Dedicated to Bob Churchich, loving grandfather.
Special thanks to my friend for coming up with tartantucats and inspiring the idea of rattlefrogs. Also helping her out with the latest few chapters so far of her Akham City fanfic on Deviant Art. Her account, where Arkham City Days can be found, is Freddykreuger4eva.
To reiterate, I will not approve any guest reviews. If reviewing is important to you, you should get an account here! On the other hand, if you just have something you want to say to me but not an FF dot net account, my e-mail is on my profile, as are my instant messenger names. I'm happy to talk to people. I just hate it when I can't reply directly to them because they don't have a return address on their reviews.
Finn woke up early the next morning, finding his beloved not where he had seen her last. Instead of sleeping peacefully in his arms, she stood by the mirror, staring into it. There was something sad about how she was standing, but her face was firm with determination. When she saw Finn coming up behind her in the mirror, her hardened facade broke. She turned, smiling tenderly at him.
"Good morning!" She cheerfully threw her arms around his neck.
"What's wrong?" He asked her, hugging back. Her smile fell away as she considered the question.
"I was...I was just thinking about...well, something that could help a lot in the upcoming fight...but...I'm hesitant..." She told him, pulling away and staring at the ground. Just as Finn was about to ask her what idea she had in mind, he noticed her fingertips idly brushing over the ring she wore. "Will you still love me when the fighting is over?" She asked, her eyes beginning to glow as sparks welled up inside them. He pulled her back into his arms.
"I'll always love you, Edana. But you don't have to do that. We're gonna make it through this." He moved back a bit as he saw the door open. Gummy entered along with Jake and Marceline.
"Marceline?" Finn asked, confused. "What are you doing here?"
"I got bored, I saw Jake following a goblin, so, I followed Jake while he followed the goblin."
"Is that what you were doin'?" Jake pondered for a moment. "If you're bored enough for that, you wanna help us win a war?" Marceline rolled her eyes.
"War is but one means through which the transient borders of mortal realms are changed. Such things are beneath me, and as a whole inconsequential to my immortal existence. Plus, I try to stay out of politics. Don't have many other Vampires around that I can rally to the cause, y'know?" Edana knelt before her. "Uh, what are you doing?"
"Please, Queen of Vampires, I beseech thee, aid us in this time of need." Everyone else joined the Flame Princess in kneeling. Marceline crossed her arms and rolled her eyes.
"Fine, but I'm not getting my people involved in this. I mean, I can't even stand them. They're a bunch of jerks. So, if you've got something for me to do that doesn't have to do with throwing some vampire soldiers into the mix-"
"Reconnaissance!" Gummy interrupted. "They're still a few days' march from the city. Our scouts have only ventured near enough to survey them through a spyglass, but surely you, m'lady, under cover of darkness, would be able to infiltrate and appraise their forces!"
"Ugh. That's boring!" She frowned. Finn thought for a moment.
"You could...scare them all a bunch when you're done?" He offered.
"...Yeah, ok. Shake up their confidence, make 'em panic. Good call, Finn." Finn smiled, even though he hadn't thought of the psychological advantage.
"By the way, Marceline, can you call me Pen in front of the other goblins? I'm pretending to be someone else because I don't like being their king. They don't let me do anything."
"Sure. No problem." Marceline stepped down out of the air, walked over to the wall, waked straight up it, and became a writhing mass of shadows in the corner of the ceiling. "I'm gonna take a nap." She said, her voice slightly distorted. "Wake me up in a few hours to go get you your intel."Finn nodded at her as he sat down on the bed.
"Gummy, can you take us to the armory?" He asked, smiling.
"Oh, no, King Finn. Only members of the goblin army may take weapons from the royal armory!"
"Is that the rule?" Finn asked. Gummy nodded, frowning. "And that's exactly how it's written?" Another nod from the royal head of staff. "Then there's no problem. I just wanted to see if I could get a little bit of armor. If the rule's just about weapons, armor should be fine, right?"
"Great. So where is it?" Finn asked, heading out of the room and picking a random direction. Gummy quickly corrected his course and took him to the armory. Finn tried on a few pieces, picking out a pair of leather gloves, leather bracers, and leather grieves. Jake took ten pairs of steel gauntlets and stuffed them all into his polymorphous body.
"Dude, you think you're gonna need all of those?"
"Of course. I'm gonna be throwin' all kinds of crazy punches. They won't know what hit 'em. And then I'll tell 'em I did it. And they'll be all, 'oh, Jake, you're so strong! You beat our butts with your twenty hands of punching awesomeness!' Y'know?" Finn chuckled, smiling.
"Totally. Now let's get back to the bedroom." After they ate breakfast, Finn and Jake sparred in the training fields, Finn using a large stick instead of a sword as Jake struck from several fronts at once with arms covered in extra thick skin, his torso thin and tight as a result. They trained for hours as Edana headed to the archery range. She instructed several of the guards to throw bean bags at her as she practiced. It wasn't long before she was able to dodge incoming fire as she incinerated her targets. What she could not dodge, she would burn. After a few hours of practice and training, the trio settled down for lunch. Finn ate his sandwich hungrily as Jake made one for Edana.
"I should probably try to learn to prepare my own food at some point..." She pondered as she took a bite.
"You just worry about the fight. You'll have plenty of time for that later." Finn told her, sounding a bit worried.
"You need to chill out." Jake told him, stuffing his own sandwich into his gaping maw. "Getting stressed is gonna make you stiff. You gotta be loooooose." To punctuate his sentence he began stretching and waving around to illustrate his incredible flexibility.
"I...I know. We can do this...Jake, can you help them with some, like, barricades and stuff? Or, dig a big trench around the city or something?" Jake nodded and set to work as soon as he finished chewing.
"My turn then?" Edana asked as they found themselves alone in the training yard.
"What do you mean?"
"This morning, you asked me what was wrong. Now it's my turn to ask you the same question, I think." Finn frowned.
"This...this isn't going to be like Scorcher...it's not even gonna be like a maze or a dungeon or something. This is a big honkin' mess of a battle. There's gonna be tons of people and monsters fighting and we're gonna be smack dab in the middle of it...what if you get hurt?"
"You'll just have to protect me." She said, smiling softly, though she had tears in her eyes.
"I...I'll do my best, but...It's gonna be chaos out there, Edana..."
"I know. That's why I'm not in the front lines." Finn cocked his head. "I'm magical, fire based artillery, Finn...I go in the back of the army and lob fireballs at the enemy...that's my job. Your job is to keep them from getting to me." She kissed his cheek. He tightly wrapped his arms around her waist, sighing lovingly.
"You're right...I won't let them touch you." He told her, smiling a bit. Finn began training with the goblin soldiers, teaching them tips and tricks for combat he had gathered through years of adventuring, as Jake continued work on fortifications, and Edana resumed her practice, focusing more on dodging than she had before. She didn't feel particularly worried about her ability to avoid injury, but she saw how worried Finn was, and that had sucked the confidence right out of her.
Hours passed, as they tend to do, and the sun fell beyond the horizon as the group gathered in the royal guest chambers. Finn began poking Marceline with a broom handle. "Marceline. Marceline, wake up. Marceline." He prodded her for a while before she finally drifted down from the ceiling, reverting to her humanoid form. She gave a mighty yawn, stretching far beyond human capacity as she did, and looked around.
"Where...oh right, goblins. War. That stuff. Night time yet?" She asked, scratching her back. Finn nodded, and she flew out the balcony door at ridiculous speeds. As they waited for her to return, they went ahead and had the royal chef bring them some dinner.
She came in the balcony door, cackling, a few hours later. "OH GROD! That was SO fun. Haven't caused a panic that big in a while!" Gummy quickly rushed to her side.
"Marceline." She insisted, glaring at him threateningly.
"Er, yes, what information do you have for us?" She sighed, thinking back to before she got to cause her huge panic.
"Well, let's see, about two Battalions of Earclopses, about a quarter of them will be able to be mounted on Tarantucats. They got a squadron of Rattle Frogs, and about fifty Scarepions." Finn scratched his head.
"Scarepions? Aren't those the little scorpions that wear wigs?"
"No, those are hairpions." Jake corrected. "Scarepions are the giant ones with the fear venom."
"Right. I don't know how this guy got all these monsters together, but he seems to have a knack for controlling them. Anyway, I did my part. Also bought you guys some time by freakin' 'em out. I think I'm gonna head home."
"Thanks for the help, Marceline!"
"No prob, Finn. Kick some butt out there for me, okay?"
"You got it!" All of them waved to the Vampire Queen as she floated out the balcony window once again, this time at a much more leisurely pace. Gummy ran out of the room, quickly returning with a map of the surrounding area and some small statues to represent forces on both sides of the coming battle.
"Well, King Finn, would you like to begin planning a strategy?" Finn looked at Gummy for a moment as he thought. As soon as he opened his mouth, he saw Jake shaking his head, making him rethink what he was going to say.
"...I'm not here to plan the battle, Gummy. I'm just here to fight in it." He finally answered. "I don't know the first thing about how troops should work. It's usually just me and Jake, and we don't...y'know...have the lives of the goblin army riding on our shoulders..." He looked downcast as Gummy's face began to reflect resignation to living under Xergiok's rule once more.
"I know something about troop movements and basic tactics..." Flame Princess spoke up, but immediately regretted it as she saw all of them turn to her, excitement and hope on their faces. "But...Not for this situation...The Fire Kingdom has only ever worried about annexing other lands...Which is easy, because the only tactic we really need is to make it hotter...we don't have to defend because only we can stand the heat..." She frowned. "I...I'm sorry, I should've thought before I spoke..."
"Actually, that gives me an idea." Jake smiled. "We just call in your daddy, and he has his army help the goblins!"
"Jake, you're not listening...the only real strategies we learn or practice involve burning things to the point where our enemies can't live in a place anymore. If we do that here, the Goblin Kingdom would be burned apart..." She looked down to the floor, sparks glinting in her eyes. "Again..." She added, quietly. Finn put a hand on her shoulder, frowning. Bringing in an outside army probably wasn't a good idea...at least...not from the Fire Kingdom... He suddenly brightened, grabbing his phone out of his pack and dialing it frantically.
"PB? It's Finn. The Goblin Kingdom is going to be at war soon...It's their old king, Xergiok. He's awful and abusive and a total butt face, and...Yeah, we're gonna help in the big battle, but...No, nobody...yeah, we'd really...if you'd just...oh. Ok. See you soon!" He hung up. Within the hour, PB walked in the room's door, dressed as a general, or, at least, a general who wears only shades of pink and purple. The Morrow was visible through the window, flying off into the distance. Moments later, she was fully briefed on the situation, and began planning out their defense, adding to the equation the banana guard troops that would be arriving during the battle to capture the enemy in a pincer maneuver.
Recognizing that they were probably superfluous until it came time to be given their instructions, Finn and Edana went out on the balcony, staring out into the night, as Jake wandered down to the kitchen to get something to eat.
Finn looked upward at the stars, sighing. He turned around, looking up, and smiled, taking Edana's hand.
"Finn?" She asked, unsure, as he stepped up onto the railing.
"Come on." He told her, smiling. She shuddered at the prospect of being on such unsure footing so far above the ground, but something in his smile pushed all her fears aside. He climbed up onto the roof, pulling her up with him. She hugged him tightly, feeling a bit panicked from that brief moment where she had nothing under her feet. As the panic subsided, she still held tight to him, blushing a bit. He smiled down at her, but burying her face in his chest wasn't why he brought her up here. He slowly peeled her off, and laid down on the sloped roof, looking up at the stars. As she followed suit, she smiled. She'd never felt so encompassed by them before. The whole night sky was almost all that was in her field of vision, the only exception being the charming young man to her left.
"Things are gonna be a little hectic..." She said quietly. "What with all the preparations for battle..." Finn nodded, knowing where she was going with this.
"Don't worry. Even if we have a little less time for stuff like this, we'll have plenty of time once the fighting is over." She smiled at him, and nodded a bit.
"The stars are so beautiful..." She sighed, turning back up to face them. "Thank you for bringing me up here...how did you know about this view?"
"I didn't. But I thought it might be here, so we came up to check." He turned to her and smiled. "That's what adventuring is about. Seeking out stuff that you don't know if it's there. And fighting monsters. And getting treasure. Man, adventuring's about a lot of stuff..."
"Well, this view counts as a treasure to me." She sighed, looking to him once more. He nodded in agreement before scooting over towards her, softly kissing her.
"I love you..." He said, smiling.
"I love you too, Finn..." The two of them spent hours laying on the roof of the tower of the Goblin Kingdom's palace, eventually falling asleep beside one another. An act that, in the morning, their stiff backs and sore muscles seemed to be trying to scold them for. They were found on the roof in the morning by Jake, who awoke them and brought them to the Castle's dining hall, seating them, of his own accord, between him and Princess Bubblegum.
"Where were you two all night?" She asked.
"We were on the roof." Finn told her, smiling.
"Yeah, we fell asleep looking at stars." Edana blushed. Bubblegum's face faltered, but settled back into a steady smile.
"What a romantic experience it must have been!" She said, smiling at them both. Edana had seen the change in her expression, and put a hand on her arm.
"Could you come with me for a moment?" Bubblegum frowned, nodding.
"We'll be right back." She told the boys, walking away from the table and into an empty hall. She put a hand on Edana's shoulder. "You're very observant..." Edana nodded in response. "I know you saw me grimace, but please, don't worry about it. I'm fine, ok? It's just...there was a time when, well, he would've made sure I was involved in finding some wonderful view..."
"That's not what I wanted to say..." Edana broke eye contact, staring at the floor. Bubblegum looked at her, worried, and placed a hand on her shoulder. "Bonnibel...You know I'm going to be fighting to protect these people, right?" The elder of the two princesses nodded. "I... Well, it's going to be dangerous, and...Finn kind of made me realize how big the risk to us is...And even though magic artillery would go in the back of an army...I'm still a big glowy target."
"Don't worry. We'll have you well protected." Bubblegum said with a tender smile.
"Bonnibel, stop it." Edana's voice grew firm as she stared into Bubblegum's eyes. "I...I need to know he'll be ok if something happens to me...I need to know he'll be able to be happy... If...If I die, then I want you to..." There were tears in her eyes. Bubblegum hugged her tight.
"You already know why I can't...The obligations it would force on him would be unfair..." Edana cried into Bubblegum's shirt, singeing it.
"But...but he'll still be happy...and...and..."
"It's a moot point anyway, because nothing will happen to you." She walked away, making some notes on a small piece of parchment as she headed back to the mess hall. Edana stood by the door, watching after her, confused, for a moment, before hurrying back to her seat between Finn and Bubblegum, still unable to keep herself from feeling guilty for coming between them.
Throughout the meal, Finn often watched her, worried by her suddenly becoming so taciturn. As they finished eating, he approached Bubblegum, Edana taking some time to tend to her own needs in the restroom.
"Princess Bubblegum?" He asked, watching her scribble on a piece of paper. She looked up at him, and smiled.
"What's up, Finn?"
"What did Edana want to talk to you about?" Bubblegum frowned at him, thinking of how to respond.
"Alright, Finn," She sighed, "Let me ask you this: If she wanted you to know what she had to say, wouldn't she have said it at the table? Or asked you to come with us?" Finn frowned at this.
"Yeah, you're right...I'm just worried..."
"I understand that, but you have to trust in her. Have faith in her judgment. What she said wasn't something for you to hear, and even if it was, don't you think it's kind of rude to come to me to ask what she wanted to talk about, instead of asking her?" Finn considered this for a moment, and nodded sadly.
"You're right. Thanks, PB." He gave her a quick hug before taking a seat to await Edana's return, which did not take long at all.
As soon as she entered the room, he hopped to his feet and gave her a tight hug. Of course, given how open they were with their affections, she didn't see this as anything strange at all, and eagerly returned the hug. He contemplated asking her about what she said to Princess Bubblegum, but decided to just enjoy the calm before the coming storm.