“Long live the king!” came a pleasant roar from the crowd, a beer wielding man with a baby in his other arm flushed in the face as he cheered. As his wife fearfully took the baby, the king gave another smile, waving to the crowd.
Lina mused with a smile, “You two seem popular.”
The queen gave a bit of a trepidatious look. Lina didn’t know what to make of it, but the queen did respond, “I can only hope our peace continues.” Reaching the thrones, she took a seat, keeping some distance from the unplanned bodyguard.
The High Priest made his move towards the King and Queen, his wrinkly face having a somber look as he slowly made his way over to the royal couple. “As do I, your highness.” The priest said, bowing before them. “It’s time for the Fawning ritual to commence.” The priest said, as he turned towards the crowd of people. “Approach the King and Queen in an orderly fashion, with your newborn children in hand and our beloved King and Queen will put the seasonal crown onto your children, ringing in the new year and the Antler Kingdom’s newest citizens!” The priest said, with great gesture and theatrics, somewhat jarring compared to how he could barely walk across the throne room.
Four guards pulled up two carts to the King and the Queen, each cart had small wreaths, made out of tufts of fur from the islands native deer population, weaved around the bark base of the wreath, pieces of wood sticking out, resembling small horns. The King, Bucky, and his wife, Sika picked up one each, and nodded for the citizens to bring forward their babies, one at a time. Each baby had a little name-card on their chest, for the king and queen to say when they put the wreath on their heads.
“Hereby, I pronounce you, young.. Kolt, a citizen of The Antler Kingdom, and I, your king, is your humble protector.”
“Hereby, I pronounce you, lil.. Bam..B.. A Citizen of The Antler Kingdom, and I, your queen, is your humble guardian.”
It went on for a while, as the Priest shoo’d people away as they had gotten their wreaths, keeping a close eye on the guard closest to the king and queen, watching his every move. The embers in his eyes seemingly growing more violent as time went by.
Lina couldn’t help but smile as the kids came by, though in between arrivals she was keeping a close eye on the surroundings, but there were no suspicious characters yet. Though partway through the proceedings, a guard made his way past the line, the king looking a bit off put as he leaned in, whispering a message. The king’s expression turned to one of frustration, Lina raising a brow, before he waved the guard off with a harsh whisper.
As the guard went off, the king moved on to the next child, before a faint rumble shook the castle, followed by another, more intense one.
That was the signal, and the priest suddenly moved like a spry young man, dashing from where he was stood, moving fast as lightning, he ran onto the opposite wall, closest to the throne room, running vertically up onto the roof, doing a backflip and drawing his Tanto from his belt as he flipped four times, landing kneeling with his hand to the ground, in between the King and Queen. As he landed, his former disguise of the priest’s robes fell to the ground. “I love the smell of regicide in the morning.” Marv said, his navy blue tunic flashing as his tanto come swinging towards the King’s head. But it was Marv’s head that moved first, as an errant palm from Lina struck him across the face. “Ow, you bitch!” Marv shouted, holding his nose.
Lina blinked, a bit puzzled. Her hand had only moved reflexively when Marv lunged in towards the king and queen, but until then, the purpose of his movement was completely lost on her. As it finally started to set in though, she reached for her blade, crying, “What the hell are you...ah, you!”
“It is I! Master of disguise, lord of the blade, captain of decapitation, the Azure Lieutenant, Ninja Marv!, and I will be your doom, King Bucky and Queen Sika!” He said, gesturing towards the king and queen, before his hand retreated back to his bleeding nose. He turned around, hunching down, putting two wads of cloth into his nose to stop the bleeding. Turning around again with gusto. “It is I! The Kingslayer, Half-Demon Man, Marv Macaron!”
“You’re the idiot that got beat by Chester than the others,” Lina said plainly, a blank, unenthused expression on her face.
“Why you, little pest! The pirate Chester and his fellow ruffians simply got lucky! They will never land a blow on me again, thanks to my incredible ninja speed!” Marv shouted, as to illustrate his point, he dashed across the room, up the walls and did a series of complex acrobatics before landing back in the same spot he had stood before, letting out a couple of quick breaths of exhaustion.
Marv’s antics left those present baffled: guard, royalty, and common folk alike. All were equal in the wake of Marv’s utter silliness. Finally starting to regain his cognitive functions, King Bucky started to sweat, muttering, “Kingslayer?”
Lunging forward, Lina tackled the physically drained Marv, the ninja tripping over his own feet, turning mid air to faceplant. Brandishing her sword, she told them, “Run!”
“Why, you little pest!” Marv cursed as he was picking himself off the ground. The king and queen got to their feet as the guards started to circle in, Lina angling herself to stand in between Marv and the royalty. However, as Marv stood, she noticed something else out of the corner or her eye. Among the guards moving in closer, most of them wore he insignia of the Antler Kingdom, but there was one among them who wore garb of the Balder Kingdom. One of Johannes’ men, supposedly, yet Lina was the one trusted with the royalty, while Johannes and his men were poised in the front of the palace. Only now did Lina realize something was so off, and her sword flashed, stabbing his shoulder, glancing against the armor and stopping his charge, which had been angled towards the king and queen.
“Who are you?” Lina said, eyes recognizing Saff, if only vaguely. As there eyes met, his narrowed, before he brushed aside her blade and charged the king and queen again. However, the guards had finally mobilized, Saffron and Marv each having several at their side, weapons ready.
Reaching his hand up and letting the armor part of his disguise hit the ground, revealing the cloth underneath, he introduced himself, “Saffron. Quartz Company lieutenant.”
As Marv regained his footing, more shells echoed from outside, as did distant screaming. Lna grit her teeth, growling, “You think you can beat us?”
Saffron scoffed, “We have every advantage.” And yet, even as he said that, Lina’s presence had been in question since he’d seen her.
Calming down, Lina smiled, “You think you do.”
Bombshells echoing throughout the grounds, Johannes looked towards the explosions, uselessly impacting the castle walls. His men were organized around the gates, locals awestruck by the attack, some starting to run, loitered by the gates. The Balder knights hopped into motion as Johannes barked, ordering, “Get the civilians-”
His words were cut off, as those closest drew knives, throwing off heavy clothes to reveal shades of blue, charging at Johannes and Johannes alone. He met their blades with his armor, before his arm tore through the air, knocking them back. He’d been cut a few times, but as his men started to mobilize, he noted the civilians were split between those moving forward and those away. And from the stalls set up closest to the gates, the civilians who were staying, rearranging their outfits, were joined by men in Azure suits.
Drawing his shield and halberd, Johannes insisted, “Hide your pretentions, men. Don’t let yourselves forget for even a moment…”
“...this is war.”
The technicolored cannons stood in rows, aimed at the sky at first, people gathering around the green clad jesters as they danced around, to not cause suspicion. Almost a hundred men were gathered around the canons, all wearing green carnival outfits of some kind, some more festive than others. They looked toward the big clocktower, where they saw the big hand strike the even hour, and then they lit the fuse to their firework cannons. Where people expected fireworks and joy, it turned into horror as they realized the nature of the trick.
“It’s an attack! They’re attacking the castle! Guards! Call the Guards!” One of the guest cried as the mortars continued firing and the green clad carnies turned on the public, scaring them away. “Secure the mortars!” One of them shouted, [Officer Tequila S. Lime of the Verdant company, 6,000 Bounty.] As his forces grouped around the mortars, securing them. They were kicking and hitting civilians who tried to interfere, setting up a secure perimeter around the mortars as they continued to fire on the castle, Tequila was holding a stopwatch in his hand, timing each time he threw a coin into the sky. Everytime the coin came up heads, he gave the signal to fire.
As the cannons fired, one of the guys carrying the ammunation fell down, collapsed. Next time it came up heads, the cannons fired, and another guy collapsed. Third time, same procedure. Tequila began picking it up and went over to one of the fallen guys, kicking him lightly in the ribs - no response, the guy was out. “What the hell is going on here?!” Lime shouted, as in the distance, a faint humming of strings could be heard.
In the doorway to one of the alleys, stood the man draped in his coat, hand on his hat as the wind blew the cigarette smoke into a shape. The humming of strings continued. In his hand was a rifle, a faint trail of smoke from the barrel. His one eye covered by his leathery eyepatch, the other as blue as a sapphire. The doors of the buildings closest to him was slamming in the wind as he walked towards the group of gunmen. As he was walking, bullets continued hailing onto the men by the cannons from several different directions - this was an assault they weren’t expecting. Lime took cover and ordered people to rout the shooters. Soon, the four rifles being shot had been identified in different windows of different houses, perfectly positioned to have clear view of the park.
The man in the alley walked closer, as he did, the string sound grew louder. Lime whistled. “We got a live one here, boys!” He shouted, as five other men joined Tequila. Each of them were distinct in their combination of green and earthy colors, each matching Lime’s leather-look. A couple of them draped in ponchos and hats similar to the mystery man’s. [Ababaco, Verdant Company Tribe member. 4,000,000 bounty], [Biday, Verdant Company Tribe Member, 2,800,000 bounty], [Chelan, Verdant Company Tribe Member, 5,000,470 bounty] [Onoeto, Verdant Tribe member, 3,123,000 bounty] [Navajo, Verdant Tribe Member, 5,666,000 Bounty] and finally [Tequila Seminole Lime, Verdant Tribe Member and Verdany Company Officer, 6,000,000 Bounty.]
The string sound grew louder as the six were looking around, the man was crossing the street toward them, the six on one side, the one on the other. Lime was told by his soldiers that they had found the rifles - they were automated to fire eight rounds, there was no one but the man in front of them. “You are pretty brave to be here all alone. Six to one, like this.” The mystery man smiled, as he flicked his cigarette away. “Now, who might dis be?” He asked from under his hat, as Lime smiled and cockily gestured to his posé. “We’re the Six Shooter Tribe, proud members of the Verdant Company.” They all said, hands on their holstered revolvers. Kuhn smiled. “Well, looks like we’ve got a bit of a standoff on our hands, don’t we, boys?”
“You’re outgunned, six to one. I wouldn’t take those odds.” Again, the lone gunman smirked. “Dat is where you and I differ. I’m not afraid of a wager.” The strings finally grew louder, the sound echoing all around them and like someone tuning an instrument - a single riff of the steel stringed guitar sounded. “Draw!” Kuhn and Lime both shouted as they unholstered their revolvers, the six firing once, the one firing six. Once the gunpowder had settled, only one was left standing. Kuhn blew the smoke off his revolver, as the six laid before him, walking over their bodies, he flipped a coin in his hand, looking back at a lil kid in the alley he came from with his guitar in his hands. “Thanks, Kid.” Kuhn told him, moving to stop the remaining soldiers with the canons.
A piece of reinforced steel was retrieved from underneath Kuhn’s coat, in it were five bullets, one had pierced the edge of his coat. “Lucky me.” He scoffed.
Slow-Claps were heard from the roof above, as a female figure sat ontop the edge of the roof. Her long legs crossed, wearing a green, leaf patterned dress and a circlet with a feather on her head. [Chief Apache Elaina Dart, Bounty 24,000,000]
“You stacked the deck quite nicely there, my my.” She told him, coyly.
With the knights in front of the gates, the bubbling riot never quite found its way towards the front, but rather around the side. And as cannonballs hit, wandering eyes started to come across a rather unguarded link in the wall around the palace, broken in an accident or vandalization not a day ago. The tide started to swell, moving towards the wall, those in red leading the charge, breaking through, right behind the line of Balder soldiers guarding the gates. Cheers of victory rang out, and were swiftly silenced, the first responders being sent flying into the palace, crashing with as much force as any cannonball.
The sudden shift brought a halt to that early crowd, which began to stumble on itself in confusion. Those next up in line to cross the threshold were blocked by a rather large man in a tank top and jeans, letting out a yawn as he faced down an entire rioting crowd.
Macario mumbled, “Passed out for a second there…”
Puzzlement coming to an end, a few more Crimson Company men charged, but Macario’s fingers rolled before his fist flashed. “Gen.” Power from the punch piercing through, dropping several men before the last one flew back into the crowd, Macario yelled, “What did I say!?”
A confused civilian stammered, “G-gen?”
Macario blinked before shaking his head, a cocksure smile cropping on his face as he insisted, “Not one of you is getting past me, so take your riot and shove off.”
On Stagio Island, a rabble of men had convenied on a single location, in the port where the riots were taking place, amidst the red bandanas, a streak of yellow could be seen. They were all wearing expensive looking dress shirts, hats, nice coats and overall looked to be of a higher sort than the thugs that ran amok on the Island. They had found a man sitting in a bar, drinking. His short blond hair filled with salt water, dirt and dried blood. His chest was bare, showing off his freshly gained scar over the chest. On the sign outside of the bar the sign had once said “No shirt, no service.” But once the gentleman in question had arrived, the sign had been split into fragmented pieces.
The gaggle of Quartz soldiers had surrounded the bar, as one of them, the man in the nicest suit of the bunch, got out a metal cylindrical acoustic device to enhance his voice. “Come out of the bar with your hands up. You’re surrounded. By order of the Quartz company, you are under arrest!”
Out walked the half-naked man, the sun hurting his eyes as he walked out of the now demolished bar. His hands in front of his face. “What the hell is going on here?” He asked, as the soldiers readied their guns, trained at him. “Be careful, boys. Even Boss Cerulean couldn’t finish this guy off, so we’ll have to do it for him.”
“Cerulean?” Chester asked, a bottle in his hand that he took a swig out of. “Steady..” the leader of the group said, but one man in yellow was nervous - he had seen what the pirate infront of him had done to more than a few of his fellow Company members a few weeks earlier and he lost his cool. Firing his gun prematurely, it came flying at Chester, glancing his forearm and striking the bottle perfectly, glass splintering all over the pirate’s face.
“PIIIISSS!!” Chester cried out, holding his face, trying to pick out the pieces of glass from his skin ,each pieces causing a little bit of blood to gush out. The Quartz company soldiers looked in disbelief at the pirate twisting and turning in pain. “WHY DID IT HAVE TO BE IN MY EYES?!” He screamed. Picking out a couple of shards from his eyes, he opened his left one, looking at the soldier who had fired, pointing his bloodied hand at him. You. One finger at him as the guy’s face turned pale. Picking another piece of glass from his skin, he cursed again, before lunging at the group. The man who had shot him was trying to run away, as his fellow Quartz members drew their blades to attack the Pirate.
A few moments later, Chester was picking more pieces of glass out of his face, his boot on the man who shot him’s jaw as he laid on the ground, crying for mercy. Chester looked at him with cold, empty eyes. “You… You owe me a drink.” he warned him, and the soldier, sobbing panicked threw a wad of cash towards Chester, whom caught the wad, smiled and turned back towards the demolished bar, whistling inbetween picking glass from his face.
He left the wad of cash on the counter. “Your biggest bottle of booze.” He told the owner, as the owner came out, scared to death “Y-You already got that.”..
“Well.. Your second biggest bottle of booze, then. Jeez.”
The barkeep delivered the bottle and Chester sat down to have his drink, only for more trouble to be brewing as eleven men made their way through the broken band of Quartz soldiers outside. “What a dastardly mess.” Said Guldheim as he walked towards the Pirate, a stack of papers in his hand Chester would soon dread more than anything so far in his life.