Dragon Knights Fan Fiction ❯ Inside Tetheus's Head ❯ Chill Out or Boil Over? ( Chapter 10 )
Maybe it's just gotten too big. The idea behind this was that each chapter would stand alone, for the most part. Is ten chapters enough? Should I wrap it up here? There is another one I have to write, but should I leave it at that then? Let Tetheus rest and move on to other victims? After all, I haven't written anything based around the knights yet. Oh well, that'll teach me to leave such a long break between updates. However, they take longer to write now, so you'll have to expect these gaps.
Thank you to everyone reading now. I'm taking a break from my editing, since when reading chapter 2, I realised why I enjoy writing this story so much. Please review and tell me what works, what doesn't, why you read this far, why you read this far but no further, plot ideas, to say hi! I'd really like some constructive criticism, but unconstructive criticism is just as welcome.
Standard warning here. This story is focused on the true meaning of Tetheus, (lit. pervert).
italics are his thoughts.
The loud, ringing crash echoes from the castle over the forests and lawns of the gardens. Tetheus winces from his hiding place under some scrub by the castle walls. Maybe I should get further away. I know that no-one would look for me this close to the castle, but if they do find me, then I can't pretend not to have heard that. He sighs. Choices, choices. An appalled shriek, like a dying giraffe, rises over the dying echoes of the crash. I guess Alfeegi's hit the fan, time to move on, he listens further, definitely. The bushes beside him rustle and Tetheus hunkers down. The rustling grows more vigorous until Cernozoa's head pops out of the greenery.
"Ah! Damn! What do I do?" she asks herself. "If I stay here, I'm safe, but I'm going to have to clean up whatever mess's being made. Perhaps I should try to calm them down, before it gets really bad."
Despite his survival instinct, Tetheus laughs evilly and Cernozoa's head spins around. She disentangles herself from her hidey hole and pokes at the nearby foliage.
"Tetheus?" she calls. "Oh, Tetheus, is that you?" She waits, but Tetheus doesn't respond. "You wouldn't be hiding from the nastiness inside, would you?" She pauses again, with the same result. "I'm sure that the brave, strong, Chief of Security wouldn't be avoiding Alfeegi, by holing up in a bush? Now, would he?" As she speaks, she slaps at various twigs and branches pathetically. The scrub is thick in this part of the grounds, but when she grabs a pointed stick and stabs the bushes, she finally manages to extract Tetheus from his nest.
"Of course I was hiding," he states, in a light, false voice. "Just like the brave, enthusiastic, hard-working, motherly, castle administrator. After all, if I can't see it, then I can pretend that it's not happening." He clasps his hands behind his back and stands his ground, his weight on the balls of his feet and his lips pursed.
She eyes his black slacks, which have managed to remain immaculate, despite their brief stay in the undergrowth. "Well, if I'm going in, I'm not going alone," she says, while pulling leaves from her hair and brushing dirt from her clothes. "Your glowers always work on Rath, so you may as well come in."
"They don't work on Alfeegi, though, so I think I'll stay right here," he says, with another glance at his warm, safe hole. "I was settled down and about to finish off my newest detective novel."
"Don't you mean romance?" she interrupts. "No matter what, I'm telling Alfeegi that I saw you and that you know something's going on," she threatens. "It won't look good if the Head of Security ignores the loudest fracas in the castle's history." More leaves fall to the ground and she pulls several burrs and twigs from her hair. Her brown dress hides the worst of the dirt stains.
"Just because you have to endure this unpleasantness, is no reason to drag me in, too," he whines.
"An excuse that never works on you." She fixes her gaze on Tetheus and continues. "Strange that. Now how do I look?"
"Warm, compassionate and breath-taking," Tetheus bows and gently brushes his lips against her fingers.
"Sweet," she states baldly, "but it's not working. Get up."
Tetheus sighs and accompanies her into the castle.
The castle interior is eerily silent. The candles are low, flickering and sunlight seems to stop at the Great Door. Cernozoa nervously brushes up against Tetheus as she steps over the threshold. He looks down and smiles. Rethinking this already, are we? A lone howl echoes through the entrance hall and Tetheus reflexively steps towards Cernozoa. Now I'm doing it. Well, if we're facing Alfeegi, we're doing it together. After all, it's just Alfeegi. This is ridiculous! I've got just as much power as he does. I'm not going to be afraid of him! Tetheus grasps Cernozoa's hand and clinging desperately to each other, they move deeper into the castle.
"Where was it again?" she whispers.
"You were the one that wanted to charge in here," he answers. "You're telling me now that you don't even know where they are? We're going in blind? Rule one: always have an exit planned."
Cernozoa's too jumpy to even glare at Tetheus. "The place looks tidy enough," she says, looking nervously at Tetheus. "Maybe we don't need to interfere."
Tetheus stops and frowns at her. Even the shadows are unfriendly. "I wonder what broke with that last, large crash?"
Cernozoa wavers back and forth, her weight shifting back towards the exit, then forward, towards Alfeegi. I can see your mind work. Clear the mess up now, or wait until they're all spent and something truly horrendous has happened. Which will win, cowardice or house pride?
"How long did it take you to tidy up the last time?"
Cernozoa freezes. It's funny, you can actually watch the progress of the shiver across the spine. Mmmm, what delicate skin you have, such a beautiful neck.
"I forget, how much was the replacement chandelier?"
Tick, tick, tick.
"And how many staff didn't return to work the next day? Wasn't one of them your Chief Housekeeper?"
Cernozoa turns firmly and with a set face, she grabs Tetheus's hand and stomps off into the gloom. Darn, that was so much fun that I forgot just what awaits us. Cernozoa takes her best guess as to where the fight had been and the pair listen hard for sounds of conflict, but only their footsteps echo. The eerie silence remains. Now I'm getting worried. How can we find Alfeegi and Rath? Just what happened to shut them both up? I hope neither of them have been killed, that would take forever to clean up and if you miss the tiniest bit of flesh, the stench lingers. They traipse through the castle, disturbing the occasional mouse, who still can't believe his luck in the deserted building.
A muffled sound comes through a nearby door. Cernozoa creaks open the door and looks in, when Tetheus suddenly pushes her away from him. She steps back and grabs him again, just as Alfeegi turns around. Tetheus patronisingly puts a hand around her shoulders and squeezes gently. He then nods at the White Dragon Officer and squeezes Cernozoa once more.
"Alfeegi," he says, solidly.
Alfeegi runs at Tetheus, who braces himself for the worst. Cernozoa breaks away from him and gets to a safe distance, where she starts to examine the room for damage. Yeah, sure! Oh fuck. Alfeegi tumbles into Tetheus, buries his head in Tetheus's chest and clutches his clothing. He moves his grasp up to Tetheus's collar, his head slowly lifting, until Tetheus can see his bleary, red-rimmed eyes. Alfeegi? Alfeegi scrunches up his face and bursts into tears. Tetheus raises his hands and holds Alfeegi, stroking his hair, while speaking softly.
"Alfeegi, what's wrong?"
He wipes his eyes on Tetheus's jacket. You will pay for that. It's one of the few ones I have left. Cernozoa's been throwing out all of my old clothes, so that I'll wear the ones she made me buy. When Alfeegi's eyes dry, he sniffles and looks up at Tetheus. "Tetheus, it's horrible." He chokes before continuing. "I can't take it anymore. They're driving me crazy and I don't even think they're doing it on purpose! Everything's going out of whack. Even Ruwalk's clothing allowance has grown to an unreasonable size and no-one will tell me why!"
Tetheus coughs, "Um, well, you see, there's a good reason, for that..."
Alfeegi's sobs stop for a moment. "You know why?" he asks, curiously.
Tetheus coughs again. "Well, Ruwalk has a, uh, a, uh, unique, problem at the moment. It's not possible to talk about it openly and he'd be very embarrassed if the people who know grow beyond me, Lykouleon and the people who wash his underwear." He coughs significantly. "I'm sure you understand...Alfeegi." The question is, just what do you understand?
Alfeegi's brow furrows. "The people who wash his underwear?" he asks himself, his grip on Tetheus, loosening. "What could ... oh. Oh?" His nose wrinkles in disgust. "Ah, yeah, you mean... Oh, my uncle... Err. Well," he leans in close to Tetheus and speaks in a hoarse whisper. "I just hope that they're disposed of hygienically. I wouldn't like it to be passed on to someone else. In fact, we burnt his, my uncle's. What was left of them anyway. He had it particularly badly," he explains, in a strained voice.
Tetheus reaches his hands to Alfeegi's and prises them gently from his collar. "I'm glad you understand the need for secrecy and I hope you won't tell anyone." He rubs Alfeegi's fingers briefly, before letting go. "I promised Ruwalk that I'd not say a word to anyone."
"Oh, of course," Alfeegi assures him, waving his hand dismissively. "You were the very soul of discretion. Poor Ruwalk. It's a tough affliction to have."
More than you know. I wonder exactly what Kharl does with it all? Sometimes I'm thankful that I'm only third prettiest. Outwardly, he merely nodded. Once again, Alfeegi has calmed down. Kharl really is worth his pay.
Tetheus looks around the room. A broken vase marks the fall of a side table and the curtains are half ripped from their rail. Looks like Alfeegi threatened to jump out the window again. A dust of glass on the sill changes his mind. Flecks of blood spot the perfect white and Tetheus glances at his immaculate collar. Maybe Rath tried to escape and was pulled back in? The rest of the room is relatively undamaged. Chairs are overturned and tables cleared of their contents, but the damage is minimal, a scratch here or there. Rath never leaves a job unfinished and Alfeegi has long since learned the art of total destruction. I wonder if they've both mellowed. Cernozoa is nowhere to be seen, her survey having taken her to other rooms nearby.
"So where's Rath?" he asks. Did I say that out loud?
"Rath!" Alfeegi stomps up to a nearby table and bashes his fist against the surface. A teacup rattles in its saucer, but doesn't spill. "Those bloody knights! Rune's moping around like he's eaten a wet fish, continually complaining about not being a fairy anymore. Thatz has tried again to break into the castle treasury and Rath? Well, Rath's bored." Alfeegi waves his hands as he speaks, until he finally places them uncomfortably on his hips and waits for Tetheus's response, twitching every now and again.
"Bored?" he asks. Possibly the worst kind of Rath is a bored one. If only he'd stayed small, when a ball of twine would distract him. Mind you, he could crawl into the most unlikely places back then.
"Bored," Alfeegi clarifies. "What are you going to do?" He walks right up to Tetheus and challenges him, hissing through his teeth. "You have to get rid of him, or them, all three. Send them somewhere. Find them something to do. Have Kai-Stern babysit. I don't care. Just get them out of the castle before he burns it down!"
"Rath's gotten a lot better at controlling his fire," Tetheus placates him.
"But he still hasn't learned the difference between flammable and inflammable," Alfeegi retorts.
"I'll talk to Lykouleon and see what can be done," he promises.
Alfeegi humphs and sighs. He looks around and his eyes widen. "What a mess," he exclaims. "It looks like a storm hit." He fusses over table and chairs, righting here, straightening there and thoroughly trashing Rath, whose entire fault it is. Tetheus backs away to the door and nearly bumps into Cernozoa, her hands full of clothing.
"I don't believe it! Do I look like I wash clothes? No! But they always hand their dirty washing over to me! Always! Even if I'm in my nice, fancy clothing, they ignore all the maids wandering around," she turns to stare down Tetheus, "And lord knows, we've a small army of them," she throws the clothes in the air and continues indignantly, "Yet they throw their clothing at me! And it stinks!"
"Any of Ruwalk's stuff in there?" Alfeegi asks curiously. Tetheus flickers his eyes and Alfeegi shrinks, mumbles and moves away. He starts to tidy again and wrestles with a small cupboard, before calling for Tetheus's help.
It's such a small thing. How much of a wimp are you? Urgh! Straining at the arms, Tetheus and Alfeegi right the deceptively small cupboard. Before it can be placed down safely, it slips out of Alfeegi's hand and slams into position on the floor. The doors swing open, Alfeegi's mouth drops open and Tetheus bows.
"Your Majesty," he intones.
Lykouleon smiles, his mouth obviously full with the half-eaten banana in his left hand. "Mummmphble," he mumbles, spewing banana bits on Alfeegi's shoes. He chews vigorously and swallows. "Oh, hello Tetheus, Alfeegi, Cernozoa." He waves. "I was just having a quick snack. Can I offer anyone a banana? Orange? Pastry?"
"You're in a cupboard," Alfeegi stutters.
"Yes, er. Well done," he responds. "I crawled in, couldn't get out, banged on the door for a bit, got no answer and fell asleep." So smooth, I couldn't see the join. "In fact, might as well get out now that you've freed me. Could someone offer a hand? Small cramp in legs, you see."
Both Alfeegi and Tetheus reach in and haul their lord out. He teeters on his feet, before falling back on top of the cupboard and settling down. He rubs his legs and flexes his toes. "Be a while before the kinks are worked out, I think." He nods as his eyes travel around the room. "Had a party, did we?"
"Party?" Alfeegi begins to shake and his skin slowly turns a rosy colour. One, two, back away, three...
"Well, those are the only situations not covered under the 'Notice to have a massive, potentially damaging fight' legislation passed 3 years ago today, if I'm not mistaken. The penalties for not following the procedures laid down are pretty severe. You helped draft it, didn't you, Tetheus?" Lykouleon turns to Tetheus, who inclines his head. Alfeegi's colour shifts to white.
"Uh, yeah. Me and Rath had a small, er, party. No guests," he mutters.
"Oh well," Lykouleon smiles. "At least the two of you are getting on better now."
"Not really, no," Alfeegi whispers, shifting his feet. "I mean, we had a party, to, err, mend fences. They're still pretty much broken, though. I humbly request a transfer to, uh, Luwa, for a month, or ten," he says, miserably. "Your majesty," he adds quickly.
"Oh no, Alfeegi," Lykouleon pats Alfeegi, who shrinks visibly. "I can't do without you, but maybe it's time to send the boys out on manoeuvers. They'll be getting rusty. Any thoughts, Tetheus?" With that, he turns expectantly to his Chief of Security.
Tetheus bows. "Unfortunately, sire, Rath's torn through everything. I don't think we've anywhere to send them," he says.
"How about sending them to investigate the Man-eating Witch?"
"The One-Eyed Monster?"
"The Demon of the Ice Caves!"
"The Spirit of Swamp Castle?"
"The Ghost of Bognor Moor?"
"So," the Dragonlord sighs. "I've run out of demons. Maybe a wild goose chase is in order?"
Tetheus coughs and Alfeegi splutters. "You promised that we'd not mention this again!" he squeals.
"Quite right. I apologise." He raises his hands and smiles meekly, until Alfeegi calms down. "I'll use this as the first task for our new fortune-teller," he beams.
"A new fortune-teller?" Alfeegi and Tetheus say together. "What do you mean?"
"Since Ruwalk killed the old one, getting fortunes has been a bit of a pain. I sent a mail-order for one and she should be here tomorrow." He claps his arms around their shoulders. "Think of it. We'll know when to plant our crops and when we'll have good weather for festivals and such." What do you know about planting crops? Oh, I hope she doesn't think that she's a serious adviser to the Lord. That could only cause trouble.
Lykouleon eyes the less than enthusiastic faces of his officers and turns to Cernozoa. "Make up a room. I want everything to be ready when Cesia arrives."
Flammable and inflammable. One of them has to mean cannot be burned, right? Fallible, infallible; divisible, indivisible; visible, invisible; difference, indifference; and so on. Until fairly recently, I was sure that it was safe to use a naked flame near inflammable goods.
Ah, read this.
Usage Note: Historically, flammable and inflammable mean the same thing. However, the presence of the prefix in- has misled many people into assuming that inflammable means "not flammable" or "noncombustible." The prefix -in in inflammable is not, however, the Latin negative prefix -in, which is related to the English -un and appears in such words as indecent and inglorious. Rather, this -in is an intensive prefix derived from the Latin preposition in. This prefix also appears in the word enflame. But many people are not aware of this derivation, and for clarity's sake it is advisable to use only flammable to give warnings.
Source: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
Copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
Thank you www.dictionary.com
I recently started a past tense fic. It means that I'm finally getting confused as I'm writing this story and having to edit for tenses. I apologise if any have gotten through. I'm not going to shift tense mid-story and so the process of writing two stories with different tenses, may have a negative impact in this sense.