Leatherhead looked out over the balcony and down on the city. If anyone was to look up at him his face would be calm and collected with only his long, heavy tail swiping over the floor revealing the agitation he skillfully kept hidden.
The king was concerned for his people peacefully mingling on the street below. Everyone looked like they had a purpose, a reason to be where they were. Leatherhead grabbed the edge of the railing tighter, making his tough, scaly skin stretch thin over his clawed fingers. A gentle breeze passed by him, making his red cape come to life as it brushed against his back ever so gently. The wind also brought along something else. Something that made the crocodile glance subtly over his shoulder to prevent his sudden guest from knowing he had already noticed her.
``My lord I have been sent by the rest of the counsel to bring you to the throne room. You are the only one missing and we cannot begin this meeting without you'' she said respectfully and brought her right fist to her chest before kneeling down and lowered her head. Leatherhead turned back to look over his city one more time before straightening his back.
``I am aware general Jhanna. I will be there right away'' Leatherhead informed her, finally spinning around to face her. The woman rose with her hands clasped behind her straight back and when the king walked past her, she followed a few feet behind him.
``My king, you seem troubled. Please be assured that you are safe here at the castle'' Jhanna said after a while.
``I do not concern myself with the safety of myself, only the safety of the people'' Leatherhead answered and couldn't stop his tail from whipping over the floor in irritation once more.
``Of cause your majesty'' Jhanna replied and the two fell silent for the rest of the walk to the throne room. Servants, knights and visiting lord and ladies all moved aside and bowed down in deep respect for the large figure of the king.
Finally, they reached their destination and Leatherhead let out a sigh before pushing the door open. He already knew how this meeting would go. It would drag on unnecessarily long without making a difference in the situation.
``Your majesty we have awaited your arrival'' a rabbit greeted him and hailed his king with the rest of the council members by placing their right fist to their hearts and bowed their heads.
``I apologize for arriving late, but let us begin immediately'' Leatherhead commanded and took his seat at the head of the long table. A chorus of yes, your majesty rang throughout the large room and they all took their seats. ``Traximus have your scouts anything new to report?'' Leatherhead asked as he turned to the three-horned general. The large male stood from his chair and unfolded a scroll.
``We have reports of the regions becoming tense, but calm as the signing of the treaty approaches, my lord. There are fewer scuffles among the people, but tension run high and should not go unchecked'' the enormous best reported before looking over at his king. Leatherhead nodded to indicate for the rhino-like creature to continue. ``Unfortunately, there is still nothing to report regarding the rumors of the Foot clan. As it is, they are just that, rumors. Although I would not take these accusations lightly. Drako is a very angry king and I personally would not put such low life behavior past him'' Traximus finished.
``I understand your frustration general, however without proof I cannot in good conscious let my judgement be clouded'' Leatherhead said to ease his general.
``Of cause my lord'' Traximus replied and didn't push the subject further.
``Jhanna anything to add to general Traximus' report?'' Leatherhead continued and turned to look at the blue skinned warrior. As she stood, Traximus sat down.
``My lord many of the soldiers grow weary of these tense times. They have been stationed on high alert for too long without seeing real battle. They are growing uneasy and it is not uncommon for the soldiers to fight amongst themselves to release tension. Trust and moral is at an all-time low. I worry they hunger for battle, blood and glory and may seek it elsewhere unless the unrest is dealt with soon'' she stated with a clear monotone voice.
``I see. Can anything be done to ease this frustration until the treaty is official?'' Leatherhead inquired towards the entire council.
``I'm afraid that would require either proper battle or a resolution of the conflict, but I assure you my king, my soldiers will remain in line for as long as you order them to, I shall see to it myself'' the woman promised. Leatherhead just hummed in conformation and retreated into his own head to see if he could come up with something himself, but as far as he could see the sighing of the peace treaty was the only proper solution, otherwise there was only more carnal ways of releasing tension and that was a line of thought he did not fancy entertaining.
``Very well. Usagi'' Leatherhead called and just like before when the rabbit stood the woman sat.
``The people's spirits remain high and most hopeful my lord. According to my reports even the people in the regions look forward to the peace treaty, however as general Traximus have said they remain vigilant and tension still run high'' the rabbit warned.
``How is the harvest coming along?'' Leatherhead pressed on.
``The crops this year has been most successful your majesty. The people are not concerned'' Usagi finished knowing that was what Leatherhead wanted to know. The meeting continued in a similar fashion. His council members would all give their respective repots, others would add to them or argue against them, an occasional question would be asked by Leatherhead and finally there was only one thing left to address.
``Very well, then let us address what we have been avoiding until now'' Leatherhead and let his tail bang against the floor once and immediately all his advisers started talking over each other. Should he attend the festival? Was it too dangerous? Was the threat even real? He had heard all these arguments many times since they became aware of these rumors and so for the time being he said nothing and let the members of the counsel argue in circles.
``Please my lord we are getting nowhere'' a human finally cut through.
``I am aware of the severity regarding these rumors and I understand your concern. However, as I have said before if I cancel the signing it could be seen as weakness or as a sign of mistrust, which king Drako can use as an excuse to start a real war. We have come too far to be stopped by mere rumors and whispers in the dark. This is not the first time threats have been made against me nor will it be the last. I will not let my enemies keep me prisoner in my own castle. This is my final decision on the matter'' Leatherhead ordered and the counsel all quietly murmured their acknowledgement.
``My lord if I may be so bold'' Usagi spoke up ``the people are aware of these rumors and they would rather see the signing of the treaty postponed then see you risk assassination. Everyone has heard the rumors of how deadly the Foot clan is and how impossible it is to stop them''
``It is for the good of the people that I move forward with the signing. I will not see them cower in fear and uncertainty any longer'' Leatherhead growled slightly and firmly stood form his chain while looking pointedly at the rodent. Usagi quickly bowed his head in respect and quietly took his seat. ``Then that will be all'' Leatherhead dismissed them and walked towards the door before any of them could stand and possible get the idea to stop him in his track. It had been a long day and he needed air.
Leatherhead didn't stop before he stepped into the castles gardens and first now did he notice that the sun was starting to set and evening had rolled around. The crocodile continued marching through the beautiful landscapes as he headed straight for a large lake deeper within the grounds.
When he finally reached his destination, he let out a deep sigh as a feeling of contentment and relaxation spread through his body. The large king sank to his knees at the edge of the lake. Finally, he was surrounded by nature at her purest and not kept in strict symmetrical shapes and forms, never allowed to have as much as a branch or leaf out of place.
Leatherhead looked over the calm water for a while trying to mimic the stillness within himself. His anger was a frightening thing and he knew it could be destructive if he didn't control himself. How he wished these problems would be over, how he dreamed this peace treaty would sign itself and he could be done with it. After years of tension between Drako's kingdom and his own, to finally have peace within reach was something almost unfathomable, but now threats of assassins were hanging over his head. As he sat there he wondered if there would ever be a time where the burdens and responsibilities of being king couldn't be crushing him, but he would see this through, that he swore to himself. His people would no longer know fear of war and suffering.
When Leatherhead finally got up and walked back to the castle the sun was kissing the horizon and was slowly, but surely getting swallowed.
The following day proceeded as any other and Leatherhead worked through the tasks at hand without much thought to it. It was only around midday a knock was heard on the doors to his chambers.
``Enter'' Leatherhead called without really looking up from the paper he was reading. He only took notice that it was a Triceraton like Traximus that stepped through the door.
``Sire, a woman has arrived requesting an audience with his majesty. She claims to know of someone who can stop the Foot clan'' he reported urgently. This made Leatherhead look up from his papers and at the guard who stood nervously in his door, awaiting instructions.
``Who is this woman?'' the king asked as he stood form his chair and crossed the room.
``We do not know my lord, but she is clearly not of high status'' the guard said as he followed his king down the hall. ``Shall I have her sent away?''
``No I will see her immediately'' Leatherhead ordered and continued his walk towards the throne room.
``As you command sire'' the Triceraton saluted and turned down a different hallway presumably to fetch the woman in question.
Leatherhead himself only had enough time to sit down in his throne before the doors were opened and a young woman was escorted in. She had long red hair that was tied into a bun with two strands hanging down by her ears. She was dressed in a short sleeved, white shirt. Over that she had a long, edged tunic with a basic corset around the waist, thick leggings and sturdy, hard warn boots covered her legs and feet. A quick look at this woman indicated that she was not from high society and that she might not be unaccustomed to traveling. Another thing he quickly took notice of was that her hands were tied together.
``Has this woman shown any signs of hostility?'' Leatherhead asked the guard that had come to his chamber. The Triceraton nervously shifted form one foot to the other.
``No sire she has not, but considering...'' he poorly tried to defend himself, but stopped the instant Leatherhead raised his hand.
``Then she shall be met with decency and respect. Release her at once'' Leatherhead demanded and the guard quickly removed the offending rope.
``Thank you, your majesty. My name is April O'Neil and I have come with news about the rumors regarding the Foot clan'' April said politely with a deep curtsy.
``If you knew something about it why first show up now? The rumors have been circulating for some time now. I'm sure even if you were from the outskirts of my land you would have heard of them sooner'' Leatherhead inquired.
``Yes. I have known about them for a while, however it wasn't until recently that they were only rumors'' she explained and got up. ``I have friends who have been trying to find out if this threat is real or not'' the woman fell quiet and Leatherhead waited for her to continue, but she didn't.
``And have they come to an answer?''
``Yes, your majesty. The threat is very real. The Foot will come for you'' April reported sadly.
``And who are these friends of yours? How do they know if this threat is real?'' Leatherhead asked suspiciously as he looked intensely on the woman, who to his surprise didn't look all that anxious.
``They have had many altercations with the Foot clan over several years. They know the Foot Clan, they can help you'' April insisted, looking confidently at the king, clearly wanting him to believe her.
``I see. Tell me more about these friends of yours'' the crocodile probed trying to get as much information as possible, but the second the question was asked the woman's lips were press together and almost pressed inwards. It made Leatherhead's eyes narrow suspiciously. Clearly there were secrets she didn't want to share.
``My friend would prefer to stay as hidden as possible my lord'' April finally answered.
``Then why come to me with this information? You said they could help, but if they will not come, how can they?''
``They want to meet you, but on neutral ground'' the woman said quickly and was starting to look nervous.
``Impossible'' the guard growled ``if this threat is real as you say, it will be far too dangerous for his majesty to travel anywhere, besides we do not know if this is a trap''
``And that is why they will not meet you here, my lord. They keep themselves hidden and to come into the light would be a danger to them and puts them at a great risk. They wish for you to meet them were you would be at an equal risk, least you decide to attack first'' April explained hastily.
Leatherhead let out a hum of consideration and let his chin find rest in his hand as he thought it over.
``My lord, you cannot seriously think of going. It is obviously a trap, meant to lure you away from the palace'' the guardsman spoke up again.
``Where would I be meeting these friends of yours?'' Leatherhead asked instead of answering the guard.
``There is a lake not too far into the wood outside town where they will meet you'' April answered and Leatherhead nodded thoughtfully he knew the place she was referring to. It would be a good place for an ambush if they were cornered against the lake.
``I will meet them tonight, but not at the lake. There is a clearing not too far from it. I will agree to meet them there, nowhere else. It is not all that large bit it would suffice'' Leatherhead said as final.
``If they know it they will be there and if not they will find it before tonight'' April guaranteed and curtsied, recognizing this as the end to her audience.
After the door closed behind the woman Leatherhead sat in silence for a while in deep thought before finally getting up. He had preparations to make. He quickly called the first servant he saw aside.
``Find Usagi and Traximus I wish to speak with them privately and tell Traximus to send for Raptarr I have a mission for him'' the king instructed and the servant quickly scattered off to find the two advisors.
When nightfall finally came about Leatherhead was starting to get anxious. He wasn't blind to the risk and that this might very well be a trap to assassinate him when he was out in the open.
``My lord we are ready if you still wish to do this'' Usagi said as he swung himself into his saddle.
``I have to know if this is useful information'' Leatherhead replied as he too got onto his mount.
``Traximus any word from Raptarr?''
``My scout will meet us at the edge of the forest'' the general reported.
``Very well. Then we move out'' Leatherhead commanded.
``Safe travels my king'' Jhanna saluted the crocodile when he rode past her. Leatherhead just nodded and he quickly started the ride out of town before someone saw them.
``Sire allow me to say that this is a huge risk. You should not be out here'' Traximus commented once they were clear of the city gates.
``I am aware general Traximus. I have no heir which is what would worry the council the most and they will surely have me locked away the moment they hear of this''
``Precisely. With you gone and no heir to the throne Drako could storm the lands with little resistance. We are practically begging for the Foot to attack us'' the large general stated with a very upset tone.
``The woman showed no signs of lying and I believe she was speaking the truth about these friends of hers'' Leatherhead argued as they approached the edge of the forest.
``Greetings king Leatherhead'' a voice called and a human figure with large white wings approached them.
``Raptarr what do you have to report?'' the king inquired as they came to a holt.
``No much I fear. The forest is quiet, and not a soul seems awake'' the Avian stated and looked towards the forest.
``And this concerns you?'' Leatherhead asked curiously.
``Very, my lord. There is something near the clearing, I know it, but I cannot find a single trace to follow'' he reported. Raptarr was by far the best tracker Traximus had so for him to not find something was not soothing in the least.
``Very well. Raptarr I want you to scout ahead as we make our way inside, Traximus and I will follow. Usagi you make up the end'' Leatherhead instructed. Once everyone was on position they moved through the trees and before long they reached the edge of the clearing without incident.
``The clearing seems secure sire'' Raptarr reported just as they arrived and Leatherhead hummed as he swung himself out of his saddle with his two generals following suite. As a precaution, he had brought his sword with him and as he drew it, he noticed Traximus grip his battleax and Usagi unsheathed his longest of two swords, while Raptarr grabbed hold of all their horses.
``I have arrived now show yourself'' Leatherhead demanded as he took a step into the clearing. The moment he did eight small white lights lit up on the other side. They were scattered over what Leatherhead assumed were several branches and were shifting slightly in the evening breeze. The king narrowed his eyes to better look around the pale, dim light and it was only after a second or two that he realized that it wasn't light he was looking at, but eyes. Four bulky figures were barely visible and only the sheen from their eyes were clearly cutting through the darkness. The figures moved ever so slowly in the shadows.
``Are you the once who wished to see me?'' Leatherhead called, when he was meet with silence and took another step forward. ``Reveal yourselves'' he ordered and get into a battle stance. Usagi and Traximus following his example. If this was indeed an attempt on his life then he would not yield without a fight. In return the figures leapt into the air and Leatherhead barely had time to register that they too armed themselves before they landed well within the clearing. One in front and the three others just a few feet behind. Despite just being balls of white in the vast darkness their stairs were intense, but they made no further move to attack.
``My king, allow me'' Usagi said as he carefully stepped forward sword raised. The four figures rose to their feet and seemed to grab their weapons tighter in preparation for an attack, but remained where they were.
``No Usagi stand down'' Leatherhead ordered and walked into the clearing, still with his sword raised. As he came closer the figures came more and more into focus and soon he saw them for what they were. ``But you... you're turtles'' he half whispered, mind boggled by what he was seeing. He signaled his generals to stand down and sheathed his own sword. The turtle in front saw his gesture and he too sheathed his katana swords and the team behind him following suit.
``I am Leonardo, leader of this group'' the turtle spoke politely. His stand softened and he stood up straight, gathered his hands, a fist to the base of a palm and bowing his head in respect, but never breaking eye contact.
``Oh, of cause'' Leatherhead said awkwardly as he wasn't sure how to respond to the gesture he was offered. In the end, he quickly decided on copying it as best as he could.
``We have come to inform you that you have been marked as a target by the Foot clan. They will come'' the turtle said calmly.
``I appreciate the warning, but how do I know that I can trust this information?'' Leatherhead asked curiously.
``I suppose you can't. Not truly, but know that they are coming and you can't stop them, anymore that you can stop us'' Leonardo warned seriously.
``Was that a threat'' Traximus growled in warning as he gripped his axe. The turtles further back all flinched and reached for what Leatherhead assumed were their weapons, but they didn't draw them just yet.
``It's a warning. I'm sorry to tell you that the Foot are good at what they do and none of you will be able to stop them'' the turtle stated calmly and with a strong sense of confidence.
``But I assume you can?'' Usagi broke in, squinting at the turtles suspiciously.
``Indeed. We have dealt with them many times before. We know how they work, because unlike you we work like them'' Leonardo explained patiently.
``I will not allow incompetent mercenaries parading around the castle'' Traximus grunted and made no attempt to hide his hostility.
``A test them. To prove ourselves'' the turtle suggested never looking away from Leatherhead. ``Tomorrow night the four of us will infiltrate the castle, all the way to your chambers without alerting the castle''
``I will not gamble the lives of those in the castle so that you think you can prove yourselves'' Leatherhead growled and felt a muscle in his snout starting to twitch, revealing just how repulsed he was at the idea.
``I can guarantee no death'' Leonardo promised as he held out his hand to shake.
``And what will the price of such protection cost?'' Usagi spoke up.
``A price can be agreed upon after you have seen our worth'' Leonardo said to Leatherhead as if he was the one who had asked. Leatherhead thought it over, his tail whipping back and forth in agitation. This could still be a trap. He knew nothing of the beings within the Foot clan. These turtles might just as well be the assassins sent to kill him, but then shouldn't they have attacked him long ago. If they were really allowing him to return to the castle it would be that much more difficult for them to reach him. Why put up such a facade if they were going to kill him anyway? Not to mention that they were turtles and they were usually rumored to be so very shy and gentle creatures.
``Fine, but I will have no bloodshed'' Leatherhead finally agreed and the two leaders grabbed each other's arms.
``Agreed'' Leonardo confirmed before letting go.
``Sire we can't allow dirty assassins to wander the halls. I will alert the guard and catch these pompous reptiles'' Traximus snarled.
``Alert them if you wish. It will not hinder us in reaching the kings chambers tomorrow night'' the turtle said confidently as he backed away from Leatherhead until he reached the other three turtles. With a simple hand gesture, the turtles scattered in every direction and disappeared into the night.
I don't know how the rules for the kind of martial art the turtles are actually using, but in the limited taekwondo I know of, you never break eye contact when you bow to an opponent because it exposes your neck, you lose sight of you opponent and makes you vulnerable to an attack.
I hope you liked the first chapter. Please note that this is a passion projekt and therefore it's something I can't work with all that often, meaning this is something that is going to take a long time to finish.
Inspired by art from NeatTea. I hope I can do it justice.
Constructive criticism is always welcomed.
Also I'm curious to know if people want to see ships in this story. There is going to be some degree of Donnie/LH, but I want to know is people are interested in seeing ship moments between the turtles. HOWEVER I reserve the right to do the ship elements at a level I'm comfortable with writing.
I will do my best to add tags as they become relevant. If someone feels that a tag/keywords is missing please let me know so I can add it.