Author: donalgraeme PM
A telling of how life goes on after Arthur wins. Read if you're interested.Rated: Fiction K - English - Words: 4,898 - Reviews: 10 - Favs: 15 - Follows: 7 - Published: 11-11-09 - id: 5505197
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
I was rereading the Keys to the Kingdom series and of course my fanfic gears started a-turning. So, here's the random brain child of my mind. This is just an outlet; don't expect many updates. May the Will be Done!
Hence his discombobulated state of mind. Almost immediately after the defeat of Lord Sunday and Superior Saturday, Arthur had been sequestered by the now-complete Dame Primus, Suzy, the various Dawns, Noons, and Dusks, basically every single Denizen with any connection to Arthur. However, he felt he deserved a few quiet hours to deal with everything that had happened in the most epic week of his life, so he quite pointedly told them he was taking a walk and he was not to be disturbed.
If he'd still been a little boy, it wouldn't have worked out so well. However, Arthur had the Fifth Key, the Sixth Key, reshaped into an ornate pen that fit his hand perfectly, and the crown of the Seventh Key when he made the statement, as well as a good two feet on most present. The ring on his finger was now gold all the way through, and Arthur cut an impressive figure: almost nine feet tall, handsome like the statues of the Ancient Greek gods Arthur had seen in textbooks, and with a certain aura about him that demanded obedience and awe. No one had bothered him.
Arthur had spent the next few hours wandering the Incomparable Gardens, sorting his thoughts. He thought about his family, and how he'd probably never see them again. He thought about Leaf, and hoped she managed to save Friday's victims and herself from the nuclear assault on the hospital. He thought about the desolate state of the House and all the work he had to do. He thought about all the changes that had happened to him and the new life now set before him.
A rustling broke out from a bush Arthur had just passed. Quick as thought, Arthur turned and drew the Sixth Key, which expanded into a short dagger that glowed with internal light, and the Fifth Key, already reflecting blinding amounts of light, while the Seventh Key started to vibrate atop his head in preparation of its use. Arthur wasn't taking any chances; Nothing had already eroded almost the entire House, and it was all too likely that the rustling had been caused by some hidden Nithling.
"Wotcha, Artie. Don't blow me head off." Arthur grinned and relaxed as the form of Suzy Turquoise Blue emerged from the bush. "Came to see how you were, considering how you're the Lord of All now or some other such like. Plus, old Primey was getting annoying. She ain't nearly as bad as she used to be, now that she's not incomplete or whatever she was before, but she keeps muttering about that wretched Agenda of hers. Thought I'd take a breath of fresh air."
Arthur grinned; Suzy's talkativeness was a reassuring presence, helping to cast off the various doubts that plagued his mind. Arthur said "Sorry, I thought you were a Nithling. I'm a bit jumpy now; I guess it's the whole Denizen thing." Suzy gave Arthur a sympathetic bump on the arm, but otherwise kept silent, an oddity for her. Arthur stared at Suzy and thought about everything he'd gone through with her. She'd been his first friend in the House, and had helped him at every turn in defeating the Morrow Days. An idea came to him.
"Suzy, how do you feel about taking a step up from Monday's Tierce and becoming Sunday's Dawn?" Suzy's eyes almost bogged out of her head, before an ear-splitting grin adorned her face. "Are you kidding? I'd be thrilled! Maybe old Dame Primus might stop nagging me when I'm almost as tall as her! Plus, I'd be the first Piper's Child to be a Dawn. Top that!" Arthur grinned, pleased with her reaction, before clearing his throat. Arthur tapped Suzy on each shoulder, before speaking in a voice that rang with power, the power of the Keys, now fully his. The words came easily, as if being a full Denizen had made his mind more used to thinking in the manner of a Lord.
"I, Arthur, Master of the Lower House, the Middle House, the Upper House, the Far Reaches, the Great Maze, the Incomparable Gardens, and the Border Sea, hereby grant my faithful servant, Suzy Turquoise Blue, the rank of Sunday's Dawn and all the powers, possessions, and appurtenances pertaining." The Keys glowed briefly, bathing Suzy in their light. All of a sudden, Suzy started growing, taller and taller, until she was easily seven feet tall, while her mismatched collection of clothes and squashed top hat remade themselves, becoming a fine coat with mother-of-pearl appearing liberally, a fine silk shirt, a loose skirt that reached her new glossy black boots, while her hat straightened itself out, acquiring a new gloss, while Suzy's features became suddenly older, more refined, and much more beautiful. The Keys stopped glowing.
Suzy blinked, before taking a look at her new wardrobe. When she spoke again, her voice had a clear, bell-like tone, like wind chimes made of gold. "A bit fancy-shmancy for my tastes, but a girl could get used to this." Suzy grinned, and it was blinding. She gave Arthur a quick hug, unaware of his growing blush: Suzy was really pretty. She withdrew, and Arthur managed to school his features. "Come on; Dame Primus is going to talking everyone to death, and we wouldn't want that." She rolled her eyes to accentuate the sarcasm in her voice, but turned to leave with a purpose. Arthur followed her.
In the time Arthur had been away, Dame Primus had managed to set up a circus big-top sized tent. Every Denizen that had accompanied her mulled around the entrance; they were taking afternoon tea. 'Figures,' Arthur thought to himself. 'The entire House is sinking into Nothing, and everyone's worried about their afternoon snack.' All activity ceased as the Denizens caught sight of Arthur. From the crowd, the form of Dame Primus came forth, and crossed the distance between herself and the approaching Arthur and Suzy briskly.
Her wings were hidden, but they could be perceived as an almost visible haze behind her. She wore an opulent gown of what appeared to be actual gold, shot through with silver. Her hair was done up in a tight bun, and the remaining Keys hung from her platinum belt. "Ah, Lord Arthur. We really must get to the Agenda if we are to have a prayer of keeping the House stable. You've enjoyed your break, but we must get to business." Her voice somehow managed to retain the no-nonsense tone of the First Part of the Will that Arthur was familiar with, while adding motherly warmth that hadn't existed until the Sixth and Seventh Parts had merged with her.
Arthur held up a hand, and her speech stopped. "First things first, Dame Primus. If you don't mind, I'd like my Keys." Arthur couldn't suppress the possessive edge in his voice; his whole being was suddenly longing to have the Keys near him, to bask in their gentle warmth. Dame Primus blinked, before giving a slight bow. "Of course, Lord Arthur. About time too, quite frankly. Repeat after me…" Arthur obediently repeated Dame Primus as she outlined how her role as Steward was over and the Keys were now in his possession in the legal speech common when it came to the Keys.
"… and all the powers, possessions, and appurtenances pertaining. There, now hand them over." Arthur cringed a little, before making a mental note to make an effort to be more polite as Dame Primus, with the faintest hint of reluctance, unlatched her belt and handed it to Arthur. Arthur replaced his tattered belt from his disguise, before almost moaning as he felt the Keys come in contact with his body. The sword of the First Key, the gloves of the Second Key, the trident of the Third Key, the baton of the Fourth Key, in conjunction with the mirror of the Fifth Key, the pen of the Sixth Key, and the crown of the Seventh Key. It was exhilarating.
Arthur quickly donned the gloves, while hooking the Fifth Key to the belt as well, thrusting the Sixth Key through a leather hoop. They felt right, comfortable weights that were always meant to be their. Arthur felt bubbly, like someone had stuck a bottle of soda inside him after shaking it up. He had all the Keys. He could do anything. 'But that doesn't mean I have to,' Arthur reprimanded himself, aware of the arrogant road his thoughts were taking. 'I will not be like the Days; I will be a good ruler, a kind ruler.' Satisfied, Arthur noticed that everyone was bowing.
Arthur cleared his throat, and the sound suddenly seemed a lot more important than it should. The vague aura around him had solidified with the presence of the Keys, and it was as if his every action demanded attention. 'No wonder Dame Primus was so bossy,' Arthur thought to himself, before speaking out. "Dame Primus, you were saying something about the Agenda." Dame Primus, who suddenly seemed less intimidating than she used to be, nodded before leading the way, the Denizens parting before them like waves before a ship.
The inside of the tent was light and airy, and unsurprisingly larger than it had appeared from outside. Occupying most of the space, the round table from Monday's Dayroom stood, with chairs enough for everyone and a very large throne meant for Arthur, with a slightly less opulent one for Dame Primus. Everyone filed in and took a seat; Arthur noted that Suzy had one for herself this time, as if news of her new station was already known. Dame Primus waved her hand, and suddenly identical gigantic tomes appeared in front of all present.
"As per your standing order, Lord Arthur, the Agenda is arranged in order of importance, with the issues most important to you personally taking place first." Dame Primus opened her Agenda, one of the few to actually do so, and read out "Item One: The Fate of one Emily Penhaligon." Arthur stood up straight: Sunday had been holding his mother hostage, and he was worried about her. Dame Primus beat him to the punch.
"Your adoptive mother is perfectly well, Lord Arthur. She has remained in her sorcery-induced slumber and shows no sign of harm, either physical or mental. We have her in a safe location. What is your wish, Lord Arthur?" Arthur almost said that he wanted to see her immediately, but he stopped himself. Just being around the Fetchers had unleashed a near-fatal plague; how would his mother's body react to being so near the Seven Keys while they were in harmony? Besides, wouldn't it be better to break things off now with his family, instead of torturing himself with one last glance?
Arthur thought about it long and hard, the childlike desire to see his mother warring with his responsibility to keep his mother safe, since it was his fault that she was in this mess. Arthur finally spoke, a hint of pain in his voice escaping despite his best efforts. "Leave her be. When I restore the Seven Dials, send her back. I want to leave her with a letter, but otherwise leave her alone." Dame Primus, in a show of her newfound sympathy, offered no contest to his wish, and made a note of it. She continued, leaving Arthur a few moments to reconcile himself to his decision.
"Item Two: The Repair of the House. I'm afraid to say that Nothing has almost completely enveloped the House, and as we speak is welling up to devour the Upper House. The Incomparable Gardens should remain unaffected, as the Architect's first creation, but Nothing will turn towards the Secondary Realms. Of the Old One, we have no news, though it is likely that he has escaped the Architect's prison. We shall deal with him later; for now, we must immediately restore the House and push back the Nothing." Dame Primus was no more urgent about this as she had been about the first item, though her brows showed signs of worry.
Arthur took a deep breath; he knew what he had to do. "I want everyone to stay in here; I don't want you too close when I use the Keys." No one questioned him as Arthur sat up from his throne and walked outside the tent. He surveyed the beauty of the gardens and concluded that they truly were Incomparable. However, the true danger lied below, and so Arthur closed his eyes to concentrate, before yelling out in a voice that practically dripped power and authority.
"KEYS, I COMMAND YOU TO REMAKE THE HOUSE EXACTLY AS IT WAS! PUSH BACK THE NOTHING AND REPAIR ALL THAT WAS DESTROYED! LET IT BE AS IF SUPERIOR SATURDAY AND THE OTHER TRUSTEES HAD NEVER INTERFERED!" The Keys started glowing, brighter and brighter, until Arthur shined like a sun. Simultaneously, every single Key grew first warm, than hot, before becoming almost burning. With a wordless cry, Arthur plunged his hands into the soft earth of the Gardens, sending his power down to the approaching Nothing.
Arthur could feel the Nothing as a pressure in his mind, as vast and indomitable as a planet. Arthur pushed back regardless, blasting every single drop of power he could from the Keys towards the Void, pushing it back. It was almost impossible; Arthur felt as if his head was in a steel press, being pierced by inch-thick steel nails. But Arthur persevered, fighting for every inch.
Arthur knew not how long he knelt there; it could have been centuries and he wouldn't have noticed. But, oh so slowly, Arthur felt the Nothing recede, leaving untouched parts of the House behind, fixing all the problems that had plagued the House before. Arthur felt Denizens that had been consumed be reborn at his unseen touch, each life like a little sun in a dark space. Arthur was filled with an unparalleled sense of wonder, and thought this must have been how the Architect of All had felt, when She had made the House all those millennia ago.
When the last bulwark at the base of the Deep Coal Cellar had reformed itself, the Keys finally stopped, becoming dull and dim once again. Arthur was suddenly tired, so tired that he didn't have the strength to even stand up. He felt as if he had worked out with Eric for hours on end; every muscle ached, his bones felt sore, and his mind felt like someone had melted his brain into soft jelly.
A little while later, when Arthur didn't feel as much like a newborn pup, Sneezer appeared from nowhere, as was usual. "Congratulations, Lord Arthur. Would you perhaps like a fizzy beverage from your world to celebrate, and maybe a pill to help with your tiredness?" From thin air, the aged butler pulled an honest-to-goodness bottle of Coke, which Arthur eagerly, if weakly; guzzled down, glad to feel the rush of caffeine as the cool, sweet cola ran down his throat. Arthur, the son of a doctor, expertly swallowed the shiny pill Sneezer offered, washing it down with more Coke. Almost immediately, Arthur felt new strength fill his limbs, banishing the fatigue.
Arthur stood up, gladly accepting Sneezer's hand when he stumbled from a massive head rush. When Arthur could stand straight, he walked with purpose back into the tent. Everyone seemed to have not moved an inch, and a cheer broke out when Arthur entered. He gave a general wave, trying to be polite, before gratefully sinking into his throne. An almost imperceptible smile graced Dame Primus's features, and Suzy was grinning outright. Arthur grinned back, before turning towards Dame Primus. "What's next?"
Dame Primus took a few seconds to clear her throat, before checking off something in the Agenda. She proceeded from where she'd left off. "Item Three: the Trials of Superior Saturday, Lord Sunday, and the Piper." As she spoke, the three of them entered, bound with chains and led by the apologetic looking Sunday's Noon, Dusk, and former Dawn. The last one glared a bit at Suzy, but remained silent.
The Piper's face was impossible to see behind his mask, but his eyes positively glowed with hatred as he stared down Arthur. Superior Saturday seemed utterly defeated; not surprising, considering the goal she had worked ten thousand years for had slipped her fingers. Lord Sunday, who looked like a younger, better-looking version of the Mariner, seemed to be in a state of shock, as if he were still trying to wrap his mind around the concept that he'd lost.
Arthur had already made his decision regarding these three. Before Dame Primus could say a word, Arthur spoke, his voice brooking no argument. "The Piper is to be made Lowest Assistant, to be kept under constant watch. Also, I don't want any of the Piper's Children anywhere near him, in case he tries to escape. Superior Saturday is to be reinstated as head Sorcerer of the Upper House, except under my authority. As for Lord Sunday, I want him banished to the Void; he's the cause of this whole mess for not stopping Saturday in the first place."
Dame Primus nodded, and gently said "The power of the Keys is needed to make these changes. You can do it from there," she added, seeing how reluctant Arthur was to stand up again so quickly. Arthur nodded before pointing his finger at the Piper. "I, Arthur, charge you, the Piper, to serve the House as Lowest Assistant. You are to fulfill all duties laid out for you completely and without question. You are not to rebel in any way, shape, or form. You will obey." As Arthur spoke, a delicate web of light leapt from the finger he had pointed, seemingly worming themselves into the Piper's head. As Arthur finished, the Piper spat out, apparently through clenched teeth, "I live to serve."
Arthur nodded before pointing at Saturday. "Be healed in mind, free of the envy that has plagued you since the Architect's absence. Serve the House as second-in-command of the Upper House." Again, the web of light spread from Arthur's finger, working itself into Saturday's mind through her dark eyes and indigo hair. She blinked, before nodding at Arthur and murmuring, in the nicest tone she'd used since the Architect went away, "I live to Serve the Rightful Heir."
Arthur smiled a little, before turning it into a frown as he regarded the former Lord Sunday. "From Nothing, to Nothing," was all Arthur said, before the inky blackness of Nothing spread out from underneath the still-dazed Sunday, enveloping him completely before disappearing, and leaving empty space in its place. Arthur prayed that he would never see him again.
Dame Primus nodded with approval, and signaled for the remaining two to be released. As the chains dropped, Dame Primus checked off another box before turning to Arthur. "Milord, the remaining matters can be handled by myself. I will alert you if a problem requires your personal presence, but until then you are free to do as you please." So saying, Dame Primus waved her hand, leaving every Agenda except her own to disappear. She picked hers up and tucked it into the sleeve of her dress.
Arthur sighed in relief, before becoming aware of a rumbling in his belly. Apparently, though he wasn't anything near mortal now, his body still enjoyed having food. Arthur grinned, and decided that it was time he had a proper celebration for all his work. "Dame Primus, I would very much like it if I and everyone here could celebrate my victory with a banquet. A real dinner party, to be held here in the Incomparable Gardens. Today," he added, knowing that if he didn't make it clear, the party could happen next year by House Time.
Dame Primus nodded and said "It shall be arranged." With that, she stood up, along with everyone else when Arthur stood up, and left the tent. Arthur breathed in deeply the fresh air, before deciding that he might as well write his letter now and get some sleep until the banquet. Arthur walked off a ways from the crowd of Denizens, all of whom seemed content to stand around mingling until the party, and came to a clear stretch of grass with sufficient light to see by.
Arthur waved his hand, not even needing to voice his desire aloud; the Keys felt like extensions of his body. In a flash of light, instantly summoned Nothing was just as instantly transformed into a fine wooden desk, along with a comfy chair. Arthur sat down, before reaching into thing air, getting into the hang of how the House worked for superior Denizens. A sheet of fine vellum paper appeared in his hands.
Arthur, with some trepidation, pulled out the Sixth Key, mentally beseeching it to not give off any power, and penned his last words to his family. He tried not to cry, and when he did, he made sure that none fell on the paper. 'Dear Mom, and Dad, and Michaeli and Eric and Leaf and everyone else. Some things have happened, things that I couldn't hope to explain to you now. Anyway, I'm not able to come home now. I'm sorry, but this is just how it has to be. I want all of you to know that I love you and wish I could be there, but that's impossible now. Leaf, thanks for being such a good friend, even if we've only known each other for a short time. Please don't look for me. All my love, Arthur.'
Arthur read it over, and thought it was pitifully inadequate, but it was the best he could think up. He folded it into an envelope, before pressing his thumb to the fold. His thumb glowed, and when it came away the letter was sealed with a glob of rainbow wax stamped with his seal. Arthur silently tucked it into his sleeve, not even surprised when it fit and he couldn't feel it pressed against his arm. Standing up, Arthur stepped into the shade of some nearby trees, where there was a convenient hammock under a tarp just big enough for him. Not even questioning how he'd found exactly what he'd wanted, Arthur sank into the comfortable folds and immediately fell asleep.
He was awoken by a gentle rocking on his shoulder. He cracked open his eyes, and saw that Suzy was the one who'd woken him up. "You look right fair ridiculous, sleeping with a crown on." Suzy's trademark grin appeared, before she said "The party's ready, you better come over since it was your idea to start with." Arthur nodded, before standing up and walking off, Suzy following him. "It's a bit weird, being so tall. I feel like everyone else has shrunk. I keep tripping." Arthur grinned as Suzy chattered on, while they approached the lanterns erected to posts that surrounded a massive table filled with foods Arthur had only seen in culinary magazines.
Everyone was already seated. Arthur hastily made his way to the head of the table, where Dame Primus waited patiently. Suzy veered off towards her own seat, while Arthur took the proffered cup from Dame Primus, filled with a red liquid that smelled fruity. Realized what was being asked of him, Arthur turned to face the table, taking a moment to savor the faces of his new subjects, the people that had helped him to this moment. He raised his cup and said "To the Architect, the House, and the end of the Trustees' reign. The Will has been Done." The toast was repeated, and everyone drank.
Several hours later, Arthur felt truly content for the first time in what seemed like forever. He was currently sitting in a corner of the field where the party had taken place. Sunscorch was as drunk as any Denizen could be, and was loudly proclaiming the tales of nautical adventure he'd stored up over eternity. Scamandros was in deep discussion with Saturday's Noon, and even Dame Primus seemed to be enjoying herself. Arthur became aware of Suzy sitting next to him. He waited for her to start talking, but she remained silent, apparently watching the proceedings as he was.
Eventually, Suzy spoke up. "The Denizens, they don't have kids or get married, see. Love was something the Architect made for us mortals. None of them understand it." Arthur nodded, wondering what had brought this on. Suzy suddenly gripped his hand. Arthur turned to face the grasping appendage, before looking up into Suzy's face, which seemed both uncertain and determined. "But we do," she whispered. "I don't even know what I'm saying, Arthur, but I know that I want to be near you. You're the only friend I've ever really had, and I have this weird feeling in my chest when I'm near you. And right now, that feeling is telling me to do something."
Arthur was suddenly very aware of how close they were, of the warmth of her hand over his, of the beauty of her face. He gulped for reasons unknown to even himself. "Suzy," he whispered, unsure what he was going to say, before her face came forward suddenly, and her lips were pressed against his. Arthur gasped, before his eyelids started to flutter. Her lips felt nice. Really nice. He didn't even want them to leave. Hesitantly, Arthur kissed her back, lost in this new feeling, this new sensation.
Dame Primus's voice came from frighteningly nearby, causing the two of them to pull apart in shock. "Well, this is an interesting development." There she was, a mere three feet away; she had seen everything. Suzy blushed, and Arthur was just getting ready to use the Keys to blast her out of existence, before she held up a hand. "Be at peace, I am not here to scold you. The Architect once said that 'Every Lord needs a Lady.' I see that she was right. I will not question your relationship; it is not my place." With that, she gave a little curtsey and turned to leave the new couple alone.
Arthur blinked, before turning to face Suzy again. She seemed just as confused as him, but she seemed to calm down as she stared into Arthur's eyes. This time, Arthur leaned forward, and the night carried on, the Denizens unaware that not so far away, their Lord was lost in his own small world with the new Sunday's Dawn.
Arthur's family had no such ease. Emily was heartbroken, convinced that it was her fault that Arthur had run away, as he obviously had. Michaeli was left with half-formed suspicions and a gnawing worry in her gut. Eric was silent for a long time, speaking in monosyllables, and throwing himself into sports. Bob comforted Emily when he could over the phone, and promised to look for Arthur while he was on tour, and Arthur's other family dealt in their own little ways.
Years passed, and there was no progress. Emily's sadness slowly left, and though she still cried herself to sleep sometimes, she accepted that Arthur wasn't coming back. The rest of his family slowly worked around it as well, and life went on. Leaf sometimes wondered how her friend for such a short time was doing at the center of the universe, but otherwise continued with her life, eventually graduating from school and joining her parents in their struggle to help nature.
Worlds away, Arthur watched through the Seven Dials. He gave a sad smile, before turning away and returning to his work.
Hope you like this.