Chapter 1615 - Parents And Children (Part 1)
Moving around Fyrwal's house required either to use magic or to be the size of an Emperor Beast. Otherwise simply going from the front door to the guest room would take hours.
Selia found the place more creepy than majestic, making her feel as if she was an ant that might be stomped at any moment, whereas Protector had been enjoying himself since the day of their arrival.
After having been forced to live most of the past six years in his human form, he enjoyed every second that he could spend in his Emperor Beast's body without the need of keeping gravity magic constantly active to not destroy everything that he touched.
After the Skoll had achieved a bright blue core, his shoulder height had reached three and a half (11'") meters, his fur was flaming red with streaks of yellow and white all over it.
His whole body was enveloped in a bright blue flame that was actually cold to the touch and that erupted more intensely from his neck, almost looking like a mane.
Protector had two curved horns coming out of his forehead, right in front of his ears. Eagle-like feathered wings came out from his back and his tail was made out of dancing flames.
He carried Selia on his back who in turn carried Fenrir. Lilia and Leran trotted right behind him in their small beast forms, with their tongues hanging out from the effort of keeping up with him.
Hybrids would always retain the mass of the smallest of their two sides until they reached twenty years of age and were forced to choose between them. Only those who decided to keep their nature as an Emperor Beast would grow in size like their parent.
The couple and their kids didn't live in the main building, but in one of the wings of the castle that had been designed to accommodate human-sized creatures.
"Is Fyrwal really one of the only two survivors of Valeron's group?" Selia's voice echoed through the massive rooms.
"I know that Juria and Oghrom were born about one thousand years ago which is also the average lifespan of Awakened humans, but I expected that being friends with a Guardian, Tyris would have kept them alive longer."
"She would have done it if they had allowed her to." Faluel's seven heads sighed in unison. "Juria Ernas stopped using her breathing technique right after Valeron signed with the Empire and the Desert a treaty that established the borders of the Kingdom, putting an end to the war.
"She had no desire to outlive her family nor did she learn magic because she had any passion for it. Juria had accepted to become an Awakened only to use those powers as a means to an end.
"Once she achieved it, Juria used magic only to protect her territory and help Valeron however she could.
"As for Oghrom Gernoff, he killed himself the same day that the First King died. He tried to change Valeron's mind until the last minute by using logic and compelling arguments, but to no avail."
"If Oghrom was such a logical man, why did he commit suicide instead of supporting the Kingdom from the shadows?" Selia asked. "Who knows, maybe with his help we wouldn't have lost so much land to the Empire nor would we have gotten so close to a civil war a few years ago."
"Gernoff was indeed a logical man, but he had no heart." Fyrwal appeared from one of the side doors.
The Elder Hydra had seven heads as well, but unlike her daughter, she stood over 25 meters (82 feet) tall and it wasn't the color of the scales covering her body that revealed the elemental affinity of each had but their eyes.
"He married only to have children who could inherit his legacy and even split his household in two based on the different tasks that he assigned them."
"What's wrong with that? If he didn't marry, one of the founding pillars of the Kingdom would have died with him and the ensuing power vacuum might have triggered a civil war." Protector said.
"You don't understand because you never met someone like Oghrom. In the case of a famine, he would have rationed the food at first and then killed everyone he considered a burden." Fyrwal said.
"Those too old, that wouldn't be able to contribute to any work, those too ill, that even with the aid of magic would need lots of food to make a full recovery, and even those too young."
"What? Why?" Selia said in horror.
"Because babies need a lot of care and attention from their mothers. A woman with a young child would lack the energy and the time to contribute to society during a famine so Oghrom would just remove the root of the problem.
"After all, a healthy woman can have as many children as she wants after the famine whereas an infant is just dead weight for at least twelve years." Fyrwal read out loud those words from one of Oghrom's diaries before showing it to Selia.
"What a horrible man." Protector skimmed through its pages, finding more and more of Gernoff's projects to improve the quality of life of the Kingdom.
He was glad that such a monster was gone forever, yet Ryman still failed to understand the reason why one of the founding fathers of the Kingdom had chosen to commit suicide.
"Indeed." The Elder Hydra nodded. "He and Valeron nearly came to blows every time we annexed a new region to the Kingdom. Valeron was content replacing the old monarchs with their heirs after having them bend the knee.
"Oghrom, instead, wanted to kill the entire bloodline to keep them from seeking vengeance against us and to prevent the old nobles to rally under the flag of the 'true rulers'.
"Oghrom would always say that an invading army already had plenty of enemies ahead of its path and that there was no reason to leave our back exposed to potential traitors."
"Cut the head of the snake and the body will wither." Selia said, understanding his strategy. "Without a rightful heir, the people wouldn't follow the nobles who would be too busy filling the power vacuum before their competitors to be a threat for Valeron."
"Exactly." Fyrwal nodded. "But it would have also meant to leave the people at the mercy of the nobles' petty interests and right in their line of fire of the conflicting households as they tried to expand their area of influence.
"On top of that, without a ruler, a region would lack the unity necessary to stand against any organized force like mercenaries, foreign armies, and monsters. They would be dependent on Valeron for protection and suffer many casualties until our army sent reinforcements."
"It disgusts me to admit, but Oghrom's plan is perfect. It kept the invaded territories too busy with infighting to pose a threat to Valeron's advancing army. Also, each time you saved them from an external threat, the people would grow grateful of you and spiteful of the useless nobles." Protector said.
"All of his plans were perfect." Fyrwal sighed. "That's why Oghrom and Valeron argued so much.. Valeron was afraid of turning the Kingdom into a tyranny by following them but he was also scared at the idea of what might have happened if he didn't."