The Royal Constables shared Lith\'s doubts but came to different conclusions, considering the prisoners that the City Lords had kept alive as hostages that the traitors intended to use as a deterrent since most of them belonged to noble families loyal to the Royal Court.
Meanwhile, several hundreds of kilometers away from Zeska, several Spirit Warp Steps opened inside Syrook\'s lair.
Gods, I love it when a plan comes together. The Mad Queen said while taking control of the now masterless defensive arrays with but a swing of Arthan\'s Sword.
She had taken care of memorizing the dimensional coordinates of the Black Dragon\'s home during their past dealings in the hope of his death.
Now not only would she take all the riches he had collected from the cities of Nestrar instead of half, but also those that Syrook had stockpiled during his life, his magical legacy, and all the magical weapons that he had bartered for himself in exchange for his Origin Flames.
I can\'t believe that you tricked him the same way you did with Xedros. Jormun held the small Valeron in his arms while the Emperor Beasts collected everything that wasn\'t bolted to the ground.
They would keep those for last.
Even though he was born during my imprisonment in Huryole and we barely knew each other, Syrook was still a cousin of mine.
I introduced him to you. His tone was cold, suspecting her to have deceived him.
I would never do that to you.
It wasn\'t a trick, just a contingency plan. Thrud shook her head.
I really needed a powerful retainer for the Nestrar region and I would have provided Syrook with all he needed to deal with the Council.
Yet I couldn\'t afford to waste months of planning and preparation if he screwed up.
That\'s the reason why I had to clean up his mess and plant my Skinwalkers.
This way, with or without him, I still have the Nestrar region under my command and no one suspects anything.
Skinwalkers were monsters capable of taking the form of the last being they consumed, as long as they devoured them whole.
The skin and bones would give them the ability to copy their physical appearance down to the life force to perfection while consuming the brain granted them their victim\'s memories.
The only things they couldn\'t imitate were the mana organs responsible for bloodline abilities and the mana core.
They were terrifying predators in the wilds or for isolated villages since it was impossible to recognize them until it was too late.
They failed to be a real threat for an organized militia because a Skinwalker could keep up the appearances only until they weren\'t hungry.
Then their feral nature would start to take over, making it harder for them to behave until they either fed or were discovered.
Thrud had experimented with them, discovering that not even the Unwavering Loyalty array allowed them to survive Awakening.
Their faulty cores would burst every time and even though the Golden Griffon could keep them alive, their eternal agony made them useless.
What the array could do was to force them to suppress their instincts and hunger to the point that they could keep mimicking the same person to perfection until Thrud decided otherwise.
The real nobles who had opposed her plans had long been replaced by the Skinwalkers that now were considered heroes of the resistance and had the full trust of the Crown.
They would take the key position in every city and help Thrud to expand her influence.
Syrook or not, the Nestrar region was already under her command and soon there would be others.
The crises that the Archmages like Manohar had been called to solve were all part of Thrud\'s plan to put her pieces into place so that when the game started it would take her just a few moves to checkmate her opponents.
Wait, who are those people Thrud pointed at the two beautiful women who stood right next to Syrook\'s throne.
One had long blonde hair streaked red and blue all over while the other had long wavy black hair with orange and yellow streaks.
They wore sandals, a white silk roman toga with a deep neckline and side slits that left most of their slender legs exposed, and a golden sash on their waist.
They kept their eyes low, not speaking a word while waiting for their master\'s return.
Their clothes and role are part of an old Dragon custom that dates back when Dad was worshipped as the god of knowledge. Jormun turned his gaze away in embarrassment.
He only took women as priestesses and Awakened them so that-
They could get old and beautiful enough to his fancy Thrud completed the phrase for him with a sneer.
I can almost see Leegaain spreading knowledge left and right.
No, so that they could achieve the time and power necessary to learn from him. Jormun turned to a shade of purple in shame.
Dad would take people of all races and gender as students.
Yeah, and I guess it\'s just a coincidence that he only kept women around him and that there are so many species of Dragons and lesser Dragons. Thrud\'s voice oozed sarcasm as she examined the two handmaidens.
There was no trace of slave spells, they were just two healthy humans.
Is master Syrook really dead The blonde asked.
Yes. Thrud nodded.
You are free to go.
Go where The brunette replied.
We are orphans that he picked up like strays and that he raised as pets.
There is no one waiting for us out there and we know nothing but magic.
Take this and make a life for yourself. Jormun handed to each one of them a bag full of gold.
It was enough for them to live for decades without worries.
How is a bunch of metal supposed to help How do we get food with this The blonde asked while making her bag jingle.
From their puzzled look Thrud understood how literal the expression they had used to describe their ignorance was.
Do you know how to deal with babies Thrud said.
Syrook was only interested in partners that could help him to strengthen his bloodline and always left his failed experiments with their mothers. The brunette replied.
Well, you need a place to stay and I could use a couple of nannies.
Blood Desert, Heavenly Plume tribe, a few days later.
Lith returned to his family as soon as the last rebel city surrendered and the sowing started without a hitch.
Thank you so much, son. Raaz hugged Lith as soon as he came out of the Warp Gate.
He had been so worried about the outcome of the mission that he had waited for Lith alone, to speak with him in private without worrying Elina.
I didn\'t tell you because I didn\'t want to put even more pressure on you, but I haven\'t had a good night\'s sleep ever since you told us that we couldn\'t return to Lutia until we got our security detail back.
I know that a house and a bunch of cultivated fields are nothing compared to our lives, but it\'s all I have left of my parents.
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