Chapter 70 – Lurking Dangers
Sometimes, Lester couldn’t believe how fortunate they were to have such a reliable king. Though she always felt inadequate and guilty for all the burdens they’d given their king. No matter what they did, she still didn’t feel they’d done enough to repay all that he’s done.
Meanwhile, the Larks in front of them steadily swarmed the king, surrounding him from all sides. Kasser straightened up, hoisting himself further atop Abu until he was balancing on his feet as his ride continued steadfastly.
He began to target the Soldier Larks, who lead the colony. Soldier Ants were twice the size of average Ant Larks. Cutting them off would be a strategic advantage.
As Abu was finally close enough to the colony, Kasser jumped off Abu’s back and launched himself into the air. As he touched the ground, he immediately unsheathed his sword, and swung it down, stabbing the head of the closest Soldier Ant.
Out of the sword leaked wisps of blue smoke, whipping around and slicing off the rest of the Lark’s body.
Out of thin air, a snake sprung, coiling itself around the king’s body. It wasn’t a normal snake, as indicated by its sharp protruding scales.
Kasser spun and sliced through the Larks, spinning his sword with finesse and grace only a seasoned warrior was capable of. He leaped, and when he touched back down to the ground, a shockwave released, cutting through the surrounding Larks, effectively disposing of them.
Blood of the Ant Larks spilled onto the sand. As their hearts were pierced, their bodies began to decay, immediately crumbling to dust and becoming one with the sands.
At a distance, Hashi soldiers watched as Lark after Lark disappeared. The space surrounding the king was soon devoid of any of the dreaded creatures, they looked on in awe and praise for their king.
They watched in silent anticipation and excitement; murmurs of their king’s praise began to flit about from their posts.
“Hail His Majesty!”
“Oh, our mighty king!”
And then one soldier cried out, a battle cry, and soon every soldier was yelling along, cheering for their king. Their cries were so loud, it was heard all over the walls, vibrating with every stomp of their foot and tap of their spears.
With their spirits reinvigorated and their courage reignited from the sight of their battling king, they could feel the fear fade away at the prospect of going to battle against these creatures.
In the field, Kasser breathed, his fists opening and clenching. He could see the Larks beginning to hound in on him once more, but something was different. He looked down at his bloodied hands, mesmerized by them…
There’s definitely something different, he thought. He could feel his Praz coursing around his body, its power wisping wildly, surging out, ready to heed his every command.
As a kingdom located at the heart of the desert, it was no question that the Kingdom of Hashi would receive the most visits of these monsters during active periods compared to the other kingdoms. As such, the Desert King was the one who held the most powerful Praz.
Amongst the traveling merchants, the hottest topic had always been each of the five kings’ Praz. Others would even try and defend their argument of their own king’s being the most powerful one, but these were only ever baseless comparisons.
It was an inarguable fact that the Desert King was the one with the strongest Praz, for the desert breeds only the toughest of beings to survive its harsh conditions.
But with great power comes a greater price. As kings would gain total control of their Praz upon their ascension of the throne, for the Desert King it wasn’t so. His Praz was so powerful; he needed to suppress it more than he could use it.
It was easier to control during the dry period. But when the active period would arrive, Kasser’s Praz would whirl around him aggressively, restlessly, as if anticipating a fight to break out.
He often thought his Praz had its own consciousness. Like it didn’t appreciate being contained in his body for so long. That it wanted to break free.
Oftentimes, it would run rampant, and Kasser would have a hard time reigning it in, controlling it to his will. Most of the time, he was exhausted simply because he was reigning in his Praz whenever he’d try to use it.
Usually, by this time, he would be exhausted after too much use of his ability, but he was still fit as a fiddle. Nothing was wrong, he could still fight, and he even hadn’t broken out much into a sweat.
Kasser mused as his grip on his sword tightened, but loose enough to swing. The Ant Larks circled him before they began to jump towards him once more.
He still had some Larks to cut down after all.
He knew he couldn’t keep every Lark from advancing towards his kingdom. Already he could see from his peripheral vision that some had broken away and begun their advance.
He only hoped his own warriors were ready as the war had barely begun.
Eugene heard the signal flare not long after she returned to her room.
Pleasant thoughts, she thought, calming her heart, Things might not be too bad today.
She looked up to the sky, hoping to see a blue signal flare. However, when the sky was lit up in a green haze, Eugene felt her heart beating faster in anxiousness once more.
“Zanne.” She called out, and the maid hastily went to her side.
“Yes, Your Grace?”
“It was yellow a moment ago, and now the signal flare is already green. What does that mean?”
Zanne, too was confused, for it had been long since she’d seen a green flare. Though she had an idea and knew the color meant trouble, she hesitated to answer—afraid that she might feed the queen with wrong information and further worry her.
“Allow me to go and ask, Your Grace.” She bowed and began to look for someone to explain it to the queen.
When Zanne left her room, Eugene whipped her head back to look outside and saw two more green flares erupting in the sky.
Eugene began pacing back and forth, wearing down the carpet in her nervousness as she waited for news impatiently. She glanced back to the closed door, worry marred her features as she wondered why no one had come yet.
“She’s awfully late. Where is Marianne?” She whispered to herself. Marianne was always the one to come and explain these situations to her. Did something happen?
She thought of getting a servant to fetch her; she couldn’t stand waiting any longer. Eugene was frustrated; there were no telecommunication devices in this world.
She moved to step out of the room and called out to the servant nearby. When she asked the whereabouts of Marianne, the servant answered.
“I saw her talking to the general officer, Your Grace.”
“Where? Lead me to her.”
Eugene followed the servant along the corridors and down a series of steps. She hadn’t been to every corner of the palace, but now she roughly knew its structure. Soon, they reached the edge of the castle which belonged to the general officer, and the residence of the court ladies.
A group of servants gathered around the corridor in front of the office. Marianne and Sarah were talking to each other with a serious expression on their face, but when they discovered Eugene, they instantly walked towards her and lowered their heads.
Eugene’s eyes flitted at Marianne, then Sarah and then the servants, each of them with concerned looks. In most situations, she wouldn’t dare to meddle since she still didn’t know how things were managed around here. She thought it was best for her not to interfere.
But today, she’d become quite apprehensive after the two green signal flares. She didn’t want to feel as if she didn’t belong; she had the right to know what was happening.
“I can sense the tension in the room,” she began, “What happened?” she demanded, and Marianne stepped closer.