ball. Was he crying ?
Camalia hesitated a little longer, but decided to speak.
-Hi ! My name is Camalia ! What's yours ?
No response. Well, she expected that. She was about to say something else when a gray furry thing hopped on the ground from the ball's vest. It came up the the bars and tilted their head.
-Aww, what's the name of that cute little rat thing of yours ?
-It's not a rat, it's a racoon.
His voice was cracked and hollow. It left Camalia unfazed. She has seen much worse.
-Wow, you can talk ! Maybe you can speak for long enough to tell me your name ?
The ball seemed to tighten a little bit and the raccoon went back to the couch with his master.
-Leave me alone.
-But you're not alone, there's a raccooooon with you !
Again, the ball remained silent. Camalia pouted but stopped insisting. She hated leaving people who are in pain alone, and she didn't want the ball to rehash everything he has done and been through, but he needed time. Just a little bit of time. It was just a shame she hasn't seen his face yet.
Camalia shrugged it off and left the bars. She went to the mirror in her cell and tried rearranging her brown hair, again with no success. She sighed and looked into her bright significant green eyes, wandering and wondering. She took the guitare she left on the couch, and started playing again, closing her eyes and letting the melody go through her skin, brush her hair, ease her mind, relax her bones and caress her cheek.
This day, Camalia turned 14. And when the guards went down to give the prisoners their lunch, they knew it. After ten years, they've got to know that date. With her meat, carrots and bread, the guitare girl got a marvelous cake. She thanked deeply Pete and Stan for the attention, and after they were gone, she cut a piece of the cake, opened her cell and put the cake on the ball's plate.
Satisfied, she went back to her own and closed it before finishing her lunch and going to sleep.
The next morning, when she woke up, she immediately turned to the cell in front of her to see that the ball apparently hadn't moved, except that he was more relaxed, probably sleeping, and that the cake was gone, although the rest of the food was untouched. Camalia didn't really know how to feel about this, because it was either the ball that ate the cake and she was very proud of herself, or it was the raccoon that spoiled her surprise. She wrinkled her nose, thinking. First of all, if it was the raccoon, the rest of the food would be gone. And the ball does seems sad enough to not eat a lot. So it must have been him. Since she always had better food, Camalia decided to give him gifts of good food until he talks to her.
And that's what she did that night. She gave some of her pork and mashed potatoes to him before returning to her cell to take her guitare. Tonight was bath time. She closed the bars behind her and headed toward the exist of the prison. She went back a couple hours later, to see that the ball seemed to have moved since the good food was gone, and the rest was getting eaten by the raccoon. She yawned, a good hot bath had always made her sleepy. She was about to head back to her cell but her hand stopped right above the lock. The ball was sobbing. She could hear soft noises he was trying to cover up without success.
She hesitated but her morals took over and she went into the ball's cell. The raccoon seemed really surprised when she opened and entered. The animal ran under the couch the ball was on. Camalia sat before the other couch and reached out her hand to invite the raccoon to approach her. The ball seemed to have noticed she was here, as he tried covering his mouth with his hands to pretend he wasn't crying. Camalia hated that. She has always hated to see people in pain, and that's basically all you see in a prison. Plus, she didn't know anything about the ball, not even his name, and she didn't know what to say to make him feel better. So she did the only thing she would think about. She sang. She took her guitare who never leaves her side, and she sang. She sang with her eyes closed, she sang like she always have, and she didn't notice it when the ball stopped crying. She sang until she fell asleep, the raccoon on her lap.
She was violently woken up by someone punching the metal bars of the cell.
-Camalia ! I told you he was dangerous !
The guitare girl shook off the dizziness of sleep to look up and meet Cap's angry look.
-Well, yeah. But you mostly told me to not set him free, and that's precisely what I am not doing !
-Opening up his cell and coming in, to sleep there for an entire night, with the key on you IS what I call risking setting him free.
She winced. It was indeed pretty inconsiderate, and she didn't really think this through. Although, after an entire night, just like the Cap said, the key was still on her, and the prisoner still in his cell. And she wouldn't have leave him to cry all alone. But right now, what she would really love, is to stop Cap from yelling at her in the bright morning.
-Okay, okay, I'm sorry. It won't happen again... at least not with the key on.
Cap let a very tired sigh escape his mustache. He was about to add something, but Camalia's bright smile and big eyes dissuaded him. He let out a growl and left the prison, hoping the girl wouldn't do anything inconsiderate again. This kid was dangerous, and he was starting to think it may have been a way better idea to left him with the prisoners from the level below.
In the ball's cell, Camalia sighed in relief. At least she only got a little backlash. She was glad he didn't immediately took the ball to another cell, leaving her all alone again.
-See ? I am just a burden. You should leave me alone.
Oh my. Did the ball talked again, without her doing anything to help him do so ? Amazing.
-I don't think you're a burden.
The ball let out a tired and empty laugh.
-Oh yeah ? Isn't that a burden to have less food, to ruin your night because of me and then to be yelled after for that ?
Did he ANSWERED ?! Camalia couldn't believe she was actually having an actual conversation with the ball. There was NO way she would blew this up.
-Well, considering those are all choices I made, no, this isn't a burden.
As the silence answered, Camalia started panicking. Ah well, so much for the "I shall not blow this up" thought. Congrats Camalia, you did horribly wrong. Now the ball probably won't talk to you ever again, you should have said that yes, he was a burden, go in his way, maybe at least you would still be talking. And honestly, Camalia, did you really think you could have made a friend ? You ? With a friend ? Isn't that laughable. You'll be all alone, forever. With us.
-My name is Varian.
THE BALL SAID HIS NAME. This is a moment to mark with a white stone, as this moment shall be the Name Moment. The moment Camalia discovered the ball's name.
-Varian, uh ? That's a cool name. It sounds like uhhhhh... Wait don't tell me. You're a cheerleader. Wait, wait no, better : you're a ballerina ! Of course ! Darn, I should have seen it !
The ba- Varian chuckled, and for once, not a sad and empty laugh. This boosted Camalia's heart with confidence and she kept on going.
-Wait, maybe I am wrong, even if ballerina does suits you very well. Maybe you're a candy maker ! Or a, hmmm, or a broom person ! You just pass the broom in the street, allllll day long. Swish, swish !
He laughed again and sat up on his couch, and Camalia was finally able to see his face.
-You really are a comedian, aren't you ?
He looked tired and dried tears ran on his cheeks, but he had a weak smile on his face.
-Hey, look at that, ball person do have a face. She said, smirking.
-Ball pers- ?!
This time Varian laughed out loud, unable to stop. Realizing what she just said, Camalia blushed.
-Wait no- Argh, I am so sorry, it's just that, uh... Well since you were curled up in a ball I just... I named you "Ball" in my head I am SO sorry...
Her vain attempt to justify herself only made Varian laugh harder. Well, at least she made him laugh. When he was done giggling, he looked at her in the eyes, with deep gratitude.
-Even if it's for a really silly reason, thank you for making me laugh.
-Uh, you're welcome ? I guess ?
Since contact has been established with him, she really, really wanted to ask him about how he got here, why he seemed so depressed, but she felt like it wasn't the right move. He was genuinely smiling for now and she didn't want to break that. If she kept the contact with him, maybe at some point he would open up to her, but it was no use to force him. Instead, she went for a very basic question.
-By the way, I still have no idea what this raccoon's name is. Camalia said, pointing to the raccoon who went directly back onto her lap after the scare of Cap's fist on the bars.
-Oh, yeah, heh, sorry about that. His name is Ruddiger.
The guitare girl took the chubby cheeks in her hands and woobled them.
-Awww that is such a cute name, yeah it is, yeaaah it is, aw you are ad-or-able.
-Also, I have been meaning to ask, realized Varian, why didn't you know what a raccoon was ? I mean, everyone knows what this is.
-Oh, hum... well... It's because I have lived my all life down here. Since I was 4 now.
Camalia passed a hand in her messy hair and let out a nervous chuckle, avoiding Varian's look, scared of the question that will inevitably come next.
-But, I don't understand. You can come and go as you wish, you could come out of your cell to give me food, or basically for anything, so... so why didn't you leave ?
Camalia's mind raced to find a good answer to that question. Why didn't she leave ? Well, because...
-I have no where else to go. No one to go to. And here, over time, I got more and more stuffs, and it's quite... I mean, it is very lonely, but I eat enough and I have a roof over my head. So I guess it's fine.
-No it's not.
She looked up to Varian, now looking at her with concern.
-You can't just live your life in prison. You don't even have to ! This is a punishment for someone that breaks the law. Not a place to live !
He sighed, and suddenly it looked like as all the weight that Camalia had lifted from his shoulders just went back.
-Look, I don't even know you, but someone that so calmly walks into a criminal cell without any afterthoughts can't be a bad person. You don't have to live like this. And... and even if I wish we could be friends, I am a bad person. I did a lot of wrong things, and... and you shouldn't even talk to me...
Tears formed in his eyes as he remembered everything he has done, everything Camalia didn't know about. She pinched her lips, not knowing what to do as the blue strip boy went back into his dark thoughts. She had to get him out of here before he actually completly drown in this pain.
-Well... who told you I had no afterthoughts ?
This seemed, even if barely, to snap him out of his dark thoughts.
-Yeah. When I come to this cell, I hoped that when I come out, we'll be friends !
Varian seemed shaken by Camalia's declaration, and he got up brutaly, shaking his head, refusing to understand what he just heard.
-No ! You don't understand ! I am a terrible person ! I kidnapped the queen, I-I almost killed the princess, I am a threat to this entire kingdom !
As he speaks, he backed up to the wall, where he bumped before sliding to the ground, tears flooding down his cheeks as he curled up into a ball, pain radiating through his chest.
-I... I am a horrible person... This wasn't how it was supposed t-to go... I regret so much !
Camalia kneeled in front of him, putting a comforting hand on his arm.
-Well, for what it's worth from a complete stranger, who has been locked up in a prison for ten years... I forgive you.
Varian raised his head, staring into Camalia's with hope and disbelief, but she was sincere. How could she not be ? The blue stip boy clunched his hands in the sleeves in his shirt, as much as his heart clunched in his chest.
-For what it's worth from an ancient criminal : thank you.