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The kingdom through the.., p.12
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       The Kingdom through the Swamp: The Courts Divided - Book 1, p.12

           Kell Inkston
 
CHAPTER TWELVE: COOKIN’ UP AN ESCAPE

  Aoline, in the royal kitchen, pulls in a group of three minions by arcane shackles, opening only should the operator be trusted by the creator of the binds. As Love obviously does not trust the minions, they cannot mess with the chains; Aoline Rayworth on the other hand is just-trusted enough by Love to be able to manipulate them.

  The minions are calmly harbored in by Aoline’s wrist, the three of them waiting for the opportune moment to make their move. Now in front of an array of magic cooking equipment and ingredient cabinets, Aoline turns to the cooking Minion.

  “Alright, here we are,” Aoline says with a hint of suspicion in her voice. Cooking Minion stands about with a dull look.

  “Yeah, we are,” he says with a sigh. Aoline gestures at the cabinets, stoves, ovens, and gestures back to him.

  “Well? Go!” she demands, somehow under the impression that waving her hands about will somehow improve his speed. Cooking Minion sighs.

  “A little hard to cook with my hands like this,” he says, delivering to Aoline an intent stare. Aoline thinks a moment, and shrugs.

  “Mmm, good point,” she says, knowing that if he tries to escape she can just smash him to a pulp with her enchanted sword- Chaos and his followers are rather allergic to enchanted weapons, more so than raw force or raw magic, at least. Aoline undoes the shackles around Cooking Minion’s wrists, and he suddenly lightens up.

  “Why, thank you!” he says, turning about to quickly get to work, “What do you want?”

  “Eh, something good, a-and quick,” she orders as she takes a seat on the ground next to the other two minions. Cooking Minion bows.

  “Most certainly; just give me a bit and I’ll set you up with the greatest food you’ve ever eaten. Why, you might become as fat as useless as-”

  “I swear,” Combat Minion snaps coldly, starting to seriously consider rushing Cooking Minion, pulling Magic Minion along with him.

  “Yeah, bite me, Combat Minion. At least I’ve actually contributed to the group dynamic, you dweeb,” Cooking Minion says with a wry, white smile as he begins shuffling through the cabinets for cooking ingredients. Combat Minion begins visibly huffing in anger, mouth opening wide enough to comfortably fit Cooking Minion’s head.

  “You! ... Youuuu!”

  “Are the most useful and versatile member in the group? Yes, thank you, Combat Minion. Say, how about a song?” Cooking Minion says with a wide smile, quite appreciating the freedom to offend his comrade without being smashed into a pancake. Combat Minion snaps his large jaws at Cooking Minion, whose almost finished gathering ingredients.

  “Ohhhhh, so good to be useful. What a joy, every day, it is, in every way, to not be a fat and useless brat!” Cooking Minion sings chipperly, quickly receiving a stare of death from Combat Minion, and a look of humor from Aoline; who really does find his serenade strangely charming.

  “Just you wait, Cooking Minion. Your time will come,” Combat Minion threatens in a tone Cooking Minion doesn’t like all that much. It is at this moment that Cooking Minion decides he will humiliate Combat Minion by single-handedly freeing all three of them; thus proving him the superior.

  “Oh, alright, whatever you say, Combrat Minion,” the cook says with a wry grin as he prepares various vessels for cooking. At this, Cooking Minion hums a little tune as he gets to work, heating water and preparing the meats, vegetables, and spices. Aoline sits quietly by Combat and Magic Minions, holding tight to the chains. Eventually, enough time passes that she realizes the uniqueness of the opportunity she’s been given; speaking to minions of the cruel High Overlord himself; she could learn anything about Order’s nemesis!

  “So, tell me, minions of the insane evil,” Aoline says, trying to retain at least a little coolness in front of her prisoners. The two chained minions look over, and Cooking Minion answers “yes?” as he continues practicing his delicious craft.

  “What’s Chaos like? Not saying that I don’t know him, of course, just on a personal level, I mean,” she asks, trying not to appear too curious. Cooking Minion hums in thought, and answers as he mixes and tastes.

  “On a personal level, sweetie?”

  “Don’t call me “sweetie” ... and yes,” Aoline corrects.

  “Terrifying badass.”

  “Unbelievably terrifying badass.”

  “Kind of sexy, but in a terrifying way,” Cooking, Combat, and Magic Minions answer respectively. Aoline chuckles, hearing Magic Minion’s unexpected compliment of her lord. Cooking Minion shoots Magic Minion a quick glance the moment he realizes that she is attempting to support the escape through what may be persuasion, rather than trickery.

  “Oh, how’s that?” Aoline asks, turning to Magic Minion. Combat Minion sighs.

  “Well, I suppose it depends on what you find sexy. What are your thoughts on a person that holds limitless power, confidence, intelligence, and riches, his only drawback being ... occasional memory problems?” Magic Minion asks.

  “Occasional, funny,” Combat Minion repeats with a hint of humor. Aoline rubs her chin a moment in thought; she’s never considered someone evil as having any ability to be attractive.

  “Huh ... you know, actually that- ... no, no it’s too weird, he’s the High Overlord!” Aoline says, scratching the side of her head in thought. She delivers this thought in a rather elated tone, however, signaling to Magic and Cooking Minion that she’s actually open to this sort of manipulation. Magic Minion smiles, the first time Aoline’s see her do so.

  “It’s not weird at all. Overlord Chaos rightfully holds the hearts of all his followers. He’s quite kind if you give him the chance, but he demands authority, and I think those two reasons are why everyone likes him so much,” Magic Minion says.

  “Right, definitely not the fact that he’d sma-”

  “You know, I could really use some help, miss slave-holder. Mind letting Magic Minion out of those chains and having her help? It’d be really useful,” Cooking Minion says over Combat Minion. Combat Minion grumbles as Aoline quickly sharpens her gaze.

  “No, but nice try. I’ll help you,” she says with a completely satisfied gaze, seeing through what she presumes is treachery on Cooking Minion’s part. She gets up and steps to the counter that cooking Minion is standing on.

  “Oh, of course! If that’s what makes your feel most comfortable, go right ahead! Please whip this up for me,” Cooking Minion says with a smile as he hands a large bowl over to Aoline. The Knightess begins drilling through the liquid the best she can, and she laxly turns back to look over to Magic Minion.

  “So, authority’s what you find so charming about him?” Aoline asks.

  “Among his many other very fine traits, yes. I’d love you to meet him.”

  “Heh, maybe when Order and I deal his final blow, sure,” Aoline says with an ambitious, superior smile. Magic Minion huffs.

  “I think your view would be drastically changed if you just met him. He’s the greatest Overlord to ever live, you know.”

  “Oh, I’m sure.”

  “No, really! You’d be surprised how much better life is being a minion!”

  “Uh huh,” Aoline murmurs sarcastically as she focuses in on the whipping; it’s tougher than she thought.

  “I’m not kidding. You’re fed five square meals a day, you have unrestricted access to Chaos” entire magical library of well over 12,000 tomes, and you have the mentorship and leadership of the most intelligent creature alive. I can’t see why anyone wouldn’t love that,” Magic Minion says, slyly hitting on all the right points. Just as she starts huffing from the arm-work Aoline stops in thought.

  “Really?” Aoline asks.

  “Yeah.”

  “She speaks the truth,” Magic and Cooking Minion say respectively. Aoline switches arms.

  “So, what kind of stuff do you do at the tower?” Aoline asks.

  It’s commonly held by humans that all the best Overlords live in towers, rather than castles or caves, or Omniverse forbid,
volcanic mountains- I’m looking at you, Overlord Hate.

  “I cook for the Overlord and eat my fill.”

  “Sit around and study magic.”

  “Train,” the three of the minions say. Aoline hums.

  “Huh, so do you ever do any ... real work?” she says.

  “Ha, of course we do. When the Overlord calls, everyone comes running. It’s a great life, but one must be ready to serve the Overlord any time he requests, which can be either once a minute or yearly, depending on the job,” Combat Minion says, cross-legged on the floor.

  “Yearly?”

  “Yeah. For example Chaos rarely calls on Operator Minions, so they usually just spend their time making fun of other Minions for not being Operator Minions- assholes,” Combat Minion grunts with a scowl.

  “They are an unpleasant bunch,” Magic Minion says, thinking of all the times she’s spotted them lying about playing Omni-DeckTM, chess, and whatever else holds their fascination at the present time.

  “Interesting. So why don’t you guys become Operator Minions?” Aoline asks as she changes arms again. The three infected by the essence of Chaos share a quick laugh.

  “We’re not Overlords, regrettably. The more essence Chaos spends to enslave you, the stronger and smarter you’ll be in most cases, like a magnification of your previous abilities. Chaos would use the same amount of essence engulfing an Overlord to make a super badass killing machine as he would to turn me into a better cook, which basically is what I am. Basically, he could make any three of us strong, smart, and agile enough to be Operator Minions, he’d just have to spend about five times as much of his essence on us to get us to that point. You understand, sweetie?” Cooking Minion says as he flips about the sauce pan that’s half his size. Aoline doesn’t catch that she’s been called “sweetie” again, as she’s too interested in the part about the essence.

  “Essence. The black and white stuff?” she asks, making sure she’s on the same page. Cooking Minion slyly fires a glance over to Magic Minion, which she quickly returns with glee.

  “That’s right. You could surpass Royal Knight Order in a day if he so chose ... hmm,” Cooking Minion says.

  “What’s the matter?” Aoline asks.

  “Looks like you’re having some trouble stirring. Is it tiring?” Cooking Minion asks.

  “It really is. Had no idea it was this hard!”

  “Yup, perhaps Magic Minion could help out. She definitely wouldn’t get tired,” Cooking Minion says, squinting his eye just a bit in a very Chaos-like manner. Aoline pauses a moment, and shrugs, remembering how easily Order defeated the three minions in the golden swamp.

  “Yeah, alright,” she says with a confidant smile, making a quick hand-gesture to remove the shackle using magic. Magic Minion waves her freed hands about a moment, making good and sure Combat Minion sees them, and nods her head.

  “Thank you. The whipping, then?” Magic Minion asks. Cooking Minion nods as Magic Minion takes the bowl and stirring tool from Aoline.

  “That’s right. Thanks,” Cooking Minion says with a gleeful, victorious smile. Aoline steps back over to Combat Minion, to keep an eye on both of the freed minions to make sure they don’t do anything treacherous. She doesn’t see it, but Cooking Minion makes an incredibly light gesture that only Combat Minion picks up on. He’s a brutish enough creature, but he’s pretty observant when the situation calls.

  “Feel better?” Cooking Minion asks over to Aoline. Magic Minion’s grin widens comically as she watches, from the corner of her eye, Combat Minion raise a leg behind Aoline. The knight nods.

  “I do, thank you!” she says with a polite smile, being set under the impression that perhaps minions of Chaos really aren’t all that bad. Cooking Minion puts down the sauce pan, and looks straight at her with an enthused, condescending expression.

  “Well that’s nice, and how’s your head?” he asks. Aoline looks at him a bit strangely, completely unaware of Combat Minion’s solid heel hovering directly over her head.

  “Eh, fine, why would you. Heh, wait, you don’t actually think you could beat me down in a fight, do you?” she asks with a confidant smile. Magic Minion cracks up in laughter and turns to look Aoline in the eyes.

  “Oh no; we’re not the ones that are going to “beat you down”,” she says mockingly. Aoline stares at the two for a moment, and just as the thought enters her head who they might be referring to, she is overcome with the weighted force of Combat Minion’s foot down upon her head. She falls to her knees, and then on her face, completely unconscious.

  “Well done, Combat Minion.”

  “Yeah, not half bad I guess. Sorry about earlier, I suppose,” the Magic and Cooking Minions say with congratulatory gestures. Combat Minion scoffs, and with a quick snap, pulls the chain group away from the table that Aoline so-foolishly set it to.

  “Thanks. Not bad yourselves. Got to say as much as I dislike you, Cook, you’re pretty good with that tongue of yours.”

  “Oh my,” Magic Minion interjects with a lewd tone, quickly causing the two male minions to cringe in shock.

  “G-gross!”

  “That’s not what I meant! Idiot! Ah-he-anyway, let’s get out of here and report back. He’ll be happy to hear The High Tea really is happening soon,” Combat Minion says with a degraded scowl. Magic Minion chuckles under her breath, and nods.

  “Right, let’s be off,” she says as she and Combat Minion start for the door to the main hall. Cooking Minion hops down from the counter and starts for the door, but stops when he passes Aoline.

  “Hey, should we bring the girl?” the cook asks. Combat Minion shrugs.

  “If you’ll carry her. I’m sure Chaos would be thrilled,” he says, not in the mood to carry an unconscious person all the miles back to the hidden tower where they’ll make the jump to one of the main towers. Cooking Minion looks over Aoline, sighs, and does his best to pick her up. Augmented by Chaos’ essence, she’s not hard at all for the small Minion to pick up, and carry over to the other two.

  “Ready!” he says with a peppy tone. Combat Minion rolls his glowing white eyes, and quietly opens the door.

  At the other side of the door is Law, instantly locking onto the three with a stern, hawk-like gaze.

  “Going somewhere, are we?” Law asks with his mace and shield close at hand. The three minions quickly let out various cries of shock as they dive back from the door, barely missing Law’s authoritative kick through the doors into the kitchen. Combat Minion quickly regains his footing to face the two knights as Magic Minion gains a few meters for spells and Cooking Minion rushes away with Aoline to gain a few miles, if he can.

  Combat Minion takes the initiative to attack as he throws a rock-shattering punch at Law, quickly dodged and returned with the shaft of Law’s mace to the face as Magic Minion begins casting a spell.

  With a fierce tackle, Combat Minion rushes at Law’s neck, figuring it’s the best spot to get at due to Law’s lack of a helmet. Law only needs to raise his shield to thwart Combat’s attempt and send the Chaos-servant into the wall. Pinning Combat Minion with his shield, Law drops his mace with a thud to strike at his face, forcing his plate gauntlet into his target’s teeth with crushing strength. Combat Minion bites into the gauntlet with his Chaos-augmented jaws, quickly skewing the armor and digging into Law’s scales. Law won’t have that. With a display of gargantuan strength, Law tears the caught metal from his hand, freeing it from Combat Minion’s teeth, the Dragon-kin then proceeds to deliver one last punch into Combat Minion’s face, this time with enough force to break through the blacker-than-pitch exoskeleton and cause fierce injuries. Head crushed and white essence spewing out, Combat Minion falls to his side, unconscious.

  Law turns to Magic Minion, who halts her casting at the realization that Law won the fight with Combat Minion and is now hurdling to her like an angry train, she naturally attempts to dodge the strike. She does not expect Rayull to both be strong, and agile, however. Before she can properly react, Magic
Minion is tackled to the ground by Law, who promptly gets up and lets down his boot into her face, breaking through her exoskeleton just the same as Combat Minion. She jolts in the shock of her innards being compromised and then she loses consciousness as her mortal white spews across the dragon-kin’s boot.

  “Let that be a lesson to… weren’t there three of you?” Rayull asks, eyes scanning the room as he scrapes the Chaos essence off his boot. He starts forward through the kitchen, and he hears a scared, unprepared whimper from behind the farthest counter.

  “Eh… uh, yes! The counter! Magic Counter of Death Doom! Overlord Counter’s my name; lord of the ultimate ... counter attack! How can I help you, weakling?” the counter speaks out in a voice suspiciously similar to that of Cooking Minion’s.

  “How about you turn yourself in, Mr. Overlord,” Law says, clubbing his hand with his mace, rather like a bat. The counter squeals in horror.

  “Uh, no, no I think that’s pretty unnecessary, considering there’s no way you could ever dream to beat- oh, crap,” the counter says as if it had suddenly noticed an unconscious girl waking up.

  “Ow… My head!... You!” Another counter-bound voice says as Law quickens his step to reveal Overlord Counter’s mysterious identity. Amidst the sounds of discomfort and punches being thrown, the knight comes to find Aoline, with a notable red mark on her forehead, dealing the knock-out blow to Cooking Minion. Aoline gets up to her feet, rubbing the mark with a long scowl.

  “Are you alright?” Law asks. Aoline nods with a pain-racked expression on her face.

  “Yeah, yeah I’m fine. They’re a tricky bunch.”

  “For certain. How did two of them get out of the shackles?” Law asks as he picks up the small Cooking Minion and throws him over to the pile of other defeated minions. Aoline inhales sharply through her teeth, aptly forgetting the pain on her head in sight of the pain on her self-image.

  “Eh, well, you see ... it’s really the funniest things that they were-”

  “Actually I don’t much care for why you let them loose. Just don’t do it again. Do you understand?” Law cuts, sharply looking forward, away from Aoline. She sighs, and nods.

  “Yes sir,” she says, looking away to ensure a lack of eye-contact.

  “Good I give you leave for the rest of the night. I’ll reset the shackles and keep an eye on them,” Law says with a grim tone, gathering up the unconscious minions to restrain them with the chains. There’s a moment of hesitance before Aoline salutes.

  “Thank you, sir,” Aoline says, averting her gaze in embarrassment.

  At that, the young knight leaves the tall dragon-kin and goes about her night. Law forgoes a trip to the tavern and keeps a straight eye upon the minions who will, once they regenerate their bodies, likely attempt another escape. For Aoline, she promptly locates her designated bedroom and then crashes into her bed at a second’s notice. Elsewhere, a certain knight titled Love is having an even more-eventful night.

 
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