Title: King and Companion
Author: K.M. Carthoway
Disclaimer: I don't own 'em. I just abuse 'em.
Opening Author's Notes: Ahh.. the first chapter of a long and promising series I'm working on. (I'm currently on chapter three as of now, so more posts are soon to follow.) This isn't my first fanfic, and by far not the first story I've written, but it is my first story that I've put up on I'm intensely in love with Okage, and couldn't wait to try my hands on a longer, drawn out epic of fanfic proportions. Having said that, I am looking for a beta, as my beta ran off claiming "too much school-work." So if anyone likes the story and wants to get the scoop ahead of time, feel free to email me, (the link is on my profile.)
Ahh.. and if you haven't figured it out by now, this is a shounen-ai. As in male/male relationships. If that's not your cup of tea, then don't read it.
Chapter One: The Intruder
Night fell on the forests east of Tenel and settled dreamily around the castle that loomed up betwixt the trees. The castle, too, descended into a dreamy, peaceful state—the servants attending to last minute chores before scuttling off to their beds, and the cooks mentally preparing the menus for the following day's meals. The Master of this place was already in bed, candles extinguished and fast asleep. Yes, the whole estate was ready to retire for the night, until there was a noise.
"What was that?" The Master asked groggily, cracking an eye open. He turned to his bedmate. "Go be a good slave and check on it for me." With that, he rolled over and closed his eyes.
The Master's bedmate sat up, swung his bare feet over the side of the bed and winced when he stood upon the cold floor. He was just about to reach for a candle when the noise happened again, near the window. Frightened yet curious, the Master's bedmate made his way to the large, curtained window and peered out of it.
The window pane shattered, and a sharp, unforgiving blade slashed the boy's chest, sending him to the floor in a pool of his own blood. He cried out, "Stan!" The Master immediately awoke and flew out of the bed. Standing over the wounded boy was a warrior dressed in bright armor wielding a sword and carried two more.
Master Stan, realizing his state of undress, grabbed his robe from the chair at the foot of his bed. Tying it securely around himself, he glared at the intruder. "And you are…?"
"Your reign of terror ends tonight!" The warrior shouted, foregoing Stan's question. "I, the hero Bartleby, will vanquish you and set the oppressed people of your wicked kingdom free!"
"Oh," Stan stated, and put his hands on his hips, "a hero." Seemingly unimpressed with the hero's sword or flashy armor, Stan made a move to sit back on the bed. The hero, however, thrust his sword right underneath Stan's chin.
"Don't move, monster," the hero threatened. "Your very existence makes my blood curdle, and I will stop at nothing to take you out of this world! I will free my people, the people around me, and all the people you have enslaved! I will have vengeance for my father, Harold's death, and his father, Percius's death, and his father's—all slain by your hand under your evil rule! I will provide hope for a better tomorrow by swiftly bringing our nation justice with your death!"
The hero stopped, panting after his rehearsed outburst. They stood facing each other, and after a long moment of awkward silence, Stan spoke, "Are you waiting for me to say something?" The hero growled a low "fiend!" but Stan continued as if he didn't hear him. "Well, now that you're done with your fancy speech that you probably, no doubt, took weeks to prepare, I suppose you're waiting for me to say something like, 'You'll never win,' or 'I won't go that easily,'" Stan met the hero's eyes with his own. "But that is so clichéd, don't you think? No…" Stan moved out from underneath the hero's blade. "I think we're passed that now. All I have left to say is… Die, bastard!" Stan threw up his hands and launched a fireball at the hero.
The hero rolled quickly away from the searing heat that nearly engulfed him. He lashed out with his sword, but Stan leapt nimbly onto the bed. Standing, the Hero drew out another sword.
"Two against none, now that isn't fair!" Stan whined, but the hero Bartleby didn't allow him to say much more. Stan back flipped to avoid the wild, vengeful doubled sword strokes. He tumbled off the bed, and just as the hero made ready to thrust his sword downward through Stan's skull, Stan kicked up, and bashed the hero's chin with his foot. The hero flew backwards away from Stan, giving the Master of the castle time to scramble onto his feet and regroup.
"You slimy coward!" The hero roared, rubbing his jaw.
"Now, now," Stan scolded, "No need to get nasty."
The hero Bartleby prepared to charge, swords pointed straight out at Stan, parallel to the floor. Just as Bartleby took his first, few running steps, Stan gathered the shadows around him and unleashed the full force of his unholy powers towards his foe, and hit the overwhelmed hero in the center of his chest, flinging the hero's body into the nearby wall like a cat might fling a captured mouse. The force of the impact caused the two swords to skitter to opposite sides of the room. The now-still hero's body slumped over in defeat.
Stan smirked at the fallen hero. He didn't even need to celebrate the death of that wimpy nuisance. He crossed the room to light a candle and survey the damage. A bloodstain caught his eye. Stan scanned the room until his eyes fell onto his fallen, deathly still bedmate. "Slave?" Stan questioned. When the boy did not so much as twitch in response, Stan ventured, "Sirus?" Still, there was nothing.
Stan went and knelt by his companion's body. He was laying face down, his blood pooling around him. "Sirus?" Stan said again, the sound not much more than a hoarse whisper. He turned the boy over. The gash cut deep into the boy's chest, and although the wound was fresh and open, it wasn't bleeding anymore. He was dead. Stan held the boy close. "Sirus," he breathed, "this shouldn't have happened to you; you weren't prepared for it."
A knock came at the bedroom door, and Stan's butler appeared. "Master! Are you alright? I heard noises—oh my." The butler exclaimed, seeing the damage to the room. The chair by the bed was overturned, no doubt knocked over by the hero in efforts to get to Stan; there was a scorch mark from the otherworldly fire that Stan hurled at the hero on a wall; and there was the dead hero on the wall adjacent to the bedroom door. Without needing an explanation, the butler said, "I'll get someone to clean this up right away." With that, the man left.
Stan sat for a long while, holding his dead companion. He turned just in time to see the not-dead hero stab his last sword through Stan's chest. Now, it was Stan's turn to slump in defeat.
Ari couldn't believe what he was hearing. When his father came home with another proclamation from their tyrannical Master, Evil King Stanley, he thought it was just another notice that they had to pay the Shadow King even more taxes. The taxes had been steadily increasing over the past three weeks, and were now soaring to ridiculous standards. Even Ari's family, who had been rather well off before, was forced to live in only a few rooms of their otherwise roomy mansion, to conserve heating and maintenance costs. But this proclamation that his father read aloud to the entire family, who were huddled around the kitchen table, was no tax hike.
To all peoples under the Evil King Stanley Hihat Trinidad XIV's rule:
'Three nights ago, a foul and despicable being claiming to be a hero attacked me and one of my servants in my own bedroom. He slaughtered my servant on sight, and then proceeded to try to do the same to me. I defeated and disposed of him, but not without sustaining wounds of my own. These last few weeks of absence I have taken was time to recover, and during my recovery I have commenced a project that will prevent further similar instances from ever happening again. This project is funded by the tithes and taxes you pay to me, your ruler, and is thus the reason for the increase in them.
Now I, Stanley Hihat Trinidad XIV proclaim to all those under my domain a nation-wide ban of all Heroes! If one of my soldiers catches any individual practicing the now illegal art of Heroing, it is now punishable by death! Heroes will not be tolerated in my lands! I encourage all of you with promises of monetary rewards to report any suspicious "Hero-like" activity to a nearby soldier stationed in your area.
Having said that, I am also searching for a replacement for the servant that died tragically in that aforementioned hero attack. Every youth from ages sixteen to nineteen are required to attend an all day audition held at my home on March 6, at exactly 10:30 in the morning. The home town of the youth I ultimately choose will receive half-tax relief for the life of the youth, and the youth's family will receive a gift of 10,000 gold in payment for my lifetime use of their child.
Thank you for your cooperation, and remember: I can obliterate you all if I so wish.
Stanley Hihat Trinidad XIV'"
"Isn't that just lovely?" Ari's mother exclaimed after his father finished reading the notice aloud. "A ban on all heroes? Why hasn't anyone thought of this sooner? Pesky heroes, always getting in the way of things!" Ari's mother continued on to herself, while Ari's father turned to another issue.
"Half-tax relief for the entire town? Wouldn't that just be great if the Evil King chose someone from Tenel?" Ari's father said. Ari looked around the room, at his family. He had to admit, half-tax relief would be nice. It wasn't just his family that was hurting underneath the fiscal oppression—the entire town was shuddering, and Ari guessed the rest of the empire was, too.
Annie, Ari's sister, spoke next, "A new servant? That would certainly be more exciting—working for an Evil King, I mean—then staying here!" She sighed, "Too bad I'm not old enough."
"But Ari is," Grandfather said, followed by Grandmother's "Uh huh, uh huh, that's right honey;" her usual phrase she adds whenever Grandfather speaks.
"That's right!" Ari's dad exclaimed excitedly. "You've turned sixteen just earlier this year!"
Ari tired to say something in response, but his mother cut in. "Oh how wonderful! You can go to the try-outs!" She sighed happily, "You must be so excited!"
Ari stared at his mother in horror. Excited? How could he be excited? A servant's life wasn't anything to dream about! Also, normal servants, people who took care of the washing and cleaning and fetching for Evil King Stanley, were hired en masse with resumes and paid a lowly salary. What kind of servant did the Evil King need, whose labors required auditions? Besides, the auditions were mandatory for Ari anyway, so why was Mother acting like it was a choice?
Ari tried to explain all of this, but his sister spoke instead. "Ooh! What if Evil King Stanley chooses Ari!" His mother and sister squealed and giggled happily over the thought, and Ari gasped in shock. He turned to his father to try to plead with him instead.
"Well, Ari. It's you who has to go. What do you think about this?" His father asked. Ari opened his mouth to spill out all his true feelings to his family—his anxiety, his worry, his fear, his frustration that no one seemed to want to listen to him, and his anger that everyone, including his own mother, seemed to be seduced by the very Evil King that vowed to plunge their lives into a hellish world of despair.
However, before Ari could say a word, his father continued as if Ari did say something.
"Wonderful, son! I'm so glad to hear you're being so positive about things!"
Ari stood up and left the room, only his shadow by his side. His entire family was nuts.
They continued to celebrate, not even noticing that Ari was gone.
Ending Author's Notes: Not much to say here... Please review! --K.M.C.