St Patrick's Day in the Dark Kingdom

Part 2

© 2000 by Thomas McKee


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Time passed, the youma were becoming more excited and the rumours more outrageous. Meanwhile, Kunzite and the other Kings were doing research. They needed to find out what exactly went on in a parade since there had never been one before in the Dark Kingdom. Kunzite could not learn much from his territory in the Earth Realm. The youma in his Middle East command had no experience to speak of when it came to festivals. The inhabitants of that part of the world were not noted, it seemed, for their joyous events.

However, Zoisite and Nephrite had been out in the field in Europe and North America respectively and they came back with some interesting ideas. Kunzite was now much more at ease. The plans for this festival were slowly and surely taking on a coherent shape. He himself had been taking things easy poring over back issues of an old magazine called "Parade".

* * *

Beryl was in a private chamber in the palace of the Dark Kingdom. She was confident that she could outdo Caligula in laying on the most lavish festival ever. But there were nagging doubts in the back of her mind. Should she not be taking a more active role in planning the festival? And was it really the right thing to leave it entirely in the hands of Kunzite? She dismissed those doubts. As soon as Kunzite reported back to her about the plans for the festival, she would make any adjustments she felt necessary.

"Well, well, you seem to have learnt the first rule of being a ruler: to make your underlings do all the work for you," a voice said behind her.

Beryl turned round to where the disembodied voice was coming from. "I rather like to think I would have done quite well as Empress of Rome."

"But the question that remains to be answered is this: can you put on a show as spectacular as any that took place during my reign?"

"My dear little boots, I am the Queen of the Dark Kingdom. What could even an Emperor of Rome do that I cannot do?" she sneered.

"Proclaim yourself a god and intimidate all your subjects into believing that you really are!" cackled the voice.

"That's hardly necessary. My subjects fear me already!"

"Drive your enemy to death by playing on his superstitions just as I drove Germanicus to his death."

"I don't need to play on superstitions. My reputation is often enough to drive people to death."

"How about scaring people in to submission with a fašade of madness?"

"Please, I've done that all my life without putting on a show of being mad," said Beryl. "I didn't achieve my present position by being sweet and demure. I did it through being a mighty and fierce ruler. And this festival will prove to you once and for all that I, Queen Beryl, am a mightier ruler than you ever were."

"Hmph! I might have been the greatest ruler on earth if I hadn't been assassinated."

"That's another thing," said Beryl, "if I am to die, it will not be by any assassin's hand or in my bed but in battle. That is the most dignified way a mighty ruler can take leave of this world!"

Caligula took his leave, still not entirely convinced of Beryl's powers.

* * *

"KUNZITE! Report to my throne room immediately!"

Kunzite grumbled. "When are they going to get a proper PA system installed?" The tone of Beryl's voice was bad enough in normal circumstances but over the PA it cut through his ears like a dulled scalpel. He entered the throne room and bowed to Beryl seated before him.

"Report!" she snapped.

"I have the initial plans for the festival on March 17th," said Kunzite, producing a wad of A4 size documents. "I trust your majesty finds this first draft satisfactory."

"Well, I shall read over them and make any necessary adjustments. Dismissed!"

Any necessary adjustments! Those three words filled Kunzite with fear. After all the work he, Zoisite, Nephrite and Jadeite had put in to making this parade go as smoothly as possible, there was a very real danger that Beryl would mismanage the whole thing and turn the festival into the greatest farce the Dark Kingdom had ever seen. But Kunzite knew better than to voice any concerns at this stage.

* * *

At last the day came. To describe the preparations and arguments that went on in the run-up to the festival would be rather pointless. Suffice it to say that Kunzite did not remember agreeing to dress as an eighteenth century town crier carrying a loud-hailer in one hand and a bunch of paper shamrocks in the other. Zoisite, for his part, did not hear anything until earlier this morning about sitting dressed as a mermaid perched on top of a pile of rocks on a float while youma dressed in blue kilts and huge red feathers danced around the float. Nephrite earnestly wished that the ground would open up and swallow him whole as he lumbered hither and thither as best he could dressed as a bottle of stout and twirling a baton. Jadeite seemed to be the only one of the Kings who was not inwardly cringing with embarrassment. He was dressed in a leprechaun's costume - green jacket and breeches and thick false red beard - and running around shouting such nonsense as "Top o' the morning to ye!" and "Begorrah, bejasus, aye!"

As for the youma in the parade, they were having a rare old time of it. It wasn't often that they got to go out together and forget all their petty rivalries. Better still, they got to see their masters, the four Kings being forced to make complete fools of themselves. The words on every youma's lips were : "They should have this every year."

The procession itself was a most bizarre affair. At the front was a few youma carrying a large banner emblazoned with the words "Queen Beryl is the greatest ruler in the world... ever. And you'd better believe it!" Behind this inscription was a close-up view of the Queen's tiara. Behind this banner came a float bearing an enormous replica of Damien Hirst's infamous work of art, half a sheep preserved in formaldehyde. Next came what can be best described as a youma's idea of a marching band. The youma marched eight wide and twenty deep, but that was all that was uniform about them; they were of no less than a hundred and sixty different shapes and sizes and they were playing nearly as many different instruments quite at random, each taking no notice of what any other youma was playing. It was remarkable that all the youma were marching in step because many of them had more than two legs, and not all of the youma had legs that were the same length. After this came a motley procession of youma in various fancy dress, each one wearing some recognisably Irish style of dress, followed by the aforementioned float bearing Zoisite. Similar parts of the parade followed suit, each section of the procession being in some degree peculiar.

Eventually the procession came to a causeway leading out across a lake. In the distance was a grotesque structure which, if it was more angular and had been built with bricks and mortar, would have passed as a large bandstand combined with a royal box. In the middle of this box was seated Queen Beryl. She saluted as the parade passed and teleported away as the last stragglers limped past.

The procession passed along the causeway which became steadily narrower and it was feared by almost all that the floats and some of the larger youma would topple over into the water. The marching band at the front had to rearrange itself into four columns of forty and then into two columns of eighty to accommodate some youma who were literally wider than they were tall. The youma at the front bearing the banner also had to squeeze together on the narrow causeway and their banner now appeared to read: "Queen Beryl's test is over. And bet it!"

It was with great relief, then, that the Kings and the youma reached the huge island at the end of the parade route. In the middle of this island stood a huge structure built in the same grotesque style as the bandstand but was shaped as a cross between the Circus Maximus and an amphitheatre. All the youma filed into the stands while Queen Beryl took her place in the royal box with the four Kings, still in their fancy dress sat on either side of her.

The games proceeded with youma acting as gladiators. For a change they weren't killing each other but merely knocking each other out with blunt objects made out of the same substance that the theatre, the island and the causeway were made of. The chariot races were remarkable for not having any horses - the chariots were hay carts driven and pulled by youma. Throughout the games, the youma that made up the various marching bands were still blowing their horns and pounding their drums; no one had bothered to tell them that they didn't have to keep playing once they entered the theatre.

Up above in the royal box, the ghost of Caligula appeared. "Well," he said, "this has been quite a momentous day."

The four Kings whirled round. "Where did you come from?" blurted Nephrite.

"From Rome, of course," replied the ghost of the Roman Emperor. Queen Beryl restrained herself from blasting the impudent Nephrite to Dark Kingdom Come. " I came to see how your little festival is coming along," continued Caligula, "and I must say, I am mildly impressed."

"You should expect nothing less from me, Queen Beryl of the Dark Kingdom!" said Beryl. "My first King Kunzite found the materials to build all this, and it was I who gave life to the realm!"

"I see," said Caligula, "and where did the materials come from, Kunzite?"

"Well, the water came out of the Arctic Ocean directly above us, so I didn't have to go too far for that," replied Kunzite.

"And the material for building the theatre?" asked Caligula.

"Ah, that came from a pocket dimension," said Kunzite. "It's a substance that finds its way into the human body all the time so it was fairly easy to transport it to this dimension."

"What about the material for the island and the causeway?"

"That's made from the same stuff."

Caligula marvelled. "Why didn't I think of that? Bringing material from another dimension! I hope you'll put it all back where you found it when you're finished with it."

Queen Beryl dismissed the four Kings and gave the signal for the games to continue while she continued her conversation with Caligula.

* * *

The fab four came to a foyer at the main entrance of the theatre where they hastily dispensed with their ludicrous fancy dresses and changed back into their Dark Kingdom uniforms. "This confirms my fears about the Queen," said Kunzite, his face having now turned the colour of ash.

"Man, you've got good reason to fear the Queen!" said Zoisite. His face was paler than Queen Beryl's. "Did any of you see what I saw?"

"What?" chorused the other three.

"Well, I was sitting in the seat below hers and struggling to get comfortable in my mermaid costume and I saw..." Zoisite struggled to get the words out. "Oh, lord, it was horrific."

"Come on, man," snapped Nephrite. "This is no way for a King of the Dark Kingdom to carry on! What was it you saw?"

"Her toenails," said Zoisite at last. "It was only for a fraction of a second, but I saw her toenails."

The other three Kings were puzzled. "What's so bad about her toenails?" ventured Jadeite.

"They're gigantic!" said Zoisite. "They're like the teeth of a tyrannosaurus rex - only longer!"

The other three were horrified and then relieved. Any one of the four could have ended up as Queen Beryl's consort. "Well," said Nephrite, "at least as long as she's infatuated with that goon in the dinner jacket we don't have to worry too much about her toenails."

At that moment a series of flashes and deafening bangs echoed throughout the amphitheatre. "That's the fireworks display starting," shouted Jadeite. The four of them hastened to a spot out of sight of the Queen where they could see the fireworks clearly. Some of the pyrotechnics were hitting the roof of the cavern and lighting up the whole place and sending scores of frightened bats flapping out like bits of charred paper.

The Kings were watching the pyrotechnics quite contentedly when the ghost of Caligula appeared behind them. "I see you're enjoying the view," he said.

"Yes, we are rather," replied Jadeite.

"Perhaps I should tell you that your Queen decided to make some last-minute changes to the fireworks display," said Caligula.

"What changes?" asked Zoisite.

"Well, she wasn't very specific about it," said Caligula, "but she mentioned something about live ammunition."

As if on cue, a cannon shell shot up from the arena and embedded itself in the roof of the cavern. The four Kings looked on in horror as several more shells followed suit and blew away a huge chunk of the cavern's ceiling.

"That maniac!" cried Jadeite. "She'll bring the Arctic Ocean pouring in on top of us!" And sure enough, more rubble crashed down into the arena followed by a veritable deluge of sea water.

For better or for worse, Kunzite had the wherewithal to teleport the Queen back to the Dark Kingdom palace. Then he and the other three Kings set about stopping the leak and organising the youma in the amphitheatre into a team to repair the roof.

As Kunzite returned to the Dark Kingdom palace he found Queen Beryl lying unconscious at the door of her private chamber. It was with some apprehension that he realised he hadn't got the teleport configuration quite right. He put her to bed and as quietly as he could slipped back to his own quarters.

* * *

It was a week after the day of the parade. No more mention had been made since then among the youma about parades, fancy dress, St. Patrick, fireworks or Emperor Caligula.

The four Kings were in a quarter far removed from Beryl's. Their conversation turned to that infamous parade. Jadeite ventured to ask, "By the way, Kunzite, you said you got the materials for the causeway and the amphitheatre from a pocket dimension."

"Oh, yes," said Kunzite. "I got the idea for that from Nephrite. It means we wouldn't have to cart tons of rock down from the surface of the earth."

"But what dimension was it?" asked Zoisite.

"Um... how can I best put this? Well, you know when you have the 'flu or just a common cold, and your nose is perpetually streaming?"

"Yes?" said Zoisite.

"Well, do you ever wonder where all the phlegm comes from?" said Kunzite. Zoisite's face registered revulsion.

"So that accounts for the peculiar green colour of the amphitheatre and the causeway" said Jadeite.

Nephrite had the last word. "Pretty appropriate for St. Patrick's day."

The End


Author's Endnote:

I don't care if nobody ever reads this fiction. I'm content to have my first Dark Kingdom fanfic finished.

I don't own any of the characters in this story. With the exception of Emperor Caligula, all the characters are owned by Naoko Takeuchi, Kodansha, Toei Animation and a plethora of other folk.

Comments? Letters? Mail me at cormac828@hotmail.com.


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Disclaimer: Sailormoon is the property of Takeuchi Naoko, Kodansha and Toei Animation. All characters, settings etc. are used without permission. This is an amateur fiction, and I definitely won't make any money of it.


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© by Thomas McKee - Email: mailto:cormac828@hotmail.com


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