~ Chapter 44: Draconian Politics (Part 1) ~
[Alkelios' point of view]
I wasn't able to sleep properly that night. I turned and twisted in my bed, while I kept thinking about that soldier's words and my upcoming visit to the palace. What was to come? Who was I going to meet? What was I going to say? How should I act? What was I going to do if...?
It wasn't excitement or anticipation what I felt... but fear.
After all, I was a human and they were dragons. I was weak and they were strong. Without them, I was even weaker. Without them, I would die, yet together with them, my life would be under constant threat. I was a human and different, so they sought to eliminate me. I was weak and different, so it was natural for them to try and attack those like me.
Such thoughts and worries flew through my mind and heart like annoying mosquitoes on a hot summer day, tormenting me throughout the entire night, all twelve hours of it. I was beginning to hate the fact that one day on this planet meant 32 hours back on Earth. Overall, even the year was longer, but then again... this was a different planet.
Waking up in the morning was a cruel and agonizing process for me, who had not slept all too well last night. I squinted my eyes at the ceiling for several minutes, then I rolled to the side and dropped out of bed. The hard wooden floor was welcoming enough to make me try to catch a few more minutes of Zs, but I was well aware that I wasn't going to close my eyes that easily.
With a curse escaping my lips, I got up and walked over to the bucket filled with water. I washed my face several times, and dried off with a towel. Three yawns later, I decided I was too tired to function normally in a world filled with dragons, so I decided to gulp down a healing potion and a Rotiqus one in order to regain some of my strength. My mind though was still in a haze. It kept going back and forth between what could happen that day once I reached the palace.
To put in a few words: I was afraid.
This was the conclusion I reached after a night of turmoil. I was afraid... of dragons, but not of those who had become my friends. Actually, I felt like that was the only way to keep them from killing me.
I knew I was probably exaggerating because I had more than enough strength to defend myself from the majority of dragons trying to attack me, but this didn't keep me from thinking about those against whom I couldn't.
It was messed up, I knew that... but what could I do about it?
Giving up on trying to find the cause of my fears and solve it, I headed down to the tavern and picked an empty table by the window. It was here where I waited for Kataryna and Kleo, and as I had expected... I wasn't afraid of them. On the contrary, I felt safe around them.
After we had a small breakfast, we left the inn.
Several minutes later, we were sitting in front of the gates of the outer wall of the Royal Palace, and we were all taking turns yawning.
“Are you three here because of a summon?” one of the guards there asked us with a raised eyebrow.
“Yes. My name is Alkelios.” I replied.
“Is that so? Give me one moment.” he said and then went inside to check the ledger.
After about two minutes or so, he walked out and returned to his post.
“Well?” I asked.
“A guard was sent to let Sir Seryanna know of your arrival. You will wait here for her.” he said.
I blinked surprised.
I thought we were being summoned by that Draejan fellow not her. What's going on? I wondered.
“Let's wait then.” Kataryna said after she let out another yawn.
I shrugged and tried to find something to do while I let the time pass.
About twenty minutes later, the redhead dragoness finally arrived at the gate.
“Open the gates and let them pass.” she ordered.
“Yes, Sir Seryanna!” they all saluted and did as ordered.
After we entered, the dragoness greeted all of us with a hug.
“I apologize for this unusual summon, my friends.” she told us.
“No need to worry about it, but why was the one who called for us that Draejan fellow?” I asked curiously.
Seryanna looked away for a moment, but she didn't reply.
“Follow me, Princess Elleyzabelle has requested to meet you.” she said.
I blinked and then looked back at Kataryna and Kleo, who simply shrugged. They too didn't know what this was about either. On the other hand, I wished in my mind that this meeting would go well, or that at the end of the day, I was still alive and not locked up in a cell awaiting my execution.
As we followed Seryanna, I looked around the Palace. It reminded me a lot of the buildings I saw in games and High Fantasy movies. Every stone, column, and even the hedges in the garden seemed to point out that this was a place of great elegance and refinement. Just by following the redhead dragoness through this place, I felt the need to pull my stomach and push out my chest, to stand straight and appear more dignified than I did before.
The number of guards patrolling this place gave off a certain sense of security but also danger. If anything happened, it wouldn't have been funny. Escaping this place alive was a feat no ordinary man could achieve, yet thanks to all those stealth games I played, I found a surprisingly amount of holes in their security. A lack of security cameras was the main reason for this, but there was also the way the guards themselves patrolled. While it looked intimidating, a skilled assassin could even walk behind them without being detected.
“Is it just me or you could actually infiltrate this place quite easily?” I asked as I looked around.
“The Royal Palace of Drakaria has one of the tightest securities in the Albeyater Kingdom. I do not believe it's that easy to infiltrate this place.” Seryanna replied.
“I could always bust through the front gates.” Kataryna snorted.
“I would just use my shadows to hide myself. Give me any night of the year, and I can even go as far as the King and Queen's chambers! Kyahaha!” Kleo bragged.
“I would refrain from making such statements within the Royal Palace, they could be taken the wrong way.” Kataryna warned us in a serious tone of voice.
After we passed through the big garden in front of the Palace, we finally arrived at the entrance. While this place was quite huge, I had a feeling the Parliament Palace back in Bucharest was far bigger than this.
The two dragon guards at the entrance saluted Seryanna and let us pass through the doors. Once inside, I found myself once again at a loss of words for the beauty and detail put into making this place. The exquisite paintings hung on the walls, the tapestry, the spiral columns with carved drawings of dragons at the bottom and top of them, the carpet that led to an arched staircase, the elegant chandeliers hanging from the ceiling by a golden chain, all of these made me gasp in awe.
“You'll catch a fly like that.” Kleo giggled.
“Yeah... I was just... This place is... wow.” I said dumbfounded.
“It is one of the many palaces our kingdom prides itself with. It is said that over 1000 dragons worked tirelessly to build it.” Seryanna said.
“Amazing...” I said.
At the end of the carpet, right between the pair of staircases, I saw two big golden doors with two carvings of European fire-breathing dragons on it.
Curious about it, I asked “What's in there?”
“That would be the throne room where his Majesty would usually greet his guests or hold auditions.” Seryanna replied.
“The throne room? Hm, but why 'would usually'? Something happened to it? Are they doing repairs?” I asked.
“Ah, no... His Majesty currently has some circumstances and lately hasn't appeared in public that often...” Seryanna replied and looked down at the floor with a sad gaze in her eyes.
We climbed the stairs to the right and just as we reached the top, we encountered a dragon who wore a long regal-blue robe embroidered with gold and rose-red thread. He had long brown hair, going past his shoulders, and wore a serious expression on his face. As a dragon, his tail was hidden underneath the robe, and his wings were average size and covered with brown and gold scales.
“Good morning, Prime Minister Elovius.” Seryanna said and made a quarter bow in front of him.
We followed suit and bowed our heads, except for Kataryna, who raised an eyebrow at him.
“Good morning, Sir Seryanna. I see you have brought some peculiar guests within the Palace. On whose summon may I ask?” he looked at us with his chin up.
“Sir Draejan Andrakaryus Doesya summoned them, but the Third Princess Elleyzabelle Sojourn Seyendraugher wishes to see them first.” she replied obediently.
“I see. My sister has, hm?” he then squinted his eyes as he looked at me.
What's up with this fellow? I wondered and gulped.
“I'm surprised that you would bring a... human inside the Royal Palace, Sir Seryanna.” Elovius said, showing clearly how disgusted he was of my species.
I gulped and could only wonder what gave me away.
“He has received an official summon, and I can assure you that...” Seryanna tried to explain, but he raised his hand, stopping her.
“I don't care about such things, Royal Knight, but you should know very well what shame just being around his kind could bring to the Third Princess, not to mention your own reputation. I say this out of concern, but you should have this sheep tossed out of the capital before he shows his true colors and bites the tip of your tail off.” he spoke in a very cold tone of voice.
“I understand, your excellence.” Seryanna gulped.
“I wonder if you do... Need I remind you the pain and suffering his kind have brought upon the Royal Family? You of all people should know best what they are capable of, Sir Seryanna. Your family suffered the most because of them and now faces the possibility of being no more. Or have you forgotten the tears you yourself shed on your parents graves?” he asked coldly.
“No, your excellence... but I do believe that not all humans are like that.” she barely spoke those last few words, but it was clear that she was shaken by both the presence of this dragon and his merciless statements.
Meanwhile, I had no idea what to say. All I knew was that Albeyater, like all the other Dragon Kingdoms, was at war with the humans, and that some time ago Brekkar was in a battle that nearly cost his life. However, the old dragon was now alive and cured. As for her parents, all I knew was that they weren't alive anymore, but did their death have anything to do with the war?
“I pray that you thought this through, Sir Seryanna. Unlike me, his Majesty may not take this... intrusion lightly. Good day.” he said and then passed by us.
We all remained in a bowing position for a few more seconds and then continued on our way. Still, the things this dragon spoke about made me a bit worried. It appeared as though Seryanna's past wasn't as simple as I initially thought it would be.
I wonder what it means for her to have fallen in love with me? What sort of feelings did she struggled with? I thought as I looked at her back as she led us through the hallway.
Neither Kataryna or Kleo said anything else anymore. We calmly followed her and hoped no other dragon was going to stand in our way. At the same time, I prayed I wasn't going to meet with the King today because I very much wanted to stay alive, not become a blood splatter on these exquisite walls.
Stopping in front of a black-wood door, Seryanna knocked three times and announced her arrival.
“Your Royal Knight, Seryanna Draketerus, has brought the ones you summoned, your highness.”
“Enter.” the voice of a woman came from the other side.
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