Hidden 20

Athel at Lunch with the Princesses
Book 3 Bonus Material

Queen Forsythia nodded politely as the waiter set her tea down before her. She elegantly held up the cup and allowed the aroma to waft over her gentle features.

“Thank you so much for inviting me to come along with you,” she said affably.

“Oh, it’s our pleasure,” Princess Peach gushed, taking a sip from her own cup. “It’s been forever since we just sat down like this.”

“Indeed, it has,” Princess Zelda agreed, stirring the cream into her cup. “I had heard about this place, but I could never find the time to visit it.”

“It is quite nice,” Athel agreed, looking around at the flawless d├ęcor.

Peach set down her cup. “Oh, you just have to try the clam chowder. It’s to die for.”

“I should probably pass then,” Athel remarked. “Extra lives are hard to come by where I’m from.”

Peach giggled, Zelda only smiled pleasantly.

The three took a moment to soak in the soft music playing in the background.

“Nice place.”

“Yes, excellent atmosphere.”

Peach took a bite of her cracker, and caught Athel looking at her.

“What?”

“Hm? Oh, nothing.”

She grinned playfully. “You have a question.”

Athel took another sip. “Oh, it’s nothing important.”

“Just ask it.”

“Really, it was just idle daydreaming, pay it no heed.”

“Oh, please, do ask.”

Athel looked hesitant.

“It’s not like any other topic has presented itself,” Zelda encouraged.

Athel took heart. “All right, but you have to promise to answer truthfully.”

“Oh, I like this,” Peach clapped.

Athel set her cup down. “I was just wondering…what do you do?”

Peach’s eyes flicked. “Do?”

“Yes, while you’re waiting for Mario to rescue you. Does King Koopa allow you to watch TV or anything, or do you just sit in your cell like…being bored and staring at the wall?”

“Actually we’re supposed to call him Bowser now, didn’t you know?” Zelda corrected. “The term koopa is considered to be racially insensitive.”

“Is it really?”

“Yes, although goombas is still acceptable…though I’m not really sure how.”

“We can’t say koopa but we can still say goombah?”

“What isn’t racially insensitive nowadays?” Peach mused. “Soon we won’t be able to use verbs.”

“What I want to know is why we should care about offending your serial kidnappers in the first place,” Zelda added.

Athel leaned forward curiously. “So, what do you do when you are being held prisoner? Do you just wait around or…?”

Peach sat back and giggled. “Well, I try to pass the time. I weave floral headbands from flowers, I do pilates, I decorate mugs, origami…sometimes I play with the koopa kids…”

“I thought you couldn’t say koopa?”

“Oh well, it’s okay in that case, because it’s part of their name.”

“I see.”

“…and of course I sing, I dance. I make scrapbooks of all the different places I’ve been held prisoner in...”

“I practice archery,” Zelda added as she sipped her tea.

Athel raised an eyebrow. “Ganon lets you shoot a bow in your cell?”

“It’s not really a cell, more of a tower. I even have my own staff. And of course, I have my horseback riding.”

“If you have access to a bow and arrow and a warhorse, why not just use them to escape?”

“Oh, don’t be silly. I couldn’t escape.”

“Well, why not?”

“Well, naturally because…” Zelda held up her cup and thought. “…huh…”

“…In world eight I had a really nice banzai tree I would trim,” Peach continued. “Of course I have my beauty regimen. I use cocoa scented scrubs. That takes a big chunk out of my day.”

“You still haven’t gotten that recipe to me,” Zelda recalled.

“Oh, you’re right, I am sorry. I’ll have Mario bring it over to you.”

“Don’t you have messengers for things like that?”

“Yes, but you have to pay them. Mario will do it for free if I ask.”

“You really need to stop leading that boy on like that. It’s not fair to him.”

“I know. I know. I’m bad.”

Athel temple her fingers and thought. “If I was waiting to be rescued, I would catch up on my reading. I never did finish the Wheel of Time.”

Zelda smiled knowingly. “There are few who can make it through book ten. It’s like its own master quest.”

Athel nodded. Yeah, like watching a hummingbird fly in agonizing slow motion. Eight jillion pages and I think the timeline moved forward about fifteen minutes.”

Peach sighed. “To be honest, being a prisoner is really not all that different from my normal life. My father handles all the day-to-day business in the Mushroom Kingdom. Unless there is a special event or festival, there really isn’t that much for me to do.”

Zelda nodded. “I envy you. The pressures of the throne is a heavy mantle for anyone to bear.”

Athel raised an eyebrow. “Didn’t you surrender to Zant the minute he attacked?”

Zelda looked her over carefully. “To fight without chance of winning would have been a waste of life.”

“So you just condemn your people to live as phantoms on the off chance that a hero might appear and fix the problem for you? What, was the triforce of wisdom broken that day or something?”

“It worked, didn’t it? Tell me, how is your kingdom doing these days? Any of your subjects taken a shot at you?”

Peach’s eyes went wide.

“Wow,” Athel exclaimed. “Really?”

Peach got excited. “Someone check the thermostat, cause it just got cold in here.”

Zelda placed her gloved hand on Athel’s. “I’m sorry, that was too far, wasn’t it?”

Athel smiled. “No, it was good, it was very good. Cut deep. Well done.”

“Thank you.”

The three smiled at each other and took another sip of their tea.

“Jerk,” Athel muttered.

“HEY!”