~ Chapter 61: The wind of change ~
[Alkelios' point of view]
The wedding ceremony was amazing, and just by looking at the ring that now signified the fact that I was a married man made me feel like I was soaring through the sky. No longer was I a simple bachelor, I had a wife and a new family. I had finally took one of the biggest steps a man can take in his entire life... accept the fact that he loves so much a woman that he wants to stand right there beside her for the rest of his days.
While true that I would have wanted for my human family to be here as well, I had a feeling mother would have freaked out when she saw how my beautiful bride looked like. Leaving aside the fact that she was a bit taller than me, but she had wings, a tail, and scales... Not exactly normal for an average Romanian family.
After the ceremony inside the temple was over, we walked out the aisle while holding hands. Outside, we stopped in front of the carriage that was to take us to the party at the castle, and we both threw our bouquets of flowers to the crowd behind us. Of course, we didn't peek back to target someone, and we also made sure to put out the candle so we didn't accidentally start out a fire. Although, if one were to have started, I could already imagine the poor fellow getting drenched by several dragons who instinctively cast Water Spells.
My bouquet was caught by a young noble dragon with brown scales, while Seryanna's bouquet was caught by Kleo. She sort of cheated by having Kataryna throw her after it. Good thing she had wings, otherwise, her landing would have been worth a 10 out of 10 in a comedy show.
“Iolaus! You're not getting away this time!” she said while pointing the bouquet at the poor dragon, who could only sigh in defeat.
The carriage took us directly to the castle, where we were then guided by the maids to the garden where the party was to take place. This was the Queen's idea. She was the one who organized everything here, and I had to say that it looked incredible. You could clearly see that she had a professional touch in absolutely every single detail from the way the flowers were arranged on the tables, to the arrangement of seats, to the placement of decorations around the venue, and the type of food that was to be served. I was honestly impressed with all of it, and I for one wouldn't have been able to do even a tenth of what she accomplished in mere days.
At the party, we politely waited for everyone to arrive, since they all took their own way of transportation, Kataryna being the only one who flew over and grabbed the first bottle of wine she could see in order to quench her thirst. She was also the first one to congratulate us. A moment which went like this:
“I wish for both of you to be happy!” she said with big grin before her attention was caught by a wine bottle.
After everyone gathered and was seated, one of the main events of the party took place... the punching of the groom.
I stepped away from the tables and looked at Brekkar who was cracking his knuckles.
“Can't we just ignore this?” I asked with a wry smile.
“Nope! I've been waiting for this for a very very long time!” he said with a grin.
“I have a feeling my luck failed me here... What's so lucky about being punched in the face by one of the most famous generals in the kingdom?” I retorted.
“Well, you can consider yourself lucky because I'm not going to hold back!” he grinned.
“Again, how is that lucky?!” I retorted.
“It is for me!” he said he pulled his fist back.
“Don't hold back, grandfather!” Seryanna wished him.
“HEY! Aren't you supposed to be on my side?!” I retorted.
She merely poked her tongue out at me in reply.
“Here it comes!” warned Brekkar.
“YOU SHOULD HAVE HEEELD BAAACK!” I shouted as I flew through the sky.
“Sooo, anyone wants to bet on where he will land?” Kleo said with a smile as she took out a notebook.
This was the last thing I saw before I found myself spiraling through the air and landing in some tree outside of Drakaria. It did hurt a bit, and I flew right through a flock of birds, somehow ending up catching one, but I let it go after it squawked at me. The landing was rough, I broke a few branches on the way down and fell face first in the ground at the base of the tree, scaring off a nearby sleeping lone wolf.
When I got up, I looked up and rubbed my chin.
“That hurt...” I muttered.
Now came the time for the long trek back to the castle. We still had to cut the cake and probably give a speech or two.
When I reached the gates, the guards asked me where I hail from, and I replied with:
“I just got punched by Brekkar inside the castle and I landed in a tree outside of Drakaria, do I need to say more?” I asked.
“Ah, you must be the groom then. Yes, we received word from the castle about you, but please, can you tell us your name, just to check to make sure?” he asked.
“Alkelios Yatagai.” I mumbled.
“Well, not anymore, after General Brekkar Draketerus punched you, you will be known as Alkelios Yatagai Draketerus.” the other laughed.
I nodded while rubbing my chin, then I went inside.
This was the other meaning behind the punch. The groom was welcomed within the dragoness' family and earned the right to bare her family name. It was never the other way around, or at the very least no one told me of such a case where the dragoness was brought into the groom's family.
Also, these two guards were technically supposed to call me Duke Yatagai or Duke Draketerus now, but since I had been given the title this morning, it was highly likely that they had yet to be informed of this peculiar change. Being punched by Brekkar was a foreseeable event, but the title I was going to receive from the King and Queen of Albeyater were certainly not something anyone could know beforehand.
Either way, it didn't matter for me if they showed me a noble's respect or not. For now, I just wanted to get back to the castle and continue with the party.
When I arrived, everyone greeted me with a smile and welcomed me to the family. Brekkar regretted a bit that he wasn't able to knock me out with one punch, but despite what the tradition said, he already knew that I was going to take care of Seryanna and our family just like she would of me. The matriarchal principles in a draconian family made it quite difficult to put all the work on the man's shoulders. The so-called ideas of most humans back on Earth about being 'the man of the house' were all tossed out the window here. It was actually seen as an insult towards the dragoness if I were to claim such a thing.
The dragon doing everything in the house? Nonsense! We were a family, a married couple, both of us had our own roles and shared responsibilities!
For some reason though, I had a feeling we were both going to be attending the same cooking classes...
The party ended late at night, but instead of retreating within the comforts of Seryanna's room, Queen Elliessara ordered a guard to take us to our new home. It was a chamber designed to accommodate a Duke not just a Knight.
To be noted though, I was still a Duke in title only, so unlike many others who held the same title, I had neither a land to administer or an army to commend. King Feryumstark, however, warned me during the party that in time this was going to change. It didn't look good for the Albeyater Kingdom otherwise, but in regard to what land I was going to get, he hinted that I might end up administering Brekkar's old land if I managed to do something about the current situation there.
While there was no concept of a Honeymoon here, we were granted a month or so to simply go about enjoying our lives as a newlywed couple. At the same time, we were also waiting for a sign from the ambassadors sent to the other continents where I could find the missing ingredients for the Queen's cure.
[Feryumstark's point of view]
“So what you are saying is that Draejan Andrakaryus Doesya has fled from Drakaria?” I asked the dragon standing before me.
He was part of a group tasked with the mission of keeping an eye on Draejan, but apparently, he vanished ever since a month ago. I presumed he was hiding out of shame and didn't put much thought to it, but Brekkar asked me to look deeper into this sudden disappearance of his. This was the result: an empty house, an army with over half of its soldiers having vanished from right under my nose, two armories robbed clean of all armors and weapons, bribes and dragons tasked to lie and pretend like he was still around.
“That is the conclusion we have come to, there's no explanation yet on how, but we presume they might have used some camouflage spell during the night.” he said.
“For thousands of dragons?” I raised an eyebrow.
“I know, your Majesty. It sounds impossible, but so far... there is no actual proof of them having marched away... It would have otherwise been impossible not to notice so many dragons, supplies, weapons, and armors being moved over the plains. Unless... they can vanish into thin air?” replied the dragon.
“Hm... Let the lords of all lands known that Draejan Andrakaryus Doesya is hereby wanted for possible traitorous actions against Albeyater Kingdom! I want him and his accomplices to be brought ALIVE in front of me!” I ordered him using a loud and clear tone of voice that shook the dragon to his very core.
“Understood, your Majesty!” he bowed and then left quickly.
Inside this room there were only the Royal Guards and myself, so I let myself think of the matters at hand.
The most urgent and important one was of course the sudden disappearance of my grandson Draejan alongside countless armors and weapons from different armories as well as a big part of the Brekkar Army. There were enough dragons there to start a small rebellion if he wanted to, but this in itself would be rather foolish.
Unlike in the human countries where any man could raise a flag and go against those who ruled over him, in the dragon countries it would have been a foolish thing to do. The rebellion was declared won or lost the moment all the Breakthrough-ers in the said country decided on what side to stand. Depending on their cumulative power, they would quite literally be the decisive factors in this battle.
However, there was another element that needed to be taken in account when doing so. This was about who led the said rebellion. A dragoness would be trusted and accepted, but a dragon... not so much.
A proof of this fact was the former Dragon Kingdom Zerudan from which Kataryna Greorg hailed. This one's history was complex and filled with unpleasant decisions. It was one of the few patriarchal kingdoms at that time, but unlike present Albeyater or even a normal human kingdom, the way they treated the dragonesses and shared their power with them was... deplorable. The dragons held absolute control over everything, while a dragoness' job was only that to be pretty and win the right to become one of the many wives of a powerful dragon.
To declare that the dragonesses of Zerudan lacked the cunning and intelligence of the dragonesses of Albeyater was wrong. In that kingdom, these valuable traits were ignored or thought by the dragons as non-existing. As such, it was only natural that sooner or later internal discords would help bring down the might of that kingdom. As an interesting fact, it reached this state when a rebellion organized by a dragon had won and subsequently enforced his rule through the many powerful dragons he commanded.
I wanted to believe that my grandson wasn't so foolish as to believe he could succeed where the former zerudanians have failed. Yet, over the past month, I was brought proof after proof of his betrayal. Besides the many items stolen and dragons coerced into following him, there was the particular matter of what Alkelios has told me regarding the man he met within the Pertiko Dungeon.
A human who could teleport... who could vanish from one place and reappear in another. Sounds quite similar to what happened to these soldiers. I thought.
If Draejan had such a mind under his command, it would explain it, yet what I couldn't figure out, and on this one I hoped my wife would find a clue, was how exactly he planned on forming a rebellion to rise against my rule when he didn't have just as many Breakthrough-ers?
Although, I can't say I can call all of them at the same time either... The majority of them defend the borders, keeping the persistent humans at bay. I thought.
While my mind focused on this matter, the doors of my audience room opened wide and Kataryna Greorg entered. She stopped in front of my throne, but she didn't bother to bow to me. She accepted my rule, my orders, but for some reason known only by my wife, this Breakthrough-er dragoness refused to bow to me as it was customary.
“Your Majesty, a pleasure to see you alive and kicking!” she said with a grin.
“Indeed. A pleasure to be in your presence as well, lady Greorg.” I replied and squinted my eyes at her.
We were both staring daggers at one another, a harmless contest between the two of us.
I lost when I blinked...
“So, why have you called me?” she asked with a triumphant smirk.
Her tail was swaying left and right, pleased with the fact that she had won.
“Ahem. Yes. I wanted to discuss with you a matter of utmost importance. It's about Draejan.” I said.
“I'm listening.” her smile vanished and her tail stopped in its tracks.
“I have a reason to believe that he may have decided to go against the crown. Since you have lived in the former Zerudan, I can assumed you understand what a dragon-led rebellion might bring about if it succeeds.” I said.
“But he doesn't have the power to do so. Most of the Breakthrough-ers are on your side.” she pointed out.
“Yes, and I know that my grandson isn't an idiot, therefore, I can only assume that he may have some sort of means to balance it out.” I replied with a nod.
“Allies?” she asked.
“Precisely, yet at this point, I cannot point any fingers less I wish for a war.” I said.
“I can see how this delicate matter could lead to a war, but I do not see why you are telling me this and not Alkelios?” she asked and crossed her arms at her chest.
“The dragon is currently enjoying his time with his bride, and all of this is just a mere assumption for now. However, you are a Breakthrough-er and someone who chose to side with my daughter, Elleyzabelle. As such, I believe you are not one who would go and side with Draejan. In fact, if someone claimed this, I believe you would see it as an offense. Am I right?” I asked her.
“Yes, quite so.” she nodded.
“In light of this, I wanted to know if I can rely on you to thwart any foolish plans my grandson could be scheming. He has yet to make a move, but when he does, will you lend me your might?” I asked her.
“Hm... Only if at that time you will speak of this to Alkelios and Elleyzabelle as well.” she told me.
“Of course, you have my word. But as I said, this is merely an assumption. As such, I cannot make an official declaration, but I can suggest and inform a Breakthrough-er I trust of what I think about it.” I told her, and I knew she understood what I was implying.
“So what you are saying is that before you bother Alkelios with this matter, you wish to have more definitive proof?” she asked.
“Precisely.” I nodded.
“Very well, I'll think about it, and I will also tell Princess Elleyzabelle about this.” she nodded.
“Very well, you have my approval in doing so.” I nodded.
“When your Majesty finds a clue or needs to procure it, I will lend you a hand.” she said with a nod.
“Thank you. I appreciate your service, lady Greorg.” I told her.
“It sounds fun, so why not? Have a good day, your Majesty!” she smiled and then turned around to leave the room.
“A good day to you as well, lady Greorg.” I let out a sigh.
Normally, one would wait for me to declare that they are dismissed or that they may leave. Breakthrough-ers, however, didn't really bother with such formalities. This was why I emphasized more on forming a bond of trust rather than one of subordination. Informing Kataryna of this before anyone else would be the key to attaining her as an ally.
As for my grandson, Draejan, there was nothing left for me to do except to send out scouts throughout the kingdom in the hope of finding his whereabouts. Until he made the first move, I couldn't declare anything either. At most, I could declare that all of these missing soldiers were nothing but deserters and thieves, but even this was a bit tricky, since they could have also left on their own will, choosing another career. The fact that all of those armors and swords had been stolen by them or by one single thief that had no connection with them had yet to be proven.
So, until Draejan made a move or those items were tracked down, I had nothing else but an assumption. It would have been rather unwise of me to make an official declaration based on this, especially since there was still that small chance I could be wrong.
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!
Seeing how things have been a bit hard for me lately, I will try and focus around posting only at the end of the week, during a Friday or Saturday(ish). I'm going to try the weekly chapter dump version of the schedule to see if this fits me better.
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