Genre: Steampunk / Gaslamp Fantasy
Gambols and Frolics In: Girl Genius
The Pauper Princess’ Involvement: n/a
Just a bit of fluffy fun with the GG folk.
Legal disclaimer stuff:
“This story is not approved by, sponsored by or affiliated with Studio Foglio LLC or Airship Entertainment.”
Pauper Princess FanFiction Theatre Presents:
Shnow Vhite und de T’ree Jäger – Part Vun!
The King and Queen of a prosperous land had a child, a girl, with hair like spun gold that sometimes had strawberry highlights if her colorist remembered to add them, eyes green as emeralds, medium complexion and lips of natural color. They named her Snow White, because why not.
Snow showed a cleverness and brightness atypical of other children her age, especially other Princesses her age. Rather than spend her days having her hair braided, having servants pour fake tea at fake tea parties, and having fashion shows as an excuse to wear all of her dresses in one day, Snow’s interests leaned a bit more towards the creation of mechanical wonders, such as a clank that flipped pancakes. She was five at the time; cut her some slack.
She also had an unusual, but appealing singing voice that reversed the magnetic poles, aligned all planets, commanded the tides, and caused little forest animals to accompany her everywhere and sing harmony when the need arose. When she sang to herself, her mind was more focused, to where she felt she could accomplish anything! She was the shiniest apple of her father’s eye. They spent hours together: talking, reading, frolicking in meadows, studying the latest scientific discoveries, dissecting the animals that she lured to her with her singing…
The Queen, growing more jealous each day of her daughter’s burgeoning brains and beauty, not to mention stealing her husband’s attention, schemed and plotted to remove the child so she could start over. Perhaps a son who fell far short of her own mind and good looks? The thought of it made her burst into cackling. A lightning storm outside obliged her wicked Madness with electrical punctuation.
The Queen did not have a very strong maternal instinct.
By now the girl had somehow survived to twelve years of age. The Queen consulted her closest advisors, the Geisterdamen, for their wisdom.
“Oh, Geisterdamen!” she said. “Speak plain to me; am I hotter and schmotter than my daughter?”
“We serve you unwaveringly, oh our Queen,” said the most geist of the Geisterdamen, “And are not allowed to claim anyone else but you as Hottest and Schmottest in the Land.”
“You got that right,” said the Queen, and was satisfied. The girl would live, for now. Her mood brightened, she concocted an untraceable poison and killed the King with it. Snow lacked the detecting skills at the time to discern the true cause of his death, and was inconsolable. But then, over time and much to the Queen’s dismay, she became more thoughtful and sensitive. She wrote poems and songs in honor of her father and “regaled” her mother with them, who could barely stomach their insipid sentimentality. Would nothing bring down this child??
Meanwhile, the Queen was enjoying the attentions of the many swains courting her – human, construct, and… other – but strung them all along. As long as she was single, she could rule as Queen on her own. As long as she was the hottest in all the land, the girl would live.
When that wretched girl Snow escaped yet more of her inescapable death traps to live to the ripe old age of sixteen, she consulted her Geisterdamen again.
“Oh, Geisterdamen!” she said. “Speak plain to me; am I hotter and schmotter than my daughter?”
“We serve you unwaveringly, oh our Queen,” said the most geist of the Geisterdamen, “But… uh….”
“…Sheisreallyquitethelooker!!” The most geist of the Geisterdamen fell to the floor before her Queen, kowtowing and whimpering. “Forgive us, oh our Queen, for we have wavered! But you compelled us to speak plain! In fact, your daughter is also schmotter than-”
“Do not finish that sentence,” warned the Queen. She paced furiously all around the chambers, her priestesses watching silently, fearfully. The most geist of the Geisterdamen was still prone. Finally the Queen stopped, and without looking down, stamped down hard, right where her high priestess’ head was. The others flinched at the sickening popping sounds but dared not look its way.
“Take her away!” spat the Queen, pointing dramatically. The priestesses grabbed their most geist and began dragging her away, until that same high priestess barked at them all and stood up, wiping the dirt from her hands.
The Queen pointed at the floor. “And take that stupid bubble wrap with you!” Muttering to themselves, the Geisterdamen gathered up all the loud packing material and slinked away. One of them accidentally popped several bubbles at once, earning a Look from her Majesty. They hurried as one outside.
The Queen activated her castle-wide communication system and called for her Huntsman. He arrived fashionably late, snacking on an apple. He was a stout, dark-haired man of common intelligence, and was mostly stalwart, except when things got a bit too dangerous. He stopped before the Queen and almost took another bite of his meal, but the hairy eyeball she threw his way made him reconsider. He kicked away the grotesque eyeball, then met her with his own Look that spoke volumes. It said, I hate my job, but it’s a living.
“Huntsman,” she said, “I have a task for you. One of the most utmost of importance… and of secrecy. You will tell no one of this, or die slowly and painfully for it.”
“I see,” said the Huntsman. He bowed shallowly and turned to leave. “I quit! And no, I’m not dumb enough to expect extended benefits. Have fun with the next guy!”
“Get back here, you idiot!” said the Queen, stamping her foot. When he kept walking: “I’ll double your pay!” she cried. He stopped, but did not turn around. “Triple!” He sort of looked over his shoulder. “Quadruple! And do not test me, Huntsman, for that is the final offer!”
The Huntsman paused a moment, then trudged his way back to her and folded his arms.
“You will hunt a very particular prey for me,” she said conspiratorily. “A very special prey. A quarry unlike any other you may have faced! Oh, you might find it beautiful to behold, and it might look upon you with saaaad, sooooulful eyes, but all of that will be a trick! There is a cunning to it that belies a wretched, deceitful, aaaaggravating nature that-!!”
“Is this a human you’re talking about?” said the Huntsman.
“…What? That’s absurd! A human. Am I such a monster that I would quadruple your pay – you remember that part, right? – to then set you off to hunt a defenseless human being?” The Huntsman said nothing. He stood unmoving, his arms still folded, and stared at her. The Queen’s wild eyes and wicked grin finally faded into sullenness. “Yes, it’s a human, you… you mule! My daughter, in fact.”
” ‘Princess Snow?’ ” she echoed in a mocking tone. “Yes, her! She’s not as pure and sweet and innocent as everyone thinks! She’s a terrible daughter! Never bringing in her dirty dishes! Forgetting Mother’s Day! Being all… beautiful and brainy and… Bleah! Now are you up for the job or not?”
“Have I mentioned that I hate my job?”
“I don’t care! Kill her Kill her KILL HER!”
“Whooooa, don’t get your bustle unrustled,” said the Huntsman. “Whatever. Consider it done.” He bowed crisply and turned to leave, muttering to himself. “I can see why she ‘forgets’ Mother’s Day…”
“And bring me back her heart!”
The Huntsman paused to take in her command, then shuddered. “Uff! She is a sick, sick woman…”
“-And the pretty pond with the pretty fish is here?” said Princess Snow, walking carefully through the woods. The Huntsman followed her from several steps behind.
“Yeah, over there,” he said vaguely. “Whatever water you find, there’s pretty fish in it.”
“Intriguing,” said Snow, “I thought that I’d studied all nearby waterways in the area, but don’t recall any of the fish being particularly colorful or unusual. But this will give me the opportunity to learn if my singing attracts water creatures the same way it does land ones. Oo, then we could have trout for lunch? Do you like trout?”
“Love it,” said the Huntsman, fingering his knife. “Oh, there it is, Princess. Look closely into that pond. All sorts of pretty things there. Fish, frogs, uh, algae. Just keep looking that way.
“‘Algae?'” she said, her nose crinkling. “I suppose that some might regard it as aesthetically pleasing, somehow, but– Oh! Of course! I’m forgetting the research being done with certain water flora for the use of biofuel! Yes, I should collect samples!”
“Right, that’s what I meant,” said the Huntsman, pulling his blade out as quietly as possible. “Start doing… scientific stuff. Experiments or whatever. Just stick with looking into the pond. You don’t want any of the algae getting away!”
The Princess chuckled, and began turning around. “Oh, good Sir Huntsman, algae isn’t ambulatory. You must be thinking of– Oh!” She froze at the sight of the Huntsman looming behind her, his dagger out of its sheath and raised high in the air. In spite of himself, he was unable to move, either.
“Hi,” he said. “You… had a bee on your back.”
“And you planned on stabbing this bee?” said the Princess. “While it’s still on my back?”
“…I wasn’t going to do it very hard?” he offered, and mimed very light movements of the knife.
After a solid five seconds of frozen staring, the Huntsman suddenly lowered his knife and began pacing worriedly. “Ah, crud,” he muttered to himself. “Quadruple pay, I know, but man! Knifing a kid? Her own kid?”
“And for what? Getting good school marks? Being too blonde? Having much bigger-?”
“I was this close to quitting, but no, I was distracted by the green!” he continued ranting. “Well, forget this! She wants a freaking heart, I’ll bring her one! I hope she likes pork, because-!”
The Princess’ voice echoed where there was no cause for an echo and rattled the Huntsman to the core. The sounds of the forest went silent a few seconds, then began again as if nothing had happened. After taking the time to catch his breath and calm his beating heart, the Huntsman turned to her.
She stood with her hands on her hips and adjusted her glasses before continuing. “Have you been speaking about my mother?”
“Yes,” he said. “Why are you still here?? I was distracted long enough for you to at least try to run!”
“My curiosity was piqued,” she said. The Huntsman rolled his eyes. “So, if I understood you, my own mother the Queen quadrupled your pay to take you here and then kill me? And… something about a pig’s heart? Is that correct?”
The Huntsman spoke through gritted teeth. “Yes,” he said. “But… I can’t do it. You know, in a way, it’s her own fault. I’m a hunter, not an assassin! You’d think evil Queens like her-”
“Hey! Mother, remember?”
“Sorry,” he said. “But hiring someone to kill your own kid – that’s pretty high up the Evil-o-meter, isn’t it?”
“True enough,” said Snow. She straightened to her full height, which, to his annoyance, was greater than his. “I’ll tell you what, Huntsman: for sparing my life, I shall spare yours when I return with an army of my own making to overthrow my mother’s reign of terror, and establish myself as the rightful Queen of this land! Muahahahahahahahaaaa!!!”
The Huntsman, wide-eyed and cringing by now, attempted a smile. “I– I– Yay?” And without another word, he fled from the forest to the castle of the evil Queen, which at the moment seemed a less dangerous place to be.
Snow tromped through the dark forest, her initial enthusiasm for waging war fading away. Oh, she could boast about raising an army, but with whom? Where to start? She thought, and remembered that there were a couple of Princes… somewhere, but couldn’t remember in which kingdoms and whether they were allies or enemies. It was heard to pick up on political nuances when spending most of her time in her lab– er, bedroom, or outside.
As she walked and plotted to herself, it occurred to her that she had no idea where she’d wandered to. If she didn’t know better, she’d swear that the various gnarled and twisted trees in this part of the forest had eyes and mouths and faces and were leering at her. Impossible, of course, she thought. Then: Oh. Unless these trees are the resultant of genetic experimentation…!
She quickened her pace and found herself in rapidly-thickening shrubbery and bracken and other words that describe thick vegetation, and, coupled with it now being night, she lost her footing and tumbled end over end down a hill. She struck her head on a rock at the bottom. The sky began to spin, and then blacken into nothingness.
“–Eat hor?“ Snow heard a rough voice say through her haze.
“–vays tinkink ov eatink!“ said a second rough voice. Such a strange way of speaking.
“–diots! Use hyu noses!“ said a third rough voice, with the most authority, if it could be called that. Snow was more awake now, but kept her eyes shut. She heard loud sniffing.
“Ohhhh…“ two of the voices said at once. Then just the first: “She smells goot! Hoy! Ve von’t need no seasonink!“
“Dummkopfs!” said the third voice. “She smells goot becoz she iz in de Vhite family! Iz probably de leedle gorl. De Prinzess!”
“Vat? Dere iz no Prinzess Betty!”
“Oh, yas!“ said the first voice. “Hyu iz tinkink ov de dead King’s dead brodder, Barry. He married Betty-“
The second voice countered, “Yas, but dey had de leedle boy, Jack, not a gorl!“
“SNOWWW!!!” she cried, sitting bolt upright, fingers curled into claws. “I’M! SNOW! WHITE! De leedle–! Ugh, the little Princess.”
Now that her eyes were open, she took a moment to examine her possible rescuers / devourers. They appeared to be the sort who might do just the latter, given that their mouths were full of sharp teeth, indicating a primarily carnivorous diet, assuming there were no other teeth appropriate for grinding vegetation farther back in the mouth. Two of them sported an entirely unnatural skin tone for a human, though for trolls or ogres, perhaps perfectly in their range. The one with pinkish skin offset that natural look vis-a-vis a twisted horn replacing one of his ears, and feet too large to fit into anything but extremely custom footwear. And then there was-
“Iz hyu don staring at os, Prinzess?“ asked the third troll or ogre or whatever it-
“Huh?” she said. “Oh. Uh, sorry. I have a tendency to dissect things with my eyes. Also, I would appreciate it if you lost your interest in eating me.”
“Sorry, Prinzess,” said the first creature, who happened to be the horned one. “Ve dun get much to eat here. Just bogs und roots und shtuff.“
“What about meat?” she asked. “How is the hunting here?”
The three creatures traded looks, then cringed. “Ahhh,” said the third. “Ve dun hunt! Iz mean to de aminals!“
“Ve iz miners!“ said the first creature.
“And yet, you were discussing eating me?” she said icily.
“Vell, hyu know,” said the first creature, “Eff de aminal iz already dead-“ He was cut short by the third creature smacking him hard in the back of the head.
“Look,” she said, “In spite of current circumstances, I could use some allies. I overheard you recognize me as a White. How do you know my family?”
“Ah, vell,” said the third creature, their apparent leader. “Ve sorved de Vhites long ago. Ve vas part ov deir elite guard! But den de King gots de vife – de Qveen – und she tokked him into firing os! Just like dot!“
“Perhaps your aversion to killing might have played a part in that?”
“Hyu tink so?“ he said with a shrug. “Huh! Ve tot vas becoz she gots dis ting about byooty.”
“She vas jealous ov ours,” offered the second creature, a violet-hued chap who was… not unpleasant to look at, at least.
“…Clearly,” said Snow. “This must have happened before I was born. I would think I’d remember crea– people like you. She – my mother, that is – has been trying to kill me because she believes me to be her aesthetic and intellectual superior.” When they just stared unblinking at her, she adjusted her words. “She thinks I’m hotter and schmotter than she is.”
“Ohhhhh,” they all said at once, nodding. The third creature spoke. “Yas, haffing seen both ov hyu now, ve agree.”
Snow blushed. “You know, we haven’t been formally introduced. You know that I’m Princess Snow White. You are…?”
The third creature snapped his heels together and bowed. “Ve iz de Jäger Brodders. Hy iz Bossy. He iz Flirty, und he iz Horny.”
“Hor– I beg your pardon?”
“My birf name vas Randy,” said Horny, “But den de parents changed it vhen de horn grew.”
“Uh huh,” said Snow, staring open-mouthed a moment. “You know, ‘Jäger’ means ‘Hunter’ in your language. Ironic, don’t you think?”
“Vat language?“ said Flirty.
“Vhy hyu tink dot’z our language?“ said Bossy. They all stared at her expectantly.
Snow found herself to be speechless for the first time, and shook it out. “Uh… So… Jäger Brothers, will you aid me in reclaiming my legacy as heir to the throne of… whatever this kingdom is called?”
“Yas, dese stories neffer bodder vit dot, do dey?“ said Flirty. The others nodded and murmured in agreement. “But Prinzess, ve dun like de killing. Iz icky! But ve ken help in odder vays. Carry heavy tings und stuff. But not for free! Ve vill help hyu eff, uh… eff…”
“Eff hyu cook und clean for os!“ said Horny. Again, the others nodded and murmured in agreement. Snow was incensed.
“That is extremely sexist of you all! For shame!”
Bossy waved it off. “Ve dun care eff hyu iz byootiful Prinzess or hendsome Prince! Ve iz sick ov bogs und roots! Und ve dig all day und iz too tired to clean op! So… dot iz our price. Hyu do dot, und ve follow hyu.”
The Princess sighed in frustration, and took a moment to scan the contents of the Jagers’ humble hovel. It definitely needed some tidying. A lot of tidying. The place was strewn with junk. With debris. With parts…
“I’ll do it,” she announced. “Go do whatever you do during the day, and I’ll put something together for you.”
“Voo hoo!“ said Horny. The three gathered their tools and equipment and set off for work, whistling as they went.
Upon their return, they were greeted to a most wondrous sight (aside from the Princess): their humble hovel was not only spotlessly clean, but filled with the most delectable aromas they had ever encountered. Their one table had been cleared of junk and old tools and laid out with an elegant feast fit for royalty. Steam rose from the lid covering a tureen of soup, fresh bread was piled high on a platter, roasted vegetables and candied fruits were spread all about, and at the center of the table was roast venison that was still steaming hot, having just been pulled from their oven.
Flanking the Princess were six automatons, each standing at attention and ready to tend to the Jäger Brothers and their meal. The Jäger Brothers stared, dumbfounded, and leaned in close to whisper to one another.
“Look at dis!“ said Horny. “Hy din know ve haff a tablecloth?“
“Hy din know ve haff silverware for de dishes?“ said Flirty.
“Hy din know ve haff dishes!?!“ said Bossy.
As one, they let their tools and equipment drop, and they scrambled over each other to find a seat and dig in. The automatons were too slow to come around the table and pull out their chairs for them, and so stood behind them at attention.
“Boys,” Snow said gently. They were too distracted by the FOOD to hear her, and gobbled their merry way.
Gobble monch gobble monch gobble BURRRRRR–
The three stopped at once and looked her way, blinking. “Vat?“ said Bossy. “Ach! Ve iz rude eediots! Prinzess, hyu haff a seat, too!“
“No, I’m referring to our agreement earlier,” she said, folding her arms and looking down her glasses at them.
“Vhere hyu get all dis stuff?“ asked Flirty. “Dis iz vunderbar!“
“Well,” she said, “One thing that all those gems you mine can be used for is – oh, I don’t know – currency? As soon as I made the first clank, I sent it into town with some gems to get food. As for the deer, my second clank-”
“Vat iz ‘klenk?‘ “ asked Horny. Bossy smacked him in the head again.
“Dummkopf, iz dose metal guyz!“ he said. “Only schmott pipple like hor ken make dem! Hoy, Prinzess! Iz vun ov dem goot at cleaning toes?” He pointed at Horny. “Becoz his iz really-“
“Eeeyugh!” she said, recoiling. The clanks near her made the same motions. “Bossy, no! Bad Jäger Brother! Bad! Now, I don’t mind you continuing with your meal, but I’ve fulfilled my end of our agreement. What do you say to yours? Do you promise to follow me? Do you have the courage and fortitude to follow orders and stay true in the face of danger and almost certain death?”
“Ve–!“ Horny began dramatically, then stopped to wrinkle his brow and scratch his chin. “Vat vas dot last part?“
“Yas, Prinzess!“ said Bossy. “Ve haff… all dot stuff hyu said!“
“Hoy!“ said Flirty, raising his mug. The others followed. “To Shnow Vhite! Long liff de Prinzess und true ruler ov–! Uh…“
“-Ov vateffer dis kingdom iz!“ said Horny.
–To be continued!