The Kingdom – Chapter Eight

This is a work of fiction and is not to be sold in any way shape or form.  It is simply for my amusement and the challenge of writing these characters in a strange and dangerous world.  All the characters are owned by Disney and I do not claim ownership of any of them.  Please let me know what you think in the comments below!  Without further ado, welcome to The Kingdom.)

If you have not read the previous chapters, HEAD HERE!

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Chapter Eight

Jiminy

Jiminy and Merlin sat across from each other at a corner table within the Hog’s Head. The sun had descended once more and light from candles atop each table flickered, creating dancing shadows along the walls. Unbeknownst to them, a dog-like figure sat drinking alone across the pub, staring at them from under a black hood.

Jiminy had immediately started drinking an amber liquid from a thimble upon their arrival. Merlin was drinking tea while puffing contemplatively from a small wooden pipe. Archimedes was complaining.

“The Queen knows that we won’t be able to find anything on the King,” said the owl. “Why do you think she was so eager to send us? She knows there’s nothing to be found. This is a fool’s errand, what, what?”

“I saw him!” yelped Jiminy. “Here. The other night. I saw him fighting thugs in the alley. That’s the whole reason I jumped into your pocket. I had to tell the Queen.”

“The fact of the matter,” interrupted Merlin, “is that we need more information.”

Jiminy gave a heavy sigh. “How are we supposed to get that? The only thing we know for sure is that the King goes after thugs picking on poor folks who can’t pay their debts. What are we supposed to do? Go out and find someone who can’t pay a debt and just wait for them to get attacked?”

Merlin and Archimedes stared at Jiminy in wonder. Could it really be that simple? Could they simply draw out the mouse by going towards the grief of others?

“That’s not a completely terrible idea,” said Merlin, taking another puff of his pipe. “Who exactly do these fellows owe money to?”

“The one I saw owed it to Scrooge McDuck,” said Jiminy. “He owns all of the banks in the Kingdom and even manages the palace’s finances.” Jiminy averted his eyes. “It’s possible that his methods are less than ethical.”

“What are you thinking?” asked Archimedes, raising an eyebrow to Merlin, who appeared to be thinking rather deeply.

“Perhaps the King has a more personal stake in this,” said Merlin. “If McDuck has resorted to a life of shake downs and cruelty, perhaps that has something to do with the fact that his own nephew has fallen on the other end of the spectrum, leading the Church of Stars.”

“You think the King is doing all of this for Donald?” asked Jiminy who was wishing he hadn’t had so much to drink as it would have made following the story, and Donald’s family tree, easier.

“And why not?” asked Merlin. “They were best friends at one point.”

“Yes, but…” Jiminy trailed off. “That was a long time ago.” He contemplated the idea that the King was acting as a vigilante for his friend. Though they hadn’t been on good terms in life, the King had gone to see Donald on the night of his death and he had wanted to make amends. Jiminy had convinced him of it. That night had been a horrible affair and Jiminy was not ready to return to the place he’d last seen his friend before his death if their research ended fruitfully.

“That does it,” snapped Merlin. “One of us should go looking for one of these lone debt owers and see if we can’t catch the King red-handed. The other should go find out whatever information we can about Scrooge from his nephew at the church.”

Jiminy gulped. Neither sounded like a very compelling choice, but he knew that one was far more favorable to the other. “I know these streets like the back of my hand. I’ll go see if I can’t catch the King in the act.” The three of them nodded and finished their drinks and smokes before going their separate ways for the night. After they’d left, the seated figure in the corner waited several more minutes before finally standing and leaving as well.

The next day, Jiminy headed out early. He’d had a thought in the middle of the night as he lie awake. What good was waiting for some poor schlub to be attacked. He’d never be able to pinpoint the person in time to catch the King. It was too random and the city was too big. He needed to be more precise. Scrooge was an excellent businessman and in Jiminy’s experience, businessmen kept records. If he could sneak into Scrooge’s office, he could take a look and narrow down who might be on the list to be attacked in the middle of the night. Then, at least, he’d have a direction to go in. He headed for the bank at the center of the Financial District, which was just West of the Old District.

The bank itself was a tall white building held up by thick pillars. It was every sense of the word regal. Golden duck statues stood tall at the entrance, one holding a lance, the other holding a sword and shield. One would be crazy to mess with the Duck family. Jiminy entered the front door amongst other patrons and quickly searched the entry room, which was built from white marble and gold plated, for a way into the innards of the establishment. Past the tellers who quickly worked at their elevated little desks, was a small doorway. He saw one duck walk out and then another in. He quickly made his way forward.

The best part about being so small was that he was hard to spot. He hopped across the room and slid through the door just as another duck exited. The back area of the bank was less elegant than the part seen by its patrons, but still beautiful none the less. The walls were made with green marble with torches adorned them, shining brighter than most torches would dare to burn, as if enchanted.

Jiminy hopped along, checking names on doors, looking for one in particular. He imagined a duck of Scrooge’s caliber would not be sitting on the ground floor so he found the first staircase and went as high as staircase would take him.

The light was far dimmer on the top floor. The torches were not as bright and there were less doors. At the end of the hall was a large golden door engraved with one word: Scrooge. Jiminy ran down the hall, staying as close to the wall as possible, keeping to the shadows. As he reached the large door, he found that it was sealed closed. He felt around the perimeter of the door, trying to find a weak spot, but it was solid. That was when he noticed the doorknob. It was a peculiar thing, because although it had a knob to turn just like any other door, it also seemed to have eyes and a mouth, and from the looks of it, it was sleeping.

Jiminy removed his gloves and placed them in his pockets. He then placed his sticky cricket hands on the door and began to climb up it. As the doorknob slumbered, it would occasionally snore. That was Jiminy’s opening. He crept up to the doorknob and waited until it took in a deep breath and then let out a large snore. He quickly ran into the golden mouth and scurried around, trying to find the other side of the door.

“What’s going on?” called the doorknob as it awoke. “Is someone there?” The noise rang in Jiminy’s ears but he did his best to block it out. With one final turn, he toppled out of the other side and fell haphazardly towards the floor below, slamming into it with a little thud. Above him, he could still hear the doorknob questioning the empty hallway about his rude awakening. “I do say, is someone there?”

Jiminy stood and shook off the fall. The office was enormous, possibly larger than the entire reception area on the first floor. To his left was a huge vault and all around him were velvet couches and chairs. There was a large desk the size of a dining table at the rear of the room, and behind it, huge windows with thick red curtains. Jiminy made his way to the desk, doing his best to avoid eye contact with the glass bottle containing a brown liquid which sat atop a little side table. He ran up the desk and pried open a drawer. Inside, there were heaps of organized parchments filed under different headings. He found one that seemed the most similar to his query: Collections. He pushed himself into the parchments and began going through the pages.

There were hundreds of names, all with little marks of how much money was actually owed to the side of them. Along with this, there were check marks. Jiminy assumed this was how many ‘chances’ they’d been given to pay up. After three checkmarks, the name was crossed out. Presumably, that was when Scrooge lost his patience. Jiminy quickly memorized those names that were already at two checks and then scrambled out of the folder. He was ready to leave, but something caught his eye.

A file at the very back of the drawer was marked with three question marks. It seemed very out of place in a drawer where everything had a name and a system. He went to it and dug into the file. It was curious, almost to the point that he didn’t understand what he was looking at. Each page had a sketched picture of an item or artifact. Some had names, others simply had more question marks. Information had been collected on these items as well. Some had lots of scribbles of notes, while others had barely anything. Jiminy searched the texts.

One page showed an elegant spear called Gngnir. A little note on the side said it had belonged to someone named Odin. Several pages were simply gems in different shapes, each with a different name; Reality, Time, Mind, Soul and Space. One page showed a shield with rings around a central star and another page showed a huge hammer called Mijolnir. On the last page was a sort of rock that seemed to glow. There was no information on the page save for a name: Heart of the Universe.

Suddenly the drawer pulled all the way open and Jiminy looked up in horror into the eyes of Scrooge McDuck, who was none too pleased to see the little cricket.

“What’s this then?” asked Scrooge. “Goin’ through my things, eh?”

Jiminy went to jump away but Scrooge was too fast for him. As he leapt, a glass cup came down around him, caging him in.

“You know what we do to little critters who go where they shan’t be?” asked the duck, smiling grimly. “We squash them.” Scrooge’s eyes suddenly perked up. “But what do we have here? This wouldn’t be the King’s royal advisor, would it?” Scrooge laughed. “Aye, this is a great day indeed laddy. I’ve always heard crickets make good bait for fishing. I think we ought to find out if they are also good for catching little mouses who don’t know how to mind their own.”

Scrooge reached over to the side of his desk and opened up a drawer, pulling out a black bag. It looked like something you might put over someone’s head to keep them from seeing where they were being taken.

Jiminy was frantically kicking and punching the glass cage, looking for an escape. He had to get out of here. There was no knowing what sort of awful things Scrooge was willing to subject him to, but worse yet, if the King or Queen did come looking for him, they’d be walking into a trap.

“Awe, don’t fret little bug,” cooed Scrooge. “You might just help me win this little war. That’s nothing to be upset about, eh?” He tossed the glass and Jiminy into the black bag and pulled it closed.

Everything was dark. He couldn’t even be sure which way was up and which was down. Despite his best efforts to make things right, he had managed to make them even more wrong. He let out a little sigh and sang to himself.

“When you get in trouble and you don’t know what to do, give a little whistle.” He whistled weakly. “And always let your conscience be your guide.” He took a deep breath and let his face sink into his hands, though he could not see them in front of him. “Oh Jiminy, what have you gotten yourself into?”

He was now a prisoner of the bank and left to wonder whether or not he would ever see daylight again.

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