“Halt who goes there,” A royal guard draws his sword pointing it at Grendel who leads Kross and the rest to the castle gates of the inner city.
“Lord Grendel Surefoot, of the Diamond Castle seek a brief audience with King O’rick.” Grendel pronounces with authority. Causing the guard to summon another one over to take word to the King.
“If the King will meet with you I will allow you to pass but you must leave your weapons with me no outsiders are allowed armed within the castle walls.” The guard informs the group. Causing the group to reluctantly disarm and hand them their weapons to royal guards man that arrive with word from the King.
“Grendel, is it normal for the escort to the King to be so large?” Kross asks a bit concerned being surrounded by a dozen soldiers as they pass through the entrance.
Grendel only shakes his head in response as the girls look in awe at all of the well fashioned marble stone work of the palaces architecture. Former kings and highly honored knights remain in statue form with judging eyes watching all who enter. The Blessing scripture of various Gods litter the walls and bases of the statues. They enter the throne room where the King sits with his queen taking in requests of common folk. Once a man finishes with a request to be repaid for soldiers raping and killing two of his Elvin half breed slaves which the King orders the release of two of his own personal slaves to go with him.
The guards introduce Grendel who steps forward and introduces the rest of the group.
King O’Rick, was a chubby yet barbaric looking beast of a man. Long hair and marble colored beard cover his mythril armor. His crown was a series of tiny golden skulls with gems in the eye sockets of each one. Each skull is representative of a King or challenge that The O’Rick blood line had slain over their reign. Serving as a reminder to all that see it not to question the kings rule. He sits on a marble and golden infused throne. His wife wears an iron mask replica of her own face as the only one worthy to look upon her true beauty is the King himself. She is wearing a light blue and white dress and in her hand hand she holds a chalice for the King.
“What brings you here Lord Surefoot?” King O’Rick questions.
“That is not a simple question my Grace. I am here with the son of Ares and our band is in search of the remaining Gods. Rumors are that the blood rain was a sign that the Gods had been slain. I know not the truth for sure but we have seen some truly amazing and terrifying things as of late. Those culprits who attacked the God’s are also rumored to attempt to open the Gate. ” Grendel says trying to disregard the Kings lack of interest or care in the statement Grendel has just made. ” I am sure you are aware of roaming orc hoards have begun to localize and organize attacks against small towns and villages. This seems to be happening in your Kingdom as well as mine. ”
“These rumors of dead Gods have reached my ears, but as a God can not be killed: even by one of their own, I find giving life to these claims the acts of a mad men and fools. As for the hoards of Orcs we will dispatch 100 men to each of the boarder towns to act as extra protection.” O’Rick states showing his discontent with the news concerning the Gods.
“Thank you your Grace. ” Grendel and Argos state as Kross shakes his head.
“Regardless if you think its the act of fools to give rise to rumors of Gods dying. It would be wise to at least hide your key to the Gate given that someone may be trying to open it. They are here in your city. Make no mistake they will come here and they will go forth with their agenda regardless of your degrees. Yet you sit here in disbelief doing nothing because this enemy is beyond anything the world has ever seen. You are unable to believe what you have yet to see because the concept is so tremendously scary that believing it would break your concept of the world you built. Denying is so much easier than learning, easier than accepting that everything changed, easier than preparing for something you refuse to identify as real. ” Kross says trying to gain some ground.
“Outsider, re frame from speaking to the King as your voice is not worthy to be heard in this great hall. ” A royal guards man states as the Queen raises her free hand up to the guard.
“Let him speak, As he is a braver soul than you. You see he is willing to travel great lengths in mixed company just to bring warnings to a King that if truth follows his claims we would be wise to listen.” the queen states her voice though muffled rings out in a heavenly tone from behind her mask. ” You guard, have never left the castle let alone the city yet you claim he has no right to speak. You know nothing of anything happening, you sir should not speak.”
The guard goes to argue but with a quick glare from the King he bows and departs from the room. Kross and the others are surprised by the queen’s actions as it is rumored that she never spoke to anyone outside the royal family.
“Thank you your Grace,” Kross mutters in gratitude.
“Now, as for the rumors of death to the Gods the Kings words speak truth and you should not worry about such claims. Though the idea of someone or anyone looking to open the gate should never be taken without caution, but as only certain noble blood lines even have a chance succeeding in that endeavor. I would find it far wiser to conceal the location. Though I do not think it would be safer outside the castle walls from those who seek its power. ” The queen looks over to her husband. His face shows no sign of denial nor acceptance of her claim.
“It would you and it would be safer if you had no knowledge of its where abouts.” Argos states.
It was at this time that Gilgamesh walks in with the Seraphs on either side following behind him. They are all wearing armor and have their weapons though they are sheathed. Turning his head Gilgamesh looks upon the mortals with curiosity and aw at the set up of the palace.
“Whats the meaning of this, I demand you remove your weapons this instant and wait your turn.” King O’Rick shouts as Gilgamesh bows then nods to his companions who recognize the others and go to speak but he hushes them before they can get a word out.
Gilgamesh’s armor and weapon begin to fade shortly their after the Seraphs follow in kind. The King’s eyes widen at this as the queen drops the Kings chalice causing winte to spill over the floor an old slave rushes over to begin cleaning it up and hands the chalice back to her. He refills it then bows back out into the shadows.
“Sorry to interrupt you King and mortals.” Gilgamesh is cut off before he can continue.
“What sort of man carry’s armor and weapon made of magic, and is in the company of a Fallen Archon and one made of gold? ” King O’Rick begins.
Kross chimes in before Gilgamesh responds “These may be the ones we warned you about. That black Seraph I have seen flayed before my eyes and now stands whole before you.” Kross states realizing that this will not work out well for those around.
Unarmed and under powered. Kross pushes the girls behind himself as Argos, Grendel, and chuck form a line along with him. These actions are noticed by the Queen who places her chalice on the ground and moves to stand as the King pushes her gently back down in her seat.
Gilgamesh stands looking over at Kross and the others not seeing 400 among them. His lips form a smirk as he begins,” The name I have chosen is Gilgamesh, I have but one purpose…Freedom. I have come here to ask you for your Key to the gate and that you end slavery and the means of which you empower your people to harm other races. I have already freed you from the oppressing Gods that forced you to pay homage for their praise. I will release everyone, You can be part of the redemption of your kingdom or its downfall.”
The queen leans over and whispers something to the king. The king nods and then turns to the growing audience in his throne room. ” You come here Gilgamesh, claiming to have slain the Gods, and demand we reform our way of life to your vision. You offer no evidence for your claim and demand the greatest King to do your bidding. You request my key for the Gate so you can free the monsters that slaughtered our ancestors and the ancestors of all races. You would be wise to look upon my crown and understand that no man will ever order me, nor give rulings in my kingdom other than I. I deny your request and offer you this one chance to leave my city with your head on your shoulders and never return. ”
Gilgamesh sighs regretting this outcome and waves the golden seraph over to him. The seraph carrying a bag on its back which is just now revealed as the seraph stands in front of Gilgamesh glaring at the King. Gilgamesh removes Zues’s crown and Hera’s chalice and tosses them before the King. This causes whispers to spur among the collective and Kross can not take his eyes off of Gilgamesh. Wondering where the pink haired girl fits into all of this.
“There is your proof, now I would rather not have to make you into an example as well. Free the slaves and hand over the key this is last time I will ask,” Gilgamesh says coldly.
“Guards!!! ” the King shouts causing the room to stir as soldiers make their way in and a horn is trumpeted calling saying the king is under attack. Doors open from behind the throne and in marches even more. The King unsheathes his sword as the Queen makes her way to the back of the room Kross signals the others to follow the queen and they take off as Gilgamesh and his party re summon their armor and weapons and begin disabling the warriors one at a time being careful not to kill any of them as they make their way to the king.
“We should stay and help.” Argos yells at the group while reaching for Kross who remains just barely out of his reach with the two girls infront of him. Kross ignores Argos realizing the Queen most likely knows the location of the key. The Queen cuts through one of the doors where the soldiers poor out. Grendel however nods to Argos and slows his pace. Chuck sees his friend slow and follows in kind. Ash and Snowy begin to slow but Kross grabs them by the arm and drags them with him after the Queen. Causing Argos to spit and glare before turning to face the enemy unarmed.
Gilgamesh focuses on cutting legs and arms of the soldiers clean off their bodies filling the rooms with horrified screams. Argos picks up a sword and charges past the King and straight towards Gilgamesh. Gilgamesh locks eyes with Argos noticing no fear as he swings the sword at Gilgamesh who blocks it with his spear. Gilgamesh is surprised by the strength of Argos as each blocked blow pushes him backwards and almost off balance. Though with a quick dodge to the side allows him the to pierce Argos with his spear which Argos grabs with his spare hand and turns his body to tear the spear from Gilgamesh’s Grip. This causes Argos hand to crystallize and Gilgamesh brings forth a kick against the hand of Argos causing his crystallized hand to crack. Though feeling intense pain it does not show. Using his injured leg as balance he brings a kick to the side of Gilgamesh’s face knocking him down to the ground. Argos pulls the spear out of his leg and tosses it at Gilgamesh who fails to catch it until after it has already pierced through his chest. This causes Gilgamesh to fall to one knee shocked by the out come as the crystals on Argos hand begin to fall off showing that his hand had been broken in several places by the kick Gilgamesh lands.
Grendel starts to pull the king back as the seraphs charge forth causing Chuck to jump in their path. Chuck Puts up his fists and begins to systematically stumble about which confuses the seraphs causing them to pause their attack for a moment.
Chuck uses the momentum he gains from a false stumble to bring up a round house kick to the golden Seraphs face Causing her to collide with the Black one. Grendel Continues to pull the king back till the King finally makes his retreat.
Grendel picks up a spear and shield off the floor but first he has to remove the hands still attached to them. Once armed he joins Chuck who’s fighting style is still a puzzle as the black Golden seraph attacks trying to land a blow to Chuck who continues to Dodge by falling on the ground and flipping around her swords. Frustrated she takes flight and pulls out her bow and starts firing arrows at Chuck who dodges a few but is finally struck in the hand then again in his stomach causing him to collapse. Grendel Throws his spear at the seraph who lets it shatter against her armor. She fires her arrows a Grendel puts up his shield to block them as the Other golden seraph closes in behind him running her sword clean through each of his shoulders causing him to drop the shield and be struck by several arrows in his legs. Grendel falls next to chuck who is now coughing up blood.
Argos remains standing and hobbles over to Gilgamesh who is pulling the spear out of his chest, Argos begins punching Gilgamesh in the face with his one good hand and using his good leg to hold him down. The Seraphs begin shooting wave after wave of arrows into his back being sure to miss vital areas. This causes even Argos to eventually fall forward. Gilgamesh heals and gets up looking at the other immortals and glares in rage as he has been delayed.
“Well those three were troublesome.” he kicks Argos in the chest as the sound of more soldiers are heard coming from the great hallway. ” Ellen, Hellen, lets make our leave, the key is gone and so is the King but they will be back and so shall we.
Ellen flies up and begins motioning her hands infront of her till a portal opens. They walk all walk inside Gilgamesh dragging a soldier behind him. The soldier is missing an arm and heavily damaged leg, but is still breathing and begging for help as they disappear into the portal. The portal closes and the room full of dying men stains the marble floors red with their blood.
Kross and the girls manage to catch up to the Queen who has been winded by the sudden need to feel. Taking off her mask helps her catch her breath. They had followed her through the castle and into a hidden tunnel. The poorly lit shaft is littered with the smell of moist stone and mildew.
“Queen O’Rick where is the Key we have to get it you and it out of here as soon as possible. My friends and the King wont be able to hold them back for long. We must keep moving. ” Kross says finally catching up to her Snowy begins punching Kross’s hand as it has been hurting her arm since he grabbed it. Kross apologizes and releases them.
The Queen goes to put her mask on before turning to speak to them, but her breath had yet to return so she remains facing the away from them. ” This tunnel leads to an outpost just on the other side of the city walls. ” She says in a frantic and scared state.
“And the key? Where is that how do we find it so we can take the danger away from you.”Kross asks to try and finally get an answer. The queen shows them the inside of the mask where the key has been secured to by a sealed tiny thin metal box.
“The kings greatest treasures…such a laughable offense.” She turns to look at them and they can see her face had been disfigured to make room for the keys container in the mask. Her cheek bone hand been crushed and the flesh turned scar tissue where they has once cut it off and it had healed. A hole remained by her molars showing off the backs of her teeth.
Snowy winces as Ash looks on in pure awe at the dedication this Queen had given to her king and the people of the world. Kross understands however the cleverness behind such an disfiguring act. No one would have ever had known; even experts, as the mask; when on display, it shows no falsehood to the imperfection of it covered.
So you know the truth now. I have to ask you one favor before leaving, No one in the kingdom knows of this. For the protection of the King and realm I need you to well…hand me your knife…” She says as she realizes what she must do.
“I am sorry they took my weapons away at the door.” Kross says catching on to what is about to happen. Kross walks up to the Queen gently taking her mask from her hand. Placing the mask at a slant against the wall. He places a small flat but sturdy bit of flint at an opposet slant with the base against the floor and wall’s edge and the other end just above where the key is hidden. With a swift kick and some sparks he breaks off a jagged chunk from the mask. He sighs and hands her back the majority of the mask keeping the the concealed key. She looks at the new found edge of her mask. Honestly she feels a bit of relief realizing that another one like it will not be made though the task ahead causes her to force her nerves to steady.
The queen takes a several deep breaths before placing the jagged against her scars and begins cutting through them. removing them completely and making a larger hole in her mouth making, this makes her wound look fresh from the assault. Tears and screams of pain flourish during this process causing snowy to cover her hears as they echoed throughout the canal.
“I think I may throw up…” Snowy mutters now feeling dizzy and nauseous over the ordeal that just happened.
“Shhh…” Ash says as she slams her foot down on snowy’s toes causing Snowy to yelp and take her attention off of the queen.
Kross tears off part of his sleeve and offers it the queen who takes it and place over her wounds spitting out the blood that managed to slip into her mouth. The queen then takes the lead and begins showing them the way out of the tunnel.
They make it out by night fall and a short while later they are joined by the King. Who with summons his army to rally around him and charge the castle. The King looks after his wife damning the attackers for her injuries and in private commending her on her actions. He gives Kross full permission to take the Key and tells them that he will spread word that it has been stolen, so to watch his back.
By morning the army is fully assembled and the King leads his march straight into the throne room. Where they find men dead and dying from blood loss. They collect Chuck, Grendel and Argos taking them to the infirmary. Kross takes the girls over to visit them keeping the key in his shoe under padded leather, forcing himself to walk normally as, no one is sure.
Ash looks towards Argos and Grendel as Snowy rushes over to Chuck. Kross however looks at the three of them all wrapped up in bandages on the floor next to several others.
” Was it worth it boy scouts? Almost getting yourself and these two killed over a Fool hardy of an idea.” Kross says with a smile happy to see they are still living anyway.
“Yes…It was I learned a lot from the encounter with Gilgamesh, first he is strong but I am stronger, Second his weaponry with grasped turns you into a crystal, and lastly…we are no match. ” Argos says weakly with defeat in his voice. “Though I did shove his own spear into his chest and had a few good punches in before being covered in arrows. ”
“Chuck are you alright? Say something ANYTHING.” Snowy shouts at a motionless Chuck.
Chuck remains still with eyes closed for a moment before making a request,” Bring me liquor, bring me food…and a night with a good women.” He says weakly forcing a grin only to get slapped by Snowy who then hugs him with a tear coming down her face which she wipes away before he opens his eyes.
Grendel coughs up a bit before he turns his head towards Ash,” Is the King okay…Did he make it out…where is the key?”
“The King is fine and the key is safe for now, just rest and focus on healing, we will be at the tavern, but we need to get moving soon. ” Ash says looking at them worried that Kross may not wait for them to recover before heading out as the key isn’t safe and they are not safe having been exposed to the leader of the enemy.
“Alright Guys good your still alive we have much to discuss but not now focus on resting and healing. We are going to search the black market for some potions to help you all.” Kross says and leads the girls out.
They spend their time in the markets and black market centers not finding much that the King has already seized for his men. Disgruntled Kross takes the girls to the inn and they get a one room for it is safer if they stick together. Kross sits down in front of the door as the girls take the bed and it is not long till all of them are fast asleep.