Dragon Knights Fan Fiction ❯ Dragon Knights Sentai ❯ Treading The Boards ( Chapter 8 )
"How's it going?" he asked to the small cadre going over the dailies.
Cernozura grunted as she made another note in the bundled paper on her lap. "If she'd just said it slightly differently, I could have written a wonderful piece around it. As it is, we'll have to redub Rath and Rune's lines. Thatz's in shot the entire time, so we can't redo his bit, unless I can come up with a very similar set of sounds."
Alfeegi made a note in his PDA. "Another set of redubs. Are there any scenes that we can use as they are?"
"All the ones with Gil should be fine," Tetheus said. "We shot every permutation of every line he could ever conceivably say and I've some stock footage in the can."
"Well done," said Lykouleon, clapping him on the back and settling in beside him. He opened a bag of popcorn and started to eat. "Let's take a look at what we got."
Ruwalk rarely visited Lykouleon at his offices, except when he wanted to feel like a high-powered business executive. The glass was smoked and glinted in the light. Every metallic surface was polished to a steely sheen. The floor made an enthusiastic click against his heels and the eavesdroppers were always impressed by a man who could get an appointment with the boss, without any notice. It was snappy and business-like and completely opposite to Lykouleon's warm and cosy home.
His friend hadn't answered his phone though and so Ruwalk ended up at headquarters, cooling his heels while the receptionist searched for the errant boss. She gave him an exasperated grin, before transferring his problem upstairs to Lykouleon's secretary and the comfortable chairs. He hummed the Happy Ruwalk song while he pushed the button for the lift, he hummed it while the lift took him to almost the top floor and he hummed it while browsing through the magazines on offer in the waiting area. In fact, he only stopped when Rath's familiar sigh broke through the jaunty air.
"I've been thinking about what you said," the young man intoned, hands in his pockets and eyes on the ground by Ruwalk's boots.
Ruwalk dropped the magazines back on the small glass table and anxiously sat forward. "Rath."
"As long as I work for my father, I'll never be able to prove that I have talent of my own."
"Rath," Ruwalk pleaded, sliding back into the chair, pushing himself forward again and eventually standing up and sitting on the arm-rest. "Lykouleon doesn't hire people if they can't do the job. You got to his notice because you're related to him, but he chose you because you're good."
Rath shook his head. "As long as I'm under his wing, I'm in his shadow. I'll always need his protection until I prove myself."
"Prove yourself?" he asked, his breath catching in his mouth and his heart thumping loudly in warning.
Rath looked him directly in the eye, for the first time since he hit puberty. "Nadil offered me a job. If I take it, then it proves that I'm more than my father's son. If my dad's greatest rival hires me, then that shows that I have something, that I deserve the breaks that I've been given."
"You're the star of our show. The critics rave about you." Ruwalk's mouth worked while his brain raced to process the information. Rath was leaving?
"Not all of them," responded Rath, shuffling his feet. "It's for my career."
"When do you start?" Ruwalk blabbed, his mind working out the vital steps to keep his best friend's son
Rath looked away. "I have to quit the show."
"You can't quit!" Denial. "You're the star!" Praise. You're under contract!" Desperation.
"Dad can't stop me if I choose to walk away." He turned and did just that.
Ruwalk grabbed his arm and pulled him back for one final warning. "Nadil's treacherous. Don't believe his promises and always keep a good friend completely separate to his influence. It saved my life."
He let go and Rath walked out. Ruwalk watched him until Kitchel intruded on the moment. "Sir, I've got Lykouleon on the line for you."
Ruwalk grabbed the phone and moaned into it: "We got a problem."
Lykouleon relayed his words to the room. "Our lead is taking an unexpected vacation." He frowned and shook his head, but the furrows stayed. "What're we gonna do?"
Cernozura sighed. "Why do I ever write anything in advance? Why do I finish early? It only aggravates me more when these idiots decide to change things."
"Sir," said Tetheus, addressing Lykouleon. "You have to speak to Rath and convince him to stay."
A ghostly grimace flitted across the producer's face. "He doesn't listen to me. The boy's stubborn. Once he makes up his mind, not even Kai-Stern can change it."
No-one caught what Alfeegi said as it was lost in a dramatic cough. "He does have a contract," he pointed out in a husky voice.
Lykouleon demurred. "I can't take Rath to court. His mother would crow about it for decades!"
At that proclamation, the room descended into brief chaos. Even the technicians, huddled over the equipment and trying to make themselves smaller whispered urgently to each other. "How do we explain that one of the knights has disappeared?" Heads turned and muttered. "We can't film an episode about him going missing without showing Rath at some point."
"What if ... the dragonlord, the dragonqueen's long lost husband," Lykouleon began. "What if he, no ... what if some clue to his disappearance shows up and Rath leaves to find him."
"And who would play this estranged husband?" asked Alfeegi, reaching for the cast-book.
"Well, I would," he said, a smile with more warmth appearing. "I'm Rath's father, after all."
"I hate when the boss gets involved with work," grumbled Cernozura, pressing so heavily with her pen that she marked the page underneath.
"I'm far more worried about the show tomorrow," sighed the producer, neatly distracting his audience.
"What show?" asked Alfeegi.
"Why the big extravaganza planned for the roof of the largest store in town, of course. I want to promote the crossover as much as possible."
"You never mentioned this," screamed Alfeegi, already punching numbers into his phone.
"It's okay, Alfeegi," replied Lykouleon, gently removing the phone from his shaking fingers. "Kitchel's dealing with it. It's her baby, but she's not going to be pleased with Rath."
"How can we hold a show with only two Dragon Knights?" asked Cernozura.
Tetheus stood up. "We need a ringer," he said. "Get the talent book."
Nohiro struggled with the concept at first. To be fair, most of his attention was on Rune, now in full Dragon Knight kit and with his wig wobbling dangerously as he scratched the scalp underneath it. "I think there's something living in it," he complained, fingers digging into his hair.
Ruwalk pulled his hands away and smoothed out the damage with a brush. "It's fine," he said. "To put your mind at ease, I'll dose it after the show."
Rune continued to scratch and Ruwalk scolded while Alfeegi and Tetheus ran Nohiro through the basics.
"...So Rath can't be here because of ill health," said Tetheus, leaning against the curtain that hid the performers from view and nearly falling through.
"...But we don't want to disappoint the fans. They'd be heartbroken if they thought that he wasn't here," continued Alfeegi. "So if anyone asks, tell them that you're the Rath from the TV show."
"...You'll be wearing the helmet for most of the show and we've given the majority of lines to the other two knights," added Tetheus, nodding away. Nohiro dumbly mirrored him.
"...They'll cover for you if you make any mistakes," interjected Alfeegi, nodding away as well.
"...The stage should be far enough away from the audience so that they won't realise that you're a different actor," said Tetheus, studying Nohiro's face and then standing between him and Rune. Nohiro looked up. "We've kept your lines simple. Just remember, when you fight the yokai, shout a lot and swing your sword wildly. The guy in the costume's good, he'll jump in the way of your blows and really sell it."
"Why do I have to do this again?" asked Bierrez, looking into the disembodied head of a foam yokai.
"Because we're paying you extra," muttered Tetheus. "Now get dressed. The show starts soon."
Alfeegi and Tetheus escaped through the thin curtain and made their way to the back of the hall. The store had placed merchandise from both Dragon Knights Sentai and Youkai Sentai on stands there. A crowd of pint-sized fans bustled around them, while waiting for the show to begin. Tetheus stopped near the Yokai Sentai stand to see how well the rivals were selling.
"It's funny," he said, reaching over the children's heads and picking up one of the Shydeman dolls on display. "I didn't notice it when we were editing the show, but that man looks just like my mother."
"Long lost relative?" muttered Alfeegi, before suddenly turning to stare at Tetheus, who shook his head sadly.
"He favoured my father," he said softly, replacing the doll and turning away.
The insistent doorbell woke Cernozura from her reverie. She pushed herself away from her desk and slouched towards the door, pausing only to take a sip from the coffee beside the computer. It was stone cold. She grumbled as she fumbled with the lock, until the door finally opened. An anxious Ruwalk burst in, hair plastered to his face from the rain that poured down outside. "You're writing it now, aren't you?" burst out of him.
"What?" she replied, gingerly taking his coat and scarf and hanging them up in the hall.
"My scene with Kai-Stern," he hissed, pacing the tiny hall and shaking his head. Cernozura ducked the sudden mist that launched from his bedraggled hair.
"Actually," she laughed, leading him into the back room that doubled as an office and sitting room, "I've been staring at a blank screen, trying to figure out how to add in our Lord and Master."
"Ah," replied Ruwalk, his nervous energy dissipating, "make sure that you make the most of the opportunity we've been given. This is the only time you'll be able to do whatever you want to the boss without any repercussions."
"What?" she exclaimed, as she disappeared back through the doorway.
"Although, he wants exposure so maybe the best thing to do is to make the part as small as possible, or to disfigure him somehow." Ruwalk perched awkwardly on an arm rest as he worked it out. "See if you can get him into an ugly costume and I'll stitch it badly." He paused. "I do have a sequined chicken outfit that we haven't used yet." he said, shifting from foot to foot and looking out the empty doorway. "At the very least, put his appearance through a filter for the flashback, or something,"
"I know," said Cernozura, coming back in with a towel, which she handed to him before clambering onto the couch, "I'll have Cesia see a vision of him in her crystal ball."
"Saying, 'Rath, please help me!'?" laughed Ruwalk, slumping into the armchair beside her. He grimaced as he dried his hair.
"Hmm," mused Cernozura, picking up her coffee and having another sip. "No. Cesia sees a vision of him in some sort of danger, somewhere recognisable. She'll run off at the end of the scene and then the next one will have you, her, Raseleane and Kai-Stern in it. Raseleane will emote away and you and Kai-Stern will fill out Lykouleon's backstory, without having to get him involved at all."
"Still, explaining that Rath's gone to save him without showing Rath at all... it won't flow well." He let the towel rest about his shoulders. His hair stuck up at odd angles in a tangled mess. "Do you think there's any stock footage of him that we can use?"
"I've a better idea," she replied, drinking some more of the frigid coffee. "Cesia spills the situation, you fill out the backstory and then we'll have a shot of Rath running away, to rescue Lykouleon. The audience will infer that he was listening at the door."
"Where are we going to get that shot from?" Ruwalk resumed the towelling.
"Nohiro!" exclaimed Cernozura, knocking the cup of coffee, but catching it before too much spilled. "He did alright on the stage-show and he looks enough like Rath to carry it off on film. From the back, definitely."
Ruwalk offered the towel to his host, but she demurred. He then nodded. "All with limited screen time for Lykouleon. He will be disappointed."
"He'll claw it back when he's rescued," she said with a sigh. "There'll have to be a big speech and sparkly special effects."
"Not if he's brutally murdered before that happens," said Ruwalk, wickedly. "Say, if all that's left is a head?"
They both laughed.
Nadil smiled at Rath from across the cold, black table. He took the contract that Fedelta - patiently hovering behind his left shoulder - offered and slid it over to Rath.
"Sign it," he said.
Dragon Knights Sentai is fanfiction based on the works of Mineko Okhami.
Thanks Rini Saiyan-jin for spotting the typo.
This section was split between two chapters. It was supposed to be about Ruwalk's nervousness over his shonen-ai scene, but the need to talk about Lykouleon intruded and the mood between those two sections was very different. Splitting the scene also doesn't make it seem as long as it would if I'd left it as a giant chapter.
Two important things are happening right now - the development of the script (in particular, the shonen-ai scene) and Rath's bargain with Nadil. Switching between them, as well as keeping the timing consistent and adding tension, also splits the Ruwalk/Cernozura scene.
Thanks for reading. I hope you still like it. All feedback is appreciated, so please click on the review button.