It was a time of great excitement for the Kingdom of Nulandia. The people rejoiced across the cities in honor of their new King, His Majesty Penderbrast the First. While tankards of ale were raised in honor of the young king in bars and pubs across the kingdom, the grandest celebration was in Altrust Castle, where the King was being coronated.
The two Narrators of the Elsewhere Incorporate watched in silence as the prince knelt before the priestess. Neither One nor Two cared much for the religious passages; nothing puts the kibosh on theological thinking more than actually meeting a few gods and goddesses … or devils, for that matter, but that's a tale for another day.
As the priestess placed the royal crown on the prince's head, One said, "I have to admit, you did a good job."
Two said nothing. He merely stood there with a grin that would unnerve a Cheshire cat.
Evidently feeling that some dialogue was necessary, One said, "I guess Teach can't say you never do any work now, huh? Speaking of which, where is our benevolent leader?"
Two pointed at the front row of the crowd, where the elder Dreamer sat with his wife, Karma. Both were in fancy dress, as befitting a royal ceremony, and were among the first to clap when the king sat down on his throne. One and Two clapped as well, though One's was out of politeness. He had nothing to do with the assignment, and didn't know much about the people involved.
After a few moments, King Penderbrast rose to his feet. The clapping rose in intensity, only to fade away as the king motioned for silence and made a great show of clearing his throat.
"People of Nulandia," He said, his voice booming out across the throne room, "Friends, noblemen and women, and visitors from afar, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for being here today. Too long have the people of this fine country suffered under the injustice of King Tagmar. It is with the help of many here in this room that now I stand here, the true king of this land … and as King, I pledge to protect the people of this fine nation, to ease the burden of the poor and destitute, and open friendly relations with our neighboring countries. No more futile wars, no more excessive taxes, no more intolerance of the beliefs of others, this I promise you on the blood of my father, King Jenner the Just!"
More applause filled the rooms. As they applauded as well, One said, "I read Alan's report. He really is going to usher in a new age of light for these people. All thanks to you."
Two's smile widened slightly, but he said nothing.
When the room quieted down again, the King said, "Before we go to the celebratory feast, there is one person I need to thank. He stood by me when my quest seemed impossible. He was there when everyone else had turned on me. He even introduced me to Lady Talmere, my friend and companion through these many adventures. She has taught me much about the strength of women I took for granted for so long, and I am honored and overjoyed to announce that she has agreed to become my queen."
Some applause broke out, as well as some light tittering from some of the noblewomen. The tall, dark-skinned woman in plate mail standing beside the king bowed her head, her cheeks dark and a happy smile on her face as the King took her armored hand in his.
"Cute couple." One said, clapping. "Not only did you knock out a 'Save the King' job, you even squeezed in a 'Cupid's Arrow'."
Again, Two said nothing. There was something disconcerting about his smile; One remembered seeing a similar look in his friend's face before falling victim to one of Two's elaborate practical jokes. He still couldn't look at a banana without shuddering.
"That man, that angel who appeared to me in my time of need, is here with us today. Two?"
"That's my cue." Two said, straightening shirt. His chest puffed out, Two strode through the throne room, seemingly oblivious to the curious stares of the other guests.
Both the king and his future queen were smiling as Two approached the throne room. Never one for protocol, he stood a few steps down from the king with his hands in the pockets of his old jeans and waited with the same strange smile on his face.
"Narrator Number Two," King Penderbrast said, "I … nay, this entire country owes you a great debt of gratitude. Tell me, what can I possibly offer to repay you?"
Still smiling, Two said, "Only what you promised."
To the surprise of many, the honorable and just king's expression faltered. "Er, I could offer you all the riches you can carry, artifacts of power long kept safe in this kingdom."
"Eh, Money I don't need, and I'm pretty happy with the power I've already got."
"I would make you a duke of the kingdom."
"Tempting, but I really would rather not get tied to any one place."
"I, er, could speak with my sister."
"I beg pardon?" said a rather pretty and well-endowed young lady in the front row.
Two's eyes rested on her for a moment. "Even more tempting, but I'm afraid I have to decline. All I ask is what you promised me when our adventure started."
There were quite a few curious glances coming from the crowd at this point, including those of Teach and Karma. Even Lady Talmere was raising an eyebrow at Two.
After visibly struggling for a few moments, the king finally let out a resigned sigh. "I wished to reward you better, but if that is all you desire, I will honor my promise."
"Thanks." Two promptly punched King Penderbrast, the king who would usher in an age of peace and light, squarely in the groin.
The King fell to his knees, gasping in pain as Two stood back, a satisfied look on his face. Her face contorted in anger, Lady Talmere took a step forward only for the king's hand to rise and bring her to a halt.
"No, beloved, I gave my word." He wheezed before looking at Two. "Our debt is paid?"
"Yup. I'm done here. Later."
As Lady Talmere helped her future husband to rise, Two turned to what was now his audience and approached the still-seated Teach and Karma.
Teach crossed his legs as Two came to stand before him. "Two, what the hell are-"
Two's hand shot out, beckoning. "Pay up."
Teach stared up at Two dumbfounded, eventually managing, "What?"
"Remember when you dragged me out to deal with that mad king on Vinta? I told you I'd punch the bastard in the grundies, and you laughed and told me you'd pay me fifty bucks if I punched any king in the joy department and walked away without a problem."
Horror dawned in Teach's eyes. "That was three-hundred years ago!"
"Yeah, well, you never put a time limit on it."
"He offered you all the treasure you could carry!"
"Which I declined so that I could take fifty dollars from you. Now are you gonna pay up or not?"
Teach stared at Two, seemingly lost for words. Two waggled his eyebrows at the elder Dreamer and rubbed the fingers and thumb of his outstretched hand together meaningfully.
His face red, Teach grumbled beneath his breath as he fished the wallet out of the pocket of his expensive suit. There was definite anger in Teach's eyes as he counted out five ten-dollar bills and laid them in the patiently waiting Two's outstretched palm.
"Thank you!" Two said, his voice cheery as his hand closed around the money. Oblivious to the angry stares of one, the confused looks from the nobles, and the pained (and yet slightly amused) look of King Penderbrast, Two walked back to where One was watching in utter amazement.
"Wanna go get something to eat?" Two asked brightly as he waved his handful of bills. "My treat."
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