The Flight of The Draykes
The words echoed in the great hall as my brother stood unflinching in the face of the red long spear.
A long moment passed by agonizingly.
Then the masked man laughed hoarsely, and said, “Admirable. But you will join me eventually,” and with those words, he turned back and strode to the wooden chair where he seated himself just like before - with his red long spear across his lap.
Then he spoke softly, “You may leave. Galen will escort you out.”
Bowing to the masked man, my brother slowly backed away before he turned and back straight, left the great hall without looking back.
The masked man’s eyes followed him the entire way.
Sir Galen escorted us back to Yamal with a frown on his face the entire way.
A frown that grew even worse as we reached our quarters - only to find opulent carriages waiting outside.
With a long drawn-out sigh, Sir Galen looked at us and opened his mouth to speak, before he shut it and, with a clenched jaw, led us inside the house.
The sight of luxuriously dressed nobles greeted us, garbed in the fashion style of Sir Gilligan, the fashion maestro.
They wore tight fitting shirts, tucked in underneath expensive brocaded doublets. Pants which had creases that looked like they could cut as well as swords. Shoes that were curved upward at the tip. Belts made of exotic leather that cinched their bulging waistlines.
All topped off with extravagant hats that had feathers and other fancy jewellery stuck on them.
These were no warriors.
But the people standing behind them silently exuded a dangerous aura.
Inspecting them closely, I saw they were bronze skinned guards with stocky muscular physiques who were wearing armor of a variety that I did not recognize, save for the chainmail that clinked as they turned around as one to evaluate us.
Finding us non-threatening, they went back to standing still behind what I presumed were their lieges.
Only to stop stunned, as one of them bent forward, and said, “Master, Galen is here.”
The master part did not stun me. I was stunned at the lack of respect and absolute disdain that the guard had as he talked about Sir Galen.
Confused, I watched Sir Galen’s face tighten up even further and then a lazy voice drifted towards us.
“You’ve returned. Did you have an enjoyable journey?” the voice asked.
Nodding stiffly, Sir Galen bowed and said, “Greetings, Lord Antoninus, I hope you are well. My journey was enjoyable, and I have returned safely.”
Waving a plump hand, the noble in the middle whose hat had a gem the size of an egg embedded within said, “Now that you’re here, tell Alistair that we need him to clear out the maggots near the expanse again.”
Sir Galen gritted his teeth as he asked, “What about the adventurers?”
Yawning, Lord Antoninus said, “They cannot prevail and your golden blades are the closest to the expanse, anyway. Try to get it done within a week or there will be questions asked.”
“It shall be done,” Sir Galen squeezed out.
At that moment, my brother, who had a thoughtful look on his face, stepped forward and said, “My Lord, my name is Aaron Drayke, heir and representative of the House of Drayke. It is a pleasure to meet you.”
Narrowing his eyes at the mention of our House name, Lord Antoninus smiled at my brother and said, “I have heard much of your noble House. From the Kingdom of Leon, yes? What brings you to our humble lands?”
Smiling back at him, my brother said, “I am sure that a lord as noble as you would have heard what has happened to us. Our House has come to difficult times, and it is why I have hired the Golden Blades.”
At this moment, all of us had difficulty in maintaining straight faces while Sir Galen’s fingers twitched violently before he continued staring with feigned disinterest as my brother and Lord Antoninus stared at each other.
Tilting his head, Lord Antoninus asked, “You have hired the Golden Blades? When was this agreement made?”
“On the way here. Isn’t that right, Sir Galen?” asked my brother, as he looked innocently at Sir Galen, who staunchly nodded.
“Indeed. We have worked out an agreement between us.” Sir Galen said righteously.
A murmur ran through the nobles, silenced by a discreet wave of Lord Antoninus’s hand.
Continuing on, my brother said, “I have agreed to hire them for the whole of this year and the next. Of course, they being the best, my coffers have almost been emptied, but it is a worthwhile investment!”
Lord Antoninus’s eyes, which had greedily narrowed as my brother said the words ‘for the whole of this year and the next’, quickly regained normalcy as he smiled at my brother and said, “I had heard of the riches of the Draykes. Surely, you jest Sir!”
Smiling widely, my brother spoke, “It is no jest, Lord. I have truly emptied my coffers because not only have I hired them, but because of the debt of saving us multiple times, I have decided to donate all the money I have to the golden blades and I have pledged my sword to stand by the Eosians in their fight.”
Eyes blinking rapidly, Sir Galen looked at my brother, who gazed back with his lopsided grin.
Looking between the two, Lord Antoninus smiled a smile that didn’t reach his eyes, and gesturing to his coterie, he inclined his head to my brother and spoke, “I see that you have many details to discuss with Sir Galen. I shall leave you to it and I shall raise a toast to your partnership once I reach my humble home - a home that you are always welcome to visit, Sir Aaron.”
Saying so, Lord Antoninus leisurely walked toward us, a path splitting open to accommodate him as an invisible pressure pressed down upon us.
Following him, the rest of the nobles, who wore haughty displeased looks on their faces, walked by, shadowed by the guards.
Smiling after them, my brother stood still until the sound of their carriages had faded away and then, gesturing to all of us to remain silent, he quietly signalled Sir Egon to check the surroundings.
After the all clear had been sounded, my brother relaxed, and he sat down where he was standing, exhaling loudly.
We watched him, all of us burning with questions that we wanted answers to, but uncertain whether they would be answered.
Sir Galen had no such thought, however, as he bluntly asked, “What are you playing at?”
Making himself comfortable on the floor, my brother, whose huge frame was still at my chest level, even seated, patted the ground next to him.
Hesitating for a moment, Sir Galen sat down with a disgruntled expression as he stared at my brother, who began rifling through the food and drinks abandoned by the nobles.
Sir Patrick, standing on the side, let out a choking noise as he saw my brother’s actions, while I, seeing no point in letting good food go to waste, joined him merrily.
As we both ate, my brother slowly began speaking. “Sir Galen...you have been friends with us Draykes for a long time, yes?”
Nodding slowly, Sir Galen narrowed his eyes.
Continuing on, my brother asked, “You fought against our enemies for us and it is because of you that we are here alive. Yes?”
Sir Galen snorted as he said, “If that’s your reason, then save i-”
Interrupting him, my brother held up three fingers on his hand and said, “Three reasons. One - you saved our lives. Two - You are a true comrade and were being disrespected, 3-” and he grinned widely while pausing before he finished with a heavy emphasis, “You are mercenaries.”
Stiffening, Sir Galen tried to speak, but no words came out and finally, he nodded heavily.
“You are mercenaries in need of gold, and I have gold. You need people to offer your services to, and I need people like you. So, what’s wrong with me hiring you?”
Stone faced, Sir Galen said nothing.
Then my brother dropped his voice and said, “All things aside, my sword will fight for your cause. One day, when your cause has been achieved, I will go and fight my own battles. But till then, treat the gold as a fart in the wind if you want, but in name - let me hire the Golden Blades.”
Mulling over his words, Sir Galen’s eyes suddenly sharpened as he saw the couch where Lord Antoninus had been sitting, and then he gazed at my brother before a smile broke across his face.
Hammering his chest, Sir Galen said, “Of course. The deal has been witnessed and agreed to in the name of Falka. After all, we are mercenaries.”
And then my brother and Sir Galen grinned at each other conspiratorially.