Disclaimer: I don't own Okage: Shadow King. If I did, I'd have made a sequel!
A/N: Hey, guys, I'm really sorry it's taking so long to update. I keep feeling like stopping the story because I personally don't think it's good, and the plot needed a lot of work. However, I got an idea and just finished the chapter, which I had started a bit after I uploaded the last one so long ago. I hope you like it!
"It's S-Stan," Ari stuttered, looking up at the king with fear in his heart. Last he remembered, Stanley was short-tempered and full of himself, but he never remembered him looking as evil and mean as he did now. The boy was actually scared, and hoped he didn't try and hurt Epros.
The phantom, meanwhile, was staring up at Stan with a calm, cold look in his eyes. He took it upon himself to protect Ari, and wouldn't let the king scare him with a mere glare, a few words, and a couple of hand gestures. He didn't just stare at him; instead, he attempted to draw himself up to his full height and size Stan up. Although he was powerful before, Epros had learned a few more powerful magic spells to counter enemies in the three years that they had all grown apart.
Stan stared back at Epros with an unrelenting grimace, not acknowledging that Ari seemed to have remembered his name now, at the very least. He uncrossed his arms and suddenly smiled, his teeth flashing a brilliant white, and one of his demonic-looking fangs sticking out over his bottom lip. "I never liked you, phantom," he chuckled. "So I have no problems fighting you over Ari."
"Of course, how considerate of you, for I have no qualms about quarreling, too," Epros taunted back. He was about to say something else when Ari interrupted.
"Look, you guys, I don't know what's going on, or why you hate each other, but please, please don't fight or anything. Especially if it's over me," he pleaded, his voice rising at the last syllable of his sentence.
"Why ever shall we not? After all, we're in a tight spot," Epros replied, a little stunned.
Before Ari lost his memory, he probably wouldn't have said anything about both of them fighting. If they were on their journey, then most likely Rosalyn or Kisling would have prevented the two rivals from ripping each other's throats out. In fact, if he had ever said anything at all in their previous adventure to get anyone to stop doing anything, no one would have even heard him, because as was mentioned many times before, Ari was a completely overshadowed person. His personality was not well-known to anyone, or rather, was extremely nonexistent. Did he change so much just because he lost a few recollections? Epros couldn't remember if Ari had acted this way in the Gear Tower, either.
Stan was also as surprised as Epros was at Ari's little outburst, but he tried not to show it. "Ari, why don't you merely stand back and watch me totally destroy this dumb, rhyming phantom?"
"Because I don't want to see two of my friends fighting over something so stupid!" Ari yelled back. The word "friends" slipped out of his mouth unknowingly. He wanted to take it back, but it felt too natural. He hoped no one else heard it. The boy didn't want them to think that he was starting to regain his lost memories.
Epros pretended to take no notice of his use of the word, but abruptly, Stan got bashful.
"Um, err…" The Evil King tried to retaliate, his comebacks melting away into the back of his mind. He had assumed all of this time that he had to drag Ari back, kicking and screaming, to his castle, but now he was glad that he was beginning to see things his way.
"One word; and your cold heart starts to flutter?" Epros snapped. "Perhaps your brain is also made of butter."
At those words, Stan went back to his old self. "Shut up, phantom!" he shouted at him. "I'm not a sap or anything! I'm just shocked that Ari thinks of me that way already…"
"Why wouldn't I?" Ari questioned. "Under all that 'evil king' stuff, I'm sure you're just hiding some of your true feelings. After all, we used to travel together, right?" He was winging it to make up for the slip, but no one else could tell that he was.
"That's exactly how I am," Stan harrumphed, turning his face to the side and acting like he was all-important. "I'm glad my slave knows exactly the kind of person I am."
Epros sighed and shook his head of blonde curls from side to side. Exasperated, he said to Ari, "I suppose this is goodbye, my friend, for my opinions I do not intend to defend." He started to float above the sands of the Addashi Desert slowly and warily, incase Stan was going to blast him from behind. It wouldn't be below the king.
Ari's brilliant emerald-green eyes widened. "Wait, Epros, I didn't want you to leave," he said. "Why can't we all be friends like we were before?"
"We all had a common purpose," Stan cut in. "We all worked toward something: the defeat of that Be-whatever guy. But now we can do what we want, and we'd much rather not be near each other. Besides, his rhyming is annoying."
"I think it's cool," Ari said firmly. This caused Epros to alight back on the ground and smile at Stan as though he had won.
"Whatever!" the Evil King replied. "Let's think about this. Epros, why don't you just give me Ari and you can keep floating around and doing whatever you want to do?" he asked. "I'm going to take him from you anyway."
"No way! Nay, I say!" the phantom glared at Stan now. He moved to stand in front of him, and although he was shorter, he still appeared formidable.
"Why don't I choose?" Ari questioned, trying to shake off the familiarity he felt when Stan mentioned the adventure they had embarked upon before he lost his memory.
"Alright, then, choose," Stan huffed, looking away from Epros.
After a tense silence, with all hearts pounding, Ari had his answer. "I choose to be alone. I don't think I'd want to cut in between anyone. So I want to live my life without either of you breathing down my neck. You guys are being strange, anyway." He moved himself a couple of paces away from both of the men, the Gear Tower still visible in the barren landscape. Little twirls of spinning sand kicked up behind his black, tattered shoes. He expected them to run or float to him, beg for forgiveness, and promise to grudgingly be nice to each other. However, these were no ordinary love-struck people.
Epros and Stan took one look at each other and began to fight.
"You stupid phantom! Look what you've done!" Stan started, trying to punch him in the face.
The former Phantom Evil King dodged immediately and furrowed his brow. "It was all you, you stupid Shadow King! It's your neck you should want to wring!" He took out a card of his and murmured an enchantment. Stan laughed at him and said that throwing a playing card wasn't going to get him anywhere, but all of a sudden a small ball full of magic appeared in front of him, and he was getting ready to aim it at Stan's head.
The king jumped back and got down on all fours, growled, and prepared himself to tackle him before he could try to hit him with it.
"Guys! What are you doing!?" Ari immediately ran in the middle of the path between them. "Stop this insanity! It's neither of you guys' fault!"
The only reason they stopped was because Ari was in the way. Epros stopped his magic, although it drained more energy out of him than it would have if he fired the ball at Stan, and stood straight. Stan did the same, standing back on two feet and hiding his fangs back into his mouth.
"What the heck is your problem!?" The boy yelled.
There was a large silence between everyone. Ari shook his head after the silence had grown too large, and told them both off, calling them big-headed nitwits. Epros was about to say something in the middle of his being yelled at, but Ari gave him a glare that silenced him. For the first time, Ari was being listened to.
Once the lecture was done, Ari took both of their hands and forced them to shake on never fighting again. Stan tried to cross his fingers behind his back as he murmured his oath, but Ari caught him and snatched the other hand, as well. It was funny because the small boy was actually restraining them, two people who were so much stronger than him.
The boy then forced them all to go inside the Gear Tower and rest. Stan, of course, grumbled, but then agreed, only because he liked the feel of Ari's fingers against his own as he led him into Epros's home.
Epros got quiet as Ari tried to start conversation between all of them. "Group therapy" was what he called it. It was obvious that he thought they just hated each other; he had no idea that they both had crushes on him.
They listened to him and talked only a little bit until night fell. Before trying to fall asleep, Epros wondered what went wrong. He was sure Ari liked him. Had he only imagined the blush staining the boy's cheeks whenever he handed him a cup of tea, their skin touching for only a second?
The phantom sadly lay down on top of some soft moss that was growing on the bottom of the Gear Tower, near the entrance of the building. It felt almost like a mattress, the spongy stuff shooting upwards about a few inches. Although he had no sheets, or a pillow, Epros decided to start his nightly rest. On the other side of the only room in the Tower, Stan was nobly giving up his black suit jacket to Ari so he could have something to cover himself with. Epros genuinely ignored his actions, and his patience was rewarded when Ari slapped Stan in the face once he had tried to convince him to use his bare chest as a pillow.
The blush was still on Ari's face from Stan's offer when Epros dozed off, losing consciousness with their wacky world and starting to dream of happier, less lonely days. Ari felt horrible for having him sleep by himself, but he obviously seemed to need some time alone.
Ari's face was in Epros's direction, watching him sleep, staring at his body going up and down lightly as he took breaths of clean air from the plants in the Tower. Stan was sleeping right next to the boy, and he was beginning to snore loudly. The king's arms were crossed on his unclothed chest, and even as he slept, his face was contorted in some sort of anger.
A moment before the teen's eyes fluttered downward, a dark, tentacle-like thing smashed through the metal door of the Gear Tower, wrapped itself around Epros, and took the groggy, yet struggling phantom away.
Ari jumped up quickly, his heart pounding, and immediately started to follow the fray outside the Tower and into the desert, screaming Epros's name and fearing the worst when he heard no reply, and worst of all, as his eyes adjusted to the darkness, no Epros or monster.
A/N: Thank you all for voting for the couples. Even though I still don't know who'll end up together. xDDD I suppose it'll be a surprise to all of us. I wonder what'll happen to Epros!? Will Stan help Ari look for him? Who would want to kidnap Epros? He doesn't have any connections, does he? Hopefully the story will start to get interesting now!!
Also, I'm going to start another Okage story thing, only this time it's my own writing challenge of those 100 drabble things everyone's doing (I don't know if there's already a list of themes somewhere, so I'm just going to be making them up myself)! xD I really want to see how I'd do. Most of them will probably be from Ari's point of view. I'll attempt to get it done in 100 days. I've wanted to start on other Okage stories, but I really don't think I'd stick to them (after all, this story is going badly already), so this seems like a nice thing I could do to test myself, and make tons of mini-stories. ^^ Please check it out! Thanks for everyone so far for reviewing this story!!