Erik followed Thea and Kayle inside the large villa, not quite a mansion but close. “I knew you were nobility but, just what rank are you?” He asked while glancing about the lavish home.
“Marchioness, directly below the Duchess.” Thea answered, “I technically have ownership of all the land my father looked after but…His ways were so effective that the land basically runs itself now. Not a lot for me to do…”
“I see…” Erik mumbled as he gazed at the paw of a Dragon displayed as a trophy over the wall.
“Father was…a bit of a decorator…” Thea said, noticing the trophy, her body stiffening and expression paling slightly.
Erik hummed in response, deciding it was better not to speak his comments out loud. “Thea can I speak with you for a moment?” He then asked, glancing at Kayle who immediately made herself at home. Having collapsed on the very comfortable looking sofa, her eyes wandering to sleep.
“D-Don’t worry…I’ll be h…ere.” Kayle sleepily said, completely worn out.
“Yeah…this way.” Thea guided him through one door and then several others.
“Human homes of rank never quite sat right with me…What do you need all this space for? It’s not like you’re hoarding a treasure within it all…” Erik asked, “Elves make use of small space rather efficiently and Dwarves have their massive machinery so they’re excused but…Blazes be.” He then said, glancing around the main hallway as they walked through.
“Ah…our people see the owning of land as something of prestige, it is a showcase of wealth.” Thea explained as simply as she could, now arriving at the centre of the villa. A small garden at the very centre of the building, the sky completely open overhead.
Erik only hummed in response as he stepped out into the garden, glancing around at the many exotic flowers and plants. It reminded him of the Elven kingdoms.
“Before you say anything…Erik I need to ask. Before the battle, at my father’s funeral. Why did you tell me that you were leaving?” Thea asked as she herself gazed at the garden, her eyes landing on the central decoration. A bush formed into the shape of a bow, a mass of roses at the centre growing about a metal rod that was held by two wires which were tied to both ends of the bow. A second metal rod laying within the curved bush.
“I was teaching you a lesson, what did you learn from that scenario?” Erik asked as he also found himself staring at the family crest.
“Learn?…I don’t…” Thea began, but stopped herself. That horrifying moment, she had indeed learned something but was too afraid to accept it.
“What did you think? What did you feel?” Erik asked once more, a stern tone about his words.
Thea’s gaze lowered to the ground, “That we people…Humans, Elves and Dwarves…we have our limits. So do the demons but…we cannot even see that height, all we see is what lays beyond our limit. A height we will never even reach, their limit something we will never get to see. That…that is why we need dragons?”
“That is what I used to believe, that is what made me rampage. Truth is, I do not know the answer to that question either. The God that gave me new life told me that the answer to this question is what I must learn.” Erik said with a dreadful sigh, “But, your people proved me wrong. Did you not see it, Thea?”
He turned to face her, “The Anomaly that flowed out of your being, that was no spell of mine. That was no magic of mine. The worth of your kind, what is it? Could it be this power? Is power the worth my elders wished me to see? I do not know.” He approached her, his eyes cold and boring into her mind. “Which is why I need people like you, to teach me.”
Their eyes met, Erik remaining solemn while Thea felt a warmth gather on her face.
“Xilfir.” Erik abruptly said, causing Thea to finally blink.
Four dark elves appeared behind Erik, one kneeling directly behind him while three others kneeled behind the first in a line. “You’ve called, master?~” Spoke the first in Elven, words Thea could not understand.
“Speak Common, so she may understand.” Erik told the Xilfir, as he stepped aside. “These, are my followers. As you probably already know.” He told her, “This is the leader of the dreadblade cult.” as Erik began to introduce them Thea’s eyes widened in understanding. These were the infamous bandit cult that plagued the kingdom, the same cult who’s violent and bloody acts seemed to cease on Erik’s arrival.
The same Xilfir, judging by their slayer equipment, that aided in the battle for the capital.
Makaela stood to meet Thea’s eyes, a glint of annoyance in the dark elf’s as they met. “Makaela Xilfir, Lady Selene I presume?” the elf asked with narrow eyes and a venomous tone.
“Makaela, you will show respect to my Champion.” Erik then hissed, sensing her annoyance and bloodlust.
The Xilfir commander immediately fell back to her knees, “Yes, master~” her usual amused and sensual tone returning.
Thea cleared her throat, “So…are they all your Champions or?” she asked.
“No, a Champion’s bond goes much deeper. You can will out much more of my power. The Xilfir are my followers, while you are bound to me by soul they are bound to me by body. Like family, they are akin to my children.” Erik explained, “As such I cannot bind any of them as Champions, for we already have one bond and that would have to be broken first.”
The last part seemed to cause Makaela some annoyance.
“Either way,” Erik continued while glancing among all of them, “I expect you all to get along. Mostly, Thea and Makaela, you two will be spending a lot of time together.” He then said, causing both of them to look at each other in surprise.
“Wit-With her? Why master?” Makaela asked, stopping herself before she almost spoke out in elven.
“I wish to test with this aura that Thea produced, the connection seemed stronger between her and my Xilfir. From my knowledge, Aura magic is more powerful the closer the two targets are, caster and imbued.” He explained while stepping to stand in front of Makaela, gesturing for her to rise.
Makaela whimpered as Erik grabbed her chin, “This could improve both your powers, and my understanding of it. Do you understand Makaela?” He asked with a low draconic voice.
“Y-Yes master~” Makaela said, trembling beneath his grip, her eyes wide and brimming with lust. Falling back to her knees once Erik let go of her.
“Then command of the Xilfir within Druvia will fall under…Pyra, you will remain here.” Erik told the tallest of the dark elves, the silent Xilfir nodding her head down. “Then Zentha, you will leave with your unit further north. Spread out among the duchies, create a communications system with your sister Pyra.” He then told the short bald Xilfir, she nodded too.
His gaze then fell on Ascal, “Ascal, you shall go along with the crimson mercenaries to Fort Gilded Rock. Spread out some units to the other forts too while you’re at it.” He told the male Xilfir, who also nodded in silence.
“You heard our plans?” Thea asked in surprise.
“Of course I did, I also plan to come to Sinroz with you.” Erik said while glancing back at her, “I will not allow this world to fall into chaos because of your people’s mistakes. No, I will force tranquillity if I have to.” He turned back to the Xilfir, “Zentha, leave immediately, Ascal and Makaela, make preparations.”
The three dark elves rose, bowed and then dissipated into bursts of shadow.
“Thea, how were you planning to get to this other continent?” He then asked her.
“Eh?- Oh. I was going to move with the crimson guard until fort Gilded Rock,“ Thea began to explain, ”and then take some escorts through the eastern villages and cities, the region of Crodor. Then through the rest of the Dwarven region of Gorinid, till we reached the shore at one of Gorinid’s ports. Where we would take naval transport.”
“Crodor? Gorinid? What are those?” Erik asked sternly, he wasn’t completely privy to how Druvians marked geography.
“They’re provinces, Druvia is divided into four duchies of which each is divided into four provinces. Crodor the border province, Gorinid and Deibrin the Dwarven provinces and lastly my home, Ejul. Those four make up eastern Druvia’s duchy.” Thea answered before asking, “What did…your kind use to map out the world if not name parts of it?”
“Locations of interest, mostly other Dragon’s liars, places of power and historically important areas or constructs.” Erik responded briefly before changing back the subject, “Either way, who did you plan to take with you on this journey to Sinroz? I presume your sister Kayle is one?”
Thea shook her head, “No, I will ask Kayle to stay here in the capital.”
“So, the journey is that perilous or is Sinroz such a dangerous place?” Erik asked.
“Sinroz, it is a continent divided into two kingdoms.” Thea began explaining,
“Sinbeni in the desert plains, a culture entirely based around political power. A kingdom where assassinations, poison marketing and changes in rule became the norm. It is called the kingdom of serpents.
Then there is Zrosa, the kingdom in the jungle. A culture entirely based around the mindset that the strong shall always prevail over the weak, that physical strength and resolve of heart will always rule over the mind. It is known as the country of beasts.
They are both very dangerous but Sinbeni…it is much more so. And that is where we’re going.”
Thea shook her head once more, “Kayle is strong but…I will not allow her that close to people so dangerous. No, I will insist that she stays here.”
“And you believe that she will agree with that?” Erik asked, “What if she does not?”
“She will, I will make her understand.” Thea promised, to herself if anything.
Erik gazed at her nervous state briefly, (“Humans, bonds of family going beyond ours of pride. They interest me, how deep does this ‘Love’ go?”) he thought, studying the woman before him with detached eyes. Before turning to Pyra who still lay kneeling by them, “While you make her understand, I have some business to attend to. Where shall I meet with you?”
“The eastern gate, the crimson guard will gather there. We’ll meet there.” Thea told him, as she turned to gaze at the family crest once more.
Erik nodded down at Pyra, “Let’s go.” he told the Xilfir.
Pyra stood up and rested her right palm over Erik’s chest, chanting something beneath her breath before both of them suddenly disappeared in a burst of shadow.
Thea briefly watched the shadows dissipate into the rising sun’s rays of light. Her gaze staring up at the sky, (“I’ve looked at him all wrong…”) she thought, now realising what sort of being Erik was.
What kind of person a Dragon was. With child-like curiosity and pride deeply rooted into his bones. Knowledge beyond the other races’ yet little understanding of those races, a lack of understanding brought on by a Dragon’s stubborn upbringing.
Thea sighed, (“Why do I feel like this? What…do I even see? Was it really just that brief…contact?”) clutching her chest as she pondered her emotions. Then resigning herself to not knowing why, she decided best to face her sister now, sooner than later.
Thea walked away from the garden, walked back through the villa until she reached the living room where Kayle had collapsed. She stepped over to her sister, Kayle laying on the sofa, still wearing her uniform while asleep.
An angel, Thea thought. The young girl having the world’s freedom to do whatever she wanted, the money and backing to go and become what she wished to. Her elder sister shouldering all their family’s responsibility for her, Thea would do anything for her sister Kayle.
She sat down next to her head, watching Kayle sleep soundlessly while caressing her hair. Kayle smiled in her sleep at the gentle touch of Thea’s fingers going across her hair.
Many times had Thea argued with Kayle to leave her behind, not wanting her to follow the eldest into danger. She tried to stop her from coming to Beckton with her, she even tried to stop Kayle from fighting in the last battle. But she couldn’t, each time Kayle’s stubbornness defeating her own.
And now she was going into danger once again, yet this time she would not have the safety of kingdom, nor the safety of home. Thea couldn’t bring herself to let Kayle follow once more. They both had lost their mother, they both had just lost their father.
Thea didn’t know what she would do if she lost Kayle too. But in that same regard, Thea knew Kayle had the same argument at hand.
“Kayle, dear. Wake up okay?” Thea softly shook her sister from sleep.
Sol sighed as he walked into his room, three servants standing at attention within. His lunch ready on a tray nearby. He ignored them, instead, he walked out to the connecting balcony. Outside the large platform were two guards in full plate armour, only a pair of the other twenty that stood right outside the room.
Sol walked up to the balcony’s railing, looking out his castle and down at the city below. Directly below the castle were brief fields taking to an inner wall which separated the large building from the rest of the city. The field large enough that a crossbow or magi-rifle would be ineffective against the invisible barrier that surrounded the massive building.
Sol looked over the city and beyond, over the dying fields and towards where a forest once lay. Gone, only days ago.
“Your majesty.” A familiar elven voice said as Pyra appeared kneeling behind him in a burst of shadow. Causing the two guards to lower their large halberds over her neck.
Sol turned to her, only 15 years of age yet he was unafraid of this very deadly killer. Knowing full well that if she wanted to take his life, nobody on this floor could stop her. “You two, leave us.” He told the two guards, who glanced at him with confusion.
“Now.” Sol told them once more, the two knights raising their halberds and saluting before leaving the balcony. “You three as well, out of the room.” He then told the waiting servants, all five of them leaving the room and closing the door behind themselves.
Sol’s gaze fell on the Dark Elf before him, “What news do you bring then?” he asked her.
“My master has accepted your invitation.” Pyra simply said, “He will speak with you.”
Sol raised a brow, “When?”
“Right now, actually.” said Erik abruptly from his right, with a draconic voice, Sol turning to find him staring out the balcony.
“Erik…athyr. The Destroyer.” Sol said beneath his breath.
“Worry not, King. Nobody outside us three can hear a word, I’ve made sure of it.” Erik assured while glancing at the boy. His blue eyes shimmering with a golden light.
“I see…” Sol responded, stepping away from the being that stood before him. Very wary of this creature’s power.
“So, young crowned king. What is that you wished to know?” Erik asked while turning to fully face him, his solemn gaze setting on Sol.
The young boy’s usual calm crumbled beneath the drake’s uncomfortable stare, his eyes widening and expression paling. Yet he retained his dutiful tone, “I wish to know what you plan to do, whether you’ve been in hiding all these millennia or whether you’ve just returned from the dead. What are you going to…do?”
Erik approached the king, his steps soundless, his movements blurring as mana surged across his body. “What I plan to do? And what if I told you my plans haven’t changed? That just as how I command the Xilfir, I will subjugate each race to my name? What then…King?” His voice was fierce, a quiet yet deep growl that made even Pyra tremble.
“Will you resist? Will you fight? You have no Slayers to rely upon, you have no heroes to save you. So, what will You do?” Erikathyr asked.
Sol’s expression was frozen, his worst fears coming to haunt him. Yet the young boy clenched his fists and bit his lower lip, his gaze dropping to the floor. “We will not fight you, we cannot fight you.” Sol said with a dreadful tone, as he dropped down into a kneel. “Druvia is not what it used to be, the demons have taken too many of our warriors and all of our heroes. At one point we might have resisted but now…This kingdom, this entire people’s wills have been broken all too many times.”
Sol kneeled before Erik, his head held low just as how Pyra lay. “Erikathyr, the destroyer, the guardian, the white. We will not resist. We will not struggle. We only wish to live. As King, as ruler of my people. My crown is at your service, and if you wish to slay any man…Then slay me and… Please, have mercy upon them.”
Sol stared at the drake’s human feet, dark-brown ranger boots. His entire body was trembling, his vision shaking with fear. What else could he do? Before the being that fought a Devil and returned? Before the monster that made the entirety of Faetera tremble?
“Are you afraid, Sol Druvia?” Erik asked with his draconic voice.
“Y-Yes.” Sol answered truthfully.
“Do you fear death?” He then asked.
“How could I not? Yes, yes I fear death.” Sol again, answered truthfully.
“Then do you see me as your death? Because if death is what you wish for, I can fulfil that with ease.” The drake said, causing a paralysing fear to fill the boy. Yet no death came, no pain or injury. Instead the drake chuckled coldly, causing Sol to unfreeze, but not dare look up.
“Rise, King of Druvia.” Erik told him, and Sol rose. “Worry not, boy. I do not plan to wreak havoc upon your kind, not anymore. No, instead I wish to learn, I am here to protect what I was supposed to but failed to realise the danger. My enemy is your own, my foe is Hell.”
Sol’s fear lifted slightly but did not disappear, still terrified of the destroyer.
“I shall ask a question of you, King. You are free to answer however you see fit, I will not set any consequences upon your decision.” Erik said, his eyes narrowing.
“Yes?” Sol asked, mostly out of nervousness.
“You, who of only fifteen years of age, of a young race nonetheless. You, do you wish for further power? Do you want me to grant you more strength?” The drake asked, “Answer me, do you hunger for more?”
Sol’s eyes could not widen further, but as he before stared at the drake’s chest his gaze rose to meet his eyes. “Yes…Yes I wish for more power, but at what cost?”
“Cost? I am no demon who shall buy out your soul nor am I no Jinn who comes with three wishes, each with a ploy. My price is simple, I ask for your loyalty.” The drake offered, “But I also ask, why? Why do you wish for more power?”
Sol raised his right hand to his head, taking off the thin golden ring that was his crown. He stared at it, “I am King, I am the one the people turn to yet I have not the power to protect them in turn? I want power, I want the strength to defend what is mine.”
Suddenly Pyra rose to a high kneel before Sol, turning the boy to face her as she held his face with both hands. Tall enough that she did not need to stand up.
“Then if a contract is what you wish for. You creature of new, being of crafts and community. Pledge your very existence to me, and have a taste of my own. Speak my name, for I speak yours Sol Druvia. Speak my true name.” Erik chanted, his draconic voice rumbling within Sol.
Sol felt a strange mana rush through his cheeks and enter his mind, as he stared into Pyra’s deep golden eyes. She stared back. “Erikathyr.” Sol spoke the word as it appeared in his mind, power like he had never felt before flowing out with the sound. “Erikathyr.” He spoke it once more, energy rushing through his body like surging lightning.
Sol spoke each title, as they flowed out naturally. He continued to stare up at Pyra, the dark elf closing her eyes as she mentally prepared herself to do what her master asked of her.
“Then it shall be, my servant you now are.” Erik said, “And a Dragon’s servant requires a Dragon’s name. Yours shall be…”
Sol’s expression turned to bafflement and embarrassment as he watched Pyra lean towards him, his cheeks burning red yet he stood frozen as their lips met.
Pyra swore she could no longer chastise Makaela after this day.