Karl walked the once-streets of Valhalla, visually picking through the devastation wrought by the Death Saurer and Prozen's final effort. It had been one last bit of spite, or perhaps cleverly brutal tactics, but the Saurer was dead by Prozen's hand, and the capital with it. What Zoids had survived nearest were twisted hulks, and he forced himself not to think of those who hadn't the protection of an Iron Kong, and instead of the crown prince that strode beside him, eyes wide and teary from both emotion and the bitter air. Karl held back a cough himself as acrid smoke wafted past, the breeze still carrying ash and sparks depending on direction.
Farther from the epicentre of the Saurer's core-overload explosion things were more recognizable. Karl did not find this entirely better, as it meant bodies were recognizable as well. There were living men, too, some crying for help, others too lost in thought and fear to react.
And one, apparently, was standing amid the chaos without a care for whose way he was in, gazing about with an unsettlingly amused expression, as if more curious than awed or terrified. Passers-by and medics gave him a wide berth, but Karl stopped. This man looked like trouble, and even with the city in ruins, he had a duty to protect what remained of the people.
His mystery man was tall, fairly lanky, and clad in once-regal clothing from a Guylos house Karl couldn't place. Wild red hair, the tips scorched and singed, trailed down onto shoulders darkened with ash and potting soil—he was carrying a plant over one of them, unpotted with its roots dangling like tentacles. And the plant had fangs, Karl noticed, mainly because it had started nibbling on the man's hair, trying to pluck out tasty threads of metallic shrapnel that had wound into the curls.
"Tsk. Stop that!" The man swatted it away as one might an overeager puppy, and the plant's leaves drooped a little. "It'll give you indigestion."
"Mister?" Rudolph said, no doubt unable to resist asking. "Who are you, and what is that?"
"That's not important right now," the man began, forcing the plant's leaf-tooth maw away again with the back of his hand. "Have any of you seen Günther? This is one of his favorite specimens."
Karl eyed first man and then ruined terrain surrounding him in some disbelief. "You might see some part of him if you scour the landscape. He's rather vaporized, the Bloody Death Saurer with him."
Rudolph took on an expression in between horrified and that funny sort of serious pout he tended to have when trying not to laugh out of royal obligation to be diplomatic, and Karl briefly regretted the humor.
"Damn. I feared as much, he always had a penchant for explosions and drama." The man bit his lip and frowned, and as he turned back to the again-wiggling plant Karl swore he caught muttered words: had to play the good evil regent, didn't you, after I said just feed the brat to Chompy.
It was about then that the plant caught hold of his ear. The man gave a final sigh, patting further metal flakes out of his hair and breaking the plant's hold with his fingers. "If you gentlemen will excuse me, I have new work to find, and zie's getting a bit troublesome."
Karl watched him turn and walk away, boots crunching in burnt and glass-filled soil and the plant's tooth-leaves bobbing with every footfall. He was left full of questions, not the least of which included just how much of the Empire's budget their ruler had sunk into horticulture.
At least this explained regent Prozen's recent—and now former—fascination with gardening.