Leaving Prince Maximilian and Jasper, Sigmund headed straight to Donovan’s chamber. Without troubling to knock, he rushed into the room. He found Donovan, the Alpha of Bloodrose Pack’s son, Randolph, and another werewolf he didn’t recognize sitting round a table. Seeing Sigmund come in, those three werewolves immediately rose to their feet and took up a defensive position.
“What do you think you’re doing here, Leech? Can’t you knock instead of just barging into our room?” Randolph stormed.
Ignoring Randolph’s complaint, Sigmund spoke to Donovan with a note of urgency in his voice, “Donovan, I need to talk to you.” “Shoot,” Donovan said calmly.
Sigmund glanced at Randolph and the other werewolf before he stated, “I’d prefer it if we could speak privately.”
“Boris, Randolph, you two may go now,” Donovan talked to his werewolf friends.
“Very good, sir,” Boris said as he made a formal bow and finally left the room.
Meanwhile, Randolph protested, “But Ivan–”
“Don’t worry, Randolph!” Donovan cut him off, “I’ll be fine.”
Randolph hesitated for a moment before he huffed, “Fine. I’m off now. Just call me if you need any help.”
Randolph gave Sigmund a fierce glare before he stomped out of the room, slamming the door after him.
Folding his arms across his chest, Donovan demanded, “So, what do you want to talk about, Sigmund?”
“I’ll come straight to the point: I want you to back out of the duel with King Bellamy,” Sigmund stated firmly.
“No way! I am not going to chicken out at the last moment,” Donovan emphasized.
“You surely don’t have a clue what you’re getting into, Donovan,” Sigmund hissed.
“Of course I know what I’m doing!” he said snappishly.
“If you really knew what you’re going to be walking into you would have thought twice before accepting King Bellamy’s challenge. Everyone knows who King Bellamy is. You’re no match for him,” Sigmund said with a sardonic tone.
“I don’t give a tinker’s cuss if he’s much more powerful than me or if he can defeat me easily. One thing is for sure, I will not give up my daughter without a struggle,” Donovan raged.
“Has your daughter ever asked you to fight a duel over her?” Sigmund asked fiercely.
Donovan knew it was just a rhetorical question, so he didn’t bother to answer.
“The answer is no, right?” Sigmund went on, “All she wants is for you to settle the dispute between you and King Bellamy without bloodshed. So be a good father and grant your daughter’s wish.”
“That’s where you’re wrong, Sigmund. I need to fight this duel to prove that I am really a good father for Rosangela,” Donovan insisted.
“You can’t be serious! Who’s been putting that ridiculous idea into your head?” Sigmund flared at him.
“You know,” he continued, “you don’t have to fight a duel to prove yourself to be a good father. All you need to do is take great care of your daughter. So please forget about the duel! It isn’t too late to call it off yet.”
“Say whatever you like, Sigmund, but there’s nothing to stop me from accepting King Bellamy’s challenge to the duel,” said Donovan stubbornly.
“Oh come on, Donovan! I know you hate me, but please listen to me just this once! Don’t fight the duel with King Bellamy! Just think about your daughter! Her mother, Princess Claribelle, has left her for good. If she lost you too, Rosangela would have been all alone,” Sigmund tried to persuade him.
“Don’t drag Claribelle into our argument! It has nothing to do with her!” Donovan bellowed.
“Of course it’s something to do with her,” Sigmund yelled back. “You’re her husband, while the man you’re going to fight is her father. Claribelle would be so sad if she saw his father and husband trying to kill each other. And it certainly will leave your daughter traumatized too.”
“What will happen to my family it’s none of your business! So, stop this meddling in our affairs!” Donovan said rudely.
“Those whom you call your family is mine too,” Sigmund claimed, “King Bellamy is like a father to me because he’s the one who brought me up after my natural father passed away. And since Princess Claribelle and I grew up together, she became my sister. So it makes her daughter my niece. Therefore, I should make it my business to settle your dispute.”
“OK, you’ve made your point! But I don’t need your help to resolve my problem,” Donovan said petulantly.
“Even though you refuse my assistance, I will still help you. It was Claribelle’s dying wish that I should protect her husband and daughter, and I’m determined to fulfil my promise. I won’t let you and King Bellamy duel to the death.”
“Do whatever you like, Sigmund! But I’m set on fighting the duel with King Bellamy. So don’t bother trying to change my mind again!” Donovan stressed.
“Don’t be so damn stubborn, Donovan!” Sigmund warned him, “Back out of the duel! I’m only telling you this for your own good.”
“Have you finished trying in vain to persuade me? If there’s nothing else you want to talk about, you better get out of here now, Sigmund!” Donovan told him.
Sigmund implored, “Donovan, please you–”
“Shove off and leave me alone!” Donovan boomed.
“You’ll only regret it, Donovan!” Sigmund spat before he stormed out of the room in high dudgeon.
“Oh, there you are, Sigmund!” Prince Maximilian exclaimed as he saw Sigmund walking over to him and Jasper. “Any luck?” he asked expectantly.
Sigmund shook his head disappointedly. “No. I have tried to convince him to back out of the duel, but Donovan was adamant that he would not wimp out at the last minute.”
“I should have expected that,” Prince Maximilian mumbled.
“Both the father-in-law and the son-in-law are so stubborn. Now, there’s really nothing else we can do to stop their duel,” Sigmund grumbled. There was a note of desperation in his voice.
Prince Maximilian patted Sigmund’s arm consolingly. “Don’t despair! We’ll find a way out!”
“But we’ve run out of time, Maximilian. By the time we find a solution to this problem, it will be too late. It’s hopeless now,” Sigmund said despondently.
Prince Maximilian wagged his finger in disapproval. “Tsk, tsk, tsk! I think you’re being far too pessimistic, Sigmund.”
“I am not a pessimist; I just try to be realistic,” Sigmund reasoned, “Let’s face it! There’s no stopping the duel now.”
“Yeah, yeah, I know we have to face up to the fact that there’s nothing we can do to stop the duel. But who knows? Maybe the duel will end in a draw, so no one needs to die today,” said Prince Maximilian with a shrug.
“It’s no use wishing for the impossible to happen,” Sigmund snorted.
“Nothing is impossible in this world,” Prince Maximilian reminded him.
Sigmund was about to talk back, but Jasper suddenly interposed, “Pardon me for interrupting you, My Lord. But we ought to be leaving now. The duel is about to start in no time.”
“Ah you’re right, Jasper! OK then, let’s go!” Without waiting for a response, Prince Maximilian brushed past Sigmund and walked away from him.
Jasper gave a slight bow of his head to Sigmund before he followed his prince.
“Hey, wait for me! I’m not done talking to you, Maximilian,” Sigmund shouted as he started after Prince Maximilian and his bodyguard.