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The kingdom through the.., p.42
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       The Kingdom through the Swamp: The Courts Divided - Book 1, p.42

           Kell Inkston

  Love walks out of Liefholn’s great tea room having hit her mark perfectly. There’s a part of her that has difficulty with the fact that she shot her best friend in the leg, but the rest of her is stronger and as such chokes it out in the moment. Love stops in the middle of a hall, out of the sight of the others as soon as she can; she needs to come to a decision. Love thinks on it, and smiles. She wants to see how far this rabbit hole will go.

  The Spell-Weaving Meeo goes up to the Knight’s quarters without problem and finds Aoline, still asleep. Love steps up to her and then gently strokes the girl’s cheek. The young Knight’s sleepy eyes open to look about.

  “Love ... what happened? Where’s Chaos?” the white-haired young lady asks as she rubs her eyes. Meeo just stares at the girl for a moment, realizing that Chaos’ essence got far enough into her to cause a sense of intense adoration for him- she’s infected with infatuation.

  “Mmm, quite a bit’s happened, actually. I was just about to go back and find him,” Love says, checking her dimensional sheath and locating Everlock, lying soundly inside its pocket dimension. Aoline clears her throat, thinks a moment, and then looks up, smiling brightly.

  “C- ... can I come with you?” Aoline asks as she looks around to see if anyone’s watching. Love hums, squishes her index finger into her cheek and nods.

  “Yes ... hrm- yes I suppose you can, just know that chances are things would be easier for you if you were to stay here with the Knights,” she says and then pulls out Everlock.

  “Oh, that’s fine. Now let’s go find Chaos!” Aoline responds when she hops up from her bed, the sleepiness falling away quickly. Love gives a kind, albeit concerned smile and opens Everlock. With not even a glance behind her, Aoline hops into Everlock with the chipperness of a sparrow. Meeo takes a moment to look behind her and enters Negative Space. They step through and at the other side meet the very same Minion that was watching the entrance the first time, sitting on the very same couch, with the very same blank, bored look on her features.

  “Oh, uh, hi! You’re those folks from before!” the short Minion begins, promptly getting off the couch and going over to the staircase. “I’ll be just one moment,” she adds before disappearing up the case. Love looks to her side and notes that Aoline is practically trembling with excitement; knowing this, she’s not all that sure if her excitement is something to be encouraged or opposed- fascination can be dangerous, depending on the object that holds it. Love never thought it would happen, but someone has gone from adoring Order to adoring Chaos in the span of a day.

  A stoic, solidly-built Minion comes down the steps. His antennae look more like the blades of knives than anything, and his breath has a powerful thinness to it, as if he’s just breathing it to humor those around him, rather than requiring it to live.

  “Come with me. The Overlord’s waitin’,” he says, his slanted eyes inspecting the two humans for a moment before he motions for them to follow. Love follows with her usual smile and Aoline, after taking a deep breath, follows as well.

  Something seems off to Love as she goes through the tower, as if this place is somehow totally new to her, and yet mixed with the feelings of home. It lies on her mind until the minion escorting her opens the door on the tower’s ground floor, and this time instead of a long, white beach with minions playing about while doing various, ludicrous tasks, it is instead a forested island with the tower standing defiantly tall amidst the trees. Aoline gasps the moment she looks out. Love makes no semblance of surprise on her face, a matter of fact she would expect Chaos to have an enchanted, trans-dimensional tower like this one. This must be how he has been able to avoid detection by the Knights for all these millennia; his fortress crosses realms.

  “Wasn’t this a beach?” Aoline asks.

  “Hmm, I don’t think it’s the beach that changed, Aoline. I’m pretty sure the tower just moved.”

  “What?! Awesome!” Aoline spits out as she marvels at the limitlessness of her admired tyrant.

  “I suppose Chaos’ magic has that effect on people,” Love says as Aoline begins scanning around to take in as much as possible.

  “Right, I don’t doubt it. So wh-- ... oh, hey! Cooking Minion!” Aoline shouts out when she spots a short, rather adorable little trouble maker cooking something on a free-range magic grill. Cooking Minion’s antennae perk up at the delight of someone paying attention to him. He turns around with a suave gaze, exuding spicy brilliance.

  “Yes?” the tiny Minion says with a long grin not unlike his master’s.

  “It’s me! Aoline Rayworth!” she shouts with a grin of equal satisfaction, appreciating the sight of someone she recognizes in the lair of the Overlord. Cooking Minion seems far more confidant while practicing his craft, Aoline notes, almost as though he has some secret advantage over the people he’s talking to.

  “Hmm, nice to have you back. You lookin’ for Chaos?”


  “Cool, he’s just over at the animarium,” Cooking Minion says while delegating a patty to the air.

  “The what?” Aoline asks. Love nudges her gently.

  “It’s where he would keep animals,” Meeo says with a calm, collected smile.

  “Oh! ... So where’s the animarium?” Aoline asks. The tall, scary Minion motions again with his hand over to a dirt pathway just to the right of Cooking Minion’s grill.

  “I’ll direct y’there. Come along,” he says, promptly accompanied by the two ladies.

  The serious-looking Minion leads the two lady Knights through a series of scenic pathways decorated with shockingly cute, intricately-carved sign posts that were each made by the careful hand of the Overlord’s own Aesthetically Pleasing Directional-Navigation Apparatus Creation and Installation Minion. They pass Magic Minion, who looks up from her book and smiles with a warmth that Love has not seen on the faces of the Knights in a long time; the minions seem happier than them, somehow. After a pleasant walk through the Overlord’s well-tended garden forest, the trio reaches what looks to be a field of animals, frolicking, resting, eating and singing in their peculiar animal voices. In the center of a group of sheep and one lion is Chaos, standing over the herd and feeding them by the hand from a bag slung around his shoulder.

  Love never thought she would see the day in which she’d witness the infamous Slayer of Billions feeding a pack of happy, fluffy sheep in a pastoral field, but by this point she can believe he’s capable of most anything, be it painting pictures of flowers, or painting one of his towers with the blood of innocents..

  From across the field, Chaos’ antennae perk up, detecting them even before they had reached the tree line. He turns, waves and stores the bag back into his dimensional throat for later use. A few of the sheep trail off and follow Chaos while he naturally, calmly saunters over to the three.

  “Well now, this is a surprise; though quite the welcome one, I would say,” Chaos says with a direct, commanding gaze, “I would like to thank you for your help in delaying Order to the tea,” he adds, looking over Love with a stare a bit different than his usual. Love smiles, and bows her head as Aoline looses a confused, abrupt “huh?”.

  “It was my pleasure, my lord,” Love says as she pets one of the stray sheep, who in turn rolls its fluff onto the grass in comfort. Chaos nods his head gently as he enters Love’s personal space. Aoline’s eyes grow ever wider now that the Overlord is not even a foot from her.

  “As you may have guessed, I successfully took the seat at the High Tea and I asked for Oa’s true location; its phylactery,” Chaos says, his chilled breath frosting against Love’s warmth. Meeo smiles.

  “Oh?” she coos.

  “ ‘Oh,’ indeed! It turns out I will be going to destroy it soon, and I would love for you to come with me, my dear Frienion. That is, if it would please you,” Chaos says before stroking his hand, the very same that stole the lives of uncounted legions, gently against Meeo’s cheek. Love bends a bit into his hand, and Aoline
s eyes widen even more. The sparks of jealousy quickly mark the young girl’s eyes.

  “Well, I’d love to,” Meeo says. Love beholds a smile on Chaos that is richer, kinder and lovelier than any other time she had laid eyes on him; somehow she feels more safe and at home on this strange island with a tower than she does in the center of the Knights’ headquarters.

  “Very good, let us discuss this further at the center garden, I do believe Cooking Minion has been preparing something for us all, but not you, Operator Prime Minion, you already ate,” Chaos says before leading the ladies and Minion out of the pasture and into the next leg of their adventure.

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