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May 13, 2013

I Hraet You (56)

Beat 56: The Foundation of a Good Morning

“The Prince of Love has returned!”

The doors to the castle began to spread, spilling light into its grand hall.  As the doors cracked open, the servants rushed to action; a dozen of them threw the red carpet across the marble floor, and as it rolled open scores of trumpeters moved into position.  They raised their horns high and began their song of triumph, whilst maidens danced and flung about clouds of confetti.

They’d moved just in time.  For just as the first round of confetti hit the ground, the prince strode into the grand hall.  The horns began their crescendo anew as he advanced down the carpet -- a knight whose gleaming armor nearly outshone the sun.  Silver and white plates of metal rustled with each step -- graceful, agile steps, far from those of the common soldier -- and their amethyst trimmings saw neither scratch nor scuff.  He greeted those that fawned over his return with a wave, his gauntlets giving off a lustrous glow, and his violet scarves rustling in the wake. 

As he walked past cheering subjects and stone columns, he couldn’t help but smile warmly -- and then, realize that they’d yet to see his face.  An issue remedied easily enough; he pulled off his helmet and held it under one arm, allowing himself a moment to take in both fresh air and beaming sun.  And his subjects’ cheers reached a fever pitch at the sight of his smile.  His luxurious violet hair.  His glimmering hazel eyes, no less radiant from his trusted spectacles.

“My liege!  Welcome back!” they cheered -- servants, and squires, and soldiers, and anyone who’d followed him into the castle.  “Welcome back!”

And Lloyd couldn’t help but laugh.  “It’s good to be back.”

Only those within a few inches of Lloyd heard him, of course -- but even then, the intent remained clear.  A part of him thought he’d lucked out, considering that his subjects hadn’t started wrapping themselves around his ankles…again.  Then again, he had long since started welcoming affection, wherever or however it came.

“My liege!  So the rumors were true after all.”

Lloyd turned his attention ahead; sure enough, the knight captain had rushed up to greet him, and offered a quick bow.  “It is good to see you again after all this time.”

“Raise your head, Captain Grant.  There is no need for such rigidity in my presence.”

Grant nodded quickly, and began to walk alongside Lloyd.  “My apologies, sir.  I’d forgotten how much you preferred informality.”

“Well, I suppose I did spend a bit more time away than I would have expected,” said Lloyd.  “But it can’t be helped; if there’s a kingdom to protect, a prince must do his duty and rout whatever evils come his way.  Am I wrong?”

“You are not, sir.  So I take it that the northern front is safe?”

“Safe, re-fortified, and given a healthy dose of morale,” Lloyd said with a widening smile.  “Whatever malcontents may breed above us, I would think that they’ve no drive to push any further any longer.  But even so, I’d say negotiations are in order.”

“Negotiations, sir?”

Lloyd nodded.  “Their standard of living is to be improved as quickly as possible -- and thus, we shall lend our aid unflinchingly.  Those that were once our enemies shall soon enough become our closest allies; comrades and collaborators, that both of us may march towards glory.”

“Ah, I see.”  The captain gave a short laugh.  “Ever the altruist.”

“And you know, then, that there’s much work to be done.  I hope to hold a council meeting, so we can discuss the proper means of supporting them.  Base instinct suggests new trade routes and distribution of resources, but I’d gladly welcome counsel.”  He stroked his chin.  “I am nothing without my kingdom, after all; though I hold sway, I would rather use the wisdom of wise men than my own.”

“Very well, sir.  I’ll see to it that a meeting is arranged -- and of course, you’ll have input from us knights soon enough.”  The captain gestured toward the throne room.  “In the meantime, why not relax a bit?  I’d say you’ve earned the right to rest.”

“Ah, but I would so much prefer to see what’s changed since I’ve been gone!”

“And you can.”  Grant pressed a hand against the throne room door.  “I imagine there are a number of very important people who would like to see you again.”

Lloyd’s eyebrows shot up.  “Ah -- you mean…?”

“I do indeed, my liege.  Your harem lies in wait -- along with more than a few new members.”

“Oh.  Oh!  Oh!”  Lloyd stroked his chin and smiled.  “Excellent.  This will indeed require some tending to.  You’ve done a service to your country by alerting me to such a matter, Captain.  Now go.  Continue to do your duty.  And as for me…”  He swiveled around to face his people, men and women and elders and children alike.  “MY HAREM BECKONS!”

Wild cheers nearly shattered the castle walls.  Indeed, the might have if not for Lloyd and the captain waving for them to tone it down a bit.  Even then, it took Lloyd making a quick exit for them to calm down; their voices merely went from booming to clamorous.

But of course, Lloyd could stand to spend a bit of time apart from them.  His efforts had borne fruit.  The evidence stood before him -- and numbered in the hundreds.

“This is greater than I ever imagined,” he declared, fighting back a few tears.  With a slow but certain nod, he marched toward his throne, taking in the sight of those that would honor him so.  Some tall.  Some short.  Some curved.  Some flat.  Some young.  Some old.  Some hairy.  Some bushy.  Some buck-toothed.  Some fang-faced.  All of them, no matter the shape or size, bristled excitedly at the sight of the marching prince.  All of them, as if united by a single mind, crawled quickly on all fours toward the throne.

His harem -- his wombats -- were ready for action.

“And so, we come to the conclusion,” said Lloyd, taking a seat in his throne and resting his chin atop a fist.  “The culmination -- the cessation of all my desires from this worldly plane.  With this, I am complete.  I welcome you, o blessed lovers; let your fuzzy bodies swarm my own, that heart may at last know true elation!”

And the wombats were quick to provide.  Like a landslide they swarmed him, flooding him, scrabbling and scaling every inch of his body.

And all Lloyd could do, with hundreds of pounds of marsupials mounting him, was smile.  Smile and laugh.

“Excellent.  Simply excellent.”  Amidst the fur, only his smile emerged.  “Heh heh ha…HA HAHAHAHAHA!”

*

Lloyd sat up straight.  “I can never go to Australia.”

With that claim made, he slipped on his glasses and pressed a hand to his forehead.  That was quite the dream, he thought, taking a moment to wipe the drool from his mouth.  I certainly hope there was no symbolic intent to its form.  I would rather not imagine what sort of message my subconscious has in mind to render that. 

He shoved the thought out of his mind and looked around.  Oh good, I’m not being accosted by marsupials.  That’s a relief.  He’d gone to sleep mere inches from the door of his room, and that little dream had gotten him up with a jolt.  He’d been more than a little thankful that he’d cleaned it up a bit before going to bed, seeing as how he had a guest to house; Trixie slept in his bed, with limbs splayed out like a dead salamander and her mouth firing off no shortage of hog-like snorts.

That’s not quite becoming of a young lady, Lloyd thought with a smile as he stood up.  Endearing, yes, but hardly becoming.  He picked up the sheets she’d knocked onto the floor and slid them carefully over her body (but not before taking one last look at her southern-bred form).  The sun had started peeking over the horizon, which meant that his day could finally begin in earnest.

There’s much to be done, Lloyd thought as he got dressed, wearing a slight smile all the while.  And there’s much to discuss with my comrades, as well.  Doubtless I’ll need their aid once more, as I have in the past.  He hardly noticed his speed; already he’d taken to putting on his tie.  Oh, yes.  I’d bet that if I can make my strides today, I’ll be gaining even more comrades.  More friends, fighting for a worthy course.  For love…or something like it.

He slipped on his dress shoes and adjusted his bracelets; he’d set a world record for getting dressed, no doubt.  A shame he didn’t have anywhere to be.

I wonder if the others are awake as well.  He looked over his shoulder; Trixie’s knee jostled about, and flung most of the sheets back onto the floor.  Well, it is a bit early.  Maybe it’s for the best if I use this time to my advantage.  Gather my thoughts.  Come up with an agenda.  Brush my teeth.  He stroked his chin.  If I made pancakes now, I wonder -- would I wake anyone up?  It’s a risk, but one with notable rewards. 

He shook his head.  Best not to worry about that for now.  As the propellant of sorts, coming up with a sound strategy is what I should focus on.  I’ve already made a fool of myself several times before; no need to do it again.  Without entertaining others, at least.

In any case, if I’m to have my victory -- if I’m to restore what’s been lost -- then I need to tread carefully.  The reckless of the past is not to be repeated if I can help it; the first step, I think, is to build a strong foundation…and that foundation will no doubt come from righting what went wrong.  He nodded to himself and smiled.  My, my.  It seems as if the day’s just begun, and already I’m taking strides toward a better tomorrow.  I must say, planning provides quite the pleasant feeling.  Now then, we’ll just have to see if said planning comes together.               

Lloyd slipped out the door and crept outside, closing the door behind him as gently as he could.  An easy enough task; for a moment he wondered if even an elephant’s blare could wake her up.  I suppose as long as I’m the only one up, I could engage in a bit of activity on my own, he thought as he pressed a hand to his mouth.  Let’s see…I believe the proper term for such is “reconnaissance”?  I’m more than a little uncertain on my military jar-

Ka-WHIP-FLAVORED JAWBREAKER!

Lloyd spiraled and flopped down the hall, and landed flat on his back.  “Ow wow wow!” he wailed, nursing his throbbing cheek.  “What in the name of…?  I’ve no need for a carpet-laden breakfast!  We have croissants!”

He adjusted his jaw so that it wouldn’t keep hanging off his face -- but the sight of a shotgun aimed at the middle of his head put him out of the mood.     

TO BE HEARTINUED…

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