Chapter 60: The Black Order

Makaela roamed the city streets, agitated as she searched for him. (“Damnit Erik…where are you?!”) She asked herself, having searched the entirety of the palace but found him nowhere. Pondering then for a moment, how would she explain the disappearance of their King, a procession of people going down one street then caught her attention.

Sighing in relief, Makaela leapt off the rooftop she stood upon, landing over the next from where she could now clearly make out the mass of people. Xilfir one and all, from young to old, they followed the adorned figure as he calmly walked down the city’s street.

Makaela watched as they sang praises, appreciation and adoration. A true King walking amongst his people. For he was after all the one who freed them, the one who fought for them and gave them a home.

He was in the end, the one who created them as well.

But Makaela couldn’t allow herself that moment of joy, only anxiety filled her mind as she looked over his current form, seemingly unchanged as he walked with bright white-gold wings spread wide.

Yet she saw through his illusion, she saw the two blackening wings dragging behind him, his changing hair and scales too.

(“Why? What is worth the risk of them knowing Erik? Why did you come out here without waiting for me or even telling me…”) Makaela wondered, dissipating then into a dash of shadow before reappearing alongside him, keeping pace with his steps. “Master…” She said in elven, but was unsure how to word her question among these many ears.

Is it done?” Erik asked, continuing to walk.

Yes, she accepted our deal. The…prize, was delivered here as well.” Makaela reported, stepping aside then as a bunch of Xilfir children ran up to them, slowing down to walk beside Erik, they gawked up at the Dragon.

Good, I shall speak with her soon but first…Something else has come up.” Erik mused, as he glanced down at one child, his wide eyes widening further as he met the Dragon King’s gaze. Erik pointed his finger down nearby the child, the young Dark Elf paling at the sight…

Light School; Illusory Make.” Erik chanted, and out of his finger tip formed a droplet of liquid light. The drop of gold fell, hitting the ground it splashed into a small puddle which after a few moments then suddenly rose up and took a different shape.

A small, dog sized Dagon now walked with them, shining a dim golden light as it sniffed at a couple of the children. “Run along now.” Erik said, and the Dagon then leapt aside, playfully jumping around and fully catching the children’s attention. As they rushed after the ethereal beast.

Briefly Erik paused to watch them play with the illusory creature, a thin smile forming over his façade of cold.

(“You’ve made this possible.”) Makaela then spoke through their bond, and his smile widened.

(“It doesn’t end here.”) Erik said as he glanced around, the entirety of the crowd having stopped with them. He looked over them, their joyful expressions, their hopeful eyes. They gazed all at him. (“I’ll fix this world Makaela, I’ll fix it even if it kills me.”) He vowed, (“And be it Hell and its Devils, be it Heaven and its Gods and Angels. Be it the Avatar, I don’t care what they may think. None of them dare lift a finger for others, only for themselves. So I won’t be any different. I’m going to fix this world, I’m going to reshape it to my liking.”)

Makaela nodded as she too glanced over her people’s gazes of adoration, (“Yeah, we shall.”) She said, resting her hand over his shoulder as their gazes met. (“Damn be whoever blames you for our enslavement, that was our fault entirely. But dead is the voice who says you haven’t done anything. You have given my people more than we could have ever gained alone. Till the day I die Erik…I serve you wholly.”)

For the first time in weeks, she heard the sound, relief filling her then.

As Erik’s gaze turned to face forwards, she heard him chuckle, a weak laugh which escaped him.

(“Then onward we go, to see what the future holds”) Erik mused, continuing to walk down the street.

(“And I’ll wait…I’ll wait for as long as you need me to wait…Master.”) She then thought to herself, a thin smile over her face as she continued to follow after him. Watching at his back as they walked down the busy street, as all turned to look at them.

Makaela noticing then, that the gazes of the citizens were turning from joy and adoration to expressions of anxiety followed by relief. (“Erik what is…”) She about asked, but stopped as they paused before one building’s open doors.

Before them stood a dozen or so Dragon Knights, six standing to either side of the doorway while two more stood within the wide frame, both wooden doors laying fully open. This was one of the many recreational places that had popped up as the city grew, a usually bustling tavern.

Yet, as they walked inside, most of the tables were empty.

All but the bar itself, where five figures sat drinking.

Walking inside after Erik, Makaela also noticed several more Dragon Knights standing on guard, up to three dozen covering the tavern.

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Erik stopped midway through the tavern, and Makaela did too, the both of them now staring at the five cloaked figures who sat with their backs towards them.

We’ve been waiting.” Spoke one male voice, a sudden rush of draconic filling Makaela’s ears, it startled her.

Surely you noticed us entering the moment we came close.” Mused another, seemingly female.

I did, I simply decided to take a nice slow walk through my beautiful city, and keep you invaders waiting.” Erik then said with a tone of annoyance.

Makaela felt her bones fill with ice, as she realised what sort of beings sat before her. Finding herself unable to move or speak, as silence briefly filled the room.

Erik gestured for the Dragon Knights to leave, and they did, taking the barmaid with them before closing the doors behind them. Leaving only Erik and Makaela alone with the five cloaked beings.

I was wondering when you’d show yourselves.” Erik mused.

Oh, so you knew we existed? Did Delirio perhaps mention us?” Asked a large burly male before gulping down an entire bottle of ale.

If one survived then surely did others.” Erik said with a sigh, (“And if Grim lied to me on one thing then it surely lied on everything…”) He bitterly thought. “I figured you’d step out of your hiding when I began my siege on Abu Katra. What other place could possibly be more preferred for your kind to hide in? Where you can amass your hordes with ease, and fully within sight of the whole world.

One then suddenly chuckled, a grating laughter which caused Makaela’s ears to twitch. “Aha! Yes, oh yes so right. Truly it is the best place for greed, gluttony and debauchery!” The tallest, yet also thinnest of them all exclaimed, as each of them then rose up and turned around.

Makaela watched, horrified, as black horns and black scaled tails appeared.

The one at the very centre catching most of her attention, as he reared his shoulders back, a pair of pitch black and silver netted wings then growing out from beneath his cloak.

Erik then dropped his illusion, revealing his dragging wings, at first seeming nowhere near as menacing as the other winged figure. But as he raised and spread them wide open, their white, black and crimson colouring alongside the vaster size…Erik was by far the most intimidating of them all.

He glanced over them, as the one at the centre chuckled in amusement. “Ah, your friend here seems a bit overwhelmed.” He mused, as indeed Makaela’s expression was entirely frozen in surprise and fright.

“Erik I-” Makaela tried to speak, but a shiver in her throat seemingly blocked her words.

“It is alright, I knew what they were and that they were coming.” Erik assured her, “For, there is no sane reason the Sinbeni council wouldn’t simply surrender, not with how terrified they seemed…Unless, there were others pulling their strings too. And not just Azkel and her Pact…”

The winged figure stepped forward, pulling his hood down and revealing a young man with long silver hair and bright silver draconic eyes. “And we never doubted Elder brother would know this, we did however doubt Elder brother could defeat Uncle…”

Erik growled, many of them stepping back at the aggressive gesture, as he himself stepped forwards. “And doubting me, was your first mistake.” He hissed in reply, as briefly the entire tavern shuddered. “Announce yourselves, you’re being impolite.” He then said, a lingering malevolence within his tone fully sensed by each of the five figures.

Erik was making it clear which of them was the senior here.

The one at the centre raised his hands forth, “Yes, apologies Elder brother, we mean no insult.” Then gesturing at himself as tendrils of silver energy formed around his body. “I am Xavrydar, Half Silver Black Dragon and leader of this comradery of surviving Dragons.” He gestured at the rest who sheepishly stepped forward.

“Tevrerth, Pure Black Drake.” Said the large burly male, having short black hair and dark brown eyes.

“Eoka…B-Blue Black Drake.” Stuttered the next, a short blonde-haired girl with dark blue eyes.

“Grylrag the mighty Green Black Drake! At your service.” Dramatically said another, the tall lean male with dark green eyes and long black hair tied back into a tail just as long as his actual.

Elbowed back into standing straight by the last, an almost as tall and lean female with the same features. “Vemmaninth, Green Black Drake and twin to this fool.” She said coldly.

Xavrydar then gestured at his comrades, “We, as we called ourselves, are The Black Order. And we, are the true rulers of Sinbeni. We come before you in peace, and to speak of such between our old nation and your newly revived kingdom.”

Erik though continued to gaze at Xavrydar with dreadfully narrowed eyes, “One untested Black, and four of his wingless cousins…Dare walk into the White’s Lair, thinking themselves equal.” He hissed in draconic, stepping forward to stand face to face with Xavrydar. “I should bite your throat out. Whilst, you should be on your knees begging for mercy.

Xavrydar felt the pressure Erik produced, having to do his best at remaining to stand and face him, his comrades though were not as fortunate.

As each of the four Drakes fell their knees, shivering.

Only one of you is trained in our ways, only one of you can probably even fight. Yet you dare mingle about my children, you dare come here unannounced.” Erik continued to growl, as his bright golden eyes fiercely met Xavrydar’s trembling silver. “Cowards, the lot of you. Where were you when Hell invaded? Hiding, weren’t you? Where were you as the Pact and Delirio did as they pleased? Cowering beneath them I presume…Where were you when a young Green was taken captive by Delirio? You ignored it, didn’t you?…” Erik’s fury was unhinged, as tendrils of flame and lightning now frolicked about his person.

Joined by tendrils of black-red energy.

He then abruptly stepped back, “At first, when I sensed you, I expected more. I expected a coalition of proud black dragons coming here to warn me, warn me that I was stepping out of bounds. Yet…” Erik chuckled coldly, “Yet all I see is four snivelling pups and a premature fool at their lead.

His right hand then rose forth, and within appeared a long ornate white staff. “Tell me…Why shouldn’t I kill you all here and now? I wouldn’t even have to lift a finger, after all my four guardians and my army of Dragon Knights would be far more than enough.

Well, that went bloody well didn’t it?” Grylrag mused anxiously, as his face now pressed against the floor.

To which his sister hissed back at him before turning to Erik, “We mean no harm Elder brother…Please, hear us out…

We are the last…There are no others!” Xavrydar exclaimed, “Would you really put our kind’s very future into jeopardy?

Erik’s eyes though did not calm, his gaze continuing to glare down at them with severe scrutiny. “You misunderstand, I care not for our kind’s continuation. I only care about what is mine, and who deserves my protection. From my standing point, none of you have done anything to earn it. Hah…You even own the country who enslaved my people. So again I ask, why should I have mercy?

W-We can offer aid a-against the Pact! A-Against Azkel!” Eoka pleaded, shivering worse than any of them.

Erik’s annoyance grew, “I need not your help with that, which leaves you, with what exactly?

Silence, silence filled them now, as there was nothing else they could offer.

Indeed, you have nothing more.” Erik mused, lowering his staff and pressuring energy then, “You have nothing you think you can offer me, while I hold all the cards. Now, you understand, just where we each stand.”

Tentatively they rose back to standing, gathering behind Xavrydar who’s wings had long closed up from fright.

Erik smirked as he looked upon them, “Lesson one, any other Dragon would have killed you all before any of you had even the chance of speaking a single word of reason to them. Luckily, I am not just any Dragon, am I?”

Confusion now filled their expressions as they glanced at their leader, Xavrydar too seeming unable to follow Erik’s sudden change in tone.

“I do, have one use of you all.” Erik then mused.

“W-We can compromise th-” Xavrydar then tried to say, but was cut off as the pressure suddenly returned.

Well, at least I thought I had made the field clear.” Erik hissed, shutting him up entirely. “I give you one, unchangeable offer. As it stands, you have your untrained selves and a crumbling kingdom. I, a trained Dragon empowered by this unorthodox revival, also have an entire empire behind me. I am the Lion, and you are simply the rats who’s den I wandered over. Now you have two choices…”

The pressure upon them increased, each of them now falling to their knees. “Either, I wipe out Sinbeni’s very existence from Faetera and make new sets of equipment for my soldiers out of your cold corpses…” His words sending a child crawling up each of their spines, “Or, Sinbeni and you, become a vassal to my Dragon Empire, as Druvia has.”

“So…nothing will change then?…” Xavrydar mused bitterly, “We’ll once again be nothing more than retainers to another…First Delirio, and now you?”

Erik chuckled, “If you wish to serve, you will serve. But I was more thinking along the lines of students.” He said with a smirk, each of their gazes then rising to meet his amused eyes. “I will teach you hatchlings what it means not to just be a Dragon, but a strong one.”

“You…offer to become our teacher?” Tevrerth asked in confusion.

“And is there a problem with that?~” Grylrag edged his comrade aside, “Y-Yes we’d be honoured!” He exclaimed, shivering with the rest where they lay.

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“But…” Xavrydar then mumbled out, “Is that wise?” He asked.

“I assume you speak of the gap in power it will create.” Erik then mused.

“Gap?” Makaela questioned, still utterly astounded by the entirety of this.

“Our surrender…Zrosa will see it as a weakness, they will invade Sinbeni’s borders.” Vemmaninth explained.

“No, far worse.” Erik said with a sigh, releasing his pressure upon them once again. “With Druvia and Sinbeni under our toe, The Dragon Empire will now be much vaster than the other four large powers of Faetera. Seeri, New Druv, S’sern and Pepputia. War will still come, be it a combination of any of those.”

“T-Then you’re ready, you’re r-ready for another G-Great War!?” Eoka stuttered in amazement.

Hah,” Erik’s smirk returned, “Ready, we shall be. If they decide to attack, we’ll retaliate of course. And Sinroz, will be the staging grounds for this coming Great War. The staging grounds for our Empire’s rise to total power. So, what do you say, Black Order?” He asked, then forwarding his free hand to Xavrydar as he rose back to his feet.

“Will Sinbeni be a stepping stone in my way, or…” Erik’s smirk grew into a wicked smile, “Will you join us in world domination?

Xavrydar stared down at Erik’s outheld hand, for several moments he stared with wide eyes. “You’re insane, Elder Brother.

Erik chuckled, as Xavrydar shook his hand. “Insanity is simply misunderstood genius, young one.

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