Disclaimer: I do hereby disclaim all rights and responsibilities for the characters in this epic misadventure… especially for the dark and stormy knight. A nod of recognition is bent towards Rumiko Takahashi for her creative prowess.
A Note of Explanation: I think it's safe to call this oneshot… a departure. This was written for Max and Forth's Bad!Fic Challenge on Live Journal, and this is how forthright does 'bad'. There are mediocre characterizations, groan-worthy puns, mixed metaphors, coined words, sketchy allusions, excessive alliteration, double entendres, polysyllabic descriptors, and the rampant misuse of words where semantics are concerned. I even dropped a comma. Trust me, it's all intentional.
This story was posted on April 15, 2008.
The Dark and Stormy Knight
He was a dark and stormy knight, clad from stem to stern in blackest armor that shown like onyx at midnight. He was a legend in the land, famed for his daring-do and his chivvying ways. None knew his face, and all who saw it trembled. None knew his name, and his foes were struck with fear at its very mention. This parabolic paladin was a source of dread curiosity, right down to his unmentionables, which suited him like a glove.
On a day like any other day, which is to say a Tuesday, his travails carried him to the edge of a dusty mote. Before him rose the veneer of a castle, which he was pretty sure didn't used to be there, and he cursed the cruel twist of fate that left his maps in his second-best saddlebags and fiendishly out of reach. Perhaps I should enquire within and see if they have permission to subsist upon these lands? There was no other course for answers, which roughened his mood, for haute personages of his peerage did not canvass unheralded. By rights, he should be presented with proper enunciation, but he was short-shrift on staff at the moment. All blame was handily shifted to his wretched minion, for his trusty page had been missing these past thirteen days, and such poultry matters were his responsibility. It was most unlucky. Once I find that terminal bane of my existence, he shall have much to answer for. Fulsome slacker. Rampant loafer. Slipshod failsafe. I will make him rule the day he took his leave.
Suddenly, the trenchant knight found himself the object of another's questing eyes, and he espied a maiden at the gates, lathe of limb and beautifully beholden. She smiled and beckoned, but he stalled, unsure where to stand on protocol whilst dealing with damsels without distress and sorely lacking his loquacious lackey. "Good knight, I welcome you," she sang out in dulcet tones. "Won't you get off your high horse?"
Against his bitter judgment, the courtier's curiosity was aroused, which caused an ill-timed piquing in the frontal lobes. "It is day, queer girl. Why do you bid me good night?" he demanded.
Her face broke into a thousand smiles, each more enchanting than the next, and his breath was caught—hook, line, and sinker. "You tease, kind sir. I am called Kagome. Please, what may I call you?"
Consterned, the highborn hero flummoxed, finally sharing the truth of his enigma. "My name is my own. You may call me 'millard'."
"As you wish, millard," she dimpled and cooed. "Your coming is imminent indeed! I am in sore need of someone of your caliper, for there is a dread beast in our castle. Can it be that fate has destined you for me?"
Swinging low from his saddle, the stark champion stepped swiftly to the maid and swept bowingly, for this was sure footing, and it pleased him exorbitantly. "I will slay the vermin that plagues you, Lady Kagome. It is my duty, my code, my credo, my mission, my crusade, my very reason for retaining a legendary status." Looming over her like a dark portent, he modulated his murmurs into a silken rumble. "This… is what I do."
Kagome clapsed her hands together, eyes dewy as she fawned with jestifiable adulation. "Millard! You are incredible!" The knight nodded his agreement, armor squeaking with the effort. "If only… If only I could see your face," she added with wist. "I have always been sotted with tall, dark, handsome men," she sighed dreamily.
"Few have seen my countenance and lived," the knight warned. "I should not risk it if I were you."
"Perhaps I can find a way to change millard's mind?" Kagome wheedled, guttering her lashes coyly.
"Let us stick to priories," the mysterious rescuer commended, gesturing towards the doors.
Thinking his extension was an offering, the fair Lady Kagome blushed becomingly as she grasped his gauntlet in one petite hand and tugged him along in her wake. Glad his gleaming helm hid his answering fluster, the knight's heart tripped a beat and for a moment, he thought he'd lost it. She is winsome in her whiles.
The specious parlor into which he was led was alight with candles, which added luster to the crests adoring the walls. "As you can see, there is privation aplenty within this safe haven. Remove your armor and be unmasked. Let me look upon the face of my defendant, for I cannot bear this bliss of ignorance."
Transported by Kagome's passioned play, the knight bowed to her whimsy, throwing both caution and carapace to the winds. When the clamor and claxon of his dramatic divestment reached its anticlimax, there stood no man of heroic mien, but a tall and sightly demon—arch and pale. Taken aback to her earlier effusings, the maiden's heart flipped in a fickle flutter, for though all ebony on the outside, her knight was reveled in silver. Who had want for tall, dark, and handsome men when conferred with a being such as this? From the tips of his elfin ears to the curvaceous moon that hallmarked his noble brow, he emboldened perfection. Struck speechless, she ventured a hesitant, "My, my, my."
"I am not what you expected," mourned the vulnerable venturer.
Kagome smiled a secret smile, then tipped her hand. "You surprised me, true, but not overtly. Already, I find I am ordinally fond of stripes."
Her admission warmed the cockerels of his heart, and softened the butter of his fondling gaze. "Your taste can only improve, malady."
Ducking under his compliment, she hurried into hospitable territory. "What was I thinking! Please, have a seat."
With tractable ease, he cut to the chaise. "Tell me more of this horror that harrows your home."
"The beast is buttressed in the bowls of the castle."
"In the dungeons?"
"In the kitchens. For more than a fortnight, we have been besieged. An unsightly creature took us unawares and endeared himself to the pantry. All entry was bared, and the few ravening souls who tried to snooker him met with a painful singing."
Shuttering, the knight hid his eyes behind a hand, lest the enormity of his shock and awe campaign against her peace and mind. Too well he knew the sanction of unwarranted humming; it was neither for the weak of will or stomach. "Scales?" he asked, resigned to face the music.
"No… flames, millard. They were so badly singed that I had to fly for ointment." Kagome gave a fetching little shimmy of memorial angst. "Alas, that was only the beginning of sorrows, for the intruder… he persisted!"
"He burned you out of house and home?" the knight speculumed.
"Neigh, sir, he stayed! Nothing we did could wedge him from his lodge, and though many a handy trick was tried, each was turned." She lowered her voice somnolently. "Some were even trumped."
The hero stropped his chin, then gained his feet. "Tell all," he urged, scenting that more was on foot than she knew. "Do not spare one rib, for I must know my enmity before I meet him."
The lady's brows united as she ordained her thoughts, then resumed her rehearsal. "The beast would not be driven. Even though we frowned upon him fearsomely, and snubbed him with airy noses, he could not be offended."
"Such genteel measures," pondered the pale polygon of perfection.
"It was a first course, and meager," admitted she. "Next, we thought to test his metal by outright blandishment, but by this time, rumors were recycled and morals faltered. You see… the beast made himself homely and began to be settled. It was said among the help that we had acquired a most unwelcome recluse in the castle—he plots to fixture himself as our hermit, and a crabby one at that."
"Ah, I thought reclusives had gone out of fashion," murmured the knight distractedly.
"This one styles himself as a come-back, but I do not fancy retroactive conceits." The regaled lady wibbled bravely. "With news so breaking… the staff could not be assuaged… and were driven in droves." The delicate arc of her brows knit and purled tears glistened upon sooty lashes. "I am the only one left in the right, and I am at the end of my wicks. Perhaps you can light a fire under him, for I am burned out."
Propping himself upon many bolsters of confidence, the knight keeled before her, propositioning Lady Kagome's hands as he offered his pledge of allegiance. "You have nothing to fear. Your pernicious tenant is not permitted, and since his papers are not in order, his flagrant squatting must end." With a tender surge he addled, "I will protract you, malady. He will upstage you no longer." She upped her chin with a gamely air, and quavered a smile so sweet with ambrosia that his heart was keel-hauled. "Show me to the den of this iniquity, and I shall fulfill your needs."
"My knight," she sighed in swooning terms. "Come with me."
With crook of dainty digit, she led her swain down the path of least persistence, and though nary a primrose was trod upon, they might as well have been tipping their toes over eggshells for all the noise they made. Still, the silent knight's passage did not go unremarked, for from a distant enclave, there arose such a clatter that he knew the matter was at hand. Lady Kagome stalled, her doe eyes caught in the lights overhead as she tossed a signifying glance his way. Catching it easily, he returned her volley with a singular nod. "I think it's time to put you in arrears," he mellowed with a brooking murmur.
Though his excuse was scantily-clad, the knight made bold to sweep Lady Kagome off her feet. Gentlemanly hands found purchase on maidenly waist, and he lofted her in a graceless arabesque before letting her flutter gently to the floor. This touching handling caused a flush to swirl around her cheeks, and his heart was carried away on a turgid tide. At this moment, I would grant her any deed, for she has already taken possession—part and parcel.
Almost at once, a shrill careening assailed the twain, and the knight's knee jerked in reaction. "The beast," crimped Kagome, edging her hero's sleeve.
Dismantling her dismay, the mercenary exterminator put forth his best foot and steeled his nerves to run the gamut. "Don't think on it, malady, for it's the thought that counts. I am a storming knight in good standing, and betimes…"
"I know," Kagome conjoined. "This… is what you do."
Flexed by this vision of loveliness and her knack for meeting his mind, the knight strolled right past the kitchen door, all storming calmed by fair-weather friendliness. A ravaging racquet burst his bubble and sent him down to earth. Whisking Kagome behind his back, he authored a tone that would breach the scullery. "See here, curmudgeon! You have trespassed upon malady's goods for far longer than necessary. Repent of your pan handling ways and leave these bowls posthaste, else I have no compunction but to have you drawn from your quarters and ride roughshod over your aspersions."
"Bravado," admired Kagome in an awed whist.
"He would be a fool to squander the importunity, but I am honor-bound to give…"
"Millard? Is that you?" creaked a rusty whinge. The knight bobbled and lost his grip, dropping his jaw in an ungainly heap. Mutterings murmured from behind closed doors. "How did he find me? I was sure I covered all the angles and left no retractions," rambled the duplicitous thorn in his side.
"Jaken?" he gapped, still staggered by the paradigm that had shifted right out from under his feet.
"Yes, Lord Sesshoumaru?"
Planting his face in his palm, the knight mourned his incipient loss of anonymity. A timorous gasp from behind firmed his suspects. It happens we've now been informally introduced. Irregular, but it may surfeit. "Jaken," he crisped with honeyed edge.
Keeping a cautious hold on the threshing of the door, a demitasse of demonhood goggled up at them. "Hi, millard."
"Oh, it's 'hi' time, all right—time to hie thee hence and homeward. You have much remuneration to attend, you skittering hooky."
"Is it possible that you know my bane?" presumed the lady, demonstrating her firm grasp on the oblivious.
"Indeed. This slacker is the page missing from my books." Rounding on the quailing figure, his amber eyes flamed with the heat of a thousand suns. "Why are you imposing upon this fair maiden's head?"
Scorched by his master's ire, the squire knew his fate was dire. "I took a notion?" Jaken tried in uncertain terms. "I could… give it back?" he reneged.
"This is how you expound yourself? Have you no measure of the bastion of inconsequentials that are dangling? I was caught mapless because of your neglection," Sesshoumaru clipped snappily.
The prospect of a reunion, no matter how out of touch, beaconed temptingly, so Kagome ceased to bystand, determined to undermine the rift. "Let us repair to the parlor and comport in comfort," she demurely wangled.
Once ensconced in candled luxuriance, Kagome used all her sense and sensibilities to bring about much-needed mollification. Worrying her pretty little head and her plump, pink lip with adorable transparency, she yearned for a harmonic convenience. There was no time to hunt for either hide nor hair of the fabled but fleeting bluebird of happiness, chipper portent of rose-colored epilogues. As she waded in her ponderings, the knight whose name had pierced her ears upbraided his lackey in showy silence, dressing him down with his eyes. The treatment left the failed recluse in dyspeptics, so the lady took pittance on him. "Were the kitchens to your liking, Sir Jaken?"
"Malady, your larders are irreproachable, and your pantries are unapproachable!"
Sesshoumaru donned a smirk. "You made sure of that, cheeky beggar," he goaded.
The squire with silver-spooned palette proved silver-tongued in his rhapsodies, lavishing his hostess with many pretty compilations and uncommon courtesies. Glowing repletely, he appealed to his lord with homesick leanings. "Millard, you must sample the delights of this good lady's bounty!"
"Will you mutiny if I abstain?" snubbed the knight, whose stomach turned at the lurid truth. Jaken knows hands-first that Lady Kagome's nonpareils are unparalleled, but I remain tasteless.
Before the culminating wreckage could stultify the hopes in her chest any further, Kagome interluded. "What's done is done, but it need not be your undoing. At the risque of being thought forward-thinking, I believe I can suggest a position so compromising, all can be satisfied."
Marshaled by Kagome's admiral qualities, Sesshoumaru implicated that she continue. "If mutual gratification is in the offing, do not waste time prudishly."
"If malady can release millard's tensions, make it quick," implored Jaken.
Emboldened by their ready gleams, Kagome digressed. "You, good knight, have need of a right-handed man—a biddable sidekick with menial tenacity. You, good squire, harbor hermitage hopes and wish to make my home your base. If you've a will… there's a way…" At this, the lady blushed. "You see, this castle—and its mistress—have no lord… Sesshoumaru."
Struck blue by this bolt and the prospectus she insinuated, the noble demon gasped at the utter simplicity of the solution. Prismatic clarity went straight to his head, where visions of connubial bliss frolicked on the cusp. Streaking to her side, he plucked her hand and perused each naked finger. No ring? How can such beauty remain unsnatched? Sesshoumaru pinched himself. "You are too good to be true," he bluffed with sore need. "If only we were properly introduced, I would come courting."
As his touch sent her into fusions of delight, Kagome whetted her lips distractingly. "I would love to see your woo in action," she confessed coquettishly.
A portentous clearing of throats interceded, forcing the couple to recall themselves and part ways. "A formal introduction is easily mismanaged," mustered Jaken sagaciously. "It's a good thing I'm overqualified for the task at hand." Dropping to sotto voice, he spoke parenthetically for Kagome's beneficence. "My horizons are broad for one so lowly. I hold a Masters of Ceremonies, and introductions are part of the erudite page's bill of fare. I can even have it notarized if you need proof of millard's affections."
Dizzied by the possibilities, Kagome prepared to reel in the catch of the century. "I don't know how this castle managed without a recluse before this. Sir Jaken, you are indisposable!"
Sesshoumaru's toe tapped out the tempo of his impatience, and the unfailing barometer of his left brow was on the rise. Reading the weather signs, Jaken straightened imperiously and clapped his hands. Lord and lady faced off, and the presentation was underway. "Millard, it is my dubious pleasure to induce Lady Kagome. She is pert of nose and long in the lash—a well-groomed filly with neat ankles and nimble gait. Malady is mistress of the manner and fully-etiquetted." She demurred graciously as the squire extolled the sum of her parts, and Sesshoumaru found himself hard-pressed by the prestige of her pedigree.
When Jaken desisted, he turned on Kagome. "Malady, it is my unfeigned duty to present Lord Sesshoumaru, knight of untold repute. His provosts have reached 'Once Upon a Time' proportions, and he carries a Bachelors of Eligibility." The little minion preened over his accoutrement. "Now, if you two should have any further need of my services… you know… pledge your troth… post your banns…"
"Enough medaling, you unsubtle concupiscence," cuffed Sesshoumaru. "Why don't you see to Lofty? His nickers have been in a twist ever since your unscheduled departure."
Salutating smartly, the third wheel saw himself to the door, leaving the couple to deepen their newly formalized acquaintance. Their peradventure was grounds for dismissing the usual slate of small talk, so Kagome slipped into a more comfortable mode and lightly teased her knight. "Dealing with a pantry poacher was uncanny enough, what with his mischief and munchery, but you, sir, stole in and capered away with something I hope you will handle with care."
"Am I accused of some vagary, malady?" Sesshoumaru quarried.
"Oh, indeed, for you have pilfered my heart. I should revile you for the thief you are… but I cannot."
Prowling ever nearer, the knight purred, "Why is that, Lady Kagome?"
"Can you not guess?"
"I have no need to guess, for in this matter, I am omnipotent. In fact, I know that you are mistaken," he whispered against her ear.
"How so, Sesshoumaru?" Kagome invited, pulling back to gaze adoringly at his adornments.
"I did not steal your heart," he murmured, placing a finger upon her lips to seize her protest, "for I gave you my own in its stead. Equivalent exchange is no knavery." Her answering smile plagued his purloined heart with a fever from which he never expected to recover, and in the heat of the moment, he soundly kissed the 'malady' who would forever be his own. Both survived ever after in a delirium of happiness.