Chapter 1928.4: Long Live the Queen (Part 4)
Inside the black crystal, Night and Orpal screamed in despair, but no one could hear their voice. The darkness element and world energy would always slowly seep inside the Sealed Space, nature abhorred the void.
Yet it would only be enough for the Horseman to survive and keep her host alive. To makes matters worse for them, Thrud's soldiers took their equipment to study it as well.
Orpal's dreams of greatness, of becoming as powerful as his hated brother died the moment he was brought to the Golden Griffon and the Headmasters set up a Sealed Field array.
The academy also cast the Griffon Fetter spell around Night's crystal, sealing her movements and any spell she might try to conjure with the little energy she had left.
Thrud's Awakened Forgemasters didn't waste time and immediately started to examine Moonlight. The steed had been placed in an adjacent room to its master so that it wouldn't damage itself in the attempt to reconnect with her.
Yet without world energy to absorb, the steed was just a big piece of crystal.
"My liege, will you share the secret of Awakening with us as well?" Rusta the Banshee asked.
"You have betrayed your King, there's no telling if you'll do the same to me once I've outlived my usefulness." Thrud shook her head.
"This is different. He was a cruel tyrant whereas you-"
"I'm still not one of your own and you have no real reason to follow me now that Meln has been removed whereas I need you to keep my citizens in check." She cut him short.
"Don't take me for a fool, Rusta. I'm old enough to know that people like you were loyal to Meln because of fear and now you have sided with me only because our interests align."
"But, my Queen!" Many undead fell to their knees, hitting the ground with their forehead to prove their sincerity with blood.
"Enough. We'll talk about this again once your loyalty has been put to the test." She stopped them with a wave of her hand and a Spirit Spell. "Awakening might be off the table, but you have my word that once the War of the Griffon ends, I'll research a better version of the Harmonizer.
"The Fallen Races at my service deserve a better life and so do you."
The eyes of the elders shone with the red light of undeath and greed.
Even though Baba Yaga's plan for her children was for them to achieve the full red blood core, go back to being alive, and have a second take on life, they begged to differ.
After having lived for centuries like predators and becoming accustomed to possessing great magical powers, the idea of going back to being weaklings was scarier than death.
Without being Awakened, their lives would last less than a candle and even if they learned its secrets, they would be limited. With a Harmonizer, instead, the elders would achieve the best of both worlds.
"Thanks, Your Majesty. Long live the Queen." Tethre the Vampire said and the others joined her in a chant.
"Let's go home, darling. It's time to feed our Valeron." Thrud said and opened a Warp Steps back to the academy.
Jormun was happy for his wife, yet scared at the same time. Her plan was moving on track with unsettling precision. First the Doppelgangers, then the ambrosia, and now she had taken over the Undead Courts and gotten her hands on a mage tower.
'Thrud is amassing so much power and she's an immortal white core. Unless someone stops her soon, she'll become so powerful that only a Guardian might be able to stand against her.' He thought.
Blood Desert, Heavenly Plume Palace, the following morning.
The three great countries were shocked when the Mad Queen broadcasted the news of her victory over the Dead King and his Undead Courts.
Lith and his family were sitting at the table together for breakfast when Salaark barged into the room and projected the hologram for them.
"Unlike the previous corrupted Royals and the incompetents that currently sit on the throne, I, Thrud Griffon, have kept my promise." She stood on a dais where a chopping block had been prepared.
The scene mirrored the execution of General Morn, with Thrud wearing the same ceremonial robe as Meron and wielding an identical sword. Orpal wore his Black Rose armor, but it was full of cracks and blood, looking more like scrap metal than legendary equipment.
He was all skin and bones, his eyes red from the crying and with only a few hairs on his head due to malnutrition. He looked like a pitiful, miserable creature, but no one felt anything but disgust at his sight.
"Tonight, I've dealt a huge blow to the Undead Courts. They are far from being defeated and I expect them to keep bothering us in the near future, but losing their leader has crippled their strength.
"Here I offer you the life of Meln Narchat, in reparation for his crimes against the Griffon Kingdom and its people. Any last words?" Thrud asked.
When Orpal started stuttering a few words, Arthan's sword cut his head off and him short. The crowd exploded in cheers and applause as those on the front row passed the head among them to make sure that he was really dead.
"Too bad that no one is interested in the ramblings of a madman." The Mad Queen said. "Today, I've shown you my justice. I've proved to you that a better Kingdom is not just a dream, but a possibility. Have a nice day. Queen Thrud out."
Raaz was among those cheering. He had jumped from his seat, clenching his fist in victory as if he had somehow contributed to Orpal's capture. When he noticed that he was the only one rejoicing, his enthusiasm died.
"I know that he was my son, but I don't feel guilty for celebrating his demise." He said while looking at Elina.
"The problem is that he's not dead." Lith sighed.
"What do you mean?" At those words, Raaz turned pale.
"I've decapitated a Horseman in the past. Blew their heart and everything. They don't die unless their crystal is destroyed. What Thrud did today was just propaganda." Lith said.
"Why would she do that? I mean, aside from the obvious reason."
"My guess is that she needs him alive for some reason. Either she hopes to enslave him with the Unwavering Loyalty array or it must have something to do with his tower. Maybe once he dies, Moonlight will go back to Baba Yaga." Lith shrugged.
"But, he's still imprisoned. He can't harm us anymore, right?" Raaz asked with eyes filled with hope, wishing his lost son to suffer as much as his victims.
"That's for sure." Lith said.
'But if he manages to escape, I doubt that Thrud will broadcast the news as well.' He actually thought.
Lith preferred not to share his doubts to not ruin his father's joy. Thrud's broadcast had made Raaz happy and he didn't want to spoil it.
Blood Desert, Salaark's beach house, a few hours later.
Lith called Zoreth as soon as they went back to their honeymoon and enjoy some privacy.
"You have to leave for the family meals? Gods, did your wife put you on a leash already?" The Abomination chuckled.