34 - The Dance Begins

Oh gods Daddy's here.

I can feel it in the very air of this place, feel his presence hanging over my head like an axe...wherever in the Palace he is.

No matter if the nymphs tell you any different, I did not pee in the bathtub just now.  I do haul out of it immediately and dry off.  I dress in record time.  I take about five minutes to do my hair, cutting the regular preparation time drastically short.  I need to look ready.  Sharp.  I need to be alert.

I need to run away.

One problem.  The door out of my room is locked.  I peer down under it.

...Okay, two problems.  The Peacock King has a guard posted in front of my door.  Why would he do that?

What's going on?

* * *
Recorded from an excerpt of Gerude Akribastes's Travel Log
* * *

I find it very convenient that we already have our Arms drawn when all the shit goes down.  Camden and I can sense it, and while the Peek is good at schooling his expression, we know he feels it too.  I can't tell exactly what's going on.  Hell, we just pretend we're having a regular match.  The Peek might have been trying to keep Camden busy while his plans were in motion elsewhere, but now we're keeping him here while everything falls apart out there.  I know Jenny's racking up carnage, and there's the hint of someone even more vicious than her carving people up, and I'm willing to bet it's on our side.

Then, well, the Judge comes, and nobody can pretend not to notice that.  The King calls for us to halt, saying that he must go to the greeting chambers immediately, and we must accompany him.

Well, thank you very much for the orders, Sire!  Still, we do need to accompany him.  If we don't, Jenny'll probably run across him on the way and murder him in the face.

* * *
Recorded from an excerpt of Jhe 'hAkribastes's Travel Log
* * *

I arrive in Audiva Rocale with no fanfare.  I, in fact, wait patiently in the Jhe o'Audiva Rocale's audience chamber while the King is summoned.  Well, perhaps summoned isn't the proper word, but he had better get here...now.

I don't often hear stories about my wandering son, and the one that the Jhe o'Radia told to me upon his homecoming was...alarming enough to summon my presence.

I can tell upon my entry into the Palace that he probably eliminated a few details in his story.  Not very surprising, even after I grilled him on it.  He's well-known for hiding things from, well, anyone.  It's his way.  He just wanted to protect his nephew, I am sure.  And it will be all right.  I won't kill Lyric.

He might wish he were dead, but that's sort of a trend among my children once they get naughty.

I hear the King of this land's approach.  I also hear...

My head turns very swiftly.  That's not practice combat, it is in the wrong place, and...Jennelcia Akribastes just what are you doing carving up the Peacock King's guards?!

I hear a startled chirp of Sorry Daddy, but they were getting in the way!  Hey, are you here to help us kick ass or what?

This...is not the welcome I was expecting from my daughter, though upon a moment's contemplation it should have been.  This makes no sense.  Camden's reports have mentioned nothing to make me expect this.  And where is my son?  The littler one.  Gerald is no doubt taking care of himself.  Or in jail, which equates to the same thing most times.

Ebrellin-i approaches the dais, his hair almost standing on end - which is about the only thing that could make him taller than he already is, by this point.  Before he can even open his mouth to speak to me, the entryway to the side - which has wards scarred with my daughter's touch - explodes in an avalanche of bodies.  Most of them are guards.  One of them is my daughter, and I see her protoge Jhe Hawksgard with her as well.  And there's something I almost don't see because it's heading so fast towards the Peacock King that I have to leap forward to catch it, because the last thing I need today is a dead monarch on my hands.

It hisses at me, and I get a handful of blue cloak.  Servant clothing?  Wait, how could I miss?  I don't miss

Camden can't stop him either, and neither can Gerude, and neither do the monarch's frantic commands and gestures.  Ebrellin-i is on the floor and I am planning out how to explain how an assassination happened right in front of my eyes before I notice just who that King is pinned under.

...I can't stop an animism from pursuing its own justice, not when it is Just, and apparently this is.  What surprises all of us is that Ebrellin-i isn't dead in an instant.  The animism drags him away and pins him up against the wall, razor-sharp teeth bared against his throat.  While he does so, he manages to articulately growl out a request.  "I cry for the Law against this Man, Jhe Tesynnodai a'Radia 'hAkribastes l'Radia.  He robbed me of my freedom and bore will to tame me.  He committed acts to accomplish just that much."

He speaks truly.  Ebrellin-i has the temerity to respond while those teeth are locked against his throat.

"I cry false!  Jhe Lotus a'Radia committed those actions, not I."

I stare at him.  The words had the barest gleam of truth, but were mere gilded lies.  Knowing Lyric's 'stage name' here from his Uncle, I do wonder just how even that touch of gilding is possible.  "Good that you mention him.  Please summon him, and perhaps this can all be sorted out."  I feel twin spikes of alarm from my trainee and journeywoman.  "After all, we must address why Arms had to be drawn in your Palace today."

He can't even choke out a word.  No surprise, the animism is about to eviscerate the ruler by the look of things.  "...Jhe Faun.  Please unhand the Jhe o'Audiva Rocale.  Justice will be had whether or not your grip is on him."  I'm a little surprised that it works.  The animism draws away from the Peacock King, and then darts behind me to vanish.  I blink.  It's like having a cat on the loose.

The Jhe o'Audiva Rocale rubs his throat as he stands, summoning bodyguards to immediately surround him, as if they'd be any help.  "I cannot believe the audacity of--I'll have you know--how dare you all enter my chambers and make such a FUSS--" he's so angry that he just sputters.

"Summon my son."

His eyes widen as he stares at me.  It's as if he's looking at the death of himself.  I can't ever deny that prospect, but I'd prefer I had Lyric here first.  I don't really see what the problem is, at that.  ...Ah.  That's right.  He doesn't know.

"I will forgive the indiscretion if he is returned promptly and nothing is ever said of it again."  I grant few pardons, but take easy comfort in the fact that I can punish him for any number of other indiscretions with my son that we're not going into yet.  I just want him here.  Now.  The Peacock King seems to be confused by this.  Very, very confused.  ...No.

No, he's worried.  He's hiding something.  I look at Camden and then I get the whisper and then I know--

"Peacemaker Camden, if you would please search the premises for both of my sons and return them here promptly.  You have no orders to withold force...within reason."  I say it level.  Even.  Like the length of my Trident.  Diyn's prongs are in the wall, one on each side of Ebrellin-i's neck.  The regent is white as a sheet.  Even under the paint.  I can see his neck, after all.  It's so easily cut, in this position.  The bodyguards have fallen to either side of the dais, near to or fully unconscious from the mere shockwave of Diyn moving so fast.  "You have caused enough of a mess in your Kingdom.  It will be sorted out while you are under arrest."

He dares spit, though not in my face.  Such rage on his, now, those black marks twisting into ugly contortions as he grimaces.  "What cause could you possibly have to arrest me, and under what power do you hope to enforce that?  Get.  Away from me.  Get out of my Palace."  They're leveled as commands, the intent and will in every word.

I don't budge.  "I am the Law."  There are no other words.  He can't even choke out another command.

There's the problem of the entire rest of the Palace, and servants that might have a problem with my actions, and...whatnot.

I brought reinforcements with me just in case the King liked his consort too much to part with willingly.  They come in handy.

I expect that the search for Gerald might take a bit longer.  What I don't expect, but nevertheless does not surprise me, is to feel Bruce and Wagner fire.

One of my sons is finding his own way here, it seems.

* * *
Recorded from an excerpt of Gerald Akribastes's Resumed Mission Log
* * *

Bruce and Wagner and I feel his arrival all at the same time, even with this collar pinning down my abilities.  I've been able to stretch it, though, with the King's little slips and ill-given permissions.  My doodles may be the terror of the Poet Art Classes but as psychic crowbars they have their own functionality.

'Ach, quit tootin' yer own horn.'

Well, fine, so the Judge is finally here.  What can I do about it?  Wait for help to arrive?  That thought's a little scary - I'm being kept in a pretty secretive part of these premises.  I'll have to get their attention somehow--

Bruce and Wagner roar simultaneously, first at the equipment that attempts to bind them, blowing it all to flaming, smoking smithereens.  I grin.  That'll get some attention!  The boys fire again.  I scrunch my eyebrows.  What are they firing at?  It's just ricocheting around!  ...Oh shi-

The lock on my cell becomes a smoking hole of blackened steel.  I dart to the back of the cell.  They both fired, and I know better than to think that one of those bullets wasn't aimed at me.  Arms are so damned charming, aren't they?  I'm right, it seems - the second shot whistles through the air.  It's dead-on, right for my throat.  I don't even duck - last time they fired at me, the bullet turned mid-air.  Yeah, it was pretty ridiculous.  The bullet impacts.

Right into my collar, shattering the jewel in the center of it and fracturing the strange metal it's been crafted from.  The thing hinges open in the middle and falls right off.

I throw my arms right into the air and whoop - just in time to jump, my feet stepping up and down in rapid motion.  Damn things always do this to me.

'Dance, you scoundrel, dance!'
'Aye, pay us back for all this damned hassle!'

After a few minutes of dancing, they tire of the game and wait patiently for me to collect them.

'Hurry it up!  We're gonna miss the fightin'!'
'Lazy git!'

That's pretty patient for Bruce and Wagner, all told.

Of course, getting through the labs safely is a different story.  My Arms have been kind enough to free me from my immediate captivity, but Ebrellin-i's labs are a death trap in their own right.  I've been pretty sure he's only kept me here to monitor just how I deal with such obstacles.  So curious about the Armed, as if they're just more prospective specimens for him.  Well, I'll show him just how dangerous a 'lab rat' can be.  And, speaking of lab rats, I almost just lost a foot there.  'Boys!  Can't you be useful instead of just lying there?'

'Are ye askin' me to put ye out of yer misery?'
'It'd be a pleasure!'

I let out a deep, weary sigh and finally get to where they've been kept.  The smoking remains of the machinery surrounding them don't tell me much about what sort of monitoring was being put to them, but I've no real worries.  Whatever the Peacock King wanted to do to my Arms, he wouldn't be able to manage with mere machines.  I grip a revolver in each hand, do the flippy thing, and holster them.

"Missed you two surly guys."

'Aye, I do admit, it's been lonely here.  No dunces to watch.'
'I missed yer pitiful harmonica skills. I tried to imagine cats drowning but it just didn't do it fer me.'

After that it's just a matter of clearing a path of destruction through the King's labs and towards Justice.  It's a joyful dance.  I've missed this.

1 comment:

  1. hahaha "murder him in the face" is such an amazing line.

    i absolutely love this story so far; it's so well written and entertaining. it's like crack, so very addictive