Okage Hearts

Chapter 11

I still don't own Okage or Kingdom Hearts, judging by how none of my contacts have said that Hell has frozen over.

Ari woke up hearing people arguing over percentages. What the percentages were for, he didn't know yet, but he was certain that he wouldn't like the result. Opening his eyes to greet whatever it was that he would have to deal with, Ari found that the room was full of a divided group of people, one to his left, and the other to his right. On his left, made of blackness, glowered Stan, accompanied by a barely interested Kisling and a floating James. On his right, dressed in red, Princess Marlene stood, looking irritated but intent. Beside her were a calm Beiloune and an irate Rosalyn.

"Ninety-eight/Two, my favor!" Stan shouted, "He was my Slave in the first place."

"Ninety/Ten, my favor," Princess Marlene said, "Intentional or not, he assaulted my person."

"Eighty-nine/Eleven, my favor," Stan counter-bid for whatever it was of Ari's they were haggling over, "I have more use for his shadow than you do."

"I don't know what's going on, but I already don't like it," Ari muttered, not expecting to be heard. Much to his surprise, Princess Marlene turned her head down to look at him, having evidently head him.

'How could she have heard me?' he thought, 'Only Julia and sometimes the baker usually hear me on my first try to talk.'

"I'm afraid that this matter doesn't require your enjoyment," she said in a controlled tone that seemed almost familiar to Ari, "As you assaulted me, you are required to be my servant, but, due to your previous commitment to Evil King Stanley Hihat Trinidad the XIV, I need to bargain for what percent of you I will get. Eighty/Twenty, my favor. I have more use for a Keyblade user than you do."

"Seventy-five/Twenty-five, my favor," Stan returned, "He's my most useful Slave and I hold him second only to James among my followers."

"Seventy/Thirty," the Princess responded, a twinkle in her eye.

"Deal," Stan said, assuming that he was going to get the Seventy Percent.

"My favor," the Princess added as she shook Stan's hand, sealing the deal, "I could do with company that's my age. No offense, Beiloune."

"None taken, your Majesty," the butler said, clearly bearing no ill will toward the Princess. As this exchange took place, Stan grumbled to himself over being tricked and returned to Ari's shadow while James left to do whatever it was he did.

As he rose from the table that they had evidently placed his unconscious body onto, Ari decided to not kill himself, just yet. Why should it matter to him who owned what percentage of him at the moment? He was going home soon. They had beaten the Bubble Evil King, and Stan had already promised him leave of absence for this time. He couldn't wait to tell Julia what he had gone through. He was going home and he was keeping his promise. What could possibly go wrong?

Deciding that his day was going to go well, Ari began to head for the door.

"Where do you think you're going, Servant Ari?" a voice he was already getting angered by asked. Why couldn't anyone just let him go home and rest without question? Was that so hard?

Maintaining his decorum outwardly, as he always did, he turned to Princess Marlene and said, in as polite a tone as he could muster with his nearly silent voice, "I'm on leave, Your Highness, as per a prior arrangement with Stan. As such, I'm going home, Your Majesty."

"Very well," Marlene said calmly, again surprising him by hearing his voice so easily, before adding fifteen words that Ari did not particularly enjoy hearing, "Beiloune will go pack my belongings and we shall go as soon as he returns."

"Beg pardon, Your Majesty?" Ari asked, hoping against hope that he didn't hear what he though her heard.

"Well, it would hardly be seemly for the Servant of the Princess to be away from the Princess he serves, would it, Keyblade wielder?"

"No, it wouldn't," Rosalyn answered for him cheerily, "That is a very good point, Your Highness."

Ari wasn't sure whether he should feel betrayed or amused. On the one hand, Rosalyn definitely tossed him into this situation. On the other hand, watching her fret and fawn over the Princess was amusing. Meanwhile, he either had to wait for the Princess to be ready to go and get to introduce a real Princess to Julia, albeit at the price of having to deal with another person who thought of him as a commodity to keep around, or head out before she had the chance to come along and wind up imprisoned or executed. Deciding to go with the lesser of two evils, he sat down and waited until Beiloune got there and the entire group headed out. And so, the boy who had left Tenel with a Keyblade and an Evil King as a living shadow set out to return with the Keyblade and the Evil King as the living shadow, but also with a somewhat unhinged Hero (Heroine?), an overly enthusiastic scientist, a butler who made him feel uncomfortable, and a Princess who now, for all intents and purposes, owned Seventy Percent of him. Upon mentally tallying up this headcount, Ari decided to never think his day was going to go well again.

Upon arrival in Tenel, Ari noticed that the Circus Tent had recently left, as the post holes were freshly emptied. Continuing on, he decided to head to the village before he went to his house, having decided to see Julia to let her know he was fine. Upon entering the village, he headed straight to the Inn, planning on asking her father if he knew where she was.

"Excuse me, sir," Ari said for the tenth time, finally getting a reaction, "Do you know where Julia is?"

"Who?" the Innkeeper asked, looking confused.

"Julia," Ari repeated, "You know, your daughter?"

"What are you talking about, Ari?" the Innkeeper asked, clearly not understanding what Ari was talking about, "You know I've never had children. Wow, your trip must have gotten you all addlepated. Maybe you should check in with your family, get a good night's sleep."

Ari, unable to figure out what was going on, decided that he'd probably be better off heading home. As he walked, still being followed by the group, Ari muttered, "Stan, you remember Julia, right?"

"Who?" Stan asked in confusion, rising from Ari's shadow.

"Julia, my best friend, the blonde girl I was talking to before we went through all of this," Ari answered, trying to figure out what was going on.

"Slave, I don't remember a girl who spoke to you other than Linda, who I know wasn't in this village, and had met you after our quest started," Stan said, returning to his customary spot, "Are you feeling well, Slave? Maybe this vacation was a good idea after all."

After that statement, Ari was extremely confused and continued to try to understand what was going on. His thoughts were interrupted when Princess Marlene walked up to him and asked, "Who's Julia?"

When he turned to face the Princess, he was very surprised to see her eyes somewhat narrowed at him. Confused by her dark expression, he merely answered, "She's a girl I remember, but no one else seems to. Wherever she is, she's my best friend, and once I'm done with all of this adventuring, I'm going to look for her, Your Highness."

At his words, the Princess' expression seemed to soften as she placed a hand on his shoulder and said, "I'm sure you'll find her, Servant Ari."

"Thank you, Your Highness," Ari said as they got closer to his home.

Then, much to Ari's surprise, Princess Marlene grabbed his hand and said, "If you're in need of a best friend, I'm willing to take that role for you, if you wish."

And with that said, the group of six very different individuals walked through the gates of Ari's house and an interesting meeting was soon to take place.