"And so," Guild-master Vance concluded, "The princess used her life to help destroy the demon of rage that had killed and taken over Prince Marcus's body. She perished in the dungeon alongside the demon as well as the servant of evil former sir Koran. A search of the former sir Koran's living quarters found documents linking him and several others to various crimes and criminal groups within the city of Duran. The city guard has been given the evidence and have begun investigating and arresting the evil-doers."
Vance put away his report and bowed his head to the council, indicating his report was finished. He turned and swiftly left the room as the large oak doors closed behind him.
The council of nobles turned to look at the king. King Duran sat on in his chair, his face hidden in his hand. With a shuddering intake of breath, he lifted his face with a resolute expression and glared out across the council.
"My son and daughter are dead." He said softly. "One from using unfamiliar magic, the other from protecting her friends. The weight on my heart is too much." A frown began to grow on his face, "And yet, I've received reports from my personal guard that some of you have been obstructing the city guard's investigation." His voice was even softer now.
One of the council cleared his throat and began, "My king, it is an insult for us loyal nobles to be . . ."
"HOW DARE YOU!" The king roared out in rage, slamming his fist into the table, shattering it half. The former adventurer king had not displayed his power in many years, and the noble who had spoke paled quickly. The king rose in a fury and pointed at each noble.
"This city is filled with the filth of evil! If I had cleared it sooner, my children would be alive! Marcus, Diana," He whispered their names, "THEY WOULD STILL BE ALIVE!"
The nobles scattered as a large, flaming sword materialized and destroyed the table completely. The door slammed open as Queen Nia, Prince James, and Prince Kenneth rushed into the room. The two princes grabbed their father's arms as the queen hugged the queen and began to whisper into his ear. Gradually, the king's eyes began to droop as he sagged down and began to weep. The two princes nodded to each other, and Ken led his father out of the room toward the living quarters of the royalty.
When they were gone, Queen Nia turned to stare icily at the cowering nobles. "The king is too emotional at this moment, so my son the crown prince will lead this council. I must go tend to my husband, but if there is any problem I will return to settle them." With a piercing glare, she turned, her gown sweeping and left the room.
Prince James sighed softly and took his father's seat as if nothing had happened. Lord Marcus, one of the few nobles who had not flinched at the king's rage, spoke up, "Your highness, you have my full cooperation with the investigation. I offer my own personal guard to help you deal with this tragedy."
Father Tobias, who had also not flinched inclined his head as well, "The church shall also offer their services with truth scrying magic and templer knights. We too wish to rid the filth that gave the former Prince Marcus access to demonic summoning."
Crown Prince James stared both of the men down with a severe stare. "Your help is not needed." He bluntly stated, waving his hand dismissively, "You've both shown inadequacies in your duties and the royal family does not trust either one of your groups."
As the two opened their mouths to protest, the prince raised his hand to silence them, "Enough. Lord Marcus, you are the leader of the noble council and have a fine network of informants. I doubt you lacked the knowledge of the shady activities your fellow noblemen performed under your nose. Father Tobias, your church is suppose to be on the lookout for demonic influence at all times, especially with the empire beginning to close the war on our neighbors. The fact is that you did not detect a powerful demon when it was right in front of you. I, and my family, are greatly disappointed in both of your efforts."
The two men, whose influence were large in the city of Duran, could do nothing but shut their mouths at the prince's reprisal. Everything he had said had been true and they could not refute it.
"As you seem to have this under control, how about we move to the next topic of discussion." This came from the second to last man who had not moved from the table. The gentleman, as no other word could describe him better, wore a fine black robe with silver stripes on the sleeves with a floppy black hat on his head and a circular piece of glass over his eye. His handle-bar mustache twirled as he smiled with a broad grin.
"I second the motion." This came from the fourth man at the broken table. A very large man covered in splendid robes and jewelry, this man sat in a chair made just for him.
Prince James turned to regard the two, "I recognize the motion from the mage representative Ganus and the merchant guild representative Wendle. To what matter was next on the list." In the meantime, the rest of the nobles returned to their seats, embarrassed.
Ganus chuckled as he twirled his mustache, "Why, the dungeon of course. It was the sight of a terrible tragedy after all, and it even managed to devour a powerful demon of rage. Perhaps it has become too dangerous?"
Wendle rolled his eyes, "How can you say that Ganus? A dungeon devouring a demon is nothing terribly new; in fact it will likely lead to new profits for all of us."
"I protest, the dungeon has clearly absorbed demonic influence and is at risk of becoming corrupted. We should destroy it before it becomes too much of a problem." Father Tobias spoke up.
"I disagree. The dungeon town has clearly been an advantage for our city as many of the homeless and destitute have moved their, cleaning our streets and improving our security. We would put many out of a job if we destroyed the dungeon, and we nobles would experience a severe strain of resources." Lord Mannis interjected.
Prince James rubbed his head as if he had a headache and sighed loudly, "Two for destruction, and two for keeping. I wonder how much each side invested in bringing the other council members to their side?" In reality, it was these 5 who controlled the council. The other nobles present were there originally as the people's representatives, but time and money had made them into votes to be bought. The prince bringing up this grey area caused many to cough awkwardly and a few to smile wryly.
"My vote goes for keeping the dungeon. It is the final resting place of my brother and sister, and shall be their grave. My one regret is that this final victory over my brother is bittersweet, as I was not victorious over him." He continued sadly, "However, I give the concession that the dungeon must be heavily watched from now on. We cannot risk any corruption."
Father Tobias nodded, "Allow me to contact my fellow clergy to send a Father to watch over the dungeon. He will not doubt be able to recognize any signs of trouble."
Wendle snorted and waved his hand, "Like you and your clergy were able to find the trouble here? Your majesty, allow me to and Guild-master Vance to contact the main Adventurer branch of Soria to send some skilled adventurers here. They will have a much higher experience with identifying corruption."
This sparked a flurry of arguments across the room. Prince James had to raise his hand again to quiet the room back down.
"We will do both." He decided, "It would not be detrimental to have two pairs of eyes watching the dungeon. Is there any other concern?" He waited a moment, and then continued, "Now, what are the reports from Groatland saying regarding the war?"
Lord Mannis cleared his throat, "The empire is on the move again. It seems they have settled resistance within the former country of Rilia to an acceptable level and are making moves toward Groatland. War will likely begin after the next winter."
"So a little more than a year." Prince James mused out-loud, "After Groatland is Soria, and our country of Nehatra. We must prepare for the war that will undoubtedly come our way."
The council continued until the sun had long since set.