The next day, on the last day when they skipped patrols, Sally decided to suck it up and refused to do anything for rest of the day. She had been the only one that still either helped around the house or went and did chores for someone else. Still, she could not understand how anyone could possibly spend a whole day doing nothing.
“Well of course you don’t remember how to relax,” said Luna while sharing tea. “Baronet, you haven’t really relaxed since high school, right?”
“Oh. You’re right, there was college, nurse training, then Knight training. I guess, it was a long time since I really had any free time.”
“I’m lucky. I had learned how to use my mercurial form as a child. Now I briefly have problems, but I can always sip away without much work at all.”
“That is another problem.”
Luna smiled, but it was still a pained smile, “Okay, then. I’m going to practice a bit more. I’m finally ready.”
Sally let her go, and luckily Ella was also in front of the TV. When Sally walked towards her, Ella was panicked. She shifted in her chair then tried to rise. Sally felt the little rays of magic as tingling currents of heat as Ella’s puppet strings pulled her upwards.
“Listen. Sally!” Rewinding the television, Ella resembled a flytrap as her hand grasped Sally’s wrist.
The King had fallen unconscious. Quickly, Sally said, “I’ll look for my brother. Could you ask Luna to find His Highness?”
When Ella went and told the news, Luna’s entire day of focus evaporated. As Ella let her in on Nick’s schedule for the day, one of her tendrils materialized and ripped her clothing, but the two were so engaged that she didn’t even notice.
At the time, Nicholas was entertaining nobles, and Tom was awkwardly taking his turn to help too. Sally and Luna both left with haste, but found a grim-faced Tom sitting with a downtrodden Nick. The sounds of sirens reverberated through the chambers. Except, it was as if the siren spoke once quietly to tell the servants and the other staff. They understood magically and whipped everyone away except them. The guests were all long gone, and the elaborate décor became haunting in their absence.
“Nicholas, I mean, Your Highness, Are you okay?” said Luna, catching her breathe.
He grunted, “Yes, okay. More importantly, Luna, your shirt is ripped.”
“Never mind that, let’s go to where your father is! Right, everyone?”
“No!” he half yelled, “I mean, I think you should go home. I only asked Tom to come so he could help me carry something, right?”
“Right,” Tom replied but Luna felt a little indignant. Sally grabbed her, though otherwise she hadn’t said or done anything. Luna knew she wasn’t ready to see the King.
He wasn’t special to her, but she remembered the many times that he visited her. It was something she sought to push aside. Just after forming Zero Squad with people that were like family, that very group was being thinned. Maybe she would have forced him to let her go to, but it was too soon.
Instead, Sally took her home and Nicholas and Tom quickly marched towards the interior of the palace, and not just the galleries or tea gardens, or other fine rooms now kept for display.
Nicholas knew not the nature of the emergency but he wanted to move as fast as his heart could, propelled by the very frightening aspect of not getting to see his father before he was moved elsewhere, or worse…
The thing was, that strangely the King was not very advanced in age, nor was he particularly unhealthy, or otherwise ill. No, but he had once heard from Baronet Sally, who really knew more than she should that there were several ways a man could just end up and faint.
When they got there the staler air from deeper in hit them like a wall as they opened the door, but somehow dressed, and tired looking, Ella was already there on her knees next to some servants and the King, reduced also to the floor. His eyes looked very distant, but he turned to see them and made the effort to nod silently, before mustering all his strength and, to the disbelief of everyone present, standing up and leaning on the servants before walking to a private clinic.
Finally, after a glass of water, he cleared his throat and made sure that, he was “fine and needed to be alone.”
Of course, his doctor did not let him have his authority, just this once, and Nicholas, teary-eyed, but content, took the group to their quarters, and found that Luna also appreciated the news. As Nicholas elaborated, she just smirked and bobbed her happy head until she said, “Where did the other Baronet go?”
Tom felt just
Tom felt just a touch of evil as he just slipped past, goaded the doctor, and looked Royalty in the eyes and asked about how his grandfather was personally. Not the old man who told Tom stories, but as the veteran knight, who was more famous than his family knew.
When Tom walked in, he carried a book with A. Schwarz’s last name plastered over and claimed he had hurt his foot on the way and fell behind, into the crowd, and into a bookstore for a book he really wanted (and Sally approved) but that excuse didn’t hold but no one expected that he did anything with the King and went about their last day of rest.
The night patrol went without a hitch except it was rather strange that Ella had to truck past everyone as a scout, as she was the veteran still, but she did so with a cane, to balance her already exhausted sense of control with her partially spent magic and uneasy head.
There was only a single darkling, one of high danger levels that took on an ugly bestial, but humanoid shape, but Zero Squad endeavored to take it out quickly.
Nicholas’ lance struck it right where the thigh would be, while Ella held her fire, wanting to save up the last of her magic reserved. Luna on the other extreme, had no problem breaking her skin to send as many tendrils as she could into the creature, this time a record of six, not just out of her two palms but from her abdomen too.
At this point the specimen was falling apart and the shadows would probably disperse by itself since the mercurial form had been so broken, but together Tom and Sally cut long strokes coursing through the parody of the ape-like body, not letting the darkling even fall over. Remembering, how deadly humanoid darklings where, no one wanted to comment on the other’s guile or effort.
When all was over and come morning, everyone followed Nicholas curiously as he wanted to see his father. Left in an anteroom, they waited patiently for him to check whether it was okay to visit. Some of the visitors returned and the waiters shifted to see a familiar looking boy peek into their anteroom.
Luna and Ella curtsied, and the later muttered, “Crown Prince. It’s nice to see you,” but he did not heed them.s