~ Chapter 54: Let the games begin! ~
[Alkelios' point of view]
I arrived at the castle's gates while calmly munching down on my apple. Instead of seeing the usual two dragons, there were six here. All of them looked rather fierce and wore powerful-looking armors. As weapons, two of them carried spears and shields, while the others swords and shields. It was an interesting combination, but I would have added a pair of archers behind the gates as well. This way, the enemy would need to dodge arrows while making sure not to get poked by spears or get cut by the swords.
“G'morning!” I said with a cheerful expression on my face.
They replied with a glare.
“Stop right there! Who be you?” one asked.
“Be?” I blinked surprised when I heard the wrong verb used in his sentence.
“Who be you?” he asked again.
“I AM a human... or was. Sort of, I'm neither a human nor a dragon right now. But then again, can you really say who you really are when the mysteries of this universe had yet to be uncovered and the wonders of the gods still bless our world?” I quite honestly replied with a nonsensical thing.
“Huh? Human? In Drakaria?” he said and then looking at his friend, they all burst out into a loud laughter.
“Don't be joking around, whelp! Get away from here or else we'll poke ya good!” the one with the spear threatened me.
Hm, since when are the guards of the palace such morons? I wondered as I cast my gaze over all of them.
The ones from nine months ago were a bit more strict and careful both with the words they spoke and the way they acted, but these guys, on the other hand, were full of openings and reminded me of the moronic soldiers from the current Brekkar Army.
Is it possible that... Hm, I wonder? I thought and then I asked “Are you answering directly to that idiot Draejan?”
“Yes. Huh? Wait! Did you just call our boss an idiot?” one of them replied and noticed my 'uncanny' insult.
“We can't just let you off like that after insulting the duke's son.” another said as he unsheathed his sword.
They were all taking an aggressive stance, seemingly forgetting the fact that they were guards here who should not answer back to any type of insult or taunt.
“Morons...” I said and shook my head.
The one with the spear was the first to attack. I could see all of their movements in slow motion because I had the ability to react much faster than them. My speed wasn't something to laugh at.
Catching the spear with my left hand, I pulled and then pushed, dislodging it from his grip. With it, I swiped left and struck two of them, sending them rolling on the ground. The pole broke as a result, but I used the remaining tip as a projectile weapon to stab it in the other spear user's leg. I avoided the sword slash of another and parried with my gauntlet the one coming from the opposite direction. Kicking the ground, I jumped forward and tackled the unarmed dragon, who I slammed into the wall. Grabbing his shield, I then tossed it at the sword user on the left and ran towards the other on the right. My throw was very effective and knocked the daylights out of him. As for the last one standing, he saw me coming and tried to defend himself with the shield, but I punched it right in the middle. The strength behind my fit wasn't a joke, and he was sent flying into the street with his shield cracked in pieces.
“Weak...” I muttered.
Brushing the dust off my armor, I proceeded to enter the palace as though I was returning home from a long absence, at a calm and relaxed pace. Meanwhile, the witnesses of the earlier battle couldn't believe their eyes. It was normal. After all, by their standards the guards were strong, maybe close to Emperor Rank when compared to adventurers, but I had the power of a Breakthrough-er. It was a joke to even consider the possibility of them being able to land a punch on me, let alone defeat me.
As soon as I stepped through the gates, I was welcomed by a group of ten dragons who guarded the palace. The intruder alarm must have sounded off as a result of the commotion at the gate. Well, not like it mattered. Getting in after Draejan banned me was quite impossible unless I used stealth or brute force. I chose the latter because it was more fun and also more noisy.
“Good! More cannon fodder!” I said with a cheer as I cracked my knuckles.
The guards were approaching me with the intent to kill me on the spot, but that wasn't going to happen, was it?
With a grin, I dashed towards them and began my massacre. Of course, I made sure not to kill them, just break a few arms and legs, give them a good bruise to remember me by.
In regards to armor, although mine looked like a chainmail with hard leather padding, it was far more sturdy and powerful than it looked. Theirs, on the other hand, looked better than mine, but their enchants didn't even match mine. [Pony Power] had a joke of a name, but it was the equivalent of [Bartender] for alchemy, the ultimate crafting skill for that specific craft.
My entrance in the King's throne room was going to be GRAND!
[Feryumstark's point of view]
That day, while sitting on my throne, I watched the raptors dressed as fat noble dragons as they whispered among themselves about what was to happen to day. What sort of decree was I to give or whom was I supposed to call out before me? So many had gathered, so it was clear that I had an important announcement to make.
Some of these fools even believed I was here because my beloved wife had finally succumbed to effects of the poison in her system. Little did they know that this was far from it.
On the other hand, even my own children appeared to be anxious and worried. Elleyzabelle, no matter how much she tried to hide it, she could never hide away such things from her father's eyes. As for Elovius, he was as stiff as a dwarf ready to propose and as serious as an elf talking about the importance of a forest. Only these two were present today, the others had other matters to attend to.
Among the retainers brought by the nobles, I noticed several of them who made an impression during the last war. Among them, I also saw my daughter's knight, Seryanna. She had grown into a beautiful red scale dragoness and was among the few to show neither fear nor worry. By her side was Thraherkleyoseya, the always energetic prankster praised by my late son, Coshun, as being one with great potential for war and politics. Kataryna was curious and maybe a bit impatient, but that was how Breakthrough-ers were.
Elleyzabelle was the only one who brought all three of her retainers. Kataryna wasn't one who could be stopped, and I also wished to see both of Brekkar's grandchildren. Speaking of which, that old fool was standing to my left, right next to Elovius. He also brought a retainer, his young apprentice Iolaus. I never got the chance to talk with this old dragon ever since that day when he chose to depart for Tomeron, but if things went well today, I planned on inviting him over for a drink.
Looking to my right, I saw Draejan and his black-hooded follower, who stood in the far back, next to the guards. He wasn't one with noble status in this kingdom, a commoner at best, thus not allowed to get within a certain distance of me. The same went for everyone else who each was a retainer of one of the nobles here but they weren't nobles themselves.
No one was allowed within a three meters area around my throne except for those I called over. In front of me, the nobility was strategically placed in two sides to the left and right, while all retainers without noble rank were in the far back.
I ordered it to be so to both induce certain individuals into error and have a strong arm on both sides through Kataryna and Brekkar. Once the scum attempted to flee, I was going be quick to wring them up by the neck and crush them completely.
Still, a stranger would dare to ask: why were all these retainers here in the first place? Well, this was because a noble when summoned before me was allowed to bring only one with him. If by chance I were to execute them, the dragon they brought was supposed to bring back their soulless remains to their family and announce my decree. On the other hand, if I were to promote or congratulate them in any manner, they could order them to head back to their fief and announce this great honor.
Unfortunately, these days, most of them were brought merely as a clothes hanger or baggage handler. I sometimes felt pity for the poor chaps.
However, today was going to be neither a day of promotions or demotions. It was going to be a day of... culling.
“Your highness! We have an intruder!” a guard entered the room and announced.
Everyone immediately began to worry and looked around restlessly. Words of assassination and whatnot began to fly throughout the room.
“SILENCE!” I roared.
They made quiet once more and gulped while looking back at me.
“Your highness, we have to do something.” one of the more skinny nobles dared to ask.
I gave him a death stare, and he shrunk back.
“If any of you dare to move, I'll rip off your head myself.” I warned them as I closed my eyes and leaned back on my chair.
The weak ones gulped, while the strong ones tensed up. Kataryna was tying to withhold her laughter, so I ignored her. The only one among them who had a different reaction was Brekkar. He let out a sigh and shook his head. Even he didn't know why he was summoned here, but he knew better than to try question me.
Thus, we waited...
Not long afterwards, the doors flew open and two royal guards came flying through the air, falling on the floor and rolling a few times until they stopped. Groans of pain could be heard coming from them, and we all looked at the doors.
“Sorry! Sorry! Am I late for the party?” Alkelios asked with a bright smile as he stepped inside the audience room, dragging a groaning guard by the back of his neck.
The moment I saw him, I knew that he had changed. The air around him was different. The weakness inside him was gone. This man was not one to be trifled with, and my instincts told me he was dangerous.
He wasn't joking when he said he would return stronger than ever... But how powerful are you now, Alkelios? I thought and then allowed a small smirk to appear on my lips, but only for a fraction of a second.
Truth be told, I wanted to have a spar with him now... a bloody spar through which I could test out his limits.
“Who are you?! How dare you enter this chamber!” a noble shouted.
I believe he was a Marquise from the south.
“Hm? I'm Alkelios Yatagai, former human. Here, a present.” he introduced himself and then tossed the guard he was dragging at him.
“AAA!” the two dragons screamed before they collided and fell on the floor.
Brushing off his hands, he approached me through the crowd of nobles and retainers, uncaring who glared or who had their hands on their swords.
“Your highness, allow me to kill this pest. It seems he didn't learn his lesson the last time.” Draejan said as he reached for his sword.
“I thought I ordered all of you to shut up.” I tossed him a glare.
The dragon flinched and gulped.
Looking back at Alkelios, I watched him as he stopped at about five meters away from me. Only one jump was needed to reach me.
“Indeed, I do have some unfinished business with that idiot over there, but for now, I have more important matters to attend to. So, ladies and gentlemen, if I may have your attention please!” he shouted and made a spin on the spot.
The nobles who could not read his strength scoffed and took him for a fool soon to be dead. In our society, he committed several sins upon arriving here. Among all, breaking the promise in a duel was the worst of them all. But all of this was according to his plan as well... After all, I needed some conditions to be fulfilled in order to be able to both pardon him and have the more influential nobles in this kingdom accept it, and he had just the way to make it happen, but this whole thing had to be real... as real as it could get.
“You are all looking? Good!” he smiled and then turned towards me.
“What is the meaning of this... joke?” I asked with a growl.
“Oh, how scawy! Big dragon is going to bite me?” he laughed.
Insulting and mocking the top royalty in a country was an insane move, but it was all for the better. While nobles were spewing curses, Kataryna's tail was wagging in the air, revealing her excitement.
“This man is nuts! Someone behead him and take him out immediately!” a baron from the east called out.
“Hm? Really? But I haven't gotten to the good part yet, Kataryna will you let that happen?” he asked and then winked at the dragoness.
This was the first time in centuries that I saw this ice cold dragoness blush. I thought for a moment that I was seeing things.
“Huhuhu! If anyone dares to touch him, I'll skewer him!” she growled.
Looking around, I saw that Brekkar was smiling up to his ears, Iolaus was sighing and shaking his head as if he saw something impossible again, Seryanna was smiling with her cheeks turned pink, and Kleo was grinning.
They knew this was part of this comeback, but not all of us knew the play, especially Kataryna.
“Thank you!” Alkelios said.
He turned around and looked me straight in the eyes.
“Now then! I believe we have something to talk about! But first, let me take a selfie!” he grinned.
“A what?” several of us asked.
The black hooded man brought by Draejan was the only one to react by raising his head. I took notice of this.
“Sigh, never mind. The joke is too new for any of you to get, but anyway, as I was saying. Before we begin to talk, I want to make sure that your highness won't do something stupid.” he said.
“Hm. Who knows?” I shrugged.
“Good! Here's my 'guarantee not to be attacked' card!” Alkelios said and raised his hand up “[Itsy Bitsy BOOM!]”
Above his hand, a big red, magma-like sphere appeared. It was three meters in diameter and even sent ME the shivers. That thing was without a doubt... dangerous.
I thought he was joking when he told me how powerful this attack is... I thought.
“Now, I have yet to launch this attack, but it can easily wipe out this entire city and poison off the entire area making everything unable to live here for several centuries. You can't see the poison. You can't detect it with your knowledge. You can't do anything about it. It will slowly kill you. It will horribly mutate your future offspring if you get hit by it and survive. This is not a joke. This is not a drill. Brekkar and Kataryna here can confirm for you, your majesty, if I'm joking or not.” he told us.
I already knew he wasn't. I knew this was real. Even I let out a gulp when I saw it.
“He's telling the truth... a frightening cold truth...” Kataryna said with a smirk.
“Indeed.” Brekkar nodded and crossed his arms at his chest.
At this point, this couldn't be see as anything less than a direct attack on the royalty. Even if he backed down now, I would be forced to send out the entire army after him and kill him off. I guess this was why Draejan was smirking... He was foreseeing this outcome. Fortunately, he didn't have all the puzzle pieces he required to make a true prediction. Just like all the other nobles here, he believed Alkelios was just a madman with no chance of escaping or surviving after this stunt.
“Now, I'm going to tell what you can't do. First of all, if you attack me physically, magically, or with mental spells and abilities, I will detonate this spell. If you annoy me, I will detonate this spell. If you try to act smart or self-important, I will detonate this spell. If you try to lie to me, I will detonate this spell. If you try to kill me or do manage to kill me, this spell with automatically detonate. If you try to encase this spell in a shield bubble, it will detonate before you can do that. If you try to cancel or disrupt this spell, it will detonate. If it does, everyone in this castle and its immediate surroundings will be turned to dust, quite literally. Did I make myself understood?” Alkelios asked as he squinted his eyes at me.
I nodded. “Yes. I hereby order all those present here not to raise a single finger against this man... for now.”
I'm sad to say it, but this display of brute power and mercilessness is the best way to get through to the stuck up noble idiots who are often way too eager to lie, cheat, or take advantage of one another. Sometimes, to gain respect, you had to punch them in the face until they gave it to you. Only then could they acknowledge you and not dare act stupid. I thought as I remembered how in my younger days, I used to do similar reckless things...
It was unfortunate that we couldn't settle thing with words, but there were too many idiots around the throne, and too many who refused to acknowledge it. Years of neglecting the crown would do that to any king or emperor no matter how mighty he once was.
On the bright side of things, once this was over, the neighboring countries would have something extra to worry about besides my non-existing weakness.
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