Chapter 4:

The Accolade (Part 2)

The Flight of The Draykes

The feast would last well until the wee hours of the morning as barrels of the local ale, affectionately known as Dragon's Breath in polite company and Dragons Piss in gauche company, was rolled out and slabs upon slabs of meat of what seemed to be every unfortunate animal in the vicinity of Draconis were carved out and garnished liberally with herbs and spices that melted into the succulent oil and fat of the meat, causing a heavenly aroma to arise, and then served to the people who would eagerly relish the food, stopping only to compliment the chefs now and then or to order more food.

The servers weaved seamlessly amidst the midst of the chaos of the feast, chaos save for the long table at the very top of the feasting grounds, where the Lord and the nobles sat.

Included among this elite company was, of course, poor old me, Faustus Drayke, who was forced to elegantly cut a tiny morsel of meat, before even more elegantly attempting to eat it without of course the utterly inappropriate sounds of chewing and swallowing. Delightful really.

Enduring the raging hunger that ate at my insides, I pecked at my food until it was appropriate for me to excuse myself from the table and then I made my escape.

I would have been successful if I hadn’t run into Sir Leonidas on my way to the kitchen.

By run into, I mean quite literally. I walked face-first into the man who was looking at me with a hint of amusement in his eyes as I hastily checked whether my nose, which I was quite fond of, was still as pointy as ever instead of squashed flat.

“Where would you be going in such a hurry, Little Faustus?”

Still incapable of speech, I pointed towards the kitchen as I clutched my nose.


I thought he was going to drag me back to the long table but then he began walking towards the kitchen himself, only stopping to look at me inquisitively after a few steps since I was still stationary.

Falling into step with him, or more like taking many steps to keep up with his one step, We began making our way into the kitchen, him nimbly dodging the many cooks and servants that were dashing about, me protecting my nose and apologizing throughout, and finally settling ourselves in a corner of the Kitchen that Sir Leonidas seemed very familiar with.

Within a few moments, a cook saw us sitting there and then headed off to another cook who was positively scarecrow thin who nodded and made his way to us.

“Leonidas, what will it be? Meat stew with trenchers as per usual?”

“Aye Thomas. The usual for me.”

Thomas then turned to me, cocking his eyebrow as he asked, “And you Honourable Faustus? I haven’t seen you in a while.”

Grinning, I replied, “Hallo Thomas. Nice to see you too. I’ll have, hmm, let me see, yes, everything. I shall have everything” vaguely gesturing to the rest of the kitchen.

Giving a long-suffering look, Thomas said, “one of those days huh Honourable Faustus. Everything it is, but you’ll have to get it in bits and pieces, or else knowing you, the feast might just get over early and my hide would be up for tanning shortly after.”

Laughing, I watched him turn and bark off orders rapidly to his army of assistants, for Thomas was the Head Cook before turning to meet Sir Leonidas’s thoughtful gaze.

“Interesting,” said He.


“I find it interesting that Thomas didn’t bite your head off. He nearly bit mine off for asking for an apple the first time I came down here.”

“That does sound like him.” I laughed.

“Mmm. He warmed up to me eventually, Once I came here for the 200th time or so I think. Which makes me curious as to how you got into his good graces?”

“I get hungry quite often and Thomas has been helping me out especially since I love what he makes.”

“Define often”

“Well... roughly every half an hour?” I ventured.

“What” he replied as his eyes widened. “How does that even...Wait no, don’t you drive Thomas mad?”

“Not mad as much as curious I guess. He’s still trying to find what my bottom line is but I think he gave up after that time with the ducks.”

“Wait, that was you?”

“You know about it?”

He snorted and said, “We didn’t have duck on the table for nearly a week back then and trust me, Thomas was sweating bullets the entire time but he wouldn’t say a word no matter who asked.”

I sighed in relief at Ol’ Thomas’s loyalty and mentally winced at what I put him through.

“Ahem, I don’t want to be rude” started Leonidas

“Which means you are going to be but go on”

Blushing slightly, he forged on “If you eat so much, where does it all go? Because well…” and with that, he indicated my body which was thin. Okay skinny. Okay, extremely skinny.


Ah, Bal.

Everyone brings it up. It’s also one of the reasons why Harold loves me. Who wants a victim who can fight back after all. The worst that I could do to him is probably split his skin with the bones that are poking out of me when he punches, which now that I think about it is probably why he goes for my face the most.

Shaking my head, I replied, “I wish I knew.”

Changing the subject, I turned the focus on him and asked, “What are you doing here though and not up there with you know, the rest of them?” as I gestured vaguely in the direction of the feast grounds.

Leonidas looked down briefly before meeting my eyes, “I am an observer. An outsider. Much as this city and its people have made me welcome, I do not belong here.”

“Why? Where do you belong then?” I asked.

“On the battlefield. I’m not good at all this flowery talk and false courtesy that these people seem to engage in, ``he said with anger in his voice.

“Then why are you an observer?”

“Because that is his Majesty’s will.” He said sadly.

I wanted to say something to cheer him up but it was probably good that the food arrived when it did because I know that anything I said would make it worse. Eloquence, not one of my strong suits given how little I usually speak. In fact, I’m quite surprised I’m even talking to the man.

As I saw Thomas off with a word of thanks and a smile, I looked around to find Leonidas whose eyes seemed to be glassy.

Waving my hand in front of his face, I woke him up from his daze at which point he gestured to all the food on my side of the table and tried to speak except to have words fail him.

I defensively put my hands around my food thinking that he wanted some of it before realizing that wasn’t what he meant.

Happily, I started digging into the food while nodding in affirmation. “All mine, Yes”

Numbly, he nodded before turning to his own pitifully small stew and trenchers.

For a few moments, there was only the sound of chewing before I remembered something that he had said and asked, “You said you were an observer yes? So what does an observer do exactly?”

Leonidas wiped his mouth with a cloth before looking at me appraisingly and then in a measured voice began, “Draconis city is the fief of Count Drayke. Just like this, there are many more fiefs in the Kingdom of Leon, all answerable to the King, who currently is King Casimir Von Leon. While the nobility with fiefs can rule them as they see fit, they are still under the King and as such have to pay him taxes and also contribute soldiers to fight in His army should he so require.”

“Now this is where observers come in. We are here to ensure that the situation in every fief is proceeding as per the will of the King and for the good of the Kingdom.”

He paused to take a sip of his drink before continuing, “As you can imagine, we are not very welcome in most fiefs since we are a constant reminder of the King’s authority.”

Wryly he smiled and said, “Though your family has been very gracious to me and includes me in all matters for which I am grateful.”

“The rest of them though…” he swirled his drink as he trailed off.

“Ah, I see,” I said while stabbing a particularly big succulent chunk of pork. “But you’re a gold-ranked Knight and as you said before, you’d rather be on the battlefield than an observer, so why…?”

Sighing, He replied, “Because there is no battlefield. Not anymore. The kingdom of Leon has been at peace for the last 10 years, ever since the great war between us and Hagaria ended. We won largely because of House Drayke” he added with a nod to me.

I remember this part. It’s told often enough in the city but the tales always exaggerate and my parents never talk about it.

So I asked him, “Can you tell me what we did that ended the war?”

“You don’t know?” He asked incredulously.

“Bits and pieces. I take it you were there?”

Setting down his eating knife, he slowly nodded. “Yes. Yes, I was there.”

Excitedly I forgot about my food and leaned forward as he continued to say, “Our army and the Hagarians met at the plains of pyrrhia. We numbered 60,000 men while the Hagarians numbered 70,000 men. Your Father wanted us to defend from Draconis city. Our King, Casimir Von Leon ordered otherwise. “Not One Hagarian foot will step into Leon soil” was what he said. So we marched, we marched to the plains of pyrrhia on the other side of the mountain pass.``

He paused and looked up, “We formed up our ranks and so did the Hagarians. It was a cold day and the winds had blown the clouds our way. Visibility was poor and your Father advised the King to fight another day if he must fight at all. Your Father’s counsel, however, was overruled and the King placed him on the far left flank, while He himself took the center and Lord White took the position of honor on the right flank.”

“The battle started with The King ordering our army to engage first. So we did. We walked through flights of arrows. We walked through fallen comrades. We walked through reddened earth. We charged through fear. We clashed with thunder.”

“It wasn’t enough” he shook his head sadly. “The Hagarians fought us to a standstill. Then they pushed us back. One step. Then another. Our center lost ground and our flanks began to be exposed. Our King thought to rally the center. A brave man, A brave charge. Our morale began to rise and we pushed back. Swords fell. Bodies fell. Then the King’s Standard fell.”

I gasped.

“The army reeled in shock. Shock turned to anger, and we fought like the possessed. We threw ourselves on their shields and swords. We cut and we screamed but they screamed more.”

“Then the Hagarians cut off our arm. 10,000 men, men that we never knew they had lanced into our right flank at the joint that connected it to the center. 10,000 men then turned inwards into the right flank and carved it up, one piece at a time. 10,000 men won the Hagarians the battle and lost Lord White his life.”

“Or they would have. If not for your Father. Lord Drayke had routed the Hagarians' right flank. He would’ve run them all down if not for the King’s standard going down. Lord Drayke was the one who led the charge which recovered the King’s body. Lord Drayke was the one who defended the body with his personal guards, while his men came to the assistance of our cut off right flank. Lord Drayke was the one who rallied the army and led us in a fighting retreat all the way back to the mountain pass.”

“Lord Drayke and his men were the ones who blocked the canyon pass with their shields and bodies while the army reeled. Lord Drayke was the one who led the charge when we knew that the King still lived. It was Lord Drayke who slew the enemy commander and blew the horn for victory. For we broke the Hagarians and they had no Lord Drayke to save them. They fled the field leaving 40,000 dead and 20,000 captured. We left the field with 30,000 dead. 7000 were men of House Drayke. When the battle started, House Drayke had 10,000 men.”

Sir Leonidas looked at me with eyes tinged with red and continued, “The King won the battle. House Drayke won the war. Just like they’ve done with every single war that the Kingdom of Leon has fought in.”

I wiped my eyes which had filled with tears at some point and felt furious pride, the pride that I was a scion of House Drayke. Pride that I was the son of my Father, Callum Drayke.

And I vowed that I will never let them down.

And I prayed that I would have the strength to do so.