Chapter Four: To Groul’s Rescue

After making my way through the passage and coming out onto the street, next came the tricky part of getting to and into the gallows without being seen. Fortunately, some of the civilians on the street got word of what was going on from the Bartender and helped me find blind spots in the guards patrolling.

I reached the gallows where there were guards at the entrance and an obvious commotion where there were civilians protesting over Groul’s hanging. I looked at my watch and found I had a little under half and hour left before Groul was sentenced to be hanged.

“I need to hurry” I said to myself as I tried to formulate a plan. Going through the front would be spelling out Groul’s immediate death. So I had to figure out alternate means of getting in undetected.

I scrolled through my head the various ways to get in and then thought of a good one that I could use. I snuck into a nearby alleyway that was adjacent to the gallows and looked for a post or something similar. I found a wooden pillar on the second floor and pointed my keyblade upwards, the end of the blade shot out with a chain following it and hooked around the pillar, creating an effective grappling hook.

“Alright steady now…” I told my blade as it started to retract to where the pillar was. Placing both feet on the wall, I started to walk up the wall and had to stop briefly below the first floor of the building to avoid being detected.

Once the guard has past, I continued to climb the wall until I had reached the second floor. I peeked over the edge and saw a guard standing on the other side, obviously watching the pre-events before the hanging. I crept over the edge and slowly made my way over before grabbing him in a sleeper hold, the guard flailed a bit, but I kept one hand on his mouth and another on his neck and I was able to eventually subdue him.

After subduing him, I had to hide him so no one would alert the dukes of an intruder. I spied some barrels and luckily, one was empty and hid him inside. Just then, another guard started to approach, thinking quickly, I hid in an empty crate and watched through a hole as he looked around.

“Where’s that other guy? Ugh, lazy bastard, he always does this, I should let the captain know about his attitude to work one of these days…” The guard said as he walked away cursing to himself.

I sighed in relief as I started to creep around, hiding when I needed to whilst I looked around for a suitable vantage point. The perfect vantage point came in the form of a guard tower that overlooked the gallows. I hid as I watched the guard, I needed to subdue him somehow, but if I tried to use physical force, I would get caught out before I even reached him…

Then I remembered something else… I took out a gun magazine that was loaded with darts with a yellow colored substance inside. Mega had invented these for situations like this, tranquilizer bullets, one dart and an almost instantaneous effect.

I quietly summoned a fire desert eagle and took the fire magazine out and loaded the tranq. darts inside before fitting a custom silencer I constructed for it. I peeked out and took aim at the guard, who was obviously oblivious to what was about to happen.

I fired a shot and it missed, embedding itself in a nearby wooden post instead. “Dammit!” I cursed softly as I took aim again, the guard went over to inspect the dart, but I hit him in the neck before he could touch it. He staggered for a few seconds before he fell to the floor, and I took the chance to quickly grapple myself up before any guards noticed.

The dart would last for about an hour, so I didn’t need to worry about him waking up while I was busy rescuing Groul. I took up point and looked over the edge as I watched the scene of Groul, whom had obviously been struck with that paralyzing dagger to keep him from breaking loose while they put the noose around his neck.

“Long have I waited for the day you would pay for stealing the lord’s throne from us, and now that day is today” Khalagh said as the noose was secured.

“You will pay with your life for taking something that wasn’t rightfully yours!” Dugan added in.

“Ngh, I took it from you cause I knew that you both weren’t fit for the role, the people of Couvrant deserve to have a voice about what happens in this place!” Groul said as he was positioned on the trap door and the rope tied to the wooden pole above.

“Quiet!” Dugan said as he punched Groul in the gut.

“Heh…that the best you got?” Groul said jokingly.

“Stupid Dragon!” Dugan said punching him in the gut again.

“Tsk tsk Dugan, its almost sunset, he’ll be dead soon enough” Khalagh said as I looked to the horizon and indeed Sunset had approached, so I had less than a minute to do something. I summoned my rifle and carefully cut a hole in the wood on the front of the guard tower so that I could fire without being noticed.

I poked the head of the rifle through the hole and looked through the scope as I saw the scene in front of me and took careful aim at the rope. I had to time the shot just right so he would fall through the trapdoor and at least buy some time to get to Groul and hand him a mixture that Mega created as well that could cure the paralyzing effect of the poison.

I watched as Khalagh stood in front of Groul and spoke…

“Today, we see justice being served for the one that sought to endanger our people by allowing a evil wizard to enter our gates. The penalty for such deeds is death by hanging, do you have any last words?” Khalagh said to Groul.

“The people of Couvrant will never accept you or Dugan as lord, you would seek to rule this place with an iron fist as a dictator, the people deserve better, they deserve a choice!” Groul spat at Khalagh.

“Such humbling words are the exact kind that doomed you to death” Khalagh said as he reached for the trapdoor lever. I steadied myself as I kept my aim fixed on the rope. “Rot in hell you filthy dragon” Khalagh said as he pulled the lever, activating the trapdoor.

I breathed in…and fired, the sound of my rifle rung out as the bullet cut through the air, and just before the moment that Groul would have been done for, the bullet cut through the rope, and fell into the trapdoor.

“What the hell just happened?” Dugan said trying to locate the sound that had rung out. I switched to tranq darts and fired at a guard who I hit in the arm and fell down almost immediately. I fired two more and took out two more guards as the Dukes stood there trying to figure out what happened.

“Someone is taking out our soldiers!” Khalagh exclaimed as another guard fell near him.

Several more shots rang out as the other guards fell and the Dukes ran out, most likely to get reinforcements. After I checked to see if the coast was clear, I hooked my keyblade into a wooden post and used it to abseil down the wall until I reached the ground.

I ran over to the hanging location and looked down where a semi-paralyzed Groul layed down in the dirt. “Come on Groul, I got you” I said as I pulled him out of the trapdoor and readied a syringe with the paralysis cure inside.

“What are you doing here Kid? I thought I told you to run?” Groul asked as I injected the serum.

“You kidding, and see those greedy bastards hang you for helping me? Not on my watch.” I said as I helped him up and grabbed him a sword as he steadied himself on two feet.

“You’re an interesting kid, I’ll give you that” Groul said as I chuckled a bit.

“Heh, you’re welcome”

“Stop right there!” Khalagh yelled as several soldiers as well as the dukes surrounded us, and a row of bowmen surrounded us from the levels above.

“You guys just don’t know when to quit do you?” I said to the dukes.

“Shut up you brat, you’ll pay for ever crossing us!” Dugan said in anger.

“Hey hey, that’s teenage brat to you” I replied with a hint of humor in my voice.

“Dugan and Khalagh, after so many years, I suppose it was only natural that this day would come” Groul said shouldering the sword I gave him.

“Once we rid Couvrant of you two, we can then run this place how it should be run, and let Couvrant know their place in this City” Khalagh said to Groul.

“What? A dictatorship where the people don’t even get a chance to have their say in how their city is run?” Groul questioned.

“The peasants of this City need to know their place, it’s not their city, it’s the lord’s. The Lord should be the only one who chooses what happens to this place, we deserve the right to run the city as we see fit!” Dugan shouted.

“Wrong Dugan, the people deserve a voice, they deserve a say in the way the city is run, it’s not just the Lord’s city, it’s their city too!” Groul said with confidence.

“Enough of this talk, let’s just kill them” Dugan said pointing at us.

“I agree, the quicker we deal with this, the quicker we can get to running this place they way it should be” Khalagh said raising a hand as the bowmen took aim.

I summoned my Desert Eagles behind me with tranq darts in them and said to Groul “Groul, do you trust me enough that you know that I’m not an evil wizard?”

“If I didn’t trust you kid, I wouldn’t be here in the first place” he said to me.

“Huh, good point” I said as I readied my guns.

“Fire!” Khalagh yelled as he brought his hand down. I quickly stopped time as they fired by whispering the words “Vicis Subsisto!” and then fired a tranq dart at each bowman before grabbing Groul and diving behind the gallows as the short effect of the spell wore off and the arrows came speeding towards us again. All the bowmen fell into slumber from the effects of the darts as Dugan was clearly getting annoyed.

“Dammit, how much does it take to kill one teenager and a dragon?” Dugan spat.

“Calm down, getting angry will only give them an edge over you” Khalagh replied.

“Well do something then instead of letting them get a chance to recover” Dugan said in annoyance.

“Are you alright Groul?” I asked Groul.

“Don’t worry about me, worry about them, they still got around a dozen soldiers to use against us”

“They’re technically your soldiers Groul, what are the rules of engagement?” I asked him.

“Even though the soldiers are against us, try not to kill them, they are most likely just doing as they are told, they are not at fault”

“And the Dukes?” I asked.

“Don't kill them either, I want them locked up for their crimes, not killed for them.”

“Considering what I saw at the fields today, I must say that I am surprised at your disposition”

“The Ichiak were different since they are creatures driven by instinct, there would have been no reasoning with them. The soldiers are different, they are only following orders, there is hope for them yet” Groul explained.

“And the dukes have that same hope?”

“No, I just want them to rot in jail for their crimes, killing them wouldn't be as satisfying” Groul said with some anger in his voice.

“I see...”

“Well better get this done then” I said as I drew my katanas, hopefully I could just try and knock them out and not kill them. We both stood up and walked out into the open.

“Gah why can't you just act like a good little dragon and die already?!?” Dugan said, clearly getting more frustrated with each passing second.

“Dugan, mind your temper” Khalagh said to Dugan.

“No! I want them dead now, Soldiers!” Dugan said as the soldiers stood out in front and drew their weapons.

“Wait!” Groul said.

“Soldiers of Couvrant, I ask, why are you doing this? Why are you helping these people who you know will only make your lives miserable when either one of them comes into power? Are you really going to defy your duty to the civilians to let them live in a city where everyone has a say?” Groul said to the soldiers.

“Shut up! Kill them!” Dugan shouted at them.

“You're going to help them transform this place into a city where the little guy doesn't get a say in anything? Where is your honor as soldiers? Have you no shame?” I said to them.

Just then one of the soldiers spoke up “I-I don't want to do this, but they have my family! They said that they wouldn't release them unless I helped them get rid of you”

“They threatened to kill me and my girlfriend if I didn't help them...” another soldier said.

The soldiers started to talk amongst themselves, saying reasons like blackmail and bribery tactics used to manipulate them into working for the Dukes.

“Don't listen to them, kill them!” Dugan yelled.

“No” the lead soldier said. “We have been loyal servants to Lord Groul and we appreciated the way he ran this city. The only reason we ever followed you and Khalagh, Duke Dugan is because you manipulated us into doing your bidding, but no more.”

The soldiers all nodded and walked out of the gallows, leaving the Dukes without any reinforcements. “Get back here, NOW!” Dugan yelled at them.

“Don't bother Dugan, they're lost, we'll take appropriate actions against them after we take care of these two ourselves” Khalagh said to Dugan.

“Duke Dugan, Duke Khalagh, I am disappointed in you, you lied and manipulated the soldiers of this city to do your bidding, only to turn on them once you had what you wanted. I will see you locked away to rot in the dungeons for the rest of your days for your evil deeds” Groul said in a disappointed voice.

“Groul, that is they way the world works, the peasants of this city don't know better so they need someone to tell them what to do, that is why the Lord's throne doesn't belong to you” Khalagh said,

“Wrong!” I said. “You may think they don't know better, that they need someone to tell them what to do, but the truth is, they do know better and they want the right to do what they want, how to live, how to dress, who they want to choose as their husband or wife. They want to have a choice”

“Silly boy, you are delusional” Khalagh said.

“Well guess what, I've seen the people of this city, I've talked to some of them, and believe it or not, they prefer living under Groul's rule, they like having a choice, and you seek to take that away from them. Besides...if I was a 'silly boy' as you say, I wouldn't have been able to sneak in and rescue Groul single handedly, now would I?” I explained to him.

“Fine, its obvious that you can't see things the way they are supposed to be, so be it” Khalagh said as he drew two short swords.

“The Dragon is mine!” Dugan said drawing a longsword.

“I guess I get Khalagh then?” I asked Groul.

“Then I'll take Dugan, but remember, don't kill them”

“I'll do what I can” I said drawing my katanas.

Me and Groul took a stance and waited for a few seconds before the dukes ran at us yelling. I held both katanas and absorbed Khalagh's blow as we pushed against each other, trying to knock each other off balance.

“I'll see you dead for sabotaging our chances of killing Groul” Khalagh hissed at me.

“Don't bet on it” I replied as I pushed forward and kicked him in the chest, sending him reeling back.

Khalagh regained his balance and rushed forwards again, swinging both blades in the same direction. I blocked again and held in place as Khalagh pushed a lot harder, trying to expose a weak spot in my defense.

“That throne WILL be mine” he said as he stomped on my foot, causing me to drop my guard and pushed me into the wall before stabbing me with one of the sword in my chest, thankfully on the opposite side to my heart as a I felt a searing pain in my chest as I yelled in pain.

“No one, not you, not Groul, not even Dugan will stand in my way of claiming that throne!” he said pushing the blade in more.

“So you conspire against Groul, then conspire against the person who helped you just for the sake of being Lord of Couvrant? A life based on greed and betrayal, typical” I said as I grabbed the blade and pulled it out before pushing him back hard.

“Quiet boy, its something that you will never understand!” Khalagh said as he rushed at me with both blades in hand ready to slice at my head.

“On the contrary, I understand more than you know, and it's my understanding that you must be put away from your crimes against this city's people” I said as I drew my keyblade and sliced upwards on Khalagh's blades, effectively slicing the blades off at the handle.

Khalagh looked down at his blades and then to me before dropping the cut blades and putting his hands up in surrender. “Please have mercy...” he said.

I saw that now he was trying to play the sympathy card, but all I could say was “It's not for me to decide how much mercy you receive, that's for Groul to decide”

I performed a roundhouse kick upwards to his head and made him hit a wall, effectively knocking him out. I held a hand to my chest, the stinging of the blade still lingering and some blood evident as I looked over to see how Groul was faring. Dugan seemed to be attacking Groul in a frenzy, hacking and slashing while Groul blocked some hits and dodged overs.

“Gah, why, won't, you, die?!?” Dugan yelled as he kept up his berserker attack against Groul.

“Because I have a duty to this city and its people, and I won't let someone like you ruin what I have accomplished for this city!” Groul said as he swung his blade down and chipped Dugan's blade.

Dugan looked from Groul, to his blade and back to Groul again before running in, swinging his blade widly, trying to hit Groul. Groul blocking all of the hits and then swung upwards, knocking Dugan's blade out of his hands and sending it several feet away. Dugan was now disarmed and couldn't do anything but holds his hands up in surrender.

“Stupid dragon, I swear to you that one day, not now but someday, you WILL die a gruesome death, mark my words” Dugan cursed at Groul.

Groul chuckled a little and said “Such big words coming from such a small minded man” before elbowing him in the head and knocking him out as well.

Groul looked to the unconscious duke before walking over to me and looking at Khalagh for a second and turning his attention back to me. “You alright kid?” he asked looking me up and down as I held a hand to my wound.

“Yeah I should be fine, Khalagh got a lucky stab in, but he missed any vital organs, so I should be alright” I said as I kept pressure to it.

“We should do something about that wound of yours in any case,” Groul said, showing a few cuts from Dugan’s lucky strikes.

“What about you?” I asked, noting the obvious scars.

“I’ve had many scars, these aren’t anything to be worried about, you need the healing attention more than I do” Groul said as we walked out of the gallows, the soldiers hurrying in to arrest the dukes, obviously hearing the situation from the soldiers from earlier.

A few days passed as the local healers tended to my wounds, and a little help from an elixir I had in my travel pack, and I was soon alright to walk as a bandage was tied around my chest, the wound would soon scar over in a few days.

Several days later I found myself standing in the Lord’s Throne room again as Groul looked at me and a smile appeared on his face. “Draco Carvhall, words cannot express my gratitude for what you have done for this city, and for me as well, you have saved Couvrant from a cruel fate, for this I thank you”

I couldn’t help but scratch the back of my head in embarrassment as I said “It’s fine, I couldn’t just stand by and watch a place like this fall under a dictator’s rule, its just not fair to the people, it was the least I could do”

“And we are thankful you provided us assistance in our time of need and so I want to give you this” Groul said as he was handed a blade in it’s sheath. “I asked the castle blacksmith to forge this blade for you while you were resting recovering from your wounds” Groul said as he drew the blade.

The blade was reasonably long, and was coloured pitch black. The hilt was a golden colour with a handle that looked like to dragon’s coming out either end and a blue gem encrusted in the handle, most likely to match my crystal blue eyes. “It’s a wonderful sword, you didn’t have to do this for me…” I said gazing at the blade before sliding it back into its white coloured sheath.

“You saved this city from a Cruel fate Draco Carvhall, I insist you take it as a symbol of the deeds you have done for this city” Groul said as he sat back in his throne. I just nodded and buckled it to my side before looking back to him.

“So what now? Do you plan to continue traveling?” Groul asked me.

“Well yes, I want to see more and further my training by seeing new places, meeting new people, experiencing new things for myself” I replied.

“Well best thing I suppose to do is for you to head to Aktes, a good friend of mine lives there and is friends with the King, in fact they are like brothers in a sense despite that they are of different species” Groul said as he took a scroll of parchment from one of his servants.

“I see and what is his name?” I asked, somewhat curious to know the name of such an individual.

“Reptile Cynrik, although most just call him Reptile” Groul said as he held out the scroll towards me.

“Reptile huh” I’ll keep that in mind” I said as I took the scroll.

“That’s a map of Rulus, it should help you find you way there a little easier” Groul said as he shifted a bit.

“Thank you Groul, now I must leave you and Couvrant, but I will be sure to tell this ‘Reptile’ that you said hello and I’ll make an effort to came back here for a visit” I said as I tucked the map away in my pack.

“I would like that, very well Draco, I wish you well on your endeavour and hope you find what you are looking for out of this” Groul said as he stood up and bowed to me.

“Likewise Groul, and good luck with Couvrant, I know this place is in good hands” I said as I bowed back and walked out of the castle. After buying some supplies and checking the map, I exited the city of Couvrant and headed towards Aktes, wondering what kinds of people, races and surprises I might expect from this place.