What did it truly mean to be a good king?, Roland Ddraig, son of Charlemagne and Iris Ddraig, the king of all Avalon didn't know. Even after a near century of life he still could not answer that question without the generics like putting the plight of the common man before your own ambitions.
Roland agreed whole heatedly with that stand but the true path of a good king and a good man was only viewable in retrospect.
He had many times before asked his parents the same question when they still lived. From when he was a small boy to when he truly became a man. But the answer was different every time and every time Roland found it unsatisfactory.
His mother had once said that it was acting to your up most ability to keep the peace. But under him, the realm was drawing into a war when it was at its weakest.
His father once said that it was the ability to inspire loyalty in the hearts of your people. But when Natalie's dark half had rebelled, thousands of men and women who had served besides him through many great battles turned coat very easily.
Another time his mother had said that it was the ability to equally balance a optimistic view with a pragmatic approach and have a keen mind. Yet the spies he had sent to the other kingdoms were not enough as Aro was so fond of reminding him. He foolishly believed that the other kingdom's would leave Avalon be and Nimue caught him and Natalia off guard with an attack upon their very center of power.
Another time his father had said that it was the ability to project and embody strength. He had been attacked and the only nation willing to hear Avalon's offer for alliance were also upon their last legs. No one saw any strength in him worth respecting.
How would men and women view after he had departed from this world and into the far planes to stand alongside his parents. Would he be remembered like his father, Charlemagne the administrator or his mother, Iris the builder.
Or would he simply remembered as Roland the warrior. Would the best that would be said about him be that he wasn't absolutely worthless with the sword and at the head of a army.
He picked up the said blade and felt it's familiar pummel in his grip as he inspected the ancient blessings and curses engraved that ran from the tip to the hilt.
He had fought so many battles with this sword that it was like a part of him. He had fought Dragons, Vampires, Hydra's and even Basilisks but the deadliest foes that he had ever met in battles were humans, fae and elves. They were just as many as the monsters that had fallen to him and Roland would never forget their name's and their faces.
The sword lacked the signature blue colour that gave the magical metal its name. It was forged from the rich deposits that the imperial lands rested upon. The royal family owned some personal interest in the mines that littered the province.
The Deepwells mine was the one that he owned if he wasn't mistaken. But it mattered little, blue steel alone didn't make great arms, his mothers crafts in the working of spells and magical codes turned the lump of metal into one of the greatest weapons in Avalon.
To this day no one in Avalon's history had never managed equal her greatest creation in the tapestry of the arcane arts. His sword Durandel, one of the divine weapons stood as an eternal testament to that.
If only he could weave and bind spells as well as she could. He was sure that the only reason Christian didn't send back his junk with a note saying "try harder next time" attached to it was to be kind to him.
But he was still young, at least in relation to his parents who had an entire millennia to perfect their craft. It would always get better... Or at least he told himself.
Alas he had lost track of his original thoughts. He placed Durandel down once again by his throne and picked up Longinus, the divine spear that had been gifted to him by the apostle's.
On the outside the spear wasn't much to look at, it was a bronze spearhead with a brown wood shaft with a myriad of prayers and blessings engraved into it like his sword. The spear was another divine weapon that even surpassed his own sword in power.
"Oh, how the younger me disliked this thing" he thought with a chuckle of embarrassment at the thought of much more difficult his younger self was.
Without revealing it's power, Longinus wasn't an impressive looking spear to the untrained eyes of young knights, green as fresh summer grass and as impatient as a old mule.
" Perhaps i should forge a great spear for everyone of the children upon their birth days. Heavens knows that those children shun spears far more than they should. Maybe we are to blame for focusing too much on sword's and blade work with them".
Had anyone been in the throne room they would have thought him mad after hearing him speaking out loud to himself.
It was a rare sight to see the throne room empty for even a few hour's. This was the beating heart of Avalon, the center of all power and where his throne rested.
He looked around to the old seats that in olden days would have been fewer and reserved for the once great noble houses descended from ancient kings who once ruled as far back as the age of kings.
But many of those house were no more than history now. The likes of the Woodstars, Snowworths, Greymonts, Stonehalls, Roses and Wints were swallowed by the battle of black water, never to return to their ancient halls of their ancestors and carry on their family names. Many others had vanished through the dark century that came afterwards.
Now only the likes of the Ulster's, the Troezens, the Trent's, the Rootsworth, the Liototh and the Eastless had survived as nothing more than slightly influential families known more for fielding great knight's, politicians and businessmen and women, than for fielding lords and kings.
"How did father and mother ever manage them i wonder. Hundreds of men and women, all had all been kings and queens or descended from them at some point. How would one juggle that many powerful heads. Would i have been able to steer the realm as well in their stead?" He thought so deeply that the rest of the world melted away until it was only him and the possibility of those thoughts.
Until he felt a soft wet fleshy appendage slip deep into his right ear and send an electric shock through his body. The king of Avalon shrieked like a child as he leaped off of his throne.
Behind his mighty seat stood his wife with a mischievous smile upon her face while she rubbed her right finger of the spit she had coated it in.
Roland shuddered as he frantically whipped away the substance from his ear " What in the name of all that is good and holy was that?".
"You were brooding, you look dumb when you brood, Roland" she chuckled and he was reminded of how Natalia used to be before the troubles of life came.
"I... i wasn't brooding" he didn't know why he pouted as he spoke but it happened.
Natalia smirked before she moved to sit upon her own throne and slouching while she made a pout on her face similar to the one that he had made and muttered the word " Angst" over and over again.
"Do i really look like that? " he thought as a mental image of him brooding was drawn in his head.
" I don't look like that " every man had to defend his honour though, even if he might be wrong.
"Whatever you say honey" she said letting off the teasing much to his relief " So what deep and interesting thoughts had you sitting on your throne in total silence for a whole two hours?".
Two hours... had he been here doing nothing but thinking for that long. The exhaustion that he held at bay struck him like a well placed mace to the face.
"I was just... i was just thinking about if i am making the right choice. If i have made a single right choice since i had the crown of the realm placed upon my head. The people are dissatisfied with my reign and i can't blame them Nat. My rule has been one horrifying disaster after another the likes of which our people hasn't suffered since the Dark Century. What do you think that they will call it after iam gone?. Maybe Roland's folly sounds about right".
"Our folly and my failures you mean" Natalia had a deep frown upon her face.
Panicked struck him with a cold sweat as he wondered if she had mistaken his words for an insult to her " Nat, none of this is your... ".
" Don't Roland, just don't" she raised her hand stopping him from speaking anymore" I know what they whisper behind my back, i know that they talk about the dark queen who escaped justice after all of the damage that she caused, the Phantom Queen sitting upon a corpse throne. You are not alone in this, and we don't have to brood away from each other ".
" I told you i wasn't brooding " it sounded weaker than he had intended but thankfully his wife didn't tease him with words but with smile, that was like a soft summer wind.
"Okay then, please do tell what you were thinking about with such intense passion... other than me of course" he felt his face heat up as she spoke.
"About mother and father" he took in a deep breath of fresh air after he spoke " How do you think they would have handled all this?".
"I don't know, but it most certainly wouldn't have been by sitting here doing absolutely nothing" the voice of Aro answered him from the gates that led into the throne room.
As always he looked tired and hunched over with wrinkled clothing and bags under his eyes. The only thing that had changed were that his black mope of hair was slightly shorter.
" What had forced him to cut his hair " he thought and by the same puzzled expression Natalia had upon her, meant that she was thinking the something.
"What?" Aro asked them noticing their puzzled expressions.
"No... nothing" Natalia answered for them.
"Whatever" Aro said as took a shot of the drink in his hand.
It was a bottle of golden wine that bore a sweet smell that he recognized somewhat but he asked to be sure" Is that from the Summer lands?".
Aro took a long swing of the wine and Roland felt his throat tighten as a wave of saliva was forced back down in " When was the last time i had a drink of anything today? ".
" Crystal gold, a gift from Morigan " Aro answered before gulping down some more of the liquid.
"A gift, what for?" Natalia asked with a keen hint in her eyes as she bore into Aro like a hawk.
Aro lazily took another swig of his drink, unfazed by Natalia's distrustful eyes "let's just say that she owes me for setting her up with Fionn and in exchange she set me up with her entire winery's Crystal gold".
"Sounds like the perfect deal for you" Roland still wondered about what had turned Aro into an alcoholic. His friend had been clean cut and sober for many years, and then the bottle appeared in his hands in their twenties and the Aro he knew now was born.
"Can't complain your majesty, can't complain" he answered before taking another drink of the sweet liquid, some of which rolled out of his mouth.
"It's some good stuff?" Roland asked him and Aro answered with a thumbs up.
"Best wine i have ever had" Aro said as he drunk some more wine in a rather unrefined manner.
"Didn't you say the same thing about Sigurd's mountain grey. I don't think that the big guy would be pleased to hear that' Natalia said and Roland had to hold back his laughter as he remembered the only drink that Aro couldn't keep down.
" Those Grey men really brew some strong stuff don't they " he said to Aro who pouted and puffed out his cheeks as if the crystal gold in his mouth had become sour.
He could never forget the way Aro lost his stomach when Sigurd had served him the strongest drink from across all of Avalon. Of course Sigurd had neglected to tell Aro that a single bottle was consumed for a whole year and trying to drink the whole thing in a single day wasn't good for you.
"Ha Ha, very funny" Aro grumbled before he took a deep dose of his drink.
" Anyway, is everyone ready?" He asked.
"Yes, though first, a few big things have just come up" those words never meant well from Aro.
Roland turned to Natalia, giving her a nod in order for her to do her thing. She closed her eyes and Roland could feel a build up of Mana in the air through whatever water was in it, warding them off from any who would try to look upon them.
" What's happening? " he asked Aro who while not losing his lazy attitude had a posture that only those who knew Aro well enough could decipher that he was serious.
"Where to start" Aro went to sit down upon a chair " A few Lunar kingdom and Ocean Lord ships have decided to have a scrap to close to our territory not more than five minutes ago ".
" Have our ships been mobilized and made to battle? " Natalia asked as Aro finished the end of his Crystal gold.
"Yeah, though should they get there, what are your orders?".
" Standby, send word to the admirals to send out a warning to the foreign ships to retreat and should they continue to fight then the admirals have my personal authority to fire at will" he tried to speak like his father and he hoped that he had succeeded.
"Sure thing commander and chief" Aro answered as he tipped something upon his pad " Anyway, the second thing is another class omega sighting".
"How big?" He felt his grip of his sword tightening as he thought about how his parents would have fought the omega and banished it.
" Big enough to leave a twenty thousand meter wide crater in the western ocean" Aro answered him and Roland felt a cocky grin growing upon his face.
"You all know that i can take it" his original strength and the power he had inherited from his parents made him far stronger than many people across the planet.
"No doubt you can... but how will the rest of the world react like if they see the king of Avalon leave his territory and throwing around large attacks on an active warzone between the Ocean Lords and the Lunar kingdom" Natalia said and the smile began to decrease from his face.
"Fine, so what do we do?" He asked a bit irritated, though a part of him imagined his mother in the far side laughing at him as she wagged her finger at him as she said.
"Good thing that you married this one, Deus knows that she is the brain you have been lacking ".
" Nothing, at least until we can get the three Ocean Lords and the Lunar kingdom at the negotiation table. We can use defeating this creature as a common ground to cement the unity" Natalia said and try as he may, he could not argue with the wisdom in her words.
"That might be a bit difficult with our new potential allies" Aro decided to step in again.
"What new allies?" Roland didn't think that the Ocean Lords and the Lunar kingdom would lose their minds when they saw Avalon allied with the Sun empire.
"A series of islands across the western ocean have decided to declare themselves independent states and i have strong info that their ambassadors are already on their way here in order to enter talks and gain us and the Sun empire as backers. Most of this islands have been colonies of the Ocean Lords and the Lunar kingdom across the years that this war has been fought".
" And no doubt any negotiations will involve claims over who owns the islands and the islands want to be independent " Roland knew a cage when he was in one.
"Even with a lunar dragon, we have to be careful of what we demand from them" Natalia said in silence.
Roland knew that he needed to think about this problem " I need the prime minister and the rest of parliament. This matter is extremely delicate and needs to be thought over well before we act ".
Aro wanted to say something, but he stopped when the doors went wide open as Ishtar flanked by her teammates marched into the room.
Of course just by seeing how the knights stood looking around and driven into their own conversation with total ignorance to Roland and his companions, one would know that this was the workings of Natalia's magic.
" The most powerful level of warding spell that has displaced our dimensional existence to the tenth dimension. Even if they could sense us, they couldn't interact with us " he thought, wondering if they should keep the warding on, there was so much for him to learn... or maybe he simply wanted to prank the kids.
"Honey" he gave a mischievous grin to Natalia who simply shook her head and he sighed knowing that his chance had slipped him by " Fine, lift the wardings".
Natalia closed her eyes to focus and the magical pressure dropped, returning them to a three dimensional space, where Ishtar and her team yelped in fear at sight of him and the others.
Words like " Father" and " Your Majesty " followed as Ishtar and her knight's bowed while saluting him and Ishtar.
"Hey kid, are you ready?" He asked her as a sense of dread that he had been putting off for days now finally caught up with him.
"Yes father, the Longboat-65's are ready for deployment. The egg has been secured for transport and my troops have already boarded it".
Watching his daughter speak like that reminded of how much she had grown, how much had changed and how much he was proud of her. Though another part of him froze his own heart as he thought about 36,000 kilometers long trip to the Sun empire that she would take, no doubt pirates, Night terrors, Ocean Lord and Lunar kingdom vessels would be there awaiting her with ill intent.
He felt a great urge to command her to stay and to order the Longboat fleet to leave Christian in little Geneva, but he could not. A lump had formed in his throat and his children were adults now, try as he may to deny it, he had to let this be.
" Do you have everything you need sweetheart " Natalia would still mother them though and Ishtar simply smiled.
"I am missing one thing" she told them.
"And what's that kid?" Roland was wondering if she meant more troops, but the stop at little Geneva was meant to remedy just that.
"A hug" their eldest child answered and the two were more than happy to oblige.
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I am a 21 year old law school student at the National Institute of Public Administration. My dream is to one day publish my story phantom ddriag and hopefully get a show made from it.
I also have a youtube account that hundels web fiction content, here is the link https://m.youtube.com/channel/UCFz-mHywXBJnLF8uyofcLAw/videos