Chapter 3. A Luxury Guest.

Chapter 3. A Luxury Guest.

In the palace of Valle Roble.

Hours before the potion was stolen, an evening of delight and joy was experienced in Valle Roble. Music with string instruments was playing along with fireworks that exploded to paint with colors the dark canvas of the clear night sky. Outside the palace, carriages began to gather, bringing with them many notable people attending the celebration of King Moal's birthday. A national festivity that on this occasion would have a remarkable addition; the presence of one of the most beloved legendary heroes of The Great Revolution: Prince Dorba. He was known for having a big heart and an impeccable appearance -his well-shaped body surrounded his clear eyes and charming smile-. Despite the passage of time and the fact that he had been involved in so many battles, his body seemed to be unaware of it and forever stuck in its most vigorous stage. The Prince was the most coveted bachelor in all the kingdoms, a hero who risked his comfortable life to join the battle against the Móruvel family. Many women dreamed of seducing him and winning his affection in an exclusive way -and of course the fortune and prestige that would come with it-. That day it was the turn of the inhabitants of Valle Roble to try to make their fantasy come true, who from very early in the morning formed an endless line outside the palace waiting for the Prince with the shiny hair and perfectly shaved face. Each one of the women there was carefully groomed, seeking to captivate the guest's gaze with just a glimpse of her beauty during his brief passage through the entrance of that sumptuous building.

All of a sudden, the noise of the place raised considerably and the tumult went crazy when a dark carriage, quite different from the others, was seen arriving from the air; it was rumored that Prince Dorba was inside. The two very strong griffins - those millenary creatures with a winged lion's body and an eagle's head - landed with precision and retracted their long, beautiful wings, standing disciplinedly firm as they waited for the door of the chariot to be opened. The strident shouts of the crowd anticipated the identity of the passenger as one firm leg stepped out of the vehicle and took a forceful stride onto the velvet mat, helping to support the tall and burly body that was standing upright; soon the other leg appeared and distributed the weight evenly. Prince Dorba descended, the women pushed each other violently to try to occupy the space in front of his eyes. The latter pretended not to notice this hostile and territorial behavior, only smiling to thank them for their presence. A butler came to welcome him, spoke to the Prince and guided him into the castle. During the short walk to the door, Dorba greeted and thanked the attentions of the women who were there.

He was seen as a different hero from his fellow fighters of The Great Revolution. He did not have the rough and blunt demeanor of King Moal, nor the excessive pastimes and vices of General Haggif. Many said he was an empathetic person with the ordinary people around him, having famously found love in a simple commoner years before. A woman with whom he formed a relationship envied by all the kingdoms of the world, being admired as the perfect couple, but which sadly came to an end by a horrible tragedy that left Prince Dorba a widower. This precedent fed the hopes of all those women formed outside the event, thinking that he might find love once again in a sudden way with someone of a modest class.

A busy event awaited the Prince inside, as one of the main attractions of the celebration was the possibility to dance with him. The list of programmed pieces with countless women who had booked their place months ago was kilometric. There were enough songs in it to leave ordinary legs very sore and tired, but not the guest's very strong limbs, which seemed to have been sculpted in stone by the most detailed and talented artist. Prince Dorba was ready to begin the dance as soon as possible, but first he insisted on fulfilling a peculiar demand: he asked to bring as many commoner women as possible into the castle to dance with him, knowing that this would mean eliminating an equal number of noble ladies from the list.

Dorba took the baton of the meeting, as the unsociable King Moal still did not show up - in fact he would not appear all night, and the reason for this would soon be discovered - but the feast in his honor was still in progress. Forty bottles of the King's favorite wine were opened and the guests' cups began to be filled. The food was exquisite, worthy of royalty. For six hours the atmosphere was festive and joyful, smiles and laughter recurrently appeared throughout the extensive ballroom that the castle contained in one of its wings. The general cheerfulness contrasted with the frustration of some of the ladies and their parents, who were displeased after losing, in front of ordinary women, their only chance to be alone with Prince Dorba for the span of a song. He was unfazed by it, devoting his full attention to the woman he was dancing with at the time. He tried to learn as much as he could about her, not wanting to spend those few minutes talking about him and listening with interest to whoever was in front of him. It seemed like he was trying to make the most of every minute in an efficient way, as he always looked at his pocket watch at some point during the conversation. At the end of the piece he would politely thank the woman he danced with and welcome a new temporary companion. This process went on for many songs, until the prince took a pause so he could go out for a smoke.

The servants offered to escort him to the nearest balcony, but he refused and requested privacy. He put on his coat and went out to the area in front of the palace garden, where a very different calm could be perceived from the hustle of the party. He took out a cigarette case from one of his bags, picked up one of the cigars in it, put it in contact with a lighter to ignite it and smoked for several minutes looking at the horizon. Then he opened his pocket watch and looked with disappointment at a device that looked dull and useless, as if it had many years of wear and deterioration. He grasped it between two of his fingers and began to expel reddish energy from his hand, gradually clearing the glass until it was transparent once again. He gestured with frustration and closed the casing when he noticed a noise that interrupted the atmosphere of the quiet garden. A man was stealthily climbing up one of the columns to reach the balcony, followed by another person climbing up on the side of the building. Both subjects had a sloppy and ragged appearance, their facial features were not very clear because of the dust and dirt that covered them.

- Prince Dorba, it' s great that we can see you! The security of the palace did not allow us to enter, so we had to climb the columns, because we came all the way to ask for your support. We know that you are a world hero who cares about the welfare of your people. As inhabitants of Paso Caol, we regret to tell you that in your absence our lands have been plundered, the people to whom you entrusted the territory have abused their power and taken control of the properties of many of us. Half of the mount has been evacuated by these ruffians. We beg you to bring back order to the region.

-They had only taken half of the mount? How long ago did you leave Paso Caol? -The Prince answered in a solemn tone.

-Yes, sir. It took us nine days to get here by foot. If we don't stop them, they could end up taking the whole thing.

-Wow, those idiots are slow, they should have occupied the whole mountain by that time. -In an irritated tone.

-What do you mean? We're talking about our properties! ... and all that we have! -he asked with great confusion.

-Yes, but now a better use will be made of that mountain. The welfare of the Principality is more important than that of the few. You can look for a new area to build your houses, it won't be too hard to put up something of the same quality as your previous homes. Now get out of here, I have some important things to do.

The two men could not assimilate what they had just heard. The heroic revolutionary figure, known for his compassion for the people was behaving like someone completely different. The one who always protected the weak was now consenting their property being stripped from them.

-You can't tell us that! Our whole life is in there! - Throwing himself angrily at him.

Prince Dorba dodged his attacker with ease and dealt him a heavy blow to the windpipe. The second man drew a sword and wanted to mortally wound him, but the Prince quickly evaded him and struck him in the face. He finished off both of them with a couple of kicks and managed to knock them unconscious.

-You're jeopardizing a critical mission, you idiots. Don't delay me any longer.

He abandoned the wounded bodies on the balcony and descended down the columns in a rush, then pulled up the hood of his coat to cover his head and hurried along narrow paths until he reached an abandoned alley on the outskirts of the kingdom where he intended to meet someone. A person was already waiting there, but judging by the Prince's reaction, it was not who he expected.

-Good evening, Prince Dorba. It's a pleasure welcoming you, the people are very happy for your presence in the kingdom, and I don't think it's fair that you sneak out from them. Did you expect to meet someone here?

-That's none of your business, Fyrod. You can get out of here, I can take care of myself. -He replied, surprised to see an old acquaintance.

Leaning against the wall was General Fyrod, the most unpopular of the King's four Generals. Considered a heartless warrior and repudiated among the people after being the one who killed his own brother, a beloved hero of the Great Revolution. Fyrod was a thin man with thick eyebrows and a finely trimmed mustache, his silver armor covered his triangular body, formed by defined muscles filled with battle scars. His gaze was strong and steady, transmitting a lack of any emotional connection with people. His loyalty was only to the king, no one else was exempt from receiving his disdain. That temper and his considerable strength made him a dangerous adversary.

-I don't know how the King can trust someone like you, Fyrod. If you were capable of killing your own blood, you could betray anyone. Be grateful you're Moal's lapdog, otherwise you know I'd tear you apart myself for what you did to Rioya, asshole.

- What a violent response, coming from the mouth of the most loving and caring hero in history. I had heard that you were no longer the same person you used to be, and I guess I can confirm it now. I was wondering why trouble always seems to follow you wherever you go, Dorba. I don't know if you are aware of it, but sadly someone wanted to tarnish today's celebration with a terrible crime, one that your friend the King would not like to hear about at all. Because Valle Roble can still consider you as an ally of the kingdom, right?

-Your King and I fought together in the great battle. He knew he could trust me to protect his back, and we all know what could be expected of him since then. Soon many simulations will come to an end, and if you think that Valle Roble is home to the only thinking strategists, you're in for some surprises. I'd better hurry to my Principality, hopefully I can still catch up to greet your King while he's still there searching Paso Caol's palace behind my back.

- You say you want to end with simulation and etiquette, Dorba? Let's talk straight then, you were always a wise man. We both know that the King's power is insurmountable, it would be foolish to rebel against him. If anyone dared to insubordinate, it would require him to possess a strike force never seen before, even greater than the one gathered in The Great Revolution. As a matter of fact, you would not even be able to defeat me. The only thing preventing me from killing you right now is that the King maintains some confidence in you. As soon as I receive the direct order, everything will change.

Prince Dorba's countenance became tense, he would have charged at his inquisitive interlocutor to demonstrate his new enhanced power, but he knew he could not take him lightly, it was impossible to come out unscathed from a frontal combat against Fyrod.

-Nothing would please me more than the day I get to avenge Rioya. You're a disgrace to your family, Fyrod.

-Don't worry, Dorba. All we need is one piece of hard evidence to incriminate your conspiracy and the King will want to annihilate you. You'll have me at your disposal then, and, as you said before, everything will change. Perhaps that will happen today... the thief is about to be caught and will confess everything.

-Let's take the masks off, Fyrod. Moal betrayed the Great Revolution. You know that your brother Rioya was the first to realize it and that's why Moal bought you off. If you had any dignity you would be loyal to Rioya's ideals. Your brother's weakness was not being able to detect your filthy nature.

-Not all masks will fall when you say so, Dorba. You are no longer the good ruler who advocated for his people; yourself and your vision became your only priorities. You are no different from what you criticized so much, that is why I will take care of your fate myself when the right time arrives.

The conversation could not go on because it was abruptly interrupted by a thunderous tremor that shook Valle Roble. In the horizon, a gigantic human figure rose up. The city was being threatened by the person who had undoubtedly made use of the stolen potion. General Fyrod was forced to turn his back and head towards the point of conflict.

-The potion has just been drunk. I must leave, my duty is to protect the kingdom. See you soon, Dorba. I bet neither you nor I were expecting this outcome.

General Fyrod walked to his griffin. He mounted it and quickly took flight towards the conflict zone. In less than two minutes he had covered the distance that separated him from the enemy and could see clearly in front of him a furious giant attacking vehemently towards the ground. He noticed that General Haggif was fighting the huge adversary from below, maintaining a defensive position that clashed head-on against all the giant's onslaughts to prevent him from entering the kingdom. The combat strategy had worked well to repel it, but it was doing nothing to win the battle. General Fyrod viewed this with disapproval.

-Stop messing around, Haggif! Finish him off before he gets out of hand.

Fyrod approached the giant, who detected his presence and threw a violent blow that caused a strong current of air. The colossus launched several more punches that sought to knock him down, so the General jumped off the griffin he was riding, opened a compartment in the back of his armor to expose an energy amplifier, and detonated Goan in the dorsal area of his body to propel himself through the air, giving the appearance of flying. He kept expelling periodically an equal amount of Goan to achieve sudden changes of direction. The speed he reached was breathtaking and in an instant he managed to get in front of the fifteen-meter man's face. He generated Goan in his fist, lighting it red and then smashing it into his opponent's large jaw. The rigidity of the bone in the giant mandible was tested to the point of being exceeded, ending up splitting in two. The impact recipient's gaze was disoriented and his body collapsed like a rag falling to the floor. The earth shook again throughout the kingdom as the giant was knocked completely unconscious after receiving the blow from General Fyrod.

Chapter end

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