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View character profile for: Draken Sainte
View character profile for: Soularous
Hero of the Day Part One
Jp with Rosmary's assistance
With Draken's help the tide of battle swiftly turned in Soldor's favour, as Kragan bodies came to litter his palatial compound and the morale of Gelt's attack force deteriorated as they fought a losing battle against the coordinated effort of demon, warrior, and mage. When they finally fled in abject defeat there were loud cheers of equal parts triumph and relief from those who had never thought to see another sunrise. Soldor's noble allies pushed through the exhausted and blood-stained men-at-arms and excitedly converged on Draken, all eager for a closer look at their gods-sent saviour.
“It will be my honour to bestow upon you our highest medal of military distinction, the Thalia Cross!” exclaimed the elderly Marquess of Radogast, vigorously shaking Draken's hand.
“Your power is like nothing I've ever seen!” gushed Elisabet Telsana, the Countess of Llandry. “Are you really a Sainte? How can that be? We thought that family was no more!”
“It's true!” confirmed Gaelbeck Halthenstrafe, a huge halberd slung over his shoulder. “There are Sainte nobles with marble busts of long ago in the vaults that have the same look and characteristics.”
“Half demon he may be, but he is a Sainte, of the blood of our legendary warrior queen,” Estoban Soldor said with feeling as he embraced Draken. “After today my friend, I'd follow you through the gates of the Nine Hells!”
To an unremitting chorus of accolades and tribute, Soldor led Draken back towards the Great Hall that was now ablaze with massive paraffin candles and gold torches. This would be an evening of celebration and feasting in honour of Draken, who was being enthusiastically welcomed into the highest echelons of Dalish society—essentially the same Dalish society that had a century earlier sneered and looked down on the one-time criminal and outcast. The joyful nobles bombarded Draken with curious questions about his life. Was he the same Draken that had recently been a genocidal warlord, the slaughterer of human villages in the Sarnian plains? Was it he who had declared war on the High Church of Sarnia and saved fleeing heretics? Did all the demon hordes of the Remnant now answer to his call? What manner of demon was he himself?
Draken answered their questions, explaining he was blinded by rage caused by human raiders, that he wasn't really a warlord, but a hermit who destroyed villages in his vicinity. He explained his tale of enlightenment that led to his declaration of war on the Church and the end of his rage. He explained his heritage of being the King in Blue's son, meaning they would naturally follow him and that he was of noble demon blood as well.
It was different for Draken, as long as he could remember, he was hated and feared. Now he was being praised for his efforts. He chuckled at a thought, What would have happened if they knew he was actually a Sainte from the beginning? Would he have been welcomed earlier or been prosecuted still?
Draken finally asked his questions, "I have answered your questions, however I wish to know. All my life I have been unaware of my mother's heritage, so I shall ask. What led to her being burned in Verden? What was the reason she fled Dalen? Who is to blame? I think it's only fair to know as you have asked me several questions that led me here, to fighting for Dalen, saving your people, your lives, and your homes?"
One of the nobles, the elderly Marquess of Radogast, stood and began the tale of the Sainte.
“Because you deserve to know,” he said solemnly to Draken. “What I have to tell you is derived from the investigative case notes of Estalla Malkaan, the Black Witch, and the personal journal of Queen Thalia’s champion, Archer Craine…”
130 years ago, old Dalen
Soularous left the morning after the night the Sainte family had him over to celebrate. Emilia watched him leave, longing for their meeting again.
A maid arrived, "My lady, Lord Cartagan is here to see you."
She snapped out of her daydreaming, "Tell him I'll be right down, I need to be ready."
The maid gave a nod, "Of course my lady." She went down to the living space of the Sainte manor, "The lady will be down in a minute my lord, she needs to get ready for the day."
The Saintes had a guest last night, a reason they aren't ready for the day yet. The living room was furnished with glorious items, unique trophies, elegant furniture, and lavish paints of the family. The floor was white marble, and at the ceiling was a painting of the archangels battling the demon lords.
Emilia entered the room and bowed before the man, "Apologizes, I did not know of the time. So Lord Cartagan, you wish to speak to me about our, engagement?"
“Yes, it is why I have come,” the man replied smoothly, reaching for her hand and kissing it lightly. “You’re not having second thoughts, are you, Emilia? There have been rumours to that effect, but I don’t believe them of course.”
She looked at the door for a moment before looking at the man before her, "Of course not, that would be outrageous." She smiled at him and gently slid her hand away, "I'm just a bit nervous, that is all."
“Simply pre-wedding jitters,” he assured her. “It's perfectly normal, darling.”
After bidding her goodbye, Cartagan still felt troubled and concerned, as if his instincts were alerting him to an intangible threat to his future. He walked up the front drive to where three of his loyal retainers stood under the shadows of a tree bordering the street.
“Is everything all right, Your Lordship?” one man asked.
“That's what I'd like you to find out, Bromley,” Cartagan said. “I want the Sainte residence kept under constant observation. I want to know everyone who comes in an out of there, and if Emila leaves, I want her followed everywhere she goes—for her own protection, of course.”
“I understand. I'll see to it,” Bromley said.
“And I don't want anyone to take notice, so don't spare the coin when it comes to hiring professional watchers, men who know how not to be seen.”
Emilia mostly stayed in her home for a couple of days, a pale tiefling often visited her. Inside the Sainte estate, the two often joked and laughed, however it was nothing imminent as the two conversed. One day, this pale tiefling took Emilia out to the market, where the two were seen shopping together, news that was sent to Lord Cartagan.
Soul was later that day exploring the city, walking through alleyways, kindly giving beggars a couple pieces of copper or even silver to help their troubles. He turned a corner and found himself at a dead end, "You can stop hiding, I know you are there."
Several men he had sensed following him stepped out of the shadows, slapping truncheons in their palms menacingly. The time had come to send this inhuman interloper a message he would not soon forget. That Emilia was another man’s intended.
Soul gave them a friendly smile, "Fellas, please. There is no need for violence." He noticed they weren't slowing down, "Oh, so it's the hard way?" He summoned a longsword that shimmered with lightning. "Shall we dance?"
Soul literally danced in the conflict, blocking their attacks all the while zapping them with so much electricity, they fell unconscious from even the smallest cuts.
Soon Soul stood over all of the unconscious men, "Alright, that was fun. However, I have a feeling you wanted to tell me something. You wanted to deliver a message, I take it?" He sat on one of the men and gently slapped him awake, he rested his sword on his shoulder, "Hey, what's the big idea? Why would you attack little ol' me?" When the man would not talk, Soul moved to behead him.
“No, don’t kill me,” the man groaned. “We work for Lord Cartagan.”
“Cartagan? The fruitmonger?” Soularous remembered seeing wooden crates full of Cartagan-labeled apples.
“He is the biggest fruit merchant and orchard owner in Dalen.”
“He shouldn’t be too hard to find then,” Soularous grinned. “An apple may keep the doctor away, but not me.”
“You fool,” Bromley yelled at the man. “You’ve just dug your own grave!”
Soul chuckled, "Oh no, your lord doesn't stand a chance against me." He then knocked out Bromley and left the scene.
Draken laughed. “My father and I are a lot alike. How do you know any of this?”
“This man, Bromley, was interviewed extensively,” explained the Marquess, referring to the crinkled yellowed parchment that bore his witness statements that had been fetched from the vault beneath Soldor’s palace. “Bromley was also present when your mother was staying at Lord Cartagan's estate that was thick with apple trees that bore loads of the juicy red fruit..." he smiled, reading the words as written.
She watched him with irritation, "Tyronn, what is it? You brought me here to your home and I can sense something is bothering you. Please, tell me."
Cartagan sat down across from Emilia, fixing her with an aggrieved glare. “You and I are betrothed, yet people are constantly seeing you out and about with some mysterious albino demon man who appears to be courting you! Do you know how it looks, you publicly in the company of such an unsavoury character? Do you understand what people are thinking? Do you care how it's making me look? That my fiancée is stepping out on me?”
Emilia looked at him insulted, "Courting me? I have not touched him, nor has he touched me! Don't you think you are overreacting? Soul has no plans or will have plans to be with me. He knows we are engaged, he said himself that he will not charm me from you. You are acting like Soul and I are having an affair behind your back, when that's simply not the case! Tyronn, you are my betrothed, Soul is just a friend nothing more, nothing less." She gently put her hand on his own, trying to comfort him.
“Soul is it? If this Soul is no more than a friend why is it you have never offered to introduce us?” Cartagan said hotly, but his tone began to soften as he finished the sentence. He reached out and took her beautiful face in his hands. “Emilia, I know you have too much integrity and dignity to ever betray me like that. I do trust you sweetheart—it's him I don't trust. Demons are inherently base creatures. Perhaps he is the exception to that? But again, I care about the appearance and not the fact here. My livelihood depends on being respected by others. If people are gossiping and laughing at me behind my back, my business and standing in this kingdom suffers.”
She gently caressed his face, "It does not matter what the people think, only what I think. You just are being a bit protective, that's all." The sound of a ruckus could be heard outside, some yelling if servants. Emilia looked confused, "Is there a rowdy guest coming?"
The door burst open as Bromley shouted, "Damn you, you can't just bust in here like this!"
Soul's voice boomed, "Say it to my dust, mortal!" The demon lord stormed into the room with righteous fury, "There you are, fruit lord!"
“You!!” Black murder filled Cartagan's eyes and he grabbed his sword off the mantle.
Emilia sat up, "Soul, what in the Nine! You are being very rude to my betrothed! Please leave."
Soul snarled, "Your betrothed sent thugs to attack me!"
She froze and looked at Cartagan before looking at Soul. She slapped him across the face, "Leave, now."
The demon looked at her stunned, before walking away. Cartagan's scowl dissolved and he smiled as if reassured.
She turned her gaze to Cartagan, "Tyronn, don't lie to me. Did you send thugs to attack Soul?" She was shaking, her fist curled up.
Cartagan's scowl returned and he gripped her by the arms. “Attack him? No, just to scare him a little. You saw just now how deranged that creature is! He's a danger to you and our future. Can't you see that? Do you have any idea the situation you're putting me in with him? The other nobles think I'm being cuckolded by that albino freak! Count Soldor is making jokes! If they think I'm too weak to protect you they're going to try to walk all over me! For all I know one of them is setting this whole thing up! You know what kind of kingdom Dalen is! I have to be strong! I need to protect what is mine!”
Emilia slapped him across the face, "Protect what's yours? Is that what I am? An object for you to possess? To flaunt to show how superior you are? You attacked a simple man trying to live because you want to "protect" me? I am Emilia Sainte, Tyronn Cartagan! Cousin of Thalia, your queen! I am my own person, don't you dare ever speak to me as if I'm some wench for you to buy." She began crying and pulled away from his grasp, "I'm going to Thalia, the wedding is going to be held off until you learn to be a respectful man who knows how to treat your betrothed, when you stop acting like I'm an object for you to possess, then we may have the wedding. Good day." She stormed off, crying at his words.
“No, Emilia, don't go!” Cartagan pleaded. “Come back! You got it all wrong, sweetheart! That’s not how it is at all!”
Cartagan shook with anger and frustration as she rode away. Emilia could be so naïve at times. So proud. She belonged to him as much as he belonged to her. He loved her like he had never loved any other woman in his life. What was all this nonsense she had accused him of? Treating her like a common wench? Was this the demon's influence on her? Was Soul feeding her these lies and trying to break them up so he could get her into his own bed, or had one of the nobles orchestrated this travesty? A simple man indeed. That man Soul was no man at all, but a no good, low-born fiendish beast from hell.
Cartagan wanted to kill Soul with his bare hands, but he knew he would have to do something else first that was even more important. He would have to go straight to Queen Thalia, and on bended knee explain the whole damn business to her. That he was only protecting Emilia and himself from the depredations of that pale-skinned interloper. That smart-mouthed pest. That damned albino bastard! The Queen was a woman of the world, cunning and shrewd. Surely if he threw himself on her mercy and good sense Thalia would take his side and help him make Emilia see that he was only doing his best by her. He had to convince her of that. He could not imagine life without Emilia. He wouldn't want to even live without her.
“Bromley, ready my carriage!” Cartagan bellowed. “I must speak to the Queen! My whole future depends on it!”
“So what did Queen Thalia say to him?” Draken asked.
“According to the journal of Archer Craine, the guards of the palace refused to let Cartagan enter. Emilia had reached her cousin first and explained what was happening. Soul kept his distance from the two for a week, believing it would help ease them, thinking that it might repair the damage between the two. Sadly for the lovers, Cartagan's jealousy and possessiveness led to Emilia calling off the marriage all together. Rumors had it that a pale tiefling visited her often, until one day he disappeared. Emilia shut herself in her home for the entire winter of the year, all the way to the summer months. Only then, she sent a letter to Cartagan, inviting him to the Sainte estate, to discuss something.”
“What was that something?” Draken asked.
The Marquess looked at him seriously. “Why, it was you, Draken."