Chapter 61: Diplomacy?…

Erik’s clawed finger tapped rhythmically at the table’s surface, as he sat at one end of the long ornate table, the rest of his body lying frozen as he stared. Gazing at the opposite end of the table, where no chair was placed but instead a mass of flesh lay, beating alongside his rhythm.

To either side of him sat his companions, Nerick, Kayle and Ivyieth along the left, then Makaela and her officers to his right. All but Pyra were present, as along the rest of the table sat the others.

The Black Order, Dragonkin one and all, they sat along the left, just a few seats away from Ivyieth who’s eyes shone as she ogled each of them childishly.

They lay waiting, silently they awaited others, all but Erik who’s impatient tapping was slowly creeping up the nerves of everybody else.

“Finally.” He then mused, as the hall’s large doors then opened, Pyra coming through first and leading the way for the procession of figures behind her. “Truly, the journey from Druvia to here isn’t that far.” Erik grumbled as he eyed the new arrivals.

With young Sol at the lead, many others walked up behind their king. Drew the Arch-Duke, alongside the other Dukes and Bishop Kalashnikova. Then General Henry, alongside several of his own officers. And lastly came Alan, with Findri, Kai and Elena following up closely behind him. Each of Druvia’s leaders stepped into the room, eyes wide and expressions aghast at what they had seen on the way in.

“Welcome.” Erik said, standing from his seat then. “I’m sure young Solarion has explained some, but let me reiterate. I, am Erikathyr, Dragon to the White Clan. Destroyer, as you might know me. Yet also, now Emperor to this newly formed Dragon Empire.” He gestured at the rest who sat along the table, Henry eyeing Kayle in further confusion as she simply smiled back in amusement.

Drew cleared his throat, “We…Know of your standing, yet…We do not understand how it is possible. You say you…freed the entirety of the enslaved Xilfir race, and that…Sinbeni has announced its surrender to you?”

Erik chuckled, “Surrender? No, Sinbeni as we speak is announcing to its people that they as a kingdom are now part of the Empire. As, unofficially, you have been for the past months.”

“Unofficially, as you say.” Drew quickly added, “And we accepted your rather…forceful, invitation. To keep peaceful relations with your so called…Empire. We are grateful, for the aid you sent our way in our time of due need but…”

“Please, sit.” Erik then said, cutting the Arch-Duke off as the chairs before them suddenly rushed out from under the table. He watched them, eyes ablaze with golden light, Erik stared coldly at them as they took their seats facing the Black Order.

As they eyed each individual in the room, most of their gazes fell upon the beating mound of greyish violet flesh.

“As you point out, our alliance with Druvia has been rather unofficial thus far.” Erik continued to speak then, regaining their attention. “As such I invited you all here, to make it official.”

“Druvia has no qualms with joining the Empire.” Sol then suddenly spoke up, gaining many a surprised gaze from his side of the table.

“But sire we sh-” Drew whispered with urgency.

“No Drew, things are far more complicated than you know…” Sol whispered back, cutting him off. “The Empire has not only saved our kingdom from Azruxan the barbarian, but also stopped the Orcin invasion short. We owe them far more than we can offer.” Sol then announced.

“Well,” The bishop then tried to stand back up, yet finding that his seat wouldn’t move, he remained sitting as he spoke. “Ahem…I find it quite unpleasant that we as a nation would, without vote nor prior explanation to the populace…Ally, with His sor-”

His words frozen short then, as Erik’s resounding growl filled the entire hall.

I would choose your next words very carefully, servant of Gods.” Erik hissed out in draconic, causing the bishop’s entire complexion to turn paper white.

“While…” Sol then stepped back in, trying to calm the situation. “While you speak true that there was no warning from my part, I take full responsibility of such, but the conversation here is of another point yet to be made…” He glanced at Erik, dreading what was to come.

As a wide smile then grew over Erik’s face, his eyes setting upon Sol’s group. “The point…The point is, that I offer Druvia the chance to willingly join the Empire. Should you decline, as I’m sure many of you are…pondering, on doing. I offer you the next solution.” Erik explained, raising his right hand up then, he snapped his fingers.

And as he did, reality behind him seemed to shudder as a wall of dim light formed from one end of the room to the other.

Within the light then formed another place, showing scenes from elsewhere.

“What you see before you, is Abu Katra, and out come every single slave and Xilfir who was kept within.” Erik said, as behind him was shown such. “Thousands over thousands have come out, released of their masters. They are now citizens, family and friends under my Empire.”

“Now that is kind and all but-” The Bishop tried to speak, but Erik’s clawed finger closing his lips as he suddenly appeared standing next to him, shut the man up entirely.

“Now, how many times was it?” Erik asked, glancing then at Zentha who rose to standing.

Politely she bowed, “Twenty four thousand, six hundred and eighty nine breaches of your word, sire.” She announced, the number meaning very little to one side of the table, but everything to the other.

As Erik’s gaze then befell the Black Order, “As agreed then, I shall be tolling the price.” He said, snapping his fingers once more as the scene suddenly expanded outwards.

Showing now the Dark Citadel hovering in place, barely over the capital of Sinbeni.

They watched, as tendrils grew out of the black cloud which kept it adrift.

Serpents of dark storms formed, snarling and growling, dozens of them took shape. Twisting and swirling about one another, the storm loomed over the capital…

“This, is my point. Ladies and gentlemen. I wish to you be…spectators, to enforcement of my rules.” Erik explained, as he turned then to the scene. “Voltru…” He growled in chant, as the serpents’ eyes shone a bright gold in response to his voice, as his voice itself echoed out a thousand times louder…

Rumbling down upon Abu Katra, like thunder.

For every chain, every scratch…For every new scar or injury witnessed. I am a Dragon of my word.” Erikathyr announced, “Twenty four thousand, six hundred and eighty nine. Those, are your sins to bear. And for each sin, my wrath shall strike down. Voltru.

Lightning crackled through each serpentine cloud, a surge of energy slowly rising within each tendril…

A silence fell upon the city, and the room.

Filled then by the rumbling of thunder as the sparks of light dimmed back into the clouds.

As they all watched, the barriers which once protected the city…dissipate.

Before suddenly dozens flashes of light struck down upon the city below, hitting buildings, walls, statues…Structures collapsed, caught fire or simply exploded as lightning rained throughout the capital. Villas were disintegrated, entire streets torn asunder as men, women and children ran for their lives…

Yet still, many died.

Gone unseen by the blinding befalling light, their deaths were.

Their cries of fear and agony gone muted out by the rage of thunder following every single zap of golden electricity.

Erik briefly stared at the alit city, his gaze wandering over then between the faces of the Black Order which lay cold and empty.

To the Druvians, who stared aghast, horrified and disgusted by the slaughter.

They watched, a cold chill crawling up their spines with every flash of light and roar of thunder.

Now, we would be here all week.” He then mused, his draconic voice rumbling over even the thunder.

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As the strikes of lightning suddenly stopped.

“So I’ll just say that is enough.” He said, turning to now look at what remained of Abu Katra.

Where once stood a proud flourishing river city, now lay ruins of smoke and flame.

“You…You’ve not changed…” The Bishop mused as he rose from his seat, turning to stand facing Erik then. Eyes wide and expression pale, the plump man trembled before the Dragon yet somehow kept some sort of calm. “What was that supposed to prove? A senseless massacre, just like back in your day. What are hundreds of corpses worth to you?”

Erik though smirked as his eyes met the man’s shaken gaze, “Oh, but senseless it wasn’t. It proves that I do not make idle threats, I only give choices.” Stepping forwards then as the chair behind the bishop also moved back, and so did the bishop as Erik approached, instinctually stepping away from him.

Falling back onto his ass and into sitting, he lay staring up at Erik in frozen terror.

“So, I hand you the choice, servant of the Gods…And I suggest you do what you do best.” Erik said, as his wings suddenly spread wide open. “Preach my word, otherwise, shut up and serve.

“Or…what?” Kai then hissed as he also stood up.

Smiling still, Erik turned to the adventurer’s guildmaster, glancing over Alan’s glare and Findri’s frantic eyes. “We have taken over Sinbeni, yet we shall not stop here. We have two choices of expansion. As we speak, Zrosa marches upon what once was Sinbeni land. So either, we march against them and show those beasts what true strength is…Or, we abandon these lands for the Zrosians to take and march west.”

Erik stepped around the bishop, coming to stand facing Kai. “Take over the Lost World, annihilate the Orcin remains and then officially take over Druvia.”

“We’d fight.” Kai added.

“You’d die.” Makaela corrected, “Hopelessly struggling for life, crawling in the blood of your families, you’d disappear. Never to be heard of within the writings of history, nothing more than a stepping stone for our rise.” She stated simply, taking a sip out of her cup then.

“Fine…” Alan said with a sigh, as his cold gaze met Erik’s. “I’ll admit, Druvia as it stands, we’d be trampled over. Yet, to what point though? What’s the point of this military expansion? Why are you insisting on building a super power so forcefully?” He asked, his eyes then glancing over at the well of disturbing energy in the room.

The miasmic-violet beating heart.

To prepare, for what is to come.” Then spoke a sinister voice through the corrupt organ.

As Azkel’s form appeared hovering above it, causing great distress on Druvia’s side of the table.

“Good lord, what is this creature doing here!?” The bishop exclaimed, signing out protection with his hands as a silent prayer went whispered beneath his trembling breath. Much to the Deviless’s amusement.

“This creature, is Azkel, and soon to be under the protection of my Empire.” Erik said, moving past Kai to come to standing next to the bulging mound of flesh. “Her organization, lost and destroyed by my Xilfir. This Devil, is left with no choice but to accept a deal I’ve proposed. In return for giving me the information I want, in return for continual assistance, the Dragon Empire will shield this Devil. In simple terms, she is switching sides.” Erik explained as he then laid his left hand onto the pulsating heart.

Tear open, make the connection clear.” He began to chant, as a dark fog of shuddering energy then began to ooze out of the heart. “Bring forth, from the other side. Bring forth, from elsewhere.

The room fell quiet, a nervous silence befalling them as the strange smoke formed a shell around the heart. Erik’s arm almost entirely sinking within, the illusion of Azkel above him disappearing too.

Spatial School; Eight Tier Summoning!” Erik exclaimed, feeling the collected energy within the heart burning up as a resource for his spell, yet still barely a drop from the mass of spirit which lay within it.

Stepping back then as the smoke dissipated, a figure, stepped out from behind the heart. Dark red scaly skin with violet flames rushing through the indentions, short crimson hair with strands of braided violet.

Her hand held within Erik’s, Azkel now physically stood before them all. Opening her eyes a deep crimson shone out, sending a shuddering chill through each Druvian as her melting gaze met theirs.

Erikathyr…what…is this?” Findri asked as she too stood up, confused and appalled by the Devil’s appearance.

This, is the state of things.” Erik replied, turning to fully face Azkel then, as the Deviless kneeled down. “Sinbeni, the Black Order, this Devil…and Druvia. All, serve me now.” His gaze turned to Sol’s, as the young king stood up from his seat.

Walking about the table, as Erik let go of Azkel’s hand, he too turned to face Sol.

“Sire what…” Drew asked as he suddenly rose up, trying to stop his charge from approaching the hellish creature.

Sol though ignored him, pulling away from Drew he continued to approach.

Coming to stand before Erik, he too then kneeled.

Erik’s hand then waved across, suddenly sending the table flying up into the ceiling. His eyes, gazing coldly at the Black Order then as briefly they faltered.

Yet also stood up, in unison they walked up to Erik…

And kneeled.

“We, as dark lords of Sinbeni, pledge our immortal servitude.” Xavrydar announced, as suddenly each of their draconic features appeared.

Bitterly Azkel then spoke, “I…Daughter of Kurzan, abandon my post as princess and second to my sister Ekzen…And I pledge, my servitude…

“This is madness!” The bishop exclaimed, “The people will not stand for this sire!” He said, gesturing then at the dukes who lay frozen in bafflement. “Surely the duchies won’t!?”

“Samael,” Sol then spoke, glancing back at the bishop as he kneeled.

“S-Sire?” Sol’s eyes cold and glaring as he met Samael’s.

“Consider this, a royal decree. Sit your fat ass down, and shut up.” Sol hissed in command, shocking the bishop further, before returning to Erik who loomed over him. “My people…Will they be safe?”

“All citizens of the Empire, will receive our full protection.” Erik replied.

Sol nodded, “Then I pledge, I King Sol Druvia, monarch to the allied kingdom of Druvia…pledge our servitude.”

“Then let it start, rise.” Erik said, and they rose. Turning then to giving them all his back, as a Xilfir knight at the corner of the room pulled on a rope nearby.

Allowing a massive drape of cloth to fall upon the wall.

A banner, black in colour with a white and red winged Dragon drawn within, alongside words beneath it inscribed in draconic text.

“Let our conquest of Faetera…” Erik announced as he gazed upon their new flag, the text reading as, ‘The Dragon Empire’.


Hours later

After tiring hours long talks of diplomacy and economics with the other leaders, Erik now collapsed into his throne, worn out from the magic he had cast earlier.

Yet, he did not let his weariness show, instead he continued to force himself into lying straight and resolved.

As his companions, and Azkel, still stood before him.

“Let’s get right to it then…” Erik mused as he at least allowed himself to lower his wings. “That core, can it contain only Dark Spirit?”

No, it can contain any type of mana I can think of.” Azkel answered, glancing around both cautiously and awkwardly as Nerick, Kayle and Makaela held their distance from her. She eyed them, curious at what sorts of companions a dragon would have, but also very careful at how long she did so.

Finding that, eyeing Makaela for too long, gained her a rather annoying cold stare from the Dark Elf.

“Would, converting the mana within it now, cause damage to it?” Erik then asked as a group of Xilfir knights carried the heart in question into the room, resting it at the centre before leaving.

Not…that I know of, what’s the point of this questioning? I think it’d be of more use if you just told me what you plan to do with it!” Azkel complained loudly, raising Erik’s brow as he now glared at her.

“Do not…misunderstand, our new relationship. Devil, I will tell you what you need to know, if and when I decide you need to know it.” Erik explained in a harsh tone, to which Azkel said nothing other than growing a grimace.

“I allowed you into this world, I gave you an easy escape from your father’s grasp. But that doesn’t mean I can’t change my mind, after all, I doubt Kurzan will overlook you now…” Erik mused, smirking in amusement as her shoulders slumped. “Traitor.

F-Fine, yes, I understand my situation…” She stuttered in reply. “And you’re right…Father will come…one day, you’ll find this world crawling with another armada from hell.

“Let them come,” Erik chuckled, “But first, we have other things to plan for. Not only will the other kingdoms react to this founding of ours, your cousin is still…at large, and a great unknown.”

Brazath?…I’d say more but, other than that he’s utterly off his rocker, I know nothing of that madman.” Azkel grumbled.

“Is she?” Erik asked, turning then to Kayle, who’s eyes flipped to white.

“She is telling the truth.” Kayle mused, her eyes then returning back to normal.

Seer…” Azkel hissed in annoyance, recognising the rare power.

“One I must thank you for, don’t I?” Kayle smugly replied. “And it is not the only power I gained from that witch either…”

Hmph, like I care.” Azkel grumbled back.

Either way.” Erik then growled, regaining their attention. “Your role in all this is simple, I want you to prepare the core for acting as a catalyst to a tier ten spell. Are you capable of at least that?”

Hah, simple.” Azkel chuckled, “But I will need to know what kind of spell, and a vast space for the heart to spread and grow. Tearing the core out disconnected it, as it lays now, it’s useless.

“You will have your space, but you are not to leave the citadel, not one step outside. I will know if you do.” Erik warned, his eyes focusing into slits then as he met her own cold gaze.

Under…stood.” Azkel sheepishly replied.

“As for the kind of spell…” Erik then stood up, running his claws over his own chest before suddenly plunging them into his flesh. Almost were his heart would lay, he dug inside his own body, grasping something within. Groaning and growling with pain as he did so, they could only watch with surprise as he pulled something out.

A black crystal, its spherical shape deformed as vein-like tendrils of crimson wrapped about it.

“I no longer need this…do I?” Erik whispered to himself as he gazed at the crack which lay over the draconic core.

“E-Erik!?” Makaela shouted, horrified by his actions she rushed to his side, “What are you doing!?”

“What needs to be done.” Erik said, casting a silent spell then as he passed his free palm over the wound, as slowly it began to close itself.

Makaela sighed in relief at the sight, “But your core…what do you mean you don’t need it?”

It is not his…anymore.” Azkel then mused as she stared at the sphere, everyone then turning to stare at her. “I knew I sensed…something, about you. Hah, now I understand.

“What do you know?” Erik asked with a chuckle, “Not that you can help.”

No, no I can’t do anything for you…But I can warn you, you’re changing. With your core broken, and soul shattered, I can feel it…Something within you has awakened.” Azkel warned.

The ancient wakes…” Erik then mused, “I know the legends, I know the stories. But what good are myths to me!?” He then growled, his voice shuddering the entire hall.

Causing Azkel to instinctively step back.

“My condition…aside,” Erik then threw the core to her, “The spell is a tier ten of the school of Astral magic. Your miasmic heart as the catalyst, my broken core as the conductor. Do you know what to do?”

But of course I do! What do you take me for, an ignorant fool? Who doesn’t know basic Astral rune inscriptions and draconic patterns.” She scoffed, to which Nerick’s expression twitched, unsure what language she had just spoken in.

Although she had never switched away from common…

Erik straightened himself, grasping the now closed wound as Makaela worriedly held onto him. “Then go, get started.” He spoke in command, his tone making the Devil cringe once more.

As the Xilfir knights from before re-entered, raising the miasmic heart by the wooden platform it lay on, they ushered it out followed by Azkel. Giving Erik one last glance before she left, her eyes narrowing as they then befell the core which now lay in her hand.

The doors, closed behind them, leaving Erik alone with his companions.

As he stepped back, fully collapsing into his throne then.

“Is this…wise?” Makaela asked, staring off at the closed doors from where she stood.

“It is the best I can make of this…situation.” Erik answered wearily, sinking further into his seat. “War is coming, and not just with the other nations of Faetera…While I have Azkel under my roof, Kurzan will look this way.”

“So get rid of her, kill her, why are we shielding that creature!?” Nerick then exclaimed, brazenly approaching the throne. Albeit their new titles, neither of them saw one another less than companions still.

Erik sighed, “Because, she is useful, more so than…even she knows.”

“And that thing…what are you planning to do with it?” Makaela then asked, “Your core may have been unbound from you but…to sacrifice something so valuable into a construct of hell…”

“Right…I guess it’s time I let you in on my…theory.” He mused, leaning forward in his throne as they came to stand around him. “The spell…It’s-”

Makaela and Nerick’s eyes widened at his answer, shock and realisation then going through them as they stood frozen before him.

Except for Kayle…

Kayle broke down, falling to her knees at the very sound, tears streaming down her eyes as she stared at his now warm smile.

Interlude: Insanity

So…It comes, or doesn’t!?” A voice mused, as the melody played out before its shadowy gaze.

The stomping of thousands of feet, followed by the bellows of bestial monstrosities and cries for battle.

The Zrosian army marched through, as beasts of all kinds prowled with.

The final clash, the end, or is it the beginning!?” Brazath mused with a maniacal chuckle as his form took shape out of the shadows. “Haha, either way something is amiss…” A wicked grin forming along his face, stepping forth from under the forest’s edge, he gazed upon the marching beasts.

Flags held high, drums beating a rhythm to the march.

Only allowed on

War, madness, despair…Insanity begins now!” He exclaimed, laughing in amusement as he watched the town ahead burn and fall beneath the Zrosian might. “The prophecy…Balance fades away! And the prophecy shall be fulfilled…This realm will be-Ours!?” He cackled, a sound unlike any sort of joy, a sound incorporating his very instability.

Hah…Haha!” His eyes, wide as he watched the fires of battle devour away at homes, moving then to envelope the fields nearby.

When the heart’s twin breaks, all beware!

For only its twin can resist the change…As chaos twists and turns the mind!- Awakening what is locked inside.” Brazath chanted, yet it sounded nothing like a spell.

The Ancient wakes, the Ancient roars! Haha!- All is done, all is gone…

Run you might, but you cannot. It has wings, so there is no running at all.

Hide you might! You cannot! Its eyes too keen! Its senses too strong! There is no hiding at all! Hahaha~” Laughter, it filled his surroundings as miasma oozed off his mixed body, with every moment his very tone and expression twisting and changing.

For when the Ancient wakes, for when its true blood boils…Monsters beware! The end!- Is nigh and comes for all…

Its form then shattering, dissipating into the fog of corruption that now suddenly enveloped the forest…Slowly then, enveloping the fields…

Devouring the flames.

Covering the town…

And then as well as, the Zrosian army beyond.

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