~ Chapter 95: The Dwarf Emperor (Part 3) ~
Just as Kita'Milla'Nei said, a Royal Soldier was here to welcome us to the capital. He was wearing a red and black scale armor with a big spear in his right hand. A red cloth tail was tied with a red string from the tip of the spear, letting it fly in the wind.
The arrival of a foreign royal in one's country was usually something that was thought to be an urgent matter his Majesty had to be informed of right away. The fact that we were welcomed to his capital without having swords and spells aimed at our necks was a good sign.
Our carriage obediently followed the Royal Soldiers until we reached the gates of the Mush Palace. On our way, I was able to spot numerous humans who walked on the streets without any fear. The dwarfs appeared to have become used to them and they already integrated themselves quite nicely to the living conditions around these parts. What was surprising to see was the fact that they adopted the dwarf fashion rather than impose their own styles.
Unlike Osza Town and Tesva City, Exaver was far bigger and was filled with countless two-story and three-story buildings, which were made out of hard stone enchanted to survive the elements. The streets were paved, and there was even a form of a simple sewer system where all the dirt was washed away. Countless soldiers patrolled the streets, but the dwarfs living here didn't seem to mind them.
Between the houses were stone and wooden totems that rose up in the sky at almost half the height of the building next to them. They were everywhere.
The only building that stood out among all of these houses were the Emperor's Palace. It was built in the form of a pyramid with sides in the shape of stairs. From the distance, I could see several guards patrolling each step of the pyramid, while the towers that acted as primary defense for the palace were used by spotters, archers, and long range magic casters.
Despite the dangerous and intimidating feel it tried to give off, we didn't really feel like it was that impressive. Without any sort of anti-air defenses, this place was an easy target for us dragons, but for humans not so much.
Upon arriving at the Mush Palace, the Royal Soldier returned to his post and another dwarf wearing a similar armor presented himself in front of us. He had a thick beard and a golden belt instead of a red one like the previous soldier did.
“The name's Klor'Mangu'Var. I'm one of his Majesty's Royal Guards. I'm here to escort you to the audience room. You may leave your carriages here as a servant will take care of them, and fear not, none shall look into your belongings!” he nodded once and then waited for us to get out of the carriage.
The first one to step out was Kataryna. As if the cold weather listened to her every command, the gusts of winds stopped blowing and the snow stopped falling. Her imposing gaze made the small dwarf flinch.
“I sense no danger, your Majesty.” she told him.
Klor'Mangu'Var gulped and then looked past her at the door.
Princess Elleyzabelle stepped out and gazed upon the dwarf with her powerful authoritative gaze. With every movement she made, she revealed an elegance befitting someone of royal blood, while the pressure around her told those who felt it that she was a powerful dragoness.
The last ones to step out were me and Kita'Milla'Nei. Although I didn't intend for my entrance to be as flashy as Kataryna's, I did let out a strong enough pressure to let them know that I too was a powerful dragoness with whom they should not try to mess around.
While Kataryna stood on the Princess' left side, I stood on her right side, and behind us were our knights. In front of us were the two dwarfs tasked with introducing us to his Majesty Mush'Nomv'Azer.
“Shall we?” Princess Elleyzabelle asked as she showed them a gentle smile.
“Of course. This way. I hope you will find it in your heart to excuse the workers present here. During our last battle, the Mush Palace was heavily damaged, near the brink of collapse actually.” the dwarf guard told us.
“Is that so? It is good that the current Emperor was successful in bringing justice to this land then.” she said.
“Indeed! The previous ruler was a monster who now was written off our history books and remained only as an anonymous evil ruler.” he replied, showing in the tone of his voice the disgust he had towards that dwarf.
“We will try to be mindful around the subject then.”
“Please do.” he nodded and then proceeded to guide us through the courtyard.
Now that we went past the Mush Palace' gates, we could see countless workers chained up and working on moving debris out of the way or piecing back the crumbled parts of the wall. All of these were signs of a recent battle where individuals with high Power Numbers fought against each other, the rebels and the loyalists.
“Don't mind the workers around these parts, they are all stinking rats who bowed their heads to the previous ruler. None of them had any problems raising their swords against the innocents...” said Klor'Mangu'Var.
“Are they the previous rulers' loyal soldiers?” Princess Elleyzabelle asked.
“Not only soldiers, but servants, unnamed ones, former officials and even entire tribes who sided with him.” he told us.
The front entrance to the Mush Palace was still in the middle of reconstruction. Only the hinges remained of the former one, and they were struggling to fill a bunch of holes left in the ground of the courtyard by powerful explosions. Wherever I looked, there were dwarfs and humans who wore rags and worked tirelessly on the reconstructions. Vigilant guards were looking over them, making sure they didn't slack off or flee from the site.
Be them guards or slaves, there was not one of them who could compare to me or Kataryna in terms of strength, but even so, I never lowered my guard.
When we were just about to reach the palace's door, I felt a surge of killing intent aimed at me. I moved my hand to the hilt of my sword and then slashed at the enemy. The event took place in a split second, but the next thing I knew was that a body fell on the ground, cut in half at the waist.
“Kuh... How? I... I can't die... like this...” the human said as he tried to reach up to me, but I stepped back.
He was one of the slaves. Desperation could be written in his eyes as he still tried to reach out to me, but a moment later his head was split in half by Klor'Mangu'Var's sword.
“Bloody parasite! It's a good thing he didn't touch your armor, Madame.” he said as he placed a foot on the man's shoulder and then pulled his sword out of his skull.
The dead body fell on the ground as the pool of blood grew bigger.
“What do you mean?” I asked as I sheathed my sword.
“This bastard had a skill that allowed him to steal the enchants of any armor he touched making them no different than a useless piece of metal. The absorbed power allowed him to increase in strength for a short period of time, but then it would return to the said armors. We lost some good dwarfs because of him. Ptew!” he spat on his body.
I looked at the human's remains and thought If he had touched my armor, which has Alkelios' enchants on it, he could have grown strong enough to escape this place.
Although such a predicament would have been unpleasant, I was certain that Kataryna could have handled him in my stead.
“What about the woman over there?” Princess Elleyzabelle asked.
“That one? She had the ability to charm all those who gazed into her eyes. She used her power to amass a great fortune and cause countless conflicts among the dwarfs. When she caught the attention of the former ruler, she was sent to charm various tribe leaders into siding with him. One day she crossed paths with the Emperor's wife, and she cut her eyes with a dagger. Ever since then, she's been serving as one of our captives.” he replied.
“Will she ever be released?” I asked.
“Her? Who knows? It all depends on the Emperor's will now.” he shrugged and then turned around “Let us proceed, his Majesty's waiting for us.”
We followed him inside the palace, where renovations and repairs were still taking place. They were repainting and rebuilding almost every part of the palace as though they wanted to simply erase any trace of the old ruler. The only paintings left on the walls were those of landscapes or abstract representations of the gods, everything else had been taken down.
“Two months have passed and they are still working on the Palace?” Kataryna asked.
“The Palace, Madame, was among the last things the Emperor ordered to be rebuilt. All efforts were first focused on repairing the city's outer walls, the destroyed houses, and the various public places needed by the dwarfs living here.” Klor'Mangu'Var replied.
“Hm~ Is that so?”
“We're here. Behind these doors is the audience room where you will find his Majesty, Emperor Mush'Nomv'Azer!” he declared as he moved to the side.
The hallway we were led through ended at two big doors decorated with gold and silver showcasing what I could only guess to be the ancient dwarf Trindania. Kataryna stepped forward and pushed the doors open.
“Now enter the guests of his Majesty, Emperor Mush'Nomv'Azer! Princess Elleyzabelle Sojourn Seyendraugher! Duchess Seryanna Draketerus! Royal Knight Kataryna Greorg! Knight Amarondi Shellar! Knight Quran Van! Knight Attrakus! And Knight Tanarotte Narnyesall!” the dwarf on our right shouted as loud as he could making all of us cringe.
“Was there any need to shout like that?” Kataryna said with a grumble as she rubbed her right ear.
Princess Elleyzabelle took a step forward and led our group in front of the one dwarf who stood on the throne.
This chamber had no windows through which light could pass through, but there were countless crystals which emitted a pale white light glued to the ceiling. A red carpet was spread at our feet all the way to the throne, ending just short of three meters from it. To the left and right side of it, six columns formed two rows, and among them I could see a lot of dwarfs of different builds and appearances, from skinny and weak-looking to big and intimidating.
There weren't that many dwarf women among them, and the one standing behind the throne appeared to be a half-dwarf if height was the judge. Among the Royal Guards here was also a blonde human woman with blue eyes, and all the way in the back, next to the back exit was a black-skinned human woman.
The reason I could see all the way over there was because the dwarfs here were quite small when compared to the average-height dragon. In our half-beast forms were were comparable to giants. This palace was certainly built with the intent of welcoming tall foreigners as well because we had no problems fitting through the large frames of the doors. The majority of the houses we saw so far, just like the inns, forced us to bend down a little in order to fit inside.
Once Princess Elleyzabelle reached the end of the red carpet, she made a polite bow and all of us followed suit.
“It's a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Emperor Mush'Nomv'Azer.”
“The pleasure is mine, guests from the faraway Dragon Continent! I hope your visit on this humble Dwarf Continent is one of good will?” the Emperor replied as he got off the throne.
He wore an armor of thick metal plates colored black and gold. The Magic Energy emitted by his enchants was impressive but far weaker than those on my own armor. Next to the throne, his battleaxe rested, waiting to be wielded in his grip. The light in the room was reflected by the sharp edge, and the handle was covered with thick leather straps. The dwarf had a mighty grip judging from the thickness of his gauntlet and gave off an imposing presence fit for one in his position. The dark-brown beard and thick hair were marks of his youth, yet the gaze in his green eyes held the wisdom of a veteran warrior.
So he is the Emperor of the Dwarfs? I thought, yet when I imagined Alkelios standing in front of him, opening his wings and letting out the pressure of his Authority, I could only see this little dwarf cowering in fear before him.
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!
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