She heard someone coming, so Aleta pulled her hood down over her face a little further as she walked down an almost empty road. She couldn’t see much of what was ahead of her, but she could see the cobblestone steps down below her, which was all she needed. Or so she thought! She crashed into a wooden pole, which briefly exposed her face as she tended to her wounds. She glanced around to see if anyone had seen that, but thankfully, not many people lined the street that early in the morning! She put her hood on again with less skin exposed, but she worried about this decision because if someone came close enough, they would probably recognize her. She inwardly prayed that no one would run into her until she returned to the palace!
After a bit of searching, Aleta began to grow tired, so she slipped into an alleyway to take a breather. She gazed out at the vast cityscape and started to feel doubts about her plan. Chaos didn’t seem like such a large place when she had traveled by horseback, but now that she had spent a significant amount of time hoofing it herself, she didn’t think her idea was very practical anymore! There was just too much ground to cover to get the object before anyone else found it first! She had no clue if she would even get close to it prior to “Konna” delivering it, and if she did, she may not have even known it since she didn’t know exactly what she was even looking for! She took a great risk in coming out there, and she no longer knew if it would even be worth it! “What am I doing?” Aleta groaned.
“You’re asking me?” a man pushing a cart of sugar beets queried as he passed by.
“No, I was talking to myself, thank you very much!” Aleta regarded him while trying to keep her visage shielded. The man gave her a peculiar look before scooting his cart a little faster away from her vicinity. She almost felt offended, but then she reasoned that it was safer for him to have the opinion that she lost her mind versus him figuring out who she really was! She could hear more people starting their day, and she wondered if she was already too late. She thought that it may have been pointless to keep hunting for that thing…
Just when she decided that she should leave, something fell out of the sky and hit her on the head! “Ow! Man, the gods really want every part of my brain to hurt today!” Aleta muttered to herself. When she checked out the ground to see what had done that to her, she spotted a scroll tied up with a black ribbon! “Is this it?” she gasped. She then stooped down and reached out to it with trembling hands, and while she was dying to know the contents of this note, her nerves didn’t allow her to move very fast. She got within inches of it, and then…
A person approached the alley, and when he espied Aleta, he exclaimed, “It’s you!”
“No, it’s not!” Aleta knew that probably was an ineffective sentence to utter in this situation, but she couldn’t help it! She was starting to panic, and while she had brought a dagger for protection, she suddenly forgot everything Dason had taught her about how to actually use it!
“Yes, it is!” the man insited. More people had flocked over in that direction, and he beckoned them, “Look you guys! We caught her in the act!”
A small crowd with a wide variety of people started at her with wide eyes and murmured excitedly with each other. Aleta admonished herself for getting herself into an area where she was cornered, and she mentally prepared herself to fight her way out. Or at least she tried! She thought she had brandished her weapon, but she realized that she was holding the scroll like a small sword! She moaned knowing that she made herself seem incompetent to a group of individuals who harbored animosity towards her family, and as they advanced towards her, she readied herself for the worst…
To her astonishment, they all got down on their knees and bowed to her! “Huh? What’s going on? Are you still gonna kill me? Not that I want you to, but still…”
“Kill you?” the man who had first seen her responded. “We would never kill you, Konna!”
“Wait, what?” Aleta reacted in bewilderment. “You think I’m Konna?”
A woman in the throng argued with her, “There’s no sense in denying it anymore! We caught you in the act of delivering your bulletin!”
Aleta, now completely dumbfounded, didn’t know what to say to that except, “This is really more of a scroll than a bulletin…”
“See, she admits it! She’s Konna!” a young boy shouted joyfully.
“No, I…” Aleta attempted to deny that claim.
Another lady in the mix asserted, “It makes sense! Konna said she was an important part of the palace, and who would have more of a cause to speak out than the jilted princess?”
All of the others agreed with her argument, and Aleta almost contended their views again, but she suddenly got struck with a brilliant stroke of inspiration. “Fine, I confess! I am Konna! I grew jealous of my brother being poised to take over the kingdom! Yeah, I totally would rather have the stress of running our polis than continue being a pampered housewife! That makes sense to you, right?” They readily accepted that explanation, which she felt grateful for. “I made up all of those crazy rumors to frame them!”
“Wait, you lied to us?” a little girl questioned.
“Yeah!” Aleta rejoiced in the fact that they all bought into this concept. “But I can’t do it anymore!”
An old man probed, “Why not?”
Aleta had to think fast. “Because…” Luckily, something clicked for her pretty quickly. “Oh, yes! Because Mercinon is dead! No point in trying to take down the royal family without anyone good to replace them. Mercinon never had any kids, so…”
“Why didn’t he ever get married?” an elderly woman inquired.
“Beats me!” Aleta honestly replied with a shrug. “But now he will never get the chance since he got taken down yesterday.”
A teenage boy cried, “Yesterday? You mean when we invaded the senate building?”
“That’s right!” Aleta tried to hold back her laughter. “So, go forth! Spread the word! Tell everyone to stop the violence! And stop bad mouthing the royal family! You’re stuck with them, you may as well get used to it!” The congregation all dejectedly discussed this turn of events as they left, and Aleta glowed with pride at this turn of events! As everybody dispersed, she could see Cyrek, Krimeno, and Impusa standing on the street with their hoods off and their jaws wide open!
“Is it too gauche for a future king to wear this?” Mercinon asked Marcin, who was putting the finishing touches on a cape that flowed from Mercinon’s shoulders to a few feet behind him on the floor.
Marcin, while still sewing, answered him, “Kinda. It makes this already small space feel that much tighter!” Mercinon gave him a reproachful expression, and Marcin could tell he misinterpreted his intent with that dialogue. “Oh, you meant later! It’s not typical, but once they see the garish way you’ll undoubtedly decorate the palace, no one will be surprised!”
They heard a series of loud thumps coming from the adjacent cavern room, and Mercinon commented, “I’m glad we decided not to send Echinda back to the Underworld! It’ll be niece to have a tool to use when I wanna smite my enemies! Hmm, it sounds like it’s a bit packed in there. Should we start moving them to the palace now?” He didn’t get a response, so he called out, “Thanamenti?”
“She passed out,” Dason reported while snickering.
“She passed out what? Candy? I’ve been dying for some pasteli!” Mercinon’s eyes brimmed with hope, but when Dason slapped his wing to his temples and shook his head, Mercinon’s mood deflated. “Well, excuse me for adopting a hint of optimism!”
Due to the massive size of his cape, Mercinon did a wide u-turn to check out the case for himself. On the other side of her enormous cauldron, he beheld Thanamenti unconscious on the ground with bottles of alcohol all around her. Marcin joined his side and remarked, “Oh Dionysus! She better not be dead! We’ll never succeed without her magic!”
Marcin bent down to check her pulse, and Thanamenti unexpectedly slapped his hand away from her! Mercinon enquired, “Well, is she alive?”
Thanamenti groggily got up, and with hazy vision, she observed, “Mercinon, you’re on fire!”
“Thank you! I mean, I always knew it, but I love hearing it out loud!” Mercinon gushed.
“I meant it literally!” She indicated to a part of his cape that had touched the flames beneath her pot, which was now burning up!
Mercinon screamed and tried to run from it, but his cape was too heavy to allow him to move very fast. The weight of it anchored him down and sent him plummeting to the floor! Thanamenti aimed her staff at him, which dowsed him with much more water than needed! She stood up as Dason doubled over in laughter, and Thanamenti apologized, “I’m sorry for knocking out like that! I usually don’t drink that much!”
Mercinon tried to get up, but the cape had become even heavier, so he couldn’t stand up right then. He kept trying as he conversed with Thanamenti, “Ah, it’s okay! You’re allowed to do a little celebrating after we pulled off that feat!”
“What celebrating? We lost again! Why do you think I was drinking so much?” Thanamenti challenged him.
“Victory drinks?” Mercinon guessed.
Marcin suggested, “Oh, take that thing off! It’s ruined now anyways!”
Mercinon undid the clasps on his cape, and then he went over to Thanamenti’s brew and pondered, “So, we didn’t overtake the capitol?”
“No!” Thanamenti bitterly snapped. “And suddenly no one is taking my messages anymore! People have lost faith in Konna! Even those nuts at the winery took down all their souvenirs of me! We lost most of our support!”
“Great! Can you turn me back into a human since you’re obviously giving up on this folly?” Dason requested.
Thanamenti vehemently disagreed, “We’re not giving up! It’s just unfortunate to have to do everything from scratch! We can still pull this off by riding ourselves of the heirs to the throne! Mad King Peripetio, his bed ridden wife, the snotty princess, the hawk’s young brat-!”
Dason corrected her, “I’m not normally a hawk!”
“Don’t forget Exelda!” Mercinon piped in. “We can’t have her survive since she’s carrying-!”
“Shut up!” Thanamenti cut him off by making more water fall on him. Dason opened his mouth to find out about that subject Mercinon raised, but Thanamenti wouldn’t let him speak. “Don’t even bother! But we do have to find out what those interfering nuisances are up to at the present moment!”
Mercinon stated, “While you do that, I’ll work on anticipating our success by making sure I’m dressed for the occasion! Could you be a doll and conjure up some more fabric for my cape?”
Thanamenti made a noise of annoyance, but she prepared herself to do as he wished. Before she magicked anything, she caught a glimpse of something occurring in her potion and paused her efforts. “Woah! You might wanna take a look at this!”
“Why? I contribute nothing useful to this part of the plot!” Mercinon objected.
“Oh my gods!” Marcin hid his chuckle at this development. “They’re at your old palace!”
Mercinon roared, “What?” He rushed back over to the concoction, and when he witnessed Exelda, Kefalia, Stocastin, Narcius, and Akintos investigating the halls of an ornate, shadowy-stoned structure, he shrieked, “How dare those heathens besmirch my property with their ghastly presence! Again! I demand that you send a monster to chase them away immediately!”
Thanamenti balked at that notion, “Why would I do that? There’s already a monster there, and it’s not doing a lot of good!”
“That’s the minotaur who killed me! Of course it’s not doing any good, Impusa convinced him to side with the not-so super heroes!” Mercinon griped.
“Fine! I’ll send Echinda’s latest offspring there and make sure it includes the minotaur too!” Thanamenti headed towards the cavern room to do just that.
Mercinon made her halt in her tracks, “Wait! Tell these guys not to get killed!”
Thanamenti threw her hands up in exasperation, but instead of criticizing his ineptness, she ambled over to the new monsters and muttered, “I hope I didn’t drink the last of my booze!”