Madeleine had had a bad feeling the whole day. Whether it was because he had gotten up late and was scolded by Knight Cookie, or because his armor wasn't fitting properly since he'd put on the incorrect under-armor clothes, but either way, he wasn't having a good day. It was made worse by the distinct lack of seeing Espresso go into his and Latte's lab, and now, he was going to ask her about it. As much as he relied on the magical connection he'd managed to forge with Espresso so that they could call for each other if necessary, he couldn't tell where his lover was. He sighed as he slowly approached the lab for the second time that day, knocking on the door. "Latte? I must speak to you!"
"I'll be there in just a second, dearie!" Latte called out from behind the door, carefully slipping the last bit of an ingredient into a potion she was working on. After eyeing it for a moment to make sure it had the specific colour she was looking for, the professor dusted herself off before moving over to the laboratory door, swinging it open gently for Madeleine to enter, if the holy knight so wished to do so. "How can I help you today, Maddy?" She asked sweetly, taking off the gloves she was wearing while making her potion and setting them down on the counter next to the potion stand.
"Did...was Espresso there when you came in today?" For being someone with a reputation of being big and tough, Madeleine looked very small and even scared as he looked at the professor with a nervous sigh. "I haven't seen him around at all today, and it's...beginning to worry me. Even on days where he doesn't come out of the lab much, he still comes to the check-ins and he hasn't come to...any of them." He sighed as he shifted his headpiece so that he could run his hand through his hair in a clearly stressed manner. It was clear just how nervous the holy knight was when he wasn't sure of the whereabouts of one of the most important people in his life.
Latte hummed out a note, taking a moment to recall her day thus far. One couldn't blame her, though, they were usually so repetitive that they all seemed the same, making it difficult for her to remember the smaller details. "My brother was here this morning before I went off to teach class if my memory serves me well. Though I'm not sure where he would be right now, undortunately..." She mumbled thoughtfully, gingerly circling around inside the laboratory while keeping an eye out for something. A victorious smile appeared on the professor's face when she found what she was looking for, scooping up a clipboard set neatly on the counter before glancing over it. It was Espresso's to-do list, anything he had plans to do fancily scribbled onto the paper the metal clip held in place. "Ah, right, Resso needed a few ingredients so he went off to the Jelly Cave Mines. Oh dear, I hope he didn't go alone, that's in enemy territory right now..."
"Knowing your brother as I do, he probably did..." He sighed before smiling at her gratefully, quickly running off to the caves as he let out a nervous whine. "Shoot, this isn't good.." He mumbled out, reaching halfway before putting a hand on his sword and looking around with a sigh. "I hope he's okay..."
Meanwhile, Licorice kicked a bit of the dust on the floor into Espresso's face in order to wake him up. He had broken away from his lover in order to follow the Coffee mage, although his mind had been intercepted by Dark Enchantress once again, leading him to take the fellow mage hostage in the Jelly Cave Mines. "Wake up." He hissed.
"I think I'd much rather take my chances staying passed out instead of being awake while in [i your] presence, [i thank you very much]," Espresso bitterly hissed in return, in a foul mood enough from having woken up on the uncomfortable rocky floor of the mines, as he shot Licorice a severely harsh glare. After a few moments of absolutely nothing but glaring coming from him, he sat up, gently wiping away the dust that coated the lenses of his glasses, figuring it wouldn't hurt in the slightest to properly see once again.
"I suggest you worry about your safety instead of sassing me, fool." He gripped onto his scythe's handle tightly as his eyes glowed a harsh purple, indicating how much he was out of his right mind. "Dark Enchantress will be proud of me for finding you, perhaps she can find a use for your powers." He growled a bit as he sighed quietly, twirling his scythe a bit. He'd placed wards all around the other, now just pacing around in wait for...something...giving Espresso the chance to try and figure out what to do and Madeleine a chance to get closer.
Espresso sighed out, brushing off the last smear of dust on his lenses that he didn't manage to get before, shifting a little into a more comfortable seated position. Well fuck, he was knee-deep into this situation already, wasn't he? As undesirable as it was, he'd have to made do with it for the time being, considering there wasn't a clear option to escape; nor fight, from what he was aware of, deciding against testing the other mage. With an uninterested hum, he dusted off some of the dirt caught on his clothing. "If that's the case, I suggest collecting materials for me to use, unless you really [i want] to let down Dark Enchanress. My magic relies heavily on experimentation to keep it strong; I came out here to gather ingredients, actually. Ah, and you'll need to either entirely relocate my laboratory or rebuild it, but that shouldn't be too much of an issue for you, yes?" He inquired with a raise of a brow, curious to see if he could manage to convince Licorice that he was alright with his new fate to get the other mage to let down his guard, though speaking with the same uninterested tone as always.
Licorice raised an eyebrow at him, moving close and placing his scythe against Espresso's neck. "You aren't *funny,* coffee mage." His voice had a cruel undertone to it, one that only came when Dark Enchantress spoke. Licorice might be cruel even when he's not trying to please her, but even he can't replicate the venom she speaks with. It was clear enough who was in control at the moment, his eyes narrowing. "I hope you told people your goodbyes before you left, because you won't return to them alive. Any last words?" 'He' hissed.
"Oh, you're giving me the grace of last words! How kind!" Espresso exclaimed sarcastically with a roll of his eyes, keeping his tone somewhat hinting towards the fact he did have something to say during his ''final moments''. With a sigh that he dragged out for longer than usual, he brushed off his last remark and hummed in affirmation, keeping his eyes trained on the other and the scythe pressed to his neck as the coffee mage thought of a way to escape. Where was Madeleine when he needed him? Nearby, presumably, considering the holy knight was never truly too far away. Going off of that, and sincerely hoping that Madeleine [i was] in the area, Espresso opened his mouth to speak once more, or rather shout this time around. "Maddy! A little help would be nice!"
"Huh?!" Licorice- or rather, him being controlled by Dark Enchantress- looked over as Madeleine perked up and came running. One could definitely hear his armor clanking as well as his heavy footsteps as he came running, quickly using his large broadsword to parry a harsh swing of the mage's scythe. Both of their eyes glinted as Madeleine gritted his teeth and placed himself in between the coffee mage and the opposing magic-user. "I knew there was something about you..." He growled gently, resting the blade of his sword on his opposite arm as he narrowed his eyes at Licorice, who chuckled quietly. "Oh really? I thought you trusted your friends without question~" Dark Enchantress's dark cackle echoed through the caves, causing Maddy's metaphorical hackles to rise even further. "You horrid beast of the dark!"
Espresso sighed out in relief that his holy knight had, indeed, been nearby, pulling himself up to his feet and properly dusting himself off. He had a keenly arrogant smile on his face standing behind the safety of Madeleine; what sane person wouldn't be in his situation? "Thank you, Maddy. I'll cover you from behind, like usual." Espresso whispered out gratefully, patting his lover's shoulder plate a few times as an appreciative gesture whilst conjuring up one of his signature flaming coffee beans. "This is Clover's partner, innit?" He asked out, his voice a little louder, pausing a moment as he thought. An angry Licorice [i would] be easier to fight than the Dark Enchantress... Espresso darkly smiled a touch more, "Perhaps they could have matching burn scars! People matching is always so cute~"
[I'm sorry but- but i- "IS HE GAY OR EUROPEAN--" is and will forever be my only comment 'bout resso- enjoy- /lh]
Madeleine quickly deflected a harsh attack from Licorice, letting out a soft hiss as he pushed the mage back easily. "Damn it!" He cursed quietly, dodging away from Licorice's magic and scythe attacks as he growled softly. The mage seemed very angry, letting out loud yells as he managed to take advantage of the little power boost he had from his possession by Dark Enchantress. His dark power grew slightly, both from his anger and determination. "HOW DARE YOU?!" Licorice snapped loudly, startling Maddy, who put his shield up quickly.
"Aaaand my calculations seem to have been a little off... Well fuck," The coffee mage grumbled out while peering over the shoulder of Madeleine. Yes, he was determined to stay hidden behind him, and no, he did [i not] wish to leave from there anytime soon, especially not seeing his taunt only seemed to [i help] boost Licorice's power. Do not taunt the dark mage with old threats about Clover, he mentally noted. That was no issue, though, Espresso just had to look for another opportunity for he and the holy knight to flee. Admittedly, that was easier said than done considering they were in mining caves and worrying about not getting injured, but Espresso did indeed manage to think of something. "Maddy, swing batter batter," He called out, briefly gesturing from his flaming coffee bean then to the stalactites above, hoping he'd understand the idea he had. Said idea could go two ways, the first of which being that the cave got closed off from the mildly violent explosion and cave in on itself, and the second of which being that the stalactites above came plummeting down. Either way, it served as a wonderful distraction to flee. He didn't want Madeleine to fight for him any further than he had been, after all, especially so if he got injured.
The holy knight seemed to understand what the mage wanted, quickly swinging his sword and knocking the bean into the ceiling and watching as the stalactites began to rain down. He quickly scooped up Espresso and ran past Licorice, setting him at the entrance before running back inside as quickly as he could. Licorice was cowering behind a magic shield, trying his best not to get hit by the falling rocks as Pure Vanilla ran up to Espresso. "What happened?!" They demanded of the coffee mage gently.
"I- your highness, what are you doing [i here]??" Espresso asked frantically with stress laced into his tone, that very easily being the clearest emotion his voice had held all day. Then again, it was hard to not be stressed when your lover ran back into an apparently collapsing mining cave with one of your worst enemies, but the coffee mage did his best to keep his composure as he answered what was asked of him. "Uhm, I got kidnapped by Licorice while collecting materials; Madeleine came to my rescue and... A very deadly game of baseball with my coffee beans ensued, Maddy brought me out which is where I stand now, and he ran back in for reasons unknown. It's- it's a mouthful, I can explain more to you later, your grace, [i after] this is all over."
The ruler Cookie quickly looked to the cave, a panicked look on their face as they took a soft breath. "Madeleine! Leave them!" They called loudly, their words reaching the holy knight but not discouraging him from his task as he reached out and grabbed onto the back of the other mage's hood. He managed to hoist Licorice onto his shoulder, running out of the cave quickly and only barely managing to bring his shield up to counter the large boulder that threatened to crush them both. Both Cookies looked stressed as Licorice looked up at the boulder, the ruler gasping as they covered their mouth in mild surprise.
"Oi! Hold your ground; shield yourself, your majesty," Espresso instructed in a stressed fury, summoning another one of his explosive beans before punting it at the boulder. Whatever sporting gods existed smiled down upon him apparently as the punted bean quickly blew the boulder into smaller, easier-to-manage and avoid pieces. "What were you [i thinking] running back into there?? Were you even thinking at all, you utter imbicile?!? You could have, very easily, killed yourself just then!!" The mage hissed out, much like a severely pissed feline would, crossing his arms and knitting his brows together. Forget being worried about Licorice, the fact Madeleine could have gotten hurt was astronomically more important to him than one of the main followers of none other than the Dark Enchantress herself.
"I- I'm sorry, Espresso, I- I didn't want him to be hurt." Madeleine set Licorice on his feet, who seemed a bit disoriented as he blinked. Pure Vanilla ran over to their knight and cupped his face in theirs, gently placing their foreheads together as they sighed in soft relief. "Thank the light you weren't injured...what happened, you two...three?" They asked, Madeleine clearing his throat and looking at Licorice half-expectantly. The mage had no words to give, however, giving the dullest of shrugs. "I don't know."
"We fought because I had been kidnapped, your grace. The mines caved in as explosions serve as a good excuse to flee, as I've noted. Nothing more, nothing less." Espresso offered out after a moment of struggle to contain his temper, not wanting for it to flare out of control as that would end very poorly. He was usually well-kept and poised, after all, earning a sigh from him as he straightened his posture. "If you try anything," Espresso started, looking over to Licorice with a light but firm glare, "I will not hesitate to follow through with my taunt, do I make myself clear?"
Madeleine had to intercept Licorice before he could go towards Espresso, rage flaring on the fellow mage's face as Pure Vanilla glanced between the two magic-user's faces. "What-?" They started, Madeleine sighing. "He threatened to give Licorice matching scars with someone. Calm down." He hissed at the enraged mage, who glared at the holy knight before breaking from his grip using a lowlevel burn spell, walking off and shoulder-checking Espresso as he walked off. Pure Vanilla sighed as they fixed their clothes, healing Madeleine from any damage he might have taken.
"So he [i did] remember and therefore know the story. What a liar, how pathetic." Espresso scoffed in a whisper with a scowl and a displeased click of his tongue, soon after shaking off his anger to swap it with his typical neutral disinterest. "Thank you for healing Maddy, your highness, but you truly shouldn't be out here; it's dangerous if you couldn't already tell. You should return to the castle soon," The coffee mage advised with a sigh, softly rubbing at his own temples as he spoke.
"You treat me as if I'm some sort of fainting blossom, Espresso Cookie. I'm perfectly capable of holding my own, thank you very much." Pure Vanilla hummed as they raised an eyebrow at the coffee mage, Madeleine sighing in a mildly exhausted manner as he closed his eyes and turned his head away slightly. He seemed to feel slightly guilty, Pure Vanilla smoothing out their clothes before tapping their staff on the ground. "But you are right, we should head back to the castle. I don't trust Custard to not trash the place right now. Come, both of you."
"Of course, my monarch," Espresso respectfully hummed out with ease, following after Pure Vanilla's lead after they had directed for the two of them to do so. After a few quiet moments of walking, he glanced over to Madeleine and observed his expression carefully, moreso than usual considering the holy knight appeared to be a little off, in Espresso's eyes at least. Letting another sigh escape his lips; something he liked to do quite frequently, so it seemed; he slid closer as they walked and "begrudgingly" offered his lover a hand to hold with a soft hum, silently hoping it would cheer him up some.
It took a moment for the knight to notice the offered hand, taking it after a moment and trying to hide how his cheeks flushed slightly by sinking his chin into his scarf for a moment. It was clear enough that he felt bad for upsetting the coffee mage, but the offered hand made him feel better. He glanced at him after a moment, taking a soft breath. "I'm...sorry for worrying you, Ress...I did sort of act without thinking...I just didn't..." He paused, then trailed off into a bland hum as he looked away once again.
"It's okay, Maddy, you're forgiven. I must admit I overreacted a little myself... I'm sorry as well, but you surely [i must] know by now that I don't particularly enjoy the thought of..." Espresso paused for a second, visibly and audibly hesitating as he too looked away, his voice dropping to a saddened whisper. "The thought of... Well, [i losing you], to put it bluntly..." The coffee mage managed to mutter out after a few moments, shaking his head free of the thought before putting on a rare smile. "You came to my rescue, though. Thank you for that."
He instantly perked up at seeing his lover's smile, instantly returning with one of his own as he stopped walking and immediately picked him up in a hug. It gave the royal Cookie pause in order to look back at them, giving a quiet chuckle before shaking their head and continuing to walk. Madeleine watched and nuzzled Espresso for a moment, then hoisted him up and put the mage onto his shoulder in order to carry him.
Espresso let out a soft laugh upon being picked up and set on his knight's shoulder, deciding it wouldn't hurt to be a little more relaxed as he gently played around with the other's long, luxurious white hair that he absolutely never admitted to liking. He did; that sort of thing never needed a confession as it was as clear as day. "You don't have to carry me around, Maddy. My feet are not injured nor tired so I can walk for myself, I'll have you know."
"But I like carrying you, Ress!" He chirped excitedly, letting out a happy giggle before running and managing to catch up with his liege. The royal Cookie smiled at the two of them, humming to themselves as they walked into the castle with them. It seemed like Madeleine wasn't ready to put the coffee mage down, eventually wandering up to a room and setting him down onto his feet.
"Thank you again, Maddy," Espresso offered up another one of his elusive smiles as he gingerly pressed a kiss to Madeleine's cheek, taking a moment to spruce up the other's hair with the same smile still glued to his face. To say the least, he was not one big on giving public displays of affection, usually preferring to wait behind closed doors unless he felt as if though it was rightfully deserved. Fastening Madeleine's headpiece so it properly was adorned on his head once more, the mage hummed out contently, stopping to a comfortable standstill.
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