Royal Palace - Grand hall - Coronation festivities - Peatyr Bretnach
Peatyr Breatnach sipped from his wine as he listened to the speech of the crown prince. Historic words were unleashed by Rakon-Da upon his audience. If the crown prince was in better health, he sure would be a gifted speaker. Nonetheless, his speech will be one that would be remembered. Not because of its contents, but because it would be the Arkronian’s famous last words.
The Vulpin’s gaze quickly crossed with those of Ohrahm-Braz, the Arkronian minister of Intelligence. Peatyr considered him the most dangerous man in the Arkronian government. Not because of his physique but because he was one of the few Arkronians who whipped his ass with the rules. Ohrahm-Braz was a man who understood how power really works. He is aware of what motivates people and knows how to apply leverage to get what he wants. A remarkable player in this twisted game of musical chairs. A player whose demise Peatyr would welcome.
As the speech came to an end, Peatyr stood up from his chair, did the formal tree claps and bowed with a small grin on his face. The cogs had set in motion and the faith of Mycoria was now placed in the hands of a single individual. The power to shape the future had been entrusted in the hands of one young man.
Royal Palace - Grand hall - Coronation festivities - Rakon-Da
As he finished his speech the crown prince looked around the grand hall as he tried to judge the responses. The many Arkronians in the room looked surprised, some even shocked before they proceeded to do the formal claps and bows. The high Paladins of the Ephan dominion just sat silently in their seats as they refused to do the formal response. Other more rebellious vassals did little more to honor their coming overlord. Even the delegation of the kingdom of Cor seemed to slack on the formalities. A sign that concerned Rakon-Da deeply as he was trying to transform the relations to a more equally beneficial way.
As he looked around Rakon-Da felt his head spin. The strength he received from his medicine was already fading. The healers had promised him two hours but he barely made it past his speech. This was not how he had envisioned this night. What should have been a moment of glory was more like a moment of confrontation with the realization that he would never have the health required to be a real ruler of the realm.
As the Arkronian crown prince sat down on his chair he could see the signs of worries on the face of Drokon-Al, the aging steward of Arkron. ” My grace, you probably should get your next dose soon. You look terrible.”
Spoke the steward as he turned towards the crown prince.
As Rakon-Da took a sip of his wine, he noticed his hand shaking. The steward was right. He barely had the strength to raise his glass. Damn disease. Slowly he stood up from his table.”Please excuse me. I have to visit the latrine”
Spoke the crown prince as his wobbly legs carried him away. Once more he reminisced about the times that he used to climb the great oak tree next to the balcony. Times that were long gone and would never come back.
The Royal Palace - Inner Courtyard
Callumn Dubhghail watched how his old king entered the inner building of the Arkronian royal palace. He knew that king Aidar’s live was in danger. He knew because Peatyr Breathnach, a fellow Vulpin, had told him so. To save his king’s live was the reason the young warrior volunteered to carry the gifts for the Arkronians. That was the only way he could come close to the inner courtyard. Getting there was just the first step of the plan that had been laid out for him.
With a sense of amazement he looked around. The crowd in front of the entrance was huge and a mixture of every race and peoples that Mycoria has to offer. Even though there were lots of Arkronian guards on the passway, there were just simply too many people moving in all directions to keep an eye on. Sneaking out of their sight would not be much of a difficult task.
‘When you have the inner building in your back, take the right courtyard passage but stick to the treeline. Hide in the shadows and behind the perfectly crafted bushes. There are Arkronian guards patrolling the inner courtyard. Count the balconies, the fifth one has a large oak tree next to it. This is the balcony of the room the assassin is receding in. In the oak tree, there is a cavity. There you will find the tool to use. Climb the tree to get access to the balcony. During the festivities he will frequently retreat to his room. That is when you need to strike.’
The young Vulpin remembered every word of the plan that was made to save his king. He needed to do it. No one else was aware of the danger and no one else in a position to do anything about it. This was Callumns task. He would safeguard his king from the shadows.
Quickly the young Vulpin slipped away from the crowd and into the bushes of the palace’s courtyard. He could feel his heart racing as he looked back to see if any of the Arkronians were following him as this part of the courtyard was offlimit for the guests. Callumn let out a sigh as he noticed no movement in the guards and started to make his way towards his target.
He passed the first balcony without much problems as the courtyard was mostly deserted and most of the rooms in both the inner and the outer building seemed to be empty. However his heart suddenly stopped when he noticed an Akronian patrol coming around the corner. Quickly Callumn ducked behind the bushes, closely watching the large grey men as his heart raced in his throat.
Silently the young Vulpin sat in his hiding spot as the grey men passed him by. Just as he was about to continue his journey he stepped on a small branch. The crackling sound filled the air and suddenly the patrol halted. Callumn made himself even smaller in an attempt to not be spotted.
“Did you hear that?” Spoke one of the Arkronian guards.
“Probably just a squirrel or something. They tend to get active around these hours.”
“We should check it out anyway. That’s our job.” Spoke the first guard as he started to walk towards the bushes Callumn was hiding in.
With every step that the Arkronian guard took the Vulpin’s heart skipped a beat. Every step of the man was a step closer to getting detected. Anxiously Callumn awaited what seemed to be inevitable at this point. However much to his surprise the other guard called his companion away. As if a higher power stepped in to safeguard the young Vulpin.
It didn’t take long before Callumn noticed the fifth balcony and the large oak tree. Quickly the young Vulpin walked around it and found the cavity. Slowly he moved his hand inside in search for the tool needed for the job. This was the place Peatyr had described and here should the dagger be located.
It didn’t take long for his hand to stumble upon the cold steel and the ivory grip. Quickly he pulled the dagger out and looked at it. The beautifully crafted steel glows in the moonlight. The small curving and the rich decorations made the dagger look foreign to Callumn. He was sure of it that this dagger wasn’t of Vulpin origine nor created by the Arkronians. In a way, it reminded him of a dagger his brother once showed him. A dagger created by the Yuravians.
For a moment the young warrior stared at the dagger in his hand. The fact that it was a recognizable piece tied to a certain country made Callumn feel uncomfortable. As if there was more to this story than just an assasination attempt on the old Vulpin king. Doubt filled his mind about this task. But this was no time for second guessing the intelligence that he had received. What if he chooses to abandon the task because of this eerie feeling only to see his king getting assassinated? Could he really live with himself knowing he had failed once again? No, he had to push through, just to be safe.
Quickly Callumn placed the dagger between his teeth and started to climb the oak tree. The first part was a bit difficult but once he reached the branches the climb was more easy. However the cracking of the branches under his weight made the Vulpin a bit nervous, as if they were barely strong enough to hold his weight. A Ruline or Arkronian would definitely be too heavy for the branches. Even an adult male human might be too much.
From his spot in the tree, the young warrior observed the balcony door. It was mostly made of glass and offered a good view on the room. It looked empty. Callumn was unsure of what to do. Should he already move to the room and wait there? Or stay in the tree until the target would enter the room? As he overthought the situation the answer already presented itself. A beam of light illuminated the room inside and a large person stepped in, only to close the door behind him. This was the young Vulpin’s opportunity!
Silently he climbed from the tree onto the balcony. A quick glance through the window told Callumn that his target had not noticed him. On the contrary, the large Arkronian seemed to be busy with some veils and elixirs. His hands reached for the balcony door and much to the young warrior’s delight they were not locked. ”For king Aidar”
whispered the Vulpin as he dashed through the door.
With three steps Callumn had closed the distance. He could now clearly see the Arkronian who he was about to murder. The man’s skin looked unusually pale, his eyes tired and from upclose it was clear that the man had seen better days. With all his might the small Vulpin stabbed the dagger into the left chest of his victim. This man had to die in order for king Aidair to live through the night. That is what he was told and that was the information that he acted upon. He had sworn an oath to protect his king and this was his way of honoring it. Or at least that is what Callumn kept telling himself.
Time slowed down as the Vulpin warrior stabbed his victim in the hearth. The shock and surprise were all over the Arkronian’s face as blood from the wound started to make stains in his fancy robes before he started to collapse towards the floor. In the nick of time Callumn managed to catch his victim before he hit the ground. Only then the young Vulpin realized that this man was much lighter then he’d expect him to be. As if he had lost a lot of weight due to an illness.
As he silently laid the dead Arkronian on the floor, Callumn expected that he should feel rejoice. A sense of accomplishment because he managed to kill the assassin before he could lay his hands on king Aidar. And yet there was none of that. No rejoice, no joy, no happiness. Just doubt.
As quickly as the Vulpin entered the room, he left it the same way. Leaving the dagger behind in the chest of his victim.
Royal Palace - Grand hall - Coronation festivities
As the first course of the banquet was served, Drokon-Al, steward of Arkron, looked to the door that leads to the chamber of the crown prince. It was a while ago that Rakon-Da had left the grand hall to get another shot of his medicine. The effects should have kicked in already and the crown princes absence for a sanitary stop would soon feel too long. Concerned about the wellbeing of the man of the hour, the steward excused himself and left to the same door.
With quick steps the elderly Arkronian made his way through the hallway.
The light of the candles casted a shadow over the walls, like the darkness that loomed over the Arkronian kingdom.
As Drokon-Al went around the corner he could see the two guards still standing at the door, with their backs straight and hands on the handle of their swords. Both stood silently as was expected of them. “Is the crown prince still inside?”
Inquired the steward.”Alan Arkronis. Yes my lord. The crown prince has entered his chamber but has not left yet.”
The old steward stepped to the door and knocked. But only silence was the result. Once more Drokon-Al knocked on the door and spoke loudly.”My grace, it’s me, Drokon-Al. Is everything alright?”
But once again, there was no answer. His hand reached for the door and pushed it open. The scene that unfolded horrified the old steward. His gray face turned pale white at the sight of Rakon-Da, crown prince of the great kingdom of Arkron, dead on the floor with a knife in his chest.
Drokon-Al had known since the day he was diagnosed that the crown prince would die sooner than later. But he never imagined in this way on this day. This was not only a great loss for the kingdom, but a great loss for the steward as well. He had known the crown prince since birth and he shared a mentor student relationship with him since a young age. He could feel the tears in his eyes and yet he knew that this was not the time to mourn. The crown prince was assassinated and this was a crisis that needed to be managed.”Sound the alarm. Place the entire palace under lockdown. Nobody leaves and nobody enters without my permission. Also lock the grand hall. None of our guests are allowed to leave. For their own safety of course. Also inform the Inquisitio. I’ll inform the government members. Do not let anyone enter the room!”
Ordered the Steward as he rushed back to the grand hall.
As Drokon-Al entered the grand hall, the sound of alarm bells filled the air and dozens of Arkronian soldiers entered the hall through various doors, All taking positions near the exits and outskirts of the room. ”Honored guests. Unfortunately there has been a security incident and the palace has been placed under lockdown until further notice. You will not be able to leave the grand hall. Please enjoy the food and wine.”
With those words spoken, Drokon-Al and the other government members left for an emergency meeting, leaving the guests flabbergasted.
”A case, A case! Yes! Praise the gods of chaos and order for this beauty of a case!”
Royal Palace - Modrian-Na - Inquisitor of Arkron
Proclaimed the Arkronian as he had received the order to investigate the assasination of the crown prince. Mondrian-Na seemed very pleased with the case he had just been handed as he stood up from his desk and made his way to the scene of the crime.”Sir, it’s the crown prince we’re talking about. It would be wise to uhm, you know….. Talk about it with the proper respect. This is a serious situation, Modrian-Na.”
Spoke the other Arkronian in a desperate attempt to tone down the excitement of Modrain-Na, most famous Inquisitor of Arkron.”Nonsens, getting assasinated is what royalty does. Always plotting to get more power and to take it away from others. Getting assassinated is just another hazard of the job.” ”Modrain-Na, do I really need to remind you that assasination of Arkronian royalty is extremely rare in our history?””Yes, I agree, it does not happen enough. Us Arkronians need to step up our game.”
Spoke Modrain-Na joyously as he left his office.
Quickly the inquisitor made his way through the palace hallways, closely followed by his colleague Moshram-Or, who once again shook his head in disdain about Modrain-Na’s joyful demeanor about the whole situation. Did that man truly believe his own words? Many said about Modrain-Na that he just lived for the thrill of the chase and did not care for anything else.
As the two inquisitors approached the room of the crown prince the guard quickly recognized the gold chain with the symbol of the Inquisition around the two Arkronian’s necks. Raised his hands to do the formal greeting but was cut short by Modrain-Na.”Who has entered the room?” ”No one since the Steward found him, sir””Good, now keep your mouth shut because nothing intelligent will come out of it”
Spoke Modrain-Na sarcastically as he entered the room.
Both men scanned the room as they started their investigation. No matter how good an assassin was, there were always traces left behind that could lead to him. However, for the top branch of the government getting the assassin himself was not enough. They wanted the man who gave the order. And to get to the man in the shadows, they had to first find the assassin. ” So, what do you think? The dagger is clearly made in Yuravia.
Spoke Moshram-Or as he kneeled down next to the dead body of the crown prince. ”I’ll send out the order to arrest the entire Yuravian delegation, their household guard and servants so that we can put them on trial.”
Mondrian-Na just smiled as he looked at the blade. Once again his colleague was missing all the vital details and was only noticing the obvious one, that the dagger was of Yuravian origine. But what truly matters was the way it was trusted into the body. It gives away all kinds of information about who handled it.”Wrong!”
Proclaimed Modrain-Na in his usual sarcastic demeanor. ”The blade is trusted into the hearth at a steep angle. That indicates that the assassin was significantly smaller. Judging from the size of the crown prince and the angle at which the blade entered the body I would say that the assassin would be around 160 centimeters in height. The average Ascarian male is around 180 centimeters. If an Ascarian would be the assassin, the angle of entry would be less steep. So we have to look for different races. Humans, Ruline, Aegire, Orcs and Arkronians are all too big. Dwarfs are too heavy to climb the oak tree so that leaves us with Skekarii, Avans, Saa’kaaleed and Vulpin. Avans come in different sizes but they have one thing in common, feathers. Did you find any feathers in the room? No feathers but I did find some hairs between the body and the balcony. So we can rule out a Saa’kaaleed as our assassin as well. That leaves us with Skekarii and Vulpin. Now come closer and take a look at this strain of hair. Does this look like something that would grow on the head of a Skekarii?”
Moshram-Or tried to follow the verbal machine gun volley that came out of Modrain-Na’s mouth as good as possible. Always when that man talked about his deductions it would go like this. Way too fast, way too much information. As he took the train of hair from Modrain-Na he noticed the length, structure and coloring. The yellow-brownish hair wasn’t like anything that would grow on the head of a Skekarii, it was something that you would expect in the fur coat of a Vulpin. ”Clearly Vulpin. But why would the kingdom of Vulpinia do such an act. It seems hard to believe that they can gain anything from it, especially when they try to shift the blame to the Yuravians.””Just because the assassin is a Vulpin does not mean that king Aidar is the one who gave the order. Their kingdom might actually not be involved. It could just as well be a hired mercenary. However, it would be hard for any lone Vulpin to enter the palace, especially this deep. So it is still plausible that the assassin is a member of the Vulpin delegation acting on behalf of a 3th party. Have you found the scabbard?, This kind of dagger always has a scabbard.” ”No. No scabbard in the room. Why is it important?”
Mondrian-Na looked annoyed at his colleague. Did he truly not understand the importance of the scabbard? Any assassin worth its coin would ditch it. Walking around with an empty scabbard belonging to a decorated Yuravian dagger that is found in the hearth of the Arkronian crown prince would be like screaming in public that you’ve killed the king. It was not the object you would want to walk around with when the palace is in lockdown. Nor do you want it to be found close to you. So it would make perfect sense to ditch the scabbard at the crime scene and yet it was not here. ”because you can’t walk around with an unsheathed dagger with all the guards around and we haven’t found it in his room or close to the balcony. So the scabbard must be somewhere else, waiting to be found. Order a search of all guest villa’s, arrest the servants and guards of the Yuravian and Vulpin delegations and write a report of our preliminary findings for Ohram-Braz.”
Ordered Modrain-Na as he left the room.