Disclaimer: All Disney works are the property of The Walt Disney Company. All other characters and settings are the property of their respective legal owners.
Author's note: Originally posted by Anon e Mouse Jr. on 2017-09-28. This is the third of three chapters posted today, which consist of the entirety of katfairy's Phineas and Ferb in the 500 Kingdoms storyline.
Disney/Kingdom Hearts Loops, Chapter Eight, part 3
8.11 (katfairy): [Phineas and Ferb] / [The Five Hundred Kingdoms]
Phineas and Ferb in the 500 Kingdoms, part 11
At the moment, Elena rather wished she was the type to throw tantrums; it would be a great comfort to scream and throw breakable objects against a wall. Alex was busy fighting a Dragon who had started laying waste to the border of Acadia, and unlike the last time this had happened, the Dragon was doing it of his own volition. Calling in other Godmothers before they cleared Phineas was a Bad Idea, and it would have to be Iolanthe who did that anyway. Phineas was out of commission, and Ferb wasn't in much better shape. Which meant it was going to be up to her, Almandin, and Eilyr to rescue Isabella, if they could even find her in time.
She could feel the Tradition at work, which only added to her stress. Falsely Accused for certain, although she doubted they'd have to worry about one of the usual outcomes of that; the boys' culture didn't place honor (which in this case really meant reputation) over one's life, so suicide to restore one's honor was unlikely. Brother Against Brother, yes and no; Ferb had come around more quickly than most, and was actively working to atone for his lack of trust. There were others at work as well, but there was too much that needed doing to count them.
She was about to make a quick dash back to her own cottage to grab a few supplies when to her surprise Phineas moaned again; he was waking up. She knelt by him and Ferb, watching closely. Phineas' eyes fluttered open, and she could see the exact moment he remembered how he got there. He pushed away from Ferb and struggled to his feet, not meeting anyone's eyes.
"How long has it been?" he asked, voice rough.
"Almost two hours. Do you know how Sacharissa got in?" Elena asked in turn.
"No. How soon are we leaving to get Isabella back."
"Er, we rather need to find her first," Almandin said. Phineas just shook his head and took a device out of his pocket.
"Done. She's still got her phone; whatever else Sacharissa's done, she didn't search her for anything. And the readings say she's asleep, which I guess is close enough; they're not really designed for assessing the effects of magic. Have to fix that next time we're in a Loop with a high enough tech level." His voice had gotten stronger, but was still oddly flat; if Elena were to hazard a guess, she would say he was in shock. She was debating the wisdom of casting a sleep spell on him to keep him out of the upcoming battle when Col rushed back in.
"The daft old cow came in through the old cavern that you can reach through the well by the rose garden. We never thought to guard that one because of all the sinkholes—there's one in there no human could jump across and it fills the cavern from side to side, so she couldn't have walked around it either. And there's neither rope nor ladder in the well, so how she got up is anyone's guess."
"Free-climbing," Phineas said. "Ferb and I could do it. So could Isabella. But that's not how she left."
"No, she used a spell for that; it's how we knew something was up. You ready for a fight like this, lad? Control spells can take it out of a body."
"Isabella's in trouble." It was all the answer that was needed. Col nodded and walked off, with a purpose clearly in mind that he wasn't bothering to share. Almandin sighed, blowing all the papers and most of the books off the tables.
"Phineas, once this is over I promise you a ruddy great apology, but for the moment, I rather wish you'd sit this one out. Despite my recent bone-headedness, I do trust you, but you can barely stand right now. I'd rather grovel in front of you, not your grave. And if you get yourself killed, I'll see to it you have the most embarrassingly heroic grave this country had ever seen, and that's going some."
Phineas made a sound that might have been a quiet laugh; Elena hoped it was. Phineas was running on sheer determination, she knew. But she also knew if she didn't bespell him, he wouldn't let go until either Isabella was safe or he was dead. She was strongly tempted to do it, and at the same time she couldn't help but feel he should have the chance to fight Sacharissa. Twice now he'd been taken down without a chance to strike back, and she honestly couldn't blame him for either one. It was almost as though Fate had decided to go out of its way to make his life difficult, perhaps because he was both gifted and genuinely nice and it felt it had to balance the scales somehow.
"Good, you're still here." Everyone looked up to see Strephon striding in, face grim. "Mother sent me; the Queen's on a tear. She's planning on amassing an army to retrieve Isabella's body—she won't even bother checking to see if she's still alive—and then she's coming here to insist Almandin hand Phineas over. Fleta got to her first, and all the Queen heard is that a Godmother's Apprentice has fallen into the hands of a Necromancer. Oh, she'll regret any hasty actions later, but that's not much consolation when you're the one she's been hasty at. Mother's staying on to try to talk her down; she's usually the only one who can when she's in a mood. Oh, and she has learned one thing: Sacharissa's allied herself with a group of rogue dwarfs. Guess how many."
"Then we have to move quickly," Elena said. "Phineas, do you have a plan? Mine is mostly go in, I fight a magical duel with Sacharissa, and you free Isabella, but the dwarfs could make that considerably more difficult."
"I've got a plan. We'll use Ferb's and my phones to track Isabella, and I was kinda hoping you'd take Sacharissa 'cause I know I'm not up to it. And the dwarfs? If they're armored, Ferb and I are ready for that, and if they aren't, well, Ferb and I can handle them if Almandin doesn't beat us to it. I don't mind if you do, since I'm going to focus on getting to Isabella."
"And I shall ensure that you do not have a second chance to betray her," Eilyr said, striding in. "Why is the knave still alive?"
"Eilyr, shut it," Ferb said.
"Why do you defend him? The maiden was-"
"I. Said. Shut. Up." Ferb gave Eilyr a glare almost as impressive as Almandin's. The unicorn opened his mouth for a second before closing it with an audible snap. "Right. We haven't much time. I need to get a few things from the forge. Don't leave without me."
"And I need a few minutes myself, but I shouldn't be too long," Elena said. "Less than half an hour. Then we must leave if we want to rescue Isabella before the Queen gets her killed."
She and Ferb left together, Ferb heading for his forge, Elena for the mirror she used to travel. Ten minutes to change into an outfit the Tradition would recognize as a Godmother, which was essential if she wanted a chance against a known Necromancer; ten to warn various allies of what was about to happen; five to grab the wand she favored for battles along with the kit she kept ready for when that wand was needed. By the time she returned, the others had done the same. A Wizard-in-training, a smith, a unicorn, a Dragon, and a Godmother. Well, if anything was going to invoke the Unlikely Allies Traditional Path, this certainly ought to. She hoped it would; they were going to need all the help they could get.
Phineas had felt slightly detached from everything from the moment he awoke, and it didn't seem as though that was going to change any time soon. He supposed he should be worried about it, but he wasn't. If nothing else, it was keeping Eilyr's open contempt from hurting as much as it should.
Strephon had headed back as soon as he'd warned them, in order to give his mother plausible deniability. It was just as well; he was a good friend, but he wasn't a fighter, and if he came along he'd probably get himself killed. That would be bad on many levels. He had given them one bit of good news, though: Daniel was checking his own library for anything that could help. Since Daniel was the one who'd figured out a way to allow Fae and mortals to wed in this Queen's jurisdiction, Phineas had actually felt a small twinge of hope.
Col had returned with Phineas' staff and an outfit that he insisted was just the thing for a Wizard battling Dark forces. It was a little Ben Kenobi-ish, but if it helped Phineas wasn't going to complain. Ferb had produced leather and iron bracers for their forearms; he'd had them ready in case they ran into some of the hostile Fae, like the cabyll-ushtey that had tried to set up shop in the ornamental pond. Almandin had dealt with that one, and Phineas still wished he hadn't been told that it tasted like soggy burnt goat.
Ferb wasn't meeting his eyes, and that did hurt. He was almost sure it was because Ferb felt bad about punching him and not trusting him, but a small part of him was afraid that Ferb still hated him for letting this happen. He could hardly blame Ferb if that was the case; he knew perfectly well that he was going to spend the rest of this Loop and probably beyond hating himself for it.
He was angry that none of them had wondered how Sacharissa got to him, and that they had all assumed that he'd left the castle walls against orders. Iolanthe at least had pointed out that it could have been a bout of Tradition-induced stupidity, which he had to admit wasn't impossible, but everyone else seemed to think he'd done to show off or something. Even Ferb. And Eilyr now believed that he'd been Sacharissa's spy all along. How could they think he'd have put Isabella at risk like that? And if the cat hadn't seen everything, what would they have done with him? How could he trust any of them not to turn on him again?
He was distracted from this line of thought by Elena's return. She had also changed her outfit, and was more intimidating looking than a blue-eyed blonde in a pink dress had any right to be. With her arrival, everyone was there who was going to take part in the rescue, and they had no time to waste. If Iolanthe's Queen struck first, there would be no chance of rescuing Isabella; they had to leave immediately.
"Okay, so Godmother Elena tackles Sacharissa and the rest of us take on the dwarfs," Phineas said. "They might not be her only allies, though, so don't drop your guard. Isabella won't be happy if we get ourselves killed, and if we get ourselves killed 'cause we weren't paying attention near a Necromancer, well, don't think being dead will save you from her. Our friend Baljeet learned that the hard way. But Isabella's safety is the most important thing."
Zorah bustled in just then, holding something in her hands. As she drew nearer, Phineas recognized the items: Isabella's favorite wand, and her unicorn-hair necklace. He looked at the silver clasp Ferb had made for it, but it didn't look broken, so why hadn't she been wearing it?
"The poor dear will be wanting these," Zorah said. "Now don't you bother her about forgetting to put her necklace back on after she washed her hair last night, either; I dare say she'll have enough on her mind. I blame that Tradition, if you ask me."
"I can't think of a better reason," Ferb agreed. "She's not taken that off for more than a few minutes since I first made that clasp. Since the first day, the Tradition has been railroading—sorry, term from our world—it's been determined Isabella would be on that Path no matter what we did, and it certainly hasn't been shy about cheating to make sure. So I say we do some cheating ourselves."
He reached into his pocket and drew out a silver cylinder. Phineas almost smiled when he recognized his brother's lightsaber; he'd planned on using the phaser he'd snagged during that stint on DS9. It had been a depressing Loop, but the tech was pretty sweet. And non-lethal, which was still important to him. Nobody could Loop forever without eventually winding up in a situation where killing someone just couldn't be avoided, but he still wouldn't if there was any alternative. He planned to stun the rogue dwarfs and turn them over to their people, and Ferb mostly agreed. Granted, it wouldn't be doing the rogue dwarfs any favors, from what he'd heard of Dwarvish justice, but sometimes a shaky rationalization was all you had.
He took both wand and necklace from Zorah, and a small part of him felt mean-spiritedly satisfied at the look of shock on Eilyr's face as he did. Hopefully it would get the unicorn thinking clearly; after all, he'd been the one to tell them that it was supposed to ward off evil. One way or another, he would get these to Isabella so she could help rescue herself. Isabella just didn't do Distressed Damsel with any amount of patience, and he couldn't blame her. There were few things more frustrating than being useless, and fewer more horrifying than being helpless, as his impending nightmares were going to be reminding him.
"Thanks, Zorah. I'll make sure there are in her hands as soon as possible. Okay, now, judging by the tracker, she's about three hours' walk from here, in that stone circle—yeah, we probably should have seen that coming. Eilyr, Almandin can't carry you, but-"
"I'll go with Eilyr," Elena said. "My All Paths Are One spell should get us there as quickly as you can fly. Quicker, actually, but I don't want to warn her by using a spell that close. You three go your way, we'll go ours, and we can get her in a two-pronged attack. That should take her by surprise."
"Good." Phineas nodded, then froze as he saw what his screen read. "Isabella's awake. We gotta go now. Be careful, you two."
"You be careful too, Phineas. I agree with Almandin; I'd rather apologize to your face than your grave."
Godmother and unicorn left quickly, and Phineas could feel the magic building before she got out of range. Almandin headed for the courtyard, Phineas and Ferb behind him.
"Well, here's a how-de-do! Fight off the Necromancer's forces to rescue my Maiden, then fight off the Fairy Queen's forces to rescue my Wizard. Heigh-ho, but it's a wonder I don't start shedding scales from all this."
Almandin complained all the way out to the courtyard, which was a relief; if the Dragon had been really worried, he'd have been quiet. And… he'd called Phineas his Wizard. It didn't lay all doubts to rest, but it did help. A lot. He just wish he could be as sure of Ferb's forgiveness. But they were in the courtyard, and Almandin crouched down to make it easier for them to climb onto his back. Phineas went first and reached down a hand for Ferb.
"Well, Ferb, I know what we're going to do today."
For the first time since he'd been hit by Sacharissa's spell, Ferb met his gaze squarely. Phineas saw shame, even grief, in his brother's eyes, but they disappeared behind firm resolve.
"Yes. Yes, you do."
And Ferb grasped Phineas' hand and let himself get hauled onto Almandin's back. The Dragon leapt into the air, and the rescue was on.
8.12 (katfairy): [Phineas and Ferb] / [The Five Hundred Kingdoms]
Phineas and Ferb in the 500 Kingdoms, part 12
Isabella awoke and immediately wished she hadn't. A semi-washed face with the nastiest teeth she'd ever seen was bending over her, and she couldn't get away from it. Something, probably a spell, kept her frozen. It was just as well, because if she could move she'd kick herself for forgetting her necklace; if she'd been wearing it, that apple would have had no effect and she'd have had a little chance to fight off Sacharissa, maybe even keep her busy long enough for Almandin to get there. She might even have been able to beat her, if she'd used the right combination of Godmother magic and Loop experience. She also might have been able to help Phineas.
Despite the whole deranged-Necromancer-wants-to-kill-her thing, it was Phineas she was most worried about. That evil witch—as it were—had done something to him. She'd been too lost in PhineasLand to notice his glassy eyes at first, or how still he was after giving her the apple, but she had noticed after a while. It would have been nice if she'd noticed before biting into the apple, but whatever. What mattered now was finding a way to break the spell on her, escape, break whatever spell was on Phineas, and then deal with Sacharissa. Anything else could wait, including the seriously sketchy dwarfs muttering around the clearing Their usual rule was to stick to in-Loop skills and powers unless there was an emergency; she'd be willing to bet this qualified. All bets were now officially off… once she was able to move again.
"So, the precious Snowskin is awake," Sacharissa purred. Isabella found she had just enough control to be able to roll her eyes. "You've led me a merry dance, but you'll not escape me now, and that gawky Wizard of yours is no doubt getting the blame for allowing me to take you as we speak. That will distract them long enough for me to perform the ritual properly this time. I'm surprised you all made it so easy for me; did you really think a few sinkholes constituted a barrier to one with my power? Or the lack of a ladder in the well? The hardest part was in creating a disguise that would fool people for just long enough; a few seconds was all I needed to get your swain under my control, after all."
Definitely just as well she couldn't move at the moment, because she was very tempted to use some of the ruder gestures she'd learned from Spike that time she replaced Cordelia in Sunnydale. She could see Sacharissa, still in the trampy red dress she'd worn earlier. (Okay, so it was a copy of one of her good dresses; since Sacharissa was wearing it, it was trampy.) Yeah, no doubt Phineas hadn't noticed anything wrong in time.
"I must say, it was good of the Tradition to provide me with seven dwarfs to keep guard over you until it's time to play your part. Saves me creating any more servants; that fool of a huntsman cost me a great deal of energy. If I'd known you had a unicorn… well, that silvery sycophant can't help you now, can he? Now shall I tell you what's in store for you? I'm afraid it won't be very pleasant. You see, for this ritual, I need your blood as well as your heart, and I need them while they are still fresh. That should break my curse and remake me in your image, and then I can return and lay claim to your inheritance as well as all your power. It's only the beginning of my plan, of course, but I'm sure you don't need to know how I will use your face and form to ensnare the Crown Prince and eventually take over the kingdom. I will be supremely powerful, and all shall worship my beauty even as they tremble at my wrath!"
She'd either forgotten how much of a drama queen her Stepmother was or the woman had gotten a lot worse over the years. It was hard to be properly afraid for one's life and soul when the person threatening her sounded even more ridiculous than Doofenshmirtz. She wished she could ask if the woman planned to take over the entire Tri-Kingdom area, but it would have gone over Sacharissa's head anyway.
"Now, you lot, take her and chain her to that flat stone there and be quick about it. Take any liberties and I'll skin you alive."
Isabella suspected that wasn't an empty threat. Sacharissa was a melodramatic psycho with delusions of grandeur, but she was also a vicious crazy; what had happened to Dickon was proof of that. The dwarfs hauled her to the stone and chained her in place, which is when the spell freezing her wore off.
"Nice Traditional villain rant," she said. "I don't think you missed a single cliché."
"Insolent child! How dare you mock me?"
"I stand corrected. Or lie. Lay? Whatever."
"I will enjoy carving your still-beating heart out of your chest and devouring it as you watch, little fool."
"Okay, one: ew. And two, another line like that and I'll have filled my Evil Overlord Quote card. One more and I win."
"I think not. You have lost everything, and I stand triumphant as is my destiny!"
"That's Bingo!" And Phineas literally dropped out of the sky to stand between Isabella and Sacharissa. Isabella suddenly realized she'd been hearing the sound of great wings but not noticing it over Sacharissa's blather; they must not be too far from the castle. "Let Isabella go and we'll make it as painless as possible."
"Why aren't you dead? They should have slain you on the spot when they found you there and the girl missing!"
"Uh, hello, good guys here? And magic types? You think they wouldn't notice a big honking spell on me?"
"Er, actually, we bloody well didn't… and you didn't want me to tell her that, did you. Sorry. Now would you be a good Necromancer and drop the illusion? I'd really rather not roast someone who looks like my Maiden; it's bad form, don't you know."
"You wouldn't dare," Sacharissa laughed. "We're too close together; you'd never be able to hit me without also risking your precious children."
"Besides, fighting her is my job," Elena said, appearing from behind one of the standing stones. Eilyr was beside her, looking like he had the day he'd faced the cabyll-ushtey and held it off until Almandin could take care of it. "I am Godmother Elena, and I challenge you. Face me in mystic combat or surrender. Or try to run and get eaten by Almandin; it's not Traditional, but I won't lose any sleep over it."
"You think you can defeat me? Very well. I shall add your power to the girl's and your Wizardling. Dwarfs, avoid the dragon, kill the green-haired oaf and the unicorn, but restrain the Wizard. All right, Godmother, fight me and perish."
Isabella couldn't see her Stepmother because Phineas was in the way, but she saw the bolt of sickly green light race towards Elena. It was deflected into a tree and the duel was on. Eilyr suddenly loomed over her, having shoved Phineas out of the way. It hadn't been accidental, either, and Isabella glared at the unicorn. He didn't seem to notice, focusing instead on trying to open the locks with his horn. Ferb was working on another lock, and Phineas was looking over his shoulder while sustaining a shield that the dwarfs were hammering on when they weren't dodging swipes from Almandin's claws.
"They're dwarf-forged, aren't they," he asked. Eilyr ignored him, continuing to attack the chains, but Ferb put his down and nodded. "Okay, then, we'll just convince them to unlock them."
"And if they do your bidding, that will be proof-"
"Eilyr." Ferb only said the one word, but the unicorn flinched and quieted down. Phineas looked a little annoyed, which wasn't a good sign.
"Hey, Almandin," Phineas called as loudly as he could. "You haven't eaten any of them yet, have you?"
"Not yet. Dodgy little buggers, in every sense of the word. Why?"
"One of them has the key for Isabella's chains. And whichever one does is going to come here and unlock them."
"Why would we do a damn fool thing like that?" a dwarf snarled. All expression drained from Phineas' face as he turned to face the one who spoke. The shield disappeared, Phineas raised a hand, and the mouthy dwarf found himself floating ten feet in the air. It wasn't magic, though; Phineas was using the Force.
"Next question?" Another dwarf tried to sneak up on Phineas, but before Isabella could warn him, the second dwarf joined the first. "Okay, see, that wasn't too bright. But I believe in second chances, so here's what I'll do: you unlock Isabella's chains and just walk away, and you get to live. It's a pretty sweet deal, considering what'll happen otherwise."
Yeah, she could have guessed that Phineas would be mad. She just hoped the dwarfs were smart enough not to make things worse. The two that were floating didn't seem to be, judging from their language, but the dirtiest of the lot stepped forward.
"We's all got 'em, an' I ain't dyin' for th' likes o' that one," he said. The other dwarfs tried to attack him, but he was too fast for them. As he approached them, Phineas kept one eye on the dwarfs and one eye on Isabella. Eilyr reluctantly stood to one side, as did Ferb, but not before Ferb made sure of him.
"Try anything clever and you'll wish we let the dragon eat you."
Again, not bluffing. The dwarf flinched and unlocked her as quickly as was humanly (dwarfly?) possible, then ran for his life. Phineas dropped his two dwarfs on top of the remaining four and turned to her. Reaching into his Pocket, he drew out her necklace and the wand she usually used. The wand he just handed over, but he stepped closer to her and very carefully placed the necklace around her neck, even managing the clasp without pulling her hair. Ignoring the sounds of combat behind them, he looked into her eyes worriedly.
"Um, are you okay? They didn't hurt you, did they? You know, other than the kidnapping and chaining you to a stone altar, I mean."
"I'm fine," she said, smiling. The smile faded as she noticed the large bruise on one cheek. She reached out and touched it lightly, eyes narrowed. "Who did that?"
"Huh? Oh, uh, it's… yeah, we should probably help the others. You know, just in case Sacharissa summons something nasty," Phineas stammered, drawing his phaser. Before Isabella could stop him, he ran towards the fight. Isabella rolled her eyes and followed. Some things never changed.
As Desperate Struggles For Freedom went, it wasn't very impressive. The dwarfs were nasty, brutish (and short), and might have posed a problem for normal people, but not for three experienced Loopers, a unicorn, and a Dragon. Not that the fight was without a few tense moments: Phineas learned that his phaser didn't affect theses dwarfs for some reason, Almandin misjudged an attack and nearly got Ferb, Isabella kicked a dwarf where it wouldn't do him any good and broke at least one toe. Luckily, magic worked where the phaser didn't, so the dwarf she was facing at the time found himself much smaller, furrier, and with an increased appetite for acorns. Knowing she'd just become a liability, Isabella braced herself against one of the standing stones and kept an eye on the fight, firing off spells if things looked dicey. She saw that Phineas and Ferb were mostly trying to immobilize their opponents as usual, but that Almandin and Eilyr weren't. Two dwarfs lay on the ground, struggling; one against invisible bonds, the other cocooned in misty thread. That one had to be Ferb's, since it was from the Loop he'd been in Hogwarts with her, Lucy van Pelt, and Shaggy Rogers, when Donna Noble had been DADA Professor; that had been a fun Loop. Another lay—okay, not looking there anymore, thank you very much, and a fourth was lying in a pool of blood with a hole in his chest. The last one faced off against Phineas, who just shook his head and used his Wizard's staff as a quarterstaff. That one went down quickly and Phineas tried to get back to Isabella, but Eilyr shoved him out of the way again.
"Maid Isabella, you are hurt! I will-"
"You will explain why you're being such a jerk to Phineas, when if you had half a brain you'd know that none of this was his fault. Sacharissa told me she used that cave to get into the castle and you can see she disguised herself as me, and she also told me she put a spell on him. It was a Traditional Villain Rant, so you know she was telling the truth. And more importantly than that, Phineas would never hurt me if he was given a choice in the matter, and you should know that. Now, if you'd lost your temper at him when it happened, that would be one thing, but it's been long enough now that you should be over it. Now, are you just sulking and refusing to admit you were wrong, or are you being a complete idiot?"
Eilyr wilted under Isabella's glare, and if it wasn't for the magic duel still going on not far from him, it would have been pretty funny to see. Isabella didn't let up, though; instead, she stood up straight, ignoring the pain in her foot, and gave him the Look that had once cowed the Weasley Twins and Peeves at the same time. Eilyr shrunk into himself even more, and his ears flattened against his head.
"I am sorry, Maid Isabella," he said in a small voice.
"I'm not the one you should be apologizing to."
"…I am… sorry, Phineas." It wasn't as sincere as Isabella hoped, but it was something. For a few seconds, Phineas just looked at Eilyr, then he sighed and shook his head.
"Look, you were trying to protect Isabella, and I looked like a threat. Can we just agree to blame every stupid thing we've all done today on the Tradition and let it go? No, Ferb, that is NOT a song cue." Someday Isabella would find out how Phineas knew when Ferb was doing something behind his back; in this case, restoring a grand piano to his Pocket. Eilyr blinked at that, but since it wasn't close to the strangest thing he'd seen them do, he didn't react beyond that. He did look at Phineas for a good long while, even absent-mindedly dodging a stray spell as he thought.
"Very well. And the maiden is right; while I hate to admit it, we unicorns are not known for our wisdom, but I still should have known that you would not simply hand her over to a foul necromancer. I allowed my worry for my beloved maiden to over-rule my good sense. For that and all that I have said and done to you since, I am truly sorry."
Phineas looked like he was about to reply, but instead he whirled around and cast another shield. As expected, Sacharissa had started summoning; there was a horde of redcaps rushing at them, more than could be counted. Phineas, Ferb, and Eilyr placed themselves in front of her, and she set her back to the stone again. Broken toe or not, she had to be in this fight. Redcaps were evil little Fae, enjoying all the killing they did; she hoped Phineas didn't try to be merciful this time, because it would only hurt them in the long run.
That wasn't a worry, as it happened; the second the redcaps came in range, Phineas cast a fireball that incinerated at least half a dozen. Ferb did the same, and Almandin swooped down from the sky to carry off two bunches and drop them from altitude. He only did that once, because Sacharissa's second summons was a great pack of flying dog-like creatures and he faced them with a roar that could probably be heard three Loops away.
"What are those things?" Phineas asked, blasting another lot of redcaps.
"Gabriel Hounds," Eilyr said. "They steal souls."
"Yeah, that's not good."
Despite everything, Phineas snickered and Isabella had to giggle; after all these years, they had finally taught Eilyr how to snark. They didn't laugh for long, however, because the redcaps had enough of a numerical advantage that they could absorb their losses and continue to advance. Isabella was careful of where her spells went, and worried that she'd run out of power before they ran out of redcaps until she remembered some non-magical abilities she'd made a point of keeping from one Loop. Isabella used Moonblast. It was super-effective. Phineas let out a whoop and a devastating Razor Wind, then wondered loudly why he hadn't thought of it before. Ferb's Dragon Pulse also did a number on the redcaps, and before long it looked as though they weren't as badly over-matched as they thought.
The fight continued, frequently lit by the glow of Almandin's flame as he fought the Gabriel Hounds. A few of the redcaps got close enough that Eilyr, who had no distance-fighting capabilities, could get in on the action, and a couple even snuck around to try to get them from behind; they soon learned that Isabella was just as deadly a fighter as the rest. Redcap bodies piled up, and the numbers fell until there were just large groups attacking rather than a seemingly endless horde. Still, they were getting tired, and all of them were injured now. Ferb was bleeding from a gash on one arm. Eilyr's coat was streaked with blood, and some of it was his own. Phineas was limping almost as badly as Isabella. They'd probably be able to take the rest of the redcaps, but if Sacharissa summoned anything else, they were in trouble.
The redcaps finally got too close for long-range attacks; letting out a howl; they rushed forward as a group. Ferb's lightsaber was up and ready, and a heartbeat later, so was Phineas'. The reason for his delay became obvious as many of the redcaps tripped and were trampled by their own side: Grass Knot did have its uses. The lightsabers hummed and sang as they sliced into the redcaps; Eilyr bucked, reared, and trampled. Some got by, but Isabella was still able to fight and they didn't last long. She dispatched one last attacker with a blaster shot to the face, looked for the next, and discovered that there wasn't one. Phineas had swapped out his lightsaber for his staff and was leaning on it heavily, panting, while Eilyr and Ferb seemed to be holding each other up. Phineas looked over at her.
"I'll live. Ferb? Eilyr?"
"I've had worse," they chorused, then laughed weakly. They checked on the captive dwarfs and weren't really surprised to find that the redcaps had killed them all, then regrouped closer to Isabella, everyone watching for the next bit of bad news. They also watched Elena and Sacharissa, who were showing no signs of slowing down. Elena looked like she was worse off, but Sacharissa was still maintaining her Isabella illusion, so they couldn't be sure of how badly she was doing. They wished they could help, but even if they had the strength, there had been a formal challenge, so butting in would be highly frowned on.
A final gout of flame overhead followed by a groundshaking thump told them that Almandin had landed. He poked his head around the stone with a weary sigh.
"Tiresome things, Gabriel Hounds. But did you know they taste like roast goose? Almost worth the hassle, what?"
"Dude, TMI," Phineas groaned. Almandin just chuckled. "You do that on purpose, don't you? Just to mess with us."
"Of course. Dragon's got to have some fun, after all. And the look on your face every time just makes it irresistible. Oh, now, what's all this?" They looked over at the battle and saw that Elena had used a spell that wasn't reacting well with Sacharissa's illusion. It was flickering, blurring around the edges, growing and shrinking, and finally it cut out entirely and everyone was left gaping at what they saw. Sacharissa was dressed in tattered deerskin, which was in really bad taste considering that she herself had somehow become closer to deer than human. She still stood upright and still had human hands, but her legs were deer legs and her face almost a deer's face. That her eyes were also still human just made matters worse. "Oh, dear—oooo, I just said that, didn't I? Frightfully sorry."
"You think you have won, don't you," Sacharissa hissed. "My power is gone, my forces destroyed, and an army of Fae are only minutes from here. But I have not yet lost—there is still my Traditional Final Curse!"
"Oh, no, you d—OH, COME ON!" Elena shook her suddenly recalcitrant wand and the others discovered that they couldn't do anything either. Isabella sighed again.
"This is going to be annoying, isn't it?" she asked.
"Pretty much, yeah," Phineas replied. "I'll find a way of breaking it, though."
"And someday I'll come back for a Variant where the Tradition is anthropomorphized and then I'm gonna kick it. Hard."
"I'll make you some special boots," Ferb said. Sacharissa just looked annoyed.
"Listen as I proclaim your doom, child! You will fall into a deep sleep until you are awakened in the Traditional manner, but for the rest of your life, the Tradition will never leave you alone! The Snowskin Path will end, but another will replace it, and when that ends another will come, then another, and then another, and nothing you can do will prevent a Tradition from meddling in your life! You will never be free!" She began the Traditional evil cackle, then plunged a knife into her own chest. Still laughing, she died.
"Well, that is annoying," Isabella said as she collapsed into darkness.
8.13 (katfairy): [Phineas and Ferb] / [The Five Hundred Kingdoms]
Phineas and Ferb in the 500 Kingdoms, part 13
All Elena wanted to do at this point was find the nearest safe bed, crawl into it, and sleep for a week. Her duel with Sacharissa had been exhausting; having to use a lot of her power to keep Sacharissa from summoning more monsters while simultaneously defending against the Sorceress' attacks and launching her own was not what she'd hoped to do when she arose that morning. Not that the duel had come as a complete surprise; it was Isabella's sixteenth birthday, after all, and they'd all been expecting something. But knowing that something was coming and actually having to deal with it when it came were not the same thing, and no matter how well one prepared, there was always something that popped up to complicate matters. And the greatest complication was due in a few minutes, if Sacharissa had been right. She probably was; it was the most inconvenient option and therefore the most likely.
She watched Phineas catch Isabella and ease her to the ground, holding her. Despite his quips, he was visibly shaken. Of course, part of that was reaction to the battle; despite his experiences, Phineas was still an idealist. He hated killing. He was practical enough to know it couldn't always be avoided, as innumerable redcaps would be able to swear to if they weren't heaps of ash, but he hated it. It was admirable, but it was also hard on him. Ferb and Isabella had more pragmatic outlooks, also trying to avoid killing but not feeling it a personal failure if it happened. Still, Phineas would recover, if he was given time.
Elena looked around the stone circle as she headed toward her protégés, making sure that they hadn't missed anything. They hadn't. The number of bodies strewn around was appalling; how on earth had Sacharissa managed to call so many? Granted, they were redcaps, so the answer was probably that they'd heard of a fight and jumped at the chance for some bloodshed. She'd never know for certain, and it wasn't really important, so she pushed the thought aside. Instead, she assessed the group. Almandin was tired but uninjured. Eilyr was almost healed already, but was exhausted. Ferb was in the same shape, which was a bit confusing until she noticed that the two were leaning against each other; Eilyr must have bled into Ferb's wounds and transferred the healing virtues to the young smith. It might even have been deliberate. Phineas looked battered but not substantially harmed, and as close to collapse as the rest. Isabella, even in a cursed sleep, looked the healthiest of anyone there. If they had to fight an army of Fae and the Queen, they were doomed.
"All right," she said wearily, "let's try to wake her before the Queen shows up. We don't need any more misunderstandings. Try True Love's Kiss; that usually works."
There was an awkward silence before Phineas blinked up at them, bewildered.
"Why are you all looking at me?"
Even Eilyr looked incredulous at that, and Almandin rolled his eyes. When they looked to him for an explanation, Ferb just shrugged. Elena was struggling to find a tactful way of pointing out that any idiot could see he loved Isabella, even if he was too dense to have noticed, when the day's bad timing popped up again.
"Unhand her, knave!"
And there was the army of Fae, coldly beautiful in glittering armor, the Queen at its head. The only part that wasn't Traditional was Iolanthe just behind the Queen, grimacing and shaking her head. Wonderful. If it had been the Queen who reigned over the Fae in Elena's region, it would have been a lot easier, but this Queen was known amongst the Fae for making hasty decisions and then having to find someone to clean up her messes. Elena frowned as a thought occurred to her; each mess had been a long-time problem for the Fae, and had been resolved permanently during the clean-up with results that would not have been accepted by most Fae if there hadn't been such urgency. Marriage with mortals, for example, and Fae involvement with mortal politics. Was it possible that the Queen did it deliberately?
She added that to her list of Things To Find Out LATER and joined the others in stepping in front of Phineas and Isabella, shielding them.
"I say, doing it a little brown, aren't you, Rhiannon? The lad's a bit thick-"
"—but calling him a knave is a bit much." Almandin acted like he hadn't heard Phineas' indignant squawk. The Queen just gave him a cold glare, which failed to have an effect. Elena envied the Dragon his composure; even at full power she was no match for a true Fae Queen, and she knew it. "Now why don't we all relax and try to discuss this like rational beings before we do something we'll regret? I'd really rather not find out if you'd taste as much like candy floss as you look."
"Not helping, Almandin," Phineas groaned, and again Almandin ignored him. The Queen glared even harder in reply.
"Do you deny that it was by his doing that Our Godmother-Apprentice was taken by a foul Necromancer?"
"More of a Sorceress, really; she never did much with the dead after that unfortunate incident with the huntsman Dickon."
"Almandin…" Ferb sighed, facepalming.
"Do you deny that Our Godmother-Apprentice now lies dead at that woman's hand?"
"Er, well, yes, actually. You see-" Almandin was going to get them either killed or turned into something unspeakable, and when he did, Elena just hoped that she became something big enough to step on him properly.
"Oh, I say; how rude."
"She's not dead."
"Tremble as We pronounce Our judge—wait, what? Of course she's dead. All that Traditional Power and overwhelming tragedy? What else could it be?" The Queen seemed to shrink slightly, her glamour diminishing as she tried to understand what Phineas had said.
"Well, Sacharissa did this whole Final Curse thing, and now we have to find either Isabella's True Love or a handsome prince." Phineas didn't sound too thrilled at either possibility, and Elena couldn't blame him. Well, not entirely. She'd thought it was just the Tradition that made otherwise clever people complete dunces at noticing the tender emotions, but maybe it was just human nature.
"Be that as it may, it still does not excuse your foul-"
"—falling victim to Sacharissa's enchantment while she was disguised as Isabella and walking around inside the supposedly safe Dragon's Castle," Ferb interrupted. He winced slightly as the Queen shifted her glare to him, but didn't back down. To Elena's surprise, Eilyr backed him up.
"It is true, Great Queen," the unicorn said, bowing. "I too assumed he had betrayed her, to my everlasting shame, but Maid Isabella rebuked me for my lack of faith most resoundingly."
"I can attest to the enchantment and the illusion myself, Your Majesty," Elena said, stepping forward. "I was the one to break both, and it was no simple task. Sacharissa was more powerful than we knew."
"So I perceive," the Queen murmured, giving her a critical glance. It was Elena's turn to wince; being around these types made any human feel filthy, clumsy, and ugly, and right now it was closer to the truth than usual. Prolonged magical duels with Dark Sorceresses were rather rough on one's appearance. "But do you meant to tell me that We have ridden out with a full court for no good reason?"
"Yes," Ferb said bluntly. "Unless you'd like to help us break the Final Curse."
The Queen gave him a Look, but this time he didn't flinch. For an excruciatingly long minute, the two faced off. Everyone—human, Fae, unicorn, and Dragon alike—held their breath, waiting for one to give way. Eventually, the Queen lifted a single brow and Ferb's eyes widened; he stepped aside, looking away, but Elena had the sneaking suspicion that the two had reached some sort of agreement rather than actually giving in.
"We like your courage, young smith," the Queen said, almost smiling. Behind her, Iolanthe looked as though she was about to faint from relief. "As for the Final Curse, why, the answer lies before you. Phineas Flynn of Danville in the Great Loops, I order you to kiss that maiden."
"WHAT!?" Phineas started to stand up, remembered he was holding Isabella, and tried to keep from dropping her. The end result was Phineas falling on his backside, Isabella on top of him. Elena stifled an unholy desire to laugh, half afraid it would come out as an hysterical giggle unworthy of a Godmother. The rest of the Fae had no such inhibitions, nor did Eilyr or Almandin. The Queen did not join in the merriment, but raised that eyebrow again.
""We are certain We did not stutter."
"Yeah, but—me? Kiss Isabella?"
"Are you defying Our Royal Command?" The Queen's voice was casual, but the laughter stopped abruptly.
"Uh, well, no offense, Your Majesty, but… Yes. Yes, I am. See, I do like Isabella, but we're both still pretty young. In our home Loop, we're less than fifteen. Even when you take the Loops into account, we're still kids. Too young for all this True Love stuff. But… that's not the real reason. I guess I just don't want to mess with Isabella's emotions like that. If she ever decides she wants more, I want it to be her choice, not some mysterious force making her love me. That's just not right." Phineas met the Queen's eyes more easily than anyone else had that night, his sincerity clear to see. The Queen regarded him as she had his brother, and her smile grew.
"Well spoken. Although it does leave Our Godmother-Apprentice in an unfortunate situation. The nearest Princes are not what I would wish for her, although they do have good hearts, and it does not answer the other dilemma. If her heart was already given to one who could match either Tradition…" The Queen's smile became a touch sardonic as her hint went right over Phineas' head. But something in her speech had clearly touched a chord; his head snapped up with that familiar spark in his eyes, a smile—no, a grin—blossoming on his face.
"Your Majesty, we've been to a lot of different places and cultures, and while a lot of the basics are the same, there are always some details that are a bit different. I haven't needed to ask this before, but what exactly is the definition of True Love here?"
"True love must single-hearted be," the Queen declared.
"Exactly so," the Knight next to her intoned.
"From every selfish fancy free."
"No idle thought of gain or joy a maiden's—or a young man's—fancy should employ. True love must be without alloy."
"True love must be without alloy," Iolanthe echoed.
"I'd swear I've heard that somewhere before," Ferb muttered, but Phineas laughed.
"That's it! True Love, and even without the Tradition it would be love at first sight! How quick can somebody find a puppy?"
"Oh, you clever boy!" The Queen dropped her regal air, laughing along with Phineas. Elena slapped her forehead, disgusted with herself.
"Why did I never consider that?" she asked the stars, then wondered exactly when night had fallen. She'd been busy, but usually she noticed minor details like that.
"And if it's already named Prince, that might help too," Ferb added.
"Good thinking, bro. See, Isabella loves dogs—she's got one back home. And it's not called puppy love for nothing, right?"
"A dog's love is truly a noble and unselfish thing," Eilyr said approvingly. Almandin nodded.
"I rather like the beasts myself. Straightforward, no having to wonder whether they really like you or are just waiting for you to turn your back. Know where you stand with a dog. Although Daw will raise quiet hell while you train it not to dig in the gardens. And just wait until the cat finds out!"
"I'm right here, Lizard. Think I was going to let this lot muck things up even worse than they were? I'll tolerate the wretch for Softhands' sake, if it will break the curse."
"Uh, yeah, about that… Um, Elena? I think I got the gist of it, but it's more your thing than mine. Traditional Final Curses and all that, I mean," Phineas said, biting his lip. All eyes turned to Elena, who suddenly wished she'd run away with a footman before the Tradition had ever meant anything to her. The she remembered what their footmen had been like and decided she'd rather have to explain a cursed Godmother-Apprentice to a Fae Court and a cat.
8.14 (katfairy): [Phineas and Ferb] / [The Five Hundred Kingdoms]
Phineas and Ferb in the 500 Kingdoms, part 14
While Elena told the Fae just what Sacharissa had done, Ferb ambled over to his brother and sat, waiting for the adrenaline crash to hit. Eilyr joined them with a weary sigh.
"There's no good way to say this," Ferb said to the unicorn, "but thanks for bleeding on me. That is what healed me, isn't it?"
"Yes, the blood of a unicorn, freely given, can do that. I did not notice I was doing so at first, but when I did, it seemed to be the least that I could do."
"And thanks for backing me up against the Queen," Phineas said. "What finally convinced you I wasn't the bad guy?"
"My maiden said so," Eilyr said as though it was the most obvious thing in the world. Ferb just managed not to roll his eyes; he should have known. Phineas wore his I-had-to-ask face, and the two avoided each other's gaze. Eilyr had become a lot smarter since they'd first met him, but some things never changed: to a unicorn, a maiden's wishes were paramount. Isabella wished for him to accept Phineas' innocence, so he did.
They sat quietly, watching and listening as Elena finished her story and the Fae set to work. There was quite a bit of confusion as Knights vanished and were replaced by a variety of other types. In less than an hour, seven dwarfs marched up to them, looking determined. This was a very different group, though: clean, organized, and with armor that Ferb itched to get a closer look at. These weren't just dwarfs, they were Dwarfs.
"We've been told there's a Snowskin who needs Traditional protection until her rescuer appears," the leader said, and somehow Ferb wasn't surprised that he looked and sounded like John Rhys-Davies. Phineas looked down at Isabella, then up at the Dwarf.
"Yeah, we do, but I'm hoping we'll have this done by sunrise."
"No reason not to do the matter properly, and besides, it's good practice. Never know when this'll pop up; need to keep the skills up-to-date. My cousin over in Barataria's had to do this three times, and he thinks there's going to be a fourth before much longer. So he and the rest of his lot are used to it, but we haven't had a Snowskin since I was barely big enough to lift a hammer. Now if you'll lay her down on the ground so we can get proper measurements…"
Phineas looked doubtful, but did as they asked. Or tried to, anyway. He'd been sitting for so long while holding Isabella that both legs had fallen asleep; Ferb and two of the Dwarfs had to pick him up and carry him. The leader looked amused, winking at Ferb, and one of the other Dwarfs confirmed that they knew what had happened, including Phineas' freakout over kissing Isabella. Ferb happened to agree with Phineas that it would have been a bad idea, but that didn't mean the floundering hadn't been fun to watch. He was just glad that nobody had noticed his miniature spy-drone; he'd started filming before the fighting started to show the kind of nasty that this Loop could throw at visitors, but was thinking of showing select clips to Isabella later.
Elena staggered over and flopped down next to them with a noticeable lack of Godmotherly dignity. Her dress was torn, stained, and even burned, her hair was the type of tangle that only curls can create, and she looked a fright. Her sigh was even deeper than Eilyr's had been.
"They've agreed that by handling Sacharissa, I've done my share for today," she said. "I don't expect any of us will have more than a few hours to rest, but at least we get that. We've played merry hell with the Tradition tonight, and are bound to do the same when they find a suitable pup. Thank you for that, Phineas; we've agreed to do what we can to make that a Traditional loophole. After all, the Loyal Hound is well known in many lands already, so this can be added to it. And there are Traditions involving other loyal animals as well, so we can build on that."
"Good," Phineas said firmly. "I don't like the idea of anybody having their minds messed with like that. And what if it lasted beyond the Loop? How fair would it be for Isabella to do the whole unrequited love thing until the Loops are over and we can grow up?"
Sometimes Ferb really wondered if Phineas was as oblivious as he acted.
"…Right," Elena said, blinking rapidly. "So, Ferb, could you tell me what all that was about. With the Queen?"
"It's… complicated. The Queen is playing a dangerous game, but from what I've seen of her court, I can understand why. The Tradition has saddled them with a number of laws, and most of the Fae don't think much about them. The Queen is trying to undo some of them, but needs the rest of her court to accept them, which they won't really do if she just issues an order. I suspected as much when I heard Iolanthe's story. She uses each crisis that comes up to force her people to become aware of situations beyond their own interests. I think this lesson was about jumping to conclusions and doling out too-hasty vengeance." He wasn't too thrilled that she'd taken chances with Phineas' life, but since he wasn't a centuries-old Fae Queen, he couldn't really be sure she hadn't been certain of the outcome, in which case she hadn't risked anything, so it wouldn't be fair to get annoyed at her. He ran that thought through his head again and decided that if his internal monologue was pulling run-on sentences, he really needed sleep. But Elena wasn't quite done.
"You've both managed to impress the Fae this evening. Between that and Isabella's curse, your lives are going to be unspeakably busy now. I'm glad that Phineas has forestalled every variation of the Sleeping Maiden that I know of, but there are still so many Paths that the Tradition can throw at you. We need to keep the King well away from Castle Bunthorne; King Arac is a good ruler, but he's not much of a thinker and has a roving eye as well as a jealous wife, which is exactly the setup for a Fair Rosalinda. Then there's the Dragon's Maiden, which we'll keep going as long as we may. Although I'm already trying to think of ways that a dog could meet a Dragon's Challenge, just to be safe. Well, thinking may be too strong a term right now. I feel as tired as you all look—sorry, that was-"
"Honest," Ferb said. "I think we all need a good sleep and a bath, maybe even in that order. We're in safe hands now, so…"
A huge yawn broke his chain of thought and traveled around the group. As if it had been a cue, Phineas' eyes drooped shut and he tumbled over onto Eilyr. Eilyr blinked at him, then tucked his head in carefully so as not to stab anybody with his horn and was asleep within seconds. Elena spocked an eyebrow at Ferb.
"I think they have the right idea. And I also think that any more thinking can wait."
"Fair enough. In the morning, then."
Elena curled up in a manner that suggested even to Ferb's sleepy mind that she had lots of practice sleeping in uncomfortable surroundings, and Ferb lay down next to Phineas. Neither noticed Almandin curling himself around the group protectively.
"When did it get to be morning?"
"After midnight, if you want to get technical about it."
Phineas threw his pillow at his brother. As soon as he had, it occurred to him that since he'd fallen asleep in the middle of a stone circle with no pillows around for miles, that was a rather strange thing for him to be able to do. He looked around and found himself on a large cot inside a large tent, a shaft of sunlight peeking through the silken curtains at the door. Furthermore, he was clean, his injuries had been healed, and he was dressed in clothes that could only have come from the Fae. Ferb was in the same shape. There was no sign of Eilyr or Elena, and Almandin wouldn't have fit inside.
"Okay, time to get up. I wonder how long we slept?" He stood carefully, but his twisted knee really was as healed as he first thought. Without another word, he and Ferb stepped outside to a scene that would make fantasy artists and RenFaires everywhere implode from sheer jealousy. The Fae could be amazingly subtle at times, operating so stealthily that nobody knew they were there until they were gone and the fruits of their labors were found. And then there was this: a small town of silken tents and pavilions, with various types of Fae, Wizards, Sorceresses, and magical creatures wandering around. The Dwarfs from last night were still around as well, and the first they saw pointed them towards the center of the stone circle.
"Just how long were we asleep, anyway?" Phineas gaped at the display. Isabella lay on a golden bier, beautifully molded/carved, with a dome over her of glass etched with a delicate lacy pattern that in no way obscured the sight. Phineas winced at first, but a closer look revealed that the Dwarfs had thought of the breathing thing; there were scallop-edged holes around the base of the dome. The head Dwarf stood on guard, with Eilyr beside him.
"Well there you are, slugabeds," the Dwarf said cheerfully. "It's just past noon."
"Of what day?" Ferb asked, and both Dwarf and unicorn laughed.
"It is difficult to believe it has been less than a day, but it is no less than the truth," Eilyr said. "I'm afraid we've become what I think you once called a teaching moment; it is quite rare to see someone find a new loophole in the Tradition, and nobody wants to miss out. This should actually help us; the more to spread the tale, the better."
"Okay, I can see that," Phineas said. "Oh, by the way, Eilyr, did you think about trying to kiss Isabella yourself? A unicorn's love for a maiden is true, and you did swear to be her champion, so it might work."
"Godmother Elena suggested it shortly before you awakened," Eilyr said. "It did not work, to our disappointment. Perhaps because our love only lasts while they are maidens; we can retain a fondness for them ever after, but it is not the same. Love is not love that alters when it alteration finds, as one of your human poets said."
"I guess… but it was still worth a shot."
Eilyr nodded, then sent them on their way to see the Queen. It took some time to get to her, as everyone wished to congratulate them on Phineas' bright idea. They'd already known how much those who knew of the Tradition hated how it would force emotions like that, but somehow the theoretical knowledge wasn't the same as seeing how happy everyone was that they now might have a workable solution. Phineas just hoped it actually would work; he'd hate to disappoint everybody if it didn't. The worry that the Tradition would see through his trick grew stronger and stronger, but he kept smiling; he'd let the others be happy for as long as he could. He had a feeling Ferb wasn't fooled, though, since his brother kept very close, putting a hand on his shoulder every so often if someone got a little too gushy.
By the time they reached the Queen's pavilion, Phineas was beginning to feel like he'd turned into the Joker. Then he remembered that stint in Gotham and hastily thought of as many other things as possible. The Queen was not sitting majestically on her throne the way she had most of the other times he'd seen her; instead, she was leaning over a table as an assortment of people and creatures looked at the same papers that she was assessing. When she saw them approach, she greeted them with a smile.
"Don't be scared, Phineas. I am certain that your idea will work. Now, do come see what we've already achieved in the way of songs and sagas—I was lucky enough to have knowledge of where to find some quite talented songsmiths, and Almandin flew up to see his cousin and brought back an actual Songweaver. They are all waiting to see the results of your idea and our search, at which point they shall all create the perfect endings for their works."
They did as requested, and were mostly impressed by what they saw. There were a few that needed tweaking, and one that Phineas had to work hard to find something positive to say about it, but all of them would do the job. He was pointing out to an oddly familiar poet with a strong melodramatic streak that actually, "indulgent" rhymed with "effulgent", so, yeah… when Fleta returned looking perkier than ever. Phineas had already forgiven her for her part in the mess; she was very earnest and had good intentions, but there was no denying that she had as much common sense as Doofenshmirtz. And that was on her good days. If there was a way for her to put her foot in her mouth, she would find it, and then apologize for hours once she realized what she'd done. There was no point in staying mad at her, so he didn't. Ferb looked slightly miffed, but he'd let it slide for now.
"We've found him! He's perfect!" she exclaimed, then remembered to bow to her Queen. Behind her, two of the more sensible Fae were standing beside…
"Uh, well, I said a puppy, but he does look friendly," Phineas said.
"Oh, he is still a puppy! Not even a year old yet!"
Phineas was speechless. Ferb was staring, open-mouthed. The Queen had the patient expression common to those who had to deal with centuries of well-meaning flibbertigibbethood. The pup just rolled over on his back, paws waving.
"I thought I was familiar with land animals," said a tiny blonde who had been staying out of the way during the brainstorming, "but is it possible to breed a dog and a horse?"
"No, Katya, although it looks as though someone may have done so anyway," the Songweaver replied. "Don't ask me how. I don't want to know."
The pup was almost big enough for Katya to ride, and if it was that big before it was even a year old, it was going to end up almost the size of an Arcanine. It was a handsome animal, though: long brindled brown fur, sparkling eyes, and quite obviously healthy. The Queen walked forward to take a closer look, and the pup reared up on its hind legs. The Queen stopped, raising an eyebrow, and the pup stayed balanced for a few seconds, looking hopeful. After a moment's consideration, she held out her arms and the pup allowed itself to fall forward so that its front paws landed directly on the Queen's hands. Even knowing that this was the Queen of the Fae, Phineas was shocked when she caught the pup's paws without so much as a wince.
"Hi! I'm a dog!"
"Yes, I know. Have my children explained matters to you?"
"Sleeping girl needs a kiss to wake up from someone who loves her or a handsome prince or both. I can do that. Mother says we must find someone worthy and give our hearts to them entirely. I can do that. Sleeping girl is someone worthy, I will love her, and I am Maelgwyn."
"Maelgwyn. It means prince of the hounds, does it not?"
"Uh-huh. See? I am good dog. Pup. Yeah."
"Yes. Yes, you are. But there are some we must ask first. Phineas? Ferb? Is he acceptable in your eyes?"
Phineas took a long look at Maelgwyn, as did Ferb. Then the two looked at each other and gave it a moment's thought before turning back to the waiting Queen and hopeful pup.
"I think he's perfect, and I think Isabella will love him," Phineas said. Ferb nodded.
"Yay! Can I meet her now?"
"I see no reason to wait," the Queen said. Without another word, she started toward the stone circle, and everyone followed. It became a procession through no effort of their own. Almandin swooped down to give his approval, and was vocally glad about having a dog he wouldn't have to worry about stepping on because he didn't see it; Phineas couldn't really argue that. They approached the bier as the Dwarfs carefully removed the dome. Eilyr stared at them, obviously not having expected them to produce anything that might outweigh him. Maelgwyn froze for a moment when he saw how many eyes were on him, but shook himself all over before drawing himself up and walking majestically forward. He reared up again to rest his front paws on the bier, looking down at Isabella thoughtfully.
"Yes. She is good and kind and smells like sunshine. She is Mistress, and I love her."
He bent his great head forward and licked Isabella's face from chin to brow, then pressed his nose against her cheek. Everybody watched, breathless, waiting to see if it would work.
"Ohmygosh, you're adorable!" Isabella was up and flinging her arms around Maelgwyn's neck, or trying to, before they knew it. There was another moment of stunned silence, then—
"YES!" Phineas jumped and punched the air, and seconds later the rest of the crowd roared approval. The Tradition now officially had a new loophole, and more importantly, Isabella was awake.
8.15 (katfairy): [Phineas and Ferb] / [The Five Hundred Kingdoms] / [Big Hero 6]
Phineas and Ferb in the 500 Kingdoms, part 15; conclusion.
Nobody was surprised when Isabella grew to be the most beautiful woman in the 500 Kingdoms. The Tradition had her in its sights, and Traditional tales always insisted that the heroine was the most beautiful person in the history of ever, so it was inevitable. She didn't waste time whining about it, even though she knew that it would be several Loops before looking in a mirror would stop being disappointing. In other Loops when she'd had the opportunity to grow up, she'd been pretty, but this Loop had gone overboard. It attracted attention, of course; hardly a week went by without a Traditional hero popping up to rescue her from durance vile. Ferb started a betting pool on which Path would pop up next, and it took less than a month before Isabella found out about it. She would swear for the rest of the Loops that turning him into a squirrel had been an accident.
Sacharissa's Final Curse kept them busy in other ways as well. King Arac came to visit one of his Dukes who lived inconveniently near Castle Bunthorne, and avoiding him for the length of his visit was awkward. It didn't help that he'd heard of Isabella's great beauty and was thinking with the smaller brain, but when he failed Almandin's Challenge, he did leave with good grace, even thanking them for the fun. Someone started saying that Isabella was under a curse and would die if she looked toward the nearest town; Ferb knew his Tennyson and squashed that one before more than a small handful got to hear it. Isabella's hair started growing like crazy for a few days, but since she hadn't been traded to a Dark Witch by a father desperate to save his own skin, the Ladderlocks Path just couldn't take hold. A minor god from the next kingdom started paying too much attention, but the local deities didn't like him much, so that only lasted long enough to be annoying. They weren't sure which god-lusting-after-mortal Tradition had been intended, but they agreed that they were happier not knowing.
They knew exactly which Tradition was in play when an arrogant young twit from a kingdom to the southeast showed up, demanding that they hand Isabella over to him as his rightful prize. Apparently he'd been asked to judge a beauty contest between his local goddesses and had been bribed with the promise of the most beautiful woman in the world as his bride. His views on gender equality were noticeably backwards, even for this Loop, and he had expected Isabella to start obeying her Lord and Master—which he was actually stupid enough to call himself—the second he arrived. Isabella had not reacted well to that. She didn't even need Maelgwyn, now fully grown and almost big enough for Isabella to ride, to scare the twit away. Ferb had already gotten into the habit of recording every Challenge, and decided that one was going on the highlights reel. Although technically it never got to the point of a Challenge; Almandin had been laughing too hard at how thoroughly cowed the twit was within seconds of Isabella letting him know her opinion. Which she did at great length and with very thorough descriptions of his manners, demeanor, appearance, and upbringing. Brigantia, the most important of the local goddesses, actually showed up and took notes. When Isabella was through with the twit, the goddess marched up to him, caught his ear between thumb and forefinger, and vanished with both the twit and a promise of having words with the other goddess.
It wasn't all about Isabella, though. Phineas would have gained a reputation anyway, what with being a Wizard living in a Dragon's castle, but his intelligence and ability to use it on the fly (sometimes literally) gained him the title of Wizard of Wyrms. He discouraged the use of it, and it must be admitted that it had less to do with modesty than with being called, well, Wizard of Wyrms. As he pointed out repeatedly, it sounded like he ran a really geeky bait shop. His reputation brought him many challengers, and he gained another reputation for his success rate in turning Dark Wizards through a combination of impressive magic, unconventional brilliance, and sheer darn nice. Ferb became known as a Mastersmith, one of those whose skills were ranked second only to Dwarfs. He didn't get challenged as such, but many of the Heroes and Princes who came to try for Isabella ended up commissioning arms or armor from Ferb, with the understanding that they would never use Ferb's works against Dragons until they knew said Dragons were a clear and present danger. A rumor started that any who tried attacking an innocent Dragon while using Ferb's work would be cursed to die a horrible death; nobody ever found out where it started, but all agreed that anything that made Heroes think twice before attacking Dragons that weren't actively destructive was a Good Thing.
It was a busy but interesting life, and years passed quickly. The cat wandered off one day in their eighth year in the Loop and never returned. They mourned, but knew that it was how the cat wanted it. The next year, Eilyr fell to a Unicorn hunter; the hunter fell to Almandin, who saw it but couldn't get there in time to prevent it. Phineas and Ferb tracked down the Sorcerer who had hired the hunter; the man was left alive, but the entire city witnessed what happened when Phineas and Ferb were well and truly pissed off, and would not soon forget it. Unicorn hunting was not highly regarded in any land, but Rederring became one of the few that banned it outright; nobody wanted to try the brothers' temper a second time.
Maelgwyn became a dog of great dignity—when strangers were around. When it was just the castle residents, he was a gigantic ball of fluffy goofiness. He never wavered in his devotion to Isabella, and they suspected he wouldn't have even if he didn't have the Tradition backing him up. Some one-person dogs are standoffish or even hostile to people who aren't their human, but Maelgwyn considered everyone Isabella liked to be a friend and would defend them almost as fiercely. He lived to a ripe old age, as large dogs go, dying peacefully in his sleep at the age of twelve. They knew it was coming, but it was still hard, and naturally it was hardest on Isabella. She locked herself in her room for three days, refusing to see or even speak to anyone, and when she came out she was quiet and subdued for quite some time. Her first smile after that came when she and Phineas, out visiting a Sorceress on the other side of the Kingdom, overheard a peasant granny telling the local children a tale of a giant dog with an even bigger heart who once saved a Godmother with the purity of his love and became the defender of all innocents. It was a simplistic, even sappy story, but the old woman believed it and therefore the children believed as well. They couldn't have asked for a better memorial.
Nearly fifteen years to the day since they Awoke, Elena sent word that the Loop was about to end. They decided to gather at Castle Bunthorne for a Last Night party and see the Loop out together; just a quiet gathering, only the Loopers and Almandin. As the date approached, they said their goodbyes to those who were Loop-Aware and hadn't asked not to be told when the end was near. It had been a long Loop, sometimes fun, sometimes stressful, sometimes flat-out terrifying, but always interesting. They were disappointed it was ending and eager for it at the same time, hoping they'd Loop back to their respective baselines to see what had stuck with them besides memories.
"I'm really gonna miss this place," Phineas sighed. "I kinda wish the Fae were Dreaming instead of Loop-Aware so we could come visit them if we ever Loop back in here again and they'd at least have some idea why a bunch of strange kids were popping up."
"I'll check on things myself when the Loop resets," Elena said. "I wasn't familiar with this region in baseline; with 500 Kingdoms only the Fae are likely to know them all and this is quite far from my home. To be honest, I'm not entirely sure that Iolanthe and her family didn't Loop in and just keep it quiet. It wouldn't be the strangest thing I've heard about the Loops."
"I wouldn't be surprised if the whole kingdom wasn't Fused from another unfamiliar Loop," Ferb said. "So many things are familiar, and I've never been able to put my finger on it."
"I won't miss the curse," Isabella grinned. The others laughed.
"Reduced to mere cuteness," Alex teased; Isabella bounced a raspberry off his forehead. He caught it on the rebound and popped it into his mouth with a smug grin.
"I wish I could say I'd miss you, but unless I start Looping now, I won't even remember you," Almandin said quietly. "But please believe that somehow I shall always consider you friends. In fact, I've got presents for you, and they'll serve a dual purpose: parting gifts for friends, and a way to prove to me that you know me if you ever need to in a future Loop. I chose things I'd never give up for exactly that reason."
"Almandin…" Phineas was about to object, but couldn't. For one thing, Almandin was sincere, and refusing would hurt his feelings. For another, Almandin was using puppy-dog-eyes, which was just surreal on a Dragon of his size. "That's cheating."
"It's not cheating if it works. Besides, if I don't do something to break up the mood I just created, we'll turn into a blubbering mess, the lot of us. A blubbering Dragon is not a pretty sight, I must say, so I'd really rather spare you all the mental trauma. Col's going to be bringing the gifts out once the sun goes down. Have you all packed what you want to keep?"
"I can't pack much yet," Elena said. "But I've got a number of books and the jewelry Alex commissioned from Ferb for my birthdays."
"Neither can I, so I'm afraid I have to leave my armor," Alex said regretfully. "But I was at least able to keep my sword; I'd have been more upset about losing that."
"I'll make you another set," Ferb promised. "I've kept my special supplies in my Pocket anyway, so I'll have plenty of time to make it as close to perfect as I can and do the final fittings next time we Loop together. And I've been checking every morning since Elena warned us to make sure I had everything packed."
"Me too," Phineas said. "Those wands are just too cool to lose, even if I can't use them in a lot of Loops. Plus we've all got presents for our friends in other Loops and our family back in Danville. Candace is gonna flip over that red dress with the white lace."
"So will Jeremy," Ferb deadpanned.
"I'm done," Isabella said. "I… might have kinda stolen that statue of Maelgwyn King Arac had in his courtroom."
"I'd shake my finger at you, but they're full of sugared berries right now," Elena laughed. "Besides, it would be a shame to let that disappear; it's a masterwork in every sense of the word."
"Yeah…" Isabella might have said more, but the sun finally dipped below the horizon and Col appeared right on schedule, carrying a covered tray.
"Right; here we go," Almandin said. "Save the sniffles 'til the end, please. Now, most of these are simply amazing works of arts, but one or two do have stories attached. Ladies first: Elena, I've given you the Crown of Banafrit, an ancient Queen known for her wisdom and kindness, and Isabella, yours is more recent, but I think it will suit you: the diamond and emerald parure crafted by Mihangel. Only made the one parure before he died—far too young, poor chap, but he would insist on drinking like a ruddy fish and challenging men to duels. There was almost a war over it, but I put a stop to it. Took it and the king's only daughter and flew away, and the other king's youngest son, who wasn't a bullying prat or hopelessly obtuse like his brothers, won the Challenge fair and square. He got the girl, she got him, I got the parure, happy ever after."
Crown and parure were duly admired before being stowed safely in Pockets. Both were impressive in their own ways, and Isabella already knew which Loop she'd wear the parure in.
"Phineas, yours is also one of Mihangel's pieces; look familiar?" It was a foot-high sculpture of a dragon made of gold, jewels, and enamel; it reminded Phineas of a Fabergé egg as well as-"Yes, I posed for it. Official court dragon, don't you know. Alex, if you can fit another sword inside your Pocket, I've got the legendary Ophiuchus, made by the very first Dragonsmith, whose name is lost even to us."
"I'll make it fit. Almandin, this is… I don't know what to say!" Alex took the sword, awestruck. The scabbard was simple and elegant, and the sword itself was exactly what a legendary sword should be. It did indeed fit into Alex's Pocket, much to his relief.
"It's more important than you know," Elena said. "I didn't bother telling you because it never mattered, but before this Loop, Dragonsmithing was not a craft in this world. I think it was imported from another Loop, or possibly a minor Variant. It's a useful skill, wherever it comes from, and I've got notes on it in my Pocket for next Loop."
"Oh." Almandin blinked at that. "So, I won't recognize it as such. But I will know something I would have had in my hoard when I see it, so that should do it. Ferb, son, I had a devil of a time making up my mind what to give you. The others—well, it's Tradition for a Dragon to give his maiden jewelry as a parting gift-"
"It is?" both Godmothers chorused.
"Well, it is for me. And a Champion always needs a good sword, Godmothers are perfect caretakers for historical artifacts, and if Banafrit exists outside of this Loop, Elena will love reading about her. There was really only one thing in my hoard appropriate for the Wizard of Wyrms—better luck on nicknames next Loop, old chap—but for my apprentice? Not so easy. So I rather cheated. Called on the Queen to help me make this, and nobody will ever mistake it for anything other than what it is." Col handed what looked like a polished gem the size of a tangerine to Ferb. A closer look showed it to be an orb of crystalline material with shifting flames inside. Elena nearly dropped her teacup.
"You captured Dragonfire in a crystal? How is that even possible?" she sputtered.
"With very precise magic and a tiresome amount of patience. Even if it can only be done in this Loop, that will still be crystallized Dragonfire, freely given. The Queen wanted to call it a Dragonheart, but that sounds like it could be asking for trouble."
"Thank goodness; that was a rubbish movie," Ferb said dazedly, staring at his crystal. After a few minutes, he took a velvet-lined silver chest from his Pocket, carefully stored the crystal inside, and returned the chest. Then he tackle-hugged Almandin. He'd grown very fond of the Dragon, and now he would have more than just scales and talon filings to remember him by. Almandin stood still so that Ferb wouldn't cut himself on the sharp-edged scales.
The gift-giving over, Col disappeared again, and Almandin hastily cleared his throat and began a rather jumbled story about a Wizard who had defeated a budding Necromancer by turning him into a strange animal that looked like a cross between a duck and a woodchuck, but with a broad flat tail. Knowing that he was trying to keep things from getting too emotional, they didn't bother reminding him that the Wizard in question had been Phineas.
As the evening progressed, they finally broke down and all but Almandin had some wine. After all, toasting fallen comrades with tea, milk, and juice just lacked a certain something. They all avoided mentioning that for this purpose, wine was Traditional. They toasted Dickon, the cat, Eilyr, Maelgwyn, and finally Daniel, who, like Maelgwyn, had passed away peacefully in his sleep at a respectable age. A flood of do-you-remembers followed each toast: Dickon's dogs, who had escaped Sacharissa's attack and were taken in by a kindly old hermit; the cat's refusal to ever be cowed by a Dragon whose smallest scale was still twice her size; Eilyr's way of switching between deep thoughts (for a unicorn) and featherheadedness when around Isabella; Maelgwyn's love of apple turnovers; Daniel's joy at helping with research. Nobody tried to hide their tears except Almandin.
Night faded; the sun was almost up. Elena had said that the Loop usually ended as she saw the sun break free of the horizon, so they had only minutes to go. Phineas started singing quietly; The Parting Glass was just too appropriate at the moment. After the first line, Ferb and Isabella joined in. The others didn't know the song, but recognized the rightness of it. They finished the final line just as the sun spilled over—
Isabella sat up in her own bed, waited for the memories to hit, then flopped back down, suddenly exhausted. She was glad it was a baseline Loop; the entirety of the last Loop had just kicked her in the teeth. Somehow it hit harder getting her memories in a flood rather than living it; she choked back tears as she saw Pinky, wondering how he and Maelgwyn would have gotten along. Then something else occurred to her, and she got up quickly, rushing to her mirror.
"Yes! I'm cute!"
She rushed through her morning routine and zoomed over through the pouring rain to see Phineas and Ferb. They were hugging a huge white marshmallow/balloon… thing, (okay, not as baseline as she hoped, but she'd take it) but turned around when they heard her. They looked as tired as her, but Phineas still grinned.
"Isabella! You're cute!"
Candace opened her mouth, closed it, and shook her head.
"Phineas is noticing girls? What's up with that?"
The three exchanged looks, sighed, and hugged the giant marshmallow-bot, glad to be home, safe, and as normal as Loopers and residents of Danville could get.
8.11-8.15: And so one story ends… but the adventures never will.