Herb awoke slowly, feeling deliciously relaxed and incredibly comfortable. There was definitely something to be said for royal beds, though the fact that this particular royal bed had a nude Enchanter in it made it particularly enticing. At present said Enchanter was still asleep and draped half over Herb, his hair spread out over both of them like threads of dark silk.
Maybe they could put off ferreting out the evil wizard for a day or so. Staying in bed all morning sounded like a lovely idea, though he doubted Beldon would consent to it. Maybe with a little convincing...
Impishly, Herb ran his hands beneath all that dark hair, along the curve of the Enchanter's back and cupping Beldon's behind. He got a sleepy murmur from the man, but not much else, and so began to gently massage from buttocks back up to Beldon's neck.
"Mmmm..." Beldon murmured, "Don't stop doing that or I'll turn you into a guinea pig..."
Herb laughed and kissed the top of that dark head. "You sure?" he asked, sliding one hand between their bodies. "I could do something else instead..."
The Enchanter gasped softly and arched back, blinking several times to clear the fog of sleep from his mind, his eyes eventually managing to refocus. Personally Herb thought watching Beldon try to wake up in the morning was the best entertainment ever, though he'd never say as much out loud. He did value his life, after all.
"Herb..." Beldon breathed, his voice catching momentarily before shifting into a low moan. "Mmm..."
"Are you awake?" Herb asked innocently, letting out a soft meep as he abruptly found himself straddled by the now quite-awake Enchanter who glared down at him from beneath the fall of dark hair.
"You... are incorrigible," Beldon told him flatly, before leaning down to steal a long, slow kiss.
He loved the taste of Beldon's mouth, loved the feel of the slender body beneath his hands, the wave of dizziness that threatened to carry him away and left him completely light-headed every time the man kissed him. He'd managed to work his hands back down to cup the perfect curve of Beldon's ass again when someone knocked on his bedroom door.
Beldon broke off the kiss and scowled fiercely. "Now what?" he demanded of no one in particular.
The door opened and a young woman entered, radiating worry. "Prince Adrian," she said, looking slowly from her trembling hands to Herb's bed, "The King would like me to tell you that the Enchanter seems to have gone missin- EEP!"
All at once the girl's face flushed crimson and she stepped backwards rapidly. "I.. oh! Sorry!" she managed to gasp out before turning and fleeing from the room.
Both Herb and Beldon regarded the door for several moments before Herb began laughing quietly. Beldon sighed, sitting up and pushing his hair back out of his face. "Well, I suppose we should get dressed before the entire palace comes to investigate," he muttered in annoyance.
Herb was still snickering as the Enchanter fetched a fresh set of clothing from his knapsack, though he did take a slight breather to enjoy the view as Beldon got dressed. The tables turned once Beldon was fully clothed, however, as every time he attempted to dress himself Beldon touched him.
"You are so not helping," Herb whined after having dropped his socks for the fourth time.
Beldon smirked. "You woke me up," he pointed out.
Very carefully, Herb placed two chairs and a table between himself and the Enchanter and scrambled into his clothing faster than he'd ever done before. Beldon was still smirking when he finished, though there was an amused light in his eyes.
"Your buttons are all one off," he pointed out.
Herb grinned. "Will you fix them for me?" he asked innocently. Beldon raised an eyebrow, but stepped around the blockade to assist. He'd gotten two of the buttons undone when Herb tipped his head up and kissed him soundly.
They hadn't moved from that spot when the second knock of the morning came, though Herb's buttons had managed to right themselves at some point. The door cracked open, King Aiden's voice audible outside.
"Adrian?" he called tentatively, "Are you... up?"
Beldon and Herb exchanged wry smiles before separating and turning toward the door. "Yes, Father," Herb replied cheerfully, "And clothed too."
Cautiously the High King pushed the door completely open, stepping into the room and looking from his son to Beldon and back again. "Ah," he said faintly, "That's good. The maids were most concerned this morning when they discovered that the Enchanter's bed had not been slept in."
"Obviously it didn't take them that long to find me," Beldon pointed out sweetly, taking merciless pleasure in the way the High King's cheeks colored. Some things ran in the family, it seemed.
King Aiden coughed and looked at a wall for a few moments until the blush faded. "Right, well... I thought you might want a quick breakfast before we headed out..."
Taking pity on his father, Herb pulled Beldon out of his suite and into the hallway. "Breakfast would be great," he said cheerfully, then beamed as he spotted a servant bearing a covered tray. "Ooh, hello breakfast," he greeted, snatching the lid off and peering at what lay beneath.
Beldon snickered, then blinked as he abruptly found a small piece of fruit pressed to his lips. Herb grinned, popping a second piece of fruit into his mouth with his other hand. Undaunted, Beldon accepted the morsel, taking great care to lick Herb's fingers clean afterwards.
Both royals and two of the three waiting servants flushed scarlet, the last one opting to gape instead. Beldon smirked and licked his lips, then carefully selected a strawberry to feed to a red-faced Herb.
"Maybe breakfast wasn't such a good idea after all..." King Aiden said faintly.
"Probably not," Beldon agreed, "But it does taste nice. Shall we be going?"
The High King led the way, followed by the servants, with Herb and Beldon following behind and nibbling at their breakfast. The servants departed upon reaching the foyer, the High King continuing right out into the courtyard where a number of retainers waited. As they stepped outside, three saddled horses were brought to meet them.
Herb and his Father both swung up onto their mounts with ease, Herb displaying considerably more grace in the saddle than he had while on his own two feet. Beldon on the other hand eyed his with an expression of distaste and pulled himself onto it a touch awkwardly. He really wasn't all that fond of horses. They were so... stupid.
King Aiden led the way with Herb a half pace behind him, a number of guards right on their heels. Beldon waited until the rest of the retainers began to ride out, placing himself in their midst so as not to draw undue attention to himself. Herb was the bait here, not him.
As they passed off the palace grounds and into the city itself the Enchanter cast a small spell to make certain the animal would behave under any circumstances and set his mind free to search for any traces of unusual magic. This being the capitol city with the Tower of Magic and the Sorcerer's Council both nearby there was quite a bit of ambient magic everywhere. He barely paid any attention at all to the tour of the capitol or King Aiden's running commentary, trying to sort out why things felt... off.
They'd turned the procession around and were circling back toward the palace when it happened. There was a sharp build-up of magical energy, far too much for one person to wield, then suddenly there were panicking horses everywhere. Beldon silently thanked his own foresight for remembering to bespell his beast as it was the only one that didn't seem to think the world was about to end.
All around him guards and retainers were slowly toppling over onto the ground, caught in the grip of a powerful sleeping spell. In moments, only Beldon, Herb, and his father were still awake, protected as they were by Beldon's magic.
"What's going on?" Herb asked, barely managing to stay astride his panicking horse. "Beld-"
Abruptly a man appeared out of nowhere, dressed in vivid purple wizard's robes that glittered in the sunlight. He reached out to grab hold of Herb's arm only to be zapped backwards into a wall by a bolt of pure magical energy as the protective necklace Beldon had placed on the prince reacted to the possible threat.
Beldon stared. "Melanth?!" he exclaimed, sliding down off his oblivious steed and walking over to watch as the wizard slowly picked himself up off the ground. "You're the idiot wizard causing all this trouble?"
The wizard, Melanth, stared back at him. "Beldon?! You're supposed to be hiding out in the middle of nowhere! The hell are you doing here?"
"Cleaning up your messes, apparently," Beldon retorted. "You're still a lousy excuse for a mage."
"Just because you and that crazy old man were both insane doesn't make me a bad mage!" Melanth exclaimed, drawing himself up to his full, and taller than Beldon, height. "I found better teachers to learn from."
"Apparently not very good ones," Beldon pointed out with a smirk, "Or I wouldn't have been able to put you through a wall again. Obviously that's why you're trying to free your daddy." He rolled his eyes. "If I was Morgemeil, I so would have disowned you."
Melanth sneered. "At least I'm not a girlie-boy," he retorted smugly.
Beldon's fists clenched at his side, years of childhood taunts ringing in his ears as his temper flared. He focused his thoughts to cast a spell- Only to watch as a fist connected with Melanth's face, sending the wizard flying backwards once again.
Herb glared down at the wizard, the angriest expression Beldon had ever seen writ across his normally gentle face. The Enchanter blinked.
"I suggest you rethink your words, wizard," Herb growled, eerily reminiscent of the voice he'd possessed as a Beast.
The wizard struggled to his feet, again, and cast an arm out imperiously... only to blink as nothing happened. He stared for a moment, then repeated the gesture. Still nothing. Beldon smirked.
"That's impossible!" Melanth screeched, starting to panic. "Even you couldn't stop me with the full power of the council augmenting me! There's no way!"
Beldon's smirk widened as he casually crossed his arms across his chest. "You really should have paid more attention to Master Sabin," he pointed out, "Rather than constantly whining about all the 'weird' and 'backwards' methods he taught."
Melanth blinked. "What do you mean-" The rest of the wizard's sentence died as his breath caught in his throat and his eyes crossed. He managed a strangled sound before he began shrinking rapidly until a large slug was all that remained where once a man had stood.
"Woah," Herb said, impressed.
"Um," King Aiden managed, blinking.
"Beldon! You witch!" the slug shrieked in Melanth's voice, "What did you do to me?!"
"I should think that would be obvious," Beldon said, calmly withdrawing a small crystal salt shaker from a pocket. "You're not the only one who can cast transformation spells." He crouched down next to the furious creature, carefully sprinkling a few grains of salt onto it.
Predictably, it screamed. Beldon smirked.
"Now then," he said conversationally, "I want the names of every single person working with you and what their involvement has consisted of. Can you do that for me, Melanth?"
"G-go to hell..." Melanth-the-slug retorted.
Beldon sighed. "Fine, be difficult," he said and sprinkled a bit more salt on Melanth. When the former wizard's screams died off this time, he shakily listed a series of names. At each successive conspirator, Beldon's smile grew.
"That's almost the entire Sorcerer's Council," King Aiden breathed. "Including the ArchMage!"
"Yes, it is," Beldon agreed, looking positively gleeful at the thought of finally being able to get even after so many years of scorn and ridicule. Herb and Aiden both blanched and took a step back away from the Enchanter.
"I'm really, really glad I'm not a sorcerer..." Herb stated.
King Aiden could only nod his agreement.
Beldon regarded the slimy creature for a moment, then cast another spell to turn Melanth into a rather fluffy chinchilla. He reached down and picked the furry thing up by the scruff of the neck, depositing it in the arms of one of the guardsmen who were slowly waking up as the sleep spell wore off.
Orders were issued and the party broke up, the guards taking the wizard-turned-rodent back to the palace while Aiden, Herb, and Beldon went to the Tower of Magic to deal with the rest of Melanth's associates. They'd nearly made it to the entry doors when several bolts of lighting streaked down from the sky directly overhead.
The Enchanter snorted. "Like I wouldn't know how to counter my own trademark spell," he murmured, shaking his head. Aiden hid a smile.
"Beldon," Herb asked thoughtfully, "How come you're so much stronger than the whole Council?"
Beldon blinked, then snickered softly. "I'm not, actually," he replied with a smile, "But I did cast a spell earlier that the idiots up there obviously haven't figured out yet."
"What spell?" Herb asked curiously.
"Something I created in my youth," Beldon replied with a soft smile. "I was desperate to gain an advantage over my teacher, so I found a way to use his own power against him." He laughed softly. "It took him a week to figure out how to counter it and get his revenge."
Herb grinned. "Sounds like you and your teacher had a lot of fun."
"Yeah," Beldon said with a smile, "We did."
"Including making every well and river in the kingdom carry strawberry juice for a week," King Aiden inserted dryly.
Beldon flushed and looked at a wall. "That was an accident..." he mumbled.
Herb and Aiden both laughed, breaking off when sharpened stakes appeared in the sky above them before glancing off harmlessly to the side.
"Well," Aiden said nonplussed, "I believe it's time to end this."
"Agreed," Beldon snorted, looking up at the top of the tower. "Hello up there," he called, magically augmenting his voice to carry. "You can come down now, or we can do this the hard way."
Silence stretched out, Beldon's foot keeping time as it tapped softly against the cobblestones. Finally the three exchanged glances and Herb shrugged.
"Fine then," Beldon said, "The hard way it is."
He closed his eyes, lips and fingers moving in silence, arms coming slowly up until he pointed straight at the very top of the Tower of Magic. His final words were breathed in a voice so soft that they were only barely audible. "Zim Salabim..."
Everyone's hair stood on end momentarily before the largest lightning bolt yet split the air, enveloping the entire tower and lighting it up from within like a giant lantern.
"Oooh," Herb breathed, "Pretty..."
Beldon smirked briefly at Herb before restoring his attention to the tower. A few moments later a handful of skittish-looking mages appeared, then a few more, then finally the ArchMage himself who attempted to hide behind one of the others as soon as he was fully visible.
"Good boys," Beldon purred before turning to Aiden. "Your Majesty, would you care to pronounce sentence on these would-be traitors?"
King Aiden eyed the frazzled magicians thoughtfully, then smiled and looked at the Enchanter. "Why do I have the feeling that nothing I could do to these men could possibly compare with what you have in mind?" he asked.
"I have no idea," Beldon replied innocently, his golden eyes gleaming, "Although..." He waved a hand at the sorry-looking lot. "Hekas Este Bebeloi."
Between one blink and another the entire group vanished, to be replaced with a number of fuzzy white bunnies. "There," Beldon said smugly, "That should keep them out of everyone's hair until they can be... permanently dealt with."
Aiden stifled a chuckle while Herb went to go play with the bunnies. Beldon watched for a few moments before turning to the High King. "You know..." he said thoughtfully as Herb spun around in a circle and hugged two of the rabbits, "Nothing I could possibly do to them would be worse than what he's doing right now."
"You have a point," Aiden laughed.
In the end, Aiden had agreed that giving the rabbits to Herb was very fitting punishment indeed, although Herb was, of course, oblivious. They began slowly rebuilding the Sorcerer's Council, appointing Witch Hilda as first chair much to her blushing delight.
Beldon was unwillingly named ArchMage, protesting loudly until Herb turned puppy eyes on him and kissed him until the Enchanter was in no frame of mind to protest much of anything.
"It's incredibly hilarious," King Aiden mused as he watched Herb put the Enchanter in his lap and pet him, "That I gave you a Royal Invitation to come live in the palace twice and you turned me down, yet all Adrian has to do is give you puppy eyes and you consent without another word."
Beldon glared but was restrained by Herb before he could strangle the High King, fuming silently until Herb kissed him senseless.
And so Beauty tamed the savage Beast.
Or something like that.