~ Chapter 96: The Nundaba Ritual (Part 1) ~
[Two years and three dragon months ago]
[Seryanna's point of view]
The Audience Room of the Emperor was supposed to be imposing, and the noble dwarfs who had gathered here to watch over this ceremony were supposed to be intimidating. The Royal Guards gave off a strength that should have frightened a simple peasant, and the stare of the Emperor himself was piercing and filled with a heavy pressure that could silence even a rowdy noble.
In such a place, I was supposed to feel humble, maybe even frightened, but there was no such thing. I, for one, felt no different than simply walking into a crowded bar. There were a few gazes which hinted of danger, but nothing I couldn't handle.
Compared to King Feryumstark, this dwarf's authority feels weak, and Queen Elliessara's presence feels far more intimidating than any of theirs. I thought as I looked from the corner of the eye at the nobles around us.
“Our presence on your lands is one of good will, your Majesty.” Princess Elleyzabelle said as she showed him an elegant smile.
“Hmph! So said many before you!” Emperor Mush'Nomv'Azer declared.
“Pardon my rudeness, your Majesty, but the dragons of Albeyater are not here to speak on their behalf.” she declared with the same polite and respectful tone in her voice.
“And where be yer men? I see only women before me!” he said and raised his chin up.
“Your Majesty, it may have been a long time since a dragon last stepped on your lands, so allow me to remind you that on the Dragon Continent, we, the dragonesses rule the countries, and the dragons defend them. However, this does not mean that we disregard a male's ability to rule. Evidence of this is the very Prime Minister of the Albeyater Kingdom, my respectful older brother Elovius Seyendraugher.” Princess Elleyzabelle explained with a smile on her lips which didn't betray her ability as an ambassador of our country.
What she could do with an almost natural ease, I found it difficult to imitate. To smile like she did and to allow my voice to hide my true feelings was almost impossible for me. When I got irritated, it was clear for all those around me. When I was in a good mood, it showed on my face, and so did when I was in a bad mood. For the most part, I tried to act stoic, but if my face didn't betray me, then my tail did.
On the other hand, despite her rather young age from a dragon's point of view, Princess Elleyzabelle displayed a mannerism which reflected not only her status but also her deep understanding of political matters.
Compared to her mother, there were still a lot of things she had yet to learn and even when picturing the two standing side by side, it was the Queen who would always captivate your attention. Still, if at such an age, Princess Elleyzabelle could present herself so well in front of the ruler of a foreign country, then there were only great things to expect from her in the future.
As her knights, both me and Kataryna remained on guard of our surroundings. We were to act like emotionless statues who could cut down our foes the moment we sensed killing intent aimed at our master.
“So the men are those who wield the swords and the women handle the paperwork. Then am I to assume you came here unguarded?” the Emperor showed her a smug smile.
We're being looked down upon. I thought.
“Of course not, your Majesty. These two are my proud Knights, and each one of them has the power to fight off against an entire army.” she said and then, with a gentle wave her hand, she pointed at me “May I introduce you to Duchess Seryanna Draketerus. Her husband is Duke Alkelios Yatagai Draketerus. She is a dragoness of my beautiful Albeyater Kingdom. In the last war, she managed to defeat by herself one of the powerful Breakthrough dragons of our enemy.” whispers began to spread among the crowd of nobles. Ignoring them, the Princess then moved her hand towards Kataryna with the same gentle flowing motion “May I introduce you to Kataryna Greorg, a Royal Knight and a powerful dragoness who fought and prevailed against multiple Breakthrough dragons.”
“I do not understand. How powerful is a Breakthrough-er. Explain.” his Majesty demanded.
“It is someone who has a Power Number over 1000. Humans often call them Awakened or Ascendants. I read in some books that at one time they were called Blessed or Evolved.”
“Hm... I see. So they are mighty, you say. Do you believe that by coming forth with these two our nation will just bow its head to unfavorable demands?” he questioned as his gaze turned strict and piercing.
“Of course not, your Majesty. Their duty is only to act as my guards on this journey. If you or anyone else intends to bring me harm, they will act accordingly. Nonetheless, our intention here is not to turn the Trindania Empire into our enemy but into an ally.” she explained without showing any signs of feeling pressured or intimidated.
Emperor Mush'Nomv'Azer leaned back on his throne and closed his eyes for a moment. He appeared to be deep in thought as wrinkles formed on his forehead. Meanwhile, the nobles were whispering among themselves, and their opinions varied from simple curiosity to downright disapproval of our presence within these walls.
No matter what was whispered in the background, we remained silent and waited patiently for his Majesty to continue the conversation. This dwarf, however, was no fool and even I could tell that these negotiations would be quite difficult to reach a favourable end. We were offering something the Emperor had promised to his people, a connection with the outside world, but he also had to heed the words of the nobles who helped him take the crown.
With our presence on the Trindania Continent, things were probably moving faster than he had initially anticipated.
When Emperor Mush'Nomv'Azer oppened his eyes, he looked straight at us. There was an unwavering determination shown on his face, and a wave of authority released from his presence.
“While I see your presence within my Empire as a favorable one, as an opportunity for our future, we dwarfs are still grounded in our traditions. When it came for me to accept the human heroes as part of my people, I did so without batting an eye for their help in my ascendance to the throne was clear for anyone to see. The dragons, however, have never been welcomed to step on our lands. Our trade is minimal at best, and there had been many instances of outcasts being smuggled on your ships and taken out of the Empire. As for the last Royal to step within these halls, that was a Relliar King over 200 years ago. He came with a request of war, which the King at that time rejected.”
“I understand, your Majesty. Then what can we do to earn the acceptance of the Trindania Empire?” Princess Elleyzabelle asked.
“My acceptance? Nothing. However, most of the nobles here don't see you with favorable eyes. Their subjects will no doubt be the same. As for the more traditionally-bound dwarfs, they will demand immediately to send you away. It is them you need to earn the acceptance of.” he declared.
“And how will we do that?” she asked without losing her composure for even one split of a second.
“I can only think of one thing. No other foreigner has dared to accept this path though...” he said as he rubbed his beard and closed his eyes.
“Your Majesty, are you talking about...” one of the nobles dared to speak up in surprise.
“Yes.” he replied with a nod and then looked at us. “You three will go through the Nundaba Ritual also known as the Ritual of Acceptance. Through it, you will be considered as one of us, a dwarf. This by no means requires that you give up on your home country. The Nundaba Ritual since ancient times has been used to test out the loyalty of a dwarf as well as their connection to our gods. If our deities accept you, we the dwarfs can only oblige to their will.” he explained.
“May I hear the details of this ritual?” Princess Elleyzabelle asked narrowing her eyes.
This was the first sign of emotion she had shown, and the impact of it caused the Emperor to falter.
“Erm... Yes. Ahem! The Nundaba Ritual requires all those who wish to participate to be brought to the Temple Courtyard. There, they will each choose the God in whose temple they will take the test. As a Princess of Albeyater, however, we cannot ask you to do the same. You will be dressed in the same traditional garbs as the other two and will stand on the Soul Platform until your two Knights have completed their ritual, if they will at all.”
“Your Highness, we can't leave your side... Something like that...” I objected immediately.
“Sir Draketerus, I understand your concern, however, there are others who can act as my guards while you go through your trial. I believe that Sir Shellar, Sir Van, Sir Attrakus, and Sir Narnyesall will suffice. Besides, I believe that we can trust the good Emperor Mush'Nomv'Azer to provide us with the appropriate protection.” she said and then looked towards his Majesty.
“Of course! I won't show any mercy to those who dare disturb this sacred ritual! Have I made myself clear?” he raised his voice as he cast a cold glance over all the nobles within the room.
“Of course, your Majesty!” several of them bowed their heads.
“I will send my best men to guard them as a sign of my loyalty!” another declared.
“Me too! Of course I won't do anything to stain the name of his Majesty!”
They all gave their approval, but then I heard a strange whisper: “It's not like anyone expects them to pass those sort of trials. It's too shameful for women, after all.”
Emperor Mush'Nomv'Azer stood up straight. He picked up his battleaxe and then raised it above his head.
With a strong and commanding voice, loud enough to be heard throughout the entire Audience Room, he shouted “Then so be it! I declare that these three shall go through the Nundaba Ritual at once!”
The dwarfs raised cheers for their Emperor. Not all of them appeared to be pleased with this, and we were still confused as to what this strange ritual would ask of us.
Once the dwarfs calmed down, the Emperor looked towards the crowd and ordered “High Priest Klen'Ashin'Tark, please escort our esteemed guests to the Temple Courtyard and prepare them for the Nundaba Ritual.”
“As you wish, your Majesty!” a dwarf wearing a pure-white robe stepped forward and bowed before him.
He had a long white braided beard, and he carried around his neck a large necklace made out of monster teeth, all of them infused with Magic Energy. With his calm and gentle smile, you wouldn't feel as though this dwarf could pose a danger, but my instinct was telling me that he was probably one of the most powerful individuals present here.
With a slow pace, he approached us and then made a small bow.
“My name is Klen'Ashin'Tark. I am the High Priest in this city, and also a representative of all the Temples. Please, allow me to guide you to our place of prayer. This way.” he then walked ahead of us.
“I wish you luck, dragonesses!” said the Emperor.
“Thank you, your Majesty. We won't disappoint you.” Princess Elleyzabelle said as he nodded once and then left after the High Priest.
I made a bow towards the Emperor and then followed after them. Kataryna nodded once, and our four knights made a bow at the waist.
As soon as we stepped out of the Audience Room, Tanarotte approached Kataryna with a big smile on her lips.
“Don't worry, I'll make sure to protect the Princess!” she declared.
“I'm more worried about you trying to sneak inside the temple and trying to take a peek at me.” Kataryna said with a grumble as she narrowed her eyes at her.
“Keh! How did you figure out my plan?!” the dragoness was shocked to the bone.
“Maybe before we start this Nundaba Ritual or whatever, we should hold a funeral for you? You know, just in case.” asked Kataryna with a twitch in her right cheek.
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!
This is the first chapter after my break! 😀
Well, this is it! The new Volume of the 100 Luck series! This one will be entitled: Do Dragons go on Adventures?
I hope you will enjoy it and aren't too upset with the delay. This is a very troublesome volume, as I had stated before, and there's a chance I'll be posting slower because of this. I don't want to make a mess of the timeline and plotline. 🙂
Author needs help!
You probably noticed the links to My Books and topwebfiction website. Well, I wish for more people to know about my work, and this way help me reach my dream of becoming a full-time writer. If you want to help me and my work, please give these stories their weekly vote and write a Review if you can on their info page (no one-liners please).
Thank you! 🙂
Check out my published books!
Read the first chapters!
An innocent project
Fan Fiction Stories inspired from various games or stories.
I am grateful for any and all of your support! Thank you!