Chapter Three: Betrayal
After suiting up for battle, I headed for the square like Groul had said to. Arriving, I saw that most of Couvrant’s Army had arrived and were lined up in a professional manner as Groul stood on a wooden stage.
“Okay listen up, as you all know, the Ichiak have been seen heading this way and we expect them to arrive anytime soon. Most of you would already know how dangerous the Ichiak are, but for those who don’t know, they are a force to be reckoned with, so I want you to be on your guard and not underestimate them.”
Listening to this, it made me wonder just how strong they were; I suppose I would find out soon enough…
“I will not lie to you that they are a dangerous foe and some of you may not last it this fight, but know if such an event comes, know that all those will be honored for their service to Couvrant, I promise you all”
“Now…to arms!” Groul shouted as all the soldiers cheered until one said “Lord Groul!”
Groul looked to the soldier and asked “What is it soldier?”
“What about this strange traveler here?” the soldier said gesturing to me as a lot of the soldier turned to look at me with my crossbow and two katana strapped to my back.
“He is an adventurer from far away and he has personally asked me if he could participate in this fight. I have granted him the right, and I expect you all to show the same respect as me or any other soldier that stands before you.” Groul explained.
“Now we must make haste, the Ichiak will be here any moment” Groul said as the front gates opened and Groul and I walked out the gates, with the soldiers following behind.
We made our way to an open field that would be the point of interception with the Ichiak as we all took our places for the battle. A few seconds passed by as the sound of the approaching enemy was heard, the sky turned dark and a plethora of creatures came out and blocked the view of the forest behind it.
As my vision adjusted, I was finally able to get a good look at this enemy known as the ‘Ichiak’. The Ichiak seemed to be somewhat in appearance to that of a dragon/avian hybrid, their razor sharp claws and teeth certainly made them a dangerous foe, and I could now see what Groul was talking about them being a formidable foe.
But I had never let fear or uncertainty stop me in the past, and there was no way in hell that was gonna start now. I drew my crossbow and waited to see the yellow of their eyes. Then it came, I loaded an arrow, pulled back…then fired.
The arrow soared through the air, cutting through it like melted butter until it struck one of the Ichiak in the eye, piercing the brain and killing it instantly. Groul took this as a signal and roared out before running towards the mass of red in a berserker frenzy and soon the cries of Ichiak being killed rang through the air as the rest of the solider took to arms and began to charge as well, while the archers stayed behind to provide support.
I fired off several more shots, taking down several Ichiak. Suddenly a flying Ichiak swooped down and tried to claw me as I rolled to the side and fired an arrow, which missed this time. “Time to change tactics” I said as I drew my katanas and took stance.
I waited, carefully watching the Ichiak fly around like a vulture. It swooped in again and I waited for the right moment… then as it was about to strike, I sidestepped and swung one katana and sliced off its arm, causing it to screech in pain and fall forwards, then I turned my blade upwards and jabbed upwards, piercing the Ichiak’s skull.
Withdrawing my blade, I watched as the Ichiak fell, but not before another came in for a strike. I quickly crossed my blades and absorbed the blow, it was now a test to see who was the strongest as we both pushed as hard as we could, trying to make the other one falter.
After several moments, I found the opening I needed stomped on the Ichiak’s foot, causing it to let its guard down as I pushed forwards hard and then stabbed the Ichiak in the heart. It didn’t take long for another to take it’s place, but this time it managed to scratch my arm.
“Ow! Goddamn that hurt!” I said as the Ichiak just screeched and charged again. “Heads up!” I said as I recovered and dodged before slicing upwards, beheading the scaled beast. I sighed as I looked at the wound the creature had caused, “Need to fix that up later…” I thought as I charged in again to help.
Time passed as a sea of red was spread over the battlefield, most from the slain Ichiak as the numbers began to thin out. Ichiak after Ichiak fell as the fight continued, and I did my part to help out, but after slicing one Ichiak’s leg off and stabbing it in the heart, I felt something big pick me up and restrain me.
I looked to see an Ichiak, but almost 2-3 times larger than the average one, either this was the leader, or I underestimated the potential size some of the soldiers were. I came eye to eye with the beast as it screeched in my face.
“Oh shoot…” I said quietly as the creature brought a claw around to finish me. But just as he was about to swing, it froze suddenly. I looked down to see what had happened and a sword was seen sticking out of the behemoth’s chest, Groul holding the handle of it. The beast screeched and let go of me and I landed relatively well.
“Now Draco!” Groul said as I received his message and threw one katana in a spinning motion, the blade acting like a saw as it sawed the Ichiak leader’s head off. I dived to the side to avoid the body falling on me, I got up and dusted myself off and retrieved my katana, which was stuck in the ground nearby as Groul approached me.
“You alright kid?” he said pulling his blade out of the creatures back.
“Yeah I’m fine, thanks” I assured him.
“Don’t get too relaxed yet, this fight isn’t over yet…” he said gesturing to the other Ichiak that were still standing. I just nodded as we jumped back into the battle, and moments later, the battle was won, a field full of dead Ichiak and the occasional soldier who didn’t make it.
An important looking man, most likely the General of the Army that had fought approached Groul. “Lord, we lost around 100 of our own today sir” he said grimly.
“Thank you General Madhine, we will make sure to give these men a proper funeral to honor the courage and bravery they showed this day” he said as he walked over to me. “You’re a natural born warrior kid, it was an honor to fight with you” Groul said offering a hand.
“Well I wanted to thank you for not throwing me in the dungeon, so I thought that helping defend this place would be a better way as any to repay you” I said to him as I shook his hand.
“Well we must return to bury the fallen and then a feast to celebrate our victory. After that, you can tell me your story” he said to me as he sheathed his sword.
“Alright then” I replied as we headed back to Couvrant with the rest of the army.
The burial ceremony was held for the fallen and a feast for the victory followed soon after. Moments later, Groul lead me to the study again and we sat where we were before the fight. “Now…” Groul said looking at me “What’s your story?”
“Well…” I said before I started to explain. I told him all about my origins, my past history, what I had learned in my own world, just about everything there was to know, and all this I confiding to someone I had only know for a few hours, but something told me that I could trust him.
After I finished my story, Groul sat there with his eyes closed, whether this was a good or a bad thing, I didn’t know. Groul finally opened his eyes and said, “Well that is some story, but I suppose that it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that you aren’t like the rest of us…”
“I just hope the dukes don’t catch wind of this though…” I said to him.
“True, if they knew what you just told me, they would think that you are some kind of evil wizard and use it as an excuse to…” Groul began to say when a voice said behind him:
“To get rid of you? Of course we would, and that’s what we are going to do…”
The dukes and a few soldiers were standing in the entrance to the study. Khalagh smirked “Groul, as a duke of Couvrant I hereby sentence you to death by hanging for allowing an evil wizard to enter Couvrant and endangering the safety of the people. As for you boy…I will see to it that you are beheaded for your crimes”
“Crimes? I haven’t even done anything to you, Groul can vouch for me!”
“We honestly could not care less, Groul stole the Lord’s seat from us and he WILL pay”
Just then Groul tackled them and said “Draco! Get out of here now!”
“But what about…”
“JUST GO, NOW!” he roared.
I didn’t want to leave him, but I decided to run now and save him later. I ran out of the castle and out onto the streets, trying to find the exit. Groul tried to fight the dukes off, but one of them stabbed him with a dagger coated in some kind of poison that causes paralysis as he fell to the ground.
“Was it necessary to use that much Dugan?” Khalagh said to Dugan.
“He’s a weredragon, I needed to make sure he wouldn’t overpower us like he did last time” Dugan said as he sheathed the dagger.
“You two, take Groul to the Gallows, the rest of you, spread out and search for the boy, he couldn’t have gotten far…” Khalagh said to the soldiers as Groul was hauled off.
I dashed through the streets as I tried to look for somewhere to hide until I could leave. As I passed the Northern Street tavern, the Bartender came out and said “Draco! In here, hurry!”
I wasted no time as he led me inside and into the basement.
Once down there I looked to the bartender and said “Sir, why are you doing this?”
“Because I heard about what happened with you and Groul, they think you to be an wizard, and I agree, you didn’t seem the kind of teenager we get around these parts”
I just looked at the ground, until he said “BUT…even so, you’re still a good kid in my opinion, I don’t think you to be the type that would be a risk to the people of Couvrant, and a lot of the patrons that have seen you, agree”
“Er thank you…” I said, astounded by his trust and generosity.
“You’re wel-“ he began to say as he heard the doors of the tavern open.
“That must be them, just stay here and you’ll be fine” he said as he walked back upstairs.
I just went and sat in a corner as I waited for them to leave. Sitting there I could hear the sound of the conversation being said above.
*In the Tavern*
The Bartender stood behind the bar as a group of soldiers approached the bar. “You, have you seen this teenager? We believe him to be a very powerful wizard and very dangerous” the lead soldier said showing a sketch that looked like me.
“Not that I’m aware of” The bartender said as he turned to one of his regular patrons. “David (pronounced like in The Last Remnant), have you seen this kid?” The bartender said as the soldier held the picture for him to see.
“I haven’t seen that kid since he left this morning, what about you Wilfred?” David said looking at the picture then asking man in his late 50’s and wearing a distinguished moustache.
“That young chap? No, haven’t seen him all day” Wilfred said to the soldiers.
The soldiers turned back to the Bartender, as he said, “No sorry, we haven’t seen him”
“Well notify the nearest guard if you do” the lead soldier said as he left the tavern.
*Back in the Basement*
I waited for around 15-20 minutes before the bartender came back. “They’re gone, you’re safe for now” he said as I got up and dusted myself off.
“Thank you sir” I said gratefully.
“No problem, but tell me, just what happened in the castle?”
“Well…” I said as I explained everything that had just happened.
“So the dukes finally got tired of Groul, I suppose it was inevitable, just about all of Couvrant knows about how the Dukes lost the Lord’s seat to Groul. But they obviously used you as an excuse to finally get rid of him”
“What can we do?” I asked him.
“There’s not much we can do, the dukes have turned a lot of the town’s guard against Groul, so they will be protecting the Gallows while the hanging takes place”
I thought for a few seconds and then got up and said “I’ll rescue him”
The bartender looked at me and said “But what can you do?”
“It’s better that I do this since I’m already wanted, and I have a few tricks up my sleeve”
“Well…okay, but understand that if you get captured, no one will be able to rescue you” he told me.
I just laughed “Don’t worry, they won’t”
The bartender looked out a window in the basement and said “Well you’ve got an hour, they will hang him at sunset” he said as he opened a secret passage in the wall behind a wine rack.
“This will take you out onto the street, you better hurry, you don’t have much time” he explained.
“Got it,” I said as I hurried through the passage and it closed behind me.
“Good luck kid, you’ll need it”