A/N: Words in italics indicate character thoughts.
The first time that Taranza had seen her was almost ten whole years ago, in the regal castle of the Land of Fairies — the pinkish planet of Ripple Star.
It had all started out as a routine diplomatic visit. As monarchies with equally regal queens and similar-looking subjects (the People of the Sky back in Floralia shared an uncanny resemblance to the local fairies, Taranza found himself forced to admit), it was no surprise that the two kingdoms would eventually get in touch with each other.
The cheerful Land of Fairies, and the floral kingdom of the skies. Taranza had to admit — their new diplomatic partnership did have a nice ring to it.
The two queens had chatted it up and debated about diplomacy at the start. But since the talks were informal, their conversation eventually devolved into typical girl stuff that colored Taranza's cheeks even as a bystander.
Upon hearing Sectonia's wishes to leave them be, Taranza was quick to take his leave. The Floralian would have eventually left the two by themselves out of courtesy regardless, even if the conversation hadn't been steered in a weird direction.
Flitting out to the corridor was the moment that he first laid his many eyes on the artist. In front of him was a petite girl dressed in a fern green dress, with a red French-style beret covering her neatly trimmed raven hair.
She was cheerfully painting a portrait of Queen Sectonia, no doubt due to the fact that the royal was a distinguished guest on a visit to Ripple Star. Taranza felt a goofy smile creep across his face as he saw her accentuating the arachnid queen's features.
The portrait was… perfect.
There were simply no other words in the English dictionary to describe it. Just a single gaze at the watercolor acrylic paint being spread across the canvas was mesmerizing — an incredibly amazing sight.
Eventually, she realized that someone was watching her. The artist bashfully turned around, bowing down at him, a gesture which left Taranza perplexed.
At least, until he realized that she must have mistaken him for Queen Sectonia. Their features were similar enough on first glance, after all.
"Whoa there! Calm yourself! I'm not royalty!" he hastily waved with a stand-down gesture, his exaggerated hand movements causing her to return to an upright position.
"Oh, I'm sorry!" she apologized. "You look just—"
"I know…" he cut her off with a knowing smile, cutely baring his small fangs at her. "I look just like her." He jerked his head towards the throne room, closed tight by the double-doors. "Just like my liege, Queen Sectonia."
Taranza then gazed longingly at the picture of Sectonia on the rough canvas, the spider queen artistically captured by the different shades of watercolor paint that the artist had used. "She's beautiful…" he finally murmured, placing one of his hands on the artwork.
He didn't even have to mull over it to admit that fact — in the confines of Taranza's mind, Queen Sectonia was the most beautiful being to ever grace the entire observable region of Gamble Galaxy.
Heck, that definition probably held true for the unobservable and unexplored regions as well.
"You think so?"
Taranza was snapped back to reality upon hearing the girl ask him a question — one which he found incredibly dumb. Why, the answer was so blatantly obvious!
"Of course I think so. I believe it with all my heart!" he petulantly declared, saying his thoughts out loud to correct and dispel any incorrect gospel. It wouldn't do to have rumors swirling about Ripple Star.
The painter apprehensively bit her lip. "Oh. I see…" she trailed off.
Taranza found himself puzzled by her reaction. Not only had she reacted in a negative manner towards his praise, she appeared to still be apprehensive when in his presence. "Something the matter?" he asked.
"It's nothing. I just feel that as an artist, beauty is subjective."
His interest was piqued by her words. "Oh, do explain," he said, pressing for details.
"Maybe it's because I'm viewing things through a critical lens… but in my personal opinion, beauty is in the eye of the beholder," she spoke, her eyes wistfully looking to the sky before quoting an idiom. "One man's trash is another man's treasure."
Taranza's face softened as he chuckled. "Well, this piece of work isn't trash, I'll say. Besides the washed-out color palette, it looks almost like the real Queen Sectonia. There's a regal aura of melancholy to your piece."
She snickered at his review. "I guess you could see at that way. I have a friend named Ribbon who the queen is grooming to be the next ruler of Ripple Star, so I know firsthand what's going on within the mind of a royal monarch. It's not as prim as one might think. Ribbon doesn't like people fussing over her, for instance."
"Bah, nonsense." Maybe it was due to the fact that he was Sectonia's royal servant, but something within Taranza staunchly insisted on refuting her remarks. "Royals are born royalty. Your friend, on the other hand, appears to have been selected and groomed for the role. Two entirely different scenarios. I personally believe that true royals like Queen Sectonia are happy to be pampered by their servants."
"That is a valid point," she mulled over his words, before abruptly jolting upright as though something of note came to her mind. She placed her wooden palette and her brush down on a stand by the canvas, warmly reaching her arm out as a greeting. "Some people call me Ado, but my full name is Adeleine."
"Adeleine, hm?" He rolled the girl's name using his tongue, before floating closer to her, ending up at eye-level with Adeleine.
She brushed her bangs aside, tilting her head to the side when she saw him approach. "Yes, sir?"
"Please… I'm not a 'sir'," he immediately corrected. "I'm nothing more than Queen Sectonia's humble servant. But if you insist on an identifier, you may call me Taranza," he introduced before frowning and putting a finger to his chin, deep in thought. "Say, I just realized… you look different from the others," he mused.
"Oh!" she gasped, before recovering from her surprise at the question. "It's because I'm human. I'm not a fairy."
"Ah. That's… unique, I suppose." Taranza filed away the knowledge, leisurely turning towards the artist's work-in-progress. "Anyway, hate to be a harsh critic, but allow me a word of advice? Her majesty Sectonia's horns have a more elegant curve to them," he couldn't help but comment, using one of his hands to caress his own golden-tipped horn that was poking out of his silver hair.
"Hm, I can see that." Adeleine nodded slightly, appearing to have taken his constructive criticism in stride.
He responded with a faint smile. "Think of an S-shape, curving in and out in a spiral-like motion, just like a snake."
"Okay!" she conceded, making the necessary changes with a few smooth strokes of her brush.
Then, to Taranza's shock, the pastel-like Sectonia peeled herself off the canvas like a sticker being removed from a sticker book, turning from a flat image on a blank canvas to a two-dimensional object lumbering about in their three-dimensional reality.
"Augh!" Taranza shrieked, his cry a little more high-pitched than he would have preferred. "M-My liege, my queen…" he stumbled to try and get a coherent word out, failing and only able to utter a "What the…?" in response to what his eyes were seeing.
Adeleine giggled at his exaggerated reaction. "Oops. I should've warned you. Everything that I draw—" the artist explained, gesturing to the pastel-like Sectonia with her colorful paintbrush, the figure now floating in mid-air after unceremoniously pulling itself off her canvas, "—comes to life."
Everything she draws… comes to life? Once he managed to pick his jaw up from the ground, he looked at Adeleine with awe and wonder. "Why, that's an incredible power! Seriously, kudos!" he gushed, before frowning as he observed the floating replica.
"Actually, I see your point from earlier." Taranza furrowed his brow, tilting his head inquisitively. "Now that it is alive, I can't help but feel as though it is but an inferior copy of the real deal."
Her eyes twinkled mischievously. "As I said, beauty is in the eye of the beholder." She wistfully sighed at the watercolor arachnid. "From an impartial view, I like it. But as your opinion is coming from someone who knows the real Queen Sectonia, though it is an exceptional piece of art, I suppose cannot compare to her grace."
Taranza smiled. "You took the words right out of my mouth, m'lady." He narrowed his eyes at the Sectonia copy before finally floating away from the artist and her art. "It is time to take my leave." He looked at his wrist, eyeing a nonexistent watch as a joke to show her that he was running behind schedule. "It was nice to meet you, Miss Adeleine." He bowed slightly. "All the best to you."
"I hope to see you too," she said, before turning back to her canvas and making preparations to begin a new piece of art. Evidently she was one of those artists who were never satisfied with a singular piece of completed art, fervently starting a new piece after the previous one had just been finished.
As she bid him farewell, Taranza hovered away and ended up wandering around Ripple Star, the eccentric painter soon becoming nothing but an unusual memory in his mind.
He didn't know why he came back to Ripple Star after the Dreamstalk incident. Perhaps it was a sense of yearning. Perhaps it was the familiarity of the place to the Kingdom of Floralia.
Regardless of the reason, Taranza found himself aimlessly wandering around the bright countryside. The arachnid kept a stoic mask up, but deep within he just wanted comfort.
Could one really blame him? If a person was forced to destroy the love of your life by your own hands, wouldn't they end up being depressed? There was no need to mull about it — it was an inevitability.
Taranza sighed longingly, rubbing his eyes as two fairies passed by. He had been head over heels for his queen, and she didn't even know it. Or if she did, she didn't reciprocate his feelings — a scenario that Taranza didn't want to fathom or believe.
Not when she encompassed his whole world.
They were friends, a servant to a master, but he'd harbored a crush on her since young and as he came of age, he began desiring more.
Too bad it was never to be. Any remnants of their relationship was snuffed out by Hypernova Kirby, the love of his life having been lost to vanity and darkness long before the hero of the lower world vaporized her remains with her own laser.
Taranza continued to float about until he perked up, seeing a girl to his front. There she was, basking under the warm sunlight out of the corner of his topmost pair of eyes.
He'd found her.
At last the Floralian realized why his mind had unconsciously dragged him here.
"Bonjour, mademoiselle," Taranza greeted formally, causing her to gasp in surprise as she turned towards him.
"Oh, hello!" she replied with a smile, one which was quickly replaced by a frown. "I suppose I shouldn't be surprised by this…"
Taranza was stupefied by her words. It was almost as though she had expected him. But how? How had she known that he would be looking for her here? Even he himself was unaware of the fact until he ran into her by chance. "It's been almost a decade since I came to Ripple Star, ma'am," he pointed out, "Perchance, do you remember me?"
"Of course I do!" she giggled, waving her hand about. The multicolored paint-tipped brush was firmly clasped in her palm, just like he recalled, and was being continually swung about by her erratic hand movements. "You're Mr. Taranza, aren't you? Hailing from the Kingdom of Floralia?"
He furrowed his brow, grinning at her. "Ding, ding, ding!" Taranza confirmed as he emulated the sound of a chime, clapping all three pairs of his hands at staggered rhythms to give the impression of a crowd applauding. "I'm surprised you remembered, actually," he then proceeded to admit.
"To be honest…" Adeleine bashfully looked away, shifting her feet uncomfortably and dragging the soles of her bread-like shoes along the ground. "I kind of forgot about you until I heard some news…" she let the sentence hang, cautiously holding her hands to her cheeks.
"News?" Taranza instantly dropped his carefree demeanor. Could it be…?
"I heard about the incident from an old friend of mine who lived on Planet Popstar. I… had no idea that your kingdom had fallen into such disarray." She gazed at him, sparing him a glance of pity. "I offer you my sincere condolences, Taranza."
Taranza twitched. He should have known. Of course she knew.
"You knew, didn't you?" He let the question hang in the air, knowing there was no need for a response. It was rhetorical. "Then you also know why I'm here, don't you?" Taranza cut straight to the point, narrowing his multiple eyes at her before clasping three pairs of hands and zooming towards Adeleine with tears in his eyes.
"I want you to bring back m-my darling queen…" he managed to choke out, "…if only just for a fleeting moment, I just want to see her. Please…"
Silently, Adeleine obliged his request, pushing him aside with her hand and setting up her canvas. Taranza watched her from the sidelines as she recreated a picture of Queen Sectonia's arachnid form from ten years prior.
When she came to life, Adeleine apprehensively bit her lip and looked at Taranza. Surprisingly, he did not have any discernible reaction to seeing Sectonia again. He simply stared at the copy until it dissolved into splotches of paint.
"You can tell, can't you?" Adeleine twiddled her fingers, trying to break it as gently as possible to the brooding arachnid. "Though they look almost alike, she's not the queen that you know. Remember what I said? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder—"
"…just like I thought," Taranza bitterly spat, interjecting into Adeleine's enthusiastic spiel. He grunted at the faux Sectonia, refusing to dignify it with even the slightest attempt to disguise the disappointment in his voice. "It's nothing but an illusion, a soulless puppet held up by strings."
"You knew all along?" Adeleine quipped, confusion filling her facial features as she looked at him with surprise. "If you were aware beforehand that it was a futile effort, then why did you ask me to draw her if you knew that I can't bring back the real one with my drawing?"
"I just wanted to remember the old days. And though it was a whimsical thought at first, I had to try." Taranza wiped away his final tears, his voice turning melancholic. "Oh, this is rather embarrassing to admit, but when I first laid eyes on you, for some reason I thought you to be some kind of goddess."
"H-Huh!?" To say that Adeleine was baffled by his words was an understatement.
Taranza hushed her with a raised hand, barreling on with his explanation. "The reason was because you breathed life into your drawings. Floralia is a kingdom born in the sky, but we're very close to Mother Nature. I saw you like a blooming flower, breathing life into inanimate objects."
He floated towards the now empty sheet of canvas. "Perhaps… that was why I thought that you could mend my broken heart by bringing back Sectonia… but I really should have known better. You're not a goddess, you're merely… human. Of course your Sectonia artwork would be nothing more than a husk, an empty vessel…"
"There, there," Adeleine consoled the floating spider, standing on tiptoes to reach up and pat him on the back. "Everything's going to be okay…"
"I know… but it still hurts," he lamented, lowering his altitude so that she could reach him more easily. "How do you cope with letting go? She was my angel…"
"You aren't alone. My old friend from Popstar…" Adeleine looked up to the sky, "I haven't seen him in forever after our last adventure. But he's always in my heart, just like your queen is in yours." All of a sudden, she looked at him with a mischievous expression. "So stand firm, Taranza! You are a royal assistant to her majesty, the queen, and you better act like it!"
Her faux posh accent earned a chuckle out of Taranza. "Oh, Adeleine. Your art might be impeccable, but your manner of speech is terrible by comparison. I've had years of learning how to speak to regal monarchs. Don't even try, novice… you can't emulate formal speech!" he chastised her, although his reaction was made in jest. Adeleine laughing along clearly showed that she was in on the joke.
Taranza felt better already. Perhaps… this wouldn't be so bad. It was definitely far better than the bleak alternative — he knew that he would only spiral further and further into madness if he continued clinging on to Sectonia. As Adeleine's painting had proved, there was no emulating the Sectonia whom he had known before everything had gone so wrong. That Sectonia was lost to the past, and would now only exist in his memories.
He exhaled, making up his mind that he couldn't be hard up on this forever. Yes… this will be a new beginning! No point moping around… I will take full charge of the Kingdom of Floralia in memory of our fallen queen!
Taranza hovered towards Adeleine, deftly using one of his gloved hands to prod her on the tip of her button-shaped nose.
Just from the gesture and saying those two words, Taranza swore that his face had heated up until his cheeks were almost as red as the scarf wrapped snugly around his neck. And to put that in perspective, his silk scarf was a vibrant crimson red.
He would not lie — he relished the cozy feeling that welled up within him. It wasn't like with his precious Queen Sectonia, where he had been smitten with her for longer than he could even remember. Here there was no build up, just a sense of…
…gratefulness and tender joy.
Had that human artist truly managed to usurp my queen's former position in my shattered heart?
But to be perfectly fair, the teasing painter fared no better — her own face matching the color of her beret, the one that she wore atop her head as an impromptu hair net so that her bangs would not get in her way when she decided to paint.
After composing herself, she looked up at Taranza and smiled warmly at the spider. "You're welcome."
Taranza gave a salute in response to Adeleine, heartily laughing as he bid the painter farewell with a promise of returning to Ripple Star again. He suppressed the blossoming feelings for the artist who had saved him from a potential lifetime of despair and angst, unsure if he could commit to a relationship so soon after having his heart smashed to smithereens.
Only time will tell if he would manage to get over his darling Sectonia for good. But hey, at the very least, this was a start.
A very artistic start, he'd say.
Happy Valentine's Day! If you thought that I'll be writing anything but the most infamous tragedy love story in the Kirby franchise for this day, you'd be dead wrong.
Even still, I'm someone who likes to be different from the norm. So nah, I am not going to go full angst like most Taranza and Sectonia tragedy fics. Instead, this story focuses more on the unusual relationship of Taranza and Adeleine… which admittedly was a pairing that sprung up from that one Star Allies main menu idle animation.
Reading their interactions together in FierySprite's 'Star Allies, Unite!' fic helped as well. It's cute, even if I'll forever be trash for the Taranza and Sectonia tragedy. Maybe I'll write legitimately tragic angst for those two someday. Maybe.
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this piece! This ended up being more of a hurt/comfort fic rather than fluffy romance, but I sincerely hope you liked it.