95 Dragon Manor - Headed by a Snake
The snake-armored Nagini and the silver knight Tycon stared each other down in the lobby of the Tavor estate.
"You dare inssssult Nagini, sssssoldier?" The dark-skinned man hissed. He was incensed. His form and demeanor struck fear in the hearts of men. And a weak-looking knight had insulted him?
The knight stood tall, undeterred. His full helmet hid his expression, but his words dripped with sarcasm, "It's a fine name. I would use *different* words to insult you."
Pale stepped forward, "Forgive my retainer, sir Duke. He means no offense-- Can we talk how you're recruiting wizards? That's what I'm here for."
Taree tugged on the silver knight's tabard, "Patience is a virtue, sir."
Her words earned the knight's hard stare... but the armored man crossed his arms and held his peace.
The Duke shrugged, placated by Pale's words, "Ah, of course. How RUDE of me! Forgive me, young master Reynard. Hm. I know a Reynard-- you look nothing like him! Ohoho!"
The mission was for Pale to obtain the Duke's sponsorship. Gaining access to the estate, the trio might be able to uncover a clue about Tavor's corruption. Failing that, using the sponsorship, they could inquire about the Duke's business dealings in Merylsward.
Boss Tycon had insisted that they were to act with absolute discretion and care. This was purely a reconnaissance mission. They were not here to fight or sabotage or destroy or assassinate. Boss was very, very clear on those points.
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As the members of Guild Invictus were led further into the Duke's estate, Taree could feel Tycon's crescendoing anger from his subtle movements, even fully shrouded in armor as he was.
The halls were lined with statues of dragons, each as tall as Mister Dragan. Paintings and scrolls of the fire-breathing beasts were hung on the walls. The carpeted floors were woven with dragons in flight. Tycon's breathing was labored with rage as he walked.
As miserable as Boss Tycon was, Taree kept a grip on his gauntleted hand. Taree felt that if she let go, he'd do something rash.
They were brought to a large meeting room. The couches were leathered in painted reptilian scale. The tables had their legs carved into subservient dragonkin, holding up the flat. A fantastic chandelier suspended a circle of flat wooden dragon-shapes, so when lit, shadows of the winged beasts would slowly fly across the walls.
All throughout the discussion of the sponsorship contract, Tycon was able to remain silent, a feat that neither Pale nor Taree had imagined him able to do. However, the final clause in the contract proved to be problematic.
"Young master Reynard, I hold great value in you." The Duke pounded a cup of sugar tea. Bits of chocolate wafers were apparent in his beard, "Admittedly, you are the most talented young wizard I've seen in years-- able to utilize Circle scrolls and EVEN having your own movement technique!!"
Pale nodded politely, "Thank you, sir Duke."
The Duke raised both of his arms to the ceiling, "And because of this, I must insist on sending my own retainer with you to Arcanix. I am unwilling to allow my future archmage to be threatened by the CUNNING, deeeee~vious dark wizards of Princess Aurala Wynarn!! NAGINI!!"
"I am yoursssss to command," the snake-helmeted man clenched his gloved fist, the leathers audibly straining.
"Of course you are, OF COURSE!!" The Duke laughed, "You are now young master Reynard's sole bodyguard!"
Taree looked to Tycon, a tinge of panic in her eyes, "But... that doesn't make any sense! Silver-Knight has been traveling with Master Pall for years! They are the best possible wizard-knight combo!"
The Duke leaned over, his face a deep scowl, "And who gave YOU permission to speak?? YOU?? Furniture is best placed on DISPLAY!! You can't possibly offer anything but uneducated drivel!!"
Pale narrowed his eyes, the 9-year-old boy's voice steeled as hard as he could, "Sir Duke, I also have to object. Taree is a dear friend of mine. And Silver-Knight is very capable."
The Duke laughed, loosing deep, stomach-clutching, wheezing guffaws, "Nagini is a warrior that has killed hundreds, nay THOUSANDS of man, woman, child, and snake! He has risen to the top on mountains of corpses! There IS NO GREATER warrior!!"
The silver-armored knight, sitting quietly throughout the negotiations, sat up, "I'll beat the gods-damned shite out of him."
The room became deathly quiet.
"Empty night, I'll fight your weak-bodied, walking speech impediment, right here," Tycon's resonant voice left the Duke frowning and Nagini furious.
"Watch your ttttttongue, sssssoldier!!!" Nagini yelled, drawing his curved blade.
Tycon stood, his arms crossed, "Master Reynard, requesting permission to break Nagini's teeth."
Pale sighed. As immature as Tycon was being, at least he still held a bit of proper decorum to ask for permission from his "master". Pale stood and tapped his crimson staff twice on the floor, "Sir Duke, I request a duel between your warrior and Silver-Knight for the right to represent me."
The Duke wrinkled his face and mustache in thought before leering with a toothy grin, "Very well, very well!! I suppose it doesn't matter who accompanies you. NAGINI!! Escort Master Reynard and his companions to the training ground!!"
"At onessssss, Duke," Nagini saluted with his sword, his muscled biceps still shaking in anger.
"Will you grow a spine between here and the training ground, you dickless whoreson?" A distinctive resonant voice asked.
"You have CROSSSSED THE LINE, SSSSOLDIER!!!!" Nagini leapt forward, two-handing his curved blade above his head.
Tycon's cheap sword in-hand, he deflected the straight-forward slash away from him, cutting apart an expensive couch.
"MY COUCH!!!" The Duke screeched with his hands atop his greasy hair.
Instead of taking the opportunity to counter-attack, Tycon hurdled over the severed couch to create some space between them. Enraged, Nagini followed, swinging his blade. Tycon reverse-gripped his sword and concentrated on dodging and deflecting Nagini's blows, the mana-filled slashes tearing apart the room's priceless paintings, exotic works of art, and even damaging the elaborate weaved rugs.
"NO! STOP! STOOOOP STOP STOOOOOOPP!! YOU'RE RUINING EVVVVERRYTHINNNNNNG!!" The Duke leaned back in his couch, kicking at the air, wailing and screaming.
Tycon spun around Nagini, but the snake-warrior slashed at his blind spot, pulverizing a painted ivory statue of a climbing silver dragon but trapping the silver-armored knight.
Pale's loyal retainer was backed into a corner under a large, very detailed 15-fulm carved wooden statue of a sagacious-looking drake.
"Noooo!!! Not my DRAGON STATUE!! I just had that commissioned LAST YEARRRRRR!!" The Duke was sobbing and literally tearing his hair out, "NAGINIIIIIIIIIII!!!"
Tycon tilted his head and lowered his body to dodge Nagini's blade work. The statue fell apart into 5 roughly-cut pieces.
Pale, noticing that the Duke was at his wit's end stood up and yelled, "Silver-Knight, defeat the enemy!"