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Chapter 3

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The rain fell on the cobble road bouncing off the low shelters penetrating the clothes of any victim foolish enough to stand out under the stars. A man stood outside the city gates surrounded by mounted men looking up at the city walls. Then the gates stirred into motion and one man rode out ahead stopping shy of the gate and looking out to his men. "It's time, I'm taking my kingdom back," with that there was a sudden surge of men flooding the capital and palace and in the wind blew a banner with a dragon surrounded by fire. That night there was bloodshed in the capital. Blood was running down walls, flowing into drains and escaping corpses. The uproar woke the capital as men were killing each other in the streets and inside the palace walls. The throne room was crowded by nobles and the king's personal guard, there were quiet whispers as everyone huddled together but one word was on all their lips: True-Blade. The throne room doors were thrown open and a flood of armoured men poured into the room some holding lances, broadswords and crossbows. They encircled the throne room and the nobles who were huddled in different groups. The sound of boots meeting the marble floor resonated throughout the room as everyone waited in anticipation. A figure appeared with a fur cloak draped over his shoulders, sword at his side and flanked by two men with expensive suits of armour clutching the hilts of their swords. The king's guards came forward to stop them but fell to the bolts of crossbows. The man stopped two feet shy of the throne and looked at the king who sat on the throne, "I believe that would be mine dear cousin." The where a couple of gasps as a few nobles fell to their knees and eventually all of them were on their knees. The queen got up stepped down from where she sat to kneel at the man's feet. He signalled the men beside him to remove the king from his throne. He drew his dagger and drove it through the man's chest and into his heart removing the crown in the same fluid movement. He sat on the throne and placed the crown on his head and looked to the assembly. He looked down at the lady kneeling nearest to him, "Please stand my lady for no queen should bow to her king." She stood and moved to stand beside him looking at her late husband twitching on the marble floor blood forming around him. "I am your rightful king and heir to these lands," he let his voice echo through the room. "Know now that I Khalif Al Mäskew am your true king." The nobles got to their feet and applauded with all their might cheering and shouting "ALL HAIL THE KING." All the while the queen stood there wondering if anyone could see her joy and relief as the late king drew his last breath emotions, she hadn't felt since the day he took her as his wife.

Khalif had instructed for the nobles to take care of the corpses that littered the streets and the palace. He had ordered that every noble send two hundred men to enlist in the realms army. All the while he let his new queen lead him to the king's chambers, there was an unsettling quietness as they walked down the corridor. His thoughts running to what to do with the nobles of his land that wouldn't bend the knee as easily as the capital did. As well as his debt. They continued walking for a good while before coming to a stop before two wooden oak doors. They walked into the bedchamber, a large room with a bed covering most of it, a window with the perfect view of the city, a few large shelves lined with books and an equally large desk covered with papers. The queen stood at the foot of the bed while servants filed out the chambers closing the twin doors behind them. The bed was covered in an array of furs and different clothes and in the corner of the room was a fire place. He walked off towards the fire and fed it a couple of logs before taking a seat and warming his hands. The queen sat on the bed watching him and saying nothing. "I'm sorry but I stink of blood," she was startled to hear his voice but looked up at him, "I also fear you might place a dagger in my back," his voice was flat even to his own ears. She couldn't help but grin, "I had no feelings for the man, truth be told I hated him and his accursed kingdom." She bit her lip knowing she had said too much but to her surprise he was laughing. When he regained control he turned to look at her, "Please tell how you came to be here." She looked at him for quite a while before taking a deep breath and letting it out in a gush. "It was three years ago when my father and my brother promised me to the king of this land, they had made a peace treaty and our marriage was part of the agreement. I saw it as an honour being married off to a king who was a king to a kingdom with such renown. With our marriage my father's kingdom became a province in this once growing kingdom but after our marriage it became clear that he wasn't the one ruling but another hidden in the shadows. When it came to these chambers I was often left alone while he went off sleeping with the wives of the other nobles. He even went as far as bedding their daughters, he was truly an ugly man." She took a break letting her words sink in but Khalif never moved. When she never moved to say more he came closer to her then let their eyes meet, "I'm sorry." With that he embraced her then stood up and walked to the door, "I need to retake this kingdom from the nobles who dare call it their own." With that he disappeared into the darkness of the night. A war council was called later that night and an edict was announced that every noble will give two hundred men to the Realm Guard and pay tax to the crown.

He woke up early that morning when the morning dew still covered the grass and the mist was still in the middle of clearing. He walked over to where the pot with the filth was still simmering. Dipper was sleeping near the fire and had a basket full of apples sitting next to him. Król lifted it to see chunks of rotten flesh floating around and when the smell became unbearable he quickly closed the lid. He kicked Dipper awake and told him to throw the apples in to mask the smell before he walked off to the armoury which was acting as their prison. He walked past the well and grabbed a bucket full of icy water before stopping in front of Scout who was sleeping against the door. He threw the contents of the bucket on Scout, who got up with a jolt drawing his dagger in one fluid movement. "What the hell you damn bastards!" He wiped the water away with his head moving side to side looking for his assailant but only seeing Król. "Calm down Scout it's just me thought you might like a bath." Scout relaxed and placed his dagger back in his boot. "Let me guess," Scout placed a finger thoughtfully to his chin, "you came to see if I was doing alright out here on my lonesome." Król gave scout a brief smile before handing him an apple, "Just came to make sure of the two in there," he pointed a finger at the door, "are alright. Just checking that everything goes according to plan." Scout took a bit from his apple before he spoke, "don't worry about a thing, they're still breathing fine, I'll take them out for a quick wash before we head out." "I know you'll take good care of them, just make sure there aren't any bruises or cuts that we won't be able to explain when we're at the city gates." Scout gave Król his best smile, "Don't worry I'll take good care of them." Pleased with his quick inspection Król headed for the main camp fire where the brothers were already gathering.

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