Lord Knight Captain Order, the proud head of her hallowed organization, slumps her head depressively into her arched and open palm.
“-you see, if we can count on your generosity again this year, we should be able to get a-”
“-the children need a heated swimming pool, I’m telling yo-”
“High energy, high effectiveness. Do the most good they tell me, when I started out this amazing personal journey of self-development five years ago, I had no idea-”
Person after person, week after week, irritation after irritation, and this is one of the better duties. It simply never ends.
Had Daniel told her before he died about the mind-numbing drivel she’d have to sit through when representing The Knights on The Western Kingdom Charity Board, she expects she would have offed herself after all, at least before he died and flopped all this miserable responsibility on her.
She figured the wisdom of her seven-some thousand years in age with the energy and health of a young lady would be enough to get her out of bed in anything less than a crawling, eldritch mess of hangovers and self-loathing; turns out she can know a thousand magics and the methods for creating any metal known to man, but not self-management, oh no.
The legendary swordsmaiden, the Chaos Slayer, The Blind White Knight and Witch Queen of The West isn’t just bad when it comes to dealing with the daily, jugular-stabbing mediocrity of high management, but she hates it more than anything- anything.
Once she almost got her intestines ripped out by a trenchling, trying to slurp up her internals like a noodle. Due to a very long and extreme set of consequences leading up to that point, she also had no pain-nullification enchantment working over her, so she felt every bit of it.
Magic Knights of The Old Kingdom of Reinen are great when it comes to patching themselves up physically. It’s not quite so easy when it comes down to fixing emotional damage.
During her tenth meeting today, surrounded by a bunch of bright-faced, surface-level, not-even-as-old-as-a-hundred two-faced board members, she finally has an internalized, miniature “moment” of disgust. They all interpret this charity for their benefit. For the issues they don’t care about, or don’t relate to them? They’ll manage it for favors, lobbyists, and perks.
If it were up to her, there wouldn’t be much of that, or much of any of this at all, really. Of course she’s for helping those less fortunate out, but that rarely takes the form of a new park, and far more often looks like sending people to school in her mind. She closes her eyes briefly, realizing how she might even disagree with herself depending on the time of day and the amount of alcohol she’s consumed. It all seems to be a never-ending curse of not knowing what really is the right thing to do. Meeo didn’t, she’s sure, and Meeo basically knew everything; so why would she?
Her gray eyes, constantly displaying a state of bemused, sarcastic fatalism, glances over one board member after another.
One’s a tall, fit Spirakandrin well-to-do who would drop on his knees the second “preferred interest” came into any conversation about investments with The Whihelmish National Bank. He’s a selfish one, she knows, no matter how much he’ll cry about it being “long term” for his “people’s lifestyle and wellbeing”. He doesn’t really hide it.
Another’s a pretentious mage bitch (Order’s own words, of course,) from whatever ludicrous subschool of Keruz that Kanvane claim their “taught givers” come from nowadays. Order’s heard the kinds of conversations she has with some of the other board members when she thinks she can’t hear, and the topic usually ends around Order herself and how she’s “too old to have any perspective.”
Joke’s on her, considering Order’s sense of smell is as enhanced as her sense of hearing, and she can tell this lass has been good, good friends to nearly half of the board’s male members when it comes to “securing support” for the right causes, and judging from the freshness of the smell, this “friendliness” happens as soon as minutes before the meetings take place each week. It disgusts her; but Order still doesn’t care enough to have learned the woman’s name, and it’s not like she hasn’t done worse.
A third one is the uncommon sight of an emissary from Liefland, and rightfully so, because humans are usually freaked out by fairy folk. This one is the most infuriatingly generic, sparkly, floofy lesser fairy Order’s laid eyes on. A far cry from the wants and concerns of The Lieflander public, this flittering, palm-sized squeak toy with an attitude demands funding for only the most gaudy, expensive, and ridiculous galas that only the depraved minds of Whihelmish would ever dream of suggesting as a serious use of the board’s finances.
The rest are washed up autocrats from various lesser towns, fattened up war-heroes that have diminished to the point that they are better off face down in the pub-bar than attempting to conduct anything of weight or value, and young, outstandingly subversive graduates from any of the “top” schools in The Kingdoms, each academy doing their damnedest to produce a greater know-it-all, tooth-faced “parenting success” than the others. This is to say, everyone here irritates her, but not quite as much as the first three.
A part of her would kill them. A part of her knows it would make their society better immediately, but she still holds onto the ideal that there’s an order that must be adhered to in society; the means cannot always justify the ends. In a way, they are her, or were her at a time – she at least recognizes this.
“Right,” one of the self-proclaimed “leaders” of the group starts, collapsing his various reports and prospectuses into a slightly-neater file. “So how we spendin’ it?”
Order raises a snow-white brow. She’s been doing this every week since she took up the rank of Lord Knight Captain, and not once have they gotten to the chase this quickly. They usually foreplay it with some garbage side-bar about how great it is to be able to make a change in the world for the better and how fulfilling it is to get all the nice fruity letters back from folks that would do literally anything to maintain their contributions every month.
“Well,” Handsome Spirakandrin Asshole begins, “I really liked the opportunity presented by the Kin Reservation Estate guys.”
Members, especially people who live in or near Spirakander show an enthusiastic, plastic agreement.
Order smirks. He probably will “forget” to mention that the association counts charitable donations towards individual payment for when purchasing their “platinum resort” package. Donating to them is basically paying for your next vacation for free.
“Ugh,” the little fairy shit groans, her unbelievably neon-pink eyeshadow blinding people the second they look to her.
The Knightess bites her right canine into the bottom of her lip to stifle her smile. Looks like another fight’s a’brewin’ between these upstanding paragons of society, she’s certain.
The Spirakandrin turns with a gaze that contains the volcanic fury of a dragon. “Okay, what is it this time?” he asks with no small twinge of pure disgust and animosity.
The little tink buckles in the air with a huffy shake of her hips. “Well! Glad to see you weren’t even interested in what everyone else had to say, as usual!”
The tall man scoffs and tosses his hand out in display, though his gaze doesn’t shift an inch from the insect with rights. “Oh, you weren’t listening? Sounds to me like just about everyone thought it was a good idea.”
“There’s nothing pretty about a bunch of stinking lizards crying about how they broke their huts and need us to come fix it for them.”
“It’s the right thing to do. Those… people-”
“You don’t even call them that,” the fairy cuts off with a sassy wave of her wings. “You don’t give even one gliteral damn.”
“A… a what dam-”
“Gliteral! You know, like literal, but actually not gross and way more fabulous. You humans just have no clue about th-”
He slams the table, grinning. “Don’t you even start about what you think those people deserve! You fairies would throw them all in a fire the second you had the chance!”
“Heh, yeah, like any reasonable person would. Haven’t you read the Justice Bureau’s crime statistics for their area? It’s gliterally the most terrible place on the entire Ea-”
He slams the table once again, drawing in with an enthused, violent glint in his eye. “Shut your mouth, bug!”
She zips up, refusing to back down while propelling a neigh-toxic level of lavender perfume in his face from her fluttering. “How about you shut your mouth, farming no brains di-”
“Please, both of you,” “Slut Mage” says with a calming, maternal tone, “you both know that there’s the opinion of a certain someone that we can always call on to set us straight,” she says with the scarcest, mildest hint of “let’s bring out the old cow and get this over with” in her voice. She glances with a put-on interest to Order, older than all of them combined, and then tripled.
Order’s smirk turns into a wince as she forces herself up from her lax self-rest with her arm. It’s clear this bedfellow wants to try an embarrass her by making an enemy of either one of the inconsolably idiotic board members. There’s no doubt in her mind that the moment she takes a side, or even denounces them both, Miss Salt will do everything in her power to go against her with the calmest, most presumptuous disagreement her insignificant desperation-stained mind can fathom. After this, all her boyfriends on the board will be forced to rally with her for obvious reasons, therefore making Order look like the dumb, out-of-touch, dejected has-been that just some months ago had her hand in murdering a hence thought-to-be-invincible Vampire Matron Overlord.
The Masteress of Light takes a sigh and thinks of a better time, when she actually did things that mattered. Then, as if prescribed by fate, the doors into the thick conference room burst open to usher forth a fresh, adventurous breeze, as well as one exhausted guardsman… wait, no, the breeze is just his sweat; it smells just as bad as this room, but at least it’s less stuffy.
“Your ladyship!” The Ragnivanian boy wheezes, flinching a moment in the hopes that he gave her the proper address and didn’t offend her. “There’s a grave emergency, and we’re sure it’s the doing of none other than The High Overlord!”
Order’s smile turns into a crass, helplessly-venomous grin the very moment her eyes spark with a motivated gold. She crooks her gaze over to “Sticky Sorceress” and the rest of the board. “Terribly sorry, ladies and gentlemen, but as you know this is something that cannot be put to the wayside,” she says, pushing up from her chair and setting off in her diplomatic uniform. “I’m afraid you’ll have to tackle this one without me.”
“How gloriously understated,” she thinks to herself.
There’s a short applause from various board members, mostly those of the military persuasion, but nearly everyone does give her some well-wishing encouragement of a kind. She is the first and best hero of the Republic, after all.
The mage puts on the widest, most punchable smile Order’s seen in years. “Take care, honored Knightess. Ensure nothing happens to that great mind of yours. It would be a shame to miss your input on our board,” she says.
Order gives a cool wave off, allowing the guardsman to shut the door behind them both.
The mage shrugs, and looks back to the fairy and Spirakandrin man. “Oh well. Guess we’ll have to make do in the meantime. You two were saying?”
Both of them inhale to speak at the same time before the screaming starts up again.
Order and the guard start down the connecting corridor of the Ragnivanian Royal Estate Management Offices when she glances over to the boy, keeping pace with her even in all his heavy armor; for a magicless sort, it’s an impressive feat, she’d be the first to admit. She remembers when she was like that. It’s all kind of cute to her, like watching a child struggle with a math problem that’d be simple for an adult.
“So what’s the situation?” she asks.
Between a few motivated huffs, the soldier responds while they rush to the nearest space gate. Rather, it’s him that’s rushing to keep up with her own pace, which she considers to be deliriously slow when it comes to “business matters”.
“Magic has run amok in Kanvane. You must head there immediately to get the whole situation. I’m sorry I don’t know mo-”
“Why wasn’t I alerted of this over chat stone?” Order asks, fishing up the little necklace tied to a clear, blue gem to show the guard.
He shrugs. “Not my… *phew!* place to say, your ladyship. I was told it happened immediately and to get you.”
She’s already preparing defensive enchantments and alteration magic: scutamancy and mutamancy pushing her body to physical echelons that would humble dragons. “What’s the threat? How do you know it’s Chaos?” she continues to prod as they march along.
A pair of guards open the doors for them to the outside, leading straight to the royal courtyard’s space gate, already opened and set to Kanvane’s center square. “Your ladyship, it’s only something he could do,” the escorting guard says, leading her up the stone steps and across the pedestal to the gate’s humming, ethereal entry.
“Yes?” she asks, one foot in and one hand to squeeze the handles of both Monument and Aerna’s Grace-the only things that she makes sure to have on her at all times no matter what.
“Everyone’s missing exactly one sock per pair!” he exclaims.
Her golden eyes regain their grayish tone while she fully enters the dimensional rift. Of course.
She pops out the other end in Kanvane’s center market square, and everyone’s already in “Overlord Chaos” mode.
He’s not the usual catastrophic event and as such people tend to not deal with him in the usual way.
Most people have locked up in their homes; they’re the smarter ones.
A few idiots are standing by the way side, glancing about nervously for even the chance to bear witness to the legendary Slayer of Billions himself.
Even still are a handful more. The truly suicidal, who are here to approach and talk to him for any number of reasons. After all, speaking with him would be the interview of the century, and anyone with the balls to do that would get any journalism job they liked with any agency in the kingdoms, though they’d probably rather get a job in another dimension. “Interviewed Chaos and lived to talk about it” is a bitching-good resume bullet in any reality. This of course skirts around all the other reasons people might want to hit up Chaos. She’s heard of a few would-be heroes be destroyed in an instant by simply challenging him for revenge. Further down the line are even weirder sorts who attempt to ask him out on dates or get him to autograph things.
Order shakes her head at it all. There’s a part of her that wishes people would care about her poking her head out of a garbage can as much as when he does, but she knows it’s not because he’s more important, it’s just because they’re not used to him.
Order has fans, of course, but she doesn’t have cults running around furiously writing fan-novels about her; she’s not scary, not edgy enough to have that sort of following.
She picks out one of the mages on commission, a decisively more responsible, more professional, and significantly less-tarty lady about the same age as that spiteful bitch on the charity board. It’s easy to get bottled up and forget that decent people still do decent work sometimes.
“So what’s this about socks?” Order asks with a plain, normal tone.
The young lady gives the typical Kanvanian “I’m a mysterious wizard” nod, which is really just a normal nod that’s exaggerated to the point of looking ceremonious. “Masteress,” she begins, “The High Overlord’s used his overwhelming force to pilfer socks from everyone in the capitol,” she starts. “Over half of the realm’s socks have been absconded with, including those that would count as a match, but are not of the same pair. Like… like here,” she pulls up the hem of her robe ever so slightly to reveal her knee socks. Both are white, but one has a long red stripe traveling diagonally along the shin, and the other has a squiggly blue line forming some sort of Celt pattern. She’s got great taste in socks, Order’ll give her that, but they definitely don’t match. “As you can see,” the mage continues, “mine look terrible together, and I, like everyone I’ve talked to, woke up to see their matches stolen.”
Order hums. “And what makes you think this was the work of Chaos?”
The mage just stares at her with a leading, obvious look.
Order smirks. “Yeah, alright. Fair enough; but I mean did you actually see him?”
She shakes her head “I’m afraid not. No one has. Everyone just assumed it would be his doing.”
“Because he’s the only one that can, and also would do something like this,” Order explains.
The mage nods, her lips pursed in an awkward, unnerved concern. This obviously doesn’t have people running for the hills, but it’s still enough to warrant an investigation.
Order gives the woman a pat on the shoulder. “Well I’ll take a look around,” she says, prompting the mage to bow once again.
“Thank you, Masteress. You’re truly the backbone of Western Civilization.”
She raises a brow. She hasn’t heard that one in a while.
“The pleasure’s all mine,” Order says, stepping off with a relaxed, but purposeful trot.
Shifting her hand off of Monument’s handle, she activates one of her most useful but least-enjoyed enchantments, her wall-sight. Chaos isn’t the only one that can look through solid objects, after all that’s how her Blind Mask armor works in the first place.
Her eyes don’t change color, give no expression of alteration, but at once she can see into the homes of the civilians and into their embarrassing, disgusting private lives. Sometimes it’s good for a laugh, but it usually just makes her depressed with how completely deluded some people are. That said, she’s more than used to the vices and secrets of the world and has seen more while on patrol using this spell than most people would be ready to believe.
Order glances about, seeing through multiple houses at a time, and travels down the lane of a pleasant, barely-overcast Kanvanian morning. It’s quite typical for it to be raining around here, so she’s somewhat relieved that the consistent misery of Kanvane’s bad weather won’t be weighing down on her as well. She’s a fan of rain, but only when there’s a ceiling between herself and the downpour.
Looking around, she doesn’t see anything out of place. A few weird fetishes, one room that’s piled high with wrapped mist weed, and one shanty in the middle of an alley that is almost definitely home to a serial killer. She’ll report what she needs to after she’s done, but it really looks as though there’s nothing more to see. There’s not even a hint of Chaos having been here. His presence would be slamming her spiritual head into the ground right now if he were even a kilometer away, but she can’t feel even a tingle.
Then, as if from that thought alone, comes the aforementioned tingle.
It’s not terribly heavy at first, like the emotion of love, but then once she’s aware of it, it passes and meets with every nerve and cell in her body, fully acquainting her with that massive, mountainous presence. Becoming exceptionally and increasingly-more attuned to magical frequencies over the years, she’s only become more and more sensitive to the feeling of Chaos’ infusia, that black-white mass that turns the frail into legends and the dumb into geniuses.
The feeling runs across her, wave after wave of cool, menthol-like tingling crossing and circulating in spirals along her spine as she glances about for the source. If she were to relate the feeling to anything, she’d say it’s like a refreshing autumn breeze, but piercing, almost orgasm-like in its sudden emergence.
Like being submersed in an ocean of mint, she feels a gentle, cool current that points her the way. Flowing through the air that feels as thick as a storm to her, Order walks through a couple of streets until she finds it: a common, run-of-the-mill Kanvanian home, tightly and cozily packed in with the rest along its lane.
Her features sharpen alongside her senses; this is the one.
Knowing that no one but her target is inside, she opens the door and starts looking around.
Though she can see through walls, it’s not the right kind of vision for spotting beings wrapped in pure magic. She cuts off her spell and instead heightens her senses as far as she’s able. For a single moment, she casts her presence out to that magic sea, lets her spiritual tip-toes push off the sand, and she drifts out in the enormous feeling of mana to lead her the way.
She closes her eyes for only a second, and she feels her target.
Stepping calmly over to the kitchen, she looks to the laundry basket, and stares intently.
“Gee, sure seems like a good time to do some Spring cleaning and burn all the clothes in this hamper!” she says to herself, but not really to herself.
Silence. She needs to try something else.
“Gee, sure seems like a good time to do some Spring cleaning and… throw away all the clothes in this hamper!” she says again, leaning gently over the motionless hamper.
“…Gee?” She starts with a aimless tone. “Sure seems like a good time to do some Spring. Cleaning. Maybe throw my matching pair of socks on the wash-”
She sees the basket flinch in excitement at the mere mention of the word “socks”. It’s not Chaos, that’s for sure.
With a blink-fast snap, Order reaches in and fishes out none other than Sock Minion, significantly less dangerous and legendary than his dark master, but significantly more untrustworthy around unattended socks. After a frantic, dryer-lint-covered squirm, his floppy sock-covered antennae are as clear as day to her.
“I should have known,” she starts with a cross tone over the convulsing, whimpering minion. “It’s...” Her thought trails off, as if to encourage him to finish it for her.
There’s a slight pause, the quivering minion opening a single eye of his to address her. “Sock Minion,” he educates helpfully.
“Mmm.” She lifts him by the neck, which isn’t difficult considering his size. He is one of The Dark Master’s tiniest, cutest minions, and just the perfect size for fitting into hampers unawares. “Let me guess, he sent you here?”
“I… I had to, miss! It was a direct order, and he never gives me direct orders! To refuse him after all this time of hanging out in his sock collection would be the gravest of insults!”
Order squints an eye. “Huh, you speak… fairly normal for one of his.”
Sock Minion goes limp, allowing his limbs to swing about freely in her grip like a sock doll. “Well, thanks, I guess?”
“I mean it’s just usually I would have expected some over-the-top slang or some stupid pun, maybe a catchphrase or two.”
Sock Minion’s littlest round eyes slant with a humored suspicion. “Been spending a little too much time with Scout?”
Order smiles. “Oh, so she’s known for that?”
“Yeah. It’s kinda her thing… well, that and scouting, I guess.”
She glances at his antennae and realizes that he’s pulled socks over them. “Right, like you and socks.”
He chuckles. “It’s so amazing, having something so close to a person.”
Her golden eyes turn orange. “Ew.”
“N-no! I mean… socks are something people wear every day, they hardly even think about them. I just love socks because it’s something that’s so close to people, does everything it can for them, but it’s something people really don’t pay mind to. Kids hate getting socks on the holidays, but nothing else keeps their feet more warm, more looked after… more loved. I just think tha-”
“Okay well you’re still weird, just not the weird I was expecting,” she notes with a gentle wriggle of the minion.
Sock Minion crosses his arms with a sigh. “I suppose that’ll have to do.”
She raises him up to her face-height. “So what’s Ol’ Black got you doing today? Raising some Chaos?”
“And you were talking like we were the ones with the puns-”
“You guys are the ones with the puns, I’m just speaking your language,” she says with another gentle shake. “Now out with it or I’m burning your socks.”
“Th-They didn’t do anything wron-”
“Then talk,” Order says, proud that her range of prowess stretches between “destroying inter-dimensional dragons” and “threatening laundry fanatics”.
“Okay! Sheesh! You’ll hurt their feelings.”
“Socks don’t have feelings.”
“Well if they did they’d be hurt, stupid!” Sock Minion, actually fairly rattled up from her intimidation, needs a moment to collect himself. “Okay, he sent me here for charity.”
There’s a pause, and Order feels like she needs to put him down just so she can collect herself. She sets his little black feet neatly on the counter, draws back, and stifles a laugh. “What?”
“No, really; charity work. It’s for the good of the people here.”
Once again, there’s a silence amidst the warm, lived-in scent of the kitchen.
She leans an elbow onto the counter and her face is almost radioactive in its smugness – no smile: just pure judgement. “Oh, gee, so what moral gymnastics does he have for stealing people’s laundry? Is he going to hold a fashion contest and he doesn’t want humans to win, or something?”
“Oh, no, it’s to make people cooperate.”
Order’s quiet as she steadily leans in with an increasingly suspicious glare, simply because she doesn’t know what other face to make in response to a claim like that. “Cooperate.”
“Mhmm! Because people will have to find other people with matching socks so they can trade and share.”
Order sighs. She’ll admit she didn’t see that one coming. She really figured it would be more along the lines of “Heh, nerd! It’s obviously to deprive humanity of the heat in one of their feet and force them to stay at home. We’ll be helping everyone by giving them time off from their insidious, futile labor!” Her expression shifts about the moment she hears the front door click open.
Like a functional-drunk and manic-depressive ghost in one, Order snaps up the minion and whispers a single, magical word. Neither of them become invisible, but they both become silent as a mouse and incapable of producing that “you’re being watched” feeling that so many common mortals are born with a talent for.
“Okay, so I have five white pairs but… gah, they’re all different designs! A young man says, whom Order presumes to be either the husband of the household or a son.”
“I mean you’d have more if you actually kept them on your feet,” a snippy, feminine voice calls back.
Order scoffs silently: husband and wife for certain.
“W-well, come on and let’s get what we have. Someone’s got to have a match in this damn city,” the husband says, rushing up the steps to their drawers.
“Oh come on. The academy’ll understand! The uniform dress code isn’t all that strict. It’s not like all of them didn’t have their socks stolen, too!” she explains with a hopeful tone.
He sighs. “That’s just what they’d want you to think.”
“Never mind. The thing is it’s a risk I can’t take… Huh.”
“What is it?”
“Just uh… the plaid ones-”
“Oh, those are in the hamper.”
Order and Sock Minion exchange an alert glance.
“Well… I dunno. I’m a little busy here, could you go get-”
“I’m not going to trade your unwashed socks. If they had any idea what you did with tho-”
“Fine! Then wash ‘em and let’s go.”
“Fine,” the wife says with a curt, frustrated tone.
The woman starts down the steps overhead from Order and the minion.
Sock Minion in tow, Order stealthily, easily rotates around the room in a clock-wise path to avoid the wife on their way out. Using the same lesser magic, Order silences the door and its mechanisms to open silently for her and the minion’s escape. It’s not like it would be a big deal if she were caught, of course, but it would be a big deal to her if it meant having to explain herself to a bunch of ignorant, irritable mortals.
“Sounds like they had problems in their relationship that goes further than socks,” Sock Minion says, analytically and quite unhelpfully.
“Uh, yeah, so,” she starts, propping the minion onto her shoulder like a doll, “You need to quit this.” She hears no response from him, so she glances over.
Sock Minion is quiet, smiling and drooping against her neck convincingly.
It’s for the best, she realizes, considering there’s passersbies, and Order’s not exactly hard to pick out of a crowd.
“Lady White,” an exceptionally-large hatted sorcerer greets while he passes by, wearing his mismatched socks with pride. This is not at all different than how sorcerers usually dress of course, which is usually with no sense of style whatsoever, unless that sense of style is themed around looking like an over-laden coat rack.
“Love your doll! Super cute!” a passing student says, who decided to just go to class without socks. She’ll probably not even get yelled at; not like the teachers will have matching socks either.
“Good day,” she greets back to both of them while Sock Minion’s smile grows faintly.
“That was a nice lady,” Sock Minion says, barely moving his mouth while leaning against the side of her neck like a real, not-living doll might.
A smirking Order rolls her eyes and starts back down the street for one of the shop lanes.
“Where are we going?”
“Somewhere I can actually talk to you,” she says under her breath.
The waiter bows deeply for the most important guest the establishment’s had all year, directing her to one of the private booths at the very back of the restaurant.
“H-Like your… doll, ma’am,” he says with an awkward smile.
“Thank you. I’ll peek out and let you know when I’m ready to order,” she returns, drawing the curtain back the moment she steps in.
Order props the miniscule minion down on the table, cuing him to drop the act and come back to life.
“Yeah, so go ahead and flick those little antennae of yours and tell him that if he doesn’t show up I’m going to tear those little socks off your Rayda-Forsaken head,” she says, returning to business mode the moment she’s able.
Sock Minion jolts back, grasping at his cute, sock-shaped, conveniently sock-covered antennae with his equally-cute little hands. “N- nooooo ple-”
“I’m not going to.”
“Oh, but then wouldn’t that be lying?”
“It won’t be if I actually tear your antennae off with them.”
There’s a nervous pause. “So are you, or aren’t you?” he asks.
She just stares back at him with the same, relaxed smirk.
Eventually he gets the picture. “R-…right. I’ll pass it along,” he says, flicking his antennae about to tune into whatever minion’s nearest the same moment Order feels a massive chill along her spine. “…Let’s see here… oh,” he says with a blunt tone, “he’s…”
“Don’t worry about it,” Order says with a dismissive wave the very second Overlord Chaos emerges from a light beneath the table. His great, long antennae poke up, and then his mighty all-seeing eyes, and then his jaws, and then finally his body, which is just sort of an angular, black figure with an excellent physique. He turns right for her.
“How dare you insult my minion in such a way?” he demands, staring up as Order closes her legs.
The three listen outside when the “ultra high” magic expenditure alarm blares for a second, alerting the authorities of the high likelihood that yet another wizard’s finally snapped and has started turning people into scallops with one hand while shooting chain lightning with the other. This was just Chaos entering via portal, of course; he’s not exactly low-key when it comes to magic use.
“Well, good evening there,” Order says with a conversational tone. “I guess you could overhear us?”
“In a way. I felt Sock Minion’s fear and thought I’d say hello,” he explains, his mathematically-precise jaws curling pleasantly.
Sock Minion gasps, putting his hands to his tiny cheeksies. “R-really?”
Chaos reaches over to give the minuscule minion a head-rub with his index finger. “I’ve determined to keep a better eye on you all. Tragedy could strike at any time, and to be frank I’m not prepared to risk losing you.”
Sock Minion reaches up to Chaos’s finger and gives it a hug, Order sighs.
“You’re the best, Head Launderer!”
The group hears the door open outside to a flurry of men, calling out “Illicit magic check.”
Chaos and Order share a light chuckle.
Like what the actual hell are they going to do when they find them seated together at a booth?
“Ahh, looks like Keruz wants to pay us a visit,” Chaos says with a grin, pre-charging an especially vicious spell.
Order taps the table crossly. “That’s your fault for coming from one dimension to the next and acting like it wouldn’t raise any eyebrows. Not saying that you usually make good decisions and all, but even you should realize that they’d be sensitive to magic use around here.”
Chaos crosses his arms thoughtfully. “Hmm, what’s this sensitive you speak of?”
Order shakes her head. “Knowing you, you’ll remember it in a few seconds. I don’t even need to remi-”
Their curtain is abruptly opened by an officer of The Council Arcane Police. The tall, official-looking man looks at Chaos, the minion standing on the table, to Order, and then back again.
“You find anything?” a gruff voice asks from a few booths down.
Order, looking dead-straight in the man’s eyes, shakes her head. Chaos just grins with his subtle “pre-decapitation” smile.
“N-…no sir,” the officer says, his face stretched long in bewilderment before slowly, slowly closing the curtain on the three. There are simply some fights a mortal would not be wise to pick, and some questions better left unasked.
“Have a nice day,” Order says with gently.
The trio look back to one another.
“Hah, the fool, couldn’t even see us!” Chaos snips with an arrogant smile. “It appears as though either my magics are truly too great to be witnessed, or that cur is simply not sensi-… oh.”
“Yeah, sensitive,” Order says with a sarcastic nod.
“It is a word after all! I thought you were kidding about with me. But enough pleasantry-” he draws in, activating his “overlord” mode, which usually has also has the unintended effect of making people fall madly in love with him alongside its actual intended effect.
He grabs her by the collar, leaning her straight along the table to bring him as close to his face as possible. This always makes her tingly, and even more so now that she knows he probably won’t hurt her.
She hates his guts, don’t get her wrong, but there is something delightful about him.
“You will never touch a single feeler on my charge, or you will feel the unmitigated power of a world collapsing into your skull. Do I make myself clear?”
She nods, her eyes sharp-gazed into his.
He releases her. “Good.”
“I wouldn’t dare touch one of your farts now that I can just smack you around instead,” she scoffs.
“I’m in a fair mood today, Masteress,” Chaos explains, leaning in a bit himself this time. “I am simply attempting to do something good for the world, but if you get in the way of that you can be certain I will consecrate your internal organs into a jar and put it on my… my internal organ… jar… shelf.”
“I don’t actually doubt you have one of those. You probably just forgot where it was,” she explains, brow raised and tone perfectly acquiescent.
“Yes, well you can fully expect yours to be on there if you insist on endangering my children.”
“You’re not even related to them.”
“The same could be said of your knights, but even so, I disagree. Sharing my essentia as our bond makes us closer than any pathetic human relationship you are capable of mustering. Now… surrender my minion!”
Order sighs and gently brushes Sock Minion up to his daddy with a shooing motion. It’s a one-inch slide forward but to Chaos it means the difference between freedom and danger.
Sock Minion leaps off the table and latches onto the overlord’s wide shoulder in an adorable hug.
Chaos grins and places a consoling hand on Sock Minion. “You’ve done well, my young one. Let it be known that you had faced off against Order herself and emerged victorious!”
Order chuckles. “Right, glad you two are back. Now leave.”
The High Overlord glances up. “Leave? Why, whatever for?”
“Kanvane’s a human kingdom. Humans don’t like you.”
Chaos draws back with a refined lean into the backpost. “I beg to differ! You know I have a bit of a fan club? The ‘Order of the Glowing Eternity’ I’ve heard it called- quite cute. Apparently they have meetings and ev-”
Chaos’ antennae shoot up. “Pardon me?”
“They’re a cult. They hide away in each other’s homes once a week to do weird shit that endangers the community.”
The Tower Ruler waves his hand about dismissively and foppishly, in a pleasant, withdrawn manner. “Oh, please. I’m sure they’re just having some fun! If they really were a cult then surely they would-”
Chaos peers on in blank bewilderment. “Oh my… but I’m sure if the cult would be in my name then at least they would kill evil people a-”
“They’re under the impression that to summon your graces they need to cause as much “chaos” as possible. They’re a bunch of bloodthirsty domestic terrorists that will stop at nothing until they complete their goal. They’re not super good at what they do, but they’ve gotten away every time.”
Chaos draws back once more, but this time with an ooze of smug pretension. “Could it be that not even the mighty Masteress of Light-”
“The Chaos Slayer-”
“The very firmament of morality and goodness and decency of The West, can’t locate a coven of backslidden nerds that shout my name, as if even the thought of me alone protects them?”
Order rolls her eyes. “Hardly. I just have…” Her expression flattens out.
“You have what, dear?” Chaos asks with an inquisitive flinch of his long, graceful antennae, like a crown over other, less-endowed lifeforms.
She glances aside. “You know what. No I don’t.”
“You don’t have what, dear?” He reiterates.
“I don’t have anything better to do. I can’t believe I got so caught up in bureaucracy and meetings and all the typical bullshit that I forgot this is something I need to do. Leaving it up to others would be a waste of time, because they haven’t caught them yet. I’m in charge now… I don’t have to wait for anyone. Besides… I’m supposed to stay ready at all times in case you show up… but now you have.”
Giving Sock Minion a quaint, loving pat on his little head, The High Overlord draws in with an interested look. “So now that you have me, what do you plan to do?” he asks with a wide, face-encompassing grin.
Her eyes spark gold once more. “It won’t be hard to find them. Not with you here… help me.”
Chaos scoffs theatrically. “My nemesis?”
“For charity,” she says, using the magic word of the week for Chaos, who’s certain to jump to some other, completely unrelated obsession in days, if not hours from now.
He hums darkly, glancing aside a moment in tyrannical consideration. “Very well. Let’s find these dreglings and fix their little problem.”
“Alright, servants of the Dark Master, please stand to recite The Dark Creed,” a hooded man speaks out in the dark, musty room, one of the tens of thousands in the Kanvanian “Laboratory Underground”.
A group of figures rise dramatically from their seats, each one with wearing the same black, dual-pointed hoods, as if to suggest having antennae of some kind.
They take a simultaneous, excited breath, and then the doors slam open.
Before them, Lord Knight Captain Order is in her off-duty clothes- still very official, but a mile away from her suit of armor.
“Citizens,” she starts, her voice punctuated by the din of the doors tearing completely from its hinges and collapsing aside pathetically.
In a singular, well-practiced movement that surprises her, the entire cult draws up their expensive, heavily-managraphed daggers. It looks like there’s some money behind this operation, after all.
“Who are you?” one of them hisses.
“Some government bitch!” another wheezes.
“No matter. All will fall to the power of the Chaotic Empero-”
“Are you guys serious?” one of the cloaked folks asks across to the others.
The other fourteen turn to look at the odd-cultist out.
“What do you mean, Alphadark?” one of them asks, addressing the cultist by his nick-name.
“You guys really don’t recognize her?” Alphadark asks.
One at the right crosses her arms. “Well, no. What is she, magic-police?”
Another one in the circle hums. “What say you, Bloodmoon?” he asks, looking to the one at the end, who Order presumes to be the leader.
“Yeah, Bloodmoon!” an especially-lanky cultist exclaims with a shiver. “Just who is this idiot?!”
Bloodmoon crosses his arms and takes a long, sage breath. “No idea.”
Alphadark scoffs. “Oh for fuck’s-”
“It doesn’t matter,” Order says, interrupting the indignant one on the left. “Royal Knights,” she says, flicking out her especially fancy insignia.
“Pffft, one of those goodie two-shoes.” Return three of them.
There’s a short pause.
“Which one?” The cultist named Deathslash asks.
In the low light of the underground room, Order grasps Monument’s handle smoothly. She pulls it up an inch from its dimensional sheath, and it’s golden, star-compressed glory alights the room to the point of blinding. She doesn’t even have time to replace it when the screams of realization blast through the room.
“WELL JUST FUCK US ALL, THEN!”
“Order! This is it, lads!”
“Damn it all! She’s much shorter than I thought!”
“AHHHHHHH OH RAYDA’S MERCY- I THOUGHT THIS WAS A ROLEPLAYING GROUP, I SWEAR!” are among the screams flooding the basement, clanging with the din of weapons being dropped and people falling to their knees in mercy.
Order sighs. How typical that they wouldn’t recognize her without her armor or sword out. “You’re all under arrest. If you try to escape I’ll kill you.”
The groveling cultists cry in abject terror, certain this is their doom.
“Oh, oh Overlord Almighty, save us from the pains of imprisonment!”
“He was homeless! He wasn’t contributing to society! I’m not to blame!”
“I swear she said she was of legal age!” three of them scream amidst the furious din of crying and gnashing of teeth.
Order sighs, rolls her eyes, and begins forging chains out of mana, when a great, heavy laugh tears through the catacomb.
“Worshippers…” The voice begins.
Everyone stops short of what they’re doing, including Order, who was fairly certain he was just going to stand back and watch. She looks back, right when a cursed breeze passes by her with a perfect grace and a nigh-instant speed.
“Be at peace, for your salvation… has come!” Chaos exclaims with a powerful, stellar pose in the middle of the circle.
Gasps of fear, shock, relief and just a hint of sexual arousal pierce through the room when the cultists realize that they may just have a chance.
“It’s The Overlord!” Bloodmoon cries, mostly under the table now.
“Doomed!” Two others shout with equal levels of excitement.
Chaos turns to Order like a true hero. “How dare you disturb these innocent civilians! Death Minion, to me!”
From a flash and a burn, Sock Minion hops up and poses with Chaos atop his master’s head. “I kill anyone and anything that gets in my way!” Sock Minion says with a put-on, fully-demented tone.
Order stifles her smirk and decides to just let him do his thing. “Oh no. It’s Chaos,” she says with a deflated excitement.
“HA!” Chaos laughs with a triumphant inflection. “I’m glad I could arrive in time to intervene before unneeded suffering was caused by lower creatures. I’m going to show you just what it means to question The Overlord’s own!” he delivers this address with a loud, broad, righteous tone, like a king preparing to lead his army in a charge.
“Oh… yeah?” Order asks with a put-on tone.
“I’m going to tear out your teeth, with my teeth, and then I’ll swallow your teeth!” Sock Minion screeches, totally in-character.
Order scoffs, but the cultists are all quite impressed.
“This little dude’s gonna take her all by himself!” shout the various cultists.
Order takes a combative stance. “Well… old nemesis, there’s only one way this can-”
“IIIII’m gonna tear out your eyes with my eyes, and crush them against my eyes!” Sock Minion screeches again, flailing about wildly and using Chaos’ left antennae as a sort of balancing beam like an incredibly complicated and skillful pole-dance of doom.
Chaos flicks his antennae, simultaneously shaking Sock Minion and transmitting the word “silence” to him.
The minuscule minion clears his throat and sharpens up, going in for a relaxed lean against his dark master’s antennae instead.
Order hums. “As I was saying.” She looks back as if to address Chaos. “There’s only one way this can settled…”
Chaos draws forward with an insolent aggression. “Of course… there’s only one way,” he says amidst the “oohs” and “ahhs” of the crowd of onlookers.
“They’re totally about to do it!” squeaks one flushed cultist from her corner of the room.
“Dance battle!” Order exclaims, throwing off her jacket and slinging off her weaponry and magic harness.
Chaos had no clue what she was going for, but he’s up for it—he’s up for most anything, really.
By some unknown form of incredible chemistry, Chaos doesn’t even skip a beat to start squatting goofily opposite to her.
The Overlord turns to the now shocked-stupid cult.
“A tune, if you will!”
Shroudkill, the one cultist whose parents forced him to learn an instrument as a boy, pulls out his little harp and plays a not-so-good, off-key tune for only a few seconds, in which the sheer weirdness of the situation finally overwhelms him like the rest, and he just falls silent.
Chaos and Order bust out some impressive moves, Chaos being too doggedly-confident for any of his ridiculous break-dance stylings to look bad, and Order having spent enough time on patrol to watch a few talented artists do their thing, which she herself practiced and eventually emulated over the years.
The music ends, and they both keep dancing, entirely removed from the situation as if it were all a game to them. One can only be serious so many hours in the day, after all, and then you need to dance with your arch nemesis of several millennia to blow off some steam. After all, it’s not like you really care that much anyway, and he’s not such a bad guy when you get over the whole “killing your family” thing.
It’s taken Order a very, very long time by human standards to accept this: to realize that there are simply some people and some relationships in life that transcend hatred, surpass romance, and ascend to the very furthest reaches of what a person can accept as possible between two people. She doesn’t forgive him, she doesn’t think she’s capable of doing that, but only so much blood can be squeezed out of a single wound until there truly is nothing left, she thinks.
The two pass one another and strike a dramatic finishing pose. Never in history has this happened; it just felt right. No knight or overlord is watching, just a bunch of nerdy cultists who are all probably too-high on mist weed to understand the difference between today and yesterday.
Sure, Sock Minion’s there, but she thinks he’s cool enough to keep a secret.
Pure, unadulterated silence holds heavy reign over the room while Chaos and Order both maintain their ridiculous, aggrandized poses. The cultists are too far removed to even look to one another, every gaze is glued on the extra-dimensional god predator and the invincible witch knight completing their silly, out-of-touch dance. Turns out breakdancing hasn’t even been invented in this dimension yet, and whatever Order was doing fell out of style nearly seven hundred years ago.
Even so, Bloodmoon begins with a slow, reverent applause.
then the entire congregation of cultists, rising up with a few muffled cheers and awkward words of congratulation.
“G-good job s-”
“Now, you were about to arrest them?” Chaos says, still in pose.
Order, still in her pose as well, breaks it with a nod. “You bet I am.”
“Well, go right on ahead, then,” Chaos says standing back to full height and leaning into the nearby wall with a glorious ease.
The cult is completely silent for a moment, doing their damnest to understand what’s going on.
Killburn, who was in the act of smoking some mistweed himself, finally takes up the lit wrap from under his mouth and flicks it to the floor as if to dispose of evidence.
“Wh-… so you’re… letting her arrest us?!” Bloodmoon asks.
Chaos nods. “You are criminals, after all. No society operates well for long with criminals in its midst.”
Bloodmoon flinches, reaching for the holy scripture. “I don’t… this can’t be happening! You hate her!”
“That may be, but at least she defends her home from agents that would destroy it.”
“But we worship you!”
Chaos nods again. “Worship is for gods. I smack those impostors from the sky on a regular basis. I’m something far greater.”
The incredulous cult trembles in shock while Order begins gesturing them up to receive their mana shackles.
“Wh-wh-why, then do the holy scriptures say all of this about you?! You said you’d come back for your followers!” Bloodmoon says with an incriminating tone, picking up the “holy scriptures” and shaking them up in Chaos’ face.
The Overlord looks down to the book and takes it from Bloodmoon.
Amidst the dank air and the sound of shackles latching together, Chaos flips through the first few pages.
“Isn’t this… ahh,” The Overlord’s expression warms, but not in the way Bloodmoon would want; far more in the manner a teacher would look at a child making a hilariously simple mistake, revealing just how much they have yet to learn.
“What is it?” Order asks.
“It appears as though Fan Fiction Minion’s been disseminating her work among the masses… as a prank, I assume.”
Sock Minion laughs. “No way! That’s crazy!”
Order’s eyes gain an awkward, green hue. “You… you have a fanfiction minion?”
“I most certainly do,” Chaos says with a wise nod, flipping about the pages with a bemused glance in front of the shocked-silent Bloodmoon.
“So… so you aren’t the secret creator of the universe?” the cultist asks.
“I am not, at least as far as I know,” Chaos explains with a smile.
“…You’re… you’re not going to come and save your loyal servants from humanity’s vile grasp?”
Chaos smiles. “I’m fairly certain Fan Fiction Minion is referring to my own, actual minions in this case.”
“You… you aren’t going to make me your everlasting bride and rear a million children with me?!” Screamfire sobs, herself being put in binds by Order this very moment, who is presently doing all she can to suppress her laughter.
Chaos’s wide, lunar eye squints crassly. “As if I would ever lower myself to a breeding race like your kind, human. One does not need successors if his mission lasts forever.”
Screamfire starts crying pathetically, her entire reason for joining this weird cult based on the supposition that a manic, shirtless Overlord Chaos would one day burst in to steal her away, which is in fact entirely true, but not at all in the way she envisioned.
“What else is in there?” Order asks with a smirk.
Chaos turns about a few pages. “Ahh, I found a chapter with you in it!” He turns to show her while she continues her work with the cultists.
Order squints at the page, her expression steadily becoming wryer and wryer the more her eyes scan the document. “She… she really took a lot of artistic liberty with our characters.”
The Overlord nods with a patient expression. “I do believe I’m going to have to have a word with her after all this.”
She nods curtly. “Does she know how you typically handle people?”
Chaos shrugs. “I can’t always be sure. Some of them are so cooped up in the towers that they never really get out much. I wouldn’t be all that surprised if she really did think I solved all my fighting engagements with female enemies that way.”
“It’s worrisome,” Order states bluntly, though she’s grinning. She’s far, far past the point of losing sleep over weird folks and their bullshit. “I definitely would not be into that.”
He nods. “Youth is worrisome,” Chaos agrees. “It is in their nature to not know what is true, and then create truth out of it.”
Order finishes up with the cultists, some disgruntled, others crying, and as for Killburn, he just rides the high with a pleased, neutral whateverness so common for mistweeders.
“Well I guess that about does it,” Order says. “Did you spot any others?”
Chaos blinks his powerful eyes, capable of spotting people a country across. “I believe that’s all I saw of the cultists, but Kanvane is a city whose sins seep to its very lowest, or perhaps I should say highest, level.”
Order nods. “There’s only so much a knight can do; legally at least.”
“And I, an overlord can do anything I like. If you’d allow me, I could swoop in and surgically-remove the cancerous leadership within these walls in a single day. Now that would be a charity worth remembering.”
Order returns with a worldly glance. “Some diseases keep others away.”
“When dealing with human animals, such missteps in logic seem forgivable,” he says with a broad, skull-eating smile. “Even so, you can trust me to do what I believe in. The evil will be killed, no matter what throne they sit on.”
“Have a nice day,” she says. “Stop stealing socks.”
Sock Minion jolts back in surprise. “We’re going to give them back you know.”
Order raises a slim, star-white brow. “As charity, I assume?”
He nods. “Yup! They’re going to have a great time!”
Chaos hums nefariously a moment and fishes a pocket watch out from his inter-dimensional jaws. He checks the time, and speaks, the chain leading from the watch back into his mouth. “Speaking of which. We do not want to be late. Tactical Teleportation Minion’s going to need all the mana she can get if the operation is to be successful,” he says, putting the watch back and swallowing it into any number of his storage dimensions.
“See you,” Order says, tugging the line of cultists along, “have fun with whatever you’re doing.”
Chaos grins. “It would be foolishness to have anything else. So long to you and good tidings, my dear. I promise I’ll return the socks posthaste.”
“Bye,” she says bluntly, starting up the stairs to leave with the criminals.
She turns her back, leading them out, and she hears the undeniable, iconic sound of The High Overlord tearing a rift in space-time to travel. The sound lasts only a moment, and just like that, he and his minion are gone.
“This way, children,” Order says with a tug and a tone like an exhausted mother.
She takes her time, giving herself a moment to think.
Dragging along the miserable cult, she thinks back over it all, Liefland, Oa’s Living Mountain, The Lunar House, Ohkiij’s Domain, Towerne, Dimension One. All of it melts through her mind like a single day. She counts it as a single event, and one where she lost the two people she cared for most.
It’s been only a few months since then, and Chaos is back to his usual self. The hundred-so injuries he sustained, from dismemberment to realmic collapse, are all washed over by that harder-than-steel blackness that encompasses him, and with it, his peculiar ways have again driven him to his comfortable, quaint madness.
She’s not that way – the people she loses are permanent, and unlike his minions, she will never forget.
Perhaps Chaos will return to take more from her, or perhaps he will play pranks in the name of bettering society for the rest of his unmeasurable days.
Order stops in the mist-slick streets, watching people rush about trading socks and negotiating with smiles on their faces. She shakes her head at it, but she can’t deny that The Overlord’s ridiculous plan seemed to work for whatever purpose he had intended.
Socks aren’t something people care a lot about. It’s something folks tend to have at the back of their mind in their day-to-day lives. They do, however, care enough to make sure they match. There’s something simultaneously disarming and charming about going up to a person and admitting you need their help with something as silly and seemingly unimportant as socks.
She’ll admit, for his usual rampages, this one was a miraculously-okay thing for him to do.
Smirking to herself, she realizes that, with the daily grind and all these extra responsibilities, Chaos has more or less become the highlight of her life. She cares about other things, of course: other people, her home, her dog, Parvo, but she wonders now if the thousands of years of anger in her have finally become too tired to reignite. All she sees now is what he does, rather than what he did, and these days he isn’t all that bad; maybe even a little bit charming.
This is what she thinks, taking the cultists right up to the police station at Keruz’s main gates. The greatest magic academy humanity has ever known looms over the small, quaint station like a tan-brick monument of progress, but with that progress comes rotten people, and the need for redemption.
Order stops just one more time, realizing it may not be her charge to save humanity from Chaos after all, but Chaos who will save humanity from themselves. What will become of her then? Will she simply evaporate, her purpose having been made invalid? Perhaps she’ll just leave and go to back to the woods to find her town, indecipherable from the rest of the forest that consumed it.
Then, there’s an explosion.
Socks, one sock from every pair in all of Kanvane, millions and millions of socks, blast out from one of Keruz’s council towers, simultaneously the school-board and the administrate center of Kanvane’s government.
Somehow Chaos overloaded the academy’s myriad protective magics, and funneled back the metric tons of socks back into their realm, smashing the building in half and killing anyone inside who isn’t instantly ejected through the windows, most of which die then from the resulting fall and abrupt stop on the cobblestone.
Order’s expression is bland. There were a lot of good people in that building, but there were even more crooks, bastards and brigands in robes.
The alarms go off, sirens blare on the loudspeakers, and again, everyone freaks out.
Over the insanity, a heavy, powerful voice erupts from all directions.
“Fools! With your socks, I also return to you a government not chained to the fingers of that cabinet of derelict pigs that would see you stolen away for experiments! As your proper overlord, I will tolerate no imposters to my will!” At that, Chaos’ voice diminishes in a grim, spine-trembling laugh while socks, and socks, and ever more socks rain down from the sky.
Lord Knight Captain Order just stares for a moment, sighs, and leads the cult into the police station. “All in the name of charity, I guess,” she mumbles to herself.