~ Side Story: Iolaus' resolve ~
[Iolaus' point of view]
The day I finally saw Tomeron town stretching on the fields before me, I let a smile form on my lips. It had been a long and difficult journey for me, especially after I had quite being part of the Paladin troops stationed in Pertiko. No doubt they would come to hate me. If I were to fail in my quest here, I would have nowhere to go, nowhere to return... nowhere to hide. After all, I chose to fall in love with a black-scaled dragoness who were usually the target of persecution for the Paladins.
It was all in the name of Light, but after meeting Alkelios, my long buried doubts came forth and revealed themselves to me. Back then, in the dungeon, in front of a trembling, hurt, and crying Thraherkleyoseya, I chose to look once more at these doubts, and I was finally able to realize that killing her was never what I wanted...
If I had chosen to slay her there, I doubt I would have lived to tell the tale. True, I might have been seen with praise by my peers, but not long afterwards, I would have drown in regret... Because deep inside, I never hated her... I said I did. I acted like I did. I forced myself to believe I did, but the truth was that I never did hate her.
I couldn't because... I loved and was always going to love the black-scaled dragoness Thraherkleyoseya Draketerus.
Now, I found myself standing in the middle of the road and looking towards Tomeron. There was a peaceful, calming air surrounding it. There was no sense of danger or fear despite the fact that they were at an arm's length away from one of the most dangerous locations in this kingdom, the Seculiar Forest. If anything, I would think this little town was no different than one of those found in the safest parts of the Embryger Empire.
I enjoyed the view and contemplated my journey for a while before I decided to go and find Brekkar Draketerus, my fiance's grandfather. He was the target of my journey. I hoped to train under him and gain the strength I needed to protect my loved ones in the future, just as I had promised her.
One would say that the hard part had just begun because it was a well known fact that Brekkar was a stubborn dragon, but more so an unforgiving one when it came to the little family he had left.
Last time I saw my beloved Thraherkleyoseya was when I was still in Pertiko village, before I resigned my duty as a Paladin, so right now I had no rank, I was just Iolaus von Striggnyark, the wandering adventurer.
Of course, I still retained my nobility, but I didn't have the courage to let my family know of my current predicament. Besides, I had a promise to keep first. I had to become strong enough to protect my future wife from all the injustice and hate the world might throw at her for being a black scale.
My friend, Alkelios, made me realize that I had to stop running away and instead face my challenges head on. I had to fight for my lover no matter how difficult I thought it was going to be. Never give up and always push forward, that was going to be my new creed. I had him to thank for this.
As such, I couldn't just waste my time doing nothing, so as soon as I stepped into Tomeron, I asked around for directions towards the Draketerus Estate. The people here were kind with me and showed me the way.
It was around a few hours past noon when I found myself standing in front of the big manor. It was similar to a small palace given its design and architecture, but it appeared as though they were still in the middle of fixing it. There were still signs of the fire that nearly ate the whole thing two months ago. The town people told me about it, but I didn't know the exact details.
What they did tell me, however, was that the young man brought by Seryanna played a crucial role in destroying the nearby bandit group called The Twin Daggers. He also healed the local lord, Brekkar, so there were only positive rumors about him flying around.
Taking a deep breath, I stepped forward and knocked on the huge door. I struck the metal knock hard, letting it be known that someone was here, then I waited patiently.
Not long afterwards, a maid opened the door. She appeared to be quite young, but I felt like she hid away a terrible amount of strength behind her polite smile.
“Good day, may I help you?” she asked.
“Good day, my name is Iolaus von Striggnyark. I came to see Sir Brekkar Draketerus. May I request an audience?” I stood straight and held a hand at my chest as I said these words.
“Hm? One moment please.” she said and then closed the door.
I blinked surprised, but I waited patiently.
A quarter of an hour later, the door opened again, and I saw the old dragon Brekkar standing there, wiping his sweat with a clean towel. He was wearing a pair of light baggy pants and a shirt on top. His stern gaze was intimidating as always, and I could feel the pressure of his presence. Despite his age and former illness, this dragon retained the strength of character he forged throughout his life as a warrior and general.
“Good day, Sir Brekk... UGHO!”
Before I could finish my words, he punched me in the face, and it was lights out for me.
When I woke up, I was looking at the clear morning sky. The birds were chirping in the nearby trees, and a soft breeze brushed the grass around me. I blinked surprised and then got up. My cheek hurt a little, so I massaged it a bit.
“What happened?” I asked myself as I looked around to get a grip on my surroundings.
I was in the middle of a field behind the Draketerus manor. My bags, armor, and weapon were all gone. I panicked for a moment, but as I got up on my feet, I remembered the last moment before I was knocked out.
Sir Brekkar punched me...
“Those rumors were all a bunch of lies, he hasn't weakened at all!” I complained as I dusted off my clothes.
Currently, I wasn't wearing my paladin armor anymore but only a pair of baggy pants and a simple linen shirt. I couldn't help but wonder if I got robbed or something. It would have been a disgrace if that was so, but I was standing behind the Draketerus manor not in the middle of the forest or the road. I wasn't plundered by thieves.
“Was this Sir Brekkar's doing?” I wondered.
I walked up to the manor, and there I saw the former general standing straight with both hands on the hilt of his great sword, pushing its tip into the ground. Although years had passed since he last stepped on a battlefield and rumors of him being on his deathbed spread throughout the entire kingdom, he didn't appear to have lost his edge.
Just by standing in front of him and looking at his imposing self, I felt a pressure on my shoulders that threatened to knock me on my back. The difference in strength between us was simply immense. It was quite clear to me that if I were to enter in combat against this dragon, I was going to be turned into dust with only one swing of his sword.
Thus, I bowed.
“You are Iolaus, aren't you?” he asked me in a tone of voice that gave off a terrible killing intent.
“Yes, Sir Brekkar.” I replied like an obedient soldier.
“Why have you come here?” he asked.
My head was bowed, but I knew he was glaring at me.
How couldn't he be? After all, in my younger days, I cast off Thraherkleyoseya when I saw the difference in color between our scales.
“To train under you.” I replied.
“What for?” I he asked.
At the sound of him lifting up his sword and coming closer to me, I gulped.
“Tell me the reason and if I don't like it, I will kill you where you stand. In that outfit, I can not see you as a Paladin but a simple thief. If anyone were to ask, I just slew a thief who trespassed on my property.” he declared and then stopped at one step away from me.
I gulped again.
So this is why he knocked me out and took away all of my stuff... In this getup, anyone could easily mistake me for a thief or bandit. I thought.
“I wish to train under you because I want to become strong enough to protect the woman I love, your granddaughter, Thraherkleyoseya Draketerus!” I declared without hesitation.
The reply I received was a boot to my face.
He kicked me hard enough for me to get tossed back and roll several time on the grass. My lip was cut in my teeth, and I spat blood. My head was spinning, but I tried to get up. It was unsightly of me not to even try to do so.
“If you leave now, I'll spare you.” he told me.
Is he telling me to give up and run away? I thought.
I gulped, but I knew that I couldn't do this... I couldn't betray her again.
Going back to my kneeling position and bowing my head until my forehead touched the ground, I shouted “I came all the way from Pertiko to train under you! I wish to become strong enough to protect Thraherkleyoseya! I don't want to ever betray her again like I did in the past! I love her, and I wish to be there for her no matter what anyone else thinks! That's why I need to be strong! Strong enough to survive against all those who would hate us. Strong enough to protect her and stay by her side no matter what!”
My words were sincere, honest, and from the bottom of my heart. If this old dragon couldn't forgive me for what I did in the past, then my fate was sealed...
“Hmph!” he snorted and then cut the ground in front of me.
The slash was almost a palm deep, and it was so close, it nearly cut off my fingers.
After this, the old dragon turned around and left.
Maybe he didn't believe me...
Maybe he thought it was useless to train me because I was going to betray Thraherkleyoseya again..
I will never do that again to her... NEVER! I thought and refused to move from that spot.
With my head bowed to the ground, in front of the slash he made into the ground, I waited for him to return and give me a reply.
Sir Brekkar didn't come back even after several hours had went by... Evening came and he still didn't show up. The sky turned cloudy and soon enough, it started to rain, but I didn't budge from my spot.
It was cold, I was shivering, and both my muscles and joints were hurting so bad, I felt like crying, but I stubbornly refused to move.
Night came and I was still bowing on the muddy ground while rain washed over my back. I didn't even do a half-beast transformation to cover my body in white scales and spread my wings to protect my self of the rain. I was in my weakest form, kneeling on mud, bowing my head in the rain, all of this because I could not give up here... Not after I said those words to Thraherkleyoseya.
When morning came, I was at my limits. My whole body was shivering, and I couldn't even feel some parts of my body. I felt like was about to faint any moment now, but I still forced myself to stand there, bowing.
“Why do you want to train?” someone asked.
My head was a bit dizzy, so I didn't know if it was Brekkar or not.
“Because... I... I love Thraherkleyoseya Draketerus... I love her... from the bottom of my heart... I don't want to make her sad again... I don't want to make her cry... I want to stand by her side, to raise a family with her... I want to marry her...” I spoke a bit in a daze.
Although I said a lot, I couldn't remember even half of what I said.
Afterwards, there was silence again.
“What if I tell you that I don't wish to train you?”
This time, I was sure it was Brekkar.
“Then... I will train by myself... I will do whatever I can to reach a Breakthrough and return to her... No matter how long or how hard it's going to be...” I replied.
“Even if you die?” he asked.
“No, I will stay alive no matter what... If I die, then it will make her sad, and I don't want that...” I said.
A hand was placed on my shoulder and then I was lifted up. My whole body ached and all of my joints cracked from the sudden movement.
“If your resolve is this strong, then I won't push you away, but be prepared for a lot of pain!” Brekkar said as he smirked.
He was the one who pulled me up.
“Yes, Sir Brekkar...” I replied and made a small smile.
“Good! Now get some rest! We'll start training as soon as you wake up and have a good meal!” he laughed.
I didn't reply, but hearing this made me happy and like a candle's flame that was blown off, I blacked out.
Later that day, I woke up in one of the spare room. I was cleaned up of all the dirt and mud I had gathered, and someone even changed me into a pair spare clean clothes. It was most likely one of the maids who did this. Next to a wall, I saw my armor, weapon and the rest of my stuff, but what caught my attention was the letter placed on top of my bag.
With a groan escaping my lips, I walked up to it and picked it up.
It was from Thraherkleyoseya and addressed to me.
If you are reading this, it means that you safely arrived at my grandfather's house. Don't be afraid of that old geezer. He sounds and looks tough, but he's just a big softy inside! Buy him some sweets when you go to Tomeron or Andromeda, and you will certainly win his favor!
Please stay safe and be healthy, Iolaus. Don't do anything reckless or stupid like stand in the rain all day or something like that. Also, listen to everything my grandfather has to say and if you aren't sure about something, just ask him, especially if it's something about what you were thought in the Temple of Light. Although, I fear this may be asking a bit too much from you. I don't wish to intrude on your faith.
If you want to send me a letter just write one and give it to grandfather, he'll make sure it will reach me.
I love you, Iolaus, please stay safe and don't forget your promise.
Yours truly, Thraherkleyoseya Draketerus.
PS: I can't wait to (...)
I let out a sigh. The rest of her letter was just a big chunk of sexual delusions covering another two pages.
Although I knew from experience that she wasn't really into that stuff, this was so like her to exaggerate things almost to the extreme so she could then turn it into a prank or tease. Inside, she was an innocent prankster and a bit of a horny one...
“I wonder if I unleashed something I shouldn't have?” I said as I packed the letter nicely and then placed it in the drawer of the desk in this room.
Tomorrow I planned to write a letter back to her.
Still, this was it... the beginning of my training under Brekkar Draketerus, the one once called the Strongest General.
Note from the author: Thank you for reading this chapter, I hope you enjoyed it! Oh, and be sure to check out my other stories too!
Technically, this should have been the second Side Story, but as luck would have it, I was unable to finish the first one, and since this one is easier... well... better than no post, right?
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