Chapter 726: The Past Three Months
The Duke's wrath brought dire consequences to the culprits' agenda. What should have been a formality and earned them a rich reward, or at least a reprieve, had turned into a disaster.
After diligently investigating and listening to the testimonies of every survivor except for the absent Jake and Ruby, Duke Gole had gained a clear idea of the course of events and his ire was immediately vented on the Factions he believed to be guilty, whether they were directly or indirectly involved.
Without hesitation, the leader of the Thorugh demon clan was sentenced to death along with the leader of the Thrajah vampire clan, the leader of the Avians and the chief Lich of the Undeads. Abbikesh may have been part of the conspiracy, but the fact that he and his men did not intervene until after his son's death saved them from the gallows.
The Avians' leader, Lansho, was the Alpha Golden Were-Eagle slain by Jake. Qewie, the young woman with the appearance of a juvenile White Were-Hawk, had, before Sir Gole's death was revealed, hatefully accused Jake and Ruby of killing her uncles. Having also intervened after the time of his son's supposed death, Duke Gole had also decided to temporarily spare them.
But only temporarily. The young Qewie, who had become their new leader, was fully aware of this. As for Abbikesh, the very reason for his exile in Laudarkvik was the boundless hatred the emperor held for having cuckolded him along with his favorite concubine. If Duke Gole decided to kill him, the Ret'Asi Emperor would probably reward him handsomely.
The leader of the Liches having decisively fled by an obscure method, the targets in his immediate collimator were thus only the clan of Thrajah vampires, and Thozuch demons.
But how could the designated culprits accept such a judgment? Ironically, even the Undeads of Laudarkvik treasured their lives. The direct consequence of these death sentences was chaos. Utter chaos in the most brutal and unadulterated form.
The majestic palace where the High Council of Laudarkvik was held had immediately turned into a bloodbath. The 500 imperial knights had risen up against Astraroth Thozuch and Seskel Thrajah, the leaders of their respective factions. The carnage was unstoppable.
On the surface, Duke Gole and his 500 knights of level 70 and above boasted an immense numerical superiority over their opponents, but in front of them stood a Demon and a Vampire over level 90 and almost as old as Quanoth itself. These two cruel and vicious beings had no intention of surrendering.
The rest of the story was self-explanatory. The spiral of hidden alliances was set in motion, revealing some surprises for those present at the High Council.
Syn and Melion, occupying the two Metamorph Council seats, had promptly flown to Astraroth's aid, although their official allies since the founding of Laudarkvik had always been the Were-beings.
Xaverie Zangruth, one of the three seats belonging to the demons and mother of Aisling, had burst out laughing and left the council whistling instead of helping her fellow Astraroth in trouble. The third seat Aggenur Dorgrarauth had acted even more strangely, ambushing the Duke Gole straight away. However, it was not to protect Astraroth, a demon like himself, but rather to assist Seskel, a Vampire.
Usadra and Fodnyr, the two Dark Races seats, had also thrown themselves into the fray, attempting directly to assassinate not Sire Gole, but Astraroth alongside Remus Dracul, one of the three Vampire seats and also Aisling's great-grandfather.
For the rest, the alliance games had gone as planned. The Were-Beings had mercilessly attacked Seskel, although Qewie and her bodyguard had chosen to steer clear of this reckoning.
The Nosferati Vampire clan had come to the defense of Sire Gole, once again reaffirming their loyalty to the Ret'Asi Empire, while Haynt and Aisling had also chosen to help Sire Gole. Finally, Xellmezon, the Wight leader occupying one of the two Undead seats had against all odds chosen to get the hell out of there, surely joining his missing Lich compere.
? ?? ??-?? ???. ??? This deadly battle, which had taken place almost three months earlier, had lasted a good afternoon and had resulted in the deaths of Fodnyr of the Dark Races, Sable of the Werewolves, and Cazimir Nosferati. Seskel Thrajah and Remus Dracul of the Vampires were also grievously injured and would require a major blood ceremony to recover.
On the side of the Imperial Griffin Knights, Duke Gole had managed to stay alive, but his entire force had been wiped out. Because of this incident, the plan to reconquer and retaliate against Khinchod had been put on the back burner, but not completely stopped.
Duke Gole did not return to Kanui after his failure, but simply dispatched a Nosferati messenger to the capital to request reinforcements. To ensure his safety, he had chosen to reside temporarily at Haynt's place, an Astral known for his moral rectitude. From his palace, he continued to oversee the reconquest of Lodunvals.? ???a ??????
After the clash of titans, normal life had resumed in Laudarkvik, but relations between the various factions and clans had been irreparably damaged. The concern was that the winner of this tragic battle was also apparent.
Two coalitions had openly revealed their existence in this gruesome showdown. The progressives, more inclined to support the Empire, and the separatist extremists, who saw themselves as a superior species to humans and refused to bow down to the Emperor.
The former camp included the Dark Races, the Dracul and Nosferati clans, the Mutants and Astral, as well as Prince Edric's sub-faction of Humans. The opposition officially included the demon clans Thozuch and Dorgrarauth, the Vampires of the Thrajah clan, the Metamorphs, most of the Were-beings and most likely the unofficial support of Abbikesh and his men, the Undeads and the traitors of the Astral faction.
The pro-empires had lost two key leaders on this infamous day, namely Fodnyr and Cazimir Nosferati, while Remus Dracul was out of action. On the other hand, the demons had escaped unscathed, Seskel Thrajah had not perished either, the Undeads had fled in time, and Abbikesh was doing just fine. Their only known loss was Sable of the Were-wolves, but she and Lansho of the Were-Eagle were not worth a single hair of Astraroth and Seskel's head.
Beyond that, they also had to deal with Xaverie Zangruth who chose to play the neutrality card. Her demonic ancestry and her tumultuous relationship with her ex-husband Grimbald Dracul made her position unclear. Having betrayed the Dracul clan at the time and caused her ex-husband to be sentenced to the Eternal Rest, many were more inclined to think that she fully supported the other demons.
In addition to Xaverie, there was also another Were-Lion that both sides were wary of: Kenway. He was not one of the three Were-beings, but he was the older brother of the first seat Lysander, another Were-Lion, but also a valued friend of Haynt. Because of his reputation as a reclusive hermit, no one knew what he truly thought, but many felt that he would not abandon his brother and his clan if they were under threat of extinction.
Lastly, there was one more component to the equation: the Undead army created during the Lodunvals mass killings and the Players involved in this massive project. Whether it was Vhoskaud, Azeus, or Shamash, no one had any idea what had happened to them.
These turbulent currents in Laudarkvik had paradoxically restored a semblance of order and peace, but no one was fooled. It was only temporary. In the shadows, internal wars, assassinations and intrigues continued to take place one after the other.
In this context of insecurity and anarchy, the missions concerning the reconquest of Lodunvals had finally resumed and Carmin, Elduin, Bhammod, Wyatt and Seren had formed together a formidable team of adventurers.
In those three months, they had contributed greatly and the entire Lodunvals region had been recaptured. Carmin had gained Aisling's trust and moved up the ranks, while Wyatt had gained Remus Dracul's trust.
Or so he thought. For starters, the reinforcements Duke Gole requested from the empire never came. Within weeks of the council battle, news of numerous conflicts, invasions and other insurrections had reached their ears and it had become clear to everyone that the Empire no longer possessed the resources to deal with them.
Their independence was tacitly accepted as long as they did not directly harm the empire. With Lodunvals and its region officially retaken, the war against Khinchod ended shortly thereafter.
With the war over, Wyatt and the others returned to their respective faction headquarters and faced a different kind of internal war. Much more deceitful and sinister.
The Metamorphs were by far the most formidable in these tactics. Although their species were all different, Shapeshifters, Doppelgangers and certain evolutions of Mimics could take on the appearance of members of the enemy camp and even mimic their abilities and sometimes even copy their every memory, literally acting like the person they were impersonating.
Thanks to the already weakened position of the Mutants and the neutral position of Xaverie, Carmin had it easy, but Wyatt had instead risked his life dozens of times over the past two months, eliminating numerous Demon and Undead officers and avoiding dozens of assassination attempts by the Metamorphs.
The night before, he had been invited into Remus' office to discuss their next plan, and that was the last time Carmin had heard from him.