Description: Learning of the rumors of a demon raging during an official fight, the good Walter Bardsley arrives on Zack Island to investigate with the blessings of the Church. Immediately he encounters an odd procession led by none other than the ruler of this strange paradise. Needless to say, the priest and the sybarite hit it off right from the start. With a true friendship already forged, the quest of the Golden Lancer begins in earnest!
~~ One Week Ago, Outskirts of London, England ~~
The Abbey of the Sacred Cross, for all its grandiose title, is a small brick-and-mortar building. White-washed, and having a rather small chapel, it's not much to look at. But to one Father Walter Bardsley, it's home when he's not abroad. Sitting outside, the white-cloaked catholic priest smiles to the three children as he reads them a book.
"...And thus did the brave knight defeat the evil troll, and saved the princess of Alistair! The two were married, and soon did he become a great King, bringing peace and prosperity to the land. The end!" Comes the english priest's warm voice, inflected with love and excitement. The children of the abbey clap their hands, asking an encore.
A much older priest approaches the seemingly hump-backed Walter, his smile waning somewhat as he notes the lines of worry in the elderly man's face. Turning back to the children, he shoos them off and stands. Only when they're gone does that smile fade, replaced with equal parts concern and resolve in those draconic eyes of his.
"What happened, Father Samuel?"
~~ Now, Zack Island Marina ~~
Wearing a frock in /this/ weather is hell on anyone. Even a darkstalker. But the english priest weathers it, /and/ his cloak's horrific insulating warmth with a proper british stiff upper lip. The long case in his left hand feels almost leaden. Contacts obscure his unnatural eyes, even /if/ that piercing, analytical gaze stares off into the sun-loving, joyous crowds drunk on atmosphere, and in some cases, sinful abandon.
All in all, it would be difficult to miss a priest in this atmosphere. But his face doesn't hold condemnation. No, as he steps off of the boat and onto the pier, the attendants are greeted with a smile as warm and loving as the warm waters on the island. Once blessed, and denying any assistance with his twin sets of luggage in his hands, he strides purposefully down the pier.
For all that he radiates warmth, the touch of the supernatural lingers upon him for those sensitive. Even more so, his purpose here weighs down his soul.
By God does he need a drink already.
From afar, the sound of a trumpet resounds, as if heralding the noble priest's arrival. Passerby, all tourists by the look of them, stop and turn to stare, some of them in excitement, some of them out of blank curiosity, and some with visible amusement. A small procession is passing through the marina, five figures striding and one smaller one sort of rapidly crawling down the central thoroughfare along the gorgeous coast.
"All hail his Majesty, Zack, King of Zack Island!"
Two attractive young women in bikinis are merrily shouting this, casting tropical flower petals before the feet of the eponymous Zack, who is garbed, like Walter, in clothes utterly inappropriate for the heat. Cloaked in a royal mantle, sweat dripping from the brim of his heavy crown, Zack nevertheless grins open-heartedly, waving with abandon to his 'subjects,' most of whom either giggle or wave back. The effect is much less that of a royal visit and much more that of a costumed theme park character arriving. Partly this is due to his company. Behind Zack on his left is a shaven-headed man in a crisp uniform who looks like a hotelier, and on his right is a woman with her hair in a bun wearing a professional suit jacket and pencil skirt. And alongside him, scampering along--
--is an orangutan wearing a suit.
"But as I was saying, Griswold," Zack continues in a magnanimous tone, "we must cease the excessive production of Zack Dollars. The market is being flooded, and the exchange rate imbalanced."
"Oooook! Ook oook!"
"Yes, it's better to offer free services than to distribute more dollars. You're quite right, Griswold."
"Griswold can't understand you, Zack," the woman finally says, ignoring the slight shake of the head of the man beside her. "He's an orangutan."
"/Griswold/ is the /Secretary/ of the /Treasury/ and /Dat Ass/, Lala," Zack pronounces in not really much of a huff. "Please pay him the proper respect."
Zack, smiling widely again, turns and now espies Walter, who stands out almost-- well, not quite as much as Zack does, but he stands out nonetheless. The King pauses, his procession sort of stumbling to a temporary halt as the flower girls and his apparent officials figure out what the deal is.
"Hey, baby!" Zack exclaims to the priest in a rather unkingly fashion. "Welcome to Zack Island! You look hot, man, and not in the good way! Why don't you take a load off!?"
And, so saying, with a sweep of his arms, Zack sheds his royal mantle, abruptly leaving him in a speedo and a crown. Behind him, the woman shakes her head quietly while the man retains a stoic expression.
Every muscle in Walter's body tenses at the sound of a trumpet! Did that hunch on his back /move/? Certainly not. It's a trick of the heat, or so many might rationalize to themselves.
Thankfully, there aren't six more to accompany that single trumpet, and so Walter doesn't have to fear any biblical recreations this day. For now. File Walter under the curiousity-turned-amusement as he watches a pair of beautiful women tossing about flowers (eyes /up/ Walter Bardsley!), a crisp-uniformed gentleman, a proper business-like Lady, a flamboyant King, and...an orangutan?
Father Walter Bardley decides precisely then that he is not yet drunk enough for this island. Investigations are /definitely/ going to take a bar-centered turn tonight.
But it's not long before the great king marches forward with his honor guard, and eyes meet. First the pair of flower girls (perhaps uncharacteristically in the eyes!), then the well-dressed gentleman, then the Lady, and then...
Walter's warm smile matches his eyes. Welcoming and open alike, so too do they seem to search. Yes, even the simian gets respect. Best to not insult the the local Secretary of Dat Ass, after all!
But it's the most amusing and interesting theme-park king that gets the whole of his gaze. There's a moment of silence as Walter finds himself addressed by this most odd of figures.
God help him, as that royal robe is tossed aside, he feels positively overdressed. All of that english composure melts away into a slightly awkward laugh. He's caught off guard. Points to Zack already.
"Good day my friend! A most generous offer indeed, however, I am afraid that I must decline! I would not wish to frighten those fit to frolic and enjoy the twin blessings of life and prosperity with my..."
He trails off with another step of awkward. It's not entirely untrue, his next words. The whole truth may not just be apparent.
"/Burden/ as it were. I will endure, God willing. Blessings, all of you, and thank you for the most gracious welcome! Honestly I expected a bit of hostility for a man of my calling."
He smiles wider, teeth exposed. Should...teeth be quite that pointy? At least they're dazzlingly white.
A single hand is raised, until he remembers he's carrying luggage. It's lowered, with a cough, and a small shuffle of the feet.
Gesture awkwardly ended, he manages to scrap up a bit of poise and dignity, standing tall and proud.
"Father Walter Bardsley. What most royal and pleasant company do I find myself most unworthy of this day? Charmed, all of you! And you in particular, my good man! Or shall I call you 'my liege' instead! A proper tropical ruler, indeed!" Comes the man with a chuckle.
"Forgive the lack of a proper handshake. Allow me to alleviate any fears, if you would be so kind as to offer them to the master of the island, with my thanks. No, I am not here to start some crusade or disrupt those seeking solice upon this place. However, should any desire it, my services are available, be they confession, prayer, or merely to talk to a willing ear. Nor do I intend to force a chapel upon this place. I am here to relax, as so many else do."
That done, he brightens up again.
"Right then! Truly lovely island. /Tell/ me there are volleyball tournaments here. A wonderful sport!"
Zack looks shocked, positively shocked.
"On Zack Island!? Never!"
Besides the fighting tournament, of course. And the raging Gear, and the robot programmed to kill his teammate, and the assassin who nearly destroyed said robot, and the several associated ninjas who may avenge said robot against said assassin, and--
"Father Bardsley-- may I call you Pops? Pops, it gladdens my funky heart to be honored with your presence. You may, of course, call me whatever you like! Zack, King Zack, His Funky Majesty King Zack, DJ Zack, Zackaroonie, King of Hearts, Bird of Paradise, uh--" He starts snapping his finger.
"Zack Attack," supplies the man.
"Ziggle Snack," the woman adds, maybe seriously.
"That's right!" Zack enthuses, grin redoubling, if that were possible. "Pops, baby, we don't rest on formalities here on Zack Island. We rest on beaches, and in lavishly appointed hotel rooms, and covertly in the jungle, and when necessary in conveniently located broom closets. All of these are open to you in this, our grand opening! And drinks are on me, King Zack. Ah--" For once, Zack looks mildly flustered. "Unless of course you don't drink, Father."
For what it's worth, it does seem like Zack tries to avoid offense.
"Though I gotta say," he continues, mugging again almost immediately, "you may find you'll have a lot of confessions to hear! Haaa ha ha ha ha ha! YEAH, BABY!!" he suddenly shouts, startling some birds out of a nearby tree. No one in the vicinity reacts, apparently inured to this. "Dress however suits your fancy, but I hope you'll take a load off at some point, and peruse the selection at Zack of All Trades!"
It's mostly bikinis, but hey, Zack don't judge.
"Ohhhh! If you like volleyball, you're in luck!" he exclaims. "There are courts everywhere! Isn't that right, guys?"
"Everywhere," the man behind him says, nodding grimly.
"/Ev/erywhere," the woman adds.
"Ooook! Oooook! Ook!"
"The big volleyball tournament is going to be next week!" Zack continues. "Don't tell anyone, though, you hear? That's a secret between you and me until it's announced! But make sure you stick around, okay, Pops?"
Pops. It's a nickname that Walter would /never/ have thought to hear. It implies far too many things. Different. Unique. Wise. Fatherly. If one's being uncharitable? Old.
Monster. Demon. Sinner. Tainted wyrmkin. Impaler. Lancer of Gold. /Those/ are names he's used to. Names he has come to at once, take pride and shame in.
Walter Bardsley looks into Zack's eyes. For a brief moment, the priest looks like he's about to cry. Something about what was just said touches the pious young man. Only discipline and an image to uphold has him straightening a touch more.
He will bloody take that nickname.
"My most honored of royal highnesses! The very height of funkitude!" Oh God did I just say that? Beneath his cloak, his tail tucks between his legs in shame.
"Henceforth, shall ye be known as Your Most Royal Highness Funky DJ Zack Attack McSnackertons the Eighteenth!" Pause. Walter dramatically kneels, a knight before his liege!
"Otherwise known as Mister Zack the Most Welcoming and Ringmaster of this Circus of Life! Sir Zack, for short, unless one wishes to write a Tolkien novel of titles in mere conversation."
Pause. /Pause/. There's suddenly an arm around Zack's shoulders.
That tail in that cloak is now /swishing/ at the mention of free drinks.
"My dear, /DEAR/ Sir Zack, some would call the ambrosia you no doubt serve as 'Heaven's Nectar'. God forbid that I shall not sample it. A most polite man, I must say! Come, come! I fear I have forgotten my map! If you and your most august court..."
That suited lady is first offered a smile, and a lance-holding-case'd arm. This priest is a gentleman, and he'll escort a lady if he has half a chance.
"Would allow me the honor of both joining you /and/ demystifying this most lost of pious men in the direction of the living quarters, I would be most obliged and honored. Good day, my Lady. If I would be allowed the honor of your name and company?" /Smile/!
Unlike some, however, Walter isn't about to lose Zack before the current lady of his fancy.
"Though all men are sinful, so too is God forgiving! I am but a humble servant, and stand at the ready, my liege!" A hand (suitcase and all) to his chest.
Volleyball. God be praised. Grin. Forget secrecy, he /likes/ this place.
Walter leans in. HIs voice is whisper quiet. Who knew dragons could be so stealthy?
"Before the good Lord, this secret is safe within my ears. However, front-row seats would be /glorious/ my friend."
Zack's eyes are misting over.
Unaware of how thoroughly he has moved the young priest, he is nevertheless visibly moved himself at Walter's display of respect. While the king's cohort gapes, Zack's now bare chest swells up with pride and emotion. Anyone else might find Walter's words excessive, even just the slightest bit.
But this is Zack we're talking about.
"You got it, baby!" The arm thrown about Zack's shoulders is immediately reciprocated by an arm around Walter's own, a manful sidehug to match the manful tears at the corners of Zack's eyes. "All my treasures are yours for the taking! Let us imbibe only the most delectable of tinctures! Damien! Prepare a room for our most esteemed guest!"
As the man nods with impeccable dignity and one of the flower girls hastily gathers up Zack's discarded cloak, the woman regards the priest with a faintly amused expression before graciously accepting the arm, the three of them now continuing side by side, making for a rather merry and extremely incongruous group.
"Lala," she replies, voice weary but warm. "Legal department."
That explains a /lot/.
"Nice to meet you, Father Bardsley. I hope you enjoy your stay."
"Of course he will!!!" Zack exclaims, bellowing to the heavens which have crowned him king. The heavens, the Dead or Alive tournament, and some rather irritated Las Vegas casinos. "King Zack is also forgiving, but he cannot forgive a bad time! My friend Pops is going to have a blast here, no question!"
"Right you are, Griswold!" Tourists continue to observe with amusement no lessened than before, as a trumpet begins to play again, now clearly being played by none other than the orangutan, it having been handed back to him by the second flower girl. Damien follows behind at a steady pace, speaking quietly into a cell phone. "Pops, you'll have the best seats in the house."
Zack leans in conspiratorily, which is easy this close.
"But don't blame me if your faith is tested by some of these swimsuits!"
Lala, long suffering, doesn't even blink.
There's an arm about his shoulders, and only Manly Tears (tm) keep him from breaking down. Call Zack what you want, but the man is simply the very definition of life and acceptance. If Walter could be half of what this man is...
The priest's warm look fades for one single moment. Pain and utter shame before this odd figure would be caught by all but the most deft of persons. Despite his manner, Zack may well be among them. For all of his words, father Walter Bardsley walks between worlds and his own self-shame alike.
He brightens up. This is an island of acceptance, if perhaps built upon simple desires of greed, but with an undertone of pure relaxation. Walter can appreciate that. He relaxes, all at once, despite his heavy mission.
Free drinks and front-row seats to volleyball tournaments help too. This is not a priest without his vices. Confession might not be isolated to those who come to him!
For now, Walter smiles. As the troup tromps towards the island quarters, the man turns his gaze to Lala.
His body doesn't stop walking, but there's a notable pause in his features.
"...Legal department." He mutters. His gaze to her all but shouts, 'God be with you.'
He straightens, and chuckles lowly. There's sympathy in his strangely lizard-like gaze.
"...If I may be blunt? I was considering an offer to dinner upon mine own means, however..." Pause. How to not insult the most gracious host?
Pause. This is awkward. Cue that tail tucking again.
"My card.If required. Lord be with you, my dear." There's a business card offered to Lala. His number. And a 'confession' number is upon it. The wyrmkin priest offers Lala an honest look of sympathy, and amusement alike.
It's very hard to hate Zack, after all.
The priest straightens.
Tail ramrod straight (enough to be slightly visible to the keen eyed!), wings taught, he grins.
"My liege Sir Zack! I am a man of God. So too do I seek /challenges/ to such. For only through trial and toil does one grow strong! Such a most difficult journey you set before me. I shall weather such!" Is the priest's declaration, his luggage-case carrying hand thrust forward dramatically! Then he softens a bit. Mostly for poor Lala's benefit. Ahem.
"Thank you, all of you, for the accomodations. I look forward to my vacation. Let us all create fond memories, to keep us in dark times." Offers the priest. This time, it's solemn. Gazing upon those gathered, he can't help but think for all their combined flaws, not a one is without virtue. And such is a rare gift. God willing, he shall protect each and every one gathered here.
Log created on 00:15:39 02/06/2015 by Zack, and last modified on 02:40:19 02/06/2015.