"Hi, I'm Paul, and I'm a Chosen One."
The Bard nodded sullenly, and answered with the others. "Hi, Paul."
"It's been...about a year since I last saved the world." He grinned.
The Bard clapped politely. He fought a yawn, but failed miserably.
Harry, smiling somewhat, said, "You seem to be in a better mood than yesterday."
"Well..." Paul smiled slyly, "I finally resolved that little animal-control problem I was having."
Aang, the young monk seated to the left of The Bard, brightened up. "You convinced Stilgar to let his pet worm go free?"
Paul considered his response. "Not exactly. I kinda set it free myself."
Anakin gasped behind his black armor-mask. "Paul! That's cruel!"
"Very practical, though," said Link, the elf seated between Paul and Aang. "You have to see it from every angle. There are larger public health concerns, and great ecological balances that Paul has to deal with. Besides, there were issues with space."
Aang squinted. "With a pet worm?"
Paul's face took on an almost horrified look. "You don't understand worms on Arakis. Yes, trust me, we had a space issue."
The Bard smirked, hazarding a glance toward Harry and knowing he was about to get on the young wizard's bad side. "Well I for one admire you takin' the initiative."
Harry looked to Paul disapprovingly. "Paul, you know we don't get to throw our weight around like that. We bear too great a responsibility to misuse our power."
"Well why the hell not?" The Bard faced him fully. "Our position is one with no real perks, isn't it? And sometimes, you do have to take a heavy hand--"
The door opened. A tall, majestic figure in long glowing white robes leaned in. The Bard could hear some manner of choir singing behind him, and great white eagle-wings flapped just a bit from the man's back.
When he spoke, it was with a voice like honey and thunder. "Excuse me. Is this the Chosen One's meeting?"
Harry blinked. "Yes?"
"Excellent. I do hate to interrupt, but...We need your help."
"Oh. Well..." Harry gestured to the circle of chairs. "Er...Come in. What can we do for you?"
"Ohhhh no." The Bard held up one hand. "That's how it always starts, isn't it? What can we do for them. I'm not doin' this."
Aang blinked at the Bard. "But...We don't even know what he wants."
Paul, picking up the Bard's thread, squinted at the angelic figure as he took his seat. "I'd say that one's a no brainer. We are chosen ones. He wants us to save the world." Paul smirked at him. "Don't you?"
The figure sighed. "Welll...yes and no..."
The Bard snarled. "Out with it!"
The figure glared at the Bard indignantly. "I am Arcadian, messenger of Light. Once in a thousand years, a man is born who will lead the forces of light against--"
The Bard threw up his hands just as Paul rolled his eyes and Harry and Anakin both facepalmed. "Oh for the love of--"
Arcadian looked around, confused. "What?"
Link raised one quieting hand. "Bad past experiences. Go on."
"Er...well...We found him, and...he's er...He's not having it."
The Bard smirked. "Well good on him. One of us finally showed some backbone."
Aang narrowed his eyes in a look of determination the Bard knew well. "Why not."
"He won't say." Arcadian shrugged.
Link nodded. "So we have to find the right person to talk to him. Once we ascertain that, we get his terms. Then it's a minor matter of a side-quest to fill those terms and get him moving. I have a lot of experience with this sequence."
Paul smirked. "I hope he's holding out for something worthwhile."
"Well I know I am." The Bard turned to face Arcadian fully. "What's in it for us."
Anakin raised one black-gloved hand. "Bard, please! There could be lives at stake."
Paul snorted. "When are there not? Isn't that how they always get us? Sorry, guys, I'm with The Bard on this one."
The Bard continued to glare at Arcadian. "Our kind has worked for free long enough. What do we get."
Arcadian looked at The Bard hopefully. "You get to do great good for your fellow man."
The Bard's face twisted in anger. "Yeah. I loved that feeling. When I thought it was real!"
Harry cracked one knuckle rather loudly. "You know," He stood up. "Just because you came from a world where the Chosen One was a lie and you were being used doesn't mean we all did."
The Bard stood up to face Harry, looking the young wizard right in his green eyes. "It's not about me. I really did love that feeling."
Harry studied him in surpise.
The Bard went on. "I'm not gonna help this pious bastard drag another innocent down to where we are. I want him to understand that what he's sentencing this poor sap to comes at a cost to him. And then I'm only gonna help so we can see he gets what he needs."
Harry started to speak, but the angelic voice answered, "We know."
The Bard turned to look.
Arcadian shook his head sadly. "We know what it is you do. This," He pointed to the Bard, "This is why I came to you all. I know what a sacrifice it is I am asking you for. The world needs you again. But more than that, this boy needs you."
Aang stood up proudly and created a gust of wind that sucked his glider-staff into his hand. "I'm in."
Anakin sighed a rather horrifying sound from under his obsidian helmet and stood up. "The poor boy must be so frightened. I will help."
The Bard nodded at Arcadian. "You met my terms." He turned and jammed his finger right into Arcadian's chest. He was surprised to note a pleasant warmth. "But so help me, if you're lyin' to us or jerkin' us around, I've slain meaner and darker things than you."
Link said, "It's true. The dancing dungeons of the Undead quake at his name."
The Bard glared at Link.
Link stood up. "We'll need to secure proper weaponry and tools for his journey. It's dangerous to go alone."
Paul sighed angrily and ran his hands through his hair. "Good god you people are cheap. Fine." He stood up. "I'm with the Bard. I hear the clank of one chain being yanked, and you will never feel the end of it."
Harry smiled, and stood up. "Reset the count, everyone. We're about to save the world."
The Bard smiled and cheered. Aang let loose a "Yeah!" and raised one fist. Anakin...made one of those sounds he made, but clenched both fists in front of his chest.
Arcadian smiled, clasping his hands in front of his chest. "Thank you all."
Whhhhhh pahhhhhh "I have waited long to do this."
Harry looked at him curiously. "To do what?"
"This." Anakin tapped a button on his chestplate, and a rousing, dark, Wagnerian march began to play. He strode out, his cape billowing behind him.
Paul nodded. "Hey, that's catchy. Dunh dunh dunh dun de-dunh, dun de-dunh..." He followed Anakin out.
Aang grinned. "Hey Bard, you should learn to play that." He turned to follow.
Harry nodded. "Maybe we should make that our theme song."
The Bard nodded once to Link, and the two brought up the rear. The Chosen Ones were on the march.
And even the Bard had to admit--it felt pretty good again.