MUSHROOM PALACE TEA GARDEN – Following months of pleas from the public and mounting pressure from businesses to resolve the trade dispute weakening the economies of both kingdoms, Princesses Peach and Daisy convened for a summit conference today – the first direct meeting of the heads of state in thirteen years.
“Dear cousin,” announced Princess Peach, seated in her fullest regalia, as her royal associate’s contingent reached the garden pavilion. “It is so good of you to come all this way to see me in the Mushroom Kingdom. How long has it been now?” she asked, rhetorically. “I swear it has been ten years if it’s been a day since you’ve given me the pleasure of your company.”
Adorned majestically in native gold-and-tangerine, Princess Daisy greeted her estranged relation with a silent nod.
“Do you remember what fun we had golfing with Mario and Luigi the last time you came?” continued Peach, her voice lilting gaily, while she dismissed the gallery of attendants with a wave. “Oh, it has been too long!”
“What’s your handicap these days?”
“Honesty,” answered Daisy. “And perhaps too much trust.”
Peach’s eyes flickered imperceptibly with anger. She took a slow sip from her porcelain tea cup, fixing her sight on her cousin, and her light smile returned as she set the cup down on its plate.
“Well, I know what a burden it is for you to leave Sarasaland, especially at a time of such strife and discord at home. But alas, prosperity–” she began, gesturing passively towards the lustrous gardens around them. “It cannot be given away, dear cousin. It can only be shared.”
“Prosperity!” laughed Princess Daisy, spitting the word back like an insult. “Tell me, have your people stopped rioting against you yet?
“I’m quite sure your spies already tell you all about such things, cousin.”
A long moment of hostile silence passed between the two women, once raised together as sisters, who had long abandoned any love they shared as children. Daisy lifted a tea cup to her nose, sniffed its contents skeptically, and set it back down on the table. Peach flinched at the rebuke.
“Have you reconsidered our trade agreement?” asked Princess Daisy, hastily broaching the purpose of their meeting.
Peach leaned back in her plush chair and looked deep into her childhood playmate’s familiar blue eyes. “Your father–” she began.
“Don’t tell me about my father!” snapped the monarch of Sarasaland, uncharacteristically losing her cool and slapping her palm against the glass table, rattling the heirloom china.
Sensing weakness, Peach ignored the interruption and continued. “Our fathers had a vision for our lands, and together they brokered a peace between the Mushroom Kingdom and Sarasaland that has lasted our entire lives. The foundation of that accord has always been free trade, dear cousin. You ask me to shatter the rock on which our nations stand. How can I allow that?”
Princess Daisy took a breath and collected herself, regretting her unplanned outburst.
“My people wonder at how you can sell your goods so cheaply,” she said, coolly. “Our businesses can scarcely afford to compete. It has not always been this way, yet you speak as though this is still your father’s kingdom.”
Daisy leaned forward in her seat, stifling outrage in her voice. “But when I was a child, spending my summers under his gentle care, he had not blackened his kingdom’s skies, nor fouled its clean waters, nor enslaved his own people, as you have.”
“In my kingdom, we may not enjoy your prosperity,” she said derisively, motioning towards the manicured hedges of her cousin’s royal gardens. “But my people are free.”
“ENOUGH!” commanded Peach, slamming a jeweled fist through the table and sending her porcelain crashing to the floor. The Princess Toadstool leapt from her chair and stared wild-eyed at the blood soaking into her sleeve. Daisy stayed seated, frozen in shock, as servants for both monarchs rushed towards the commotion.
“I give you one week to accept my terms,” growled Princess Peach, her voice dripping with venom, as she clutched her bleeding palm. “That’s it.”
Princess Daisy rose from her seat and glared fearlessly at her cousin.
“Or what?” she asked, defiantly.
Peach smiled dangerously.
“What do you think?”
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