Chapter 16 - Lord Blaine
Having heard the news about the Dragon King's wife who was standing before him, Lord Blaine's smug expression was suddenly wiped clean as he looked between the two in utter shock, his mouth agape and his eyes wide as he tried to allow this to slowly sink in.
“Your... your wife, my lord?” he aimed to clarify.
Draxus nodded in response.
“My apologies King Draxus, I had no idea you were married... That’s splendid news, of course, congratulations to the both of you! We must celebrate!”
Entering the room just in time, the servant girls proceeded to begin pouring the crimson red wine into shiny glass goblets and handing them out across the room, ensuring that Draxus was the first to receive one of course.
As a servant girl went to hand one to Lillian, who was reaching out for it with a gentle smile, he raised his hand as he spoke with his usually commanding tone.
"No... None for her."
Lillian frowned, anger fueling her as she glared down at him and spoke without thinking.
Everyone in the room looked to her, including the infuriated amber eyes of her husband, King Draxus. At this point she realised she perhaps should have kept her mouth closed, but it angered her that he felt the need to make her decisions for her all of the time. What she could wear, what she would eat or drink, where she could go. It never stopped!
"General, the Queen needs some fresh air. Take her for a walk in the courtyard." Draxus commanded smoothly, taking a sip from his glass goblet.
"Of course." Shasharan replied, bowing his head and moving across to take Lillian by the arm gently.
With gritted teeth, Lillian walked along with the General as they left the room and made their way out into the small courtyard with the obvious excuse of getting fresh air. She didn't need fresh air; what she needed was to punch her new husband right in the face! Or at least that's what she believed!
As soon as they were outside the General quickly turned to face her, grasping her by both of her shoulders as he spoke cautiously.
"If I may, my Queen... That was very unwise."
Lillian's brow furrowed together as she wondered what he had meant by his comment, it had clearly caught her off guard.
"As his Queen you must watch your tongue at all times. Never challenge his word, especially in the presence of others. He will surely punish you for this..." he trailed off, looking away and releasing her shoulders.
"Wait, what do you mean by punish?" Lillian asked.
Shasharan let out a loud sigh.
"The Dragon King is well-known throughout the lands. His reputation is what makes him so powerful, so feared."
"I know. He's a merciless monster who kills men, women and children... burns down villages and-"
He interrupted her, shaking his head.
"-No... My King does what is necessary to lead his people. Though he is greatly feared throughout the land, he is not the monster you believe him to be. Not entirely anyway." Shasharan explained, a solemn expression painted across his face.
Lillian was confused to hear this as she followed along behind him as he walked slowly around the outer courtyard to continue their discussion.
"But, the stories I've heard. The lives he's taken, Kingdoms crushed beneath the soles of his very feet..."
"Mere tales, my lady. Concocted by fools. Nothing more than rumours spread like a virus throughout a fear-fueled world." he paused and turned to face her with a gentle smile. "I serve my King because I believe in him. In what he is fighting to do in such a cruel world."
Lillian thought for a moment, 'a cruel world' - he wasn't wrong there! But before she could voice a reply three of the servant women stepped forward, the one in the middle speaking with her head still lowered and refusing to make eye contact with them.
"General Shasharan. We have been given orders to escort the Queen into the garment chamber to be fitted for a royal wardrobe, as per King Draxus' wishes." the servant with the long brown hair announced, still unable to make eye contact.
Shasharan seemed uncertain; he had not been told any of this and his last command from the King was to keep an eye on the Queen... to keep her safe.
"I have heard no such command." he said, sternly.
"The command was given to us only a moment ago, by the King himself. You can check with him if you are uncertain, my lord General." she continued to explain. "Though he was quite insistent we begin immediately. I would hate to anger him, I fear what he may do."
After a moment of thinking it over in hesitation, he turned to face Lillian who could see the obvious uncertainty reflecting from his eyes. She smiled to calm him.
"You can go and check, I'll be fine."
"Are you sure?" his voice showed his concern.
"I'm not alone. Go on." she gestured with her head and he nodded, making his way back into the meeting room to receive his orders.
As Lillian watched the General marching quickly down the hall, then in through the doorway, she felt somewhat relaxed. It was the first time she had been allowed to go anywhere unescorted by Draxus and his men since the wedding and it did indeed feel good to have that freedom back.
"My Queen, this way." the brunette servant gestured with her arm held out and pointing down the hallway in the opposite direction.
Following along behind the other two servants, Lillian was led out of the courtyard and into another part of the castle.
Meanwhile, King Draxus and Lord Blaine were happily reminiscing of happier times, they seemed to be chuckling as the door suddenly opened.
As soon as the General emerged, Draxus caught sight of him and realised that he was alone. His anger flared immediately.
"General, where is my Queen?" he asked, sitting up straight on the sofa.
"My King, the servant ladies have escorted the Queen up to be fitted for a new wardrobe, as per your command." General Shasharan explained.
But the expression on Draxus' face told him everything he needed to know; this was a mistake!
"General, I've given no such command!" he announced angrily, rising up from his seated position. "Where is she?"
Just then, Shasharan noticed them; the very same three servant women who had relayed the information and escorted the Queen away, standing behind Lord Blaine's chair. He was shocked!
He pointed at them with an expression of both fear and surprise as he spoke, trying desperately to explain.
"Those three girls... they were the ones who spoke to us! My King, they informed me of your command."
Lord Blaine frowned, standing from his chair as well.
"Now, General. You're mistaken. These three girls have been in our company the entire time. They've not once left our sight!" Lord Blaine reminded.
"I don't understand... I could have sworn it was those exact girls." Shasharan was beginning to doubt himself, but Draxus' voice caught his attention.
"You've been tricked, you fool!" he snapped making his way across the room to where his helmet sat atop the silk pillow.
But before he had reached it, he began to slow suddenly as his body started feeling extremely heavy; his vision became blurry and it felt almost impossible to remain standing as he fumbled and fell onto a nearby chair for support with a loud grunt.
"My King, are you alright?" General Shasharan asked, rushing to his side.
Draxus' breathing had become heavier now as he turned to look up at Lord Blaine, who merely stood watching with a smirk as not only Draxus, but everyone else in the room began dropping to the floor like flies!
"You treacherous bastard! I'll kill you for this..." and just like that the mighty Dragon King fell down onto the chair, out like a light.
"My King! What the hell's going on?" Shasharan asked, looking around at the floor covered in bodies, all unconscious.
He was the only one who remained and he glared over at their treacherous host.
"Oh General..." Lord Blaine taunted, shaking his head slowly. "Why couldn't you have drunk the wine like everyone else?"