Chapter 18 - An Overdue Execution
“Wait, you don’t have to do this. Just let her go!” Draxus spoke firmly as he sheathed his sword while maintaining eye contact with Rathman.
“Why in the world would I do that?” Rathman teased. “I already have the most important thing in the world to you, right here within my grasp!”
“Then take me… please, take me and let her go…” Draxus was practically begging him now, “This feud is between you and I… Leave Lillian out of it!”
“I have always loved watching you beg, Dragon King!” King Rathman smirked. “But I’m afraid you must learn your lesson one way or another… and if this is the only way to get through to you, then so be it...”
Draxus was beyond terrified as Rathman lifted the crossbow, intending to shoot it directly at his wife! Both Lillian and unborn child were at that very moment in mortal danger from this monster of a man and he would have to act quickly in order to come up with a way to free the Queen without harming her. But how? One slip of his finger and… He couldn’t bear to think of what would happen.
Panicking, the Dragon King held up both of his hands as he called out, “Wait, please don’t!”
Upon hearing his enemy’s desperate plea for mercy, Rathman surprised Draxus as he suddenly paused with a smirk and lowered his crossbow slightly while he continued to speak.
“Though it does seem such a terrible waste to rid the world of such a beautiful woman, wouldn’t you agree, Draxus?” he continued to taunt his adversary.
“Don’t listen- Ugh!” Lillian attempted to try and speak, only to be silenced by the strong arm around her throat.
“That’s enough out of you, my dear.” Rathman taunted her. “The men are talking.”
Although she found it hard to do so, Lillian couldn’t resist one last snide comment aimed at her captor and before she knew it, the words had escaped her lips, though they were a lot hoarser than she had intended them to be.
“There is only one man standing here... and... it’s not you!”
This only enraged Rathman who pursed his lips tightly together and forced the end of the arrow to stab into Lillian’s stomach, causing her to yelp out in pain as it began to slice through her skin.
He leaned his head over her shoulder as he whispered with his hot breath into her ear.
“Oh, such fire! How I missed your defiance...”
Meanwhile, Draxus noticed as a tiny red stain began to grow from where the head of the arrow was being stabbed into her skin and he watched it closely with great concern. He needed to keep Rathman’s focus on him, in order to protect Lillian.
“Lillian, that’s enough!” he warned her.
“I’d listen to your husband on this one...” Rathman whispered once more. “I’m afraid that my trigger finger is getting rather tired from all of this pointless banter.”
A low growling sound began to emerge from between Draxus’ gritted teeth as his amber eyes narrowed in controlled anger at his enemy’s words. He knew that Rathman had intended to infuriate him but it was difficult to hold back on the cowardly mad-man holding onto his wife. He wanted to let loose on Rathman and choke the very life out of him!
“So Draxus, are the rumours true?” Rathman suddenly queried, “Does your beautiful wife here truly carry the future heir of Westoria within her womb? You really don’t muck around, do you?”
The Dragon King gave no reply, he merely continued glaring back at Rathman with pitted disgust and enraged fury.
Rathman grinned, knowing the perfect thing to say to tip him over the edge; to ignite Draxus’ flame and cause him to lose his nerve. As he spoke the words aloud, he locked eyes with the mighty Dragon King.
“Are you certain this child is yours?”
“You BASTARD!” Draxus snapped, anger fuelling him as he began to charge his opponent.
Only seconds earlier, on the other side of the clearing the Veemon warrior Flynn had suddenly emerged just in time to assist and saw that Lillian was being threatened by the same man they had run into outside the tavern; it was clear that she was in serious trouble and needed help.
He instinctively activated his powers and used them to send an incredible force out from his open palm. The invisible force travelled the length of the clearing and suddenly sent Rathman hurtling backward, separating the Queen from her temporary captor in an instant.
Now freed, Lillian immediately ran into Draxus’ powerful arms which wrapped around her and held on tightly; the Dragon King clearly grateful for still having his wife alive after such a terrifying experience.
She and Draxus both turned to look down at King Rathman who, although now a short distance away from them, was moaning loudly on the floor and holding his head which had been impacted in the fall. A small trail of blood began to trickle down from a small laceration just above his right brow. He looked around, searching desperately for the crossbow but it had been thrown clear of his reach. He was unarmed but not yet finished.
Rathman chuckled loudly to himself.
“Tell me Dragon King… How does it feel to know that the most precious thing in your entire life was once mine? Does it burn you deep down to know that I defiled your whore-of-a-wife over and over until she screamed my name?”
Draxus could feel Lillian’s body as it began to tremble with a mix of both rage and fear. He narrowed his amber eyes, now beginning to glow a bright golden colour and mimicking flames as his dark powers were silently channelling from within him.
He had heard enough. It was time for Rathman to meet his end.
As Draxus spoke now, his voice was noticeably deeper and it even startled Lillian who he held reassuringly in his arms.
“King Rathman of Ordanna... For your crimes against the Kingdom of Westoria I will now show to you the same level of mercy you once bestowed upon my Queen…”
Rathman grinned with defiance…
That was until he noticed the huge darkened shadow now looming over his right shoulder. Forcing himself to slowly turn his head to the side to see what it was, his greatest fears had come to light as an unmistakable rumbling sound suddenly resonated beside him and the ground seemed to shake with one of the giant creature’s footsteps. As Rathman looked upwards his terrified gaze met with the reptilian eyes of the enormous black dragon standing beside him and he froze, unable to move or even breathe.
Both his mouth and eyes were open wide as fear instantly consumed him, causing his entire body to tremble before such a massive beast. From where he sat helplessly on the ground, Rathman could smell the scent of reeking decay coming from Drako’s slowly opening mouth as the dragon’s large teeth began to part and allow a passage for what was about to exit out of it.
As Drako continued to breathe in, the glowing neon flame was clearly visible as it moved up the length of the massive reptile’s throat while he prepared to fire.
“You will never again harm another living sole, you son of a bitch!” Draxus announced as he turned his head to face his dragon and made his next command sternly, “Burn him!”
The sound of Lillian’s gasp showed her surprise at her husband’s chosen method of execution but she could not force herself to look away! This man had treated her so horribly, had done so many terrible things to her and she needed to see him die.
Before Rathman could attempt to beg for his life, Drako obeyed his master and exhaled his furious destruction.
The cowardly King’s eyes mirrored the neon green flames as they roared to life from the massive creature’s mouth and submerged not only Rathman, but the entire area around him in one long straight line about ten meters or so in length.
The flames were beyond scolding, capable of melting through flesh and bone in mere seconds as Rathman’s entire body vaporised into nothing but a raging inferno of flickering green flames.
As soon as Drako had finished and closed his mouth, they watched as the area remained alight with the neon green flames for a while longer, the sounds of the flames crackling in the cold night air was all that could be heard as both Draxus and Lillian stood together silently arm in arm to witness this long overdue action of retribution. Their enemy’s long overdue execution.
At last, King Rathman was dead.
Strangely, Lillian felt a huge weight pulled off of her shoulders as she stood watching the flames dancing about before her eyes. That monster of a man would never again be able to put his hands on her, or threaten the life of their future child. They were free of him and she could rest easy now.
Draxus suddenly turned his wife around to meet his gaze as he looked down at her with loving eyes. They had returned to their normal amber colour now and his expression showed his deepened sympathy and concern for her wellbeing.
“My love, are you alright? Did he harm you?”
He moved his head downwards to get a better look at the small wound on the side of her stomach. As he inspected it, his concern caught Lillian off guard as she furrowed her brows and smiled.
“No… no I’m alright.” she replied, shaking her head, “I… I can’t believe that you found me.”
Draxus lifted his head back up to her level, then directing his gaze behind her as he explained.
“I had some help…” gesturing with a nod of his chin.
This caused Lillian to turn around and notice the same man who had tried escorting her to safety earlier on. The same one who had been shot by an arrow in his shoulder! He was standing behind her, wearing a long red and gold cloak with strange markings on it and she watched as the figure began to make his way across to join them, while still rubbing at the back of his throbbing head. A small amount of blood had come from it as he finally reached them and bowed his head down with respect.
Draxus took this chance to introduce the two of them officially.
“My Queen, allow me to introduce Master Mage, Paladin. Head of our Mages Society back in Westoria and one of my closest family friends for many years.”
“Your majesty.” Paladin greeted her with another small bow of his head. “I am glad to see that you are alive and well. You are very brave.”
Lillian smiled in response.
“Thank you.” she replied kindly, “How is your shoulder?”
Paladin faked a smile, seeming in obvious discomfort as he replied out of respect.
“Oh, it’s nothing my lady. Nothing a little wine and rest won’t mend... My King, we should depart this place as soon as you are ready to do so.”
Draxus gave him a slight nod. Meanwhile, Lillian had noticed another figure standing just outside of the treeline, staring back at her with his luminous purple eyes and a smile.
It was Flynn.
This was going to be difficult to explain to Draxus!