The revered Queen Verita of Liria, second of her name, defender of the frontier and upholder of the Lion tenants of her ancestors was pissed.
Long had she puzzled over how the enemy had been able to gather so many more troops than she had been able to anticipate. Her closest advisors had worked with her on their strategy. The careful plotting, endless information gathering, debates and planning had been overthrown when her soldiers had been soundly defeated and outnumbered when the trap had finally been sprung and her enemies dashed out of the shadows into the light.
Where had all these fighters come from?
Seeing those organised warriors at the castle door was one thing and now looking at these disciplined soldiers dressed in mercenary gear arrayed against them before the dais of her own throne it all became clear.
These were not mercenaries or hirelings brought in to bolster the numbers for the fight. These were trained soldiers from a nearby kingdom! There must be a hundred of them there! This isn’t a small number by any means. Someone must have wanted to interfere in the political situation in Liria desperately to commit so many of their people to a coup in another country!
Seeing the Andron ambassador standing beside Corrin as the filthy Mercenary Union lounged on Verita’s throne she could easily guess who it had been.
“Great Queen Verita, how nice of you to join us” drawled Corrin, one leg dangling over the side of the throne, “we were just wondering when my coronation should be held. You wouldn’t have any input on the matter would you?”
Verita disregarded the mercenary as beneath her notice and turned instead towards the ambassador Regix.
“Regix, so interesting to see you here. Incredible how quickly the kingdom of Andron has been able to adjust to the changing landscape here in Liria. One could be forgiven for thinking that you had known about all of this in advance” she said.
The ambassador smiled tightly and turned to Corrin, deferring to the Union leader.
Enjoying the display of her authority Corrin beamed at her former Queen.
“Don’t be upset Verita. It turns out people other than me can notice how incompetent your reign has been. Our friends from across the border wanted to assist the people of Liria to have good governance, for once”.
Verita could only roll her eyes at the pretence.
“Corrin, since you were born the only thing you cared about was money and power, let’s not pretend anything other than these motivated your treason”.
The mercenary leader’s smile only grew wider. “It’s important to pretend in front of the street rats though” she gestured towards the townsfolk nervously clutching their weapons behind their Queen, “I can’t very well say to the public that I’ll be rewarded with mountains of gold by Andron for destroying your rule and handing over the governance of our nation to a neighbouring country now, can I?”
Indignant rage flared within Verita at those words. Her family had founded this Kingdom, her own kin had fought and died in the campaign to liberate these lands from the monsters. Since then they had tirelessly worked to raise this nation out of the dirt for hundreds of years!
In a moment of clarity the Queen realised exactly why Andron would be prepared to go so far. They were afraid. Liria had risen so far and so quickly that their neighbour to the north feared they would be overshadowed and eventually absorbed. After all, it was Liria that was able to expand their territory by pushing south, Andron had nowhere to go. Rather than die a slow death, why not strike first? If they were successful the bright future of the Liria kingdom would belong to them instead.
Verita had to admit it made sense. Had she been Queen of Andron she might have been tempted to secure the future of her people in this way too.
But she wasn’t, she was Queen Verita Leocor of the Leocor’s. Liria was her kingdom and she’d be damned before she gave it over to these scum.
Throwing any pretence aside she drew herself to her full height and imperiously proclaimed, “Corrin, you will need to surrender yourself to me for judgement. Regix, order your men to stand down at once and you may escape my castle with your life”.
Regix only shook his head and chuckled to himself but Corrin was more unrestrained, throwing back her head and laughing out loud.
“You haven’t changed Verita, you’d think it was you sitting on this throne right now! I’ve no idea how you got back inside the city but the only that did is save me the trouble of hunting you down in the countryside and putting you down like a dog. You’re outmatched here, give it up and I’ll kill you quickly”.
Judging by the sadistic look in the others’ eyes Queen Verita sincerely doubted a quick death featured at all in her plans.
At this moment something pushed its way through the Guards behind her to appear at the front. As one the soldiers arrayed before her tensed and even Corrin’s eyes widened in surprise. Without even turning Verita knew exactly who it was that was standing beside her now.
Concentrating fiercely she wove anew the mind bridge to allow communication between her and the monster. As soon as the weave was done the cold and emotionless voice she had still not grown accustomed to echoed in her mind.[Who are these worms?] the voice demanded.
The Queen’s mouth tightened. As Royalty she wasn’t accustomed to being spoken to with the constant disrespect and rudeness she received from this monster but she could only overlook it, how could she expect manners from a monster?[The leaders of the coup against me and a century of soldiers from a neighbouring kingdom]
She could almost feel the weary disinterest rolling off the creature in waves, confusing her. What was it so bored about?!
Corrin stood from her place on the throne, a grin twisting her face. “You’ve even allied with a monster in order to regain your throne Verita? What would your precious Legion say if they were to find out of this? Or the church of the path for the matter? If word of this were to get out you’d be finished!”
“Somehow I don’t think you’ll talking much when I separate your head from your shoulders” Verita bit back.
She turned toward the monster.[If we can win here the rebellion will fall apart and our pact will be finished monster. Those people all have to die and you will have your reward, are you able to do it?]
Verita had to admit she was nervous as she asked. As far as monsters go this ant wasn’t that large of powerful, but for some reason it managed to overcome impossible odds over and over again. The baffling magic that it was able to use continually surprised her, even filled her with trepidation. The blast that destroyed the gates was seared into her memory. No City wall, no matter how enchanted, would be able to withstand that shocking power!
That memory only firmed her resolve…[So if I can kill or disable all of these people I can take my reward and leave then?] the monster asked.
Verita wasn’t sure but she felt she detected something strange in the creatures tone.
She shook off her thoughts.[Of course] she replied, [Is it possible] [Tell your people to stay out of my way. I’ll finish this quickly]
The monstrous ant leisurely walked forward as the hundred soldiers braced their weapons against it.
“One little ant Verita? This is the best you could find? Exactly how is this piece of garbage going to turn the tides here? You must be insane!” Corrin exulted.
The ant monster indeed looked weak as it slowly walked towards the enemy soldiers arranged neatly in their formation. Nobody in their right might would think a single ant monster would be able to overcome these odds. Ants were not known for their individual strength, they were so feared because of their terrifying numbers!
But this ant was different, Verita knew. She wasn’t sure why or how but this one was different.
The monster continued its unhurried march towards the enemy. The closer it got the tighter the soldiers grip on their weapons became.
When a short gap of only a few metres remained something changed. With the monster at the center a crackling purple energy sphere flickered into existence and expanded rapidly outwards