Poor Unfortunate Souls: Atlantica Pt. 3

Aurora and Belle turned a corner and Aurora pushed open some double doors. “This is the Library,” she said. “Are you sure you don’t want to get some rest first?” Aurora knew that at some point, Belle’s journey from her world would eventually hit her and hard. Still, she knew that everyone had to deal with the transition in their own way.

Belle walked forward without seeming to hear Aurora at all. Her eyes were wide and her smile made them shine bright. Here was something that Belle understood. Back in her hometown she practically lived in the library. Then, in Beast’s castle, when she saw the library she had finally seemed to find her footing. She felt some of her anxiety and tiredness melt off of her like snow on a steep roof. She was so focused on the books that she did not even register that there was a young man sitting at a large table with many books in front of them. Aurora gave Belle some time before she spoke again.

“Belle, I would like to introduce you to part of our team for uh, what did you call it?” She asked of a tall thin man with spectacles and short but floppy hair.

“Research,” Milo said without looking up from his book and scribblings and then looked up and realized that the princesses were standing there.

“Right! Research!” Aurora said. “This is our ‘research’ team. Belle, may I introduce to you to Mister Milo Thatch. Mr. Thatch, I would introduce to you, Princess Belle.”

“Just Belle is fine,” Belle said. “I’m barely a princess. I promise.”

“You can call me Milo,” he said. “It’s nice to meet you. I’m actually technically a king, so there’s that.”

Belle made another mental note at that. The number of members of royalty from many different worlds was climbing quickly. Ariel, Aurora, Tiana, Milo, and herself made five which seemed to be a lot. She wondered again if royalty itself was part of the magic or if that was a faulty theory.

“Really?” Aurora asked, startled. “I had no idea. I’m sorry, Milo.”

“I don’t really like to advertise it,” Milo said. “Especially with Queen Kida elsewhere.”

“We all seem to be separated from our loved ones,” Aurora said.

“At least we’re lost together,” Belle said. “I can’t imagine being washed up on strange shore and I was all alone.”

Aurora and Milo enthusiastically agreed. A much older man came walking out of the stacks, with a comically bushy mustache and a funny-looking helmet. He was also looking a little lost but optimistic. Belle guessed at a glance that his lost expression may have nothing to do with their situation. He had the look of an academic. Belle knew that she had worn this expression many times back in her village.

“Oh I’m sorry,” the man said. “I was a bit lost in the stacks. Reminds me of my years in university.”

“Belle, this is Professor Porter,” Aurora said. “Professor Porter, this is Belle.”

“A professor!” Belle said. “I always wanted to go to university but my father couldn’t afford it.”

“Well,” Professor Porter said. “We could use another set of learned eyes.”

“That was my idea,” Aurora said. “As soon as Belle started talking about how much she loved reading. Maybe she could join you?”

“Like the professor said, I think that’s a great idea,” Milo said. “We’d be glad to have you.” He pulled up a chair to the table for her. She sat down gratefully.

“Thank you,” Belle said. “My head is spinning and I have to do something. I feel better with a book in my hand.” She reached out to clutch one to her chest.

“Well, we have plenty of those, my dear,” Professor Porter said. “We have many soldiers here but few scholars. We’ll figure this out yet!”

“There is one more member of the research team,” Aurora said. “but Queen Ariel is finally getting some sleep. You’ll meet her in the morning if you can drag yourself out of bed in time.”

“I’ll try,” Belle said. “Honestly I might sleep for a week.”

“It’s a lot,” Aurora said nodding. “I have to go check in with patrol but I’ll have Tiana or one of her workers show you to your room when they bring your food. You should rest, library or no.”

“I’m starting to agree with you,” Belle said with a yawn. “I suppose the problem won’t go away tonight.”

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