It's been a long time. How have you been?

Here's an experimental piece I've been working on, on and off. Quality not assured, but I might continue this. Constructive critiques will be very much appreciated –

In the meantime, do check out the collaboration piece Smile with lupyne, a great author and friend. It's definitely not too unknown for any SSB fan, and I strongly recommend reading it (especially lupyne's portions!) as well as lupyne's other ongoing fics. Links can be found on both of our profiles.

Please do enjoy –

hawk

Crown

He surveyed the room a little, nestled snugly in the comfortable armchair. Sitting a little awkwardly, he couldn't be bothered to shift himself, but rather focused on the comfy cushion padding caressing his back.

A little white table was before him, and on it were several tea-things, laid out perfectly and in immaculate detail. A white teapot, and several fine china teacups and china saucers of perfectly brewed Chinese tea. His own armchair was seated at the round table, but there were no other chairs. He was waiting for someone to arrive.

The door was locked because he liked it that way. He nodded with satisfaction.

The door was white. He had made sure of that. The table was painted with the nicest, smoothest white paint he could order, and there were little red tracings on the china teacups. They seemed to spell out a word, or a name, but the design kept shifting each time he looked at it. He shrugged, resolving to stare at it closely later.

Even his hair had streaks of white in it.

The red hair he had taken so much pride in was now streaked with gray and white – not the gentle fading of age, but vengeful splotches of colourlessness. But now, it was stylishly messy, the hair shrugged backwards. He paused for a second, thinking.

Then, as if he had made up his mind, his face beamed with happiness. Yup, he liked this hairstyle. He'd probably keep it.

Roy sighed with pleasure, closing his eyes and sinking back in his armchair. It gave way ever-so-slightly.

It was the day to do nothing but to lean back, relax, and not to reminisce about times past. If he imagined hard enough, he would have seen serene white clouds drifting lazily by.

He looked back at the table – and arched his eyebrows a little. Surprise, surprise, his first visitor had come early.

"Pichu," he nodded in the Electric Pokémon's general direction. The little mouse had scampered up onto the table without him noticing, and now was cowering at the very edge of it. At the mention of his name, Pichu was startled and startled to topple over, swinging his paws in a circle.

Roy watched the exaggerated balance show before Pichu lost the fight against gravity, disappearing behind the table and out of sight. He couldn't help but snicker a little, his little "hmm hmm hmm" of laughter echoing in the small room.

"Don't worry too much about it," he nodded.

Pichu sat down on a chair. It was painted white. Pichu's face peeked over the top of the table. He always looked quite adorable, Roy mused for a second.

Of course, being one of the youngest in the group, he was one of the most traumatized when it happened. From his expression then, he had looked completely positively mentally scarred for life.

Roy shrugged his shoulders. What he wouldn't give to know if Marth and the rest were still alive.

The details were a little blurry, and no one knew the truth, really. Rumor had it that there was infighting amongst the tournament participants, and the resulting melee left a couple dead.

It all happened so fast. The Smashers had disappeared without a trace. Where the Mansion once stood was now a blackened, charred mess and no one there to claim it. It used to be a place where heroes were worshipped, a Pantheon in spirit and a work of beauty in truth. Golden statuettes of each Smasher had lined the Great Hall, glistening in the reflection of embers.

The gold had been looted, or melted. Not even the great pillars had survived. Not a stone had remained atop another. It was as if, as they might have whispered, the gods of the world had been angered – one wipe and the world as they knew it was destroyed by fire and ice and lightning.

No Smasher – as far as he knew, or heard – ventured back to the ruins. They simply disappeared into obscurity. They were never heard of again.

Those that survived, at any rate.

They say the mysterious entity that floated in between the shadows did it. Or that's what he thought, at any rate. None of the others would have any of his nonsense. They thought he did it, they thought he had a role to play in their downfall. They thought he did it, they thought he started the fire that nearly killed every single last one of them.

They thought he was crazy.

Crazy. Ha. Roy sniffed a little, crinkling his nose haughtily. They refused to believe him, they refused to give his theories any credit. They'd rather blame him than the… the thing he knew was lurking everywhere.

After all, he was only a mere mercenary, wasn't he?

Young Link glanced in his direction.

The old and new Smashers alike. Their names floated into his thoughts: Mario, Link; Sonic, Snake; Lucario, Olimar. What he wouldn't give to know if they were still alive.

He hoped they weren't.

He'd have dreams about it at night, torturous dreams that tempted and mocked him and rendered him helpless, sobbing inconsolably like a baby. He'd imagine a hand punching through the dust and ash, revealing the gasping, choking, soot-black, ash-white, but alive face of Ike or Wolf. He'd cry and tell himself no it cannot be and wish the dream away into blackness.

But right now he shook away those shreds of doubt, displaying only confidence and power on his features. The two other guests sat there silently on the floor, while he on his chair surveyed all around him.

…Young Link? Young Link must have come in when Roy was deep in thought. He hadn't heard the silent warrior, the Link padding up to the table and seating down, comfortably, unannounced. Hm. He seemed a little green.

"Mewtwo isn't coming," he announced. Young Link glanced over at Pichu, and Roy detected a shiver of worry pass through the two. No matter.

"Probably thinks himself too important for a small tea gathering, eh? Doesn't matter, though, you two drink up." Roy continued, arching his left eyebrow up in humorous resignation. Obediently the two raised their cups to their lips and drank silently.

He slumped back into his chair. It still felt a little uncomfortable, despite the cushioning.

"Right then, gentlemen. First order of business – our return to the Mansion."

His subjects gave a visible start, their coffee silently spilling out of their knocked-over glasses. Pichu hastily wiped it off the table with a lace handkerchief, its edges tattooed with the same red thread that wound its way around the cups.

"Surprising, eh?" Roy nodded once. "But it's time we reclaim what was ours."

Young Link made to protest, but thought better about it and chose to remain silent. Roy narrowed his eyes at him. Young Link hastily brought his kettle up to his lip, sipping noiselessly and breaking eye contact.

"I know there's nothing there now. But imagine what we could do with what is there." Roy would have brought down an emphatic fist on the table, but his extremely comfortable chair prevented him from doing so. He settled for a very emphatic tone and a half-constipated expression.

"We'll rise from the ashes. Scorn those that thought they'd leave me behind. Burn down any last thing that reminds me of them!" The last word was spat more than said. Images of accusation, feelings of red, vivid colour ricocheted through Roy's body, convulsing him slightly.

At this, both Young Link and Pichu appeared invigorated. Pichu nodded enthusiastically, causing his blue goggles to slide into place around his eyes. Young Link stopped sipping his tea and blinked once, then started nodding too.

Roy grinned, and would have rubbed his hands together. This would be brilliant. Perfect. Wonderful. Simpl-

Click. Creeeeeeeeeeeak.

He struggled up, sitting up bolt upright. Pichu and Young Link were already one step ahead of him, having already set down their pencils and staring at the door, which was now slowly swinging open on its hinges.

He wasn't sure at first, but now it was clear. Two figures, clad in white, moved into the room with practiced ease. One was a little in front of the other, looking a little more imposing and far more calm. Roy felt as though he had seen him before.

But more importantly, this time, there was someone else. The second one hung back a little, on the first one's left. An occasional twitch caused it to convulse rather violently once every couple of seconds.

Roy drew in a deep breath.

In a steely voice barely concealing his emotions, he asked.

"What's he doing here?"

The first figure moved forward a little.

"What's he doing here?" Roy lost all composure, now positively screaming. He tried to stand upright, but somehow he couldn't. The armchair itself seemed to hold him down, its (very comfortable) cushions suddenly growing much heavier and keeping him imprisoned (very comfortably).

He writhed and convulsed in its grip, suddenly bearing a resemblance to the odd second figure. His entire body felt a little rigid, but he overcame that in his rage and desperately tried to stand upright. Perhaps if he calmed down a little he might be able to gather his wits together, but within Roy, emotion wrestled with reason and won.

Master Hand loomed over him.

"You okay?"

Roy suddenly calmed down, smiling sweetly at the Hand. All previous display of aggression and malice and outright hate suddenly vanished, replaced by a plastic grin.

"Of course I'm okay," his voice suddenly became high and sing-song through gritted teeth, the steel barely concealed under the velvet. The insincere smile still plastered on his face, Roy slowly struggled back into a sitting position. In his comfortable, cushy, chair.

Very comfortable.

"Okay. I just came to check on you, you know." Roy nodded, his smile widening into a grin. It reached as far as it would go, a toothless curve of the mouth that resembled more grimace than grin.

"Please, do go. I was just in the middle of an important tea session," Roy politely hissed. "You've let in a drought, you see, and I know Pichu quite doesn't like his tea cold."

Pichu twitched nervously, obviously not used to being addressed personally by him. No matter. Pichu was quite the unsung character, he did deserve some recognition from higher authority. Like him.

The figure turned and stared, seemingly taking in each character in turn.

"Alright then. Till next time."

"I won't see you out, then," Roy murmured, saccharine through gritted smile. Master Hand turned and left, but his counterpart hung around for a second more, seeming to stare curiously at Roy. The white figure took a step closer, observing Roy like he was some exotic animal exhibit.

Roy barked like a dog, snapping his teeth together and growling.

The figure jumped, and nearly fell over himself in his haste to exit. As it left, the door swung back into place, and peace returned to the room.

Roy turned back to his subjects, a fuzzy green splotch on one side and an indistinct yellowish blur on the other. The teacups and their engravings suddenly became clearer, the little wiry designs taking on a life of their own, twirling and dancing on the fine china. Suddenly, as one, the ribbons twisted into shapes, taking on the shape of the letters in an elegant cursive scrawl.

He stared intently at the cups for a while more. He tried to reach for them, but found he couldn't.

It didn't matter, because now the cups were floating. The nearest one gravitated towards him, slowly spinning on its axis. The red ribbon around its tip seemed to unravel and wind into the air around it, forming into familiar yet indistinguishable letters.

The lines were still marching, but the type was flowing around and off the rim of the cup, onto the table. Like spilled tea the words spread onto the table, then onto the floor, climbing up onto the walls and his chair and Young Link's clothes. Soon, the entire room was filled with the pretty letters, made out of the same flaming red ribbons as his hair, dancing and moving dreamlike, everywhere.

It was only the same few letters. He knew them very well.

And now, the strings of red were etched everywhere, splaying like an odd spiderweb, with all of its intricacy and beauty. In place of boring white string were scarlet letters, miniature words marching along a line. And they were everywhere.

Everywhere.

"Well then, don't worry." Roy smiled, a happy smile, having determined that all his problems were behind him. He was secured. There was a slight pain spreading along his wrists, but surely that shouldn't be a problem at all.

This was what he had always wanted all along, his two loyal aardvarks and an entire white cushiony world to his own, and just a spot of the best Earl Gray.

A mere mercenary? No more. From now on he would be more than that.

The ribbon twisted throughout the room, one continual stream simply resonating soundlessly throughout the empty room. One beautiful tendril – the sweet, blood-red thread – curled towards him, gently winding itself around his head, caressing it with layer after layer of letters.

King Roy nodded, shifting his Crown slipping onto a more comfortable position around his brow. He leaned back on his throne, nodding benevolently to his loyal subjects. "Drink up, drink up." His smile widened just a little, as he closed his eyes and started to laugh like someone who was going through the best day of his life.

This would be the start of something beautiful.

RoyRoyRoyRoyRoyRoyRoyRoy

"Look, he's at it again."

The old doctor turned impatiently, peering into the cell. From a small glass window set in the door, he saw the figure within laughing his head off, snatches of his breathless mirth issuing through the thick soundproof door.

The figure was a sorry sight, a redhead with hands behind his back, secured with an old off-white straitjacket. The padded cell he was in had nothing or no one else – nothing for him to torture himself with other than his own inner demons. And right now it seemed as if his inner demons had told him the funniest joke on the whole earth.

The doctor, however, tortured himself by filling out the useless forms which now rested on the table.

"He's completely mad." The younger apprentice murmured, turning his gaze away. The old doctor couldn't help but toss back a quick remark in between ticking a box labeled "Diagnosis".

"Yes, yes, he is. Why else would he be in a nuthouse like this? And you. Stop scratching your back like that. It's disgusting."

"I can't help it. First day on the job, not a very good impression, hm? Not used to the doctor-ish robes. I swear, it must be the warm climate or some – "

"Save your excuses," the doctor snorted. "I think I've some ointment for itch in the other room. That is, if none of the other inmates have drank it yet." He got up, leaving the room, muttering to himself about the idiots he had to work with. The apprentice eagerly trailed behind him, trying to swing the door inwards with one hand as he left, muttering to himself about the itch he had to work with.

The door swung inwards, but it stopped short of being completely closed. It didn't have the soft click of assurance, but no one really cared – in the grand scheme of things, it probably wouldn't matter at all.

The apprentice looked backwards once. The doctor called impatiently, stethoscope swinging wildly – comically – on his chest. He turned, disappearing down the hallway, falling into step behind the doctor, who was now irritably recounting how crazy people were nowadays.

The door stayed that way for a couple of minutes, ajar yet not ajar, seemingly secure but actually unlocked. In all the quiet hustle and bustle of institutions, it was quite quickly forgotten, and time passed in its languid, slow pace.

After all, the soundproof door was locked. Snatches of singing could be heard coming from within.

There was no wind, but there was the sound of something toppling to the ground with a soft crash coming from within the room. Glass splintered quietly; a dying shriek partially muffled, and then was crunched softly underfoot. Once. Then again. And again.

The clock on the wall ticked, the sound echoing in the empty corridor. One second. One. Tick.

With an ominous creak that no one heard, the improperly shut door began to swing outwards once again.