The two stood at the base of a large tree with very little branches at the base. Although it was raining, they were protected by the thick foliage of the canopy above them. It cast a dark shadow over them, which seemed to make the brush around Crow's ankles seem taller and thicker. Birds chirped off and on, obviously making plans of some sort before the strength of the oncoming storm from the ocean hit with its full ferocity.
Covered in cobwebs, dirt soaked into his wet shirt, and leaves clinging to mud along his pant legs – Crow looked a little beat. Akiio threw a few leaves out of his onyx hair, but otherwise he was relatively clean; He did have a thin layer of moisture all over him but nothing was soaking in. Crow had Akiio held on his back piggy-back style with his hands at Akiio's thighs, leaning forward.
“The need to sprint was less than ten percent.” Akiio said rather flatly without a show of care to Crow holding him on his back.
Crow scoffed, panting for air with heavy breaths. He lifted his chin up to glare at the other. “Did you see that look that boar gave me? I'm not hangin' round that!” He released Akiio so the other could slide down to the ground. After he had his hands free, Crow began to wipe his face from forest grime.
Akiio chortled. “The scream when the moth flew at you was brilliant. Especially after you had accidentally saved it from that spider web.”
“Which I am now wearing!” Crow snapped back bitterly – snapping his head over to sharply glare at Akiio.
Akiio shut his eyes, trying to ignore the tone of Crow's voice. Just as Crow turned to look back at the tree in front of them, Akiio said with pure snark, “I think I see a hitchhiker in your hair.”
“Screw you.” Crow snapped, glancing back at Akiio. Then he brushed his hands through his hair a few times to double-check for a spider lingering around. He doesn't know when the fuck to let up!
Akiio snickered at Crow's reaction. “It's there.” He pointed up above them into the branches. “Twenty-three above on the right.”
“And I'm supposed to get up there how?” Crow groaned, looking up and then back to Akiio. “There's no damn branches!”
“Might I suggest you try jumping?”
“Why don't you try jumping?” Crow propped his hands on his hips. He gestured with his left arm widely up above him. “You're the one who can see it.”
“Such an irate attitude for the one who offered to help me. Me, who was in a hospital, and dragged out here, primarily against my will. All for the purpose to grab the memory and return to Phyte.” Akiio said, shutting his eyes as he folded his arms over his torso.
Crow grit his teeth as he turned a glower onto the other. Yeah, it was my idea but I didn't think it'd be so damn high up in an impossible to climb tree! “Fine! I'll climb the damn fucking tree!” After turning abruptly to the tree, Crow stood there for a second, staring over the bark.
“Any minute now.” came Akiio's plain unamused voice behind him.
“Shut up or I'll char your face!” Crow threatened without looking back.
“Do try.” Akiio's tone was slow and lethargic.
Why do I smell spearmint? …It's grating on my nerves. It's so sharp, and tart, and tangy.
Will opened his blue eyes wearily. In front of him blocking his vision was a a thick comforter. The smell of spearmint seemed to get stronger as he woke up. Exhaling until his chest caved, Will rolled from his side onto his stomach, jerking his legs around until he could stretch them. A moment later, he reached up his hand, grabbed the corner of the blanket and threw it off. He rubbed his eyes, then sat up.
How'd I get back into the bedroom? Will thought, looking around the space. At the window he could see the dim light of daylight peeking through thick clouds, as a wind was starting to batter the glass. A storm.
It took Will a few more moments to get up and out of the bed. Opening the door to the hallway, he was promptly greeted by Tino and Viau standing with their arms crossed facing each other in front of the door's threshold. They looked serious, pursing their lips, and hardly blinking.
“What's… going on?” Will asked softly.
“Staring contest.” said a knight sitting on the ground. Will looked around the two to see the young man. He was sitting with his legs crossed, his arm propped on his knee to hold his head up as he watched the two men in front of the door with a bored look on his face. “Can't make faces. First to laugh has to get the other breakfast.”
“That's silly.” Will stated with a rather amused tone. He stepped behind Tino to get around them, then turned to face them. “Knock that off and go eat right now, the both of you.”
“Can't do it.” Viau stated stubbornly.
“Gotta win.” Tino answered after.
With a smile on his face, Will propped his left hand on his hip, “Fine. Then you two can just stay here while I leave.”
“Leave to where?” Viau asked, but he didn't break eye-contact from the other knight.
The one sitting down lifted his head up. “That's right! Will, one of the lord knights wanted to talk to you. He needs you to overrule the port being closed.”
“It's closed?” Will asked, turning to him.
“Yeah. Since last night. The harbormaster ordered it and the lord knight is pissed, so he wants you to overrule it, and open it back up.” The knight explained. “He should be waiting in the north meeting room.”
Did I do something wrong by just sleeping? Suddenly frowning, Will asked. “Did I oversleep?”
“No. He's just a whiny early-bird.” Sara cut in as she came walking from a short distance away. “Ready for breakfast?”
“Huh?” Will looked at her confused.
“Breakfast. Are you ready to eat it?”
“Y–Yes, but I thought I had to speak to the lord knight?”
“After you eat.” Tino ordered. “Every lord knight knows this. The king never sees someone before or during his morning meal, unless it's Adell.”
“And only if it's Adell.” Viau reiterated firmly.
Will looked from the two still in their staring contest back to Sara. “Oh. …What is it?”
“Cranberry,” started Sara and instantly Will's plain expression turned to one of distaste, unable to stop it, “orange scones, and potato basil bread pudding.”
“Cranberry?” Will asked slowly, wanting to make sure he had heard right. “It's not… blueberry?”
Slowly, Sara nodded her head. “No… I'm pretty sure it's cranberry.”
The knight sitting down chuckled at Will's expression as it didn't ease up from the disapproval that was carving into his features. “I take it you don't like cranberry?”
“Not… really.” Will admitted slowly as he started down the hall.
“You look ready to throw up!” He commented as Will stepped past him.
“N–No. I just won't eat it.”
“Hey, guys, you gotta see his face! He looks sick!”
The knight followed at Will's side, poking fun at his face. All Will could do, unable to make light of how much his face was showing his dislike for the berries, was give the knight an look of disapproval and then embarrassment as he continued forward.
I really hope they don't make me eat the cranberry scones – and putting orange in it won't make it taste any better! Will stopped after taking a few steps down the hall. “Uh, could you take m to the kitchen?”
Sara chuckled. She'd been following at his heels accompanied by the other knight that had been teasing Will. “Certainly.”
The trio walked quietly through the halls of the palace. The whole way, Will was lost in quiet thought.
Crow still isn't back yet. I hope he's okay with Akiio. He'd… have returned before going to see Matéas at his garden, right? Since it's being attacked after all. But… Then… What about the note Rhys left for me? It clearly said I should go to the Toul Wood. How?
“You really won't even try the scone?” Sara's words cut delicately like a paring knife into Will's thoughts.
Will looked at her with surprise, immediately relaxing his face. “N–no.”
Will was taken to a small room with a table large enough for four people to sit at with a chandelier hanging above it. At the center of the table was a purple ceramic vase with a poinsettia inside it, blooming ivory flowers happily.
It's a little early for them to be in bloom? Must have been planted early and well-taken care of. I think Rhys really likes that flower. Will cast his eyes down to his plate setting laid out before him while he waited for the servants to bring in his meal. I hope… he's okay.
After finishing his potato and basil bread, paired with a small plate of scrambled eggs with a sprinkling of white sharp cheese, Viau came up to Will's side at the table. “Follow me to the meeting room. The lord knight awaits.”
“Wait.” Will said softly as he stood up to follow the crude knight. “What does he want again?”
“You to open the port, for business.” Viau answered without any kindness in his tone.
Will nodded a bit slowly. “The harbormaster closed it?” Viau nodded. “For good reason, I assume.” He slowly looked toward the large windows on the side of the room from the small dining table. The wind was still, although weak, steadily battering the windows with drops of rain.
After a moment, Will stood up from the table, pushing in his chair, and started toward the door. All of a sudden, Sara realized Will's attire. “Hold up a moment!” She reached over to grab Will's forearm. He and the other knights stopped to look at her, surprised. “He shouldn't be meeting any lord knight in his pajamas!”
“Why not?” Will asked, smiling at her. “Rhys wouldn't see a reason to treat anyone special –especially if the lord knight thinks this is some kind of calamity happening.”
Feeling defeated by this very accurate Rhys-like logic, Sara turned to the other knights for help. They all shrugged their shoulders with little care. “That's how it is.” “He's right.” “If Rhys wouldn't, he shouldn't need to.” and “If he doesn't want to change…” were the simple responses she got. Sara huffed in a very unlady-like way before releasing Will.
Will nodded to her, moving his left hand up to offer her a reassuring flick of the wrist. “I'm sure it'll be fine.” He told her. Then Will looked from her to the other knights. “Which room is the lord knight waiting in?”
Will opened the door to the north meeting room without knocking; it wasn't required for a king stand-in to knock. The room was really set up like a drawing room: a pair of small ivory sofas, a small coffee table, several floor lamps, paintings of flowers on the walls framed neatly, and a few short shelves of books. Inside, Will saw the lord knight put down the book he'd been casually skimming through.
The man looked to be in his early forties, short and stocky, but not fat. He was dressed in a fine mauve and maroon suit with a crisp black cravat pinned by a ruby encrusted in gold at his neck. His hair was short brown, the color of dirt, trimmed strikingly short so Will could see his pale scalp through the short straight hair. When his hazel eyes met Will's, he looked disappointed. “I thought I was calling upon His Majesty.”
“King Rhys is still busy at the moment.” Will said plainly. He took a few steps into the room, three knights following at this heels. “You had a concern about the harbor being closed?”
“A concern is a light affair I could easily handle myself. This – is a catastrophy!” Although he exclaimed it out, the lord knight preserved his round face its shape. “That moron of a leader closed the seawall so no ships can get in or out because of a little wind!”
I doubt that's his only reason. Will countered in his mind. Thoughtfully he crossed his arms in front of his torso, shutting his eyes to think a moment – giving a perfect illusion of it. After a few seconds silence, Will opened his eyes and said firmly, “I'll go talk to him and see. I can't reverse his order without hearing from his expertise.”
“This is ludicrous!” The lord knight raised his voice, slamming the book down to the small coffee table.
Will didn't flinch or react to the outburst. He allowed a pause before asking, “Would King Rhys just do whatever you thought best without inquiry?”
Slowly, the man shook his head, looking down from Will's vibrant blue eyes. “He wouldn't dismiss my words as a farce either.”
“I'm not.” Will clarified coolly. “But I will not just order the harbor open against without looking into it. If it's money and profit that's your worry, offer concern to the boats and sailors that run them.” Without another thing to scold on, Will turned on his heel and left the room. Out in the hall, he turned to the nearest knight. “Prepare a carriage to take me down to the harbormaster.”
Will turned from him and started down the hall to return to the bed chambers he'd slept in to change. “Have a snack brought in to me.” A knight behind him scurried off with the one ordered to fetch the carriage right in front. Yuck. I don't like how used to being a snide bossy king I'm getting. Rhys… come back soon!
It didn't take long for Will to get dressed. He changed into a light beige button-up shirt, pulled on a chocolate-colored vest with a deep v-neck, and dark brown slacks. While he was tying on a a tie the same color as the slacks around his neck, Viau stood next to him with his arms crossed, looking miffed.
“If you have a comment on the current situation, it's best to state it aloud.” Will commented, not looking away from the mirror while he tilted his chin up to make sure the tie was done correctly.
“I don't think it's a good idea to get tossed about by the lord knights when you're standing in for the king.” Viau unswung his arms.
“You're just about as oddly cynical as Crow can be.” Will pursed his lips, raising an eye-brow to look at the king's knight. “It won't hurt to go and talk to the harbormaster.”
“Don't make a habit of it. You'll have all of the lord knights after you in an hour to go on their peacekeeping missions.” Viau's voice was surly and low. “His Majesty tried that for all of two months before it wore him out.”
Will put his hands on his hips, looking at the knight fully with a confused, and curious look. “What'd he do?”
“Burst right out as only a pissed off Rhys can do.” was the blunt reply.