Licorice Cookie yawned softly as he stretched, closing his eyes and mumbling to himself before leaving the castle that Dark Enchantress Cookie owned. He decided he needed to spy on the other Cookies, so he just decided to do so. He was humming to himself as he snuck up behind a tree, noticing Clover before narrowing his eyes softly at the Cookie that drew close to his hiding spot quickly. "Hmmm..." He thought to himself before reaching out and grabbing the other's collar from behind, yanking him back into the forest before huffing softly. "Hello there."
Clover Cookie had been walking around the forest, much like he usually did, observing the serene and tranquil environment that surrounded him while he searched for someplace new to play his lute. Most of the time, that was all he ever did; sing a few songs or recite a poem while peacefully strumming away at his grass-woven lute that he kept on him at all times. Clover was expecting to find someplace nice enough to sit without disturbing the forestry a few steps up ahead, certainly [i not] expecting for his collar to be pulled and for him to delve deeper into said forestry as he yelped in surprise. "If this is your idea of entertainment then your games aren't very fun," Clover stated with a rare grumble, unprocessing whom exactly he was speaking to for a few moments, going wide-eyed with realization when he finally did notice. It seemed his luck had run a little low, his brows furrowing in his self-worry. "Oh, uhm, Licorice Cookie... Uh, greetings..." He muttered out, attempting to be as polite as he usually was because, who knows, it might solely spare his life, considering the Cookie in front of him most likely hated his guts due to whom he was affiliated with.
He cocked an eyebrow before pulling his scythe out, holding it in a ready position as if the Cookie in front of him was going to attack him or something. "I'm not here to play games. What are you goody-two-shoes Cookies planning? I'm sure you're trying to get to my mistress's palace to take her down. I'm here to make sure you stay where you belong." He snarled, his hands and scythe beginning to glow with his magic. As powerful as he'd become under Dark Empress Cookie's 'tutelage', he still only used the more minor magics. Perhaps he just wanted to use the milder stuff for show, but either way, he did look pretty intimidating for a little Cookie who was just glowing a little bit.
"Oh dear..." Clover continued to mutter, his voice just barely audible, staying still like a tree in an attempt to prove he was non-threatening. "I came out here alone if that's what you're asking; I was only looking for a calm place to play my lute, there's no need to be violent." He offered out, forcing one of his usual warm smiles to grace his face as the bard held said instrument between his hands, gently plucking the strings without song as if unrhythmic notes would prove his genuine innocence. It wasn't like he could exactly fight back with magic either, unfortunately, as his magic heavily enhanced and supported the magic of other, more aggressive magic types. Taking a trepid step backwards, Clover quietly murmured something along the lines of how he probably should have invited Latte or Madeleine with him had he known he would have ventured into enemy territory, but, yet again, his voice was barely audible, like a whisper in the wind if one would.
His eyes narrowed before he tapped the end of his scythe on the ground, summoning some licorice minions before placing the weapon back in it's holster. His minions looked confused as to why he had summoned them but wasn't commanding them to attack, the Cookie looking over Clover's scared form before sighing and waving his hand to the seeming leader of the little troupe of minions. He seemed to have realized Clover was no threat, although the look in his eyes was clearly still an analytical one. He was meant to be a wizard, after all, he was smart even if most Cookies thought of him as a mindless idiot.
Clover let out an audibly relieved sigh at the sight of Licorice putting his weapon back into his holster, visibly growing a tiny bit more relaxed seeing the little licorice minions get waved off. Taking that as a sign he wouldn't be immediately in harm's way any further, though still not wishing to push his luck any incase the other Cookie had plans to get him to crumble, the bard quietly shifted so he was sitting cross-legged on a nearby fallen log, not daring to move away any further than that. "...I'm guessing I'm not allowed to simply leave?" He softly tried, his forced smile clearly growing saddened for a moment as he strummed a few quiet notes at his lute, attempting to play a quiet song to help his nerves calm down. Clover would be lying if he said the situation he happened to get himself into wasn't stressful, silently hoping his few notes strummed on the lute's strings wouldn't get him condemned in any manner. It was weird not knowing the limits of who he was with for once, and in any other situation he might even call it a bother and troublesome, but alas, he didn't have the luxury of talking to Licorice as if the other Cookie was a close friend of his.
He hummed softly and shook his head, looking away from him for a moment before tilting his head as if he was curious about something. The lute seemed to be what Licorice was focusing on, curious about it and why Clover seemed to want to play it so much. His eyes glowed as he reached out to strum his fingers over the strings, tilting his head at the odd sound that floated from the instrument. Curiosity glimmered in his eyes, almost seeming to disregard Clover's existence entirely for a moment before he flicked his eyes up to meet Clover's calmly.
Clover silently observed as Licorice strummed the strings of his lute, an almost equally curious glimmer in his own eyes when the dark Cookie's eyes met his. Raising a brow for a moment, he briefly got to thinking before allowing a genuinely pleased smile splash across his face. Licorice seemed intrigued by his lute, the bard silently noted. Great! That made the [i perfect] opportunity to softly charm his way out of this situation and return to the Cookie Kingdom he called home, or attempt to make a friend in his trials, maybe even both if luck was once again on his side. "Would you like me to play you a song? Oh! I could teach you how to play one, rather, if you would like!" Clover chirped out, his fingers already strumming out a mini-tune as he awaited an answer.
A soft hum escaped him as he looked down, seeming to think to himself before reaching out and drawing a branch from the log Clover was sat on. It began to twist and form in his hands, his eyes glowing softly as he tried his best to form it like Clover's. It was the only form of reference he had, after all, so he was trying his best. He eventually held it like Clover was, looking up at him with a silent look. He felt like a real idiot for even mildly trusting one of the Cookies that he was supposed to be fighting or even spying on, but somehow he felt like Clover wasn't going to do anything to him. A support Cookie.
The bard blinked a few times, examining the now lute-like shaped branch Licorice had moulded which only seemed to make him smile evermore as if giddy to have his instrument copied. It [i was] his prized possession, though, so perhaps it made some sense logically. "Aww, you've got a lute now too! That's fantastic!!" He praised enthusiastically, happily swaying slightly from side to side as a way to express his joy in the form of a light, harmless stim. "I'll teach you a simple song first. I'll go slow, I promise, so focus on copying me, okay?" Clover asked, watching Licorice for a moment for some signal of approval before he started his musical lesson, strumming out the notes of Christ ist Erstanden, making sure to be slow enough for the other Cookie to copy his movements, while singing along to the song as well; hey, playing the lute and singing provided for double the charm, did it not?
Licorice seemed a little frustrated at first, not getting the hang of the instrument at first and getting angry about it. Clover's charisma helped him calm down, however, and he sighed as he relaxed a bit and continued to play. He did want to learn how to play the strange instrument, strumming his lute and beginning to play Das Lied der Deutschen. It was a bit of a complicated song, but it was somehow beautiful as he strummed the strings and sang out in German. Though his voice was scratchy and a bit unpleasant when he spoke, his singing voice wasn't too bad.
Clover softly blinked in a bit of surprise when the song was switched, silently plucking along to the notes for a few moments until he felt like Licorice had a good handle on how to play the lute, setting his own in his lap to let the other Cookie play solo while he smiled and simply listened. The bard found it to be a treat, truly, to be played a song by someone he would otherwise view as an enemy, positively beaming with joy while the dark mage sing and play the song he chose. "You did a good job, wow! You picked that up really quickly, good for you!" Clover exclaimed with zeal once the song was over, enthusiastically clapping alongside his praise. "I didn't expect to be serenaded today; normally that's what I do!"
Licorice seemed a bit surprised as well, looking at the instrument in his hand before starting to try and sort out how that happened. It couldn't have been witchcraft, he himself was a mage! He was more resistant to magics! "...How did I do that?" He asked after a moment, staring up at Clover with an almost worryingly confused look. The mage wasn't used to doing new things, and this kind of invigorated him. Who knew why he was like this, he was just confused but excited at the prospect of doing this more.
"You must have some raw talent for it, I suppose," Clover mused out with a quiet, thoughtful hum, thinking a little about the logistics of such a good fortune event happening in the first place. He brushed it off slowly under the impression he must've accidentally magically supported the other Cookie, which tended to happen from time to time without him realizing he had done so. Ah, whatever, Clover was just happy to have been given the opportunity to teach Licorice how to play his precious instrument, reaching over to cup and gently rub his cheeks in his gloved hands whilst still beaming; overly affectionate, as usual. "You played nicely though, I'm happy for you; and your singing voice is rather nice! I'm sure with a little practice, you could easily play the lute as well as I one day!"
The dark Cookie's face flushed harshly as he stared at him, a bit confused as to why he was being touched. And so affectionately, too...why? Wasn't this Cookie supposed to be his enemy? He just seemed utterly confused, staring at him for a moment before swallowing heavily. "Erm...hi...?" He tried, unsure of how it would reflect on the other Cookie's mood as he swallowed a bit. Gripping the instrument in his hands gently, he tried his best not to be embarrassed by how close they were.
"Hello there!" Clover chirpily responded without a moment of hesitation, his visible eye glimmering with both curiosity and gentle softness. He fell into a comfortable silence, allowing himself to continue to softly rub the mage's cheeks while he simply thought while gazing at the other Cookie's face with a quiet hum of a tune. It took a few moments, but eventually, the bard began to muse again, "You really aren't that bad, aren't you... Rather, you're simply misunderstood, much like Red Velvet or Espresso are, yes?" Clover inquired with a voice about as light as a feather, mentally coming to that conclusion in sync while he spoke it out. Slowly pulling his hands away, he offered up a simple smile, rather shifting to calmly plop his head on the other's shoulder, curious to see what kind of reaction he would be shown in return for another affectionate gesture as such. Licorice wasn't [i as] bad as rumour had made him out to be, Clover deemed, smiling a little more at the thought.
A hesitant stutter left him before Clover put his head on his shoulder, staring at him in confusion before slowly putting his arm around in return. Clover Cookie wasn't that bad, he decided as he sighed in mock-exasperation. "You're a true fool. I could crumble you right now and yet you have your head on my shoulder like we're long-lost lovers like in one of your little sonnets." He grumbled, although it seemed that he wasn't going to move anytime soon. He sighed again before starting to sing again. "Deutschland, Deutschland über alles, Über alles in der Welt. Wenn es stets zu Schutz und Trutze, Brüderlich zusammenhält, Von der Maas bis an die Memel...Von der Etsch bis an den Belt."
["Germany, Germany above all, Above everything in the world, When always, for protection, We stand together as brothers. From the Maas to the Memel - From the Etsch to the Belt - Germany, Germany above all Above all in the world."]
Letting out a tiny, voiceless laugh in response, Clover only settled into the newfound closeness between the two of them, easily growing relaxed in what seemed to be no time at all. He was, surprisingly, content to be cuddled up to the dark Cookie like so, of course nuzzling into him to stay as bubbly and affectionate as ever like a calm but loving puppy-dog. Despite the original plan of his being to flee as soon as possible, the bard revised said plan, figuring he could stay a while longer as, admittedly, it had been going astonishingly nice thus far. Plus, he was getting serenaded, as if roles had become reversed! "I still think you've got a nice singing voice..." Clover noted, yet again, aloud with a hum when he believed the song to be over. Licorice had mentioned love sonnets before he started singing, so, he figured, why not recite one of his favourites while he was given the opportunity? Softly grinning now, Clover nuzzled a little further into the other before softly speaking out, "Loving you less than life, a little less Than bitter-sweet upon a broken wall Or brush-wood smoke in autumn, I confess I cannot swear I love you not at all. For there is that about you in this light— A yellow darkness, sinister of rain— Which sturdily recalls my stubborn sight To dwell on you, and dwell on you again. And I am made aware of many a week I shall consume, remembering in what way Your brown hair grows about your brow and cheek And what divine absurdities you say: Till all the world, and I, and surely you, Will know I love you, whether or not I do."
[that is literally one of my favourite sonnets of all time, 'm sorry but i just hAd to use it-- plus,'sverycute---]
He raised an eyebrow at him when he started reciting the poetry, tsking quietly before moving his arm away in order to cross his arms stubbornly. "You're an idiot." He grumbled softly to himself, as if his mock-anger was going to be at all convincing when it was clear enough he tolerated, or maybe even vaguely enjoyed, the plant-based bard's company. He uncrossed his arms after a moment, putting one back around Clover as he hummed lightly and curiously. "Why are you even trying to be my friend? We're supposed to be enemies."
"Well, if you'd like to play those cards like so, why haven't you tried genuinely fighting me yet? You've had plenty-a-chance to end my life if you so much as wished for it to happen by now," Clover pointed out in a gently redirecting, matter-of-fact tone, countering the question he was asked with a question himself. In all honesty, the bard himself didn't know why, unable to provide an immediate and clear-cut answer despite having mentally asked himself the very thing a few times already. Quitely picking and crudely plucking at the strings of his floral lute, Clover sighed out and continued musing, "Sparkling became friends with Red Velvet, so I guess I've been silently questioning as to why can't I become friends with you...? I don't... Really have an answer other than that..." He murmured, borderline whispered, his smile slowly morphing into a contemplative frown, one that almost looked saddened if one paid close enough attention to his expression.
He quietly stared at him for a moment before sighing and opening a book, keeping Clover held close in a way that almost seemed to be trying to comfort him in Licorice's semi-twisted way. Wizard Cookie was better at...well, everything...but people seemed to look up to the wise Cookie for guidance and reassurance a lot. Just thinking about it nearly made his anger flare before he remembered his present company and he decided not to scare him with sudden and, to the other Cookie, most likely unfounded anger since Clover Cookie hadn't done anything in the last few minutes, let alone their whole interaction, that would warrant anger.
Clover fell into a semi-uncertain silence, doing absolutely nothing other than breathing and plucking the strings of his instrument at random for a minute or two at least. The question threw him off a little mentally, but he was swift to recover after he brushed it off, now curiously eyeing the book the mage held and glancing over the open pages. "Oh, do you like those old books?" Clover asked, intrigued for a moment as he slipped off his hat and pulled a book from the depths of the fabric. As odd as it may have looked, it was how he carried his things on him at all times, having learned it from Rudeford Cookie in his travels. The bard offered the spell-filled book to Licorice after softly dusting it off, "Here, I bought this while in Yogurca, but I could never put it to good use because I'm a support Cookie... Perhaps you'll enjoy it more than I ever could!" The information did interest him; it truly did; but rarely he could do anything with it as his magic typically didn't allow for experimentation if any at all. He found it to be disappointing, but maybe Licorice could put the spellbook to better use than he could; there was no point in letting the contents of said book be at waste, after all, even if Licorice technically [i was] an 'enemy'.
His eyes lit up a little bit before he gently took the book from Clover, wonder dancing across his features as he recognized the name on the book. It was one of the ancient mages' books, opening it and sifting through the contents in fascinated silence. "This book is ancient...but the contents should still hold water if I can..." He muttered to himself, mumbling off into near-silence. The only thing on him that told that he was breathing was his mouth moving. He set the book in his lap and began to chant to himself quietly, holding his hands out over the book and letting his eyes widen again as a little gemstone plopped into his hand. "Oooh..."
Clover blinked in a mixture of curiosity and astoundment, scooping his lute into his hat before sliding the decorative hat back onto his head as he slid closer up to Licorice. "Would you look at that! You did it!" He softly cheered with excited claps of his hands, as if praising a close friend of his whom had completed something difficult. To be fair, however, most magic was difficult in his eyes, especially since he never heard the end of it from Latte and Espresso both nagging at him about how challenging mastering spells could be. In that sense, he supposed he felt lucky to end up being a simple support Cookie- and a damned good one at that. "I wonder if you could get more of them or make them bigger..." Clover commented aloud with a quizative hum, an indirect way for him to ask Licorice to try again, though this time around with a supporting help from the plant-based bard.
He looked at him with soft happiness in his eyes before realizing he felt more powerful now, taking a breath before setting the first gem down and focusing on the feeling of power he had. 'Focus, focus, focus, Licorice...' His mind whispered as he closed his eyes, chanting more powerfully to himself now as his magic glowed in his hand. The enhanced magic definitely seemed more powerful, a much larger gem appearing in his hands and almost making him drop it as he let out a surprised noise.
"Whoa..." Clover cooed out in wonder, staring down at the new gem with wide and amazed blue eyes. He shifted a little to grab the smaller of the two gems into his gloved hands, holding it near the second gem to ease his visual comparison of the two, staying quiet as he himself was shocked that he managed to help nearly [i that] much with an innocent gem-summoning spell. Clover cheered out ecstatically once his brains gears had begun to churn again to process information once more, positively bubbling with joy at their accomplishment. Said joy only seemed to enhance his supportive magic, which was a good thing to note; happy bard means better support which gets stronger, more effective spells. "Look at that!! Oh my goodness, that's amazing! We're amazing; [i you're] amazing, everything is amazing!!"
He let out an amused chuckle at the bard's enthusiasm, hearing the sound of someone coming through the woods and flinching softly as he closed the book and hid in the shadows of a tree quickly. He knew he didn't want to be found around Clover when he was supposed to be spying on the good Cookies, his eyes widening as Fig Cookie emerged from the trees and let his eyes fall on Clover. "There you are, have you been here the whole time?" He asked curiously, looking down at the plant-based Cookie in confusion.
"Ah, hello Fig, it's nice to see you again!" Clover did his best to keep his attention on Fig as he nodded, internally questioning himself for feeling such a strong urge to ensure Licorice's hiding place wouldn't be revealed as he offered up the forested centaur a smile. "Mostly, yes; I was wandering around not too long ago, however. Look at the spot I found, though! It's such a wonderful place to sit and listen to the sounds of nature. I should write another song about how tranquil it is here!" He chirped, deciding it would be not only safer, but more convincing if he didn't exactly [i lie] to Fig Cookie; it was only gently bending the truth, after all. Clover tilted his head curiously after a moment, "But, if I may ask, why are you here, Fig? Does Prince Custard require me once again?"
"Oh? No, no, I just thought I heard the sound of people talking in the forest. It was probably the sounds of nature again, or maybe the Cookies in the village." He shrugged softly, holding onto his staff before sitting down. "You should come back to the village soon, though. Pancake, Moon Rabbit and the prince are getting antsy. They're a real handful, even for the most patient of Cookies..." He sighed quietly as he thought about the young Cookies, still growing into their powers and roles in the Cookie world. The young prince most of all, even with the support of his advisors he was still quite foolhardy and headstrong in his ways.
Clover let out a light laugh, painfully well aware of how difficult the three were to manage and keep under control as he was their main caretaker and guardian now since Pure Vanilla Cookie's sudden disappearance from the kingdom, leaving a void to fill where he once was. "I will do my best to finish recharging my social battery out here quickly then, I don't want any of you to have to deal with them any more than necessary. Poor Latte, though, I hope she's handling them alright..." He muttered out after a moment, sliding off the fallen log he sat upon to brush off the long skirt he wore before walking over and giving a gentle pat to the top of Fig's head. "You can tell her and the three of them that I will return in a few minutes, Fig. Thank you for worrying about me enough to find me, dear friend."
The centaur nodded before trotting off, Licorice only emerging from the shadows after he was sure Fig was gone. "So...you have to leave, then? Shame..." He sighed as he crossed his arms, looking away from him with a gentle flush on his cheeks. Oh, how he wanted to follow Clover if just to have more time with his friend, but he knew that he was a bit out of the league of people that should be following behind Clover Cookie. He was FAR out of the league of people who should be following Clover Cookie, actually.
Clover let out a gentle, awkward and affirmative laugh as he pivoted on the balls of his feet to face Licorice, sliding his conical hat off his head to hold it by its rim. "Unfortunately, yes, if I leave the young prince and his friends under the care of another Cookie for too long without my presence, they seem to go a little crazy. The last time I was away for longer than anticipated, they made such a disgusting mess of the castle [i and] attempted to burn down Herbs' flower shop with the help of Cherry Cookie. I had to apologize for hours while helping the castle servants clean everything up..." He whispered out in wary admittance, hanging his head slightly at the remembrance of said memory. Clover's solemn attitude was short-lived, however, as he soon raised his head and smiled once more. "I would like to do this with you again, though, it's been nice. Perhaps I can sneak out the village to see you again once the three have been put to bed," The bard commented with a thoughtful hum.
"Do you...need help...? I have to babysit Poison Mushroom Cookie a lot, so I have [i some] experience with kids..." The way he spoke was very hesitant and nervous, as if he weighed and wished for every word to be careful. He didn't want to offend the bard, after all, since Clover was kind of his only friend in the world. Goodness knows the only other friend he had was the aforementioned Poison Mushroom Cookie, who wasn't exactly the most...entertaining of friends. The most Poison ever did was, well, stand around and be mostly useless. He didn't do much, honestly...
Clover physically and mentally froze in place, his light fidgeting with the brim of his hat slowly coming to a cease as he stared at the mage in sheer surprise. "I- You... [i want] to help me?" He asked trepidly as if disbelieving what he had ever so clearly heard, taking a tiny step forward to look Licorice in the eyes, his own still wide with shock. "You'd have to call yourself something different as they recognize your name, and you'd have to be careful to watch for Knight Cookie and Madeleine Cookie patrolling, but I'd..." The bard's voice dropped to a gentle whisper, hesitating a moment before continuing on, "I'd truly appreciate it. Gosh, though, if Pure Vanilla Cookie ever found out I've let you near his son, he'd have my head..." Clover mumbled out with a lighthearted laugh.
He watched him quietly, tilting his head before nodding hesitantly. It took him a moment to realize he'd have to change a bit, clearing his throat. "I, um, I can change my appearance a little bit, hold on.." He quickly tied his hair up, his magic allowing him to tinge the edges of his hair a light purple. His cloak shifted a bit to be just that, a light-colored cloak as he hummed lightly. "How's this?" He did look like a different Cookie now, rubbing his neck as he popped it gently. "It's been a while since I've done this, I'm not exactly the best at it..." Licorice smiled hesitantly, then tried to figure out a new name.
Clover's expression broke out into a giddy grin instantaneously, swiftly moving to lightly tackle Licorice into a hug; taking enough precaution not to knock the both of them over, of course; positively squirming with joy. He was an easy Cookie to make happy, his grin and laughter being evidence of such. "You're amazing! It's good enough to fool me, so I'm sure it'll fool the others!" The plant-based bard chirped out in a sing-songy voice, unable to help himself from nuzzling the other; being happy also meant he was bound to be almost overwhelmingly affectionate, they went hand-in-hand. "Let's go though before they tear poor Latte's house apart while waiting for me. Come, come!!" Clover added on, releasing Licorice from the sudden hug only to grab one of his hands and lead him through the forestry to the Cookie village in a semi-rushed fashion.
"Um...what should I be called??" He hissed hurriedly, seeming a bit uncomfortable as he stared at him softly. Licorice was scared of what could happen if he was found out, staring at the entrance to the village with a nervous expression as he swallowed heavily. "Jeez...okay, okay, this is a terrible idea, but we're gonna do this..." He mumbled, more to himself than anything. His eyes glimmered as he took a soft breath, continuing to follow Clover Cookie as he looked at him. "Sorry..."
"It's alright, though please stay near, it can be kind of busy near the main square and I'd hate for you to get lost on accident," Clover responded gently, letting go of his hand to give the Cookie back his personal space upon remembering that it existed in the first place; the bard had boundary issues, what more could he say? "Oh, I like Lavender for you, by the way, but it's just a suggestion..." He added on in a hushed whisper as he put on yet another cheerful smile and carefully led Licorice through the entrance of the village, offering up the on-duty Cookie guards friendly waves who both waved back after a moment. Given, they were suspiciously eyeing Licorice the entire time, but neither of them commented about it as they trusted Clover enough. Much to the bard's disappointment, the chaos of Custard Cookie and his friends seemed to be out of control, as a very clearly tired Latte Cookie was chasing the three around town on her broomstick, trying to stop them from damaging anything else.
Pancake Cookie squealed as he flew around, quickly noticing Clover and running over. "Clovie!! You're back! Guys guys, look! He's back!" He called to his friends, Moon Rabbit Cookie quickly bouncing over before noticing Licorice. "Ooo! Who's your friend, Clov??" The two friends interrogated at the same time, staring at Licorice, who gave a nervous wave. "Hello there, I'm Lavender." He spoke quietly, kneeling down and letting a gentle purple flower twist and twine it's roots around his fingers, Moon Rabbit gently picking the flower and presenting it to Prince Custard. "Look! We got this from Lavender, see?"
"Don't you dare think about monopolizing on flowers again, little prince, especially not my friends' flowers." Clover lightly warned as he eyed Prince Custard who curiously examined the flower he was presented with. The young prince whined and mumbled out a grumpy 'fine', reluctantly heeding the warning before trotting up to Licorice, looking over the new Cookie a few times. "Where are you from? I've never seen you before a day in my life..." He commented quietly, his brows furrowing in skepticism as he disrespectfully poked Licorice with his regal staff, earning two swift scolds from Clover and Latte in unison. Said scolds seemed to put Custard in his place for a moment, pulling his staff away though it didn't stop him from skeptically eyeing Licorice. The bard only sighed, briefly pulling the visibly tired Coffee mage aside to have a thankful chat with her and send her on her way back home to relax and sleep, as she definitely could use it from the looks of things. Custard took the opportunity presented to him to poke Licorice again, considering he was being watched by neither Clover nor Latte, pausing after a moment. "...Wait, why do you [i smell] like Clover??? You better stay away from him, I'm not losing anyone else cause of disgusting blah blah kissy crap," The prince hissed quietly as he boped Licorice on the head while the plant-based musician still had his back turned to the three kids, all too aware his behavior was crudely unacceptable. He knew had his friends to back him up if he were to get caught, if it came to that, however.
"Ow." Licorice complained before crossing his arms and giving the prince a stern look, raising an eyebrow. "You're rude, that's not nice." He scolded, Moon Rabbit huffing softly as he crossed his arms. "He's just tryna protect our favorite babysitter!!" He stomped his foot gently, only Pancake tilting his head before booping Licorice's nose. "Calm down, guys, he's a friend!" He chirped softly, Licorice smiling a bit before holding a hand out to the children and whispering a spell. Another flower grew in his hand, one for each of the children as he smiled at them. "I'm just here to help Clover Cookie, little ones, I'm not here to take him away from you." He spoke honestly, humming lightly as he tilted his head gently. "Besides, maybe we can all be friends, the three of us? Wouldn't that be nice?"
Custard gave the flowers roughly the same distrustful look that he shot at Licorice, unmoving from his stance as he firmly held his small staff with both his hands, keeping it pointed towards the mage as if threatening to bop him again. The young prince didn't get another chance to forcefully whack Licorice's head, however, as Clover had concluded his small talk with Latte and scooped up the Cookie before he could do so. "Aaaaaalright, that's not acceptable and you know it, my prince," Clover reprimanded in a soft tone that only made Custard whine and cling to the bard as if he were upset. "But I [i know] he wants to-" He got cut off by Clovers' hat being slid onto his head, effectively cutting off the excuse Clover was, frankly, not in the mood to listen to. "Miss Latte told me you three skipped most of your lunch. Could one of you tell me why that was? Aren't you three hungry by now?" He asked quizzically, redirecting the conversation to a subject he knew would keep them, or at least the prince he held in his arms, peacefully yet shamefully quiet. Hunger was always a good motivator to control them, as Clover had luckily found out. Of course, he wouldn't let them go hungry too long, taking slight steps towards the castle to guide them back to their home, motioning for Licorice to follow as well.
Licorice gently picked up Moon Rabbit, allowing Pancake to scurry up onto his shoulders as he followed Clover. He hummed softly, booping Moon Rabbit's nose as he told some stories. The two children seemed to be taking a liking to him, smiling to each other before high-fiving each other. "You're really cool, Lavender! I like you!" Pancake giggled happily, Moon Rabbit nodding in true agreement. "I think you're gonna be a good friend!" He chirped excitedly, leaning in and nuzzling at Licorice's cheek in a gentle move of affection he liked giving people. It made Licorice happy, smiling to himself before humming lightly. "You two are nice too, I'm glad I made friends with Clover." He smiled at him, walking into the castle and marveling at it. He'd been in a castle before, but the castle he knew was nothing like this.
Clover hummed out a gentle tune as he walked through the majestic halls of the castle, admittedly used to seeing its grandeur due to how frequently he would visit, even back when Pure Vanilla was ruling the throne before he went missing. The memory of his old friend made him sigh out, but he carried on nonetheless, leading Licorice along a little slower than his usual walking speed to give him an opportunity to look about if the mage so wished. In retrospect, that could easily be one of the stupidest moves Clover had ever pulled; to allow the technical enemy of his to look around the castle- the one place that hadn't been invaded or 'tainted' by any of the dark Cookies; but he felt as though he could trust a [i friend]. It brought a bubbly smile to the bard's face hearing himself referred to as such a term from Licorice, unnoticing as Custard squirmed about in his arms and shifted to peek his head over Clover's shoulder and glare back at his favourite babysitter's supposed friend. It would take a lot more work to win the young prince over in comparison to his own friends, that much was evident. It took a few minutes, but eventually, they arrived at a large set of double doors within the maze of halls Clover led the group through, pushing them open enough to slip past with a foot considering his hands were full. He set Custard down soon after sliding inside the throne room; which typically was the place the three adored to be the most in the castle, aside from the kitchens, which were a quick walk down the halls from the throne room if they wanted food. "Okay my friends, what would you like to do?"
"I wanna hear you sing, Clovie!" Pancake chirped in excitement, hopping off of Licorice's shoulders before running over and reaching up for Custard. "Come on, princey! Let's go sit on the throne together!!" He grinned softly, Moon Rabbit deciding not to get out of his new favorite person's arms until Licorice set him down and gave him a little nudge towards his friends. "Go on." He encouraged softly, smiling at Moon Rabbit, who gave a smile in return before tugging at Clover's pants. "Hey Clovie? He smells weird..."
Clover let out a polite laugh, scooping up Moon Rabbit to stop him from tugging at his long skirt while booping his little bunny nose, walking over to the throne where Custard and Pancake both sat. "Don't be rude, Mooney, I think he smells juuuust fine." He gently stated, setting the rabbit Cookie down next to his friends as he swiped his hat back, pulling his lute out from inside its depths before setting it upon his head where it rightfully sat. "The crowd wants a song from me today, do they?" He asked, happy to receive an enthusiastic cheer from the young prince, pausing a moment. "It looks like you're missing someone, I wonder where they could be..." The bard spoke out, pretending not to see Licorice for a hot second only to grin and nudge him over to where the three young Cookies sat. "I found him! No worries, the show can go on! Do I have any song requests this fine evening?"
[i- literally your choice of song you want him to sing unless you [i really] want me to find a song instead but like---- feel free to ask for one in particular if you'd like, 'm just sayin-]
"Ooh! What about Door Crawl?" Moon Rabbit chirped excitedly, nudging the princely figure as Licorice chuckled lightheartedly. "That would be nice. I've heard that song before." He hummed softly, the children all looking at Clover as Pancake bounced a bit. "Yes please! Door Crawl would be so fun!" He hummed out happily, Licorice watching the children patiently to help them calm down. Maybe he'd go off and make them some food while the bard was serenading them, that would be nice...he sighed lightly as he ran his hand through his hair, thinking softly.
"Whoa, the crowd had an overwhelmingly unanimous decision for a song, that's new!" Clover playfully exclaimed in somewhat mock surprise, genuinely a little shocked that the three managed to come to such a peaceful decision almost instantly rather than arguing for different songs for once. Pulling up a chair so he had a place to sit briefly while taking a moment to accurately tune his lute to the song, the bard hummed out, quickly finishing up that minimal task and standing once again. "Let the show commence!" Custard declared with a giggle, getting a soft smile from Clover before he began singing. "心は時々迷子になることがある 孤独や淋しさ感じ尽くせずブレーキかけてしまう 自分と人とを比べても意味がない くじけるためのプライドなんて必要ないもの どうして私は今生きているのかな? 答えはいつもいつもただ私のそばをすり抜け消えていく 優しさには優しさが生まれて悲しみには悲しみが続く それが人の生き方で繰り返される連鎖なんだ 自分にこだわりすぎることをやめたら少しは楽になれる いつも形にはめてダメになって失敗してきたから 愛する人のために生きていけるのかな? どこかで知らずに傷つけて気づかないふりをしていたかもしれない 一人じゃ開けない扉があるよ だからあなたと開けたらいい 名もない扉の前で曲がりなりにあなたをずっと待っていたい この先どうやって泳いでいくのだろう 果てしなく広がりつづけるこの海を 何度も現実を変えようとして 結局は何も変わらなくて それでもやり過ごさないで懲りずに夢を描いていこう あなたと重ねたこの手のひらなら弱虫をにぎりつぶせそうだよ そうやって少しずつでも信じる喜び感じたい 今はまだ開けずにいる扉を全部一つずつ覚えておこう それはこれから開いていくあなたとの人生の彩り"
Everyone listened in rapture, even Licorice. It seemed that they all liked it, Licorice chuckling as he clapped lightly once the song was done. "Nicely done, Clover." He hummed happily, Moon Rabbit and Pancake happily squealing as they wiggled. "So cooool!!" They squealed in unison, Pancake gently gliding over so that he could perch on Clover's shoulder. "You're so good at singing, Clovie!!!" He chirped, Moon Rabbit nodding in excitement.
"He [i is] the royal bard for a reason, after all, so he's gotta be good!" Custard boasted with a confident huff, a clearly happy, almost smug, closed-eyed smile glued to his face. Clover laughed out giddily in response, quietly tucking his lute back into the depths of his conical hat, "Awh, I'm glad you four enjoyed it! Perhaps I can sing for you all another time," He beamed as he offered, letting his eyes follow along with the wall decal until they came across the giant pained glass windows on the adjacent wall, quietly humming when he saw nearly how late it was. "For now, it seems like it's time for dinner. Why don't we go ask the chef what's on the menu for tonight?" Clover redirected softly, gesturing to the double doors they entered the room from.
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