Fangs and Feathers
Episode 09: The Celestial Cake and the Distressed Overlord
Laharl shifted uncomfortably as he walked stiffly down the main street of Celestia. Flonne was skipping as she went, pointing out shops and places and explaining what they were, commenting on how little they've changed since her last visit to Celestia, which wasn't all that long ago anyway. Etna walked briskly, keeping up with Flonne's pace minus the skipping.
"Look, there's the manga shop I like to visit," Flonne pointed out and from there on the conversation between her and Etna evolved into something manga related. Though their personal tastes contrasted, they found that there were certain titles they both enjoyed.
Angels passing by would sometimes look at them, especially Etna, in curiosity. Some time ago the Seraph had announced the piece agreement between Celestia and the Netherworld so Etna's presence was not anything to be alarmed about and most of Flonne's acquaintances had already seen the change in her appearance.
An angel around their age gave the pair a curious look, his pale blue eyes focusing on Etna for a moment. She winked teasingly, which caused the boy to turn scarlet and hurry away in embarrassment. Etna laughed at the reaction, though Flonne didn't seem to understand the boy's distress if a wink was a sort of compliment.
It was around then when the two girls noticed that Laharl was no longer closely following them. Instead he was several feet behind them, his hands in his pockets and his face half hidden by his scarf. They waited for him to catch up and Etna took the opportunity to tease him. "What happened to the high and mighty overlord of the Netherworld? You almost looked scared."
"I'm not scared!" Laharl argued, though Etna's snicker told him that she didn't believe him. "I'm not," he insisted, stomping his foot. "In fact, I can't wait to meet Flonne's family!" That was the purpose that brought them to Celestia; Flonne's mother was going to bake a delicious cake and insisted on sharing it with her daughter and her friends.
"Really?" Flonne beamed with happiness. "I'm so glad, because we're here!" She announced upon their arrival of the house down the street. The structure wasn't too large or too small. It had a light blue roof, white walls, gold-lined clear glass windows and was surrounded by floral scents. The garden was planted with abundant yellow and pink daisies and not a single weed could be seen. A path led to the front door past the picked white fence, the gate was unlocked and parted as if to tell visitors to go ahead inside.
Etna looked at the house and took the time to notice that it was not as odd as she imagined; a massive pink structure with red hearts all over. To Laharl however, the house was a horrifying place because Flonne's parents were waiting inside. What if they hated him just because he was from the Netherworld? Not that he cared about what they thought or anything. Plus Flonne wasn't prejudiced, but that didn't mean her parents were similar to her, they could be as different as night and day, as different as Laharl stubbornly believed himself to be from Krichevskoy. What if they were carnivorous creatures that liked to eat unsuspecting visitors from the Netherworld? Okay, maybe he was letting his imagination run away with him...
Flonne opened the front door before Laharl had time to fully prepare for whatever may be behind it. She cheerfully called, "mom, dad, we're here!" As she led her guests inside. Etna curiously followed Flonne immediately, taking in the appearance of the residence's interior. White was the predominant color accompanied by other pastel shades. The fluffy white carpet reminded Etna of clouds and she wondered how many prinnies were needed in the household just to keep it clean. The walls were painted a pale blue, the same color as Celestia's sky in a clear day. There was a pale blue couch, a golden lined white coffee table with a glass top, a flat big screen TV mounted to the wall opposite to the couch, with golden lined white speakers distributed around the room playing a soft, barely perceptible, celestial tune. Though the music wasn't what Etna usually listened to and the volume was set low, she could still appreciate the entertainment system and wondered how the house would shake to the tune of a rock video from her favorite Netherworld band at max volume. She grinned just thinking about it.
Laharl followed Flonne, seconds after Etna, at a slower pace, feeling his blood run cold as Flonne shut the door behind him. He was too focused on figuring out what in the world worried him so much about this place and didn't even have time to take in the house's appearance as Etna did. Two angels emerged from another room, the kitchen judging by the appetizing scents emerging from it. The woman looked a lot like Flonne, with long blond hair and blue eyes like Flonne had when she first went to the Netherworld. Her wings were long and slender, resting on her back from her shoulders to her ankles with golden rings on the top line. The wings would no doubt be very long horizontally if extended.
The man's hair was a paler platinum blond color, his eyes also a lighter shade of blue than his wife's. His wings were not as long as her, instead wider and he had two pairs originating on his upper and mid back. Both the angels' wings were covered in pure white feathers that looked soft to the touch. They both wore white, a common color for clothing in Celestia. The man's robes were adorned with simple golden details. The woman's robes were more elaborate with golden embroidery and blue ribbons. Laharl felt his insides twist in a knot and his head become light, but he fought to stay conscious and alert.
"Welcome!" Flonne's parents spoke in unison, hugging their dear daughter.
"We missed you so much, honey," Flonne's mother smiled fondly as she brushed her daughter's long hair with her fingers.
"Yes, it's so nice to see you and I'm glad to finally meet your friends," her father added. "This elegant young lady here must be Etna, Flonne has told us a lot about you in her emails."
"Oh yes, you match the character perfectly," Flonne's mother paused, explaining her statement. "My husband and I are full time guardian angels, but we have a little hobby drawing manga and sometimes we publish them. I write the stories and my beloved illustrates them. Lately I haven't been able to picture the protagonist of my new story clearly, but your style matches her perfectly."
"Really?" Etna's eyes shone, "you mean you can turn me into a manga character?"
"If you don't mind. I really can't wait to start illustrating this new project, we're very excited about it," Flonne's father requested.
Etna's smile grew, "of course! Draw all you want!"
"What charming friends you have, Flonne," her mother united her hands in a sign of being pleased. "What about that boy you like so much? Wasn't he coming too?"
Flonne blushed and warned, "mom..." as if reminding her parents of their previous discussion concerning Laharl being somewhat shy. "Laharl is right here."
The overlord was quieter than silence itself behind the two girls. As soon as Flonne's mother spotted him, she scooped him into her arms in a tight hug. "Aw what an adorable son in law, my grandchildren will be so cute!"
At that point it took even more energy from Laharl to stop himself from fainting as he mentally chanted, 'I didn't hear anything, I didn't hear anything.'
Etna giggled in amusement and Flonne gave another warning, "mom..."
Flonne's father gently placed his hand on his wife's shoulder, "put the boy down dear, his face is starting to look as blue as his hair."
Upon finally being released, Laharl could do nothing more than to take a deep breath and hope the ordeal would be over soon. He felt that luck was not on his side as Flonne's father grabbed his hand and shook it firmly. "It's a pleasure to meet you, please take good care of our precious little girl."
"Dad..." Flonne warned again, poor Laharl looked so overwhelmed.
A ding from the oven called the attention of Flonne's mother back to the kitchen. "The cake is finished! I'll set it out to cool while we have some dinner." She excused herself to the kitchen.
"Flonne, you should show our guests to the dinning table while I help your mother set things up for dinner," Flonne's father suggested.
"Okay," Flonne smiled, "then I'll go help too."
"Actually," Etna grinned, "why don't I go help set things up too?" It seemed out of character for her to offer like that, but she had a reason. The appetizing scents from the kitchen had caught her attention and she was curious to take a peek inside right away.
Laharl's eyes widened at the offer, had Celestia already corrupted Etna? This place was dangerous! Before any more words could be spoken, there was some knocking on the door.
"Thank you for volunteering, you kids go on ahead, while I get the door," Flonne's father already knew who to expect. "Must be the Seraph and..." The angel had already gone off to open the door, the last part of his statement lost to Laharl's ears.
Upon realizing that Lamington was coming over for dinner, Laharl felt strangely reassured. Despite their differences, Seraph Lamington seemed to project peace, even to him and always took him seriously.
Flonne, Etna and Laharl made their way to the kitchen with Flonne announcing their offer to help set the table. Being this her parents' house where she grew up, Flonne already knew where everything was and didn't need to be told where the golden plates for special guests were kept.
"Take eight, dear," her mother pointed out upon noticing that Flonne had not picked up enough plates from the cupboard.
"Okay," Flonne handed Laharl the golden plates since he looked at a loss of what to do.
Etna had busied herself in curiously asking Flonne's mother "what kind of spices are in the food? They smell good," and the pair began a conversation about food and ingredients, quickly getting caught up in it.
Since Etna and her mom were entertained, Flonne grabbed some soft white napkins and golden eating utensils, smiling at Laharl who had the plates, "this way."
Still feeling uneasy, but fighting to calm himself, as he would be terribly embarrassed to appear cowardly in front of the Seraph, Laharl nodded and followed Flonne.
The dinning room's atmosphere was similar to that of the rest of the house, but instead of the light flowery scent that seemed to linger in the living room alongside the scents streaming from the kitchen when it was in use, this room was full of even more appetizing scents being closer to the kitchen. "Let's set the table," Flonne continued to smile, hoping to encourage the unusually quiet Laharl.
Laharl moved automatically placing a plate in front of each chair until the load he carried ran out. Flonne followed him distributing the napkins and eating utensils. A prinny came over seemingly out of nowhere with a basket of bread and set it in the center of the table, then scurried away to do something or other in another part of the house. The young overlord observed the set table, musing at last that he shouldn't have helped set it as it was more so a prinny's job, but there was nothing he could do about it now that it was already done. He also observed that there seemed to be extra plates. There were eight plates set up on the table. Flonne, plus her parents, Etna and himself were five, add Lamington and that was six. "Eight? I heard Lamington was coming, who else?"
Flonne was filled with relief at hearing Laharl actually articulate a full sentence. She took it as a sure sign of improvement, he must have finally started to relax, however, she couldn't answer his question. "I'm not sure, I didn't even realize the Seraph was coming to dinner too, my parents just mentioned that they might have a friend over."
"Maybe it's one of Lamington's vassals or something," Laharl reasoned as he took a bread biscuit and popped it in his mouth, it was covered in honey and extremely sweet. While the Netherworld's food tended to be spicy, Celestia's culinary was known for its sweet flavors, so it came as no surprise.
Their short conversation ended when Flonne's mother emerged from the kitchen with Etna, both carrying several pots and trays full of food. Flonne joined them on the following trips to the kitchen to bring out the rest of the food as did Laharl, automatically following Flonne's lead despite thinking this was prinny work. The prinny from before also assisted.
Flonne's father entered the dinning room in the company of two guests and they all prepared to sit at the table among greeting. It was then that Laharl noticed who exactly was attending the dinner along with Lamington. "Mid Boss!" He pointed.
"No, no, I am known as the Dark Adonis!" Vyers corrected, though Laharl was clearly ignoring him.
"Why are you here?" The young overlord demanded to know.
"For dinner of course, I was invited," Vyers insisted.
"And we're glad you came," Flonne's mother finished, "now let us sit down and enjoy a nice meal in excellent company."
"But Mid Boss is-" Laharl began to argue.
Etna silenced him with a discreet elbow to the ribs as she whispered, "shut up and sit down, you're being rude."
"We're supposed to be rude," Laharl whispered back at Etna.
"Not when there's delicious food to be eaten!" Etna whispered back and practically dragged Laharl to sit down between Flonne and herself, that way they could keep him under control.
Laharl pouted as he shifted in his seat, the plush covers of the chair were very soft. To his right was Flonne and to his left Etna. Next to Flonne were her mother and father, then Lamington sat directly across from Laharl. Next to Etna was Vyers and between him and Lamington there surprisingly sat a prinny. Albeit Laharl thought it was strange to allow a prinny to eat at the table, he seemed even more shocked by Mid Boss' presence.
In a split second the previously quiet table was filled with all sorts of chatter as the food was passed around for each person to add some to their plate. Since Laharl was busy glaring at Vyers, despite Etna's attempt at serving as a barrier between them to ensure her meal wasn't interrupted by a petty fight, Flonne took the task of adding food to Laharl's plate during his distraction. The scents right beneath his nose finally caused Laharl to break away from the glares and actually eat, it was sweet, but it was great.
The active conversation continued with comments about anything and everything, while Laharl focused on eating. He was beginning to feel better by the second and was actually enjoying his time there as long as his mouth was full. The conversation took a turn for the better in Laharl's favor when the Seraph noted what a great job he was doing as overlord and the significant progress that had been made in the relation between Celestia and the Netherworld. Encouraged in such a way, Laharl soon began to take part in the conversation adding in anecdotes of random occurrences that he thought were interesting, much to the amusement of his audience. He even teased Mid Boss, though it fortunately didn't result in a fight, instead evolving into playful joking around.
After dinner was consumed there came the time for dessert. The promised cake turned out to be several cakes of different consistencies and flavors all of which everyone was curious to try. Laharl had not eaten that much since he was very small, back when his mother still lived and used to cook for him. After the large meal and dessert, Lamington had to return to his duties as the Seraph and Vyers claimed he had to return to tend to his admirers, though no one took him seriously. The house prinny began to clear the table and make preparations to do the dishes, which would evidently take a long time.
Flonne's mother had promised Etna some recipes which she went to get while the prinny washed the dishes. Etna intended to make the Netherworld castle prinnies cook those recipes for her. Meanwhile, Flonne and Laharl talked with her father, who was thankfully, not an eater of Netherworld citizens as Laharl first imagined, and seemed rather fond of him praising his accomplishments. Laharl liked to be praised more than he would ever admit. In the end, the young overlord was in fact in such a good mood he somehow overlooked the hints of something concerning a wedding between him and Flonne, assuming that any parent would want to marry off their daughter to the great Laharl, and played along occasionally causing Flonne to blush.
At the end of their visit, Flonne's parents insisted that they spent the night over as it had become late. Flonne took her friends up to her room and showed them around. As expected, Flonne's room at Celestia was similarly decorated to her room in the Netherworld, littered with all forms of cute items and toys. It was a place of terror in Laharl's opinion, but nothing could stop the overlord when he was feeling brave. Flonne revealed her impressive stash of sweets and the three laid in sleeping bags, eating candy and watching TV until very late that night. Needless to say, seeing Celestia's local programming was an experience in itself which led to Laharl claiming the remote control and changing channels extremely often until, tired of the constant switch, Etna initiated a pillow fight. It was almost morning by the time the three finally went to sleep and rested until well past mid day.
After another delicious meal before leaving, a much more confident Laharl exited the house. Etna held an envelope with a few sample sketches of the manga character based on her and was looking forward to seeing the finished manga. She had also shared some story ideas with Flonne's mother while discussing the recipes. As they walked down the street towards the gates of Celestia, this time Laharl wasn't lagging behind or trying to act invisible, instead actively participating in the conversation and being his usual prideful yet secretly well meaning self. Maybe the visit had been for the best after all.
End of Episode 09
Disclaimer, I don't own Disgaea.