~ Chapter 56: Insanity at the court (Part 1) ~
[Alkelios' point of view]
Thus, I stood before the one named and respected as the strongest dragon in the Albeyater Kingdom, the King of Albeyater, Feryumstark Seyendraugher.
His presence was not one to be underestimated. Even now, I could feel he wasn't going to let me make any mistake. I was strong now, true, but he far surpassed me, yet now I stood in front of him threatening everything he held dear and with one single thought, I could eradicate everything he held dear and had fought for all of these past centuries.
Reality's truth was this one: nothing lasted forever. No matter how much we treasured certain things, they would inevitably come to an end. No matter how much we would desire something to remain the same, one day, it would change. Technology broke down or became obsolete. People died, moved away, or changed. Loyalties shifted over time, allowing for new wars or moments of peace to appear.
Nothing was certain. Nothing would last. But this... this change was absolutely perfect. This was what was wonderful about life and the Universe itself. Change was what made it move, what pushed it forward even when it appeared to be going back. Change was what created absolutely everything one held dear in the first place.
However, accepting change was not an easy thing to do, and precisely because of that, both I and Feryumstark understood that those who feared it would be the first to break down.
In this case, I brought the change with my inconceivable attack. I demanded things that undermined the authority of the King. I posed myself as someone... lunatic, unstable... human.
Thus, wouldn't it be logical for those few who had yet to reach a Breakthrough and cared for their lives to step up and try to save it? Wasn't it logical for the few nobles who hated or saw the current King as weak to try and stand by my side?
It was normal, natural, understandable...
But so far, nothing gave them a reason to do so... Nothing caused fear in their hearts enough to willingly break out of their own shell and jump on the ledge that appeared to be the most safe.
Thus, I spoke... trying to lure the rats out...
“Your Majesty, do you know who and what I am?” I asked as I tilted my head to the left.
“No.” he lied.
“GOOD! GOOD! I guess, you haven't heard of the name Alkelios Yatagai?” I asked.
“If I knew beforehand that a dangerous element like you existed in my kingdom, I would have done everything I could to stop you.” he declared.
This one probably wasn't a lie, but the underlying condition he didn't say out loud was the fact that I had to prove myself to be against his rule and evil with dragons.
“Well, your subjects had no reason to explain the appearance of a weakly little ol' human like me.” I made a small bow.
“Human?” one of the nobles let the word slip.
When I introduced myself, I declared I was a 'former human'. Those who knew the details of my Dragon Tamer understood immediately what this implied. This was why Seryanna was trying hard not to blush and look at me with a feverish gaze. Kataryna was wagging her tail like a dog ready to jump on a treat...
Please hold on, you two! I prayed in my mind.
Anyway, the common sense of this world dictated that it was absolutely IMPOSSIBLE for one to simple change his species just like that. No one encountered a Human Hero like me before, so they had not idea that our special skills allowed some of us to do just that. I had a feeling those with a similar ability for Elves, Relliars, Dwarfs, and whatnot were also granted the 'half-change' possibility at the fifth level.
But, as I mentioned before, this little piece of information was believed to be absolutely absurd by the majority of the people of this world. The minority was made out of only those few who interacted with the heroes intimately enough to find out about it and also believe it as a result of past actions.
“Is it bad that I'm a human?” I asked with a grin as I looked at the dragon.
He made big eyes and gulped “N-No... I d-didn't say that!” he shook his head, denying the thought, but something told me it was something else that surprised him.
“Ah! Speaking of my kind, the Queen was poisoned by one, wasn't she?” I said and with a smirk on my lips, I squinted my eyes at the King.
Immediately, a powerful killing intent was released from his body, putting pressure on all those in this room as well as sending shivers down their spines.
“Oh! How scawy! But cut it off, scaly!” I waved him off.
The King seemed to be reluctant, so I pointed up at the sphere I was holding above my head.
Immediately, the killing intent vanished.
The nobles gulped and began to whisper among themselves.
“Good... Guess, I should give out my demands, but first off, I want to know... Anyone here on the human side?” I asked.
I, a former human, wasn't on the human side anymore, but few knew this.
Those who looked at me now believed I was, therefore, a few individuals were starting to stir.
“I'm just going to put this as a reminder, but I can blow up this entire city in the blink of an eye, so do tell me... WHO among you is on the human side?” I asked with a grin.
“W-What do you plan to do if y-you find out?” someone on my left asked.
It was a skinny gray-scale dragon with a long white beard, draconic eyes, smooth horns growing backwards, but only his hands, feet, and tail were those of a lizard. He looked youngish? Maybe around 30 years old by my estimates and around 200 by draconic ones?
“I might NOT attack them.” I said.
I wasn't, but the King afterwards was certainly going to. I didn't say a lie, but my words didn't mean I was going to protect them either.
“I am!” a fat dragon in the back raised his hand and came forward.
“Marquise Belogna?” the King asked.
“I-I traded secretly with humans... I am on your side, human...” he gulped and tried hard to avoid the gaze of the other dragons and that of the King's.
“Good! Stand over there, at the back.” I pointed towards my left, at an empty spot in the room.
Kataryna was on that side, and the moment I looked into her eyes, she understood that she had to make sure not to let the rats out of her sight.
“I'm also on the human side!” said another dragon, a skinny green-scale wearing some rather expensive garbs.
“Viscount Draghun?” the King asked, but he was ignored again.
“Good! Anyone else?” I asked.
Shortly after, several more dragons raised their hands and were set apart from the other nobles, who were already starting to throw glares at them. The most frightening of them all being Elovius, the Prime Minister.
I guess he never suspected them to be traitors, huh? I thought.
“Those who declared themselves to have sided with humans, I will keep my word, I won't attack you.” I declared.
“Then you will let us go?” Draghun asked.
“Not yet, you need to give a report to your human allies of what's going to happen here.” I said and shook my head.
“But you will not harm us, right?” he asked.
“I will not.” I replied putting accent on the pronoun 'I'.
“If you want a contact with the humans, I have several.” said a dragon all of a sudden.
He was not part of the bunch set aside, but among those who remained.
“You? Duke Pallause? How could you!” King Feryumstark asked in a roar.
You did not see this coming, did you? I wondered.
“It's simple, your Majesty. This Kingdom is rotting. Ever since the Queen's nonsense about making peace with humans, things have went pretty bad for us. Not only have our armies weakened, but our trade suffered as well. Without restoring the Brekkar Army and returning Scar Battlefield to its former glory, you let it rot like that, denying the right to an incursion in retaliation to the human attack.” he declared.
“That doesn't sound very human-friendly like?” I pointed out tilting my head to the right.
“I have sided with the humans about 28 years ago. You may not know this, your Majesty, but the humans want war because it's profitable, however, because of your reluctance to strike back at them, dragon sympathizers have began to appear among their population. If matters are left as they are, the war might end, but we also need this war. The support we're offer from the other kingdoms, the way our trade works, the will of our entire Kingdom is based on this war. Albeyater was grown through war and remained stable with it! Incursions and invasions of our own are a MUST!” he declared pointing a finger up.
“So why side with humans?” I asked him.
“In order to remove the one who wishes for peace, the King and Queen.” he replied.
“What?” this time it was Elovius who asked surprised.
“With the two of them gone, the war is guaranteed. And it appears now is the long awaited moment. I believe the Emperor of Akutan sent you? Or was it the King of Ten Swords?” he questioned.
“It's a secret.” I smirked.
“I see... Very well, I will go stand over there while you deal with them.” he spoke calmly.
This red-scale dragon wearing a fancy robe embroidered with golden thread did not stood out from among the others from my point of view. He looked rather bland in my opinion, but his confident smug told me that he didn't mind betraying the King in the slightest. Actually, I had the feeling he was happy things turned out like this.
“Interesting...” I muttered.
Looking back at the King, I saw him barely keeping his anger in check. Of course, he knew that he could break our little play any time he desired because I never planned on truly unleashing this nuke on the city, but besides him and my friends, no one else knew this.
What I found strangely uncomfortable was the fact that Draejan had yet to move from his spot. He wasn't showing any emotion either. No, what he was doing was calmly analyzing this whole situation, almost as if he was aware of my little play.
Maybe I should bait him? I wondered as I looked through the remaining nobles, trying to avoid his gaze.
“I heard something interesting about a tea... and Ryumarry roots? The one who knows what I'm talking about step up.” I said.
The King froze in his spot.
The others were whispering.
Pallause squinted his eyes at me.
But so far, none of them reacted.
This is strange... Is he not here? I wondered.
After another moment passed, someone raised his hand.
It was a short, fat dragon who was sweating a lot. Besides a pair of short wings on his back and the slit eyes, there was nothing to point out at the fact that he wasn't human.
“Are you...” I said but stopped.
“Yes, I am Viscount Galbarion. I did as I was told and poisoned the Queen's herbal tea with Ryumarry root dust...” he declared as he wiped his sweat with a handkerchief.
When he met the King's furious gaze, he trembled in fear.
This dragon... he's terribly weak. I noticed.
“I see, good job, now stand over there next to Pallause.” I said pointing at them.
“T-Thank y-you...” he said mumbling.
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