I, Sloth, King of Meridell...: Part Two
Also by sytra
A week later I found myself standing in a mile-long line in front of Skarl's castle in the blazing heat. Sweat rolled down my forehead, and I wiped it off exhaustedly.
Sloth and I had been waiting in line for five hours, and we had just gotten to the front entrance. We were next.
I looked up at my 'father', my heart hammering in my chest. What would happen if we failed? What if Skarl didn't like us?
Sloth had assured me that 'Such a thing would never happen,' as we were just ‘too likeable’. He had thrown a curly blonde wig on my purple head, and now I was to be known as 'Charles P. Fluffins'.
Sloth himself was wearing a jet-black wig, and he had spent most of the morning fawning over himself in the mirror, saying how dashing he looked. Meanwhile I had to squeeze into a pair of blinding orange overalls and hold a lollipop.
"I do believe our costumes are quite convincing," Sloth mused to himself, grinning as he stared at the wooden double doors that towered far above our heads.
"Um, yeah. Sure." I peered out of the corner of my eye at the disgustingly tight black leather pants he was wearing and his slightly unbuttoned purple shirt.
Yeah. We were definitely going to fail.
"AND DON'T COME BACK! YA HEAR ME?!"
Suddenly, the wooden doors swung open, bashing me in the forehead. I flew back a couple feet, and a random Nimmo that was in line behind us caught me in his arms. My eyes fluttered open and I looked around dazedly. A rotund red Skeith was running out of the castle as fast as his chubby little legs could carry him.
"I swear! I really am Skarl's long-lost cousin!" he wailed, tears streaming from his eyes.
A blue Meerca holding a trumpet came storming down the hallway toward the open doors, his cheeks flushed.
"NONE OF US BELIEVE YOU!" he bellowed, and then he straightened out at once, smiling innocently at Sloth. I stumbled over my overlord's side and frowned at the Meerca.
"Um, yes," Sloth started, rolling up his purple sleeves. "I am... Mister Geoff L. Fluffins? My son will be accompanying me today."
The blue Meerca raised a brow, eyeing Sloth's chest hair. "Right. Follow me, then."
The Meerca led us down a long corridor lined with giant statues and displays. Blue and red Meridell flags hung from the ceiling, blowing slightly from the wind that wafted inside.
The wooden doors slammed shut behind us, and the Meerca whistled to himself as he scurried down the hall.
"Hurry now, come along," he said, waving back at us. Sloth and I hastened our pace, and we turned a couple of corners. Soon enough, we found ourselves in the throne room. Skarl himself was perched in his velvety chair, looking down at us with great interest.
"Ho, ho. I do say. A man with a purple shirt. Interesting, indeed. Oh, and this must be your son! Hello, there! How are you today?" Skarl cooed at me in a baby voice, and I glowered back at him.
Sloth smiled politely, something that was very rare for him, and patted me on the head. "This is my son, Charles. We are very pleased to be here today, King Skarl."
"Of course you are." King Skarl grinned, showing his pointed white teeth. "Now, let's see. You already passed the first phase. So... what shall I do with you now?"
"What was the first phase?" Sloth asked eagerly, looking a bit confused.
"Not being complete idiots. I can sense some potential in you already. I don't know what it is... maybe your slick black hair or the manner in which your shirt is unbuttoned. Or maybe it is your son's sweet smile and big watery eyes. I just like you. So be HAPPY!" Skarl clapped his hands, laughing cheerfully.
Sloth nodded in that ‘Man-I-am-so-good’ sort of way, and I sighed with relief.
Skarl then snapped his fingers, and just seconds later, a door on the other side of the throne room burst open and a pink Draik paraded out of it, hands on his hips.
"Who in the name of myself is THAT?!" Sloth growled down at me. The pink Draik winked at us, flipping a strand of hair out of his eye.
"Hey," he said coolly. "I'm Perry. Pleased to meetcha."
Sloth looked up at Skarl for some answers as to why this arrogant pretty boy was here. I merely eyed the pink Draik nervously. Was this some kind of test?
"Mister Fluffins," Skarl boomed, looking down at the three of us proudly, "this is your competition -- Perry Jones. He is the only other person I have seen today that could rule such a magical kingdom as Meridell. Since it's past lunchtime, I'm going to say ‘bye bye’ to all of the others standing in line, and we are going to have a match between the two of you. By tomorrow," he said, beaming widely, "one of you will be king."
“Splendid!” cried Sloth, clapping his hands together. “I assure you, Your Highness, Charlie and I will do a fine job at whatever match you have set up. You will not be disappointed in putting your faith in us!”
“Yeah, I’m gonna do awesome, too,” said Perry. “I’m gonna rock your socks, Mister King.”
“How disrespectful!” cried Sloth. “Your Highness, I apologize for my fellow subject’s refusal to call you your proper name. How terribly sad it would be for such a denizen to inherit the throne.”
“Disrespectful, indeed, Mister Fluffins,” said King Skarl. He glared at Perry. “Don’t call me that again.
“I apologize, Your Highness,” said Perry. “That was extremely rude of me. It shall never happen again. I promise, Oh Wonderful One.”
Skarl smiled and, with a grunt, hoisted himself up from his cushioned throne. “Lunch time, servants!” he called. A cluster of servants came to escort the king to the dining hall, and before he exited the room, he said to Perry, Sloth, and me, “You’ll now be shown to your chambers. Rest up. You have a long day of matches in front of you after my feast of one thousand courses is finished!”
Sloth and I were placed in a modest room with two beds (not evil Chia ones, might I add!), a plush armchair, and thick velvet curtains. Upon giving the meek young Ixi who showed us to the room a sickeningly sweet smile, my overlord closed the door and sat down on the bed closest to the window.
“This is unacceptable, Fluffy!” he cried after a few moments. “We must eliminate that dreadful Draik from the competition!”
“Sir,” I hissed, “perhaps we should use our codenames. That way, someone passing by won’t discover our identities.”
Sloth smiled. “Good idea, son. You always were a bright one, Charles.”
I smiled and sat down on the other bed. “So, Father, how do you plan on eliminating Perry?”
Sloth’s shoulders slumped and he lolled his tongue around in his mouth, which he always did when he thought. “We could rig the match, Charlie,” he said after a while.
“But sir... er, Father... we don’t know what the match is!”
“Oh. Right. How about we uh... strategically place a treasure map under his door? And write onto it ‘Treasure worth one billion neopoints.’ That ought to lure him away from the castle.” Sloth nodded sagely.
“I think the lure of ruling a country probably will be greater than the lure of neopoints,” I said.
“But with a billion neopoints, he could buy his own country!”
“He didn’t seem like the sharpest tool in the shed, Father. I don’t know if he’d pick up on that.”
“Oh.” Sloth pouted. “I suppose we could call in the rest of the henchmen. They could take him back to the Space Station.”
“Our personal spaceship was confiscated, Father. Remember?” I asked. When Sloth didn’t reply, I added, “The last time you tried to take over Neopia, you double-parked and got towed. We had to take an Eyrie cab here in the first place. Remember now?”
At this point, a horrible look came onto Sloth’s face. “Does this mean, Charlie...” His voice trailed off.
“Does this mean what?”
“Does this mean we’ll have to do it the honest way?”
“I’m afraid it seems so.”
“But I don’t know how to do things the honest way.”
“It can’t be that hard, Father,” I said. “Besides, you’re better than that fiend –”
All of a sudden, there was a knock on the door. Sloth and I both turned towards the entrance, and he nervously called, “Come in!”
The door opened, and in stepped the same meek Ixi from before. “Skarl is done with his meal,” she said.
“Already?” Sloth asked incredulously. “But he said it was one thousand courses!”
“Yes, but he’s finished,” she said with a soft smile. “Now, if you would please follow me to the courtyard, he has set up the first match.”
Sloth stood up. “Certainly. Come along, Charles. We have a kingdom to inherit.”
And with that, the two of us left the room.
To be continued...