IV: The Powerful Awaiting Dread
It is now Greshert the fifteenth.
She had awoken with a start this morning— that immense, arcane pressure of a magic signature weighing down on her like a black-white mountain of grinning evil. Royal Knight Order is sitting alongside her thirteenth cup of coffee today, mixed lazily with an edge of scotch as she maintains her perpetual stupor of wry, depressed hopelessness on her couch. Parvo, always small and dumb, is in full-relaxation mode beside her thigh as he sprawls out with a limp, pink tongue lulled before him. He is clueless to the feeling— but then again, so are most lifeforms. She’ll be ready for him, just like she’s ready for everyone else. On her other thigh is the dimensional sheath for Monument, a sword that can strike down a fortress with a single brush. Only its handle protrudes, inviting her grip to draw out the immense majesty of its Starlendic power— but not yet.
She sits quietly, listening to her clock tick away next to the piano across the room. She’s just feeling, waiting, making herself a still pond in preparation for a movement by The Overlord— as she has been biding for the whole of the morning, working her way through one drink after another. He’s so close, its palpable; she can practically taste his icy-black menthol fingers attempting to separate her heart from her chest even now. The matter is that it’s not just from a single direction, but from all around her. In every direction she can feel the chaotic essence pulsing— surely a ruse to catch her off-guard.
Releasing long, readied breaths, she finally decides to rise with one hand on Monument’s handle and take the initiative. She’s been waiting on guard for hours, and it’s really getting to her now. Chaos does tend to stay quiet for no more than a minute before reaching his destination— but for hours? Her ancient opponent must be especially determined this time.
Order walks across in her dainty white nightgown with the profile of a breeze- she hasn’t had enough time to change, considering he could attack at any time— not that people would mind, really; it’s fitting for an old lady like her, even if she looks no older than thirty.
With a few subdued spells, she extends her sight outward, risking getting caught unawares from up close, but expanding her overall field of view. She magically feels her way through her house, then outside, and finally, she feels them— not it, not one, but many. In her mystically extended perception, she can feel at least three… perhaps four dozen infestees… but no infestor. Chaos isn’t among his minions. He must have sent them to go do something stupid as hell, and of course none of the authorities have caught on. Frau is so completely out of the way of the main roads, after all; it has no significant economy, fort, or resource. Who but Chaos would think to attack this town, and who but Order would be expected to be the right person for that job?
She sighs, shakes her head, and under the gaze of a curious Parvo, she exits her house without a noise. It’s cloudy today, so she doesn’t much mind.
“Wh-there!” a squeaky voice yells out from one of her hydrangea bushes.
“Where?” calls another bush.
“Dude, the door!”
“Oh, wow she’s quiet as fu-”
“Raise the alarm!”
“Okay,” She hears a deep breath. “AHHHHH!”
“Dude, with your antennae!”
“Oh, well they know anywa-”
“So does she! Sunnovabi-”
“Afternoon,” Order says, peering around the bush.
Comic Relief Crony Minion stares up at her, his crooked antennae startling straight up at the sight of The High Overlord’s greatest enemy.
“W-… well afternoon there, ma’am! Just eh,” he looks nervously to the other bush, where Voyeurism Minion is waiting with his camera, “we’re here to check your… ducts.”
Order, a long, crass smile across her face, leans down with a cute, pre-school teacher-like squat. “Oh, my ducts?”
“Y-…” Comic Relief Crony Minion looks aside at her house, there are no ducts to be seen. “Yes?”
With a super-sonic slap, Order smacks off the Minion’s head, sending him soaring back fifty meters before collapsing pathetically in a heap onto her roof. Of course, the strike being unenchanted, it’s only a matter of time before his head finds its way back to his body and recomposes to reform his good, old, incompetent self. Order finds their practical immortality to also double as a fun gag over the years; what a precious, slapstick existence they all must live.
“Let me know what you find,” she coos using a parental snideness quite unlike her usual.
With a sigh, Order gets up and turns around to the bush on her right side. Her steps, usually professional and unassuming, have gained that infamous mix of forward volition and cattiness quite to her— like a lumberjack walking up to pick a petty fight with someone, simultaneously humorous and intimidating, simultaneously masculine and feminine. At times like this she can be allowed a little leniency in expression; she has very little patience for Chaos and his minions.
“W-hey, lady, look— we were just-” he tugs nervously on his camera strap, its SD card filled to the brim with unsavory pictures for the sake of blackmail and personal research. “Just gaining an… insurance estimate on your house.”
She draws forward. “And why would you be doing that?”
His grin is trembling in perfect tandem with his body. “…To find out… how you… lost your ducts, ma’-”
Voyeurism Minion receives a kick Order usually reserves only for Chaos— though with the cold spill of white infusia across her foot, it feels close enough. The minion and his camera are utterly projected across her house’s white-brick siding, reducing him to a glowing smear of minion-matter and electronics.
Without even a scratch on her ultra-fortified ankle, she continues barefoot around her house, where she catches out more minions.
There’s a part of her that’s glad she’s alone, as she’d probably have to go through all the effort of arresting them if other knights were around to watch; just kicking the shit out of them until they leave is way easier- less paperwork.
Making a full lap around her house, she locates and dispatches Stealth Minion, Jumpscare Minion, Overly-Enthusiastic Ninja Minion, Chainsaw Battle Minion, Isn’t Sure Where He’s Supposed To Be Minion— and finally Topiary Minion who, before he was found out, was spending his time quite helpfully improving the shapes of her bushes with his hedge clippers. She lets him off with a warning instead of disintegrating his face like the others; they’re not all bad, and that’s usually what makes it hardest for her.
She can feel the chaotic presence around her diminishing now, like a spiritual cacophony of insects chirping in a deep, black wood. They’re becoming quieter, and she can soon pick out the direction of where it’s heaviest. Now that the magical atmosphere has cleared up, she can feel it clearly; there’s a much, much bigger magical signature down the way, and she has no doubt its where most of the minions are. This must have been only a distraction for the main event.
With a blink-fast push, she flies down the street through Frau’s high-income quarter, past three blocks— only to find a line of people, all eagerly waiting for their turn to enter what looks to be a massive curtain of darkness.
The Masteress of Light just stares on in dumbfounded stupidity. Why the hell would they be channeling a magic darkness over a house lot in the middle of her town?
“Do you know what’s going on here?” she asks to an older gentleman at the back of the line.
He shrugs. “Who can say, but it looks thrilling.”
“It’s a haunted house adventure,” the middle-aged woman in front of him says with a snide, expecting tone. “Apparently its all the rage in high omniverse society these days, so clearly its worth your time,” she adds in a way that makes Order want to slap her.
“Well, why would they be doing that here?” Order asks with a mute expression, though her eye color is turning steadily redder.
The woman guffaws with a put-on poise. “You longevai have no sense of what’s current! Clearly they’re doing it to culturally enrich our society! They’re heroes!”
Order’s expression possesses the sort of knowing blandness that a tired god must look down upon humanity with. She knows she probably deserves this kind of treatment; it’s what she gets for spending all hours of her day in her house when she’s not at work. Dealing with the pretensions of human society gets pretty tiring if she has to make good impressions every generation— over and over and over again.
“Right,” she responds, “well I’m going to take a look ahead.” She starts forward, passing the old man and the lady, who instantly huffs with incredulous shock.
“You’ll what? Now just who do you think you-”
“Seeth’Eya,” Order says to herself. At once, the woman jolts back along with the elder man. Being a knight and a paragon of virtue is great and all, but she’s found over her later years that her skills as a witch are of better use. Playing fair with humans is perfectly laudable, until you’re old enough to figure out that the rules don’t really apply to you.
As the woman demands that Order show herself, she walks alongside the hour and a half-long line. She can see it would be unbearable if it weren’t for Tea Ceremony Minion serving cups alongside Kale Benefits Minion, who is passing along his disgusting vegetable concoctions on the sheer principle of them being free for people waiting in line. Order rolls her eyes, and puts forth every effort not to trip Kale Benefits Minion as she passes by; he can see her with her spell, after all, though the common public cannot.
Order marches all the way up past Definitely A Human Minion— who is just tall and clothed enough to pass by as a really cute-looking foreigner— and she moves in through the black, midnight-blessed curtain under the lazy cloudy sky of the afternoon.
Instantly, she sees what was hidden.
Aglow with neon decorations, windy sound effects, the meowing and howling of night creatures and more, is a replica of her house. It’s not quite her house, however; the arches are painted in a nightmarish fashion, and its front columns are graffitied like a modern art piece. It’s to this house that the line of excited haunt-goers lead, small groups of one to three being let through at a time.
“Like it?” a squeaky, smart-voiced minion calls behind her.
She looks aside to see none other than Dimensionomancy Infrastructure Minion, one of Chaos’ very rarest. He only has part of his body visible as if in a constant state of dimensional flux, which most would find mysterious, but she’s well aware that he’s at work in multiple places at once on a regular basis. He’s much busier than her, and it kind of makes her feel bad to be less hard-working than one of Chaos’ stereotypically lazy minions. In fact, if he weren’t a minion, she’d look to make him a Royal Knight in a heartbeat— considering dimensioncraft is among the most difficult and sophisticated magics, and definitely the most valued magical school overall; even she has trouble with it.
It’s a strange dynamic for her, being able to collapse a dragon’s skull with a single punch, but still getting intimidated by this short nerd.
“Oh, it’s you,” she says. “Yeah, so what the hell is this, exactly?”
Only at the height of her shoulder, he smiles. “His Head Dimensionless thought it appropriate to have an appropriately-scary setting for his very first haunted house.”
She smirks. “Sure, but why here?”
He laughs. “Why not?”
Her smirk curls crassly. “Okay, I get it.”
“I’m sorry, but he was quite opinionated about it.”
“It’s okay. You can’t not do your job I guess.”
“Suppose not. It was a joy to do as well. It’s always nice to love your line of work.”
He chuckles. “How long has it been, seven thousand ye-”
“And you still haven’t learned to love your work?”
“Dealing with you assholes? No.”
Dimensionomancy Infrastructure Minion shrugs. “That’s not unreasonable, but it is unreasonable to yourself.”
“Yeah? Let me guess: I should just grin and learn to love it.”
He grins. “I think so, at least. I’m not as old as you. Perhaps there’s a lot to be said ab-”
“Trick or Treeeee-”
Orchard Minion, dressed up in a sheet from one of his apple crates, receives a kick from Order so devastating that it propels him out of the intersecting dimension and back into Frau.
“H-he was trying to get candy, you know.” Dimensionomancy Infrastructure Minion says with a parental mix of concern and crossness.
It makes her stomach churn that a minion can take that tone with her and get away with it. She sighs before replying: “What?”
“This is for All Hallows’ Eve!”
Her features sharpen. “That pagan holiday?”
“If that’s how you want to see it. It is a celebration after all, so I suppose you get to decide how you get to enjoy it, don’t you?” He says in his typically blasé, rather charming manner.
She scoffs. “Sure. Well this has been cute, but you need to get these people out of here and collapse the dimension, or Rayda help me I’m going to slam your-” She glances aside to gauge his expression, only to find him gone.
“Enjoy yourself~” he says, the last vestiges of his presence disappearing.
With a bitter, tired grumpiness she crosses her arms. She’s going to have to find the realm seal and do it herself. She’s aware that Dimensionomancy Infrastructure Minion is too busy to be tied down to one realm, so it’s probably placed somewhere inside the house. It should be just as simple as finding the seal and breaking it; then, like a gently-pricked balloon, the realm should start to lose coherence— to the point that the people and minions should just spill out due to lack of space. She’s not all that hot at crafting dimensions, but she certainly knows how to fold them back safely.
Order starts forward with a trot up to the front of the door; none other than Royal Knight Justice is near the head of the line.
“Ch-chief?” Justice asks, readjusting the reindeer-themed wool scarf on his neck. Of course he could see her, being magically skilled enough, and of course he would be dense enough to get tricked into something like this.
Order just looks at him. “…Really?”
“Wow, I’m so glad you’re alright! I thought you were having another one of your episodes!” he says, jumping out of line and embracing her.
She sighs. “I’m fine, but why are you here?”
He reaches into his autumn vest and pulls out a letter. “Don’t you remember? You invited me over!”
“No I didn’t.” She snaps the letter from his grip, unfolding it quickly to read:
– – –
O shit I got alllll dis fukkin coffe n I need some1 to drink it w/me. B a doll n help me th fuk out~
– – –
Following at the margins of the letter is a surprisingly-good cartoon illustration of her dying underneath a massive pile of coffee cans— her eyes exed out comically with her tongue hanging out, and for some reason there’s also Parvo doing a radical skateboard kickflip over the mountain of ground roast.
Order looks up with a hopeless gaze, taking her time before looking back to Justice, who winces.
“I thought you were drunk!” he explains with a nervous tone as the people in the line look at him strangely for talking to someone they can neither see nor hear.
Order takes a deep, deep breath, and folds back the letter. “I don’t write like that.”
“Well, sorry chief but the handwriting was really on-key! But I will admit I was suspicious. You can’t draw nearly this well.”
She unfolds it again just to peek; it is really really close to her handwriting, especially her drunk handwriting. It must have been Forgery Minion, that devious arse.
“Well either way we need to close this dimension down. The seal’s probably inside.”
“So we gotta get inside and find it!”
“Yup. Come on.”
Order leads Justice all the way up to the front door of the fake, haunted version of her house, where Holiday Minion is dressed up like an undertaker. Of course, seeing only Justice step past everyone makes the line’s constituents more than a little indignant.
“Miss and mister,” Holiday Minion starts, “would you both please wait in line and wait your-”
To the line, it looks as though Holiday Minion’s head just projects into the porch by an unknown force— with the door mysteriously opening to let Justice in. The door shuts, and the invisible Order and warm Justice enter the haunted abode.
– Tune in tomorrow for the exciting conclusion! –