Chapter 1 - Heed My Warning
Lillian was beyond heartbroken. The Dragon Queen had lost her mate and she had never felt more pain in her entire life than she had now, having lost Draxus. To her, days felt like hours as time slipped away quickly and without warning. Before she knew it an entire month had passed by since that terrible night had occurred... the night her husband was taken from her.
As expected the world around her continued on as normal but nothing about this was normal, not for Lillian. Now seven months into her pregnancy and quickly nearing its end, the soon-to-be expecting mother found it hard to look forward to meeting her first child on her own. She had always believed that both she and Draxus would be there to hold their child, to share this unforgettable moment together as a couple and as new parents. But that wasn’t possible... Not yet anyway.
She and a select few closest to her were secretly working to fix that.
After believing her husband to have died after being stabbed through the heart by a strange dagger, as most people would have, Lillian was shocked to learn that the Dragon King was not in fact dead… but cursed...
Flashback to the night in question -
Tears tricked from the corners of her emerald eyes as Lillian looked at her Veemon companion with an expression of disbelief. What had he just said to her? Draxus was not dead, how was that even possible? She must have heard him incorrectly.
“Are you insane?” she asked pointing with her hand, “…he’s been fatally stabbed through the heart! No one could have survived such a wound, you know that Flynn.”
Flynn shook his head slowly, a strand of his short brown hair falling across his left eye as he reached out and put his hand on the young Queen’s arm, speaking calmly to her.
“It’s going to be too difficult to explain here and now but you must trust me Lillian. You must trust that I genuinely care about you and that I want to help reunite you with your husband. I need you to do exactly as I say, can you do that?”
After a moment of looking between her lifeless love and Flynn who currently knelt beside her, Lillian sniffed as she nodded with agreement.
She didn’t understand anything that was happening here and as she was still in some form of shock making decisions wasn’t as difficult for her as it normally would have been in an unusual situation such as this. The fact was that she trusted Flynn and whatever he had planned so she would go along with it willingly. If there were any possible chance of getting Draxus back she would go to the ends of the world to do it.
He continued with a nod, “Good. Now help me hide his body.”
As the traumatised and clearly confused Queen worked to help him move Draxus’ lifeless body into a more hidden location and cover him with a large blanket as instructed, the pair then stood together as Flynn let out a large sigh of relief and placed both hands onto his hips.
“Alright, we’re going to need some help in order for this to work. Someone with great skills in the art of magic… does anyone come to mind by any chance? I know the hour is quite late…”
Looking off to the side, Lillian thought for a moment and her eyes widened as the perfect candidate immediately came to mind and she nodded her head, wiping away a stray tear.
“Yes… come with me.”
Paladin, the Master Mage of Westoria was woken from his peaceful slumber by a loud thumping on his chamber door, causing him to snap upright in his bed and glance in that direction. It was late and he was not expecting company. Rubbing the sleep out of his eyes Paladin flopped the thick blanket off of his legs and swung them over the side of his bed, leaning across to grasp his robe as he stood and began dressing himself to properly greet the unexpected company.
Another set of loud thumps sounded against the hard wood door.
‘Knock, knock, knock’
“Yes, yes… I’m coming.” Paladin called out as he made his way across towards the doorway, tying the thick cord of his robe around his midsection.
Turning the handle the Master Mage pulled the door inward to reveal two figures standing in the hallway just outside of his chambers. One he recognised as the Queen but the other seemed unfamiliar to him. Flynn’s glowing purple eyes gave away the obvious fact that he was Veemon but other than that Paladin knew nothing about him. Glancing between the two, Paladin frowned as he finally spoke, his words intended for Lillian alone.
“Your majesty? What brings you to visit at such a late hour?” he noticed the red tinge to Lillian’s eyes, an obvious clue that she had been crying recently and he immediately became concerned, “Is something wrong? Are you alright?”
Lillian worked hard to ignore his concern for her and got right to the point.
“Paladin, I apologise for the rudeness of calling upon you at such a late hour but I have an urgent matter that requires your attention.” she announced seeming somewhat solemn, “I... I need your help. Will you come with me?”
“Of course, anything I can do.” he agreed with a smile. “Lead the way, my Queen.”
Several minutes after being shown King Draxus’ lifeless body with the ancient dagger still protruding out of his chest, Paladin had not spoken a single word as both Flynn and Lillian continued to explain everything that had happened leading up to the King’s attack.
Instead he stood silently, busily processing everything he had been told and what this would mean for Westoria. His eyes suddenly narrowed as they focused specifically on the unique weapon imbedded in Draxus’ chest. There was something familiar about it that he could not quite grasp. He knew he had seen this exact weapon somewhere before, but where?
“The dagger…” he spoke at last, “… It’s strange, but I find it oddly familiar somehow. I just can’t seem to place where I know it from.”
Flynn suddenly felt a wave of relief washing over him as he realised that he was not the only one with knowledge about the ancient weapon and the curse bestowed upon it. The curse which was now passed onto their King.
He decided to give the Master Mage a little lesson on what he knew regarding details of the dagger.
“This dagger is an extremely powerful relic known as the ‘krath-veit mannur’ which in your tongue translates as the ‘curse of endless slumber’. I don’t know much about where it came from or how it was cursed, but legend has it that anyone pierced through the heart by its blade will be doomed to sleep for all eternity.”
Lillian’s brows furrowed with a mixture of fear and concern as Paladin suddenly chimed in.
“Ah, yes of course. I thought for certain that I’d seen it somewhere before! From what I have read the dagger became far too dangerous for any one man to wield and as a result, it was thought to have been lost for centuries, hidden away where no man could find it. Well, until now I suppose…”
He paused, looking down at the King’s body on the floor and then letting out a small sigh before he continued.
“I guess the sorceress knew what she was doing when she stabbed him with it. It can not be a coincidence that she aimed for his heart. She intended to place the curse upon him. Why, I can not say but there would have to have been a reason for her to do it.”
Flynn nodded his head in agreement.
“I don’t understand... why not kill him? Why curse him instead?” the Veemon spoke his thoughts aloud for a moment as he considered the possibilities. “It doesn’t make any sense.”
Lillian’s voice caught their attention as it broke through the silence.
“Paladin, is there a way to break the curse by any chance?” she asked, feeling hopeful for a moment and praying that the answer would be a yes.
Flynn looked to Paladin who appeared to be considering his reply silently.
“I… have heard of a possible way to break the curse of endless slumber my Queen though I should warn you, I can not be entirely certain of its authenticity. It may be merely a rumour-”
“-I don’t care.” she interrupted, seeming more interested in their conversation now, “We have to do something to bring him back… please tell me what it is, I’ll do anything.”
Blinking with unease Paladin prepared himself for what he was about to say in response to her. He didn’t want to crush any remaining hope she still held onto, but if memory served it would not be an easy task to perform.
“Very well, your majesty, I will tell you everything that I know. But heed my warning, there will most certainly be danger and above all great sacrifice if you wish to free the King from his curse.”
Prince Marcus was on his way to meet with someone in the early hours of the morning, now feeling desperate and frantic about his disastrous encounter with Queen Lillian and the pesky Veemon earlier on in the evening. He needed to ensure that should things go against his favour he would have a plan to protect himself from being trialled as a traitor to the crown.
As far as he was aware Draxus would soon be out of the picture for good; Rayvinn was seeing to that. But he couldn’t hide his obvious concern that now the Queen was aware of his true intentions and that could be a serious problem for him.
Marcus was aware that there was no other option; he would need to force each member of the Royal Council to side in his favour should Lillian rule against him and charge him with treason. Whether it were yet another bribe or perhaps the intimidation of a threat to pull each of them in line he would do whatever it took to ensure that the Royal Council saw things his way, no matter the cost.
And there was only one way to do that; he would bribe their leader, Councillor Waan.
Stepping through the darkened corridor with nothing but his flamed torch to light the way, Marcus walked across to the singular wooden door and reached for the handle, opening the door and stepping inside.
The room inside was already lit by several torches and candles, revealing the older man seated at the wooden table in the middle, casually sipping at what appeared to be red wine. It was Councillor Waan and he appeared to be alone.
“My Prince, you asked that I meet you here?” he asked placing the goblet down and standing from his seat out of respect for his royal guest. “Is everything alright?”
“Are you certain you were not followed?” Marcus immediately began to interrogate the older man as he joined him at the table and sat beside him in the darkened room.
“Of course my lord. I did as you instructed and came alone. No one knows I am here.” Waan replied with a nod as he too sat back down in his chair. “Has something happened, you look terribly shaken.”
Marcus let out a frustrated sigh as he reached for the pitcher of wine and the second goblet sitting in the middle of the table, then proceeded to pour himself a drink and gulping down half of it in one go. Waan could see that he was clearly stressed about something.
“You could say that…” Marcus commented, licking his lips. “I have a favour to ask of you Councillor. One that I must insist you obey without question.”
“What is the normal protocol of leadership for Westoria, should anything happen to the King? Who would be next in line for the throne?”
Waan raised his left brow and looked down to his goblet as he held it in both hands.
“Well should anything happen to our King, the next in line would be his heir. The Queen is with child as I believe. When her child is born and comes of age, he or she would become the new ruler of our Kingdom.”
“And until the child comes of age?” Marcus asked, taking a sip immediately after his question and then adding, “Who would assume the responsibility of leadership until then?”
The councillor appeared to think for a moment, pursing his lips together.
“Well, I suppose that duty could possibly fall to you my lord, as you are the Prince. But only as the King Reagent and only until the heir were to come of age. Oh, and of course you would need the Queen’s vote as well in order to proceed with that course of action.”
Marcus swirled the crimson liquid around in his goblet and watched it as he spoke his next comment smoothly.
“What would it take for the council to scratch the Queen’s vote and proceed with naming me as King Reagent?” his query was to the point as he fixed his hazel eyes on the older man seated beside him. “Without question, I mean?”
Realising what the Prince was insinuating Councillor Waan blinked several times as he began to mull it over, sitting forward and meeting Marcus’ gaze. The Prince was asking him to do something against protocol and he being a slippery character himself, was now intrigued at what the Prince was about to offer him.
“What are you offering, my lord?”
Marcus chuckled to himself.
“Councillor Waan, I’ve always liked you...” Marcus spoke with a sadistic smirk as he patted the older man playfully on the shoulder.
“Let’s come to an agreement, shall we?”