“Did you hear, the Demon Army has already invaded past the Royal Capital Terpii.”
“I heard that the Demon Lord of Trent had killed King Albert and a majority of the Royal Guards in the castle’s keep while the Demon Army ransacked the city.”
“‘I’ve heard that both Queen Rebecca and Prime Minister Jordan haven’t been seen since the battle three months ago.”
Paige, a Warrior employed by the human border nation of Alcudia, overheard the conversations in passing as she ran toward the castle gates.
She could feel the atmosphere turning worse as soldiers headed for the front lines. the marketplace was filled with families watching their loved ones leave, many who would never be returning back home.
‘What can they possibly gain by fighting us? Did the last war not teach the Demon Lord anything?’ thought Paige. ‘We have coexisted peacefully for over almost two centuries now. They should know that the neighboring countries of Appealte and the Leit Confederation would join together and repel them back to their borders.’
Although there had been rumors going around that Evidia was in a state of upheaval, no merchants or spies were able to confirm this fact. By all regards, the Demon Lord of Trent had been unusually active the past few decades, as the growth of their economy and trade steadily grew. His surprise attack on the neighboring human border nation of Alcudia surprised citizens everywhere.
“Did you hear? The first prince has issued a kill notice to any citizen with demon blood if they are seen outside after dark.” She slowed down as the implications of that order registered in her brain.
‘Damn it! Has the first prince gone insane! What we need now is stability, not social unrest.’ Physically, demons and humans looked the same; so how were the guards supposed to check if they are human or not. She sped up her pace and briskly walked up the steps leading toward the castle gates.
After the last war against Trent, the royal family laid out defensive lines throughout the country as a safeguard against potential invasions. Castle Molt was designated as the temporary capital by the surviving members of the royal family.
To her surprise, the castle sentries had been replaced with the Royal Guards instead of the local militia. ‘Has the royal family finally arrived? Or have the other diplomats arrived?’
After reviewing her personal seals, the sentries allowed her access to the parade grounds. Originally, the castle was constructed with the sole purpose of having a defensible location for the local militia and as a resupply point for the army every three hundred miles. But for now, the open areas had been divided into three distinct sections.
Newly constructed houses had been built inside the castle’s parade grounds for both the diplomats and the royal family. Multiple smithies had been erected to service the weapons, the heat from the bellows could be felt all the way from the other side of the keep. Lastly, the remaining clear space were subdivided into drill grounds as multiple army divisions trained together.
‘The sentries said the diplomats has arrived, so the royal family should be arriving soon as well. Hopefully I can coordinate with one of them and figure out what truly happened in the capital.’
As she headed off to the castle’s keep, a familiar voice sounded out to her. “Ms. Paige! Thank god for a familiar face!”
“Alexandra! Where is your mom? What happened to the Queen?” Exclaimed Paige as she rushed forward to embrace her best friend’s daughter.
Crown Princess Alexandra looked almost exactly like her mom did as a young adult, with a mixture of confidence and poise that few could match. Her hazel eyes were misty with tears, and her brown hair was cut short above her shoulders as was custom in times of war.
“Mother and Mister Jordan were attacked after father sealed the Royal Castle’s keep. He hoped that the keep would command the enemies full attention and would let them both escape, but Captain Riley said that a pair of assassins attacked them as they left the city prior to the invasion. They haven’t woken from their injuries yet.” she exclaimed, her voice laced with melancholy.
‘What! The royal guards are trained to fight in teams of three and are known for their vigilance. They should have been able to repel a fair sized battalion, much less a pair of assassins.’
“…they weren’t just any random grunts, Ms. Paige. Coupled with the Demon Lord attack on the city, he is sure they are not assassins. He suspects that they have a Class. [Nightwalker]. They could be part of the Demon Lord’s party.” Alexandra explained quietly.
“…don’t tell this to anyone who you wouldn’t trust the Kingdom to.”
‘With both the queen and the prime minister injured, little Alex will most likely have trouble handling the diplomats.’
“I know Ms Paige, that is why I am telling you before we go talk to the foreign diplomats.”
“We?” Paige said shocked.
Alexandra said frankly. “You and Vanguard Tyler are the only national heroes not on the battlefield currently. We have decided that you should be at the meeting to help represent Alcudia interests’. With father dead, and mother and Mister Jordan injured, we need to showcase our national power in the negotiations; else I fear that the cost to retake the country will be too high a burden for us to bear alone. A few Classes might help us sway the upcoming negotiations.”
Paige thought for a second. Alexandra’s choice to include her in the talks made sense. To most of the population, having a Class meant having a defining trait; something that made you more than what you are. Since only the Gods were able to give Classes, it means that they have recognized your hard work, or maybe impressed that you survived an impossible situation. Sure, anyone could train to be a warrior. But only a few could gain a true Class of Warrior.
But for a country, people with classes were an asset, the lifeblood or measure of how a country was doing. Therefore, a person with a Class often held more power than lower nobility and was often given the title of a national hero.
Due to a surge in the population of demons and halves that had moved to the country, no one Class dominated another. Indeed, a good majority of immigrants came for these two reasons; to escape persecution due to their race, or they thought their Class would be useful here.
As such, the border nation of Alcudia was held in high esteem due to the number of people and the varied amount of Classes that were affiliated with the royal family.
She sighed to herself. There was no way she would be able to get out of participating.
“Are you sure this is a good idea? I know Tyler, he is more than able to handle political situations such as this; his Vanguard Class is more aligned with something like this.” Paige exclaimed nervously. Although she was friends with the queen, she did not dare to dabble in politics. Her own life or death situations she could handle. Negotiations that could affect the entire country was deftly out of her hands.
Alexandra thought hard for a few seconds, her brows creased as she stared at the empty space ahead of her. “I need a strongman, er woman, to back up my position. I have fallbacks for most of the situations I can think of, but mother said sometimes you need a hard fist rather than soft words.”As Alexandra said this, she turned around and started walking toward the newly built houses.
Paige took a hard look at Alexandra. She could tell that the young girl was shouldering a lot of responsibility in too little a time. Usually, her parents or the prime minister would be able to guide her along or use their experience to probe the other countries bottom line, but that is no longer an option.
She hesitated. “At most I can give sound advice from a mercenary’s point of view. Hopefully, Tyler will have some Skills that can help in the talks. The Vanguard Class is known for its ability to gather information and defensive capabilities.”
“Oh Ms. Paige, you know Skills can only be used on those you perceive as enemies.”
“Who says diplomats aren’t enemies? Besides, we both know Tyler was formerly the head of the Royal Guards, just trust that his political sense hasn’t totally deserted him.”
“Is Captain Riley’s political acumen up to par?”
“Not to the level of Mister Jordan; but he can maneuver a conversation pretty well.” Alexandra replied confidently.
“Oh, and how do you know that little Alex? Perhaps I should have a little talk with him about boundaries” Paige teasefully said.
She slightly blushed. “Nothing has happened. We’ve just talked a bit in passing.”
“Yet you mean.”
Paige knew she had to make Alexandra feel relaxed. Extra pent up stress would only make the upcoming negotiations worse.
“You’ll have to thicken your skin for this meeting princess. Onto more pressing matters, tell me what your brother is thinking. Why did he order that notice to the entire country?”
“…First Prince Daniel has been talking with the foreign dignitaries already. He wants their backing so that he can lead the suppression army or at least a major portion of it.” she stopped for mid-stride. “Although I am the Crown Princess, with father and mother incapacitated, the successor to the throne is not set in stone. Alcudia is a monarchy, so tradition is the one card I can count on. Daniel knows that major achievements in times of war can earn him supporters for the throne. If he can get over half the court to support him, they could potentially name him regent until the war is done.”
Alexandra started to walk faster, her tone becoming grim. “ My older brother is good with military matters, but he is ill-suited for civilian matters. I’ve already had sister Beatrice go out and reassure the masses that this order is not meant to persecute our law abiding citizens. Hopefully, this will not get too far out of hand.”
Paige kept her face neutral. ‘Great. So now we not only have to deal with demons and diplomats, but we also have to deal with conflicts of interests among potential rulers.’ Her mood worsening as the thought of having to go back into the realm of politics.