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 Strengthened by Honor

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PostSubject: Strengthened by Honor   Thu Aug 13, 2015 8:27 pm

So the first part of the first chapter (no prologue) and what I've got so far:

Strengthened by Honor
Chapter One: A Man of Dragons

The walls of the castle rode high into the sky, the stone masonry a feat of accomplishment from its makers. Long had it held a past filled with a glorious and long-standing history, and Merek Draconis was simply just another part of it.

As had his mother, his father, his grandparents, and those of his ancestors that have served this kingdom and its king loyally for years.

However, now it was Merek’s turn to faithfully serve to his fullest potential. He had to make up for his recent failure, given that now the late King William had passed away –murdered¬ –and he’d failed to catch the assassination plot and stop it before it could happen.

A new king was to be crowned by Aegislash, and this time he would not fail to make sure he was protected and safe from harm. He’d already stained his honor by failing the first time –he couldn’t abide by a second failure.

“What is that horrible frown?”

A light, playfully teasing voice echoed behind him, and he turned to face his mother. Her light-brown hair was elegantly braided and pinned up, but she wore her traditional Valkyrie armor and regal scarlet cape. As she strode towards him, her Kingdra was draped around her shoulders looking sleepy, but Merek knew from experience that the water dragon was always vigilant. His own Vibrava, his dear friend Bedivere, preferred to be at his utmost vigilance –sometimes too much so.

“I’m not frowning, Mother. I’m merely thinking,” he told her dryly.

She laughed and walked closer, only to dart to his side quickly and grab his sword and point it at his throat. But he’d anticipated this. His mother had a habit of testing him randomly…or more likely all the time. So in return, just as she’d grabbed his sword, he grabbed hers and pointed at her throat in turn.

Galahad, his Haxorus, laughed behind him. This was the usual in the Draconis clan, between the matriarch and her son. Plenty of times he’d witness his human friend harassed by his mother, especially in Merek’s younger days.

“Perhaps you should send her some of her favorite pastries more often –butter her up, as you will,” Galahad laughed in mirth, and Merek dared a glance at his Haxorus.

“One more word, Galahad,” Merek growled, but Galahad continued to chuckle at his trainer.

“You should listen to Galahad more!” Adelais Draconis would always be a woman not to be messed with, and her next move proved it as she pulled back and countered his sword. “He’s probably more than right!”

Galahad roared out laughing, startling passersby. Merek grunted and shifted on his feet, moving his position abruptly and twisting his sword around hers and pushing it away. Thankfully, his mother laughed and put his sword back into his scabbard, and collected hers from him.

“You better come by. Riella is disappointed that you’ve been so busy, that you haven’t even gone to see her lately,” Adelais told her son firmly.

“After what happened –”

“I understand,” Adelais cut him off, eyes steely. Then they softened and she gave him a half-smile. “It’s not your fault. You simply must let that go, Merek. You did what you could, and you have been working hard these days to watch over the city and the castle, doing what needs to be done on your end. And yes, things must be prepared for the new king’s arrival, but you have more than done your part.”

Merek nodded, although he still felt that drive to do better and not mess up this time. And whoever this new king was, he had to be prepared to make sure they were going to be safe and protected. Especially now that this new organization was threatening the kingdom from the shadows…

“I’ll visit Riella later,” he promised. “I’ll even bring some sweet buns I know you like.”

Adelais grinned widely, and patted his cheek fondly. “That’s my boy. You and I, and your pokémon versus mine, shall have to spar a bit later.”

Merek sighed and allowed his mother to ruffle his non-existent dark hair, considering how close-shaven it was. As he parted ways from his mother, he grumbled as he tilted his head and snatched the throwing knife out of the air and held it to his side. His mother’s light laughter flittered in the air from behind him.

Moving into the castle, he stalked around the halls with Galahad, his own emerald cape fluttering behind him. The clank of his armor sounded loudly through the halls, and his sturdy leather boots made soft thumps onto the floor. His hand drifted to the handle of his sword every now and then, and he repeatedly kept his eyes and ears open as he walked on and kept constant watch on his surroundings.

“Perhaps we can check on Lady Aster?” Galahad rumbled, his voice deep but clear to him.

As a member of the League, Merek was grateful to have the ability to communicate with his pokémon. Especially with Galahad, the ability to talk with his pokémon had come in handy many a times.

“That sounds reasonable,” Merek tilted his head, agreeing with his friend. “She should be along her studies with the League process by now. She could be in the training area.”

He redirected his route, heading towards a courtyard used mainly for League training and where the current recruits for the League could be found doing their own training. Spotting the young lady he’d sponsored and chosen to be a potential for the League, he strode over to her quickly while Galahad kept a leisure pace behind him.

“Lady Aster, Summer,” he greeted cordially.

The female raised her eyebrows, while the Delphox butted her yellow head against Merek’s legs before darting around Galahad’s and playfully trying to trip the giant.

“You don’t have to call me that. I’m not a Lady,” she grinned slightly. “Or at least not yet! Once you find that King of yours, I can take the final exam!”

Merek’s lips twitched up slightly. “All’s well then. You should not have to worry given I’ve received news that the group is on their way back soon. There is also that I have faith in your abilities. You will do well and pass.”

She executed a perfect turn and thrust with her sword that he nodded approvingly at.

“Like I said,” he gave a full, if still small, smile. “You will pass. Easily at that.”

Aster grinned back at him, and he left her and Summer to continue their practice while he decided to visit his sister finally. On the way to the family home, he bought a small basket of those sweet buns his mother adored, and allowed Galahad to carry them so the dragon could gluttonously smell it all the way there.

“Merek!” he heard as soon as he was within seeing distance of the tower that was his home, before he’d moved into the main part of the castle and became the Captain of the Guard.

He side stepped the blur coming towards him, allowing his younger sister to skid to a stop before she ended up colliding painfully with Galahad, who had held up the pastry basket safely above his head.

His sister pouted, the caramel-colored hair of hers swinging around her round face slightly. “Really, Merek? Don’t you miss me?”

He pulled his sister into a hug, and she wrapped her slim arms around him. Seeing she was refusing to part from him, he picked her up and settled her onto his shoulders. After making sure the excited girl was securely holding on, he walked forward to the home and went through the door.

“Duck your head, little one,” Merek murmured, and Riella giggled and did so.

“I better be able to have some of these, Merek,” Galahad told him.

Merek waved him off, moving slowly through the halls of the small wing of the castle that had always housed his family.
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PostSubject: Re: Strengthened by Honor   Fri Aug 14, 2015 9:25 am

Now the second and last part:

Merek waved him off, moving slowly through the halls of the small wing of the castle that had always housed his family. Once they reached a comfortable dining area, he placed down his slight sister while Galahad put down the basket of sweet buns. Galahad signaled to him that he was going to join the other pokémon outside, and went to the other side of the room to where a door led to outside the tower (this time to an open courtyard that held the pokémon of the Draconis clan that lived there), and of which would lead out to the open countryside out of the city borders.

"Have you been taking care of Guinevere and the others for me?” Merek smiled tenderly at his sister, grabbing a bun and splitting it in half. He handed one half to her and took a bite of his own piece.

“Of course I have!” Riella said indignantly. “What with you and Mum doing League business and leaving me out of it all the time, I have plenty of time to tend to the others.”

“And of your tutors?” Merek gave her a knowing look, which she returned with a more sheepish one.

“I get bored easily,” she grumbled, but at his look she promised, “I will make sure to stay and listen to them. Even if they are boring old men.”

“Those ‘boring old men’ are teaching you important things, Rie,” Merek lectured quietly. “Now let us cook supper together. If Mother doesn’t come home to cook, you’ll have something to eat. Otherwise, she can come home to a cooked meal.”

Riella, excited and eager to cook with her older brother, went ahead and grabbed some pots and pans. Merek directed her on what they’d need, while he gathered ingredients so they could cook a simple stew together.

“You can of course always go to the main castle to grab something to eat, Rie,” he told her, though he worried with how often either he or his mother left his sister alone in the tower.

Most of their clansmen lived in the family estate a good distance away from the city, owning a plot of land that was partly used to grow grapes. He, his late father, and his mother had moved to here to replace his grandparents after they’d served in the League and helped protect the throne before retiring. It wasn’t long after that both of his own parents had become League members and part of the Guard, and his mother founded the Valkyries –an all-female, flying-centered section of the Guard that were fierce warriors of the skies.

“Will you be around more?” she asked curiously.

He had to flinch. “I don’t think so. There is still many things to do, and once the new King arrives, there’ll be –”

“Even more to do,” his sister finished with a sigh. “I see. Well…we are still going riding in three days’ time, yes?”

Merek nodded. “I will make sure that nothing, unless dire, will keep me from going with you.”

She huffed and threw a lentil at him. “Everything is dire to you though!”

He stifled a smile and continued on cutting the carrots up.

After a shared supper, where Riella caught Merek up with all of the happenings around the tower, Merek tucked her into bed and went to check on the pokémon in the courtyard. His mother’s were there, along with his late father’s. Half his own were already asleep, but he noted that one was missing. Sighing to himself, he went around the tower to where all the stock was kept, and saw a familiar Salamence rummaging around.

“If you are looking for the mead, I’d made sure Riella had it hidden, you great big lout,” Merek rolled his eyes.

The Salamence whirled around quickly, where upon a few things managed to crash around him. At Merek’s stern look, the Salamence chuckled unashamedly.

“Come now, Merek. Don’t be such a bore.”

Merek groaned. “Safir, you really must stay away from the mead. You’re going to topple over a wall once of these days.”

Safir hissed in laughter, looking at his trainer in amusement. “Perhaps you need to take up the drink, Merek! You certainly need to loosen up.”

Merek was about to reply when he heard a commotion inside the lower part of the tower, and he rushed back to see his mother inside and looking urgent.

“Merek! The new King has arrived!”
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PostSubject: Re: Strengthened by Honor   Fri Aug 14, 2015 5:55 pm

Summer: Aside from the Delphox typo, I love it so far! Fantastic descriptions that I think I'll have to lift for my own writing and good development of your characters and Pokemon. Now I see that Merek is being more talkative than I imagined. Is he more comfortable around his family and Aster than I assumed? And just a little thing, I thought Safir could mention how well he flies drunk, so a fall off a wall wouldn't actually put him in danger and Merek should lighten up.
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PostSubject: Re: Strengthened by Honor   Fri Aug 14, 2015 6:20 pm

Okay, corrected Delphox into Fennekin in the document, but I'm glad you love it! And go ahead, I don't mind. As for Merek being more talkative, family is family after all XD Plus, it's his little sister. She adores him, and he her! And he's coming to know Aster more, so he'll talk just a bit...sometimes, lol. I like that bit with Safir. I'll definitely add that in!
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PostSubject: Re: Strengthened by Honor   Tue Aug 18, 2015 12:26 pm

Merek's first thoughts upon meeting the new King was that he was short. Extremely so.

And then he realized the reason for the shortness was the age of the boy that was to be King.

A million things ran through his mind -How was he to organize a child's security? How many guards were he to put in charge around the boy? Should Merek keep close? At his height, would a sword easily strike him? Or even an arrow? How well does chainmail and armor fit around a child, and can any even be made for the boy's age?

And yet, aside from security issues, a voice in his head questioned having someone so young be King to a large kingdom...

Was the boy really fit to rule them all?

He banished the thought, or at least buried it enough to not have it at the forefront of his mind. If Aegislash say it was so, then it was so. Despite the fact, his misgivings were still not gone...

Nevertheless, that brought up the point of politics. And that was a headache in itself. Potential political assassinations, political usurpers, political manipulation...On and on it went, and he knew that aside from his new King's physical safety, he'd have to worry about those around him looking to take advantage -especially with the child's age in play and all. He'd need to find people would could help coach and teach the boy through this process.
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PostSubject: Re: Strengthened by Honor   Tue Aug 18, 2015 2:36 pm

Summer: That sums it up really nicely! Have you got plans for exactly how Merek will keep the new King safe?
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PostSubject: Re: Strengthened by Honor   Tue Aug 18, 2015 2:50 pm

Hm, I think finding way to make a very lightweight chainmail and armor is first, and then extreme vetting of guards to see who would be best to surround the King with (aside from himself). And then, once he's settled in, Merek will have to watch carefully those around Kenitoh i.e. nobles who think they can put one over the young King, etc. Maybe be the one to introduce King William's parents to Kenitoh.
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PostSubject: Re: Strengthened by Honor   Fri Aug 21, 2015 6:50 pm

Merek watched carefully as both women tensely faced off, face to face for the first time. A moment ago, he'd witnessed the two turning a corner from either side of the hallway, and had come face to face with each other. Fabelle had looked contrite and then wary, before blanking her face off. Aster had straightened up, face unconsciously morphing into a concentrated look of dislike.

Deadly women who weren't sure of each other, was like having two snakes in a pit and dancing around each other with the intention of lethal force. Aster, just from what he knew of her, didn't like the integral duty of the other's job as the Grim Reaper. She would protect innocents, and so the notion of Fabelle taking the life of one -reluctant as it may be -wasn't something she could let go.

And then there was Fabelle. He wouldn't presume to say that he knew her...but he understood duty and he understood receiving orders. He, like Aster, didn't like the idea that even innocents were not spared, but he understood that life just happened that way. It wasn't fair.

But he had learned a long time ago that life wasn't fair.

The two exchanged brief, but very tense words. He narrowed his eyes as he saw Aster uncharacteristically burst out in anger, yelling something accusingly at Fabelle. Fabelle only lifted her chin up in defiance and said something icily back. Perhaps he should come in between them and disrupt this fight...but this was their fight. It was between them, and he felt honor bound to let them settle this on their own.

When Fabelle stormed passed Aster and exited out the other side of the hallway, where Aster had come from, Merek stayed rooted to his spot. Aster then spotted him and angrily stormed over, with each step becoming less and less angry, and more distraught.

"Can you believe her? The way she is, she might as well be a Shadow Alliance member!" Aster's hands clenched tightly, and he could see that her grip was threatening to draw blood.

Carefully and quietly, he leaned down slightly and grabbed a hand. He unfurled it gently, and held it between his as he looked up into Aster's eyes seriously.

"There is life and there is death," he started suddenly, softly. "We're all just mortals, waiting for what time is up for us. Is she instrumental in that? Probably, if one believes she really is the Grim Reaper. Therefore we can only assume that she is above us mortals and what say do we have to that? And what say does she have to the even higher powers that direct her?"

Aster was quiet, but she was at least listening to him.

"When I was younger than I am now," he took a deep breath, wondering if he really was ready to talk about this. He hadn't before. "There was a very vicious battle that took place. My father, Uther Draconis, was a part of the League and a famous warrior. But he was, most of all, a kind man and a gentle father. He spared no heart of his for anyone, even the enemy. He would ask them, do you truly want to fight? Is there no way to ask for peace? I thought him an idealist, but at least his heart was in a better place than most.

"So in that battle, one he was instrumental in, I saw as one of the enemy killed him. He didn't scream out, he only patted the man on the shoulder, smiled, and stumbled back from the sword penetrating him. He fell to the ground and the enemy looked on in horror. That man ended up running away as I ran to my father's side, but he didn't have any time to do anything other than widen his smile at me and reach up to touch my face. He didn't even achieve that before he died and his eyes dulled."

Merek patted Aster's hand and let go, and she dully let her hand fall to her side. She watched him in a new light, unused to this very open and honest side to him, and of the words that he spouted to her.

"None of that was remotely fair, Lady Aster. But much of life isn't. It isn't for us, and it isn't for her. We are all, in a way, agents of some sort of fate and have our own destinies. I would like to think that those above have mercy enough in them for the lot of us."

He gave her a small smile and started to walk passed her, only to clasp her shoulder.

"How about some training? You seem like you'd like to work out some of that steam you've been building?"

Though he received no verbal response, she trailed after him as he continued to walk.
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PostSubject: Re: Strengthened by Honor   Fri Aug 21, 2015 7:16 pm

"So who's the new girl?' Aster grinned at him, and Merek shifted in his spot awkwardly.

"She is...Lady Fabelle Aspeth," Merek struggled to find a middle ground.

Aster raised an eyebrow. "And? Well, is she some sort of playmate for King Kenitoh or something? She looks like a kid. Maybe old off for a marriage arrangement? Hah, looks like your little sister has competition."

Merek grimaced on both fronts. One, his sister was not interested in Kenitoh. Two...Fabelle as a marriage arrangement.

That made him grimace again.

"Not a...Ugh, Lady Aster, please!"

She looked surprised at his frustrated outburst. But then he explained to her, haltingly, just who Fabelle Aspeth was, and could visibly see the change in her.

Merek's awkward admission to that little girl being the 'Grim Reaper' took her aback and she laughed slightly. But the look on his face said he was serious, and she blinked. A dawning look of realization crossed her face, and then her face became a dark, disgusted look that seemed out of place on her face.

Aster blinked a few times, mouthing the word "Fabelle" as she stared at the girl. "She's... she's Fabelle? She's the murderer?" Her breathing started to become heavy.

Aster recoiled. "She's the one who murdered Connelly? That little girl? Why the hell is she just roaming free?! She should be in chains, or better yet in the gallows!"

Her shout was loud enough to attract attention from around them, including Fabelle's. Merek winced, and wasn't sure what to do now.
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