Kingsday Gifts – A Short Story

It’s a typical day at His Inexorable Immensity’s Invasion Tower: the power torches burning hot and heavy as they burn a metric ton of astral coal every minute. The overcast sky pulls on for miles over the swamp where the lanterns amidst the gray silhouette of a frog-village twinkle cozily in the distance.

It’s in this tower, deep in one of the basement levels that the chirping ambiance of the insects is interrupted by the thick, painful-sounding slap of an enormous fish across someone’s face.

Merrrrry Kingsday Eve!”

At that single utterance, Stereotypical Minion Minion is slapped upside the head by a raw adult male tuna, swung festively by the piscine-scented Hydroponics Research Minion.

Stereotypical Minion Minion flips through the salty air into a pile of arms and armor, all designed and crafted with minion use in mind. Also sent flying is a set of what looks to be ribbons, stationary, wrapping paper and curious, all soaring through the room with a festive grace.

The wronged wheezes uncomfortably on his back for a moment before picking himself up off the slick black-stone cobble. He makes a big deal about being hit about, but it’s obvious he’s in perfect health.

“How dare you lay hand on one of-” he stops a moment as he looks her over, noting the enormous tuna cradled over by its tail over her shoulder. “Is that a-”

“Kingsday Tuna? Of course!”

“I was going to say regular tuna, but yes.”

She crooks her head to the side with a proud glisten on her glowing eyes. “Yeahhh it’s gonna be a new Kingsday tradition I’m startin’ up. I’ve been going ‘round everywhere greeting people with this here tuna to spread the holiday cheer!”

Stereotypical Minion Minion expression slants with a diseased inflection. She’s not sure if he’s sick of her, her words, or everything. “That would be a poor plan. The Minionry would come to hate you with your unwelcome traditions as much as they hate me.”

Now, generally Hydroponics Research Minion approaches relationships with her fellow minions as she does her research: with maximum enthusiasm and with her head shoved into the water as far as possible. Some minions, however, require a little more tact, she’s found.

“Now, I understand that sometimes the folks can get a little rough on ya’,” she starts with a diplomatic tone and a fishy-smelling wave of the hand in annunciation, “but that’s no reason not to try and at least say hello. In fact I was sent to come get you.”

Stereotypical Minion Minion glances out the top of the wall, where the first basement level provides a thin line of carved windows to view the outside.

“It does look late in the evening. I wonder how long I’ve kept myself down here.”

“Ages, it seems like. I haven’t seen you around for months, man!”

“I saw you yesterday,” he states bluntly.

“Wh- that must’ve been someone else.”

“At lunch, I was right next to you at the table.”

There’s a short moment, and the white flush of embarrassment immediately marks her blacker-than-pitch face.

“O-ah uhh, yeah! Yeah. I was thinking of… you know, someone else-”

“Don’t worry about it. People only mention me when they’re thinking of how angry they are,” he says, starting to gathering up all the materials she accidently sent flying.

She scoffs light-heartedly at his words. “Now, that’s not really true now, is it? I mean, sure it is pretty offensive that you just act like some crude caricature of an evil overlord’s minion to mock all of us and The Head Researcher, but you’re not such a bad guy deep down, right?”

Stereotypical Minion Minion just peers at her with an unsurpassed blandness. “So you were sent here for me?” he asks, pushing her along to continue the conversation and get out of his way.

She clears her throat. “Yes, actually. It’s time for the annual Kingsday Eve feast.”

“… Master will be there?”

As if having uncovered a secret, her eyes slant and look aside with a telling awkwardness. “He is, though he’s not in a very good mood.”

“Our Dark Lord… diminished?!” he asks with an immediate burst of emotion.

Unsure how to react right away, she just nods.

“Order… did someone kill her?!”

She shakes her head.

“Did… did she give up? Did she finally kill herself?

“No.”

Ran out of tea?

“He could just make more, dude.”

“M-maybe he forgot the spells to make more tea!?”

She folds the tuna under her arm with an unfitting professionalism. “Before he could finish his literal tower filled with nothing but tea? He’s got a lot of tea, dude. Only the tea minions would argue that he doesn’t have too much tea. He’s got tea coming out of every stinkin’ nook and cranny of Towerne, probably stuffs the bodies of everyone he kills with tea because he’s always running out of flippin’ tea space. Get real,” she says with a wry snicker.

Stereotypical Minion Minion draws back to catch his breath. “I… Yes, yes… you must be right. I’m certain he’s well, but only in body. I… I must ask him why.” He starts forward, but he’s immediately slowed down.

Hydroponics Minion halts him, pushing the Kingsday Tuna against him firmly.

Whoa, dude, hold up. You know how you get around him.”

He reaches past the tuna, as if reaching out to Chaos himself. “My… my dark maste-

“Yeah, you always get this way whenever it’s anything related to him. It’s creepy, and to be honest I agree with the others that it’s kind of an offensive stereotype.”

He hisses at her words. “And just what do you mean by that?!

She rolls her eyes. “I mean… you know, dude. You’re just kinda… ‘eh’!

“… ‘just kind of eh’.”

“Yeah! You know! Like you get kind of… minionlik-

“We are minions!”

“And it’s a hurtful stereotype. The Knights all make fun of us because of that.”

He groans. “We hate the Knights for a reason.”

“But they hate us for a reason, too. It’s that attitude that Operator Prime Minion’s been talking about with you.”

Stereotypical Minion Minion scoffs indignantly. “I don’t give a damn about him. I exist for my master and his desires only.”

Hydroponics Research Minion nods with a patronizing smile while she slowly lowers the pressure she’s putting into the tuna, and thus allowing him to get by. “Yeah. Your heart’s in the right place, but what you say and what you do are two totally different-”

He shoves aside to leave. “Whatever, let’s go.”

She hums before catching up behind him. “Well alright,” she starts before glancing back to the dark corner of the room where he was working a minute ago. “What were you working on?”

“Nothing. You wouldn’t care,” he says with a bitter hiss.

She shrugs. That answer is good enough for her, because she doesn’t actually care.

The two head through the tower, decorated wonderfully with tensile, ornaments, and all sorts of wonderful smelling potpourri. While they make their way up through the tower, Sterotypical Minion Minion realizes that the keep is almost entirely abandoned. With the exception of the tower’s small row of prisoners, who will be getting take-away plates from the feast brought to them, no one’s here but them.

“Haha, losers!” Hydroponics Research Minion says with a broadcaster-like inflection, the very same way she did when passing them on her first way through here.

Her companion sighs.  He realizes that, once again, he would have been completely left out if it weren’t for Hydroponics Research Minion coming to check up on him. This time, he’s not just being brought a plate, though. He’s attending.

The two travel through the Overlord’s crafted dimensional gate into Towerne’s Central tower. The Kingsday Feast is being held there, and it’s quite obvious.

The quiet halls of the Invasion Tower fold away for the cheering, the music, the confetti and streamers in the air.

The scent of apple cider practically slaps the two across their faces as the red and white decor stretch out before them for miles.

Sure enough, down a stairwell overlooking the majority of the Central Tower, is a massive, massive set of long tables, forming a great, unified circle with dozens of smaller circular table sets within. It’s the seating for tens of thousands of minions. One chair is provided for the total number of the minionry, even those that cannot, or will not attend.

“I must say this is quite the impressive spectacle. You’ve outdone yourselves again,” Stereotypical Minion Minion says with a distant tone.

Hydroponics Research Minion whips the honored Kingsday Tuna over her should to set her other hand on her hip proudly. “Thanks! The Pleasant Atmosphere Creation Minion Corps from Fashion Tower did a super job. Heck, even Bridezilla Minion was willing to cooperate this time!”

At her words, he peers far over the glorious expanse:

Rows upon rows of minion servers stream through the circular pavilions, all led by the squeaky, sharply-accented motivation of Cooking Minion, who’s overseeing the victuals of the evening.

A thousand minions play over a hundred kinds of instruments suited to little hands and sharp jaws, churning out a few of the more light-hearted Kingsday classics such as “Well Rayda’s dead, so I Guess I’ll Drink for the Both of Us”, and “Pretty sure Chaos Doesn’t Know we’re here, Let’s Party!”. Their instruments and vocals, led out by the exceptionally skilled and pleasant personality of Music Minion herself, appears practically effortless.

All around Stereotypical Minion Minion are expressions of celebration and light. Singing, laughter, games and dancing is at once the events and the atmosphere: a saturated realm of wonder and beauty; more beautiful and more ideal than any artist’s painting or the wildest imaginings of any mere flesh-bag human.

No enemies of The Overlord and his kin are in sight; all is well, though not everyone feels that way.

Far across the front of the tables, the games, the fun, sits Overlord Chaos at the very center round table, waiting patiently for time to pass and the feast to begin. He looks, much to the detriment and worry of all around him, just as forlorn and bitter as Stereotypical Minion Minion. He’s sitting straight up, with absolute poise, his hands affixed, and a dull gaze leading nowhere.

Stereotypical Minion Minion sees this, and immediately picks up his pace.

“Yeah, as you can see everyone really took care of-… uh, dude?” Hydroponics Research Minion questions when she sees his newfound speed. “Dude?” She starts running after him the moment he takes off for Chaos. “Dude!

Stereotypical Minion Minion rushes frantically down the wide brick steps with his tuna-toting escort fast behind him.

“Wh- don’t you dare!” she yells with a puff. Turns out Stereotypical Minion Minion is actually in excellent shape, and she’s also carrying an eighty-pound fish draped over her back.

Her words fall on deaf ears, as once he sees his master, nothing can stop him.

Minions wonder at times what it is that possesses him whenever he sees Chaos.

Some of them assume he was conked up too much in the head before he was infested, others guess that he’s a complete brown-noser and will do anything in his power to sway their overlord to see him as anything but a coy, sniveling coward.

They’re all wrong, he knows.

He considers himself the only one he knows that’s truly loyal. Even before he was infested, he was willing to serve, and that is the root cause of his sense of superiority.

Stereotypical Minion Minion runs past all the straying, bitter glances from the other minions as he rushes up to The High Overlord’s table. As always, the minions chosen to sit with him are always chosen via random lot draw. Some of his minions have waited nearly five hundred years to get selected.

Being the innermost table of the dozens, it also has the fewest seats: only eight.

Besides Chaos there are name cards for Victory and Death Minion, Tectonic Plate Research Minion, Fishing Minion (referred to most as simply Fishin’ion), Crochet Minion, Horrible Guest Minion, and Preoccupied Minion. Lastly, there is a place card for Stereotypical Minion Minion himself. He’s the lucky one this time.

My lo-” Stereotypical Minion Minion stops his usual falling to his hands and knees when he spots his placeholder with diningware.

Chaos glances over from his professional posture. “Well, if it isn’t Imposter Minion,” he starts with an elegant, aloof expression. “Are you lost?”

Stereotypical Minion Minion takes a moment to regain himself, in utter shock that he’s not only going to be seated next to The Dark Master of Unknowable Cruelty himself, but also has been completely misidentified.

“N-no, my lord. It is I, Stereotypical Minion Minion as they call me!”

Chaos’ moon-like eyes slant with immediate suspicion. “Is that so?”

Stereotypical Minion Minion keeps low to a sort of semi-kneel bow to ensure that Chaos does not misinterpret his standing up as a declaration of war.

“Yes, my lord!” he answers amidst the sound of what appears to be a giant fish being slapped into one person after another; it’s coming closer.

Chaos grins as if he caught his minion in a lie. “Of course, but the true Stereotypical Minion Minion wouldn’t ever come to the Central Tower as he would be constantly at work in the invasion tower. Your joke is not welcome today, I’m afraid, because he is the only minion I trust to never arrive, not even if he were invited to sit next to me for the feast. There’s much minionry to do, my dear imposter, and he is the best at it of them all, you know.”

Stereotypical Minion Minion’s eyes flash with surprise as he falls to his knees.

Around this time, Hydroponics Research Minion huffs up with her Tuna. She knows what she must do; she committed herself to this.

With a broad, fierce stroke, she sends the tuna soaring to Chaos.

Mmmmerry Kingsday Eve!” she exclaims with a hint of hesitation.

Despite the 80 pound tuna being swung at 80 miles per hour, Chaos is ever-ready for threats. He also can interpret situations at speeds nearing to 80 miles per hour, so he picks up on the holiday tradition even faster than his body perceives a threat.

Wonderfully, the fish slaps solidly into its target, but for the first time today, the fish tosses back from the resistance, as if it were slammed into the side of a mountain rather than a person. Hydroponics Research Minion catches herself on the backspin and corrects her balance with a quick bow and grin spent to her master before turning back to Stereotypical Minion Minion.

“Dude, are you nuts?

“No, you’ve done your job, now leave me alone,” Stereotypical Minion Minion grunts with an obvious frown. “What do you care that I talk to our lord and master?”

“Eh…” she nods over to the surrounding tables to produce the rest of her answer.

Stereotypical Minion Minion looks up to see at least a hundred glowing minion gazes. Most are worried, a few entertained, and a handful outright angry at him.

There’s an awkward, silent moment where the crowd, perhaps for the first time, make their distaste to him publicly known. He was always uncool in private, but it’s clear that everyone feels the same way.

Stereotypical Minion Minion scans along the gazes to, waiting for some positive feedback, until he comes all the way to Chaos, who’s smiling.

“Quite terrible, clearly,” the overlord notes. “Did you really think I would be fooled by the likes of you, Imposter Minion?”

Stereotypical Minion Minion is quiet on his knees. Even the band stops to listen to their overlord continue.

“He asked you a question,” Horrible Guest Minion, who despite everything, is at least already waiting at his seat, says with a face-slappable sneer.

Stereotypical Minion Minion clears his throat.

“O-of course, master. The mistake was all mine.”

Chaos’ grin dies down. “It’s utterly horrible, copying such a considerate soul,” he says amidst the immediate shock of the onlookers.

Stereotypical Minion Minion is short of breath and is struggling to speak. His slim black jaws open gently to reveal the white infusia within. “Wh-”

“Perhaps you were unaware, but the true Stereotypical Minion Minion is making presents for us all as I speak these words.”

There’s a pause of disbelief amongst the crowd, with the exception of Tourette’s Minion, who can’t help himself but let loose a swarthy “What the fuck.

“I have given him the most important task on Kingsday, like I have every year: to make the ‘Secret Rayda’ gifts to be placed under the mantle for the morning,” he says, looking over to the massive arches looming in the distance, decorated with all sorts of jovial ornamentation and surrounded under, above, and around with presents from one minion to another.

“I had no idea,” one minion says.

“Wow, so that gift last year was from him,” says yet another with an ashamed tone.

Chaos nods before continuing. “It’s only because of him that the minions that no one’s wrapped a gift for have anything to open on Kingsday morning.” Chaos stands up from his chair while the mass of the minions have sat down to listen to him. The Planet Slayer points back to the route and stairway Stereotypical Minion Minion had come from.

“But… my lord-”

“I’ll hear none of it. You, my dear imposter should go impostering somewhere else. Now is a poor time to play the fool. I demand that you go bring a feast plate to Stereotypical Minion Minion so he can eat alongside us, despite the distance. He’s the busiest of us all on this day, and he will not go unappreciated.”

Stereotypical Minion Minion pauses a moment, looking up to the stern gaze of Chaos’ crescent eyes. “Yes… my lord… I will take my leave.”

“Here, take this plate, I’ll get another one for whomever it’s for,” Chaos says, snapping up the dish quickly along with a generous helping of sides onto the plate.

Everyone just looks on. They haven’t seen Chaos express so much concern, perhaps even frustration over anything for years.

“Here you are. Make sure he gets it, then come back and take your place,” Chaos notes with a regal tone.

Stereotypical Minion Minion bows deeply, accepting the plate into his hands before rushing off.

Walking down between the tables, he’s met with more confused, disgusted looks. The surreal thing is that he now knows these looks are pointed towards Imposter Minion, a minion who he’s reasonably certain doesn’t even exist.

Did Chaos just do him a solid? What was he planning?

He knows it must have been a mistake that one of the minions in charge of the event even called for him, but it appears as though Chaos must have known; perhaps he was aware the entire time!

Halfway down the lanes, Stereotypical Minion Minion glances back to the center table: Chaos is still sitting there, and he’s looking straight at him.

The overlord gives him a single wink, and the gentlest, most elegant smile.

He knew.

Stereotypical Minion Minion wins a smile back, which is rare for him. For once, he’d rather go back and sit with his dinner to think about things, rather than wish he could be with The Overlord at all hours, asking if he could pull this lever or clean this body up off the floor or whatnot of other typical minion activities.

The mid-height minion nods solemnly, but with satisfaction as he ascends the steps to the side of the great open-air hall and returns to The Invasion Tower.

He’s grateful for his master, and that feeling of appreciation is what’s pulled him through this far, he thinks.

Descending the depths of the humid dream of The Invasion Tower, he returns to his dungeon, only to spot that it’s better lit than when he left it.

Rounding the doorway, he sees Chaos, finishing setting up a pair of fold-out chairs along with a little table for two.

Stereotypical Minion Minion almost drops his dish.

“Wh- m-m-my lord!”

“Good evening again,” Chaos says with a grin.

“I thought you were… going to-”

“I very slyly had Communications Minion take my place.”

Stereotypical Minion Minion scoffs.

“For what?”

Chaos smiles with a look of murderous delight. “As a distraction, of course.”

“That really works, my lord?”

“They don’t care. Her antennae stop any of them from asking questions,” he says with a laugh. “I really don’t understand their fixation with large antennae, but one does not have to understand the means to justify their use.”

“I suppose so….” Stereotypical Minion Minion glances aside. “Sir, I wish you had told me you were coming down, I-I would have cleaned up! Goodness me, I am so… so very sorry you had to see all of this.”

Chaos grins, not even sparing a glance over to the enormous piles of wrapping paper, boxes, and considerate gifts that the oft-silent Porter Minion’s brought him day after day leading up to this.

“Think nothing of it. The absence of cleanliness denotes the presence of action, I’d say. Now why don’t we have a nice sit-down just the two of us?”

Stereotypical Minion Minion freezes at the thought before lowering to his knees.

Chaos just daintily take his seat and wait for his minion to work himself out. He’s not one to oppose the natures of his minions, unless it’s positively criminal like Coffee Drinker Minion’s horrendous habit of smuggling coffee into the towers.

“You’re amazing, master! You’re so, so wonderful! By Rayda, you must be the greatest, most intelligent, most wonderful being in all the world. I am blessed to even think about your greatness!”

Chaos nods gently all the while, not necessarily disagreeing with any of it.

“To your feet, my loyal minion,” he answers simply.

Stereotypical Minion Minion rushes to his feet, egging Chaos to continue.

“You do understand your fellow minions see such a traditional conduct as… well, a bit antiquated, don’t you?”

The minion nods with a terse expression, almost prideful in its stubbornness. “Their exceptionally insecure, tribalistic understanding of social norms is what’s antiquated, dear master.”

Chaos grins. “I couldn’t agree more, but people will be people I suppose. Most of them were humans once, after all.”

“Simply disgusting, sir,” Stereotypical Minion Minion says with a gentle, light smile.

Chaos nods down to the chair opposite to him. “Please.”

“Of course, my lord.”

The two get comfortable, and Chaos pushes the dish forward to the minion.

“You won’t eat, sir?”

“As if I actually needed to eat more than once a year,” the Dark Lord notes with a truly Overlordly form of smugness.

Stereotypical Minion Minion nods in concession. It’s true that none of them really do, it’s simply the carried over habit of thinking one needs to eat. Chaos is one of the few that have beaten every piece of that habit into submission, though his minions all know he turns a blind eye when it comes to things like tea.

“The others have started the feast, so please, eat with them.”

Stereotypical Minion Minion nods humbly and takes up his utensils. “Of course,” is all he says before starting out and beginning with one of the seven different meats measured out generously upon the plate.

He takes a single bite under the gentle gaze of his overlord, and flinches at the flavor.

“Goodness me!”

Chaos grins and nods as if it were him that cooked it. Stereotypical Minion Minion cannot blame the overlord either when it comes to taking credit among his lessers. After all, it was technically him that infested them all and created this society for them all.

“So I just wanted to say,” Chaos starts, now that Stereotypical Minion Minion has his mouth too full to toss back praise. “That I was in some bad sorts today because I wasn’t certain if you’d show up, but Hydroponics Research Minion is as trustworthy as ever. A good spirit, that one.”

Stereotypical Minion Minion nods, his mouth full of pork, dragon, and lamb simultaneously.

Chaos leans onto the table and steeples his fingers together conversationally. “I realized of late that you’ve been ignored often, and I apologize for that. You understand not any one of my minions get to see me all that often. Perhaps a small handful of the administrators and top scientists, of course, but not much else besides them.”

Stereotypical Minion Minion nods again, moving on to the mashed potatoes, cranberries, and steamed vegetables.

“Anyway, seeing as you rarely get to see me, and you haven’t been on at the table for centuries, I figured that you’d best come up and sit next to me.” Chaos’ features sharpen with a twinge of regret. “Yet it seems that, when I called you forward, no one really appreciated you. I was a bit surprised, but I suppose I cannot really keep track of everyone’s social lives, either.”

Stereotypical Minion Minion hurries a gulp to speak. “My lord, do not fret over it, please! You do more than those wicked knights ever could. You do so much to make us feel cared for, and you should be praised for that to the ends of every Earth that exists!”

Chaos glances aside, somehow not expecting a complement of that level. “Oh, well, that’s very kind of you. It still doesn’t make me perfect, I’m afraid.” Chaos sighs. “So I just wanted to check up and make sure everything was going smoothly.”

Stereotypical Minion Minion freeze with his fork’s next bite hovering over his mouth. An idea shoots through his head that this might not just be a friendly visit. “Eh…smoothly, sir?”

Chaos nods. “Usually you’d be all done by this time of the year, being Kingsday Eve and all. I wanted to be certain that everyone was getting a present, and if not, what I could do to help myself. I haven’t wrapped a gift in so long, I thought it might be fun, frankly.”

Stereotypical Minion Minion breaks into an ultra-cold minion sweat. Of course like any minion he’s incapable of sweating due to a lack of pores, but that doesn’t stop his mind from telling him he’s doing it.

“Oh, ah, that’s quite alright, my lord, you best not worry yourself about i-”

“Ahh, perhaps not,” Chaos notes, getting up upon spotting a group of presents that have already been wrapped but not transported to the Kingsday arches. “Looks as though you’ve already done it,” he adds while stepping up to inspect them.

“My lord! Please! Don’t even stress your eyes to look at them! They’re… r-reject presents!”

Chaos’ elated expression shifts to that horrifyingly calm, knowing expression. “Oh… reject presents meant for royal knights?”

Stereotypical Minion Minion can feel the guts of whatever lifeform he was before he was infested curling up right into the crest of his ribcage.

“M-m-m-m-mmm-my lord, I can explain!

Chaos picks up a box and turns about to bring it over. “Ahh, this one seems to be for Order: our little white-haired parasite.”

“Sir! Oh my God, please! Please listen to me!” Stereotypical Minion Minion entreats, frozen into his seat with horror.

Chaos peers over the packs with his great, all-seeing eyes, more than strong enough to gaze through the meager polar bear wrapping paper to see the contents within. Immediately the minion sees the expression of his master change- sympathy. “You… That’s actually quite a considerate choice for her, I will admit.”

Stereotypical Minion Minion is still in his chair, awaiting judgement with wide, perfectly circular eyes of white.

Chaos weighs the gift about back and forth between his hands for a moment, and gives a nod before putting it back. “I’m sure she’ll like it, but for what reason?”

Stereotypical Minion Minion stares blankly at his overlord, waiting for his underling’s answer.

Chaos looks back to the gifts for a moment and spots a multitude of names. There’s packages for other knights, rival overlords, even a few Kanvanian wizards on the list; individuals that Chaos would be hard-pressed not to divide in half the moment he’d spot them. “So you’ve been behind because you’ve been wrapping presents for the knights this year?” Chaos asks.

Stereotypical Minion Minion gives a single, solumn, end-of-life sort of nod.

Chaos steps up to him, pauses, and then embraces him.

“I knew you were the right one for this,” he says.

Stereotypical Minion Minion is dumbstruck. Whatever kind of heart he has deep in that chest isn’t really doing anything due to its magically-suspended nature, however it feels as though it is beating a hundred times faster than usual.

“W-” he clears his throat after failing to speak the first time. “Why, my lord? I thought you’d be… furious.

Still holding the minion no more than half his height, Chaos shakes his head. “Not at all. Kingsday is a time where we should remind others, no matter who they are, that we are significantly better than them, because we thought to give them gifts and they did not.”

Stereotypical Minion Minion is still frozen still, but now for a different reason. “W-… so it’s just to get back at them?”

Chaos laughs, “of course not! We’re not knights, after all, are we?”

Stereotypical Minion Minion laughs, and finally returns the embrace. “No, my lord, my king, we are not.”

Chaos pulls away. “So, let’s spread a bit of love through the world. Rayda knows it’s what those animalistic invertebrates need more than anything else,” he says with a smile before putting him down. “Finish up, and let’s get back to these presents. There’s just a few extra touches we need to make.”

Stereotypical Minion Minion stutters with excitement. “Yes, my lord! Of course!”

Kingsday again.

Just like year after year after year after year, Lord Knight Captain Order finds herself sitting in her living room, Parvo curled up for warmth next to her lap, while Knight’s Justice and Space take up the one perpendicular to it with the coffee table in the middle.

She doesn’t usually have visitors, but this year’s been harder than her usual.

The canteens and plates are all laid out on the coffee table, now they’re just waiting for the first blink of sunrise to peek through her windows to cue the lighting of the fireplace and the end both Rayda’s great struggle against Apocalypse, and the ensuing Traehern Slaughter.

It’s a strange moment for them, just as it’s been strange every Kingsday. All three of them were there. All of them met their blades with Chaos, but not a single one of them could tear Rayda from his grasp.

In a way, all of them feel responsible. This is both an exceptionally sweet, and exceptionally bitter holiday in their minds.

The seeping, sacred winter hues of the dawn are beginning to play about the room in a dreamy purplish grey among the lit incense. Fir pine: it was King Rayda’s favorite scent as the three remember it.

The four of them sit about soundly, waiting for anyone to do anything except sip their beverage of choice.

Then, something happens that isn’t by any of them.

There’s an inconspicuous knock on the door, and the three of them immediately exchange those professional, alert glances after one’s fought many, many battles.

They all get up and take up positions that are simultaneously relaxed in appearance, but ready for anything on the interior.

Order opens the door, and spots a set of four presents, one each for the three knights, and one for the dog.

There’s an artful silence, and Order just curls her lip up to the side in an immediate smirk of recognition.

“Huh,” is all she says.

Her eyes, while not anywhere near as powerful as The Great Overlord’s when it comes to spotting out enchantments, takes only a second to recognize a refreshing, unmagical lack of enchantments upon the articles.

“Looks safe,” Knight Justice notes with an alert, neutral tone.

Space just nods.

Order shrugs, slings her hand across her vision of the presents, and speaks a single, almost silent word.

The presents float up and follow her obediently in a relaxed, mystical train of gifts.

Locking the door behind them, the group places the presents under the arch with a somewhat morbid sense of humor, as no one has given a gift among the upper crust of The Knights for what may as well be a few centuries.

It’s hard to keep thinking of things to give a person when you’ve already given them everything, after all.

Justice doesn’t skip a beat and takes a seat on the floor.

“You’re kidding,” Space snips, her sleek elven features squinting distastefully.

Justice shakes his head with a smirk as he takes up his present, considerately papered up with a knight’s crest pattern. “Rayda would’ve beaten me to the floor and you know it,” he says with a chuckle before looking over the tag’s note while Order also takes a seat to open hers and Parvo’s gifts.

“You’re much smarter than they say,” is all it says in an excruciatingly crooked, almost charcoal-scratch like handwriting.

He unwraps it and freezes in place a moment when he sees what’s inside. “Wow,” Justice notes. “This must’ve been from my pen pal.”

Order, massaging the tags of the presents in her hands with a rare, uncharacteristic enthusiasm, looks over. “You have a pen pal?”

He nods while he raises up an exceptionally soft looking set of five pairs of socks from the box. “Yeah, someone who uses omniverse mail services and signed up for one of those anonymous pen pal programs. I thought it would be a cool way to meet people from other dimensions… he’s the only person I mentioned the socks to, so it must’ve been him,” Justice notes.

Space, in her usually cat-like lack of enthusiasm that would mirror Order’s quite a bit if it weren’t for the small streak of immediate disgust and slyness also present, gives a hesitant sigh. “Okay, but how did this guy know all three of us were here?”

Justice shrugs. “Maybe the mail service employs seers now?”

At that, Order looks over the tags for the two tags for herself and the dog:

“You’re the best for what you are,” says the one addressed to her.

With a quick glance over, she then reads the one for the dog.

“Of course, as a creature without a developed-enough intelligence to grasp the weight of morality nor the-”

She stops reading immediately with a smug, tired look.

“It’s Chaos,” she says.

Justice glances up from his excruciatingly cute socks.

“That’s… come on, Chief. That’s ridiculous, even for you,” he says with a raised brow.

Order looks over to Space, who’s so invested in the words on her tag that she does not even acknowledge Order’s voice.

The white-haired knightess simply sighs and looks back to the presents for herself and Parvo. Upon a slightly more-thorough search than when she first saw them, she comes once more to the same conclusion that they’re both entirely safe.

“Yeah… well okay,” she mutters to herself.

With a smooth motion of the wrist, she alights the fireplace behind her, signaling the coming of the morning after Reinen’s last great battle, when Chaos had finally left the battlefield with Radya’s body. It’s been so long now, that hardly any of the three can visualize the memory.

Order shrugs, realizing that it can’t hurt to open an unenchanted box with a harmless present inside. She can tell the elemental structure of what’s inside them, and neither contain anything that could be considered conventionally threatening.

Of course, Order also knows that Chaos is also sly enough to cause injuries that go further than simple, common wounds.

Slicing into Parvo’s box, she recovers a small squeak-minion

“Oh please,” she mutters with a smirk, as if even this is below The Overlord.

Justice, already trying on one of his pairs of socks, glances over. “What is it, Chief?”

“One of those stupid squeak minions,” she says, turning the flippant little rubber minion his way and waving it about the air before giving it to Parvo.

“Those are pretty popular I hear,” Justice notes. “See? Would Chaos actually give Parvo a minion shaped chew toy as a gift?”

Order looks over the man with a bland expression. “Do you even understand who we’re talking about?”

“That’s horrible, Chief! Look, he loves it!” Justice says, nodding over to her dog, who’s shaking it wildly back and forth with a tiny-snouted snarl.

“Aen,” Order rebuts, addressing Justice by his actual name, “his sense of humor is… you know.”

“No, I don’t think I know. Now open your present, I wanna see what my pen pal got you,” Justice says.

Order’s expression sharpens critically before turning to unwrap her own present. “Be real,” she starts while undoing the paper, “how would your pen pal know what sort of gifts we’d want?”

Justice turns a bit and scratches his nose with a curt smile. “Oh, well you know. I talk about you all every now and again. Okay, well I talk about you guys every letter, because you guys are way more interesting than me, but you know how it is.”

Order’s irises flush from her usual sunken dark gold color to a mild pink before turning back immediately after. Allowing others to tell how you’re feeling is a double-edged sword, of course, but she finds it’s usually helpful for people that can’t read her sarcasm well.

“Uh… you’re a loser, Aen,” she says with a defensive, though deflated tone, as if she doesn’t mean it.

Justice smiles confidently. “No, Chief. I saw those eyes. You’re more than welcome. You guys are my pride and joy, well, knowing you all, I guess, so I feel like it’s normal to talk about you guys with everyone I meet,” he shrugs with a turn towards embarrassment. “I don’t really have anything else to do these days, I guess.”

Very gently, Order lifts herself up to her feet. “Hey, Aen,” she says, her eyes flushing a reddish ochre, competing with the fireplace’s warmth.

Aen flinches in shock. He hasn’t seen her like this for a century at least, but he knows how to respond.

He gets up from his spot and steps over to meet her halfway the same time Knight Space finally gets done meditating on her gift’s tag and begins unwrapping it.

“Merry Kingsday, Ranalie,” Justice says the second the two wrap into a hug, uncharacteristically-warm for the witch.

“Merry Kingsday, you awesome idiot,” Order muffles somewhere into his chest; he’s a good deal taller than her, after all.

The two hold there for a moment, each one squeezing a little tighter on the signal of the other. It’s so nice to feel the warmth of another person after all this time; especially if it’s a person that’s been through the same things as you; someone that understands, even if just a little your great, secret struggle.

The two release to glance-in-passing to Space who, were she not entirely distracted by the contents of her present, have some choicely smug, defensive words for the two that neither would much appreciate.

That’s not the case, however, and the two retake their places for Order to finish unwrapping her gift, and for Justice to watch the two of them finish.

“That’s… really cool of you,” Order notes, still on the previous subject of Justice talking about his friends to his so-called pen pal that may or may not be Chaos. She’s certain that whoever it is, Justice himself has no clue whatsoever, and assuming Chaos doesn’t think much of it either, it’s probably fine.

She shakes her head to herself: what an excruciatingly weird idea: pen pals with the High Tyrant Overlord.

That’s the last she thinks of it and gets back to her present.

Upon tearing neatly through the polar bear themed wrapping paper, she spares no time in opening the wooden box included with it.

Brass hinges glide smoothly while the lid is pulled up, and once more today, Order’s eyes blank to that earthy, reddish ochre color, though it’s flickering with hints of gray.

If Justice were to put it in words, he’d say that it’s obvious she loves what’s inside, but that its appearance disturbs her greatly.

“D-did… you tell your pen pal about what you thought we’d want for Kingsday?” Order asks, her eyes fixed over to Aen.

He smiles. “Oh, no, I don’t think so. I mean, we’ve all kinda stopped giving gifts you know. I just mentioned to him what I would’ve wanted if we were still doing that in the knights,” he leans forward. “What is it?”

The box resting somewhat juvenilely in her lap, Order places her hands inside to scoop out a lacy, red and white ribbon. The design is incredibly archaic, as if it were something Order would have worn when she was a girl, a considerable millennia ago.

She solemnly wraps the ribbon around her hand, and slides the rest of the box, filled nearly to the brim with tea of various kinds, over to be dealt with later.

“Everything okay?” Justice asks.

“I… haven’t worn a ribbon since… since before I had joined the Knights,” Order admits with an uncertain expression. Her eyes aren’t quite just one color, but a weird mixture. “He remembered that far back?

Justice is silent as he wonders if, just maybe, Chaos did have some hand in this. “Why would he give you a ribbon, though? That doesn’t seem very Chaos like to me, you know?”

She shakes her head as she turns to the fireplace. “No… he’s the only one that would remember. Everyone else is… everyone else is dead. It has to be him.”

“Ribbons look good in plenty of people’s hair, you know. I’m sure it’s just a coincidence,” he says with a mild, equally uncertain smile.

She brings herself to a nod but holds the little ribbon tightly in her hands.

“…Maybe so,” she says, hardly believing it herself.

“Mmm, yeah,” Space starts, “I’d say you two got the better deals.”

“Oh?”

“Why’s that?” Justice and Order both ask.

Space lifts up her present with the look of a fox readying to tear a hen apart: It’s “Moving On”: a book about managing grief and loss of relationships by J.D. Reizzfeld, an omniverse-acclaimed behavioral psychologist.

She’s never read Reizzfeld, despite so many of her friends recommending him. This is in part because she’s persuaded herself over millennia that she’s too busy to read “pseudo-intellectual new-age bullshit”, but the reality is that she’s afraid of being challenged when it comes to moving on.

“Oh gods above,” Order says with a scoff, though she’s still far too taken aback by the ribbon to really be disturbed by the remarkably insensitive choice in gift giving to Knight Space.

Justice clears his throat awkwardly. “Uh… well I mentioned how beat up you’ve been about Rayda and… everything. Maybe they figured you still were holding onto something.”

Space places the book aside gently, but with as much spite as one is able to do anything with a level of decorum. “Yeah, no. Your pen pal is an asshole,” she snips curtly.

Everyone but Royal Knight Space and Hydroponics Research Minion had a good Kingsday.

It just so happens that being reminded of your principal failure of growth is a similar feeling to your new holiday tradition not catching on.

Turns out people don’t enjoy being reminded of their own incapability to move on, nor do they enjoy being slapped by an 80 pound tuna.

Sometimes socks are the best thing you can give a person, and other times what’s actually best for them isn’t actually what’s best for them.

Fin.

 

One thought on “Kingsday Gifts – A Short Story

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