The night was calm and quiet with the moonlight shining bright above illuminating the night with a gentle glow. That all changed, however, when screams could be heard coming from a manor on the first floor. A maid with black cat ears and a cat tail was tightening a corset on a blonde woman, whose blue eyes burned in anger.
“Are you trying to kill me, Felecia?!” the blonde angrily asked.
“I’ve never heard of any woman that was killed by murderous corsets, my lady,” the cat maid said as she finished tightening the corset on the lady.
“I told you, Felecia, that when we're alone, call me Irene,” the lady named Irene sighed as she was adjusting to the corset so that it fits comfortably on her body.
“Sorry, Irene. Force of habit.” Felecia apologized before grabbing the hoop skirt and petticoat skirt. “Besides you're a duchess and I’m a maid,” the cat maid pointed out.
“Doesn't mean I should treat you any less. You're still a person with feelings and cool cat ears and tail,'' Irene pointed out while putting on the two skirts.
“You flatter me too much,” the maid blushed with embarrassment while helping Irene with the hoop skirt and petticoat skirt. “I wished more humans were more like you and your family.”
“If you ask me I think they're jealous of not being born a beastman. '' Irene figured after finishing adjusting both skirts, now she was ready for the main dress.
“Jealous of me?” Felecia asked, confused.
“Well, they’ve got cool abilities of the animals they’re born with,” Irene explained. “For example, cats can see in the dark, can squeeze in most tight places, have super hearing, and can quickly land on their feet when they jump down as well as jump to high places.”
Felecia began dressing Irene in the main dress. “Well, they do come in handy, I’ll admit,” the cat maid smiled.
“I remember as a little girl that I’d like to pretend to be a cat and would try to jump in high places or squeeze through tight spaces,” Irene smiled as she helped get on her main dress.
“Did you get stuck and or injured?” Felecia asked after finishing faceting the dress on.
“Quite a few times,” Irene laughed a little. “I can sometimes still hear my birth dad lecturing me about doing dangerous things,” Irene smiled at those old memories with both fondness and sadness.
Felecia noticed this and turned Irene towards a mirror and said, “If he was here, he’d be proud of the beautiful, intelligent woman you are today.”
Irene looked at herself in the mirror, she was very gorgeous in the dark magenta dress and choker with ruffles. Irene could not help but twirl a little.
“Remind me to thank Nigel,” Irene said smiling. “He outdid himself once again.”
Felecia smiled before turning to grab a jewelry box and presenting it to Irene, who began searching through the box.
“I can’t decide which earrings I should wear,” Irene said, scratching her head.
“Might I suggest the single pearl earrings? They’ll match your white gloves and not overshadow the choker,” Irene smiled as she picked out the very earrings and put them on.
“You’re right, they’re perfect,” Irene smiled as she admired herself in the mirror.
“And now for the finishing touch,” Felecia said as she got a pretty magenta ribbon and began tying a bow on the right side of Irene’s hair. Once done Irene looked in the mirror once again.
“Have you secretly been taking lessons from Nigel?” Irene then asked.
“ A little, when you pick up dresses from a Dark elf fashionista tailor for a long time you learn a thing or two from them,” Felecia smiled proudly.
“Well, he’ll be proud of you,” Irene complimented as she was putting on her long gloves.
“Are you ready to go to the ball?” Felecia smiled.
“Do I have to go?” Irene asked, sounding annoyed. “I have nothing against dressing fancily, but I really don’t do well with big crowds.”
“As a daughter of the Ironblood family, it is your duty to represent the family for the kingdom’s anniversary ball,” Felecia reminded Irene.
“You mean my mother wants me to go out and find a husband?” Irene asked deadpanned.
“Basically, yes,” Felecia agreed.
Irene sighed. “It’s not like I don’t want to get married. I just wished Mother would trust me in deciding on my future husband. My birth mother told me to find a man who makes you feel safe and reliable”
“Good advice. I pray you will find a man like that, and one that your family approves of,” Felecia smiled. “Now I believe your family is waiting for you downstairs.”
“Tell them to give me a moment,” Irene instructed her personal maid.
“Please don’t take too long, Irene,” the maid said before leaving the room.
Irene sat down on a writing desk and looked at a picture sitting on the desk. It was of a woman and a man with a little girl with blond hair and blue eyes just like her. They were surrounded by gorgeous-looking princesses while the man, woman and child's clothes made it look like they stood out like a sore thumb. Irene smiled at that picture and began talking to it.
"Hi Mom, hi Dad, it's been a while since we've last talked to you two." Irene grabbed the picture, never taking her eyes off it. “I’m going to another ball. This time it’s the country's 300th anniversary, but my new mother is hoping I find a good nobleman to marry. She loves to play matchmaker with me and my sisters,” Irene laughed a little. She then looks out the window before continuing. “Still, she and my new father adopted me and treat me like their own flesh and blood and I’ll always be grateful for that. But that doesn't mean I won’t ever stop loving you two, you were my first parents who loved me for me.” Irene’s mind soon began to wonder about the past, the day her birth parents died and she was transported to this world. Yes, you heard right, Irene is from another world. Specifically, earth, the USA, California to be specific.
She was just a little eight-year-old girl jumping up and down in the car excited for the day trip to an amusement park she always wanted to go to.
“Fantasyworld! Fantasyworld! We're going to Fantasyworld!” the little girl chanted, anyone could tell that she was very excited.
“Calm down and sit back down and buckle up, sweetie,” a woman with blond hair like Irene sitting down in the front passenger seat said, trying to get her back in her seat.
“Do as your mother says, we don’t want you to fly off if we ever get into an accident,” A man at the wheel reminded the little girl. He had black hair but his eyes were blue just like Irene’s eyes, “Remember what might happen if you don’t buckle up?”
“Sorry!” Irene apologized as she sat back down in her seat and buckled up for safety.
“Don’t worry, dear. I understand you're excited, and I’m excited about the trip too. But there’s a time and place to dance and celebrate and inside a moving car is not the time and place to do it,” her mother explained.
“Okay, Mommy!” Irene said, understanding. They smiled, happy that their daughter was learning car safety.
“It’s been forever since I’ve been to that amusement park. It’s actually where your mother and I first met,” her father spoke up.
“Really, Daddy?” Irene asked, curious about that story.
“It's been quite a long time, I was one of the princesses working there and your father was one of the janitors cleaning the park,” Irene’s mother smiled upon remembering that incident.
“You were a princess, Mommy?” Irene asked with sparkles in her eyes. Seeing this made the mother laugh a little.
“Not a real one, dear. More like an actress. The girls who dressed as princesses and I were paid to act like princesses to entertain the park guests. Think of it as Halloween every day for us,” she said to her daughter.
“Only instead of free candy, you have to deal with bratty kids and nagging Karens, “ the father then joked, receiving a light slap on the shoulder from his wife in response.
“That wasn't funny, honey,” she scolded her husband.
“Worth it!” he responded.
Seeing her parents play fights always made Irene laugh.
“How did you two meet?” the little girl asked, curious about the story.
“Well, I was sweeping the streets when I noticed a beautiful princess clad in pink suddenly falling and I ran up to catch the fair damsel,” Irene’s father began trying to sound dramatic as well as causing his wife to blush a little.
“Was that princess you, Mommy?” Irene asked her mother.
“Yes it was, dear,” her mother responded, still red like a tomato.
“What happened to you?”
“It was very hot that day and I was suffering from heat stroke. That's when you're so hot you get very dizzy and sick. And because of that, I fainted as a result.” Irene’s mother explained the best she could.
“And Daddy comes in to save you, '' Irene said, smiling.
“Yes he did, I don’t remember much as I blacked out, but when I woke up later in a hospital I was told the janitor carried me inside and used a lot of water and ice to cool me down until the ambulance came to take me to the hospital. After his shift, your dad came to visit me in the hospital with flowers for me,” Irene’s mother finished, smiling at the memory in that hospital.
Irene then turned to her father and said. “You're like a knight in shining armor daddy!” Both parents laughed.
“He was to me, and still is,” Irene’s mother smiled as she looked at her husband who smiled lovingly back to her. Irene was amazed how her parents met at the park she always wanted to go to, and now this made her even more excited to get to Fantasyworld.
“Are we there yet? I wanna see exactly where you two met!” the little girl asked.
“Not for another thirty minutes or so, honey,” Irene’s mother replied after looking at the time of her watch.
“But I wanna be there, now!” Irene complained with a cute grumpy look on her face.
“Hey, how about we all sing some songs to pass the time?” Irene’s father suggested. This perked up Irene a little.
“I’m game, what song do you want to sing?” Irene’s mother asked her.
“We’ll Meet Again! We’ll Meet Again!” Irene chanted excitedly. Both parents smiled as their kid loves that old song and so they began with Irene joining seconds later .
“We'll meet again
Don't know where, don't know when
But I know we'll meet again some sunny day
Keep smiling through
Just like you always do Til the blue skies drive the dark clouds far away
So will you please say "Hello" to the folks that I know
Tell them I won't be long
They'll be happy to know that as you saw me go
I was singing this song
We'll meet again
Don't know where, don't know when
But I know we'll meet again some sunny day”
Irene can still remember that song she loved to sing all the time during her years in her world before she ended up in this world thirteen years ago. But she had no time to go down memory lane, she had an anniversary ball to go to. So Irene bid her parents in the picture goodbye and got up to leave her room. While walking down the hallways filled with beautiful pictures and vases with flowers, she bumped into a little boy no older than eight with brown hair, brown eyes, and in a white little boy’s nightgown with a nightcap on peaking out from behind a door. He quickly closed the door the moment Irene spotted him.
“Matthew, it’s okay. You can come out. No one is around,'' Irene reassured the little boy while smiling.
The door opened and the little boy slowly walked out and looked around. Once he was sure no one else was around, he quickly jumped into Irene’s arms giving her a bear hug. Irene smiled and hugged back.
This little guy was her youngest brother, Matthew Ironblood. Little Matt always loves to hang around Irene as she’s always good to him. Irene simply adores Matthew and would always play with him in a heartbeat.
“What are you doing up, little brother?” Irene asked her brother.
“I want to go to the anniversary ball with you,” he responded.
“I would love for you to come, I really do, but unfortunately you're too young to go,” Irene said sadly. “You’re not big enough to stay up for a long time just yet.”
“But I wanna go!” the little boy complained.
“I know, but in four years you’ll be twelve and will go to your first ball. And when that day comes I’ll be there to dance the night away with you,” Irene said, reassuring her little brother.
“You promise?” he asked, holding out his pinky to her.
“I promise” she promised as she got out her pinky and linked hers to her brother’s little pinky and pinky promise. “Now go to bed, you've got a big day tomorrow.”
“But I don’t want to do math tomorrow,” Matt complained.
“I know it sucks, but math skills are important,” Irene said before leaning down and whispering into his ear “And when you’re done you can have cookies and cakes with me.” This got the boy excited, so he quickly gave Irene a peck on the cheek and said goodnight before going back to his room. Irene blushed at how adorable that was and said goodnight before getting back up and walking away. Just as she was about to arrive at the stairway to the main hall, Irene ran into her personal maid, Felecia.
“I was about to fetch you,” Felecia smiled, glad that Irene had come out.
“Sorry, got lost down memory lane and ran into Matthew,” Irene apologized.
“Yes, I heard what you said to him,” the maid said as she pointed at her ears.
“You heard that?” Irene asked nervously.
“Super hearing,” Felecia smiled as she pointed at her cat ears. “Don't you think you’re spoiling your brother like this?” the cat maid asked.
“I don’t think so, I’m trying to encourage my little brother,” Irene reassured her maid. “My parents did something similar to me when I didn’t want to do something or something is too difficult for me. In a way, it taught me to never give up and to keep going forward.”
''I see, I hope it works for your little brother then,” said Felecia.
“I do too,” Irene smiled.
“Have a good time, my lady,” the maid bowed a little before leaving.
“It’s Irene by the way,” Irene reminded the maid.
“But we're not in private,” Felecia pointed out before opening a door and entering another room.
“Oh…” Irene said as she embarrassingly walked down the stairs.