UNDERSEA SIEGE PART 6
Undersea Siege Part 6
I swam up to the castle gates. It was an impressive circular gate, resembling a giant nautilus shell.
Two guards were stationed there both wearing very ceremonial looking armor.
"Hey, er… I mean, Salutations, Gate Warriors." I said, bowing, hoping I got the mannerisms right. "I am Mage Aiza."
"Greetings, I'm Gate Guard Vren."
"Greetings. And I am Gate Guard Anyio."
They gave a neutral smile and both bowed in response. I was half right. Yes! Im learning.
"What's your business?" Vren asked.
"I'm looking for Warrior Mithril… I want to thank him for saving me earlier."
Anyio and Vren gazed at each other, frowning. They then looked at me with slightly melancholic eyes, their helmets casting a shadow.
"Haven't you heard-- wait. You wouldn't have. It was royal orders…" Anyio began.
"Warrior Mithril is currently going through his exile trial. The way things are looking, he may never tread in Aequor waters as long as he lives."
First time I heard of this! Wait.. was this why he tried to fight the monsters alone?!
"You have to let me in there!" I said, in the nicest but hastiest way possible.
"Sorry Mage Aiza… No way we can do that. Royal law is as set as obsidian. Court won't listen to a landwalker even."
I stopped myself. Wait, what can I even do? I am just a stranger to this land.
But this felt so wrong. He was trying to help his nation, and now he's being rewarded with exile?
I had to try. He loved Aequor so stinkin’ much.
I opened my mouth, but a clawed hand placed itself on my shoulders, and I froze.
"Hello boys and girls, may I ask to be let in for the royal library once again?"
It was Seren, and she towered above us all, waving her tablet book casually. "I just finished the book on 'Cuisine and Culture of the fins.' Fascinating. I'd love to pick up another stack of books. And my assistant here, Mage Aiza… I asked her to come get me some."
The guards were about to speak, but Seren glared and snapped at me.
"Did you say anything about Warrior Mithril? Tsk, you know we landwalkers can't meddle with Royal Aequorean Law!"
Aha… I see what's going on here.
Playing along, I nodded. "Sigh.. You're right. Sorry I asked. I just.. wanted to help. I'll forget about it now and just go in to get the books with Mage Seren."
The guards looked at me suspiciously, then to us both.
Seren reassured them: "If Aiza tries anything, I'll stop her. Vespire's honor. Up on land it's the highest of promises for my people."
I almost burst out in laughter. Vespire's honor. Ha! First I've heard of that.
The guards had visible confusion at first, and they whispered to eachother. But ultimately they were convinced by Seren's dead serious face.
Not wanting to be impolite, Vren nodded. "If there's anything us Aequoreans understand, it's honor. Go on ahead."
We both thanked the guards as they opened the gate and we went in, and after the gate closed, I could hear Anyio say, "Did you hear that? Vespire's honor! The highest of honors of the landwalkers!"
"You know way too much about Aequor, it's scary!" I said to Seren once out of the guard's earshot.
The vespire gave me a grumpy look. "What are you waiting for? Shoo. Go to that court thing. I'll be in the library, those books are waiting."
We parted at the first corridor, where Seren pointed out directions to the royal court.
After twisting and turning through corridors, (and resisting the urge to gawk at how beautiful the undersea palace was…) I finally made it to the doors of the court.
I could hear faint talking inside, and without missing a beat, I burst through the large doors.
"Warrior Mithril, I hereby relieve you of your duty and e--"
I rolled through and immediately got surrounded by guards.
Tridents and spears much like Mithril's pointed at my neck.
But I stood up regardless, despite my nervousness rising.
The room was large and very purple. Rows of royal paponi statues lined the walls of the court and four chairs resembling crustyceans bunched together at the end of the room.
King Ericius was on the left. And Princess Naia, who looked surprised, was in the center. She was standing, and was holding a scroll stone tablet.
A secretary merpouf was on the side, frozen, her carving pen floating, in mid-writing.
Mithril was in the center, kneeling, his head lowered, and his trident was almost touching the ground.
His face half turned to me, mouth ajar.
"What is the meaning of this? Volunteer landwalker, please exit this room. It is against the royal law to interrupt a court session!" Princess Naia pleaded with sternness. I could tell she didn't want me to get in trouble. Her father was already eyeing me suspiciously.
"Royal Princess Naia! Not without you hearing my case!" I also pleaded back, regaining composure and bowing.
"On who's authority?" Naia questioned. "Here in Aequor we abide by Royal Law, what do you abide by?"
Good question. I surely didn't have any kind of authority, and am the farthest removed from nobility. If Queen Nouvel's magistrates ever saw me in court I'd be thrown out as fast as a stray melodon. But…
"I… Mage Aiza, speak by Vespire's Honor, Princess!" I boomed, my chest raised as high and noble as it could be.
The guards and all other merpoufs in the chamber glanced at each other in confusion.
Princess Naia looked to her father, who also shrugged slightly.
"It's the highest of honors in Bellacoste!" I continued, sweating.
The Princess leaned to her father and I heard them whispering. They still bore confusion, but Naia finally replied.
"We… Do not know what that is. However, we do respect you landwalker, on the basis that you've helped our kingdom. And it sounds like that honor you speak of is quite high."
The princess waved at the guards, signalling them.
The palace guards that drew the spears towards me lowered them and backed off, returning to their stations.
“You may state your case…” The princess urged.
“Warrior Mithril shouldn’t be exiled. I have him to thank for saving my life when I almost got sucked up by a whirlpool!” I explained. I almost wanted to add in the “but he threw me into a whirlpool first”, though that probably wouldn’t help him out much at this moment.
The flood of events came back. How we evacuated the village, watching him take command and seeing his concern for the villagers. He always seemed to put safety for the villagers first.
“He loves Aequor so much he wouldn’t shut up about it. He droned on about it when we were going to the village...” I continued, pointing to the tentacled warrior.
“And he helped get all the villagers here safely, risking his life to fight a dozen of the monsters when we got ambushed!! I find it unfair to kick him out when he’s done that much good!”
Princess Naia frowned, clearly looking conflicted about this. And so did Mithril. The warrior was still looking despondent.
“I understand that you see him as a hero in a way.” Naia spoke, “And I am glad to hear he had saved you, a landwalker’s life, but..”
She shook her head, in thought.
“He still broke Royal Law. You were not here for it, but Warrior Mithril, 12th Division leader, had moved his platoon into battle without our order. And in the process, he had endangered all of his soldiers, and the city for moving from his post.”
The princess sighed. “Royal Law here is set in obsidian. I cannot overlook such a demeanor…”
“You’ve come all this way to try to appeal, but I must reject it..”
“No way..” I uttered. I mean, that sounded pretty bad. But still, everyone makes mistakes once in a while!
“But Princess, he loves this kingdom so much that he’d rather be destroyed by monsters than to be exiled!” I pleaded.
The princess stood, unshaken, still shaking her head.
“I’m sorry.” She simply said.
The princess wouldn’t let me speak again after that. When I tried, the guards would surround me. Dangit, this is why I hated anything to do with nobility...
The rest of the trial went and ended in a matter of minutes.
The princess rescinded the title of warrior and division leader from Mithril, and told him his exile would begin after the monster attacks had ceased. They still needed his help to defend the city, so of course they wouldn’t let him go til then.
After the session ended, Mithril and I exited the castle with big clouds metaphorically hanging over our heads.
I slumped, head down, as I paddled out of the big gates I came through with Seren. Sad bubbles slipping out from my mouth.
All I said sure wasn’t enough to hold against Royal Law huh… And not even Vespire’s Honor, despite that concept existing for literally an hour. The warrior, despite all that he did as far as I could see, like the guards said, did end up getting exiled.
I barely did any help, and that made me feel truly like a sea sponge.
“You’re gonna tell me I’m one stupid multicellular animal again right? I’ll save you the trouble and go away now.” I spoke, beginning to drift away.
“No.. You’re one big idiot.” Mithril hissed painfully.
I perked up.
“Hey, you didn’t call me sea sponge!”
“Pah… That name doesn’t fit you anymore.” Mithril said matter-of-factly.
“A sea sponge is NOT someone who stands up for another, despite a losing battle.”
For the first time ever, I saw the red warrior give a genuine, curl of a smile. “And you, former sea sponge, had done just that.”
I slowly grinned back, almost surprised. “Heck...That’s nothing. Just thought it was kinda unfair.”
Mithril shook his head solemnly, his smile faded quickly.
“No.. I did deserve it. I truly did go against orders. And it cost me most of my soldiers' lives…”
I blinked. That did sound pretty bad. “Just what happened anyways?” I asked.
“We were quite a rowdy division. And we wanted to be the first to defeat a wave of monsters by ourselves…” He gave a painful look. “So we left the city at night, alone to face off a fresh wave of them. ...But we underestimated them. And most of my warriors disappeared, presumably eaten by the monsters...“
Mithril shivered, his gaze saddened. Oof...
“I honored my division’s wishes, and I take full responsibility for it all.”
“Why couldn’t some of your mates have shouldered that responsibility too?” I asked.
“Nay. As division leader it's part of my duty to shield them from it. After all, it was my decision to go after that wave of monsters.” Mithril replied.
“Oh… I see. Man that still sucks. Sorry to hear about your friends.”
“That is the way of life with us warriors.” He spoke, exhaling a column of bubbles.
We were now in the plaza, and the crowd had not budged. It was as packed as ever in the place, though the energy of the day had run its course. Shopkeepers were beginning to close up, and many were swimming their way to the nearest inn.
The sea was beginning to grow dark, and one by one sea lamps were turned on. The waters were turning a green tint as the ocean filtered the orange light from above.
It was a beautiful sight, rivaling the rolling hills of Goldfair at sunset.
Mithril was noticeably sad looking as he stared out longingly into the kingdom...
I sighed, frowning… But then, I had an idea.
“Hey… How about I treat you to some roasted kelp rolls? You look like you need them right now.”
Mithril and I meandered our way to the stall that harbored Princess Naia’s favorite roasted kelp rolls. And to our surprise, we saw a dark large figure keeling over it…. Seren!
After settling down, we caught up with her while we waited for the old Aequorean to roast the kelp.
As we watched the ol’ man stoke the volcanic rocks, Seren filled us in on her day.
She had burned through many books in the Aequorean library and had so many brain notes that could fill the entire carriage up. The sly vespire made sure to keep her memory tight on them, so that she could sell the information to some hungry librarians over in Bellacoaste. Geez, sometimes this geezer scares me.
I told her about Mithril’s exile, and how I used ‘Vespire’s Honor’ to which she laughed for a couple minutes straight.
Mithril was confused, of course, and we never ended up explaining to him what it was. Not that he needed to know! Haha!
After some time passed of chit chat, the old Aequorean passed us some freshly roasted kelp rolls with a hearty smile.
I was a little nervous biting into them, fearing the attack of the salt again….
But heck, it was actually quite delicious!
I noticed that the old man had added some sugar and another sweetlike ingredient to balance the saltiness out… Man, it was an improvement!
As we sat under the now darkened ocean with a glint of the moon far above, chatting away into the late night, I finally relaxed for the first time on this journey.
A lot of things weren’t solved. The corruption was still out there, and our work at Aequor could just be only the beginning… More monsters could be coming, and the sky crack… Well, is still mysterious and looming.
But we had helped save some Aequorean villagers, even befriended a warrior of the sea. Well, a soon-to-be former warrior. But Seren and I will see to helping him figure out his next step on his journey. That’s the least we could do.
And after having this nice kelp roll, I’ve decided to retract my previous thoughts of the soul of Aequor… Right now, its soul was less salty than it was before.
ITS DONEEEEEE!! so happy its over. this has been the most ambitious writing piece ive done in a while...
im open to constructive crit if you got any, this one was a whirl to write for.
anyways thanks for reading!
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