1 – The Knights
Tis on the night before Kingsday,
And all throughout the court,
Is a miraculous silence,
The contemplative sort.
Tis in a warm office,
And further then a chair,
That the Royal Knight Ranalie
Sits quietly to stare.
She had pranced and paraded,
Drank lots and celebrated,
All this on this day before,
But now she looks to the floor.
Now stoic steps approach,
With deep and reverent din,
For on the night before Kingsday,
Another knight wishes in:
“Uh, hey chief,” comes a young voice accompanied alongside a knock.
Ranalie sits up, hides the glass of wine behind her desk and clears her throat. “Come in.”
The door makes way and casts a deep shadow through the hall. It’s Royal Knight Justice, Aen Aeswalt. He steps up with a small plate of Kingsday pastries. “Ma’am, I was sent to check up on you and give you these,” he says as he places the plate gently onto her desk, chaotic with paperwork even during the country’s most prestigious holiday.
Blackberries, no matter what dimension they’re found in, taste shockingly all alike—and it just so happens to be Ranalie’s favorite fruit.
She averts her shining gaze from the incredible delicacies as she steeples her fingers upon her desk. “Well that’s nice of them. Who sent them?”
“Well, you’ve been holed up in your office ever since lunchtime… they figured you might need someone to go check.”
She smirks. “Yes, but who was it?”
He scratches the back of his neck. “Well… They all thought you could maybe spend some more time out there. People have been sharing stories about Kingsday memories.”
With a subtle raise of her snow-white brow, she looses a long, professional sigh. “Yes, that all sounds… nice, but I’m busy.”
“Busy with what, chief? You shouldn’t working on holidays, you know.”
She smiles grimly. “I’ve been busy dealing with myself, Aen.”
He draws back. “First name basis, chief?”
“It’s Kingsday Eve.”
“Yes ma- ah, Ranalie.” He clears his throat. “So… what’s the problem been?”
She looks out the window a moment. The snow is fluttering down like ash on a battlefield. “How old are you, Aen?”
“About three hundred forty-six.”
“Well, the only time I could say exactly three hundred forty-six would be the very moment on my actual birthday, right?”
“I suppose… So in all of your years, what has Kingsday come to mean to you?”
He hums. “Is this… related to your problem, by chance?”
She nods with a pursed smile. “More or less. Also I’m curious.”
Unmoving, he remains at attention, though his face is as animated as always. “Curious, ma’am?” He asks with perplexed face.
“As goofy as many of the other knights see you to be, Aen, I know better, and I know the way you look at the world is not only unique, but better, really, than the usual person.”
He averts his eyes, accepting the complement but not wanting to show it. “Well, thank you, ma’am.”
“Now tell me, what does Kingsday mean to you?”
“Could you be more specific?”
“I guess more precisely would be why do we celebrate it, year after year, century after century?”
Aen hums. “Alright. I guess when I was a lad we’d wake up on the eve like we did today and go to the parade, have The Silence, and finish decorating the mantel.”
“You finished the mantel the day of?”
“Yeah, my family was… my parent’s priorities were in different places than Kingsday stuff. They were more interested in making ends meet so I could keep going to school.”
“I see… go on.”
“Sure: We went to bed after all the food and games and such, then we woke up on Kingsday, opened gifts and everyone of school age and above drank their King’s Pint and that was sort of it.”
“And that was the whole thing?”
Ranalie nods. “I thought as much. I guess it’s just so easy to get out of touch when you get… really old.”
“Ahh, you’re not old! You don’t look a day over twenty.”
She scoffs. “We both know that your flattery hasn’t taken you to good places, Knight Justice.”
He chuckles sheepishly. “Well I was just being polite.”
“Your genteelness is something that should be reserved for the royal courts, but we’re getting off track. I’ve had… I’ve lost count, but I know I’ve celebrated Kingsday thousands of times.”
“Mhmm, though I suppose you guessed that.”
“Well yeah. You are the… well, oldest of us, after all.”
She nods. “Take up a seat.”
“Oh, thank you.” He steps aside and delivers a hardwood chair gently in front of Order’s desk.
“So what’s been bothering me, I guess,” Ranalie starts, “is that… that’s not what the people have been doing.”
“Like, the citizenry as a whole. When was the last time you visited a common home, Aen?”
Suddenly, as if touched by death, the ever-present boy in Aen’s eyes gives way to the three-hundred forty-six year old man. “Decades.”
She nods. “For the same reason as I, I’m sure.”
“It’s hard, you know that better than any of us, I’m sure. You meet a family, the husband and wife admire you so much, thank you again and again for the service you do to the kingdoms, the kids tell you how much they want to be like you when they grow up. And every time you have to play the role, tell the parents it’s no problem, and tell the children that they can do it if they try hard enough.”
As if by spiritual clockwork, they both peer over to the fireplace, crackling away without a care.
“And then?” Ranalie asks.
“Next time you meet them, the parents are old, and the children all moved out. You blink again and it’s a run-down shack.”
“Well… I went to a home recently.”
He looks to her as if surprised. “Out in public?”
She smiles as a red-white winter bird sings on a branch just out the window. “I had a cosmetic mage do a two-hour long appearance change right after lunch.”
“You sound surprised.”
“Just, I thought you would know just about every magic there is to know.”
“Not a chance. I continue to sharpen magic that helps me with my job, but frivolous things, pleasant magics, I’m not nearly as well versed as the history books say.”
He raises his brows. “Ahh.”
“And now you look disappointed. You didn’t really think I was just like Chaos but good, did you? It’s a daily struggle for me to keep my head together.”
“Yeah, it’s all so effortless for him it seems… Do you think he celebrates Kingsday?”
Order scoffs and decides to pull up her wine glass. “Probably, and I bet it’s more sincere and sacred than anyone else’s.”
Justice hums in disapproval. “I find that hard to believe. Why would he care so much?”
“He was there, you know.”
“So I’m sure, somewhere in one of his hidden towers, Chaos gathers all his thousands of minions around, taking turns with maybe a dozen or so each time, and tells them all the story of when he watched our king fall and die. I imagine the holiday means so much to him because he was there when it all happened. Yeah, just like me, he was a part of it, but only as a worthless observer; so that’s why it’s important.”
Justice nods. “Just like… you?”
Order takes a sip of her glass. “Yup.”
“…So tell me, what was your visit to the commoner’s home like?”
“Well, I disguised myself as a homeless person looking for handouts.”
She smirks crassly. “I was in a weird mood.”
“So I went door to door asking for food, peeking through windows, and getting just, a feeling for how life is for these people.”
“Which kingdom was this?”
“Ragnivan, in the west part of the capitol.”
“After a long while of getting the usual excuses and send offs, one house not only gave me food, but took me in, sat me down, and let me celebrate the eve with them.”
She takes another sip. “I asked dumb questions on purpose, and the husband took me to be stupid. He explained to me that people don’t celebrate Kingsday as they used to. He told me that while every home has a mantel set up, very few practice the silence or tell the story by the mantel at all.”
“Wait… really? Why?”
“I asked him, and he told me that people don’t care about Rayda anymore, and it’s too much of a pain to spend an hour being quiet, or thirty minutes recalling the story…” She looks back to the window—the bird is gone. “Can’t really blame ‘em, though, it’s hard for people to care about someone who’s been dead for this long.”
“But he’s not dead.”
Ranalie scoffs. “Right, just sleeping. It’s dead enough… I just… It hurts my faith in people, and the holiday, I guess.”
“… I’ve been by your home a few times in the season, you have your mantel done and everything arranged a full month in advance… I heard you had at least three parties in the month.”
She nods. “I certainly did. I still had so much hope… and I still do, it’s the only thing holding me together, I’m afraid, the knowledge that one day, maybe, we get that sword back and raise him from his slumber—that would be something. Now, though, even the people are losing hope. Aen, normal humans don’t even have enough time in their lives to get angry- even at ninety years old I remember, everything was still so fresh. How could they lose faith so easily?”
Aen smiles. “You yourself said that you didn’t blame people for not looking up to someone who’s practically a myth now.”
“… But that myth was my friend, Aen. I saw him every day. We went to war together, studied spells, sucked at chess, built the glory of Reinen… If only you could have seen it before it all went to shit, maybe you’d feel what I’m feeling now… I’m sorry, it just seems like, year after year it’s all the same mindless celebration for a king that’s as good as dead, and I see that now. The veil’s be lifted… I can see clearly now that the people don’t care about the message, they just love the tradition, the feeling of warmth and familiarity. If they were asked, I’m sure they would say they care about Rayda, but it’s just so irrelevant in their lives now, they could hardly care that he saved the lives of their forefathers. They just don’t appreciate that, if it weren’t for him, none of this, and none of them would exist right now.”
“Well that’s their mistake for not appreciating tradition properly.”
“They have a point, Aen. Maybe the nature of people isn’t to keep up with meaning, but to simply enjoy that which feels meaningful.”
“… But people search for meaning.”
She scoffs. “The meaning they want, not what’s real… I just… It’s been millennia defending people, and it seems like I’m realizing that they don’t want the truth, they just want to feel true… I think Chaos has been right this whole time—we’re better off chained up as his little minions living the lives of simpletons than having anything to do with responsibility and progress… Kingsday used to have a point, but not anymore.”
“I’m not even kidding… people are such… such garbage that holidays are wasted on us.” She takes a long, deep breath in front of a shocked-looking Aen. “…Well?”
Aen looks about the room awkwardly. “Well what?”
“Go ahead, prove me wrong.”
She takes another, longer sip from her glass. “Show me how I’m wrong. Cheer me up. It’s something only you can do, it seems.”
Aen looks over to the fire, then her pastries, then back up to her blue, enchanted eyes. “Alright. Well… You know what you’re saying isn’t true. Chaos is insane, has short term memories, and probably smells bad.”
“Have you met him?”
She smirks. “He doesn’t smell bad.”
“He doesn’t smell like anything, actually.”
“Anyway, he’s wrong… and so are you. Don’t let the feelings of the masses turn you away from meaning, what’s real. Just because the populous votes on something doesn’t mean it’s true. Matter of fact… humans are not inherently good, Chaos is right there.”
Ranalie laughs. “Wow, bleak.”
“No, it’s true, and everyone thinks that way, even you.”
“Yes. We say we believe that people are good because it’s all part of us trying to make them good. Wishful thinking to change the world, I guess. People can do a lot if you believe in them… you know? It’s okay that us people aren’t all that great. We’ve made a peaceful world for humans to enjoy holidays however they please, and they choose not to care about them, that’s okay.”
“For sure. Their Kingsday might not be ours because they don’t appreciate it—it means more to us and that’s the way it has to be. It’s a holiday after all, which means it’s holy. Our job as knights are to preserve the freedoms of these people, to ensure they can disrespect Rayda as much as they please. The holiday hasn’t changed one bit, just the people celebrating it. Now, with all due respect, I won’t tell you anything that would be a disrespect to your rank… as a knight but as… as a friend who’s known you a really long time, you should get off your butt and celebrate Kingsday with the rest of us.”
Royal Knight Order, Ranalie of Reane, takes a deep breath. “But we’ll just be in our little bubble, celebrating something that only a handful of folks outside still really appreciate.”
“I’d like to think of it as the small circle of people who get it right. I’m sure Rayda would agree with us, and I’m sure he wouldn’t want you celebrating his sacrifice holed up like a kid getting smashed for nothing. Alcohol’s bad and you should feel bad.”
She grins. “Three hundred forty six years… and you still haven’t taken a drink, have you?”
He scoffs. “Of course I have, chief, I just learned fast that it’s not what I needed to feel better. We can dwell on our problems as long as we like, but solving them is a better drink than any.”
Ranalie leans back as she places the glass of wine neatly aside. “…I’ll take care of it later, I guess… I’ll finish up this bit of work for real and then I’ll be with you all.”
Aen grins as the boy blinks back in his eyes. “Alright, I’ll take my leave then, chief.” He turns and steps away, but just at the door, Ranalie draws breath.
“Thanks… for the pastries, that is. You should take credit more often. There is such thing as being too humble, ya’ know.”
He smiles. “You’re very welcome, chief.”
Aen turns about again, closes the door, and leaves her, the fireplace feeling just a little warmer.
She gets up from her chair and looks out the window. Something should be done. With an official air, she turns back to her desk and begins crafting an unofficial command for a certain duo who would love nothing more than to take part in a grand tomfoolery.
2 – The Overlord
Certainly right before Kingsday,
And deep in the tower,
Thrones a mighty deadly overlord,
From who all commoners cower,
On his lap lax four little minions,
And around him sit two-dozen more,
That on this night before Kingsday,
They might hear a tale from yore.
His grin brilliant and wide,
As white as the snow outside,
He reaches for his cup of tea,
And takes a sip for serenity.
He pulls a breath of great length,
And with an equally-measured sigh,
Recalls the story of great Kingsday,
Of how King Rayda did die.
“Ahh, yes, I suppose I do recall,” he says as he jostles both Literary Interpretation Minion and Economic Strategist minions on his right leg, as pitch black and glintless as the rest of his robust frame. “This story was long, long ago when I… I believe I was King Rayda’s advisor, yes, an-”
“Ughhhhh,” A zaggy-antennaed minion groans over her overlord.
Chaos, in his oblivious grace and dark kindness, gently addresses the minion with his wide, round eyes, capable of gazing through the souls of armies. “Why, whatever’s the matter with you, Magitech Engineer Minion?” He says this with his usual grin, one that could betray either love or displeasure—only he would know.
“You weren’t working for Rayda, sir, you were-” She’s promptly shoved by her good friend and co-minion Mech-Tower Operation Channeling Minion. “Eh, I mean, I’ve heard this one before.”
Chaos looks her over with a humored squint. “That so?” He turns to the others. “You’ve heard this story as well?”
“Well,” Delta Leader Minion stretches from his spot sitting on the rug, the child-like position not flattering in the least to his intimidating frame, “It is tradition, after all, sir.”
Chaos notches his head to the side a bit. “Oh, is it?”
“Yes, my lord. Every Kingsday Eve you tell us the story about how you threw away Rayda’s sword after the stalemate duel between himself and Apocalypse.”
Chaos’ antennae point up attentively. “Apocalypse? Now… I’m not sure who… Oh, that pretender, of course.”
There’s an array of awkward glances between the crowd of minions. “Well, my lord, it did almost destroy the planet, yes?”
The Forgetful Tyrant makes a shooing motion with his dainty tea cup before bringing in another sip. “Well sure, but planets are easy to destroy: any aspiring overlord should have at least one star-system’s worth gone by the time they make the professional scene, you know.”
The minions laugh nervously—most are sure Chaos has achieved the obliteration of at least one hundred planets, though they’re rarely ones to ask him for specifics, as he rarely remembers the specifics himself.
“Right,” Delta Leader Minion says with a sigh, “however, as your grace must understand, this is our homeworld. Most of us have never set foot on another planet, let alone entirely different dimensions like you have. You can certainly understand that we would be attached to it and rather appreciative to Rayda for his sacrifice.”
There’s a drawn out, collective “oooooh!” from the group as Chaos hums in uncertainty. “Do you mean to say you feel there should not also be a Chaosday to celebrate all the things I have brought to you?”
Delta Leader Minion doesn’t miss a beat. “But every day is Chaosday, your Destructiveness.”
The crowd of minions nod in approval at the answer, and Chaos scoffs like an appeased father. “I doubt a soul in all this tower would disagree with you… but also pressing, do you all wish to carry on with our little tradition? The old ways are warm and whole-hearted, but they are also rather… narrow in their scope of celebration.” He says this with a grin of such ferocity that even a dragon would be envious of, and the spectacle of it causes a slow coo of awe among the minions.
“Sir, what do you mean?” Agriculture Infrastructure Technology Minion asks, bouncing on her knees with her cup of black tea and milk places neatly aside.
Covert Wording and Innuendo-Expert Minion chuckles pretentiously. “You can’t tell? Typical. Our lord was obviously implying that-” Skewing his words, Poetic Justice and Emotional Instability Minion smacks him across the face.
“Shut up, dude! As if you needed to make a damn parade out of everything.” He turns to Agriculture Infrastructure Technology Minion. “What he meant to say is that Chaos wants to do something different and wonderful this Kingsday – Something none will forget!” Finally, he turns to look to Chaos himself, his towering might smiling down upon him. “Or am I wrong, my lord?”
Chaos bows his head as if honored. “You are truly at the essence of the matter, Poetic Justice and Emotional Instability Minion. That is a surprisingly stable thought from you,” he says as he takes the time to pick up each minion on his lap and place them gently on the rug with the others.
“Again sir, about my name. You did sort of ask dictionary minion to jus-”
Chaos stands tall, dwarfing the crowd. “Now… the question is what shall we do to remember this Kingsday?”
There’s a short breath of a pause, and then the gazes in the room naturally trail over to the only one drinking something cold in the tower, Devious Plan Minion. Noticing the gazes, he shifts his eyes up to the group without enthusiasm and takes one last sip of his iced tea. “Well… seeing it’s Kingsday, perhaps my liege would be pleased with a reenactment- a bit of freedom of expression for this wonderful holiday of ours.”
Human Sciences and The Arts Minion gasps in glee just as Token Communist Minion groans in bourgeoisie disgust.
Chaos’ antennae twitch in thought. “Like a play?”
“Yes, my liege. Perhaps all the people of the nearest Kingdom would be pleased to be reminded of my lord’s ability as not only a ruler, conqueror, and knower of a thousand magics, but also as a playwright of renown.”
The reaction is mixed amongst the minions, some loving the idea, while others feel the desire to speak up.
“Just a play?” Tactical Infiltration Minion asks with a look of disappointment.
“Sounds bland,” Vacation Planning Minion adds in.
“And I’m sure there won’t be any Vegan fair-trade local-bought non-GMO options served for snacks as usual,” Hipster Minion chimes in, being as on topic and relevant to the interests of the group as he always is. Just as quickly, everyone looks at Hipster Minion with poorly-veiled contempt before Chaos spares the embarrassment with his words.
“Hipster Minion, please go with Gardening Minion and have some dishes prepared with Kale Benefits Minion and Cooking Minion’s help.”
Cooking Minion and Gardening Minion flinch in disgust. “B-but sir!” Gardening Minion squeals.
Chaos chuckles. “No ‘buts’, away with you.”
Hipster Minion hops up after spewing a quick “Yes!” from his dark indie lungs as the diminutive Cooking Minion and lanky Gardening Minion lead him out – the things Chaos does for his subjects…
Devious Plan Minion pulls out a pen and clicks it with pad in hand. “Now then, sir. How would you like execute the plan?”
Chaos looks away from the minions in aside contemplation. His light-absorbing features squint as he muses. It will surely have to have many of the minions involved, be grandiose, and most importantly send a clear message to the human dregling masses that he is their rightful superior. However Chaos is, as usual, quite “not with it”. It is because of this notwithitatude that he formulates a very, very strange plan. He turns to one of his most treasured aides, in earshot and ready for service most times when he’s within his domain.
“Minion Acquisition Minion,” Chaos says with a professional air.
Sliding from the corner in a comfy Kingsday sweater and roster clipboard is none other than Minion Acquisition Minion—the Kingsday Spirit radiating off him with every step. “Sir!”
“Bring me Uncomfortable-Looking Bodily Contortion Minion and Geometric Shape Enthusiast Minion.”
The minion salutes with fervor and dashes deeper into the tower. In only a matter of seconds, one very athletic, shake-pounding minion and another, rather short one that looks… “loose”, are brought down to the Overlord.
“Ahh, my beloved minions, have I got a scheme for you this day.” Chaos leans in to speak to the two minions covertly.
Devious Plan Minion is not a fan that the High Overlord is being so secretive. After releasing a clear *ahem* and being ignored for a long moment, he decides to state his displeasure. “My lord, I do believe as per my station as Devious Plan Minion, that I should be let in on all of the devious plans that you might be-” He’s cut short as Geometric Shape Enthusiast Minion draws in a long, honking gasp of magical disbelief.
“GEOMETRIC SHAPES FOR KINGSDAY?!” Geometric Shape Enthusiast Minion, proudly wearing an ugly Kingsday sweater with a smiley-face polygon knitted in by a concerned-but-kind Knitting Minion. He squeals in mathematical glee.
“Geometric shapes for Kingsday,” Chaos affirms.
The resulting vulture screech sounds of excitement emitting from the center of Geometric Shape Enthusiast Minion’s very core are something only Chaos, who loves all of his minions dearly, can appreciate. Everyone else sort of wish Chaos did not consider infesting people to create more loyal minions over at the Kanvane Estate for the Mentally-Extreme that one day.
“GEOMETRIC SHAAAAAAAAAPES! GEOMETRIC SHAAAAA-”
“Now now, my dear Geometric Shape Enthusiast Minion, there will be plenty of time for screaming during Kingsday tomorrow. Now silence yourself and get to work before I decide to make it asymmetrical.”
The Minion gasps, freezes up obediently, and nods.
“Good, now off with you two,” The Slayer of Billions adds with a light shooing motion.
The two step off, one begrudging because he’s paired up with Geometric Shape Enthusiast Minion, and the other one vibrating in excitement because he’s Geometric Shape Enthusiast Minion.
Chaos turns again to his most used and treasured help. “Now then. Bring me Illusionist Wizard Minion, Pyromaniac Minion, the entire Dramatic Music Ensample Minion Band, and by all means… bring me Cosplay Minion.”
Minion Acquisition Minion jaunts into action. “Yes, sir!” He cries before rushing off again.
Devious Plan Minion clears his throat again to be noticed, and this time, Chaos looks to him with his round, glowing, matter-piercing gaze. “My Lord. Might I be let in on this little plan of yours?”
“I am afraid there’s no need for that,” Chaos says with a grin. “I am quite confident that you’ll enjoy your role in the plan.”
Devious Plan Minion flinches amongst a cheer from the crowd. “S-sir! But, I’m only good at making plans, not executing them!”
Chaos steps forward and rests his hand upon his subject’s shoulder. “You’re one of mine—you can do absolutely anything you put your mind to. Besides, it’s Kingsday. Rayda never… uh, ‘Apocalypse,’ right?”
“Right, no one before Rayda had defeated Overlord Apocalypse, and yet he did it, didn’t he? He did something he never knew he was capable of, and so can you, Devious Plan Minion.” Devious Plan Minion, silent to his master’s words, begins to sniffle under his touch. “So this Kingsday,” Chaos continues, “I’m going to see you, and a hundred other minions do things they never knew they could. That is going to be my biggest Kingsday gift to you all: the motivation to expand your abilities, your horizons, and your experiences. Tomorrow, we will be remembering Kingsday, but I shall assure you now, the people of Ragnivan will think it Minionsday with the amazing things you all will do!”
There’s a unanimous, fervent cheer. Doing something other than their jobs? Now that sounds miraculous. He lifts his hand from Devious Plan Minion amidst the wild celebration.
“Now listen up, creatures of my realm, these are the details of my plan that you all will need to know. All of you will have a part to play. We will put on a show of the likes that those inferior human meatbag worms cannot even begin to comprehend the greatness of! Their eyes will melt in immaculate agony amidst our dramatic superiority!” With that utterance, the cheering is so loud his voice almost has to compete with the glee of his minions.
As Tea Minion delivers him a new steaming cup of twist pine, Chaos takes it up with a eerie, victorious grin—if he knows humans (which he doesn’t) they’re going to be absolutely blown away by what he has in store. He relays and prepares his plan for a full two hours more, all until he’s satisfied with his dastardly, demented, amazing Kingsday plan.
3 – The People of the Capitol and The Magic of Kingsday
Finally the day that is Kingsday,
And all throughout the land,
The joy of children rings forth,
Be their home in snow or in sand.
Each home’s mantel is invaded,
On this cozy Kingsday Morn,
That each child might get presents,
With colored wrappings to be torn.
Tearing and opening and joy abound,
As in every street the whole land round,
Parents celebrate the joy of their children,
And children rejoice in the gifts they’re given.
It’s on this magical Kingsday,
When all is right with the world,
There’s a great booming disruption,
Like something had been hurled.
“Wh-what’s that?” a certain seven year old Coe Lamricc shouts with a mix of both shock and glee—instantly expecting it to be something welcome and wonderful on this, a day in which nothing can possibly go wrong.
Whatever it was, it was large, dark, and fast as Rayda’s present sleigh, which is totally something that’s real.
Garfein Lamricc, having just handed off a colorful red present to little Lamri Lamricc, pokes his head out the door. “It’s…” He closes the door. “Yup.”
“What is it, dear?” Garfein’s wife, Amh, asks as she cradles both their youngest child and their snow-white cat in her arms.
“It’s… It’s a giant black, smoking… orb thing, rolling down the street.”
“Wha-” She quiets herself a moment to think of a sensible question to ask. “Just a… orb? Like, is it a rock, or persay a beast?… Should we hide?”
“Well it passed by totally, love. I’m afraid there’s nothing we can do. I think it’s just a… I don’t know, love, just a giant geometric shape.”
“Should you… follow it, mayhaps?”
Garfein crosses his arms thought – he is an officer of the guard after all… He sighs.
“Right,” He says as he swings to the rack and takes up his coat and scarf. “I’ll be back soon.”
“Say goodbye to daddy,” Amh tells the children with a smile.
“Bye daddy!” Says Coe with his grip secure on his new set of “Royal Knight Adventure” series novels.
“Buh bah!” Lamri says with a mouth full of chocolate and nuts.
Garfein dashes out after the giant, building-sized ball, wrecking anything in its path. Thankfully there’s no one out in the streets in this part of the capitol this early in the morning, that is, until they hear the blacker-than-pitch boulder roll by. Myriad sets of eyes peer out from windows and doors, some stepping out to check get a closer look, but most. Only Garfein pursues, however, rushing through the freezing cold to track the great ball of probably death. It’s headed for the industrial quarter.
Of course, in the industrial sector, Knight Generosity and Knight Humor are putting on a show amidst a bewildered crowd of about four dozen night-shift workers.
“Then, with his last ounce of breath,” Knight Justice, the narrator, explains as Generosity draws back his sword over a black-armored Humor, “Rayda used his greatest and most forbidden spell, capable of sealing away any foe at the cost of sealing away himself.”
Knight Generosity cheesily tosses down his sword as Knight Wonder wriggles her fingers from a nearby alleyway to conjure up special effects.
“Blarrrrg! Noooo! Not imprisonment! I won’t survive in jail!” Knight Humor says with a cry, but a crass grin underneath his helmet.
Order, also staring on in secret, sighs in disappointment.
Justice clears his throat as the two actors fall over onto the ground with over-dramatized agony. “And thus, Radya gave his life for us all, and every year, people celebrate Kingsday to remember the sacrifice he made for not only the people of the Western Kingdoms, but the entire world. The story is as relevant as ever, because with the possibility of Chaos knocking down our doors at any time, we must remain vigilant in the hopes that a hero will rise to the occasion. The story of Kingsday is a story not only of love for one’s fellow man, but of hope, one that’s worth relaying every year by the mantel. Thank you.”
There’s accommodating applause from the scraggly audience, bemused that these hundred-plus year old super wizards have decided to put on a play in a commoner’s quarter—what a silly thing to do.
“So I ask this now,” Justice says as the two actors take their stand to another interrupting applause before heading off. “Is, do you all understand why Kingsday is so important to be taught to your children?”
One worker raises his hand. “Uh, so is this like a new tradition we’re doin’ or something?”
Justice looks about in confusion as several others nod in agreement with the worker’s question.
“Eh… oh, no. This is something you should have all done when you were kids… right?”
Shaking heads, and negative answers all around the group.
“So… You know you put the presents under the mantle for a reason, right?”
Everyone nods. “Because it’s warm,” one guy says, met with agreement all around.
Justice sighs. “N- well, yes. But it’s so you’d have a warm place not only to open the gifts, which were a minor part of the holiday, mind you, but so that you could tell the story to your children once a year in hopes that they’d remember the origin of the holiday and remember… you know, Rayda in general.”
“But I thought Rayda was a myth,” says one.
“Doesn’t he bring toys on a sleigh or something?” Says another.
The handsome Aen raises his hand as if to correct them, but then clasps his hands together in thought. It’s obvious that a few hundred years of not dealing with commoners can create a bit of a culture gap. “Okay,” Justice says. “Do you know about the great big set of ruins way north?”
“You mean Whihelmish?” One smartass asks, joined by a chorus of approving laughter.
“No, I mean the literal city-sized ruins to the north. The ones that were previously the Kingdom of Reinen?”
“…I guess,” one guy says.
“Rayda… Reinen?” Justice juggles the air as if a scale. “Does this sound like anything you know?”
“It’s because the country is named after the guy! He’s not some presents-giving fairy dude, he was real!”
“Are you guys trying to recruit us to like, a cult or something?” One lady asks.
Suddenly the workers roar up in suspicion:
“I know I’m getting that vibe.”
“Wow, knights really have gotten weird.”
“I’m not donating,” are among the voices in the crowd.
Justice inhales sharply and turns around to give Order a look to tell her she was right all along and that the population has become sorely ignorant to their actual history. However, just as he does this, there’s a great rumbling.
Amidst the commotion of the workers, Order leaps up with a single bound, landing her food gently on a factory roof. Before her, and tearing down this direction, is a giant orb of smoke and destruction with all sorts of little white specks inside. She does not even need to guess, the feeling is clear in her heart.
She takes up a chatstone from her casual, comfy winter garments. “Glory.”
A few seconds pass, and then a deep voice illuminates from the stone. “What could it be, asking for me on this good Kingsday?” As always, he sounds completely pissed to be interrupted, but Order as always doesn’t care much.
“Stop crying in bed you dork and get to Ragnivan Central. Chaos is here with a… a ball of minions!”
There’s another pause, and then a scoff from the other side of the line. “A ball of minions.”
“Like just… I don’t know it’s not really a ball, but it’s smoking, and they’re tearing up the place. You need to bring me my sword and an armor kit.”
“…Aren’t there like, thirty knights stationed there right now?”
“Yes, but none of them are ready for a fight, either!”
“I’m sure you’ll figure something out.”
“Clarn for the King’s sake I wi-”
“See ya’ in a bit.” At that, the voice of the knight with the least holiday spirit (or any spirit for that matter) dies out, leaving Ranalie with a giant problem.
She jumps down to the other knights. “It’s Chaos, leading a giant… boulder of his minions.”
There’s a second where the knights all think she’s joking, and then realize that she’s not, in fact, joking. “Wh-what are we going to do?” Knight Wonder asks, already trembling at the thought of her very first encounter with his Royal Badassery: High Overlord Chaos.
“We do what we’re trained to. Go back to headquarters and get as many knights on board as you can.” She looks up toward the street dramatically. “I’ll buy you all time.”
Justice, never without an armament, checks the blade of his sword from its sheath. “Alright, I’ll go with you, Chief!”
At that, the two tear down the street with haste magic, hitting stallion-like speeds as Order summons up a set of inferior, but readily deployable equipment. It’s only seconds until the boulder is in view, and heading not for the Industrial Quarter, but something far more precious.
“Th-” Order does a quick spot check of the orb’s path. “The orphanage?!”
“That fiend! He’s going to flatten the children!”
“We have t-”
“They don’t even have families!”
“What the hell are yo-”
“Like pancakes that have no parents!”
They mad-dash to the front of the orphanage to intercept, and Order turns to her trusty fellow.
“Okay, Aen! Charge the heaviest punch spell you have!” Ranalie says as she juts her hand forward, her fist creating a deep hum and a golden glow.
The two charge and speak their flowery incantations, preparing spells capable of smashing full elephant-sized holes into buildings. “Ready,” Order says just seconds away before the boulder’s impact.
“Three…Two…O-… huh?” Order stops, just as the geometric army of minions does. Only twenty meters from the orphanage, the orb stops cold.
Order and Justice stare in complete dumbfoundry as the “lid” of minions crawls away from the top of the orb and lets out a large, smoking burst of fireworks, rousing the dozens of young children to the windows and doors.
Suddenly, the voice of the great destroyer: “Men, women, children and subservient domestic animals, gather near for the show of a lifetime! Prepare to have your minds explode under the incomprehensible majesty of this show!”
At that, the street floods with people who have never heard Chaos before, and even if they did recognize his voice, would be too interested to turn down something this neat.
Folds of precisely gripped, strongly-united minions fold away as the doors of the orb, allowing Chaos to step out with Goodies and Snacks Distribution Minion. As he gleefully tosses out handful after healthy handful of smoked kale chips, Chaos addresses the crowd again. “Here, it is the finest of days, Kingsday! And let me assure you, you silly, pathetic worms, that this is a day worth celebrating more than any other! Allow me to take you back, far back thousands of years to the era of a man named Rayda, righteous king and servant to those lesser than him, even though he was human! Listen closely, fools, for this is a day of history that weakling and great lord alike have in common…”
Order, sitting with Justice on this snowy day, watch in complete disbelief as Chaos recounts the tale of Rayda against Overlord Apocalypse with such poetic fervor, such grace and poise, that for a few moments, they both believe they’re dreaming. It’s not however, and with Devious Plan Minion taking the place of Rayda, and the giant orb of minions playing the role of Apocalypse, the crowd cheers, oohs in wonder, cries at the sad parts, and “enjoys” healthy snacks of Kale Benefits Minion’s own design. For the next hour, there was the long, epic story from the beginning of Apocalypse’s approach to their planet to the end with Rayda’s one love, Knight Grace, laying his motionlessbody to rest in Reinen’s royal keep. There were displays of magic and fireworks of the likes that the people had never seen. All of this, backed by the narrative, calm, calculating voice of the creature that must surely be their arch nemesis, and his personal minion orchestra. After that, Chaos tears a dimensional rift, and they start filing out.
Some of the minions complain that they thought this was all a guise to attack Central and kill the Ragnivanian royal family, but after a swift bop on the head and punt forward, Chaos set them all in line through the portal, back to their home.
Chaos is left at the end of the line and the edge of the portal. He was about to close it up amidst great cheering when Order pulls in the greatest breath she’s had all year.
“Why!?” She shouts.
Chaos just looks over to her with a bemused, ever-superior look, and speaks what’s on his mind. “Surely, my dear knightess, you would not expect me to hurt someone today and dishonor this man’s memory. He wasn’t just your friend, you know,” and at that, Chaos seals the way, leaving a fanatic crowd, and a jaw-dropped Order.
She stands blankly next to Justice just as the people break out into joyous conversations about the story, and how interesting it was that people used to teach those stories from the fireplace.
“…What do you think he meant, that Rayda wasn’t just our friend?”
“…Well, he was loved by just about everyone, you know… and he was a pretty mysterious dude I read… Do you think Chaos and him… met?”
Order stares on at the large indentation in snow where the orb used to be. “I… I don’t know, but I do think… I’ve finally found something new to appreciate this holiday season.”
“Yeah? What’s that, chief?”
“That we have an opponent that cares about the same things we do…. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing, but somehow it makes me feel like, even if we failed… things would work out okay.”
Justice looks at her with a raised, suspicious brow. “Is that so?”
Order nods blankly. “…You wanna get some coffee?”
“Uh… I’d like that very much, chief.”
And the moral of this story,
If there’s one to display,
Is that no matter the person,
And whatever they may say,
Truly, certainly, all things are finer,
Love is deeper, and compassion wider,
On this, our most blessed Kingsday.