Author Topic: The Adventures of Louis and Roxanne By Jules Leveau  (Read 232 times)

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The Adventures of Louis and Roxanne By Jules Leveau
« on: February 06, 2023, 11:54:11 PM »
[A new children's book begins to circulate around the city of lights. Each page is illustrated with the escapades of the titular characters, a Dementlieuse boy named Louis and a Borcan girl named Roxanne.]

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The Adventures of Louis and Roxanne
By Jules Leveau

Published by Alisaie Goulet in memory of the Baroneasa di Falsonno, Consul Roxana Barozzi

I have a special day today. I have a special day today, and so I need to get ready. When the sun rose, I climbed out of bed and tucked the covers in. I swapped from my nightgown into my suit - a sailor suit, one my mum says is for special occasions - and fastened my suspenders. I brushed my teeth, then combed my hair until the pokey stray hairs lay flat along the rest and shone like strands of gold. I gave myself a look in the mirror, and saw a tidy young gentleman smiling back at me.

This is perfect, I thought. Not a single thing out of place. I would very much like for everything to be perfect today. Today is a special occasion, after all. Today is the day Roxy returns from boarding school in Sturben. Her family moved from there when she was young, and so we got to spend a lot of time together. But now that we go to school, I don't get to see her as often as I like. But that does not matter now, because she is here for the whole summer.

Refreshed by the prospect, I set out into the sunlight. It was a warm day, golden rays shining over fields of grapes and flowers that lined the winding path to the village square. My shoes clopped with every step I took on the cobblestone, and I slipped into my imagination, and began to pretend I was a knight. It was a game Roxy and I had played often, after all. We had great fun, pretending to be a knight and baroness, on adventures all around the Core. I wondered where our thoughts would lead us today. Before I knew it, I had made it into town. In the center of the square, through the slight bustle of villagers passing to and from market stalls, I saw Roxy standing by the fountain.

Roxy looked different than I remembered. Her hair hung down low over the back of her dress, absent her mother's bow and frazzled in wild, spiralling locks. She was taller than when we last met, and I could more closely see her emerald eyes, which welled with a pensiveness that disappeared when she saw me. Her thoughtful frown became a gap-toothed smile.
"Hi Louis!" Roxy waved excitedly.
"Hi there Roxy. Are you doing okay?"

    There was a moment of quiet, and I worried I may have spoken too thoughtlessly. However, shortly after, as an impish look formed on Roxy's face, I realized my mistake, and she unveiled a picnic basket she had expertly hidden behind her back to me.
"My mum and I made a picnic for us! And she even made her special cake!"

    My eyes lit up. Roxy's mother was a baker, and she made the best poundcake. But better yet, since we were being sent on a picnic, that means Roxy's mother would be working today, which means that Roxy and I would have to whole day to play together.
"Does that mean... ?" I said in anticipation.
"That's right! Sieur Louis..." Roxy thrust a triumphant finger into the air. "To Fort Grenouillette!"

    Fort Grenouillette, named after the many frogs who guarded its premises, was our favorite place to play. It was nestled deep within the woods, a cove hidden by ferns and mulberry bushes. She and I had a rope swing by the rocks, andI would jump into the stream to fight the Kelpies and Sahuagin at Baroness Roxy's command. On days that my mum told me the Kelpies could not come out to fight, I would string up a fishing pole and fish up the toad-serfs' taxes, from which Roxy would cook us the Bounty of the Sea.

    As we marched on through the forest, I noticed Roxy lagging behind. She would slow down every few steps as the wind blew her hair into her face, and she had to fix it.
"Hey Roxy? What happened to your bow?"
"Huh?" She stuttered, caught off-guard by the question.
"What happened to your bow? You used to always tell me how your mother gave you a special bow, and how you'd always wear it. Where did it go?"

    She averted her eyes when I said this, as if the mere sight of the question was uncomfortable to her. I felt my heart swell with pangs of sympathy.
"It was... It was taken from me," she admitted reluctantly. "I was walking home from the Bazaar the other day to get some yeast for Mother. But when I passed through Coupeur's Rue, Big Thom' jumped out and took my basket." Her expression soured at the thought. "He thought I had bought some candy. But when he saw I had none, he pushed me down and stole my ribbon. He said he'd sell it and buy some marmalade..." Roxy's temperament quickly darkened. I could see the anger and hurt in her burning eyes.
 "Oh Roxy... That's horrible! Couldn't we get it back?"
"It's too late," Roxy sighed, "I looked all over the Bazaar and couldn't find it. It's gone."

    That brute. Big Thom was infamous in our village as a thief, a bully, and a ne'er-do-well. Roxy and I had numerous run-ins with him, and it always ruined our fun. At the advice of our parents, we have tried to be diplomatic, but with no success. The best we could hope for is to avoid him, or to hope we could run away at his sight.

    We simmered in an extended silence as we walked, until Roxy turned to me and asked a question.
 "Louis? Why do bad things happen?"
    This was a tricky question to answer. My father always told me that bad things were a test of faith, and a way for Ezra to know who truly believed in her salvation. But something about this never seemed quite right to me. Truthfully, I could not imagine a reason bad things happened. But I could tell by the look on Roxy's face, she needed an answer for her own wellbeing. So I paused and I thought, and I said:
"I dunno why bad things happen, Roxy. But... That's okay, I think."
"Why's that?"
"Because I know why good things happen."
    Her head tilted to the side curiously. "Well... Why do good things happen, then?"
"Well," I said, "because we make them happen."

    I raised my hands up and took off my hat, and placed it on Roxy's head. She carefully brushed her bangs into place with her fingers, now secure beneath the hat. A warm smile lit up her face and we carried on our path. In no time at all we could see the glimmer of the river peaking through the leaves, and I could hear the gentle rumble of rolling water. In my mind I could already smell the flakey softness of fresh brim cooking. I pulled back the branches and we passed through to the cove.

    But what we saw was a ruins. Stones had been toppled over. Saplings lay broken or bent at their center by plodding feet. I saw the rope swing snapped, and the water clouded by sand peppering the surface from a series of kicks. And at the source of it all was a hulking figure, Big Thom.
"Huh huh huh," he breathed in a raspy voice, "stupid little frogses."
"Get out of here you big jerk!" barked Roxy as she stomped toward him. Her eyes burned with outrage. "This place doesn't belong to you!"

    Roxy's words, however, fell on deaf ears, as beady eyes atop Big Thom's face leered down at her. A meaty forearm gripped her basket, and another pushed her over to snatch it, sending her fumbling into the sand and sending her hat flying.
"What's this? More treats for me? You shouldn't have, huh huh huh."

    I felt my blood run hot. I could see Roxy's face twisting with a mix of pain and anger. But I did not see much more of her, because before I knew it my feet had carried me to stand right in front of Big Thom, guarding Roxy protectively. My hands gripped the picnic basket and I looked up at him. He loomed over me, a glint of irritation in his eye, and suddenly I felt my stomach drop. I mustered my bravery and pressed on however.
"Give that back, Big Thom. Say you're sorry and get out of our special spot!" I said as I gave the basket a fierce tug. I could not free it from the clutches of Big Thom however, and soon I felt a sudden punch to my midsection crumpling my body. I fell to my knees and gripped my stomach, groaning. I braced myself for another punch.

    But it never came. Instead, I heard a dull thud, as a large pebble bounced off the grass before my feet. I looked and saw the oafish form of Big Thom stumbling back, his hands protecting the crown of his head. He let out a low cry of pain as I heard another rock hit the dirt, and quickly he took off toward the village, stumbling over branches all the way.

    I looked around for Roxy, who had just dropped an armful of pebbles and looked at me. She made her way over and I pushed myself to my feet, brushing myself off.
    "Wow... You saved me, Roxy. Thank you." I sighed with relief.
    "Of course, Louis. Thanks for sticking up for me. You didn't have to do that."

    She blew a tuft of hair from out of her face. I went over to where she fell, picked up my hat and set it back on her head.
    "I wanted to. It's how good things happen, right?"
    She flashed a toothy grin. "Let's start putting the Fort back together," she said. I nodded, and we spent the rest of the day together, building our special spot better than it ever was before.
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