Gliding above the vast plain, the large-winged Rathalos brewed the air of early dusk. Staring thoughtfully at the ground passing under his talons, he lost a bit of altitude, then quickly recovered, having spotted something.
"Father will be grateful to me if I bring my share to the buffet," he thought,
before diving at the target he saw, brushing past the plain's grass.
Despite the discretion he had shown, his prey, an Aptonoth of good size, bellowed, discovering the flying wyvern swooping down on him, and fled.
Growling from discontentment, the purple-scaled dragon sped up to catch up with the galloping herbivore. The Rathalos emitted a slight hiss, and a flaming sphere sprang from its mouth to crash on its target, killing it instantly. Landing near the corpse, he glanced furtively at the sky. Nobody there. To be honest, he was not afraid of much. Grabbing his prey without much trouble, he rose in the air and head back to the castle.
"At this pace, I should be on time for the start of the banquet ..."
He lets out a short sigh.
"I hope things will get better then. I really don't like this kind of arrangements ... " the bulky dragon muttered, resuming its cruising speed and altitude.
Soaring with its large ruby wings veined of gold, the Dreadking saw his destination on the horizon.
The Rathlands' Castle.
After passing the three main towers, he branched off to the east wing of the castle, where the kitchens were located. Finding the drop-off point for food, he hastened to deliver his burden which, despite his stature, was beginning to weigh heavily after two hours of travel.
Knart, the Agnaktor who were managing the kitchens (and also the forge), came to receive the goods and thanked him for his contribution, before going to prepare the meat.
Satisfied, the Rathalos took off and this time, headed for the wing main, where he was to go. He landed on the area meant for this purpose, then walked to the heavy steel door that blocked access to the throne's room. The two Seltas guards in charge opened it and greeted him respectfully.
- Good evening, Prince Zenith.
- Good evening, the garnet dragon replied, dusting its wings while
waiting for the door to open fully.
He got back into his thoughts, staring at the ground, and letting himself be lulled by the noise of its talons on the clear and shiny marble.
"How am I going to report?" Let's see. I should start telling that the Rakurian borders are calm... Then point out the tensions between the Buruto dictatorship and the Skypierciers empire at the level of Prosperity Pass being still of actuality ... Mhh ... "thought the flying wyvern.
"What else is there to say ... The aftermath of a war seems to be pretty much calm ..." he sighed.
He regained consciousness of the outside world when he reached the second door, adorned with gold, silver, emeralds and rubies, symbols of the royal family.
This door was one of the most beautiful works that was seen in all Rathlands. It had been forged, sculpted and decorated by an illustrious blacksmith who was once nicknamed "the Golden Claw", by his incredible talent, but also because of the golden reflections of the forge which illuminated his whole person while he was working. Since then, all the blacksmiths of the country, even of the world maybe, aspired to become also renowned as him.
The two other green wasps that guarded it bowed before the prince before opening the throne room, greeting him.
He threw a brief greeting at the Seltas before entering the immense room. It had a large vaulted ceiling rising up to twenty meters, and was supported by splendid marble pillars of hexagon base. The ground, also made of sand-colored stone, shone a beautiful satin sheen; and a magnificent red velvet carpet was laying in the middle, leading to the sumptuous purple throne with golden armrests of the king. Anyone who ventured here for the first time once was struck by the grandeur of the room.
He waited a few minutes when the royal bugle sounded, announcing the king's arrival, who entered through the wide tunnel from the left of the room.
The imposing silver Rathalos advanced towards his seat with majestic steps, sat down, then greeted Zenith with his head.
- Good evening, my son. I imagine you're here to report ? his father asked, his voice sounding in a low echo.
- Yes father. No sign of Rakurai Empire's activity near our borders... Everything is calm, except for the Prosperity' Pass area, where the tensions between Skypiercers and Burutians are still present, as it was for now two weeks, the Dreadking declared. I've also got a prey that I gave to Knart for the banquet. An Aptonoth.
- Thank you for your contribution. I see ... Nothing new. Well, that means Rakurai seems to keep his promise, isn't it ?
The prince gnashed his teeth.
- I deeply dislike the idea of having to offer him Tourmaline.
- We do not have a choice, the monarch replied. This was the only way to end this war.
- It is not fair. A monster cannot be sold or sold like a common good.
- It's about getting married, it's different. I already explained to you why it was the best possible choice. Between sacrificing the happiness of a monster and the lives of thousands of subjects... (he sighed) A king cannot afford to be selfish, Zenith.
- It's much worse than soldiers' deaths, it's humiliation ! Offering your daughter, your own daughter as a war treasure ... he growled, frustrated.
- Stop wandering on the subject. I had no choice, and you know it. You shouldn't spit your anger on me.
His son looked down in regret.
- Sorry. It's... It's just so awful... I'd like to gut this fucking dog of Rakuraï for asking this ! The Garnet Rathalos spat.
- You're forgiven. I understand your resentment. However, remember that you must hide this resentment deep within you. One day maybe, your wish could come true. But today isn't the day ... Now, get ready for the party, put on any garment that suits you, and be presentable for tonight, my son. The servants will certainly already busy with Tourmaline and Blister, but I asked them to bring you clothes.
The purple scales dragon sighed.
"Oh no, please, I thought I would never have to wear this kind of junk ornaments again ... "
- Go, and don't linger too long, the silver Rathalos said, before disappearing in the tunnel from which it appeared.
The sun had already disappeared behind the hills for an hour when the first guests manifested. Saxo and Trumpet, the poets and musicians Qurupecos, were responsible for entertaining them in the hall while waiting for the festivities to begin.
After completing his report, Zenith headed for the West Wing of the castle, in order to return to his room. On the stairs leading to these, at first floor, he met one of his brothers, Blast, already adorned with a thousand party decorations.
- You are ridiculous, Blast, the garnet Rathalos spoke in a mocking grin.
- Thank you, the white dragon sighed, rolling his eyes, I was still doubting this fact ...
- You didn't have to ... "decorate" yourself as much.
- Father asked us to, a question of respect, diplomacy ... You know.
- I don't care about what the Rakurians might think, Zenith hissed.
- You don't even have to put on makeup ! That's not so bad ... his quartz-colored scaled brother said.
This amused the Dreadking.
- Leave this to Blister and Tourmaline...
- They must be having fun, Blast smiles.
- Sweet Teostra... the purple scaled dragon whispered, imagining her sisters hesitating between hundreds of clothes to wear.
- Well, I'm going right now, otherwise, there will be no more petits fours of
Gargwa, the Crystal Rathalos concludes.
- What a tragedy it would be, his older brother laughs. Keep me some, I'll be there within minutes.
- If you're not by there in ten minutes, I'll devour them all! His brother exclaimed, already running away.
"Sooo, It seems I have three minutes to prepare myself and save the petit fours of a certain death in Blast's stomach " Zenith thought while hurrying towards his room.
When he returned, his gaze was immediately caught by the amount of improbable ornaments piled up on his office chair, where he wrote his reports. Confused, he searched the heap with the tips of his wings to find something sober and simple. He tried jewels set with rubies, then put them back down. He then tried to adjust a gold tail cover, without success. Annoyed by the ridicule of the situation, he decided to go with black and gold metal thigh boots, succeeding in tying it around its legs, with an fairly unconvinced face.
"I really don't see how this nonsense is supposed to make me presentable " the garnet Rathalos muttered out loud.
- Need help ? A voice said ironically behind him.
He turned around. It was Arsenic, one of his Rathian sisters.
She wore only her usual silver tail cover, starting at the half of it and enveloping its highly toxic tail appendage. All Rathians in the castle had to wear one, either when they were walking by, or during certain events, in order to not hurt someone inadvertently. In fact, Raths were not afraid of their own poison, being naturally resistant from these toxins. However, when the king was organizing parties or banquets, for the sake of diplomacy, the females Raths were in the obligation to put a tail cover to avoid any collateral damage. The Rathalos, in comparison, hardly had this kind of inconvenience, due to the fact that their toxins were secreted by their talons, and so, were having more control over it. They could thus wander about without caudal protections, even if some wore them out of pure fantasy.
The Rathalos smiled, then looked at his wrongly attached thigh boots.
- I would refuse by pride for sure, if I wasn't aware of how low I currently am ... the Dreadking sarcastically said.
- I'm not as good as Tourmaline or Blister for that, but I still think I can do better, the Dreadqueen Rathian said, trying to readjust the waders with a little more ease than her brother, who watched her do her thing.
Zenith liked Arsenic.
Although she was not her sister of blood, -because she was adopted, being
an orphan before she could even fly - her older brother preferred her to her
sisters, frivolous and superficial.
The lilac-colored Rathian was relatively well integrated within the royal family, and was quite popular with the people. However, some ignorants liked to remind her of the impurity of her blood, which was a big mistake, because Arsenic was also a terrible warrior. Rumor has it that she was abandoned due to her overproduction of natural toxins, which oozed from the thorns of its tail as well as the slightest scale on his body. Her poison was also more virulent than normal, and the Dreadqueen was able to air it out as asphyxiating air or to crystallize it in order to use it as a weapon. Many believed that she was cursed, and due to his subjects' pressure, the king had to force her to wear a tail cover in permanence, except for training.
The green and purple wyverne was also uninterested by ornaments and aesthetics, as her other sisters could be, joining Zenith's opinion on the subject.
- It's already better like that, the Rathian said, having finished tightening the straps, looking up at the purple scaled Rathalos.
- Thank you, he blurted, looking down.
- What else ? Arsenic asked.
- By Teostra ! I already regret these horrible things, his brother growled,
swaying from one foot to the other. No thanks, I look already stupid like that ...
She smiled, and Zenith guessed that she shared his opinion.
- Your silence is very eloquent, the garnet dragon said in a grin.
There was a silence, during which they stared without saying a word.
"I think I'm going to go," the poisonous Rathian said.
This caused a flash of lucidity in the Rathalos' mind.
- Teostra ! Blast will eat all the petits fours! the Dreadking realized, rushing out of his room and running towards the hall.
- I bet that this hollowed legs of Blast has already swallowed it all !
Arsenic said amused, watching her brother running down the stairs at full speed.
He accelerated even more.
"I hope there are still some left," Zenith thought.
When he tumbled into the hall, around thirty guests were already present, nibbling on appetizers. Fruits, shellfishs, toasts, grilled meat, petit fours, everything was there. The first thing he noticed was his brother of alabaster hue, filling his stomach at the seafood buffet.
- Blast! What did you do with the petits fours of Gargwa? He growls, lowering
suddenly his voice so that it does not attract attention.
- Eaten. But the shrimps are delicious, you should taste them, the quartz Rathalos suggested.
- I don't like shellfish ! And you were supposed to keep me some !
- I'm kidding, I kept two of them and gave them to Knart, he got them
brought back to the kitchen, I think. Go see for yourself.
- Thank you, I thought you had swallowed everything, his purple scaled brother whispered.
- I could have, Blast said dreamily.
- I'm going to get them right away, Zenith said, turning to face
towards the kitchens by the interior access.
He politely greeted a few guests on the way, in order to make good impression, always according to the wishes of his father. The Rathlands' people had long been known as very good hosts, and was counting of not deceiving this reputation. After a dozen of greets, the Dreadking finally reached his goal, and asked one of the Lavasioth cooks to call their chef, which he did.
- Ah, Prince Zenith! the Agnaktor exclaimed, taking out a plate of meat skewers from one of the ovens before coming to him. You're looking
for the petit fours, I presume?
- Yes please. And please, don't use my title, you know very well that you
are a friend here... the garnet dragon confirmed.
- It's the least I can do, my prince ! I'll get them immediately, the red leviathan replied.
The majestic winged Rathalos did not have time to blink that the chef had already returned. Knart always impressed him with his incredible zeal, making him the most loyal of servants. The Agnaktor cooked for His Majesty for a good decade now, who had hoisted it at the time to his current position by this extraordinary loyalty and modesty which he demonstrated. His rather prodigious social ascent had made him even more idolatrous of the royal family, and although it was sometimes criticized his excess of benevolence, he was much appreciated at the castle.
- Here they are, my prince, the magmatic reptile declared, presenting him
a small vermeil tray on which were proudly placed two petit fours set aside by Blast.
- Thank you, Knart, the flying wyvern said, delicately grabbing them between its wing claws.
- There is nothing to thank me for, Prince Zenith.
- Come on, stop these manners, please ! The Rathalos smiles.
- It would make you ashamed, sir. Well, if I have your agreement, I wish I could go back to my business.
- Of course you have it, the Dreadking laughed.
And then, the Agnaktor turned on his heels and sets off again to manage the cooking of the appetizers and main dishes.
Zenith turned back to the place of the festivities, savoring his deserved aperitifs on the way.
"Delicious as always" the prince thought with delight as he tasted them.
When he returned to the room, the number of guests had tripled. Space wasn't lacking yet, because the hall was the largest room in the castle, followed by the throne room, but the air had considerably warmed up without one of the three large chimneys being lit, which was quite a significant clue in this winter evening.
Zenith then visited each of the buffets out of pure curiosity, tasting the
new appetizers that the royal cooks had prepared, on Knart's order, wishing to offer a diversity among them. He tasted so small toasts with Gargwa foie gras, relatively tasty, as well as "Sandwichs" small pieces of bread between which were placed vegetables, fruit, or even meat or fish, to get the taste of all these foods simultaneously on the tongue.
"It really isn't a bad idea, and I must admit that I am becoming fond of these ones" the prince thought while swallowing another sandwich.
Once he had tested all the new things, the purple Rathalos came back
to greet new guests, bowing, smiling and giving compliments for about twenty minutes.
Being on the verge of hypocrisy didn't really please him, but it was, according to his father, a mark of politeness. Zenith did not see how lying made him an honest man, but much good may it do to them if they loved his false complacency and his pretended interest. Anyway, it had no choice, because this evening has for sole purpose to promote peace between the Rakurai Empire and the Rathlands Kingdom.
"As long as everything goes smoothly and peace can be established, I guess I can get along ..." Zenith thought while repeating her mechanical cycle of greeting.
- Hey! Zenith! a voice hailed him.
He looked for where it came from, before seeing his other brother Phoenix approaching, literally on fire.
Phoenix was the youngest among the royal siblings. Just like Arsenic, he
was born with an unusual anomaly, but was of royal blood, unlike the Dreadqueen Rathian. Its peculiarity layed in its internal temperature able to rise to 160 ° C, instead of 100 ° C for a ordinary Rathalos. Its flames were therefore formidable, but in addition to that, he was able to ignite himself whole without burning himself, thanks to the extraordinary resistance of its breastplate to heat. This one had an equally peculiar shade, orange and bright yellow along the spine. Due to its flammable nature, it was therefore necessary to avoid him to get agitated too much and thus inadvertently burns objects. Despite that, he was the most intentioned and kindest brother in the world.
- Good evening brother, you already stuffed yourself with crustaceans like Blast, as I see ? the Dreadking asked with a mocking smile.
- Erm, I admit that it might be my sweet sin, Phoenix replied, swaying from one foot to the other.
- Well, I think Knart ordered them for a regiment by anticipation, if you know what I mean ...
- So much the better, my guilt will be lighter.
- Haven't you seen Tourmaline, by any chance? Zenith inquired.
- She must still be strutting in front of her mirror in Blister's company, I think, the cadet said.
- Probable... the garnet dragon meditated.
- Well, if you allow me, I'm going to go back emptying up these seafoods things, the Incendiary Rathalos announced.
- Come on, I'm not holding you back, his older brother smiled.
The Dreadking stopped his reverence tour to start looking from her older sister when the feast was announced in the hall banquet through the Qurupecos' speech.
"I wish I could have talked to her, but I'm afraid I won't have time"
the Prince of the Rathlands thought, gnashing his teeth.
Hey ! Thank you for reading ! If you have any feedback to provide, do so ! It's my first time trying to translate my work, and I'm aware that it might features a lot of gallicism, like some sentences sounding a lot like french despite being translated. Don't hesitate to comment if you have any ideas to improve this point ! :D