Dragon Knights Fan Fiction ❯ Dragon Knights Sentai ❯ Limping Along ( Chapter 11 )
Absolutely everyone wondered if there was any point.
The boy coughed. It gave him something to do so he tried it a few more times. He followed up with a bout of pacing and then ruffled his black hair, exposing dark roots at the base of his white streak, before settling down on one of the black leather couches.
The lobby of the apartment building was quite imposing and reminded him of Lykouleon's office. The doorman flicked his eyes over the lad regularly and the boy could see the wheels turning in his head as he registered the boy's description in his memory, in case he had to give evidence for a robbery, assault or intimidation. It wasn't very welcoming, but the subject of his attention cooled his heels and waited.
He was finally rewarded when a man in a severe suit and open-toed sandals walked in through the revolving doors.
"Tetheus! Sir," he shouted, jumping to his feet.
Tetheus turned to him, eyebrows rising as he recognised the young man.
"Can I have a moment of your time, please?" he asked the director.
"What's this about?" Tetheus asked. Drawing closer, the young boy could see dark lines under his eyes and faint wrinkles on his usually smooth brow.
"I turned Nadil down," responded the boy. "Please, sir. I want to come back."
Tetheus froze. As he unthawed, his hand reached into a pocket and pulled out his mobile phone. He ushered the lad to the lift doors as he placed the same call to Cernozura, then Lykouleon, Alfeegi and the legal department of Dragoon Pictures. What he said was terse and left no room for a response: "He's back."
There were three shocks for crew arriving on set the following day. The first was a new script (still moist from Cernozura's sweat and tears, no blood though), with blank pages indicating further modifications to be made. The second was the apparent reappearance of Rath: a scene celebrating Rune's safe return clearly name-checked the Fire Dragon Knight. The third arrived mid-afternoon.
Fevered film-makers didn't notice anything unusual about the bundled-up figure asking directions to wardrobe and just sent him on his way before eagerly returning to their very important work. He barged into a cluttered room with ripped up costumes covering every chair, table and hook and Ruwalk in the centre, recycling cloth from the old outfits to use in new ones. He looked up when the door opened. Glitter and sequins drowned in a large blob of glue on his cheek - he obviously hadn't noticed it, or that the ends of his hair had gotten dipped in fabric paint.
"I was told to come here for a fitting," said the figure, unravelling the scarf from about his head and revealing a mane of bushy, violet hair.
"Gil?" rasped Ruwalk. He coughed, spitting out a few stray sequins.
Gil nodded and peeled off his bulky, winter coat. "I need a wardrobe befitting a Fire Dragon Knight."
Ruwalk rose from his chair, touched his face and then ran his fingers through his hair, inadvertently spreading the gooey and sparkly mess further.
"Step into my office," he said, pointing to a patch of ground while deftly hooking a tape-measure around his neck. "I'll take down your measurements and we'll see what we can do for you."
An obnoxious smell assaulted the nose of Cernozura as she snuck into the studio by the back door. Pinching it closed, she bumped into Tetheus who was sniffing and pacing in the corridor there. "Here you go," she said, handing over a sheaf of loose pages. Tetheus skimmed through them and grunted.
"How good are your ears?" he whispered while his eyes frantically scanned the pages.
"What?" she asked. He turned onto a new page and shushed her. He then jerked his head towards a side door, which was usually kept open.
Cernozura crept closer to it and peeked through the narrow window. She could see Lykouleon in animated conversation, but he stood between her and whoever he was talking to. Something cold touched her hand and she jerked away from the door to see Tetheus holding out a drinking glass.
"The door's locked," he whispered, offering her the glass and then returning to his reading.
She took it and holding it up to her ear, pressed it against the door. She felt the vibration of a drill being used outside and heard a low rumbling that could have been the power generator suffering from the requirements of its daily grind, but although she caught a word here and there, she couldn't make sense of Lykouleon's conversation with his mystery friend.
She returned the glass to Tetheus with a shrug. He nodded, waved the papers at her and gave a thumb's up. Free of contractual obligations, she made her way to wardrobe where she found Kai-Stern applying some foul liquid onto a cloth which he then rubbed on Ruwalk's hair.
"Why don't you just cut it out?" he asked grumpily, scouring away.
"I'm not cutting my hair," replied Ruwalk. He winced as Kai-Stern gave him an unkind tug. "Is it working? Is it coming off?"
"I don't know," Kai-Stern said, stopping work to pull at the damp patch of hair. "I think so. The strands are nearly coming apart, but Ruwalk, I think it might be bleaching your hair."
"That's all I need," sighed the designer.
"Can I help?" interrupted Cernozura, waving as they noticed her. Ruwalk started and Kai-Stern ran up to her and pressed a cloth and a bottle into her hands. "Thanks, Cernozura. I've got a lot of running around to do. Busy, busy, busy."
"Hey!" shouted Ruwalk after him. "Don't leave me..."
Kai-Stern stuck out his tongue and fled, leaving poor Ruwalk alone with Cernozura.
"Did I interrupt...?" she asked, awkwardly squashing the cloth in her hands.
Ruwalk sighed. "I'd just hoped to be finished before I saw you. That's all," he said. He reached out for her hand and gave it a good squeeze.
"Oh, well." She stepped closer and took a good look at Ruwalk's hair. A glob of something had been caught in it and stuck several locks together in a sparkly, hard, yet pliable mess. "Oh my," she gasped. "Did one of the knights do this to you?"
"No," muttered Ruwalk, miserably. "It was an accident."
"But..." she started.
"All self-inflicted," he moaned, sinking into his seat.
Cernozura frowned but asked nothing. Instead she reached forward with the cloth, stopping before it touched the mess. She turned it over and rubbed it gently. "It's dry!" she exclaimed.
"Yeah, nail varnish remover evaporates quickly. I think that's what drove Kai-Stern mad." Ruwalk reached up a shaking hand to feel out the damage. His fingers flitted over and over the damaged area.
"Sure that you don't want to cut it out?" She teased the glued hair away from the scalp, until it stuck out from his head at an angle. "There's a lot of glue still in there," she muttered as she looked it over.
Ruwalk grabbed his hair, leaned back and stared up at her, coldly. "Do you want a bald ...?" His mouth kept working after the words stopped coming out. He stuck his head back down.
"Okay," she said, pouring more remover onto the sparkly cloth. "Let's try this again." She started to hum as she went to work. "You know, a nice hot bath might loosen it up and it might stop your hair absorbing the acetone."
"Absorbing the acetone?" he echoed, his back stiffening and jerking the hair out of her hands.
"It could wind up smelling like this for days," she mused, ministering to his beleaguered locks once more.
"A bath, eh?" he said.
"Try to finish up before seven," she said, pouring the nail-varnish remover directly onto his hair and using the cloth to clean off the dissolving glue. "Do you have any brushes that you don't mind destroying?"
"Why before seven?" he asked, pointing to Ekidonna's bag.
"I have tickets for a concert tonight and I was hoping that you'd go with me. Do you want to?" She pawed through the bag until she found a suitable brush. "It's a three piece jazz band. They're supposed to be quite good."
He shook his head with a wry grin. "What if I can't get this stuff out of my hair?"
Cernozura looked around at the boxes, drawers and wardrobes that cluttered the room. "There's bound to be at least one hat in here, right?"
"They're not in style at the moment, though. Would you be willing to offend some bohemian swingers with an out-of-date date?" His fingers tapped out a zealous rhythm on the table and the twist left his smile.
Cernozura nodded. "Of course," she blurted, five seconds later.
A hush spread over the rickety papier-mâché mountain top where Rath faced his father. A cold breeze, propelled by giant paper fans operated by a sweating Alfeegi and Kai-Stern, swirled through the set, ruffling Rath's hair and rippling the folds on the Dragonlord's open shirt.
"You always hated me!" shouted Rath. A young man wearing headphones by a monitor winced at the volume.
"No," gasped Lykouleon, his voice trembling. "I had more to worry about than you, but Rath, you were always first in my thoughts."
"How touching!" A new figure came into shot above them. He crawled, head-first, down onto a styrofoam rock and sneered as Alfeegi's breeze drifted up to sweep the violet hair from his face, exposing the scar on his eye. "I like family reunions. You two should really make up before I kill you."
"Have you suddenly learned how to use that goblin-sticker on your hip, Gil?" spat Rath, before falling into his customary attack pose. "I am the Fire Dragon Knight and I'll burn you to a crisp."
"Rath!" shouted Lykouleon, clutching his side and leaning heavily against a solid-looking mountain-side. "Wait. You're not the Fire Dragon Knight!"
"Interesting," hissed Gil, leaping down to a lower rock with a hollow sounding boom. "Do tell."
Lykouleon ignored him, staring only at Rath. Urged on by his director, Kai-Stern put his back into it and Lykouleon shivered in the stronger wind. "When you were small, you stole the Fire Dragon and bound it to you."
Rath glowered. "Now you're calling me a thief, old man!" he yelled, storming up to his father. Lykouleon winced and wrapped his arms around himself.
He then shook his head. "It was my fault; I took something that was important to you and you tried to replace it."
Rath frowned. The fans whipped up stray dust and stage dirt and whirled it in the space between them. The Dragonlord posed manfully and his knight turned his sword upside down and thrust it into the studio floor. Alfeegi smouldered, his muscles aching, as Rath crossed his arms and waited. Gil merely shrugged, losing patience with the family drama unfolding beneath him.
"Believe me, my need was great," pleaded Lykouleon.
His son took a step closer, then his shoulders crumpled and he looked sadly behind him. He reached out to his proud sword. "Then who is Fire's true master?"
Alfeegi's breeze faltered when Rath grabbed the sword again and held it aloft. All three actors stared at the naked steel, as though an insubstantial tongue of flame leapt from it. They watched as it spiralled upwards, weaving sinuously through the air until it circled around and around Gil, imprisoning him in a tight leash.
"It's Gil," sighed Lykouleon, collapsing to the ground. Rath rushed forward; Gil remained transfixed by invisible flame.
"Rath, this belongs to you." Lykouleon clawed at the air, eventually grabbing Rath's hand and holding tight. He rose up again, arched his back and thrust his chest into the air with a loud groan. "This is Deus: he's the Dragon of Light. Take care of him, Rath. He kept me alive."
He went limp and Rath dropped to his knees, scooping his father up in his arms before he'd even stopped falling. "No, father. You keep him. You need him."
The Dragonlord opened his eyes. "My time has passed. You are the future. I'm sorry, my son."
The cameras panned away from the tableau, up to the third actor in the scene. "I'm a knight?" breathed Gil. He span around and around, dancing in a strange glow that was neatly provided by Delte and a large spotlight with a colour filter.
"Yes!" shouted Rath, startling Gil and regaining his attention. "And your lord is dying."
Gil hopped off his rock, landed gently beside the other two and glanced at Lykouleon.
"Can you carry him?" he asked. Rath nodded. "If we hurry, he might be okay."
They held their poses until Tetheus yelled "CUT! Are we good?" Various heads nodded. "Print that and let's move onto the next scene. Good work, everyone."
Dragon Knights Sentai is fanfiction based on the works of Mineko Okhami.
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