(Update: This chapter has been edited. 11/15/2016)
Don't Touch My Llama
Chapter 5: The Day My Life Was Ruined By That Horrible Girl.
*Gasp* Gee, I wonder who that "mysterious woman" is? I totally can't think who it could be.
Does everyone understand that I'm speaking sarcastically? Yes? Good.
I'd love to ruin Quillana's foreboding that she's setting up for later, but the author says that I can't. I've been out voted.
But it's not like everyone hasn't guessed.
*Cough* Yzma. *Cough*
Now you see what I had to go through. Sure, I was able to out-smart one crazy woman, but two? That's twice the crazy. You can't blame me for my behavior. I was completely set up on this one folks. It was blatant entrapment. Anyone in my position would have fallen into the same web as I did.
Let me take you back to the day after Pacha arrived with his family. We had a nice, early breakfast together, and I showed them my theme-song guy, who sang "Happy Birthday" to Tipo. (Let me tell you, paying for the copyright for that song wasn't cheap.)
Once that was over, Pacha told me that he had some business in town to prepare for the annual merchant's march before the family could meet me at El Burro's Cheezy Burrito for dinner around five.
I was glad that I would have the morning and most of the afternoon to myself before I had to be packed into a small restaurant with a bunch of kids, germ-infested play pens and greasy fast food.
I said a fond farewell to the family before going down to inspect my army, which was really my only duty for the day.
"Hey, guys. How's it going?"
Most of the troops smiled, waved or gave me a wayward salute. Their Captain gave them all a glare before they finally straightened up to military perfection.
"Okay, what do you have for me today?" I asked the Captain while rubbing my hands together. "Do I get to see some drills or mock battles?"
The Captain gave me a confused look. "I'm sorry, Your Majesty, but we have made no progress since your last inspection."
I put my hands on my hips. "Why is that?"
"On account of some of the men are still animals," he said dryly.
I looked down the line of soldiers. The cow looked down at his hooves.
"I know, but we're still looking for a cure. Yzma didn't exactly keep a recipe book," I told them apologetically. "What about the octopus guy? He's useful, right?"
"He is and he isn't," the Captain said ambiguously. "He has a deadly aim with all his arms." With a flick of his hand, he indicated the soldier to show his stuff.
The octopus soldier took a step forward. (Okay, not a step. It's like he sloshed forward.) He picked up eight javelins, one for each arm, and threw them at a target. They all hit the bulls-eye in the middle.
"YAY!" I cheered, clapping enthusiastically. "That is so awesome. Now what's wrong with that?"
"Unfortunately, if he stays out of water for more than an hour, he'll die," the Captain said bluntly.
"Oh," I groaned. "Hey, I'm sorry man," I called to the octopus.
"It's okay," the octopus called back as he slithered into a barrel of salt water.
The Captain grabbed the back of my neck and led me away from the troops, his voice down in a secretive tone. "I don't mean to be critical, Your Highness, but it would have been nice if we had Yzma in custody. I don't feel that you're safe while she's still out there."
"Dude, are you serious? She's a cat. A cute little fluffy, cuddly cat," I scoffed. "If she were right here, I could drop kick her."
"All the same, Sire, I'd like to have a few body guards with you at all time," the Captain told me with a grimace. "Some human guards."
"No. Noooo. No. Having a bunch of guys in armor following me around is waaaaay too uncool," I told him definitely.
"How about one?"
"How about none?" I replied flippantly.
The Captain grunted. "I'm in charge of your safety. If I have to, I will follow you around myself."
I grimaced. "Okay, fine. One body guard, and I get to choose."
"As long as its anyone but the cow."
The cow soldier looked embarrassed.
"Fine by me," I said with a grin.
The Captain grinned back, feeling as if he won. (Well, he actually did, but I wasn't going to act as if he had.)
"Well, Sire, then as long as you are here, perhaps you'd like to take a look at the Calvary." He gestured a rough hand at a group of men mounted on llamas. They were a tough-looking group, trying to radiate danger as their mounts chewed their cud. (There had been many complaints that the Calvary would look better on horses. I totally agreed, but unfortunately, horses aren't exactly the best for mountain passes.)
I backed away, feeling a little nervous. The sight of those long faces sometimes does that to me.
"Ahh, haa," I laughed in a high tone as I kept my eyes on the beasts. "No, everything looks great. You're doing good, guys. Keep it up." I hurried away, keeping a distance away from the shaggy animals.
A few hours later, I was strolling through my palace with my new body guard at my side. I had just briefed him on my day's schedule, including meeting with Pacha's family.
"Oh, this is going to be so much fun. I haven't been to El Burro's in ages," Kronk told me, a bounce in his step. "Tipo will love it. They give out free brownies for birthday boys. I wish it was my birthday, because I love their brownies."
I was beginning to regret my decision of having a body guard. The only thing that kept my spirits up was the Captain's face when I picked Kronk. (I never agreed to pick one of the palace guards, so I guess he didn't win after all).
Most of the time, I like hanging around Kronk. Oh, yes. I do. He makes a mean souffle and is a great guy to invite to a poker game. (Who'd thought that Kronk would have a poker face. He's an open book for the most part.) But sometimes he fixates on some childish idea and won't let it go. Then he'll talk and talk, sometimes only to himself. That's just Kronk.
"Chill out, buddy. We'll get there soon enough. I just have a few more things to do first," I told him. Just at that time, my finance guru came in with the latest tablets. As I took them, the finance guy started talking to me in rapid speech worriedly.
"What's that?" I asked, not paying attention the first time.
"Sire, I don't mean to impose, but I think you should turn away today's donation requests," he mumbled, looking down at his pointed shoes.
"And let my people go without what they need," I chortled. "No, I will not let them down."
"Ah, charity. For the good of the people," Kronk said with a smile on his big, pointy face. "Give 'til it hurts so good."
"Right. . . ." Whatever that means, I thought.
I quickly signed all the tablets before handing them back to a frowning finance guy. I didn't pay him no mind. After all, I believed that the empire could afford it.
"Alright, Kronky. Time to go," I said with a pat on his back.
"YAY!" Kronk cried out, skipping along in front of me.
I was in a good mood, so we decided to walk to El Burro's. I thought it would be nice to walk around, say "Hi" to my people and see how my donations were making them happy. However, I was completely surprised to see the streets empty. Not a soul in sight.
"Cree-py," I told Kronk, who nodded and gulped. I was getting spooked and ready to turn around when El Burro's came into view. I sighed with relief.
A face popped up in front of me, making me jump back and scream like a little girl. . .I mean, I was startled in a manly way.
"Oh, sorry," a feminine voice said. She backed away.
Now that she wasn't right in my face, I could see that she was a young woman with big, round eyes. I was startled since I thought those dark eyes were glaring at me for a while, but then became amiable.
"No, it's alright," I told her, putting on a princely smile.
The girl played with her hair in a way that made her look younger than the sixteen years I initially thought she'd be. Her hair was long, thick and straight, running down her back in a black cascade. I would have thought she was beautiful, but she looked frazzled with her hair slightly messy. There was a smudge of dirt on her cheeks, and her hands were dirty. Surprisingly, she wore a nicer dress than I thought a peasant could afford, but it was just as dirty as she was, so I gave it no thought.
I looked down at her carefully, deja vu running through my brain.
"Do I. . .know you?" I asked suspiciously.
She bit her lip in a childish way. "Uh. . .well. . .you're Emperor Kuzco, right?" she said, almost as if she were remembering her lines in a script. Her words sounded wooden.
"Yeah. . .," I said cautiously, wondering if she were one of those crazy fangirls who were going to glomp me. I glanced back at Kronk to see if he was ready to jump in front of me in case she pulled a knife or something, but the big galoot was smiling dorkily at the girl.
"Great. I was just on my way to the palace with a message for you," she said blandly.
I rolled my eyes. "If you're looking for a handout, you must fill out a form with my adviser," I said with my hands up. I was so not going to work on my afternoon off.
"No. . . No, that's not what I want. I'm here with an invitation for you," the girl said.
"An invitation?" I repeated with one raised eyebrow.
"Yes. Your people, who love you very much, want to do something in return for your generosity and kindness," she said, a big smile appearing on her face. Although she looked sincere, something about her words sounded false.
But I didn't take this as a warning. Instead, I was interested in what she had to say.
"I was sent to tell you that there will be a parade being held in your honor," she continued. Her nervousness from earlier had disappeared. She stood before me a confident young woman, her back straight and looking more mature than before. If I hadn't seen how dirty she was, I would have thought she was royalty by her posture and tone.
That was another warning sign, but I ignored it. Oh, poor, poor Past Kuzco. Why were you so naïve?
"A parade?!" both Kronk and I exclaimed together.
Kronk clapped his hands together like a child.
"Yes, a big parade. It'll have floats and balloons and acrobats and. . .clowns. . .and all sorts of things," she told me, sounding more and more excited. "And fireworks at the end."
There was a part of me telling me that this seemed to be too good to be true. Red flags flashed all over my gut, telling me to get out of there. There was something false about the girl's words, and I should have listened.
But the other part of me was thinking about the most awesome party in the world. My very own parade! It would be totally awesome. I was blind to everything else.
"Wow, that sounds great," I said, grabbing the girl by her shoulders and half-shouting it into her face. "I can't wait. This is amazing. Is it tomorrow? Or next week? I hope it's tomorrow. I can't wait."
"Uh. . .then you don't have to wait. . .because it's happening right now," she told me with a wide smile.
Suddenly my happy meter went waaaaaaaay down.
"Wha-you mean right now, right now?" I asked, sounding like a total idiot.
"Of course. Your people wanted to surprise you," the young woman said, looking completely innocent. (I should have been more suspicious. Nobody smiles that much.)
My eyes drifted over to El Burro's, thinking about Pacha's family and Tipo's friends expecting me.
"I don't suppose it could wait until tomorrow?" I asked, cringing.
The young woman's face fell. "But the performers are already here. Your people used their own money to prepare this all for YOU," she told me, her eyes expectant.
If you put it that way, I thought, then I have to go to the parade. It's my duty.
"I suppose I could go for a while," I said, thinking it over. "I can make a quick appearance and still make it to Tipo's party."
I looked to Kronk for confirmation.
"I can't think of anything that could go wrong with this plan," Kronk told me with a shrug.
I shrugged back. "Well, alrighty then. Lead the way," I told the young woman.
For a moment, the girl looked disappointed and uncertain. Then her large smile was back, and she led us down the road away from El Burro's, her back straight and tall. Everything about her seemed wrong, but like the innocent that I am, I went along.
As you can see, I was completely duped into going along with his plot, the sneaky seductress. She offered me a bite of a tasty apple, which you'd have to be super human to resist it. But guess what? That was a poisonous apple. Because she's a witch.
Oh, where was I?
"The parade," said Kronk.
Yes, the parade. Thanks Kronk.
All feelings of guilt for skipping out on Tipo's party left me when I saw The Parade. From that point on, it needed to be capitalized because of how awesome it was.
The floats were decorated with flowers of every color you could imagine; the scent was exotic and intoxicating. It was refreshing. There were thoroughbred horses pulling each one, their coats shining in the brilliant sun and their feet dancing in anticipation.
The girl leading the way stopped and bowed to me, gesturing in a graceful way to a float covered in golden flowers. The float had a wide, flowing staircase, and at the top was a throne almost an exact copy of my own.
"If Your Highness would take his place, we may begin The Parade," the girl said, her voice darker and deeper than before.
I couldn't contain myself. I took the staircase two steps at a time like it was a race, jumping into the golden throne. After situating my rump onto the cushion, I looked up and gasped.
Before me, there was a multitude of people lined up on both sides of the street, cheering and calling my name. They had flags and bouquets of flowers. Petals and confetti were being thrown all over as if it was raining colors from the sky. In the streets, there was a cacophony of performers and animals. There were jugglers throwing an assortment of items from balls to knives to flaming sticks. Dogs, cats, jaguars, horses and all manner of animals were doing tricks to the orders of their trainers. Acrobats and contortionists were leaping about, awing the crowd. Dancers pranced around, their clothing loose and covered with feathers so it looked like they were flying.
I know, I'm so good as description.
"Now this is a Parade," I said, giggling to myself. All this awesomeness was for me!
Some part of me had desired this for a long time. Since my time as a llama, I had spent a lot of time trying to persuade everyone that I had changed. I went out of my way to be nice to everyone. I especially set aside my usual greed and selfishness.
But at that time, I couldn't help but revel that this Parade was all about ME. It made me feel good. Marvelous. Stupendous. I was on top of the world. I was Emperor Kuzco. And everyone was. . .
"Uh, Kuzco. . ."
"Huh?" I asked, hearing a voice shout my name, not in joy, but plainly.
Kronk stood at the foot of the float, looking a little confused. "What do you want me to do?"
"Oh, yeah. I guess you should come stand on the float," I told him.
"Really?" he asked incredulously.
"Yeah, that's what my body guard is for," I told him. "Get up here and guard my body."
"Right!" He saluted and ran up the stairs.
Then The Parade started. It was magical. Everything went by so quickly. The longer The Parade went, the more there was to see. Every time I looked around, something new caught my attention. The people on the streets kept cheering me on, wanting me to wave back at them. I didn't notice if my arms grew tired, I was in an ecstatic state of self-importance. I vaguely remembered Kronk tapping my shoulder and whispering something, but I shook him off.
This was my time. I had spend many month making up for my selfish, greedy past. Didn't I deserve just one moment? Couldn't it be about me for an hour? Whatever warning Kronk whispered to me, it fell on deaf ears.
In all the excitement, I didn't notice that the sun had gone down until fire shot from the earth and burst into the sky. Lights danced among the stars, drowning them out with flashes and bangs. It was a symphony of sound and brilliance. For me!
I leaped out of my seat, waving my hands in the air like a conductor. The fireworks went off all around me, as if at my command. The crowd of my people oohed and aahed at the sight.
The Parade's finale had come, but I wasn't ready for it to stop. I wanted more. I wanted to gaze upon the worshipful faces of my people, feel their love and adoration upon me.
I looked down at the hundreds of faces, feeling the power of the moment rush through me. Then, in an instant, it all vanished when I saw the face of Pacha looking up at me in disappointment. By his knees, little Tipo's freakishly large eyes filled with tears.
There were no words to describe how I felt at that moment, knowing that I had let my friends down.
. . .
. . .
. . .
I told you, there are not words to describe it. It felt awful, okay.
I hated myself.