Ubong had been impressed by the speed and progress of the empire’s capital construction but she was equally amazed by her first sight of its ruler.
He was a powerful, bear of a man with engrossed scars covering his entire body. He was currently sparing alone against eight Knights with the battle in a stalemate.
His blows hit as hard as glacial ice and flowed as fluently as spring water. He was sometimes free, sometimes turgid but always covering the entire battlefield with his unique martial arts skill and used none of his external mage ability.
Finally the balance was broken as one of his opponents channelled his heat essence in opposing directions causing him to shoot out with centripetal force, catching the old man unprepared.
Just as everyone expected a hit, ice armour connected with semi-solid liquid, formed around the scarred old man to protect him. The chill released from the armour was palpable and drained the fight right out of all the others.
During this brief pause, Nze took the opportunity to say, “Reporting on the subjugation and elimination of the threat. Sir, we have expanded as far as the Abacha clan but the hold is still tentative and there will be issues. Also we eliminated one of the familiars we encountered from the town of Mushin…however Danjuma did not make it.”
“Hmm. It seems this mission was not as easy as you expected even considering the inside help. No matter, the magical beast is dead which means only one may oppose us on this continent….ha ha just a bit more… a few more years and I will return triumphant.”
The old man continued, “by the way I got your message about the light element Knight who was instrumental in the siege but was greatly injured. So she survived. That shows potential. You must be Ubong.”
As the scarred old man looked intensely at her, she felt a charm and charisma overwhelm her and instinctively surged her light essence into her eyes to resist.
“Interesting” the old man mumbled to himself, “my watery eyes charm is still rudimentary but you broke through excellently.”
Then speaking up for Ubong to hear, he continued, “You will gain a lot here even before we bestow the worthy with their own magical beasts. I will provide systematic training to a select few to unlock the full potential of an internal mage. However, I must emphasis the procedure is painful.”
The nonchalant smirk on his face arose fear in Ubong but she was unaware that her misery was not over.
The old man said further, “As for you Ubong, I also require your family connections and a suitable companion. This will be the price of your restoration.”
Ubong listen to his final words with great confliction. There was no way she would want to wrap herself so tightly to this train after all the atrocities she had witnessed but her disabled hands were already stained with blood and her loved ones would suffer for her refusal.
Therefore, she responded, “Allow me to select two of every ten to be bestowed a magical beast and I will accept willing.”
At this the old man responded, “You must be mistaken. Your willingness was never an issue.” The hall was soon filled with booming laughter of power and delight.
Similarly, Nnenna stood before the King of the Oshodi Kingdom, surrounded by ministers, generals, guards and even a precocious little girl behind a steel fortress who kept trying to break forward while scenting the air.
The stalemate peristed for a while as no one wanted to speak first; in Nnenna’s case she was a bit overwhelmed, not even knowing how to address Jide’s father.
“Your… your Majesty… ” she began. “My name is Nnenna… and despite our previous altercations I come in peace, bringing news of your heir.”
Immediately, the room fell into a tense silence with all eyes directed at the curious little girl standing behind a retinue of guards.
Moji could not resist responding despite the inappropriateness of the situation, “what news do you have of me?”
Nnenna was initially stunned but recovered quickly.
“I am not talking about princess Moji of the Oshodi Kingdom but the first born son of King Fold, who I suspect is also an internal mage.”
The council erupted with the ministers voicing their outrage and incredulity and the generals ready for war. Only King Fola’s mind flashed back to a young woman from a town in the middle of nowhere.
Maintaining his royal calm, King Fola pondered if he could abandon his son again. As the council settled down waiting for the King’s response, King Fold made the most difficult decision of his life when he said, “Speak!”