15: Breaking of the House
Natasha paced in her study, up and down a red shaggy rug, with gold-colored trim. She held a book in one hand while flipping through the pages and trying to read the text. What Natasha was contemplating would either end up with her being the new family head or her dying at Kyle’s hands. Her guiding sight had failed and would not give her insights into what would happen if she went through with this plan. A week ago, her precognitions just stopped; she had read nothing beyond today. Her visions had stopped before, but each time the event had been a life or death moment. She was not allowed to see her future concerning her possible death. The last time her vision stopped was when she was sixteen; a dragon had assaulted her carriage, she barely survived the encounter.
Richard, who sat on the lavishly comfortable couch, yawned. “You worry too much, and I will help in whatever you need to do.” He drank from a crystal goblet filled with the best wine that his family could afford.
Looking at his widely scaled frame, Natasha said, “You are right. No point in delaying this any longer.” Walking over to her desk, she pulled out a sheathed dagger. Tucking the jeweled weapon into the back of her belted waist. “Let’s go pay brother one last visit.”
Richard grinned as he silently raised himself off of the couch. “Will do; it’s about time.” He padded his own sheathed dagger on his belt.
They were making their way down the halls to Kyle’s room. There were no guards posted today, only an attendant waiting at the door on the table next to him was a silver tray with another bottle of the house’s best wine.
Richard pointed down the hall, “You are excused.”
The attendant nodded and proceeded to head away from his master’s room.
Natasha pushed open the door, looking inside Kyles’s room for the first time in days; what she saw disturbed her. Kyles’s precious artwork and been torn, ripped, and shredded. The portraits of himself and his family had been damaged; all the faces had been torn out. Broken bottles of wine lay shattered on the floor, leaving shards of glass at the edges of the room’s walls. The overwhelming stench of urine, wine caused Natasha to cover her mouth with her hands.
Richard looked in disgust at his brother as he followed his sister into his bedroom suite.
Kyle sat on his bed, sheets pulled apart and torn into shredded strips. His red eyes were already swollen and puffy with the torture he was in. Kyle’s strong frame looked physically weak; his green scales had become several shades lighter. He glanced up at the intruders, taking a look at his brother and sister entering. “Have they left yet? That cursed ship and her captain? They are more powerful than you can imagine. Let the ship and her crew go.”
Natasha moved slowly closer to where her brother sat. Kyle looked down from her to his feet as she approached. Richard took his time, lingering around the room, poking his finger at the shattered artifacts, and quietly moving behind Richard.
Natasha said, “No, from what the port master said, not till later today. This man, you must tell me what he did to you.”
Kyle continued to avert his eyes, not looking directly at Natasha. “Maybe one day, but I have a request. I can’t do. . .” Kyle’s eyes widened, his mouth opened wide. His hands went to his neck, feeling the blood gushing forward from his throat. Natasha drew her dagger from its sheath behind her back, plunged the blade deep into his chest. The power she pulsed into the dagger caused the wound to agitate and prevent healing.
Richard’s dagger had slit Kyle’s throat, and he pulled the blade back, wiping the bloody blade on Kyle’s bloody bedsheets.
Kyle fell backward onto his bed, clutching his throat, gurgling blood. He starred at his sister and brother as they both looked down at him with their soulless eyes. The same eyes he had up till last week, he whispered one last time. “See you in hell.” He stopped breathing, and his red eyes went blank and lifeless.
Richard said, “Well, now. Sister as head of the house, should we visit Shaitar and teach that bastard rogue a lesson in House etiquette?”
Natasha cleaned her dagger on the corpse of her brother before sheathing the weapon. “Yes, we will do this together. We won’t let Shaitar do what he did to brother to us. Time to gather our forces, we show that imposter what happens when you cross true nobles.”
Change of the Guard
The Chimera’s repairs had been completed in record time. Rolland’s new ability to fabricate the parts needed and the specific pieces crafted for the new add-ons proved beneficial in time and quality. The extra strength and speed provided by the Blooded also accelerated the repair processes. Some of the ship components that would have taken weeks to fix and replace were done in just hours.
Shaitar sat in the cabin’s armchair, looking over a scroll. Titled, Voloth, the scroll contained magic of the gods. Mil-ike had given over forty of these magical scrolls to Katalina, listing known strengths, weaknesses, and tactics used by these gods. Katalina, in turn, let the senior staff read them as well. He was looking at ways to exploit the god’s weaknesses against them. Landis sat across from him, reviewing schematics of the new features of the Chimera. In front of both of them was a large kettle with steam lazily drifting upwards from the spout. Two cups of green tea awaited the two as they read through the notes.
Shaitar fingered the scroll he was reading. “Voloth was once human-like before dipping into a magical font when he was younger. The only portion of his body that was not covered by this magical water was his left heel. The story that was told to the public was slightly different than the one listed on the scroll. Voloth has a weakness; his armored scales do not protect his left ankle. When he dipped himself in the magical font of Sirus, the power he absorbed went to all exposed parts of his body. The rope he used to climb back up with was attached to his foot. The magic did not protect the covered surface.”
Landis looked up from his scroll, “So we chop his foot off at the heel.”
Rolland knocked on the cabin door, then entered. “They are here.”
Shaitar stood up, “How many?”
Rolland said, “Counted fifty, two of the nobles. Lady Natasha and Richard Shithen.”
Landis rolled up his scroll, turned to the shelf where his staff nearby leaned against. Grabbing his staff, a series of small gears on the staff twisted and spun, locking into place. “No, Kyle?”
Rolland shook his head, “Not that I can see.”
Shaitar straitened his cobalt blue coat, placing his tricon hat on his head. “Let’s go see what they want; we should be ready for a fight in just minutes. We prepared for something like this.”
The three exited his cabin to the main deck of the Chimera, looking over the railing of the ship. The black carriage of House Shithen could be seen parked off to the side of the hanger. A ring of volothian warriors formed a circle around the ship. The warriors wore brass cuirass breast-plated armor with the family heraldry of House Shithen painted in teal blue highlights. The warriors all carried a sword and shield, no ranged weapons.
The crew of the Chimera had already armed themselves, and some still readied their light armor.
The big bear roared at all the commotion. “I will protect you, Griss. You are my buddy. We are friends.” Nolland padded the shaft of his ax.
Natasha exited the black carriage first, followed by a fully armored Richard. Natasha dressed in a bright red dress, with decorative flames ridding up from the bottom. She held a staff with a glowing red crystal fixed at the top held by a silver dragon claw.
Richard wearing his heavily polished steel-plated armor, also displayed a bright red cape flowing lazily down his back. His shiny steel plates protected all his vital body parts, ensuring that the hands and feet had extra protection. Slowly behind him, his bodyguard strolled, for the walking arsenal has been overloaded with weapons and other miscellaneous items that Richard might need for the fight.
Shaitar looked down at his uninvited guests. “So House Shithen wish’s to give us a farewell. That gesture is not needed. Where is Lord Shithen?”
Natasha looked up at him; she looked and saw a peasant. “Kyle is no longer leader of the House. I am. I will not stand by and let you or any of your kind sully the name of house Shithen.”
Shaitar said, “Well then. This fight is between House’s then.”
Natasha grinned, “Yes. The city will not interfere. The only witness will be the gods.”
Shaitar tilted his head, “I would say only as the gods to make sure no one leaves this hanger as we deal with this disagreement. Would you agree on that?”
Natasha continued, “I do.”
Katalina moved over to the railing; she wore torac around her neck. “Are you sure you want that?”
Richard boomed, “YES! I want that too!” He pointed at the little dragon around Katalina’s neck. “That little blue bastard ate my hands and feet! I need a new pair of dragon scale boots!”
Natasha rallied one more time, “I don’t know what your sabuci did to my brother, but I will not let you do the same to any of us here. I have already protected all of their minds from any sort of mental control, powered by my grace. Only the Blooded can break my magic.”
Shaitar looked at Katalina, “Do you know what she is talking about?”
Katalina shook her head, “No. Not a clue.”
Shaitar turning back to the nobles below, “Do you all want to do something so foolish? Do you want to follow this power-hungry tyrant of the Spire?”
All of the volothian warriors shouted, supporting their house, knowing if they said no. They would have to deal with Natasha and Richard afterward.
Katalina turned to Shaitar, “I will only intervene if it looks like you are being beaten down too much. Other than that, I promise to keep all combatants inside the hanger. This is differently your fight.”
Shaitar nodded in agreement.
Katalina’s voice boomed over the crowd gathered in the hanger. “Natasha Shithen, the gods have heard you and accepted.” Her red demon wings unfolded out of her back with a bone popping sound. Her tail expanded, her eyes glowed a bright red. Her wings burst into flames as she poured a small amount of grace for added effect. “I am Katalina, Goddess of the Hidden Veil. I accept the above contract under the watchful eyes of Gul the Watcher.” A shining red symbol of the circled hand appeared over the ceiling of the open hanger. A thick grey cloud formed around the building, the sunlight became defused through the grey fog above.
Torac jumped off of Katalina’s shoulders, expanded to the size of a horse. His eyes crackled with electricity as Torac spread his wings and leaped into the air, disappearing into the fog above in the hanger’s open roof.
Natasha gulped. She now remembers her brother’s words. They are more powerful than you can imagine. Let the cursed ship and her crew go.
Shaitar gripped his hand and a half blade; his eyes glowed with his power. The blade brightened. “Time to pay the price for your arrogance and your pride, Fools.”