Katherine did ponder in silence for a long time. She was given the captain’s arm guard and the reins of the princess’s horse and the instruction to retreat. The answer, “Yes, Your Highness”, could not have come any later.
The street of Ironheart was desolated. Not just in Rosenberg district but everywhere in the city. The moon had reached the end of its cycle and a new one had begun as the crackles of fire and the heavy footsteps of the dragon took the attention away from the flares of horn atop the Ruby Garden castle.
It was moon thirteen. There was no more whimpers in these parts of the town. There were only embers and burning corpses on the street.
“Tell me, Price. Who did this?” Lilia asked.
“Alexander D’Amore, Your Highness.”
“I see…so the witch did this too,” she concluded.
Father Felacia cringed but said nothing. He averted eyes when Leo tried to make eye contact.
“I can’t believe it! You are still going to cover Alex!? What must he do before you can start throwing up arms and say “I’m done with his crap, let him die now”?”
“Calm down, Leo. I’m sure she has an explanation–”
The inventor smacked the bishop’s hand away. His blood was boiling.
“Calm down? That bastard stole my sketches, beat me up, destroyed my favorite part of town and killed my best friend in an afternoon. How dare you tell me to calm down?”
“I have to agree with him. We have to draw a line somewhere. Alex’s behavior is inexcusable and he should face punishment for his deeds”, the deacon voiced his opinion.
“Thank you for having a shred of common sense, Father Graham.”
“Both of you, listen to me!” the princess clapped her hands to draw attention, “If words got out that Ironheart was in possession of lightning pipes, the problem would not end with just D’Amore. We all would be facing the wrath of His Excellency and I assure you, you do not want to go down the path Fa’el went.”
Her voice was solemn. This was no laughing matter.
“Pardon me, princess, did you just say lightning pipes!?” Father Graham gasped.
“This is insane!” Leo exclaimed.
“Is this for real? Father Felacia, do you know about this?”
Father Felacia hung his head, and then he began to speak:
“Sir Richard keeps a small arsenal of magical artifacts, including lightning pipes and some Fa’elin relics, for the day the witch attacks Ironheart. His Excellency would never agree to this but, the baron has his reasons.”
“Lord helps us all”, the deacon uttered.
“Lord helps us all indeed”, the princess nodded.
“I understand the reasons but I don’t agree with the approach. I believe it is better that we speak the truth and beg His Excellency–”
“If you are not going to trial Alex then get out of my way–”
“The dragon saw the pipe, how should we–”
“Quiet! Quiet! One person at a time!” Lilia smacked her hand across the inventor’s and the deacon’s chests.
“You hit me, you insolent woman!” the deacon reacted, grabbing her arm and throwing her off balance.
“Hand off the princess, Father Graham!” the bishop stepped in, trying to break them off.
“Impervious. Major ponderous.”
The situation escalated. The princess shoved her rosary in the deacon’s face and cast a spell. Father Graham’s body was catapulted into the air. But, he was quick to counter with a spell that made himself unbelievably heavy. His weight caused the pebble road under his feet to crack. Then, his pace hastened as he activated the third spell:
He dashed toward the princess for a flying kick, which failed spectacularly and he ended up in a sink hole caused by a wordless Crumble spell.
“Obstreperous“, Lilia tossed a small stone into the sink hole and cast “Minor magnificent.”
The stone quickly grew into a boulder.
“Obstreperous“, Father Graham lifted the princess’s spell and the stone shrank to its original size. “Overflow“, the earth multiplied beneath him. The sink hole was filled to the brim and the deacon was on even ground again in seconds.
“You want me dead”, Father Graham remarked.
“Lese majesty is a crime punishable by death”, Lilia affirmed.
“Antique laws are not enforceable in a republic.”
“We shall see.”
“Both of you, cut it out!” Father Felacia cried.
“Not now, Leo!”
“The dragon is watching…”
The dragon was eyeing them from atop the obsidian obelisk. It was quietly spectating and letting out a few hisses when the bishop saw it.
The bad blood between the princess and the deacon had reached its peak. The two adversaries dashed head-on at each other and simultaneously chanted the combo:
“Repulsive. Magnificent. Convergent”
Both mages launched an enlarged stone as the base of their attack. The princess added an extra Crumble and Magnificent component to multiply the base stone into a meteor shower. The deacon reinforced his attack with Impervious and Magnificent. His boulder could easily resist the princess’s meteor shower but…
It was vulnerable to spell breakers.
Father Graham imbued his feet with the speed of the wind, he blazed through the incoming projectiles and snatched the rosary from the princess’s hand. His body withstood the debris field without a single scratch.
“Check, mate”, he declared.
“Splendid. Fazegaid! Arc mul tasa, gondres faye!”
The princess chanted in an ominous voice amplified by Splendid spell.
“What? Hand-free magic? Obstreperous.”
“Fazegaid! Arc mul tasa, gondres faye!”
The dragon perked its head and shifted its eyes toward Lilia. It let loose a ferocious roar and launched itself at the deacon. Its claws shattered a transparent barrier surrounding the deacon and scratched the deacon’s Impervious skin.
Father Graham was caught by surprise. He barely had any time to dodge but he barely managed it. The dragon opened its mouth and exhaled a stream of earth-scorching fire at close-quarter range.
“Major Cryophilic“, the deacon and the bishop cried at the same time. Their combined magic kept the deacon safe but it was slowly being pushed back by the dragon’s fire.
“Fazegaid! Raset guro! Raset imme!” Leo shouted, desperately trying to persuade the dragon to let the deacon go.
“Splendid. Fazegaid! Raset guro! Raset imme!” Father Felacia repeated the same line. This time, the dragon listened to him and backed off.
The language the elder dragon of Azeth–the eater of realms Fazegaid–could understand was Gondrash. Gondrash was an ancient language that made up at least two thirds of the magic tomes in Fa’el’s Grand Library of Prism. The people of Fa’el worshiped a dragon-god that carried their kingdom on its back and Gondrash used to be their official language before Fa’elan, a modern language based on Ashlorian’s alphabet, was adopted.
After the fall of Fa’el, only a handful of people in the world could speak Gondrash. Two of them resided in Ironheart: the archbishop’s disciple, Lilia Silverflow, and the master of linguistics, Leonardo di Price.
But it seemed Fazegaid only took orders from mages.
“Stand down, Lilia. That’s far enough. By the power vested in me, I void your seat in the Church of the Spirit. You are to pack your belongings and leave the church before the end of this moon.”
The princess tried to open her mouth but the bishop gave her no chance to talk back:
“You should know better than anyone else that there is no justification for attempted murder. If you want to embrace the barbaric way, either join the red-helm knights or wait until after your coronation”, Father Felacia ruled.
“And as for you, Father Graham”, the bishop turned to the singed but not dead deacon, “You can stop attending Silverflow meetings starting today.”
“Fine, whatever…” Father Graham lay on his back and stared up the nose of a dragon many times greater than he was. He contemplated for a while, soaking from top to bottom in its healing saliva before he finally spoke his mind aloud:
“Hey, linguist! Come and teach me dragon-tongue sometimes.”