Manipulation of Draken Part 3

Jp with Rosmary
Draken didn't even break a sweat in the duel and soon enough stood over Cartagan, "Unless you can prove me otherwise, do not speak highly of yourself and lowly of me. Do you understand?"

Cartagan spat out some blood, "I understand."

Draken offered his hand to help him up, however the man stood without his aid, before walking away. Draken sighed, "I'll be in the war room."

He left the nobles with themselves, obviously upset by the hurtful news he heard about Orla and the cruel words of Cartagan.

“What is wrong with our new Lord Sainte?” Halfenstrafe asked, watching him walk off.

“His heart,” the Countess said.

“What?” Halfenstrafe frowned. “Cartagan's blade didn't touch him.”

“That young woman broke his heart by abandoning him just when he needed her,” the Countess explained.

“What young woman?”

“Orla,” Soldor said. “It's probably for the best. There are a number of potential brides for our future king far more appropriate. I already have a short list in mind.”

“Really?” The Countess smiled. “And would my name happen to be on it?”

“I'm going to go speak with him,” Soldor said, ignoring her question.

Draken looked over the map of Aeran on the giant table, his back turned to the door. His wings hung on his back, lowered down. Soldor entered the war room, while the other nobles continued to speak among themselves outside. "Lord Draken? Are you alright?" As he walked around the table, he noticed wet spots on the map. It took him a moment before he realized that they were Draken's tears.

Soldor frowned, realising their future king was far more upset than he thought. Reduced to tears over a maid? He spoke softly and quietly, “Look, Draken, we've only met yesterday and you don’t yet know me very well, but I hope in time to become a trusted friend and advisor to you, much as my father was to Queen Thalia. You and I also share a great grandparent, making us second cousins, so we are kin. If you ever need someone to speak to about any subject, any subject at all, you will always have my ear, as well as my complete loyalty and discretion.”

Draken looked up at him. Soldor saw something that many thought impossible, his eyes were grey, the same color over a hundred years ago. "Orla saved my life, twice. I never repaid her, and she left while I was busy. Didn't even say goodbye. I trusted her, for years I was tormented, hated for my blood, yet she didn't show any fear or hatred to me. She was so warm and friendly and kind, but it seems like I was just a tool for her amusement apparently."

“Forget her then,” Soldor said harshly. “There are women aplenty in the Bastion, and you can do much better than a peasant gardener. Come out with me this evening and I'll introduce you to a number of very attractive ladies of noble birth. You are the last Sainte, so you'll need to marry and produce heirs as soon as possible.”

The doors opened and Frederick Lowson, descendant of Kline Lowson entered the war room. Draken turned to face the much more intimidating man, both of them stared each other down for a moment, before the baron spoke, "My Lord." His voice was deep and sent small shivers through Soldor each time despite their difference in noble rank. Draken straightened himself, "What is it?" He wiped his face of tears.

Frederick looked at Soldor, "My sister Harriet informed me that she saw a group of men taking a young woman away while in the garden. After overhearing that the woman you brought had seemingly disappeared, I believe there is a connection."

“What? Are you suggesting someone abducted her here at my estate?” Soldor said, outraged.

“That is what it looks like,” the baron said, watching the other man in the room.

Draken smashed his fist on the table, cracking the wood with his demonic strength, "These men… who are they?"

Frederick looked coldly at Draken, "My sister believes they work for Lord Cartagan."

Draken became silent for a moment, his eyes became icy grey, the cruel eyes of a Sainte, a Dalenish legend known by all of the High Blood nobles. Draken looked at Solder and spoke coldly, "Bring him to me. Do not tell him anything, do not touch him, only bring him."

Disturbed by the implications, Estoban Soldor quickly left and returned five minutes later with Tyrell Cartagan.

“What's this about then?” the man said, sneering at Draken. “The Countess told me my grand uncle killed your whore of a mother. Even if that's true you can't blame me for something my ancestor might have done.” He smirked and looked around for support from Soldor and Lowson, and found none.

“I suggest you seriously improve your manners, Tyrell,” Soldor said. “You may have been untouchable these past years, but when Draken is king he'll not tolerate your disrespect, and neither will I.”

“He's not the king yet,” Cartagan said. “And might I remind you, Soldor, the House of Sainte was dissolved in the early part of the last century, so he has no lands or title or any official standing in Dalen, meaning I can speak to him any way I damn well please. I regret accepting his offer of a duel. He had no business challenging the likes of me.”

Soldor leaned forward and smelt the alcohol on the man's breath. After losing the duel he had hit the brandy heavily.

“So I repeat, what's this about then?” Cartagan demanded belligerently. “Does our hero of the hour want to apologise? You know I fought the Kragan too, I really fought hard. Where is my medal?”

Draken spoke calmly and coldly, "What businesses do you run? Selling fruit is a good one, but there must be others. Slavery is a good business, is it not?"

Fredrick slowly closed the door behind Cartagan, Draken faced him. He watched over the drunken man much like a tiger watching its prey. "Don't you indulge in that kind of practice, Lord Cartagan?"

“Yes, so what if I do?” Cartagan frowned at the line of questioning, as if not understanding where Draken was going with this. “The slave trade can be highly profitable. Someone has to work the mines. My grandfather taught me that a good businessman diversifies. You’ve never had to earn a living or act like a civilised person at all, so I know you wouldn’t understand.”

"Funny how that you use slavery as a profit, yet you were the one that last saw Orla. Afraid of me, that's what you said. I was being a bit irrational to think, however if Orla was that afraid in the first place, she would have come here at all. So fruit lord, want to come clean, or shall I give you something more than a medal. Scars tell better stories than medals."

“What are you threatening me for? Are you accusing me of stealing your wench? Is that what this is about?” Cartagan rolled his eyes as if the accusation was ridiculous. “I admit I liked the turn of her leg, but she's not really my type. Besides, if you recall, I wasn't alone to be the last to see her. The Countess also saw her leaving and said Orla was afraid of you. But I overheard her saying that too. She and her friends were making jokes about you, and she was laughing along with them.”

Draken snatched him by the collar and threw him clear across the room, knocking down the miniatures on the map, "Strike one, Sir Cartagan, you have two more. Tell me where she is, or else this can get ugly." He gracefully approached the man.

Frederick motioned to Soldor to get back, things look like they will get bad. Draken stepped down on Cartagan's hand, and began to twist his foot on it, "Tell me."

“Arghh, you're insane! I didn't take your wench! Why would I do such a thing? I think you broke my shoulder! You bastard!” he cursed, writhing like the worm that he was.

Draken lifted his fist, ready to break his nose, but before he had the chance, a black mass of dark energy exploded from Cartagan. A dark voice of many spoke, "The agent of the Chaos Lord and the Guardian will be converted to my side, my agents will make sure of it. This world belongs to me, grandson of the Guardian. You can not stop this, for I am eternal, and she will break!"

Fredrick lifted his brow in utter confusion, while Soldor stepped back in fear at this unknown power. Draken on the other side, stood his ground staring down the evil force, "Like hell you will do that, bastard. This world isn't yours, and I will save Orla."

The dark force snarled and attempted to lash out at Draken, who snatched it in his hand, bright white flames engulfed the mass, it screeched in pain. It tried to get Cartagan to run, but Draken had already gotten a good grip on him.

The two nobles watched as Draken began to burn away the black mass from Cartagan, Draken stared down at Tyrell, the madness in his eyes burned away. Draken punched him in the gut, enough for him to vomit. A black leech-like worm slithered out of his mouth, it attempted to squirm back, but Draken was too fast for the creature. He pulled the rest of the worm out, it snapped at him in fury, Draken snarled at it, "You will no longer mess with my nobles." He crushed the worm to a paste. With it, the influence it had on Cartagan and the nobles was burned away, a warm feeling spread over them.

He brushed his hands off and knelt down to the now free Cartagan, "Tyrell Cartagan, I didn't know about your possession, forgive my behavior. Tell me where that worm made you take Orla to."

“You... you saved me from that... from that thing! Thank you, Draken! Thank you so much! You have no idea what it was like...” Cartagan was emotionally overwhelmed, tears running down his face, and there was no mistaking the immense gratitude in his voice or the drastic change in his personality. “Yes, Orla. It wanted me to get your friend to a slave camp that I am a part owner of. The camp lies near the border with Haven and is overseen by a drow woman named Sylla.” He frowned, trying to remember. “I-I think someone was supposed to be there. Someone who would buy Orla and take her to Zatar. Sylla will likely know who that was.”

Draken gave him a smile, his eyes became their gentle grey, "Soldor, I have two orders done while I'm gone. The first one is to help Cartagan with his wounds, once healed, have him go around each noble. He will detect if someone is corrupted, if they are, stab them with this." He summoned a small white knife and handed it to him. "It will kill the corruption within them. It's an ethereal blade, I took it from the vaults of the old capitol, it was created by the being known as the King In White, for killing corruption. My second order is simple, have all the nobles once clear to bring all the knowledge they have on the Nameless, protect the people."

Frederick watched him, "Where will you go?"

Draken gave them a smile, "I have to repay a debt to a friend. I should never have doubted her." He became much more lively, he quickly donned his armor and put on his cloak. He took two swords, the Shadowblade, his last gift from Shade, and the Frostsinger, his grandfather's sword. Sheathing the blades he jumped out of the balcony, and took flight.

Frederick helped Cartagan up, "He's smart, he doesn't look like it or alway sound like, but he knows things. No doubt about it, he's a Sainte." The man took Cartagan to get healed, leaving Soldor alone.

A lone voice spoke, "My little brother is amazing, isn't he?" A magical image of Dalroth appeared, "Then again, he is the son of Soularous. I don't think you will worry about Dalen not uniting under him, now everyone else should worry about that." He chuckled, "Dalen will become a free place, but one of the most terrifying, a city for all, demons, angels, elves, orcs, dwarves, hybrids, humans, and so on. Is this what you wished for, Lord Soldor?"

“Lord Dalroth, you honour me with this visit.” Soldor was not only a skilled statesman, but a wizard of some power, and one steeped in lore and legend, so much so that he recognised Dalroth immediately. “In the time of Queen Thalia, Dalen was a place where all manner of races and creatures were allowed to live tolerantly side by side, and I long for those days to return, when Dalen was strong and united. Over the past century, it has been a terrifying, fractured land completely overrun by demons and other monsters, but your young sibling, who is proving most impressive indeed, assures us that the demons will obey his rules, and I take Draken at his word. Things can only improve under his reign, and certainly not get any worse. So I respectfully disagree with your assessment on this matter, but I am curious about what you know of the Nameless. Yesterday if you had asked me what I feared most I would have said Gelt, but that thing, this Nameless, is what most fills me with fear today.”

Dalroth summoned a blackened book and handed it to Soldor, "This book is from the ancient texts, it will speak of the King in White, something you must know, it isn't an idea, but an actual being. The Nameless is attacking because the gods have disappeared, leaving the world weak for conquest. You will find all the answers you seek. Now I must go and make sure my brother succeeds on his quest. Remember Soldor, wars are never won overnight."

As the demon faded off into a blue mist, Soldor nodded at his parting words and in thanks for the gift of the tome. The book felt as if it had been petrified by age, each page moved almost like they were stone tablets, an odd brownish color. The inky text could be read without issue. The texture of the cover was like hardened wood, and a title in faded gold on the top read , ‘The Nameless’. Sitting down at the war room table, Soldor opened the book and began to read about the horrors of the Nameless, discovering the truth of their enemy, and that their hope lay in the forces of Chaos and the King in White. He shook his head at the thought of these titanic elemental forces battling each other for control. Truly this was a dark age for Aeran.

< Prev : Escape from Indrasel Next > : A Fortunate Failing