The Flight of The Draykes
Time passed in silence before a bleary-eyed Alastor walked in through the doors.
All traces of bleariness vanished as he saw the people gathered inside and vigilantly, he walked closer to his Father’s side before staring at us in open surprise.
“What is this about Father?” He asked, with a nonchalant voice.
“Tell him what you just told me Young Faustus.”
So I did. Midway, my voice began to shake as I recalled my feelings from back then when I suspected the Balakash that was serenely standing in front of me.
Taking my hand in hers, Sia stood protectively beside me, an action that Alastor did not fail to notice and a look of jealousy passed through his eyes.
Gathering confidence, I forged ahead and described everything emotionlessly as though it happened to someone else.
Sia’s hand kept gripping mine tighter and tighter despite having just heard everything a few minutes ago.
Finally, I finished my story and waited silently.
I didn’t have to wait for long as Alastor impatiently said, “So you suspect me? On what basis?”
“On the basis of this lady right here,” said my father, with subdued calmness as he pulled off the hood from Dame Deianira’s face again.
Alastor swept his gaze over and his face changed as he said, “I know her! She’s Deianira, but she- ho-”
And then chaos broke loose.
The bodyguard behind the King suddenly launched an attack at the King who retaliated almost instantly.
I pulled Sia behind my body, a lesson learned from the last fight I had been in and shielded her.
My mother charged forward at Alastor, while my Father stayed stationary.
Alastor meanwhile, with a cruel expression on his face, tore a scroll that conjured a barrier around him while throwing another potion at his father, the King.
Fighting off the bodyguard, The King recoiled in horror as the potion exploded around him.
“Warforce dispelling potion!” he shouted.
Conjuring his warforce to form a shield, he blocked most of the potion, and the warforce dissipated while a portion of the potion fell on the ground.
The remainder splashed over the King who started as though he had received a great shock.
The armor that was forming around him suddenly had holes throughout it and then with a crackling sound, it began falling apart around him and the King was an ordinary man facing the attacks of an extraordinary assassin.
Then my father moved.
He disappeared and appeared right in front of the bodyguard and brutally blasted him away with a swing of a heavy broadsword that he had taken out from his finite stone.
Sir James and Sir Leonidas stared at each other, both without making a move.
Frizelda and the hulking female dashed towards the doors behind us, only for them to open wide and the two guards who were standing beside the door on either side charged in.
Looking beyond them, I saw the first guard fall to the ground in a pool of blood as drops of another potion similar to the one used on the King sizzled on the floor beside him.
Rapidly calculating, I thought the situation was in my favor.
Only to be proven wrong. So wrong!
Because frizelda flew back vomiting blood and the hulking female let out a cry as she jumped back clutching her arm.
The two guards flanked Sir Leonidas who looked at the chaos stone-faced.
My heart sinking, I whispered,
Biting her lips, Sia echoed my cry beside me.
Mother who was attacking the barrier around Alastor futilely stepped back and stood in front of me and Sia while at the same time kicking Dame Deianira - who was coming to - into unconsciousness again.
Then she faced the two guards and Sir Leonidas while standing with Sir James, a wounded Frizelda, and the wounded hulking woman.
Behind her, the King moved to a defensible corner away from Alastor while my Father guarded him against the bodyguard.
For a moment, a strange stalemate fell onto the room.
It was broken by my father’s calm voice.
“Alastor, you have 1 weaponmaster and 3 gold ranks against 1 weaponmaster and 4 gold ranks with reinforcements coming. You don’t stand a chance. Give up!”
Alastor meanwhile clutched his stomach as he laughed maniacally, “Give up? I advise you to give up Count Drayke. Tonight the Kingdom of Leon changes hands and those reinforcements? Let me guess, Sir Falmer and his troops? Sir Pierre and the mercenaries?”
Frowning, my father said nothing.
Calming himself down, Alastor said peacefully, “They’re dead. They were supposed to meet you on the way to my father’s chambers, yes? But they didn’t and that’s because they met their unfortunate end at the hands of my subordinates, who incidentally are the ones coming to reinforce us.”
Clapping his hands, he exclaimed, “Oh, They’re here!,” just as 4 more gold armored men and women entered with blood on themselves.
“My lord!” they greeted, but they bowed down to Alastor and not the King who trembled against the wall - whether in rage or whether in frustration, I do not know.
I looked at their faces only to pale as I saw the emblems of some of the eminent noble houses that had followed the King in his retinue through the gates the day he arrived.
Confirming this, I took a look at the King who looked miserably at the four newcomers and said,
“House Hastam, House Arcum, House Gladio, and House Securis, the four pillars of my army. You all have fought beside me in all the wars, so why?!” He cried out.
They remained silent but Alastor did not.
Measuredly, the boy, nay the man spoke.
“Our Kingdom was being eroded by the Kingdom of Gonzalo. We were fighting their wars, all for the sake of a secure backline. Acceptable really. What was unacceptable was their encroachment into our land and our affairs!”
Looking at me, he continued, “Dear Paul was someone planted next to me by the Gonzalos. They hoped he would be useful and he was. I planted him beside you because you, the newest disciple of my dear uncle, made me nervous.”
“Nervous because House Drayke, the thorn in the side of the Leonids, now had legitimacy coming from the bastard son of my grandfather. House Drayke could now if it wished, fight for control over the Kingdom with us, the Leonids.”
“There would have been many who supported the Draykes had they done so. Those people are the ones who are dying now, by the way.”
Interrupting him, My father spoke angrily, “We have never had any eyes for the throne so why would you target us?”
“Maybe you don’t have the intention now, but after the last war, the name on everyone’s lips has not been the Leonids but the Draykes. Drayke this, Drayke that. Growing up, I believed that it was the Draykes who ruled the Kingdom and not us, the Leonids!” Alastor shouted out.
Continuing on, he said, “In the future, should the Draykes become more powerful, My reign as the prince would have come to an end before I ever ascended to being the King. I also had no doubt that my Father would have willingly stepped down for you, Count Drayke, had you asked him after saving his life.
Then he smiled weirdly, “So I made my plans. My dear father is a warrior. A brute who thinks he knows statecraft. But he didn’t know that many people were dissatisfied after the last war. Not every noble house thinks the way the Draykes do. After all, most of them don’t quite like having their men die for nothing, you know?”
“They died for peace against those who would take peace away!” Roared the King.
“They died because of your stupidity!” Yelled back Alastor in turn.
Pacing around inside the barrier, he said animatedly, “War this, War that. You got your peace but where were the relaxations? Could the Hagarians come into our land freely? You know the answer to that. It wasn’t peace but a ceasefire. Eventually, the war would break out and war is about to break out. The Hagarians are mobilizing because they need access to our lands for trade! The one thing that you don’t seem to understand, Father!” He ended with a heavy emphasis on the last word.
“That along with the fact that your pillars of the army, the ones who shed the most blood for you, they were rapidly losing power and supporters as their own people grew unhappy at the repeated sacrifices in exchange for what exactly? Constant war?”
“No, things had to change. I can rule this Kingdom far better than you ever can Father! But you, with your luck, would have lived for another hundred years at least! A hundred years later, with you as the King, it is doubtful if the Kingdom of Leon would even exist!”
“But why did you have to assassinate me,” I interjected, as I still could not understand the reason why I was to be sacrificed!
“You? You were a trigger. If you died, House Drayke would have gone mad in grief and hunted down the ones responsible. They would have found me eventually if Harold didn’t deceive them but then if they investigated, they would find out I ordered you to be beaten up but the order was twisted by Dear Paul. Then they would think that the Kingdom of Gonzalo was responsible for the fatal part of the attack and even if the initial attack had failed, Deianira was supposed to lead them to believe that the Hagarians were the ones who finished off the task.”
Looking in disdain at Dame Deianira, he said, “But this wench failed, and as such my plans had to be brought forward.”
Struggling to think things through, I said in frustration, “Weakening the Draykes would not have served you for anything. The war is coming and weakening us and killing the King does nothing to help you!”
Smiling twistedly, Alastor said, “Wrong! It is the war that allowed me to do all this. If there was no war, I would never have been able to assassinate all the people against me in the capital. But here, in the frontier, I can safely take care of all my problems before heading away to the capital and seizing control. As for the noble Houses who don’t agree with me?”
Smiling even more hideously, he said, “They will all be cannon fodder for the siege of Draconis that will take place. Once they all die, I will grant the Hagarians what they want. Peace with trade and access to our land.”
“You’re crazy,” I shouted.
“How so?” He asked, genuinely puzzled.
“What if the Hagarians try to take us over just like the Gonzalos are trying?”
“They can try, but I am a better schemer than people with righteous honor like the Hagarians and,” - looking contemptuously at the King - “my dear Father!”
“Gonzalo will not take over us, neither will the Hagarians, but you all will not live to see it, - because you see, those two guards from earlier? They’re weaponmasters. The four who came? All gold ranked.”
Turning to face my father, he said with schadenfreude, “So tell me Count Drayke, do you wish to fight against 3 weaponmasters and 5 gold ranks with let me see,” - he counted the people on our side exaggeratedly - “Oh, 1 weaponmaster and 4 gold ranks with two of them injured?
“Give up, and the draykes may still live on!” Said Alastor authoritatively.
My father’s brows furrowed even more and then relaxed as he said,
“You have it all figured it out and I truly did not see this coming. I thought the suppression on House Drayke was because of Casimir but I was puzzled by it as Casimir is not someone who would do that without a reason.”
The King, Casimir, shot a grateful look at Callum Drayke.
Peacefully my father continued, “Also, you might have 3 weaponmasters. But I am Callum....Drayke...of….House….Drayke!” enunciating each word with an aura that grew by bounds and leaps, my father stepped forward, the floor of the study crunching under his feet and his warforce raging.
Side by side, My mother bared her teeth and said, “I am the mother of Draykes and the wife of a Drayke. I am also a Calmwater and calm waters once stirred rage endlessly!” Saying so, she stepped forward and an intimidating aura almost as powerful as my father's raged towards the sky but stopped short of entering the weaponmaster stage.
Then Sir Leonidas pulled his familiar feather sword out and pointed it at us.
Gratified, Alastor looked at him before saying, “Happy to see that you have joined us, my dear uncle! I-”
“Teacher!” I interjected, serenely looking at him.
He gazed towards Alastor and then back at me before a smile graced his face and then he exploded his aura and burned brilliantly, all the while attacking the weaponmaster that stood on his right, who was caught off guard on his weaker non-dominant side, while my mother rushed at the weaponmaster on my devil Teacher’s left.
Frizelda, the hulking female, and Sir James charged at the four gold ranks and engaged them brutally in a melee.
I stood there, unsure of what my role was before spying Alastor who stood inside his barrier alone.
Dragging Sia with me, I went to the barrier before punching it, kicking it, and generally doing everything I could to break it.
All for naught.
Smirking, Alastor came closer to the edge of the barrier and stood there mockingly as my fist paused an inch away from his face, caught by the barrier.
Taunting me, he sneered, “Hit it as much as you want, it will never break to a worm, like you,”
Anger filling me again, I felt the beginnings of the warforce move within me.
Turning, Alastor began to stride back to where he was initially but just then my warforce triggered in a weird way.
Everything turned black in my vision, except for the barrier that glowed blue.
In a daze, I reached out towards a spot in the barrier that was black and punched with all my might.
With a cracking sound, the barrier buckled.
Terrified, Alastor turned around while the fighting around the room came to an abrupt halt.
I punched again, and the barrier cracked even further.
“Protect the King!” Shouted out the bodyguard.
Confused, my side looked at each other as they wondered why the enemies would protect the King before watching in dismay as the enemies rushed towards their true King - Alastor - and me, by extension, while taking wounds that they gritted their teeth against.
I was about to punch again when Sia grabbed me and rushed towards my mother who was flashing backward towards us, harrying the gold ranks who were attempting to save Alastor.
Still in the daze, I watched one of the gold ranks launch an attack at us.
The blue of the attack was tinged with red that resembled fire with spots of black in it again.
Startled, I aimed for the black only for the force of the attack to send me and Sia flying, coughing out blood straight into the arms of my father who dashed out at the cost of a slash on his back and caught us both, before flashing towards the rest of our allies alongside the King who took the opportunity to change his position.
Our chest’s heaving, the situation was now reversed.
We were blocking the door and the enemies were clustered around Alastor, the would-be King.
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