In a place that would be classified as the middle of nowhere by anyone living in the major kingdoms and forces in the Central Continent, there was a small village which was inhabited by less than a thousand people.
Unlike normal settlements of these kinds, though, they had a very sturdy wall set up all around them with two guards even standing in front of the gate and checking everyone who was entering and leaving.
Such small settlements had to take great pains to maintain security, as they were always prime targets for bandits who did not want to tussle with the advanced security personnel who were trained rigorously to do their job. Granted, even if they were weaklings in almost all the major forces, as would be the case with any force which passed a certain number, it would mostly be that they would have to be really careful about messing up and having to face tons of backup who would decimate them if they even tried their antics in a proper town or village inside a Kingdom.
Inside the village, something else that was out of the norm was that the roads were not just bare earth that had been tread on so many times that they had flattened out. Instead, stones had been laid down and then their tops had been sliced off, before mud was inserted between them in order to make a stone pathway.
All in all, anyone visiting would definitely be shocked, and this was also the case with an emissary from the Kingdom of Arafell who had just arrived on the orders of the Queen.
As soon as he had made his identity known to the guards, one of them had rushed inside to summon the one with the most authority in the village.
A middle-aged man who was neither too short nor too tall and neither too skinny nor too muscular walked through the path on the other side of the gate while greeting all those on his way with a smile on his face.
From the respect he was given, the emissary guessed that this was the Chief, and he felt surprised as this was definitely the most unique leader of a settlement that he had seen yet.
Most leaders were those who enjoyed wealth as well as respect, but it was not so with this man.
He looked like a simple man. He wasn’t even wearing any shoes, and he looked like he was a farmer, which was evident from the strong smell of wet earth that emanated from him. Used to the luxuries of the Palace, the emissary frowned at this, but he tried to control himself as he was here with an important job.
After he finally approached, he said, “Our humble village welcomes the honorable emissary of the great Kingdom of Arafell. Please come in. After you have rested, we can speak regarding what you have come for.”
Simply nodding, the emissary walked inside without showing any proper respect, as he had also been commanded to not show any weaknesses even though he was here to ask something of them. Rather than ‘ask’, he had been told that he was giving them an opportunity to become so much greater than they were, which meant that it had to be given from a position of greatness, as otherwise, the value of what he was offering might not be conveyed as much as it should be.
He had already noticed the walls and the road, and as he looked at the houses which were also not thatched cottages like in the many settlements that he had been to till now, he wondered just what was so different about this village that it had developed in this way.
Still, he did not care much and just decided to do what he was here to do, as, in the grand scheme of things, nothing else mattered except him finishing his job here and moving on to another settlement.
Ushered into a small room where there were fruits of all kinds and a bottle of wine placed, the emissary raised his eyebrows, while the village chief said, “This is a brew by one of our villagers. Please try it. It’ll definitely be to your liking. When you’re leaving, you can also take a few bottles with you, as this is the specialty of our village. Even the bandits who come to raid us often just leave when we give them a crate of these.”
Laughing at the last sentence, the chief walked to the door and said, “Please rest for a bit, and we can meet in our meeting room in a few minutes. I shall wait for you.”
Saying inwardly that it was well-deserved, the emissary sat on the couch which was also quite comfortable and munched on a few fruits which were all very sweet, as if they had just been plucked from the tree. He then sampled the wine, and had no option but to raise his eyebrows again as the sweet liquid dripped down his throat, instantly making him want to drink more.
Even after he was finished with the bottle, he felt himself wanting more, but he suddenly remembered who he was and tried to control his urges.
What would his commander say if he found out that he was acting like a common drunkard?
Yet, the wine had just been a bit too addicting. He felt himself salivating even as he saw the bottle, so he hid the bottle below the couch, but even this did not stop the temptation.
Taking a few deep breaths, he finally calmed himself down and walked out of the room to find a little girl waiting to show him the way.
Checking his pocket and making sure that the all-important trinket that he had placed there was still present, the emissary adjusted his clothes which were grand robes that had been embroidered with images of fairy-like beings descending to the earth while being worshipped by ferocious giants.
This was a pretty strange image to be stitched onto clothes, but it was the standard garb of emissaries from the Kingdom of Arafell, and he wore it proudly.
Yet, the moment he stepped outside, darkness suddenly overtook him as he collapsed to the floor, and the last thing he remembered was the little girl giggling, as if this wasn’t the first time that she was seeing something like this.
Meanwhile, the village chief had been watching everything from a tower that was present in the center of the village, from where he could see each and every nook and cranny of the village below him if he wished.
Right after the emissary fainted, he was carried to the tower by a few men who then checked his pockets thoroughly before finding the hidden pocket in which the trinket that he had caressed before was present.
It was in the shape of a ring, and the most remarkable thing about it was that in its crown was set a blood red gem that glowed faintly.
“Bring over a pitcher of water.”, The chief said, all merriness gone as he had put on an expression of absolute seriousness.
The villagers also acted quickly, as they had only seen this man that they viewed as their God being this serious when they had been in the way of a bandit flood which had been fleeing from one region to another.
At least, then, the leader of those bandits had been a benevolent woman, who had let them be, but in this case, it looked like things were even more serious.
As the pitcher of water was brought, the chief dipped the ring into it, which caused the water to suddenly glow a bit before going back to normal.
Looking around, the chief thought for a bit before saying, “Bring over that newcomer to the village who tried to **** his neighbor’s wife.”
Expressions of anger appeared on those in front of him as he said this, but without saying anything, they bowed and went to do their job.
Soon, a tied and gagged man who already looked like he had been tortured so much that he was praying for death was presented in front of the Chief.
As soon as the gag was removed, the man cried out, “I’m sorry! Please, just ki-”
His shout cut off instantly when the chief laid his eyes on him.
“What do you think of the Queen of Arafell? Answer honestly.”
“Why are you asking me this? Are you-”
Instantly, one of the men near him ran forward and kicked him in the groin, which made him howl with pain, as blood started to flow anew from the place which had already been cut multiple times by the women in the village.
Understanding what he had done wrong, the man pleaded for a bit and then said, “I understand! I don’t feel anything special about her. I did hear that she was a great beauty, though…”
His base instincts shining through once again, the men near the Chief looked like they wanted to rush ahead and continue what they had been doing to this man before they were interrupted by the visit from the emissary.
Raising his hand, the chief stopped them, after which the pitcher of water floated towards the man.
The man started to struggle and shout incoherently, as he was afraid that this was another kind of torture and that the water would burn.
Yet, when it poured over him, he drank, as he had been kept thirsty for the last few hours.
Seeing this, the chief nodded and let the pitcher land on the ground, after which he asked the same question again.
It took a few moments, but after that, the man’s eyes shone as he said, “The Queen is a benevolent being who is here to give us a better life! I want to be near her! I want to go to her! I want to-”
All those in the room were shocked as he continued raving, but the chief looked like he was only seeing what he had expected.
Shaking his head, he took out a communication trinket and began to send a message.
Meanwhile, in the Kingdom of Lanthanor, Daneel was peacefully sitting in his room and going through the Champion Paths again while the beating of the Dragon heart was like music in the background that calmed his mind and allowed him to focus.
Yet, that peace was instantly shattered by a sudden knock on the door, after which it opened to let in a frantic Kellor.
“My King! I’ve just received news from a friend of mine who is a leader of a small village! He was originally a Lanthanorian, and he was even the mayor of a town, but he was persecuted by the king because of his strict policies regarding any crimes. He used to torture and kill rapists, and murderers were instantly killed where the murders happened with intent. He was also a powerful mage, but he was not interested in power – he only wanted to lead a peaceful life of farming while taking care of the needs of people. He left and setup that village, and it seems that he was just approached by an emissary from Arafell. He… Found something.”
Raising his eyebrows and feeling surprised that there were even such characters, Daneel instantly got up and went to the Grand Court Mage.
As he saw the description of what had been sent, anger instantly appeared on his face as he understood right away just what Arafell was doing.
Without hesitating, he took out the trinket that connected him with Arafell and asked to be connected with the Queen.
“What is it, King Daneel? Are you going to reconsider your offer?”, came the voice of the Queen, but Daneel spoke in a harsh voice.
“An Enthrallment Spell using physical means? Really? Isn’t it the same spell that was active the first time we met?”
After a moment of silence, a low chuckle sounded from the other side, before she said, “You found out sooner than I expected…but so what? You can’t move, or the Big 4 will come down on you! I know all the news, King. So just sit, and prepare to lose. No matter what schemes you put out, I will be the one winning.”