All in the Family
A song. She knew it before the first notes hit the air. The voice so light, so pure---and full of life. A figure standing against the light of the paned window. Humming the notes deep in her throat. Bulma's breath caught in her throat as she watched the woman from the doorway. The woman, lithe yet full-figured, dancing on light feet across the floor in house slippers. She hummed the same tune, the happiness bubbling from within her, Bulma could tell---could feel it. The woman raised her hands from the sink, brushing something from her forehead absently, leaving a small spot of suds like a cloud kissing her skin. She turned her head slowly, catching Bulma with the radiance of her smile... Mamà...
The only sound she heard now was the steady clatter of feet as they shuffled out of her way; and it felt like she was proceeding to a funeral, her own. Her knuckles rapped lightly on the oak door and she held her breath half hoping that the door would not open. Yet it did. Without sparing a glance at the long faces of her funeral party, she headed into the dark room.
It was the library, covered in darkness and more so in books. Mountains of literature that would have left Bulma spellbound at any other time, now just seemed more faces, all prying and peering, willing her to fall down. Bulma turned her head from the walls of books to the overwhelming presence that drew her eyes. A large desk with curves, intricate edges and ending in protruded lion's feet seemed to span half the length of the room. Bulma squinted. Her eyes hardened. His hands gripped the edges with loose power and a cigarette lay smoldering in a small glass tray, appearing out of place in the otherwise grandiose room. Nothing about "the Ox" was small in any way. One of his large fingers moved, tapping the edge of the desk patiently. He nodded to his left, excusing the man from the room. Bulma snapped her head sharply. She had not noticed he was there, the small one, she knew him. Krillin. He bowed to the boss, took a few steps, and bowed to Bulma as well before quitting the room. Bulma's grip on her purse tightened.
He removed his hands from the sides of the desk, choosing to steeple them beneath his nose, peering over them to penetrate Bulma with his gaze. She shuffled slightly but caught herself. She steeled her gaze, focing herself to stand strong against the waves of fear threatening to topple her. He was "the Ox" but she was Bulma Briefs, and no man, no matter how intimidating, would dare unnerve her. Bulma curled her lips slightly and sent him a haughty, prideful look.
"I had no choice."
"He would have died!" she cried out in a passionate growl.
"Briefs..." He sighed, "Your father is stronger than he looks. No matter--"
"Mr. King! I am his daughter; it is my right!" A deafening silence took over the room. Bulma swallowed hard and wiped the tears from the corners of her eyes. "I did the right thing... didn't I?" she whispered. "The Ox" moved his fingers over his tired eyes, trailing them to his forehead.
"I suppose it couldn't be helped," he sighed. Bulma growled low in her throat.
"And you would have just let him die!" the scream wretched from her mouth. "Choking on his own blood! You would have just stood by--" King slammed his fists down hard on the face of the desk causing it to shudder violently.
"You don't understand, silly girl! Your father would understand---understand what's important," he concluded in an angry voice.
"And what is more important than life, Uncle Ox?" Bulma spat through her tears.
"The family must continue on... even without the good Doctor," he stated softly. "We need you, Bulma." Bulma slumped to the floor, burying her face in her hands.
"You'll kill us all..." she murmured.
"You can... reproduce your father's signature." Silence. "Bulma?" Bulma raised her tear-blotched eyes to the source of her hate.
"You mean forge, don't you? Mr. King?" she whispered in a harsh voice.
"The crop is ready for harvest, Briefs."
Vejita checked himself in the reflection off the store mirror. 'Not bad, Ouji,' he commented with a smug smile. He pulled the wrinkles free from his jacket and strode down the street. He spotted his target down the street... and it was just calling to him. All spotless and grand, simply deliscious as an apple. Vejita removed a small speck with the cuff of his jacket.
"Hello, doll," he purred to it. If Radditz knew he was doing this, he would get smoked so bad his bum would ache if he got within ten feet of a chair. He fingered the keys in his pocket, grinning at the faint jingling sound. Getting them was easy, with the dope falling all over himself for some pretty dame. Vejita had slipped them off the rack and into his pocket as easy as that. And no one was the wiser to his act. 'Besides,' Vejita told himself, 'the beauty was far too neglected. She needed some excercise.' He hopped the door, easing into the driver's seat with care. She fit him perfectly. He ran his hands over the smoothness of her wheel and dashboard with a sly grin spreading across his face. "Shall we dance?" he asked, slipping the key into the ignition. He had plans for this little girl and they involved another woman; all curves and beauty with shimmering hair and the most gorgeous blue eyes. With sudden determination, he turned the key and hearing the engine roar to life, he yanked the wheel and swept out and into the city traffic.
Vejita looked at the crumpled piece of paper for the umpteenth time that afternoon. To his right the sun was setting over the city skyline... and he was late. True, he didn't get around to this part of town often. He pulled over at the corner of a street and banged his head against the wheel. He groaned and looked up through bleary eyes. 'Beechwood Lane,' says the sign. Vejita rolled his head to look at the crumpled piece of paper in his hand.
"I'll be damned. I found the place after all." He turned onto Beechwood Lane. And she was sitting outside just like she said she would be. Hunched over and working furiously on her face, she took no notice of the car pulling to a stop right in front of her, or the engine shutting off.
Vejita peered over the door and watched the object of his affection, and she continued to ignore him. He furrowed his brows. Stepping out of the car, he leaned back against the steel body, crossing his arms over his strong chest. He grunted.
"Sorry I'm late, kid," he apologized begrudgingly. Bulma whipped her head up quickly and broke out into an enormous grin.
"I thought you'd never get here," she cried, flinging herself into his hastily opened arms. He grinned back.
"Someone's happy to see me." She raised her shining eyes to his.
"Can we go now?" she asked with urgency. He nodded and led her around to the other side of the car. He turned as he heard the door to the house open behind him. A giant form filled the doorway and trudged onto the porch lit by the sun's disappearing rays. A cloud of smoke descended the steps, falling short of the car.
Bulma's eyes widened and she quickly gripped Vejita's arm to keep him from moving.
"Uncle Ox," she said steadily, "this is Vejita." Vejita nodded his head courteously towards the large man, placing a reassuring hand on Bulma's shoulder. "The Ox" seemed to contemplate the air a moment more, squinting his eyes and taking a long draw on his cigarette.
"Does this Vejita have a last name?" he asked in a cold voice.
"It's none of your---" Bulma was cut off.
"Ouji," Vejita replied smoothly.
"Ouji," repeated 'the Ox.' "Nice solid name. I'm sure, Mr. Ouji, that releasing my niece into your care, she will come back... safely?"
"Of course, Mr. King." The large man stared long and hard at Vejita before turning his gaze to Bulma. And try as she might it was difficult not to turn away. He nodded and sundered back into the mansion. Vejita squeezed Bulma's shoulder gently.
"Now I know where that harpy friend of yours inherited her tongue," Vejita snickered under his breath. Bulma relaxed under his touch, leaning into him. She smiled up at Vejita.
"Ready to get out of here?" he asked.
"I was ready the day I met you," she said coyly.
"Hmm... the way I remember it, you actually ran away..." he mused in good humor. She punched him lightly on the arm.
"You ruined a perfectly good moment, you goof," she pouted.
"Oh, did I?" She nodded emphatically and pushed him away. Vejita just chuckled and pulled her close, placing a kiss on her cheek. She pretended to continue pouting as he helped her into the car the jogged around to seat himself in the driver's seat. He started up the car and set his hand on the gear shift and felt a lingering pressure rest over his hand. He looked down and saw Bulma's delicate hand resting lightly on top of his. He raised his eyes to meet her own and was met with a radiant smile.
"You gonna drive or wait here all day?" she asked smugly.
"If I could stare at you all day, that would be reason enough," he replied. Bulma blushed and looked away.
Bulma stopped in front of the wide double doors. They faced her down like a daunting enemy and she was tempted to turn back. Something stirred to the left of her.
"Miss?" Bulma looked up through her small black veil at the guard staring down at her. "Are you all right, Miss?" he asked, slightly affecting by the beauty that could not be shrouded.
"Oh, yes," she replied. She sent a smile over her shoulder to Vejita who was waiting patiently in the car at the curb, then turned and walked through the doors into the bank.
"May I help the next in line please?" a pleasant voice called over the counter. Bulma stepped forward producing a small slip of paper from her purse. She unfolded it and slid it over the counter to the man on the other side. He pushed his rather large spectacles further up his nose, trying desparately to hold it in place and read the slip of paper. "Is this a deposit, Miss...?"
"Um... King," Bulma answered, mentally cursing herself for stuttering.
"Ah... Yes, I see."
"It's made out to me, I believe," Bulma said leaning over slightly, pressing her chest against the top of the counter. The teller coughed and shifted nervously in his seat.
"So it is," he coughed once more. "Will that be all for you today, Miss King?"
"Pardon? Oh yes, thank you," she replied demurely. The bank teller excused himself to the back room. Bulma folded her hands neatly in front of her, the pallid complexion of her face was less than natural, and she occupied herself by chewing on her lip. The teller came toddling back from the vault area. Bulma didn't see an envelope anywhere on his person and she held her breath.
"Miss King?" Bulma caught herself from asking 'who.'
"Is there a problem, Mr. Smythe?" she read from his name plaque. He looked at her queerly for a moment before reaching for his drawer. She followed the movements of his hand.
"Of course not, Miss King. It's just that we rarely get so large a check..."
"Oh, I see," Bulma murmured.
"But, here it is," he said with a change in his tone. His fingers flew over the small knob of safe. He proceeded to count of several large wads of bills, separating them into neat piles, conforming to the emmaculate atmosphere of the bank. He recounted each piles before slipping the total amount into a large envelope. "It is all there. You trust that I counted accurately?"
"Oh yes, Mr. Smythe. Thank you very much," she said with a tight smile, reaching for the envelope. He hesitantly handed it over and watched her shove and wedged it into her small purse.
"Either you have a business eye, Miss King, or a very rich uncle," Mr. Smythe said with a coolly contemptuous tone.
"I would choose either one if it would appease your interests," Bulma replied sweetly, turning and briskly walking out the door.
She spotted Vejita parked at the curb, leaning against the driver's door, head turned to the sun. She smiled warmly. It was moments like these that you wished would span forever. He looked down towards her as he heard her walk up.
"Get in," she ordered, walking around to her side of the car.
"What, no welcome back hug?" he asked with as sad a face as he could muster. Bulma shifted her eyes nervously.
"Not now, Vejita. Let's go." He shrugged and jumped in, starting the car and watching traffic to pull out. Bulma turned her head around as she heard a loud noise coming from the bank. The teller, Mr. Smythe, was waving something in the air and yelling. He shouted at the two guards posted at the doors, then he pointed straight at Bulma.
"Ah, applesauce!" Bulma cried. Vejita looked over at her.
"Step on it!" she demanded. Vejita looked over his shoulders and saw the two guards racing down the sidewalk. Vejita narrowed his eyes, tightened his grip on the steering wheel, and shot out into the street, barely missing two other cars in the process.
Vejita jerked the wheel back and forth sending the car careening in a psychotic weave through the flow of vehicles. He jumped in front of a cable car, which promptly blared its horn at him. Vejita grit his teeth. Bulma made small noises from where she sat crouched in her seat. Vejita swerved onto a high road that planed up, hearing the deafening crow of sirens rushing up behind him.
"Hold on," he warned Bulma. He jerked the car onto a narrow alley way, cutting the curb and clipping his side. Two of the police vehicles couldn't make the turn and had to continue on the high road. A third and then a forth car parroted his maneuver and followed him up the tight alley way. Vejita pressed himself back in the seat, simultaneously flooring the gas pedal. The engine roared louder in the calm of the neighborhood. Bulma quickly covered her ears, whimpering and leaking tiny tears from the corners of her eyes. A police cruiser shot out of the street in front of them, and Vejita had to swerve around the tail to miss it.
Vejita knew only one place to go. The wilds of uptown would prove good cover, as well giving the police to much ground to cover. Vejita passed a large ditch along the road. Recognizing it, he threw the car into reverse, he backed up to the entrance of the ditch. The police cars sounded in greater number now, racing up the many twisted streets hoping to corner the duo in theit getaway car. Vejita quickly turned into the widen ditch, seeing a tunnel up ahead with a small overpass built arching over it. Mud heaved up from the ground to paint the sides of the car as Vejita plowed through pools of sagnant water, finally reaching the safety of the tunnel. After a few moments shrouded in darkness, Bulma looked up at Vejita who was concentrating on navigating the unlit tunnel. The tunnel slowly dipped further into the earth and gradually the air grew cooler, moisture seeping from the walls, at times gently splattering on the car. Bulma shivered involuntarily as a large drop of water collided with her nose.
"Where are we going, Vejita?" He sighed roughly.
"I'm not-- it's somewhere they won't find us. We'll be safe there."
The scattered puddles along the concrete floor of the tunnel became larger pools turning to rivults and finally a steady gentle stream. Bulma looked over the edge of the car as the current of the water became stronger.
Sand swirled lazily within the flow of the water and she traced their path with her tired eyes. The car suddenly stopped. "Are we stuck?" she asked him. Vejita took the key out of the ignition, pocketing it.
"No, but we need to get out," he said while pointing up ahead of the car. There was a mountainous pile rocks, jagged like coral and covered with slimy lichen. Vejita shrugged out of his jacket, leaning over and gently placing it around Bulma's shoulders. "Come on," he urged. "I'll lead you." She gingerly stepped out of the car into ankle-deep water, immediately feeling the cold sensation enter her shoes and submerge her toes.
"How lovely," she muttered with disgust, sloshing through the thick water over to Vejita's waiting hand. She pulled the jacket tighter. "What about the car?" she asked, looking back at the abandoned vehicle.
"Don't worry about that now, doll," he spoke, pulling her gently behind him towards the large collection of rocks. Slowly but surely, they scaled one boulder after another, faltering but a few times. Bulma had abandoned her slipperey-soled pumps at the bottom of the rocks, choosing to climb barefooted. Vejita hoisted her up but the waist on the next ledge, then the next. And finally, they were at the top. Bulma took Vejita's hand securely in hers. Before them stood the great expanse of the ocean, infinite and majestic. Vejita nudged Bulma forward just a bit.
"Let's shake," he suggested. "I promised to get you home before midnight, remember?' He was interrupted by the soft sobbing of the woman next to him. He looked down at her, his eyes softening. The hazy light of the moon revealed just what she was: a young girl. A girl who was frightened and shaken. He kissed her forehead lightly. And he was a young boy, that he knew. He would not deny it. But for her sake, he would become everything she needed. "Bulma... Bulma," he whispered. "We're away now. It's all Jake."
"No... no." She looked up at him through tear-filled eyes. "God... what have we done?"
An old hat stood on its stand, shining dully in the dim light. The dust speckled it to a shade of grey yet the prominent crimson adorning the top hat, finished in a bow, remained lustrous: a red badge of courage...
An old man sat in his plush throne, legs neatly crossed one over the over in prim leisure with arms tersely laid upon the arms of the chair like a king reigning over his kingdom of antiquity. It was a drawn skull placed on a pole of a body; with sallow, gray flesh melding into shadowy pockets of skin-- the grim face of the moon, and he was the king of time, which lead to death. And yes, he had been the hand of death--many a time in fact-- and now with the hand of age edging ever forward, his reign was drawing to a close. His eyes tightened. However, he would not leave his legacy half complete. The city was bloom ripe for the picking and the hand that stood in his way would quickly be severed.
"Yes," he muttered, "and one by one, they will all fall down." His eyes drifted down to the shriveled mass of his hand, tapping his fingers rapidly against the soft velvet apoholstery. It was not anything reckonized, but rather despised and what it stood for... ah, what a thing: time. But he had long recognized and made amends with the looks and reactions of those around him, even his own relations. It was repulsion... and of course, fear. For there he stood, the embodiment of what was to be, a spit in the face, a reminder. But he did not hold them accountable. He himself had long removed any mirrors from the household. He shifted his eyes away towards the slowly kindling fire. But even such truths can be avoided only for so long... And there was work to be done.
"Father." He rolled his eyes to the doorway where stood a tall, lithe young figure; perfectly porcelain and pale, with flat blue eyes narrowly shaped and arched brow. So perfectly plain yet her air was so cool and defiant that it exuded a chill throughout the room.
"What is it?" he asked in a bored tone. She stood there, her eyes boring into her father's. "All right," he muttered. "Bring her in." Eighteen nodded, backing out of the doors while closing them. Dr. Kroft Gero pushed about the wrinkles on his forehead in thought. 'Was that Seven? No... she is shorter than that. Darn it all! I should have stopped at ten.'
Eighteen glided down the hallway towards the staircase, the hem of her dress grazing the floor lightly as she walked. Her back remained rim-rod straight and it was only her eyes that moved, sliding back and forth as she crossed the house. Being the youngest of the household, she was also the most reserved. Eighteen frowned as she heard a piercing wail followed by a mischievous giggle that echoed down the halls. No doubt Ten was trolloping about tweaking Thirteen's braids once more. She inwardly groaned. At times, she felt like she lived in a zoo, or worse yet-- a doll house. She knew her father did not remember which she was when he saw her. Her face failed to register in his mind. But she really could not care less. Neither was her name truly Eighteen, however it had come to pass sometime around either Giorgio or Marietta was born that Mr. Gero, M.D., found it all too time-consuming to keep track of his dozen children scampering about the mansion. So logically in the way of science, they were numbered according to age: the oldest being One and the youngest being Eighteen. It all made perfect since to Gero; his wife's feelings having little to do the matter. Lillianna Gero was a demure woman by nature, not an effect that age had on her in anyway. She was comely and simple, as were all her daughters following her; a room's wallflower. Perhaps it was her subservient nature that had caught Kroft Gero's eye. What ever the reason, Lilianna spent her days dressed in finery with nowhere to go but plenty to keep her busy: her endless memory books of victorian trinkets and valentines which she mechanically pasted into bound books and stared at for all the live-long day. She was the only one who remembered the baptism names of each of her children, which she had lovingly chosen the moment of their birth. She never referred to the small plaques the children were forced to wear with the gold-embossed numbers assigned to them.
Eighteen had forgotten hers. As she always did. But her mother remembered her youngest born daughter, Àngela Sinclair, and of course, her twin brother who was born not a minute before her, Lucien Pietro. Lilliana invested the most time with the last born for that what they were...the last. The doctors had pronounced her womb unstable to bear any more children and thus ended the breeding of the Gero "army," as it was affectionately called. Lilliana, herself, was secretly glad, for she had become tired of spending her time either nursing a newborn or carrying yet another new life within her. The stress was quite a lot to bear, much to the general dissent of society. They thought she led too pampered a life... 'If they only knew,' Lillianna told herself daily as she struggled with blossoming teenagers while bouncing toddlers on her knee. Her husband had been more than generous in allowing her two nursemaids in addition to a live-in governess.
But in more recent days, Lillianna's life spirit seemly to dwindle to distinction as the pressure of time weighed heavily. With her youngest reaching the stability in her adolescence: 'What more is there for me to live for?' Lilliana asked herself.
Eighteen secretly hoped that her mother would not expire prematurely and not of her own will. She did not know if she could handle the repercussions that her father would lay down on the family. Eighteen's alabaster hands glided along the railing as she descended the staircase. It widened at the bottom, resting a short distance to the foyer and through that, the front door.
A footman at the foor of the stairs stood at attention as he heard Miss Eighteen's gentle footsteps.
"Allow them in," she murmured. The footman nodded and strode to the front door, opening it. A few words were exchanged then the door was closed. The footman returned, followed by a tall blonde man and a petite young woman. The woman primped her hair hastily and dusted the length of her skirt. Eighteen rose a cool eyebrow in reaction, taking in the sloppy appearance of the flapper girl, then she cocked her head as she noticed something on her face.
"That's quite a shiner you have there," Eighteen commented smoothly, curling her lip. Lillian Bluefield scowled harshly, automatically placing a hand over her bruised eye.
"And which one are you?" she snarled back. The young man stepped forward to interject on behalf of his crude companion.
"Excuse Blue, Miss. She's not in the correct mood, not that that should excuse her behavior---" Eighteen chuckled drily.
"That's not really important is it? If you must call me anything, call me Eighteen." 'Blue' quickly appraised the frigid young girl standing at the foot of the stairs, gauging her to be no older than sixteen years of age.
"Of course, Miss Eighteen," the man said with a polite bow. He nudged Blue and she begrudgingly curtsied. Eighteen tilted her head.
"Blue, was it? Blue, I totally empathize. Having near a dozen brothers, I know what having a black eye can do to your 'mood.' Not to mention your pride." Blue allowed herself a small smile.
"Thank you, Miss Eighteen."
Eighteen's hand poised over the large wooden door. The man sensed her diseased and relieve her.
"Don't worry, Miss Eighteen. We've met your father before." Eighteen released a sigh. In truth, she did not know why she was so worried. What her father did did not affect her in anyway; it simply complicated her life. But perhaps she pitied these two; the complacent young man and his fiery companion. For most who had never met Kroft Gero were quickly disarmed by his near-deathly appearance yet menacing countenance. However, the young man's (Red, was it?), reassurance of his acquitance with her father swept away her scant feeling of maternity towards these seemingly unwitting companions.
"Fine." She knocked on the solid door twice before nodding to the two and disappearing down the hall, just another phantom of the mansion. An old voice grated, "Come in already, you fools!" Red, skittering, yanked open the door, sending it banging into the adjacent wall. "Buffoon!"
Eighteen's hand reached the doorknob of her own abode, glad to be away from the dark dwellings of her "mad" father. Her room was one of many in the mansion, and the farthest from where her father may be caught lurking. It was not by any means cozy, neither was it very private as she shared it with her twin. They had been afforded the option of separate room upon the arrival of young adulthood, however, the twins were by that time inseparable and so choose to remain together, in the room they had shared since childhood.
Eighteen slipped aside in time to escape the stampede consisting of naughty half-naked Fifteen followed by the nurse maid, Elsie, dress in hand, the other nursemaid, Contessa, and lastly the "silent giant," ever stolid Sixteen with his shock of bright auburn hair. He strode purposefully down the hall with a brief nod to Eighteen as she stood in the doorway; no doubt on his way to act the part of peacemaker. Eighteen had to commend her older brother. To live in such havoc and still be rational was quite a feat in itself. Eighteen grinned inwardly. Her own brother had barely survived despite his wit and wiles. Speaking of which...
"Mother says you are forbidden to let that Thing loose in the house once more... or ever again," she said in her monotone voice. Her order was met by silence. "I know you hear me, Seventeen." A small series of grumbles was heard before an equally thin young man pulled himself out from under the bed. Eighteen rolled her eyes. "And I suppose you were cleverly going to spook me? If you thought that would work, you really are a dolt," she mused. Seventeen grinned darkly.
"Why would you think such a thing, sweet sister?"
"Just what were you doing down there, Seventeen?" He produced a very large and very hairy spider from his coat pocket. He lightly dusted it off, picking out a bit of lint.
"Just giving my pet his daily dose of darkness is all." Eighteen folded her arms across her chest.
"Oh yes, and before I forget, Mother also says that your 'friend' Kroft Juniorr. is not invited to dinner anymore," she said dully, flopping down on her bed. Seventeen brought the creature to his face, lightly rubbing it against the soft of his cheek.
"Now you've gone and hurt little Junior's feelings," he said with a mock pout.
"Furthermore, she believes not to be in good taste to name your 'horrid little demon pet' after Father." Seventeen yawned with emphasis.
"Are you done playing 'Mum's little messenger'?" he asked in a bored tone.
"Quite," she replied. "Make anyone cry today, Seventeen?" she asked quietly.
"Bushwa! I knew I forgot something," he muttered absently, repocketing the spider. Eighteen's eyes drifted closed as she dreamed lightly of another place and time when and where she would not be just another number.
"You always were a futz up," Gero remarked rubbing the wild hair of his ear, the loud slam of the door still ringing his head. Red blushed hotly with embarassment while Blue glared at him in equal embarassment bordering on contempt.
"Sorry, sir," he mumbled.
"You damn well better be sorry! Of all the--GARGH!" He gave a rough sigh. "What was this business about Red? Blue, you look like something the cat dragged in!" Blue glared at him, furious, with only Red to steady and hold her back.
"Blue ran into a bit of trouble two nights ago with the Briefs girl," Red reported.
"Bah! That again! You took one for the team, Blue. Benne! Wear it proudly---"
"It's a black eye, sir," Blue growled.
"I'm old but neither senile nor blind; I can see your black eye, soldier!" he barked. Both Red and Blue straightened their shoulders right straight, standing at perfect attention. "This is not a game we play, my faithful followers," he continued. "This is war! And you have the winning legion with this old dog as your commander. The Red Ribbon Gang's infamy will spread beyond this metropolis to engulf the entire nation; I swear on my own father's grave!"
"And the Dragons, sir?" Red asked meekly. He shut his mouth with a nudge from Blue at his side. Gero grinned then, sinisterly and full of malice; a toothy grin yet missing a few of the components with replacements made of silver and gold. It made Blue and Red shudder outwardly. Gero gripped the arms of his chair with all the strength he could manage.
"The good Doctor Briefs has fallen and it is not long before the rest will follow, the King himself will fall!" he rasped as loud as he could. He coughed a few times, yet held out a steady hand that forbid either of the young followers to assist him. When he was done, he looked up through his bloodshot eyes, seething with volcanic anger, he snarled, "I will have his head... and feed it to the dogs!"
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