Chapter 27 – Dealing with the Governors

Stumbling slightly as he dragged most of the Black Shell assassins out of the ship, Julius kept his newly obtained dagger pressed against the back of the only one still walking. Well, limping.

Really, he would’ve dealt with that prick too, but he needed to know where the person who hired them was. At the very least, he had an inkling on who sent the assholes, even if none of the Shells talked.

Thankfully, it was still dark out, so even though there were still people out and about, the amount of civilians outside was minimal. And, thankfully, none of them seemed to want to deal with the bloodied man who had six bodies either draped over him or dragged in a loose grip behind him while he held another at knife point. 

Wincing slightly, Julius almost let the bodies drop to grab the wound at his si–and then he dug the knife into the back of the one walking, just enough to stop him from taking the opportunity to act. 

“Gkh-” The assassin stumbled, his broken arms hanging loosely as he glared back at Julius.

“Hold that,” Julius grunted, before finally dropping the assholes off of him. The night air was chilly against his skin…fuck, he should’ve put on some pants before leaving…

Whatever.

He grabbed the hilt, earning a hiss of pain from the assassin. “Now, I know how you assholes work. You hold loyalty above everything and won’t talk-”

“Fuck that! It’s fucking Dahsin! Dahsin hired us!”

Julius blinked. “…Kinda ripping the wind out of my sails here.”

“Well I’m fucking sorry, but you have a fucking knife in my back! Fuck loyalty! You fucking demolished seven of us and nobody even woke up! How fucking insane are you!?” …Well, that middle part was probably cause they were tired from the temple, but eh.

“…Didn’t he even tell you who he wanted dead? I thought you fuckers always made sure to get as much info as you can on your targets?” 

“Look. Once enough gold is in front of us, we’re inclined to fudge some rules,” the assassin explained, surprisingly coherent for a guy with a knife in his back, “We knew the basics, okay? A blond human, male, about five foot eight and has a mustache, and an albino snow elf, female, around seven feet. Vasily and Ariana Valovikov, a married couple, plenty of info was provided! We might’ve skipped a little research, but we had names, descriptions, and the location!”

Wow. Dahsin was a really brazen fucker. Though the snow elf thing was–ah, wait. “And it didn’t strike you as weird that my ‘wife’ was chained up?”

“…Look, it was…something I noticed, sure. Then you chucked a coworker at me and I was focusing on why my arms weren’t working.”

Well, good to confirm Dahsin wanted Leicester dead. For some reason. “Sounds like you should’ve done more research instead of taking a rush job.”

“…It was a lot of fucking money, man.”

“Well you’d have better gotten a down payment, ‘cause you’re not getting the rest. You’re gonna need it to pay the clerics.” Julius prodded one of the bodies at his feet, then sighed as the assassin twitched slightly. If they were all still alive, someone would help them, and if they weren’t, someone would deal with them. With that, he pushed the only conscious assassin forward. “If it helps, you can now brag to everyone that you survived a fight against the dragon slayer, Julius Goldforge.” 

“…Fucking Dahsin!”  

Julius let out an amused huff, then winced again as his wounds throbbed. Even though the assassin said they were ‘decimated’, three of his bastard colleagues still managed to get a few hits in. Really, the only reason he was still alive was because he knew how the Shells tended to attack. As such, he just had to shift his body enough to make sure they didn’t hit any vitals. Easier said than done, but he still managed it. 

“So, since you’re so inclined to speak, was Dahsin the only one there there when he hired you?” 

“Yeah. Arrogant fucking bastard didn’t even bother bringing guards.” While they continued to walk, Julius kept glancing around in case any more appeared and tried to ambush him. There were plenty of people eyeing him, sure, but that was probably because he was half-naked and leading a man around at knifepoint. Well, knife hilt at this point.“…Look, as much as I’d love to see you kill that asshole, it’s not going to end well for anyone if you do.” 

Julius raised an eyebrow. “And why do you care?” 

“Because if you kill him, I’m pretty sure that rose bitch will try to make us pay too for getting involved. Let’s just say I’d definitely be on the chopping block then.”

“Buddy, you’re already on the chopping block. But I’ll give you this. You don’t try to stop me, or warn Dahsin in anyway, and not only will you get to live, but I’ll put in a word for you with Lachlan.” 

The assassin nearly stopped in surprise before he remembered the knife. “Ggh-E-Eh? Y-You know the Orin boss?” 

“I know a lot of people. And you know what, I won’t even tell her you went after me even though I’m delisted.” 

“…Shit…Can I stab Dahsin too?” 

“Maybe. What can you tell me about him and his place?”

“Uh…it’s a manor with a green roof. Lots of shitty art and spiked fences.”

“Huh. No garden?”

“Nah. Greenhouses…He’s got a ballroom. Basic noble shit.”

“And his family?”

“Not a lotta those around. He don’t trust easy, from what I’ve heard. Most live in Laevis. Their state, territory, whatever.”

“So will most of them give a shit if I off him?”

“…On principle, I guess?” The assassin glanced back at him. “You’re a scary dude, man.”

“Good to know.” Julius frowned as he saw the passersby clearing off the street up ahead. Some people in white tabards printed with white roses were moving in and blocking the streets. Some had spears and shields, some had crossbows. “Company.”

“Eh?” The assassin glanced ahead, then immediately groaned. “Aw fuck, it’s the whites…”

“Yeah. So, who do you think they want to arrest, you or me?”

“Fuck man, I don’t-Awwwwww, nooooo…” Well that probably wasn’t good.

Stepping out of the growing blockade of guards were two armored figures, both clad in red platemail emblazoned with fiery roses. “Friends of yours?”

“More like the worst type’a people I could ever run into…”

“…Kalavichos?”

“Yup…wait, how’d you know that?”

“Lived here a while back, they’re both wearing red, and I’ve met everyone else by this point, so hey, might as well be.”

“HEY! YOU GOLDFORGE?” one of them suddenly yelled, her hands raised by the mouth of her bascinet.

“YEAH! WHAT’S UP?” he yelled back.

“Ow, fuck! Why by my ear?!”

“DOUG YEW ASKED US TO CHECK ON YOU! HE THOUGHT SOMETHING LIKE THIS MIGHT HAPPEN!”

…Really? “THIS EXACT THING?”

“PROBABLY NOT! I’D BE REALLY IMPRESSED IF HE SAW THIS EXACT SITUATION COMING!”

Honestly, he probably would be too… “SO WHY ARE YOU STOPPING ME?”

“BECAUSE-Wait, this is really dumb.” The woman lowered her hands and just walked over to him, followed by her quiet companion. “Hey! Again!”

“Sir Goldforge, would you please remove your weapon from this individual’s back?”

“I probably shouldn’t. I think he’d bleed out if I did that.”

“Yeah no, no bleeding, please,” the assassin requested.

“He’s probably bleeding internally,” Red 1 pointed out.

“…ah fuck me…”

“Hm. So are either of you a healer?” Julius asked. Actually, he should probably get his own wounds fixed too. Those were still kinda…wow, that’s a lot of blood.

Red 2 sighed, walked over to the both of them, then reached up and placed a glowing green hand on each of their heads. “Sir Goldforge, I would like to repeat my request.”

“Sure.” Julius promptly yanked the dagger straight out of the assassin’s back, which earned him a high-pitched squeal of pain.

“G-Ghhhhgh…a-a-asshole…”

“You still tried to murder me. Oh, speaking of, I left a few more of these guys back by our skyship. Can you send someone to get them if they aren’t dead yet?”

“…Sir Goldforge, did you just admit to multiple murders?”

“Nope. So yeah, you gonna help them or what?”

Red 1 snorted, then started yelling out orders to the guards while 2 sighed again. “Sir Goldforge, did this man attempt to assault you?”

“Attempted to murder me, yeah.”

“Then you are under arrest, Mister…?”

“…Hyacinth,” the assassin answered, grumbling under his breath.

“Then you are under arrest, Mister Hyacinth. You have the right to remain silent, as anything you say will be used to incriminate you-”

“Yeah yeah, not my first time, I know how it goes…”

“Well, if that’s that, I have a noble to stab to death,” Julius said as he shrugged off the hand and started walking again, only for 2 to step in front of him.

“Sir Goldforge, you shouldn’t be going anywhere. Particularly after you just admitted to planning to murder someone.”

“Interesting point, young lady. On the other hand, I really really want to gut EVRARD DAHSIN, THE MAN WHO HIRED ASSASSINS TO MURDER ME, for hiring assassins to try to murder me and potentially others.”

2 just stared at him. As did a whole lot of people, actually. Except for 1, who was laughing her ass off.

“…Sir Goldforge, I am Dame Eveline Kalavicho of the Order Amaryllis, within the State of Rubiaca. Please do not refer to me as ‘young lady’.”

He gave her a thumbs up. “Nice. Still gonna stab that dude.” 

“Regardless of your status, we cannot leave a threat like that go disregarded. If you wish, we can investigate your situation, and ensure Governor Dahsin does pay if he did, in fact, hire these assassins. For now, it is best you come with us so you can rest and fully inform us on what happened.” 

“Or, and stay with me on this, you can look the other way and deal with the dead body tomorrow.” 

“…Are you even listening to what I’m saying right now?” 

“Honestly, now that my anger is starting to subside, I’m starting to feel lightheaded. I think one of them nicked a vein. Thanks for fixing that, by the way. So, while I’m still somewhat coherent, I’m going to go and stab him.” Julius tried to walk past her, but stopped when she placed a hand on his shoulder. “Yes?” 

“As I said, we cannot let you leave. And let’s be honest, I doubt you can deal with us all in your current state.” 

“I think you’re seriously underestimating me. And why should I trust you to deal with Dahsin properly?” 

“Hm?” 

“From my point of view, all of you leaders have been pretty bad so far. The nicest one so far was basically being a doormat to stay friends with Rostel and Dahsin, and those two chucked a spear at me and hired assassins because I disrespected him. As such, even if the youngest one of you Vichos is pretty nice, you can’t exactly blame me for not trusting you.”

“Wait, you know Gwenny?” Red 1–probably something ending with ‘line’; maybe Reddeline?–suddenly asked, turning from the guards that were probably running off to get those assassin guys.

“Yeah. She’s friends with Lorelei back in Luceneva, and Richard tries to pawn his kids off on me whenever he needs a sitter.”

“Shouldn’t they have caregivers for that?” Eveline asked. 

“I guess. I think Richard got in trouble with their guild though. He’s an ass like that.”

“…You’re talking about your king.”

“Dame Eveline, milady, I’m standing in the middle of a public street covered in blood and wearing nothing but fucking boxers. I couldn’t give less of a shit.”

“Ha! Ah, yeah, you’re probably lucky it isn’t the middle of the day, because you’re actually right where most carriages would be rolling over.” Hm. There was a carriage parked further down the street. Guards weren’t around it. “Oh yeah, I’m Carol, by the way.” Oh. Well that was different…Waiiit.

“Caroline?”

“Yup.”

“…Your family really stuck to its theme, huh?”

“Yup!”

“So that’s Gwendoline, Caroline, Eveline…”

“And our older sister, Rosaline, who’s the family head after our mom, Jacqueline, retired-” Huh. He briefly wondered if that meant Edwin was the father of these girls. “-and then our younger bro, Clyde.”

Julius blinked. “…Huh…well, nice to meet you both. You seem like nice enough nobles. Say hi to your parents for me. Gonna go stab Dahsin now.”

“Sir Goldforge-” And that’s about when he twisted out of Eveline’s grip, grabbed the slightly shorter woman by the wrist, and flipped her straight over his head right before he grabbed Hyacinth, threw him onto his shoulder, and full on sprinted down the street, already reinforcing the soles of his feet with metal magic to avoid any shit stabbing into his skin.

“GAH! FUCK, WHAT?!”

“Need your testimony when I’m calling this asshole out,” Julius answered as he jumped up and off the carriage, putting as much distance between him and the shocked guards as possible. “Plus, you want to get away from being arrested, right?”

“Ghk! N-Not l-like this! You’re fucking insane!”

“Yeah, I’ve heard that shouted at me before,” he muttered as he kept on sprinting. At this point, Julius’s only plan was to get to Dahsin’s manor, call him out, and find some way to vent all the immense anger currently boiling up in him. Probably by stabbing the jackass. Wait, no, he dropped the dagger. Shit.

“So that was rude.” And now Carol was beside him. Wait…

Julius glanced to his left. Carol was skating alongside him. A look down showed him that she was forming a sheet of ice beneath her feet as she traveled, creating a constant path for herself that her boots–now with sudden skate attachments–could go along. “…Huh. I thought you Vichos would be more..fiery.”

“Oh, we are, definitely. We can still pick up other tricks though, and I always had an affinity for the frosty side of life. Heck, I had a tutor from the far north who showed me how to do stuff like this.”

“Interesting. So are you planning to stop me?”

“Not really.”

“WHAT!?” Oh, right, Hyacinth was here. 

“Shhh, we’re talking. Anyhow, yeah, I’m not interested in stopping Forgy here.” Forgy? “Well, maybe stopping him from stabbing that asshole, since murder might be a little too far.”

“Can’t, dropped the dagger.”

“Oh, then that solves itself then.”

“Course, punching him to death is still an option.” 

“And that unsolved itself.” 

“Can’t you just drop me off?” Hyacinth groaned, “You have a Kalavicho who already believes your story…” 

Julius shrugged, jostling him slightly. “I could. I’m not going to, but I could.”

As he groaned again, Carol started skating backwards, staring at Julius with obvious amusement, despite her helmet. “You’ll want to take the next right up here. Then a left, straight, right, and you’ll be there.”

He gave her a thumbs up while he turned that right. “So, is anyone else chasing me?”

“Nah. I think they’re planning to head you off at the manor. I shouted ‘I’ll catch him’ and ‘leave it to me’ and all that, so they’re probably assuming I’m doing that.”

“Right. Not that I mind it, but why aren’t you?” 

“Evrard’s an ass and way too aggressive for our tastes. And by our, I mean my whole family. Personally, I want the thin-skinned prick to go down because he’s such an asshole. Politically, his attitude makes our nation look like power hungry fuckbags, and he’s promoting way too much fear among the populace with his assassination schtick.” She shrugs, still effortlessly keeping up with him at every turn. “If your vendetta here gives us a way of ousting him, more power to you.”

“Heh. Glad to hear I’m doing my part,” he muttered as the style of the shops and houses around them took on a more greenish hue. Rosians sure did love their symbols and colors, and that fact became more and more obvious as Julius ran towards the manor. And sure enough, there were the city guards in front of the spiky gates, along with an array of green-clad goons that had to be Dahsin’s personal pricks.

“SIR GOLDFORGE, HALT YOUR–CAROLINE WHY AREN’T YOU GRABBING HIM?” And there was Eveline, standing in the center of them with a bullhorn. Hm. Here’s hoping they didn’t warn Dahsin that he was coming. That might wreck things.

“Ah, right, sister might be pissed at me now.” 

“Hm…Hey, how good is that armor of yours?”

“Eh? Uh, pretty good.”

“And is the ice sheet thing automatic?” Julius asked as the guards formed up into a shield wall. Those were a lot of crossbows. He really wasn’t liking how only the green ones were holding them either…

“Not exactly? I’m maintaining it-”

“So if I fucked up your focus, would it vanish?”

“I-Wait, what-”

“Guess we’ll have to see.”

“H-Hey, what the fuck are you-” Rather than let Hyacinth finish, Julius jumped right at Carol. Honestly, if he hadn’t had years of acrobatics drilled into him at a young age, he probably couldn’t have made it. Hell, if he hadn’t been literally powered by rage at that moment, he likely would’ve fallen far short of the younger knight. As it was though, Julius jumped and landed with both feet straight into Carol’s chest. 

“GYAK-!” The knight squawked as she was knocked off her feet, and Julius could hear so many shouts from up ahead as the guards saw him literally riding her like a surfboard. On ice.

“ARE YOU INSANE?!” Hyacinth screeched as the three of them shot straight towards the blockade.

“You did shout that earlier,” Julius replied, then leaned as a few bolts shot near his torso. Eveline seemed to take exception to that, considering she just decked some asshole in green. Hm…

“KINDA AGREEING WITH HIM ACTUALLY!” Caroline shouted too, though she sounded plenty amused in a slightly panicked way. Hysterical? No, that wasn’t it.

“Just keep up with the ice. I’ll be getting off soon.”

“…Wha-” And about a few feet from the blockade, Julius jumped again. Carol bowled straight into the guards while he leapt forward, somersaulted, and felt a crunch under his feet as he slammed straight into the helmet of a green knight. In a sudden impulse, he grinned and saluted Eveline, then sprung off–

“Oh, shit, misjudged the force,” Julius muttered as he went right up and above not only the gates but the actual manor too. Hm. While the city was plenty pretty from up in the air, those were a lot of spikes and spires around the manor. One big central one, some smaller ones around it, spikes decorating all of them…Definitely not good– “Would you please stop screaming?”

And now Hyacinth was ignoring him. That was annoying. Still, it’d been a long time since he ever jumped like this. Last time…might’ve been back with that final fight with–Wait, shit, were his eyes red? Somebody would’ve mentioned if they were, right? Then again, nobody he saw tonight actually knew him that well, so…

“Shit, I might be enthralled right now,” he muttered as they started their descent, deliberately angling himself so he’d hit at the glass dome on the other side of the manor. Well, whatever. He still wanted to beat up Dahsin, and being demonically influenced probably wasn’t too big of a deal. Darklanders did that all the time. Yeah, fuck it, he could handle it.

Julius nodded to himself, then immediately hardened his body as much as possible as he crashed straight through the glass down. It was a little tricky to maneuver so Hyacinth wasn’t about to be impaled by glass–Ah, shit, hopefully no one was directly under him–but he seemed to have it worked out decently enough–YES TAPESTRY GOOD!

Julius snagged one of the large tapestry-curtains hanging from the ceiling and shoved his fingers through so he dragged straight down the vine-and-flower-covered deer it portrayed and dropped to the floor amid a shower of glass. And hey, nobody was under him. So nice. And Hyacinth wasn’t screaming anymore, just babbling incoherently. Double nice!

He was also in the direct center of a huge, circular ballroom with a ton of guests around, chandeliers and curtains hanging from the ceiling, and a large staircase dominating one side of the room with balconies at its sides where that complete and utter bastard was standing at the top with one of his asshole green guards. Actually, maybe the guard was about to tell Dahsin, who had a ridiculously pretty green longcoat on, that Julius was coming. 

Judging by the wide-eyed shock Dahsin had going on though, he didn’t say it quick enough.

“Hey fuckface,” Julius greeted the gaping bastard with a massive grin, all eyes on him. “I’m here to break your fucking jaw.” 

And then the people there started to scream and several well-dressed guests tripped over themselves as they backed away from him in obvious terror. Hm. 

Seemed like Dahsin was having some kind of party. All of the people there looked really high class–oh hey, Bulinto and Rostel were also here. Their way fancier pink and gold jackets and dresses really stood out with all the black and green around. Well, if they were involved, then that’s three birds with one stone.

“Guards! Arrest this man!” Dahsin yelled as he pointed down at Julius from the balcony. 

“What’s the problem, Dahsin?! Not strong enough to finish what you started!?” Julius shouted back as he let Hyacinth finally drop off his shoulder. Ah, wait, there was still broken glass on the floor–And then the first green guard tried to swing for him, so Julius ducked his swipe and hit straight back into the asshole’s face. Said asshole’s helmet crumpled into his face and he dropped like a stone.

“What is the meaning of this!?” Rostel yelled as she pushed through the crowd with a vicious scowl, “Don’t expect to just walk away from all of this, Goldforge!” 

“Not until after I hit Dahsin for sending fucking assassins after me!” 

“What?!” Huh, she actually stopped–The doors to the ballroom suddenly burst open as the guards that were at the gates came rushing in and the other five guards that were already in the room took the distraction to jump him all at once. Julius smashed his elbow into one guard’s face and snapped the knee of another with his foot, but one of them managed to get his arms around his neck. It wasn’t enough to bring him down, but it gave the two still standing a chance to grab his arms and hold him back. Still, even as he struggled in the guards’ grips, Julius smirked up at the stunned governor.

“Didn’t you hear?! Your friend there sent assassins after me! Right Hyacinth!?”

And he was currently throwing up on the floor. Hm. In retrospect, Julius should have gone easier on him–oh hey, a thumbs up, sweet! 

Rostel stared at him for a few seconds, then looked over her shoulder at the prick, a scowl on her face. “Ervard! Is this true?”

“What?” That actually snapped the asshole out of his furious glare and right into incredulous offense. “Don’t tell me you believe this idiotic buffoon!” 

Rostel frowned. “I don’t. But I do know your history.”

“Ah, alleged history,” Bulinto spoke up, though she was frowning pretty deeply too. Though that might be because of all the mess Hyacinth was making–Waaaaait. 

Julius stared at one man in a black suit, standing nearby with a wine glass. He knew that guy. Tall, swarthy, close-cropped black hair, mustache, goatee, tortoiseshell glasses, turtle broach– 

“Seriously!? You invited the fucking leader of the Black Shells here!?” Julius asked incredulously.

“…Uh, what’s the problem with that?” Rostel asked and Julius had to resist the urge to facepalm–Wait, right, two guys were holding onto his arms. He should probably do something about that–

“HA! My, Rosvord standards of education must have dropped dramatically in the past years!” Why the fuck was Dario Vioka here. Why the fuck was Sova Vioka here? WHY THE FUCK WERE THE VIOKAS HERE?! “Only an idiot wouldn’t be aware of the simple fact that the Black Shells and the Black Roses are one and the same!”

Judging by the gasps, most of these people were idiots. Still. “Why the fuck are you two here!?” 

“Dahsin invited us, of course,” Sova answered in her father’s stead. “Ah, and hello Julius.”

“…Hi. Also, WHY?! YOU ALL HATE EACH OTHER!”

“Of course we do, but it would have been rude if he didn’t invite us,” Dario explained with a smug smirk.

“He is right. Rules of etiquette would make it immensely offensive if Evrard did not present invitations to all the faction heads,” Bulinto agreed, then side-eyed Dario, “Though you could have refused.”

“We could, but we’re not about to miss a chance to see what idiocy certain people get up to.”

“Besides, we get to eat Dahsin’s food and badmouth him to his guests,” Sova added, “It’s really a matter of ‘why not’, rather than ‘why’.”

“…Sure, okay. Back with this though, yeah, your asshole friend sent assassins after me and–Do you mind?” Julius glanced back at the guard with his arms around his neck. “What are you even doing?”

“I-I’ve been, grh…t-trying to choke you out for the past five minutes! What are you even made of?!”

“Steel and rage, mostly. Speaking of-” And then he slammed his head back into the guy’s face in a crunch of nosy cartilage before he ripped his arms out of the other two’s grasps, grabbed their heads and slammed them straight together. A short shove sent them toppling to the floor in groaning pain, and then Julius was free again. Well, aside from all the guards and nobles standing around the room. “Right. Dahsin. I made a promise earlier about assumptions, and I’m here to fucking keep it.”

“…Heh. Heh ha ha. Ah, really?” That was new. Instead of being a raging idiot, Dahsin was smirking. “Hm…yes, you did say that, didn’t you? Assumptions, promises, threats, intimidations…You really are a thug at heart, aren’t you, Goldforge?”

“…Not getting where this smug act is coming from, but fuck it, sure. Can you get down here so I can punch you?”

“No. I don’t think I will. I think I’ll instead have you arrested by the Dames Kalavicho who just entered my home chasing a madman who streaked the streets and demanded a fight with me, a governor of our fair nation.” Ah, shit. The Kalavichos were in the crowd too. Hm.

“Gotta say, the change in attitude is surprising. What happened to the raging asshole that laughs at others’ embarrassment and throws a fit when someone insults him back?” Julius asked, trying to keep his eyes on Dahsin even as the guards kept moving in the crowd. The Kalavichos were hanging back, but the Dahsin guards were forming a ring around him.

“How many years have you lived in Rosiava, Goldforge?” Dahsin smirked. “You haven’t noticed yet? All roses have their layers. Petals, hiding a core.”

“Yeah, and your core is a cowardly fuck who hides beneath a turtle shell so you can pretend at being the big bad boss on the block!” Julius snapped back. “I met you today, prick, and you decided to have me killed just because I insulted you? In what fucking world was that smart!?”

“A good question, Goldforge. Why would I want a legendary hero dead? It’s foolish, isn’t it? Why, that’s more the kind of action the, say, Vioka Family would take.” Dario sputtered as Dahsin’s smirk widened. “Really, I can accept a slight. A family of lunatics, willing to murder so many just to keep themselves safe though? Do you really think they would forget and forgive so easily?”

What the fuck was he…The crowd. The crowd of nobles, or politicians, or whatever the fuck the Rosians called them. The people of influence who were hearing everything.

“And, of course, if they knew of your temper…well, Goldforge, you said yourself. You’re making assumptions. And I don’t quite recall your eyes being red the last time we met.” Shit. “And then there are those interesting rumors about the recent Demon Lord…Suspicious occurrences as well, such as you not actually going to the Metal Temple. The strange woman in your company. Your odd talks with the Viokas about who knows what…” He suddenly clapped his gloved hands together. “Could it be a conspiracy? Could you all have turned traitor?”

The crowd was murmuring louder, but… “…What strange woman?”

“Hm?”

“You said a strange woman. Who, exactly?”

Dahsin shrugged. “The tall elf. The one in white.” And everything just clicked.

“…You dumb motherfucker.”

He could almost hear a pin drop in the immediate silence. Dahsin’s eyes narrowed. “What?”

“You let in the demon general. Leicester, the one my students fought in the Metal Temple. You let her into the city!?”

He was full on glaring at him at this point. “Have you been reduced to rambling-”

“You think she’s an elf. You still think she’s an elf! You called her a snow elf in the assassination contract you lied about! Not because you were trying to hide it, but because you genuinely still think she is one!”

There. There was that flicker of confusion, of unsease. “What are you talking about?”

“You realized she was working for Valondrac or you already knew, and you didn’t want her talking! I was a fucking opportunity, wasn’t I?! A little extra, because that ‘half goliath snow elf’ got herself captured and you were scared she’d tell all about what you did!”

“I don’t know what-”

“But she’s not even an elf, genius! She’s an ARACHNE!”

“WHAT!?” AND THERE IT WAS! Dahsin’s jaw dropped in outright shock and the balcony’s bannister cracked sharply beneath his hands. “She-What?! How?! She had-!” And then he realized where he still was. And just how many nobles were staring up at him. 

“What did she have, Dahsin?” Julius’s cheeks were aching. He couldn’t help smiling. “Two legs? All white, all pretty, too pretty for you? Did you forget shapeshifting exists? Do you even know what a snow elf looks like?! Are you just that stupid, Dahsin?!”

“…” All the amusement was gone from his face. Dahsin’s jaw twitched, words unable to form. 

“But hey. How about I get arrested now then? I’ll be sure to tell everyone every single thing I know in my interrogation. Or how about my trial? I know you all love your gossip around here. It’ll be the talk of the town!” Julius spread his arms wide, inviting. “Or you can shut me up now. Doesn’t Rosiava allow duels? Not to the death, but fuck it. I’m a madman. I was going too far. You can use any excuse, but not as long as I can talk.

Dahsin twitched. His green eyes burned with an intensity Julius had only seen in the most vicious of bastards out there. Maybe that’s why it didn’t come as a surprise when Dahsin jumped straight from the balcony and to the floor. It cracked under his fancy dress shoes, and a few guards suddenly hurried forward. They didn’t go for Julius though. They just dragged all their collapsed comrades out of the way, while Hyacinth managed to drag himself vaguely in the direction of his frowning leader.

“…I am going to enjoy this,” Dahsin snarled. And then he grabbed the front of his black dress shirt and, in one swift, probably practiced, motion, tore it and his coat straight off. 

The governor of Laevis was shockingly solid under his upper clothes. His bare torso was firm, muscular, and absolutely covered in green vine tattoos looping and cording all around his pale skin. A white deer’s skull tattoo took up most of his chest, its horns forming brown branches that sprouted over his collar bones while its eyes were filled by two green roses, bleeding amber down its sockets. 

“Huh. Hot,” Julius admitted, then rolled his shoulders before getting into his stance– 

Only to immediately block a kick to his side as Dahsin charged him, spun, and slammed his shin straight into his arm. Well, can’t really fault him for taking the initiative–Julius blocked a sudden snap kick to his chest, letting the momentum slide him backwards–

And nearly fell over as something latched right around his ankles. Tree roots? His yanked his foot up and had to block another sudden roundhouse kick right for his head. Flashy bastard had a knack for them–

“GH-!” Dahsin sudden buried a fist straight into his stomach–How the fuck was the bastard keeping his balance?!

Suddenly Dahsin was grabbing his head and Julius had to actively yank himself backwards to keep his nose from being driven into the bastard’s knee. A rough pulse suddenly shot through his body and he felt his legs snap straight through the roots right as he finally managed to get some dist–And Dahsin was already on him, a sadistic grin showing right through his beard as he tried to slam his fist into Julius’s head.

He backed up but Dahsin twisted with the momentum and just barely missed backhanding him across the face–Julius abruptly saw stars as Dahsin’s leg slammed straight into the side of his head. Fuck, that was blood in his mouth–He stumbled back out of the grasp of the roots as they tried to snag his legs again. He had to stay light on his feet, he couldn’t let them grab him, couldn’t let Dahsin hit him, bastard hit way too hard for some asshole royal–

And he had to back up even further as Dahsin suddenly flipped onto his palms and started outright twirling like a damn tornado–fuck, dancer, that’s what he reminded Julius of, Dahsin was a fucking dancer–until he hit a shield–those fuckers in green had ringed him in with a shield wall!

Dahsin suddenly pulled back into a crouch and launched straight for him and a split second was all Julius had to barely lean out of the way of a wooden rapier punching straight through the shield and into the poor bastard behind it. “GKAUK!”

Dahsin’s eyes widened for a fraction of a second–Wait, this was a good time to–And then Julius slammed his fist straight into the asshole’s face. There was a hard crunch of cartilage and teeth as Julius followed through, driving his fist into Dahsin’s nose and mouth hard enough to send the royal flying all the way across the ring and straight into the wall of shields on the other side in a spray of blood and spit.

Then there was silence.

Julius blinked, then straightened and stared at the crumpled form of Evrard Dahsin. “…Huh. I thought that would take more punches……Huh.”

…That probably did break Dahsin’s jaw, so…mission accomplished? Yeah, mission accomplished. Julius was feeling pretty good about this, actually.

However, before he could congratulate himself, Julius felt a hand on his shoulder. Looking over, he found a red-haired woman in a crimson ball-gown, a pair of glasses over her red eyes. 

“Greetings, Sir Goldforge. I am Governor Rosaline Kavalicho, and while I apologize on behalf of Governor Dahsin, you are still very much under arrest.” 

“Ah-” And that’s when he felt a shock hit the back of his neck and everything went dark.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: