The Lion's Banquet

The Lion's Banquet, a competition held for the newly crowned King to select his chief diplomat, his Crown and his secret weapon, the Sword. Anima Blair has been freed from captivity on one condition: win the tourney and become the Sword to make her employer, Andras Szent, the Crown. With no choice, she must fight for her freedom and win over the approval of the Royal Court. However, no one in the Royal Court can be trusted and no one escapes the Royal Court unscathed.

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3. Chapter 3

 

The pair arrived at a city on the border between Ronia and Akela at the foot of the mountain the next day. It was well known as a border between states and located on the west bank of Tiamat's Tears. It was named Dragonreach after it's great keep, the Dragonfort. Built by first Dragonknight, Ariani the Siren, she founded the ancient order in this city. The order fell centuries ago and House Vogt has ruled in the order's place ever since.

This was her companion's home, his seat of power. However, her knight did not seem at ease. If anything, he seemed tense as he entered the city. He bade the guards a good day as they wished him one and ignored her completely. Of course, he had forced her to draw her hood over her face and not reveal her identity. She was criminal, a disgrace to be seen with him. Who was she to argue with that sentiment?

The people in the street parted for him. They wished him well, welcomed him home and he took it all in his stride. Someone who seemed so stoic and disagreeable was well liked among his people. Women even brought him flowers and Anima trailed behind, melting in the crowd. It was so easy to do with everyone preoccupied. They failed to notice the criminal at large, moving through their ranks and observing.

They loved him. They saw him as better than his father who was controversial figure at best. People only talked about Klaus Vogt in whispers. A famous enemy of magic, a murderer of elves and someone who brutalized his children. There was no love for the father, but the son seemed loved by all.

Anima couldn't help but envy him.

It took him a good half hour to make his way to the fort. She could have been there in half that time, but she chose to keep pace with him. He seemed so at ease with the crowds, a hero coming home. From the conversation, she learned his brother, Leopold,  has also recently returned. His sibling, Rike, was currently sitting in the stead of his father. It seemed odd that the gender of this Rike was never mentioned but Anima couldn't pry right now.

The knight entered through the front door, pushing open the great oaken doors. He looked every part the gallant knight, returning from conquest to his halls. As he entered into his home through the great oaken doors, the entire city returned to business. The only person left with interest was Anima.

She waited a couple of minutes, using it to observe the layout. The most noticeable feature was the great dragon skeleton perched on the roof. It's jaws hung over the courtyard, frozen after hundreds of years in a snarl. The wings still draped themselves over the fortress, and it was awesome in scale. It dwarfed the surrounding features so did the fort itself.

Built to house dragons, the fort was a magnificent piece of architecture. The stables were as high as the city walls, towering well above anyone. Horses looked small in comparison like an ant would in a house. The fort itself once housed the Order of Dragonknights so it could accomodate hundreds. There was a wealth of training facilites, dining halls and grand reception rooms. A grand scale indeed, and Anima couldn't help but stop and stare. A fortress fit for royalty.

The crowd had all but disappeared when Anima entered. She was greeted with the sight rows of tables laden with food for the evening meal. They all centered round an open fire pit which lit up the entire hall despite it's impressive size. Calian was sat on a table at the back of the room, raised just above the others. He was sat next to another figure, a man that looked a couple of years younger than him.

The person was sat in the Lord's Throne but it was not Klaus Vogt that sat before her. That left her to conclude that they was Rike that was she heard snippets about. Rike had shorter hair than Calian but had skin was just as fair and shared the same piercing red eyes. No doubt that they were siblings sharing those characteristics.

And then on the opposite side of Rike was another figure. This man looked the youngest of them all and out of place with the fair haired siblings. His hair was an auburn shade, and his skin had some colour to it along with bright hazel eyes. He was also the only one smiling and the only person eating among the trio.

"The great Anima Blair graces the halls of Dragonfort. I do hope that your time in prison was not too harsh?" The lord spoke with an feminine voice, surprising due to the situation. The remark about her imprisonment was something Anima rewarded with a short growl.

"Of course not my lord." She replied, bowing her head. She had to keep up decorum. This was the first time she had met Rike, and there was no telling as to his disposition.

"Excellent. Calian had to convince father that it was a good idea to release you. He agreed after a while so you'll be staying here for a couple of days. Klaus wants to meet you and he will be home in a couple of days." Rike stated, and Anima studied reactions on the siblings faces.

Calian did not look impressed. However, the other two shared his lack of enthusiasm. Anima couldn't help but feel nervous herself, but gave a sharp nod instead.

"For now, you should eat. After you've eaten, Violetta will take you to your room for the duration of your stay. I wish you luck assassin, our father is not a forgiving person."

With that, Rike got up from the throne and departed from the room with an entourage of servants. Anima could not shake the sinking feeling that whatever was coming was not going to help.

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