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The kingdom through the.., p.18
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       The Kingdom through the Swamp: The Courts Divided - Book 1, p.18

           Kell Inkston
 
CHAPTER SIXTEEN: BEARINGS, NATURAL OR OTHERWISE

  The return-trek through the forest is easier for Love, as the morning rays of Sun herself are now peeping over the great western side, bathing the knight’s world with light. Meeo is about ten minutes away from Liefland’s entry statue when Aoline begins mumbling. Love stops a moment, feels a bit more stirring from the young knightess and slowly sets her down onto her own feet.

  “W- ... good morning.” Aoline says drowsily, deciding to pay respect to her commanding officer before asking the obvious. Love smiles and nods, as if she had not just been given such a weighty decision to make.

  “Yes, good morning, Aoline! Are you alright? Can you walk?” Love asks, still holding up a bit of Aoline’s weight. The girl replants her feet to the ground.

  “Yeah ... what happened? Where are we?” she asks. Love smiles.

  “You and Lain here had an unfortunate run in with the necromancers. Everything will be explained in time, b--”

  “Mmnm ... no ... please,” grumbles Lain, regaining himself from a dream. Love puts him to his feet as well. He wearily and slowly opens his eyes, instantly launching a spiteful look towards Madame Sun.

  “What the hell?” Lain mutters with a bitter scowl as he raises his arms to protect his eyes from the daylight.

  “Good morning, I think.”

  “Morning to you too, Lain.” Aoline and Love greet respectively.

  “Oh uh ... yeah. What’s going on?” he asks, rubbing his eyes of various fairy dusts and sands.

  “Hmm ... You and Aoline were captured by necromancers and the situation has taken a fairly bad turn. I’m sure you’re both dying to know what all went down, and I can tell you everything in time, but for now you need to give me some peace and quiet to think; your lives depend on it,” Love says as she gestures the two to come along with her. Lain draws back in surprise a moment and then just nods, too drowsy to ask further and quickly presuming Love has it all under control, but Aoline is set on finding out.

  “Our lives?” Aoline asks. Love hums.

  “Well, yes. It seems Oa, the first of the necromancers, has enchanted your bodies with a ... well, a spell that’s on your hearts.”

  “What is it? Is it active now?”

  “Oh, no. I feel the most important thing for you to do right now is to need to trust me to get you out of this okay, okay?” Love says amidst the chirping of the morning birds and bugs. Aoline thinks a moment, and nods too.

  “Alright. I trust you. So it’s on our hearts?”

  “Yes, but keep it a secret for now,” Love educates as the three step through the woods. Aoline hums in interest, and laxly pulls forward her under-armor paddings to take a peek at her chest.

  Aoline stares blankly at the symbol for a moment, and then realizes something that makes her feel a bit uncomfortable. She looks up and sharpens her gaze a bit, waking up quickly.

  “My bra is gone,” she says bluntly. Love shrugs.

  “Oh, well maybe one of the necromancers liked you and th- ... mmm,” Love stops herself from joking around, when she realizes something the two younger knights have not; each one of them has a glove from the other’s on their hands; the necromancers must have mixed their clothing items. Love quickly begins drawing conclusions as Aoline gives a look of concern to the calmest of the knights.

  “What’s the matter?”

  “Oh, nothing. Now please, give me some time,” Love says, deciding to let the two of them realize later that they’re probably wearing one-another’s netherwears; she can’t be distracted by things as petty as wardrobe malfunctions right now. Aoline looks at Love a bit strangely, and shrugs.

  “Yeah, alright,” Aoline says right before she quiets up.

  The three return to the statue of the first fairy-queen, enter Liefland, and make their way to the keep. They are let in by the guards without problem and find Law, unwavering even after all these hours, keeping a close eye on the minions. He spots them the moment they enter the entry hall, and sighs in the most authoritative way he can. Love thinks he looks a bit stressed for some reason.

  “Good morning, knights,” he begins, greeting them with the corner of his gaze.

  “Why, good morning, Law. How are the minions?”

  “The-”

  “We can speak for ourselves, dragon-bastard,” Combat Minion says with a glowing scowl.

  “I’m done with you!” Law shouts as he turns to the minions and raises his foot as if to begin smashing down into Combat Minion’s face.

  “Bring it, trash. Let me go and I’ll take you seriously this time,” Combat Minion challenges, bracing to meet Law’s foot. The dragon-kin snorts out smoke from his nostrils, delivers to Combat Minion a murderous gaze, but recalls that Love is standing right next to him. He lowers his leg, and regains his composure.

  “An outburst of violence towards a disarmed prisoner would not reflect the values of my order. Though I’d gladly smash in your face again, you will have to wait,” Law says with a mild, condescending smile. Combat Minion groans in irritation, and turns to Love.

  “Please, make him stop. He just keeps staring at us and he’s so uninteresting! He hasn’t said a single tolerable thing all night. Can’t you ju--”

  “Shut your hole, Combat Minion,” Cooking Minion interrupts “he’s been complaining all night about losing the fight with the dragon-kin. Can you like, relocate the two of them or something?”

  “You shut up, Cooking Minion! I think I’ve had enough of your--”

  “Combrat Minion,” Magic Minion addresses with a weary gaze. Combat Minion instantly feels emasculated, his title being belittled by his respected team mate.

  “Y-yes?”

  “Cooking Minion’s right. You need to shut up,” Magic Minion says with a bitter, tired gaze. Combat Minion mutters for a moment, scoffs, and then turns away from his chained comrades. After a slight pause, Law clears his throat.

  “They’ve been fine, the small and the tall one have been resting about, but off and on I’ve been having trouble, as you see, with the big one. So how did your little operation go?” Law asks, sharpening his gaze onto Love.

  The gears in Meeo’s head turn quickly.

  “It went well. Found these two meandering about; you know,” Love says.

  “Oh. Say, you two haven’t been up to anything ... objectionable in the eyes of The Knightly code, have you?” Aoline and Lain mutter a moment, and then Love clears her throat gently.

  “Oh no, nothing like that, Law. You and your adolescent mind; I remember when I was that young.”

  “Please, you’re kidding,” Law says.

  “Oh you know I am. Anyway, is Order up yet?”

  “She didn’t go to sleep to my knowledge ... and did you bring the Wist White for her?”

  “They were all out and I got held up by something else- so it’s kay. Hmm, so I suppose I’ll go ahead and- ... Oh, good morning, Order!” Love says as she spots Order stepping though the inner halls to find Love. Order’s expression isn’t friendly; it’s her “actual serious” face. Love can always spot it when Order purses her lips and widens her eyes.

  “Meeo,” Order begins.

  “Why yes, Ranalie?”

  “You need to come with me.”

  “Ahh, whatever for?”

  “Gallin’s throwing a tantrum about the necromancer disappearing.”

  “Oh, well I can’t really say I kn--” Love halts her speech, staring into the blue, concerned eyes of Order. Love sighs abashedly, remembering again how perceptive her superior is. “Hrm, alright,” Love corrects, waving to the others. Order silently escorts Love off, leaving the three other knights with the minions.

  “I wonder what happened,” Law says with a leading tone, trying to get the other two to fill him in on anything they might know. Law’s eyes lock onto the two with an iced, incriminating glare.

  Cooking Minion begins boorishly inspecting the two teenagers, needing something new to think on, and notices something he finds humorous. He gently
nudges Magic Minion, and motions with his head. Magic Minion looks over the two teenagers with her glowing, enchanted eyes, and scoffs lightly at first, but it begins to grow in decibel.

  Lain looks over to Aoline, and the two share uncertain gazes; somehow they feel they shouldn’t tell anyone about what happened.

  “I don’t--”

  “HAHAHAHAHA--” Magic Minion laughs, rising an agreeing laugh from Cooking Minion. Law sighs.

  “What’s so funny? Do you think the necromancer’s escape is a joke?” he asks, grasping the two of them in his focused, draconic gaze. Magic Minion and Cooking Minion share another laugh at how serious Law is, considering that he’s unaware of Aoline and Lain’s current situation. Combat Minion looks over the two as if they’re crazy, but then also spots the two knights, and promptly sees through their attire with his magic eyes. He also begins chuckling. “You will tell me what you find so humorous!” Law demands, ensuing another joint guffaw from the minions. Magic Minion, the best self-controlled of the three, addresses Aoline and Lain.

  “So, are you two comfortable?” she asks with a wide, stupid smile. Aoline and Lain look at each other, and then the minion.

  “Yes?”

  “Uh, yeah, why?” Aoline and Lain say respectively. Magic Minion puffs out air in humor again.

  “Just wondering, what with your choice of intimates and all. I suppose if it works for you that’s perfectly fine!” she says with a mockingly-positive smile. Lain and Aoline yet again exchange an awkward glance; the two hadn’t noticed it until now, but something does feel off, and then they look at each-others hands. They spot the mismatched gloves. Lain coughs, and looks about awkwardly.

  “What makes you say--” Lain stops, hearing a sharp, horrified gasp from Aoline. She, as a more casual sort than Lain, did not hesitate to pull her pants to the side a bit and look down her side the moment she heard the comment about the underwear. The minions share another laugh. Lain sighs, and looks down the collar of his shirt with a face of absolute horror. A pink, cutesy bra is strapped about his chest.

  As the laughing of the minions reaches a fever pitch, Law quickly catches on what the matter is and snorts out smoke. Aoline’s face flushes red, while Lain’s quickly loses all color.

  “So, that’s it then, you little perverts,” Law begins.

  “W-w-wait please! It’s n--”

  “Silence. No wonder Love found you two out. You were sexually fraternizing!” Law yells, interrupting Lain with a fiery roar.

  By this point the three minions have melted into a single amalgamation of laughter, each imagining that this could not possibly get any better.

  “No! No! Not him! Never! I didn’t!” Aoline says, feeling like she’s about to faint.

  “Might I recite the fifth point in chapter five of the Reinen Royal Guard Code? Knights shall remain sexually chaste until discharge or marriage! You two humans make me sick! I can’t believe Redemption gave you this assignment!” Law says. Lain and Aoline can just barely hear the sound of fire welling up in Law’s throat.

  “You tell ‘em!” Magic Minion cheers as Cooking Minion begins hitting his head against the back of the wall. Lain promptly falls over, expecting his honored station as a knight, and all his years of training in the academy, are about to be wasted. Aoline inhales three breaths worth of air, and quickly speaks up.

  “It was the necromancers!” she exclaims. Law’s gaze suddenly transforms from anger to confusion, and then contemplation, and then realization.

  “... Aoline, Lain.”

  “Yes?” Aoline responds, Lain still in shock on the floor.

  “I can’t believe it ... You two were actually … They got your clothing mixed up, didn’t they?”

  “Wh-what do you mean?”

  “You know what I mean. Just what the hell happened this morning?!” Law says as he places his rock-hard gauntlet on Aoline’s shoulder. She thinks for a moment, and then sighs.

  “Alright, I’ll tell you,” she says while Lain still convulses on the floor in terror.

 
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