The room was in disarray—that is to say it was a disaster zone. Furniture was overturned, cushions scattered across the room, and fragments of expensive vases lined the edges of the floor.
And in the middle of the mess was Lady Chichi, a furious expression on her face reminiscent of a raging bull. Her maids had already fled in terror, along with the guards, spies, and possible assassins that were aiming to take her life. No one wanted to be within striking distance of the lady since they would prove to be a fatal encounter.
And the sole reason for her terrible mood was because her eldest son was missing. Again. And after all that effort she had put into organizing that ball to reintroduce him to higher society and he had the gall not to show up. At first she thought nerves were getting best of him and decided to give him a few moments to himself—after all, the upper class was filled with predators that would exploit any perceived weakness they saw. An overwhelmed teenager was a perfect striking point to twist the arm of the Monkey House. However, when the grace period she had allotted him had passed, she had sent a servant to bring the boy, only for that servant to return and tell her that her son wasn't in his room, nor in any of the corridors approaching the ballroom. At that point, Chichi had dropped any pretense of calm and went marching down the halls to hunt down her wayward son.
After thoroughly tearing the castle apart and putting it back together, it was discovered her son had ditched the party, leaving the castle sometime in the late afternoon. That had left Chichi enraged to the point that she had to leave the ball and resorted to destroying what ever innocent object she could lay her hands on. Never had she been so embarrassed in her whole life! Assuredly, all the other lords and ladies would be talking about her son's disappearing act for months, if not years to come. And the princesses! There had been so many disappointed ones with Gohan's absence and that was just another thing to anger Chichi. She couldn't play matchmaker or play the ladies off one another to create any love triangles, squares, or pentagons! Other than those serious reasons, it seemed the ball was a success from what one of her maids claimed.
Chichi hardly saw anything positive coming from this event. How could he do this to her, the mother he hadn't seen in over twelve years? Wasn't a long-lost child supposed to latch himself to his mother's bosom and refuse to leave her? Wouldn't he want to do his best to keep in her good grace in the off chance that he feared she would reject him—not that she would? She had expected to keep Gohan within her sights for the near future. Was twelve years of coddling too much to ask for?
The hinges of the door squeaked, causing Chichi to look towards the doorway, hoping to see her wayward son so she could give him an earful. Unfortunately, it was her husband that appeared in the room, causing the lady to growl. Turning attention back to the room, she looked for something else to break. The pickings were slim though considering she had already demolished most of the room's furnishings. It seemed she would have to move on to breaking people soon.
"Chichi, what is the matter?" she heard Goku ask her puzzled. "I have heard the wildest stories from the servants that you were in a fit of rage."
Oh, was that slow brain of her husband's still not working at full capasity? She would just have to show him what a "fit of rage" she was in. "I want my son found!" she yelled at the lord, not bothering to hide her anger. "I do not know where he got the idea that he could not show up at his introductory ball, but he has another thing coming if he believes so! I do not care if you have to drag him back in leg irons, I want him back NOW!"
The walls of the room shook from her bellow, the windows quivering almost in fright. Yet her husband just stared at her blandly, not the least affected. If she had been in her right mind, Chichi would've realized how odd that was since her husband had this instinct to cringe away from her when she was in this sort of mood. "Chichi, I believe you need to calm down. There is—"
"Calm down? Calm down? How dare you tell me to calm down! Our son was just returned to us and has now left the castle without anyone knowing the wiser and your only action is to tell me to calm myself! Do not make me crack open your skull, you moron!"
That got the correct reaction when Goku winced from the threat. "Chichi, I want you to calm yourself because I know why Gohan left. Now if you—"
"You know why?" Chichi shouted, closing in on the Monkey Lord in a flash. "You must have seen him right before he left then! Why did you not stop him? How could you just left him leave when he got back? Tell me, damn it!"
A serious look covered her husband's face instead of the familiar cowering one. The next thing Chichi knew, Goku had grabbed her by her shoulders and lifted her off the ground. Moving towards a turned over chair, he used his foot to tip it back onto its legs and then sat Chichi down on it roughly. That action startled the lady from her anger as a soreness began to move through her lower body. "Chichi, be quiet," Goku said sternly, his eyes boring into hers. "Now listen and do not interrupt me. Gohan and I had a talk before the ball and he confided in me that he was overwhelmed by all that happened in the last few days. I told him that if he wished, he could take a small journey to clear his head and he accepted. Do not fret, we will see him when we return to Vegeta, alright?"
Chichi blinked her eyes. She really had no idea how to rail against the arrangement between her husband and son. Oh, her maternal instincts didn't need a reasonable excuse to do so, but the front Goku was presenting her was draining her of her anger and hurt, replacing it only with worry. Leaning into her husband's form, she then asked worriedly, "Are you sure he will come to us in Vegeta?"
A small smile appeared on Goku's face. "I am. Our son will come to us when he is ready, of that I can assure you. We believed he would not be returned to us for over a decade; at least now we know he will be back in our arms."
Chichi took in a deep breath. She liked the sound of her son coming back. She could instill proper discipline in him when he finally came to stay with them, but for now she would allow him his youthful endeavors.
But only this one time mind you.
Piccolo sat in his cell, his legs crossed beneath him and his arms crossed over his chest. One of the few things he had learned to pass the time here was to mediate, something he hadn't done since the Demon House had been in existence. Raising a little boy had stopped him from that practice and he was now making up for lost time.
The demon really had to hand it to his young charge though, never would he have expected such loyalty from him, especially after learning his origins. Correction, believing in his origins. It was amazing what the young man chose to believe and not believe in at times that he had to wonder if there was more brain damage in his head than he let on. Still, Gohan had argued for his life to be spared and it touched Piccolo in a place he could call a heart.
He knew the Lord Goku, Lady Chichi, and the rest of the Monkey Lords weren't too pleased by one of their own protecting their swore enemy, but they would just have to deal with it. Piccolo cared not for their anger, no matter how righteous it was. The only Monkey he had any concern for was Gohan.
And what a young man he had turned out to be. Though his parenting skills were lacking, Piccolo hardly believed that the young man he had nurtured had matured into such a man of conviction. Though being in prison wasn't his first choice, the young man had been the only reason as to why his head wasn't on the chopping block now. And for all the wrong he had done to the lad, he could deal with his sentence. Twelve years, the amount of time he had been gone from the arms of his parents. It was fitting, Piccolo had to admit.
It also seemed Gohan held no ill will towards him either. Somewhere between being bombarded by the upper class' need to decorate him to fit in with them, he had managed to sneak down to the dungeon for them to talk. The young man had even expressed an eagerness for them to meet up once more, not something Piccolo had expected. Things would be different naturally, but at least they would be able to see each other as man-to-man, rather than man-to-boy. And Piccolo acknowledged that he too was anticipating such a meeting.
But until then, he had a couple of guests he would have go deal with and hopefully they wouldn't drive him too crazy.
"So why is your skin so green? Is it because you were in the sun too long? Can I be as green as you someday?" Trunks asked him from the other side of the prison bars.
"You've got some funny-looking ears too," Goten added. "Do they give you super-hearing or can you not hear anything at all? I think you can't hear anything with them cause you don't talk to me and Trunks and we ask you all of these questions."
Why these two little brats thought he was the person to annoy out of everyone in this bloody castle, he had no clue, but he was positive that they were the Monkey's last-ditch effort to make him suffer. Why else would these half-pints come visit him every single day and talk about such tedious things? One of these days he was going to tear his ears off and save himself from their inane chatter, though knowing these two they would poke and prod his bloodied ears and think it was extraordinary.
"Hey, did you hear about my big brother not showing up for the ball? My mom was so mad with him."
Oh? What was this? "Gohan was a no-show to his coming-out party?" the demon asked the two, startling them with his deep voice.
"Whoa Goten, he talked to us," Trunks said in awe. "That's so awesome!"
"Yeah! I thought only Gohan could make him talk!" Goten added.
Piccolo wanted to beat his head into a wall so badly, he almost didn't manage to resist the urge. Ignoring the two brats, he concentrated on their little gossip. So his protégé had ditched all of the ceremonies and formalities he would have to go through. The very thought pleased the demon greatly. Whether he knew it or not, the young man had given him a nice going-away present in the form of an embarrassed Monkey House. Truly, he was a child after his own heart.
All three of them.
Gohan stood by a large oak tree, rubbing a towel all over his body, drying off all the water that had clung to him from his dip in a nearby pond. He had to admit it was a good idea to filch a couple of towels from the castle when he was packing. It made drying off so much easier.
And speaking to his father, Lord Goku, had made the decision to leave so much easier. Gohan had felt like he had been backed into a corner by all the things he had been put through in the last few days, so when his father had made him that offer, he had jumped at it like a thirsty man in a desert. It felt good to be back on the road too. It was almost like everything had gone back to the way it used to be.
At this, the young man sighed. He had been so sure he could have gotten Piccolo out of jail when he had gotten back, but he had done a complete reversal and locked him up. It was a bit of relief that the green man hadn't held it against him, and he was glad that he managed to persuade those blood-thirsty Monkey Lords not to kill Piccolo, but he still felt bad that he had made the call to imprison him. Sometimes being in the role of a judge was not all it was cracked up to be.
So with his pass to leave, a quick raid in the kitchen, and all he needed packed away, he snuck out through a servants' passage and was a free man. He was sure his mother would be crossed with his decision, but he was counting on Lord Goku to handle that aspect.
However, he was disappointed in not being able to say good-bye to anyone, particularly Videl, Erasa, and Sharpner. The way he saw it, the three were back in their natural environment, or in one they were desperate to get into. He knew that Erasa's need to capture the eye of a prince would have kept her at the castle for as long as possible, and Videl would have to be reacquainted with her kinsmen now that she was back amongst the upper class. Sharpner, however, had been trouble tracking down. Apparently the blond was holding out for someone to appreciate his greatness and wanted a statue commemorated in his honor. Then he had demanded some "babes to satisfy his every hero desire" or something like that. Whether he was successful in his endeavors, Gohan didn't know, but he was quite sure that Sharpner was too occupied at the moment.
Finishing his drying, Gohan then wrapped the towel around his waist, turning his attention to his neatly stacked clothes. It was about time he got back on the road and his newest journ—
A clicking sound occurred behind him, followed by a deepened voice saying "Don't move a muscle." Freezing instantly, Gohan eyes widened. Was he being robbed? Already? And this journey was starting out so well too! He didn't even have Sharpner to blame for this one!
"Now, put your hands into the air," the voice demanded.
At that Gohan stiffened. This just couldn't end well. The only thing he had on was the towel and if he put his hands into the air, there would be nothing keeping that towel on him. Maybe he could try reasoning with this guy, surely he would understand the situation if he explained it. "I-I'm sorry, but if I r-raise my hands, m-my towel will fall and I-I'll be naked."
"I said raise them."
Well, there went reasoning out the window. Reluctantly, Gohan raised his hands into the air, feeling his towel predictably falling to the ground and pooling at his feet. The young man's face went completely red at his situation. This just couldn't end well.
"Now turn around." What? What kind of guy was this? Why would he want a naked young man to turn around and show him parts that no other man would want to see? Unless…unless he was interested in that sort of thing…
Gulping, Gohan really hoped his imagination was running too wild. Maybe nothing would happen, except being robbed and possibly tied to a tree. Yeah, that probably would be what would happen. Of course, that was the best case situation. Ugh.
Closing his eyes tightly, Gohan slowly turned around, holding himself stiffly. For several moments, he didn't hear a thing as he stood there in his embarrassment. He really didn't want to see the look on the other guy's face at the moment, especially if it confirmed his wildest thoughts. However, when nothing happened, the young man couldn't help but crack one of his eyes open to see what the robber was doing.
Instead of finding a wicked-looking man, he saw Videl standing there in her peasant clothes, a crossbow in her hands and an amused look on her face. Her blue eyes were laughing at him openly, as if this whole thing was one big joke. "Vi-Videl?" Gohan stuttered out, his face becoming even reader than before.
"You're a hard guy to follow, you know that Gohan?" the princess told him, her voice returning to normal as she shifted the weight of the crossbow in her hands. "I had to ask half of the people in the capital if they knew which way you went."
Moving one of his raised hands to the back of his head, he began scratching it sheepishly. "Umm, sorry about that—"
"Keep your hands up," Videl interrupted, causing Gohan to shoot his hand back up, unconsciously trying to raise them higher. "You mind telling me why you just left without telling anyone? Without telling me? You do know you caused a ruckus at the castle when you didn't show up."
"I did?" Gohan answered uneasily. "Well, I didn't mean to do that. I was just overwhelmed with everything up there that I wanted to get out of there. I figured you and Erasa would be busy mingling with the people there to notice me not being there."
Videl's eyes narrowed. "You know, I went through a lot of preparation to see you at that ball. Erasa even helped me out some when she wasn't worried about her own preparations. Imagine how I felt when you weren't anywhere in sight. It's not very often I get all dressed up for someone else. I think the only person that was more livid than I was, was your mother."
Gohan gulped. "Y-you don't say?" he asked nervously
"Oh yeah. Last I heard she had destroyed the rooms she and Lord Goku were staying in. I suppose she was also someone you didn't tell about your sudden urge to globetrot." She bowed her head down a bit, some of her hair falling in front of her face, hiding her. "You know, if you had just asked, I would have come with you."
It seemed Gohan had done a disservice to the girl in front of him. It made him feel bad looking at her downcast look. "I guess I should've known better."
"Yeah, you should have."
"Is there anyway I can make it up to you?"
Her head tilted up, some of her hair falling out of the way of her face to reveal a small smile. Her eyes looked him over before she said "I think we can work something out."
"What do you have in mind?"
"Just use your imagination. I'm sure you'll figure it out."
To the0blind0writer: Stories fly when you're having fun.
This isn't the first time I've had Gohan leave a place without a word. Battle Stain was the first, though this time Videl caught up to him quicker than that time, and at a much better point in time than that one lol.
And with that, Dragon Quest Z is finished. This has been a long, enjoyable ride and I'm glad Ms. Videl Son convinced and helped me write this out. Without her, this never would have been done and I thank her for that.
And a big thank to all who have read and thoroughly enjoyed this story. I've been blown away with your reception to this story and I'm very thankful for that. A special shout-out to all who reviwed this story as well. Your reviews, comments, and critiques have been a joy to read over and reply to. I thank you all.
Until next time,
RyRy tested; MaMa approved.