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Chapter 12: The Closed Off Frontier


Gabriel looked out on the road ahead, still remembering the damage done to the village behind them, the stolen Panacea, and how at the end of it all, Sir Larg's men arrived and forced them to leave instead of helping to repair the village. The knights now traveled alongside the duchy's entourage, with the only barely implicit message of "no more distractions". Gabriel however still had his mind on the old King's body, and the fight. He could not banish it from his mind - and so when he passed by a large oak tree, he let out his rage in one punch, armored fist covered in sap shortly after. He looked to the side and sighed. Of course the others were staring.

"Gabriel?" Jerome asked, starting to walk over to the long haired knight. He had known there was a...troubled relationship between the dead king and the Lightning Knight, but there was nothing in the files he kept that alluded to this kind of potential reaction.

Tamerin commented, "...If you want to talk about it, feel free to---"

"And I don't want to talk about it." Gabriel's mind was on the various, contradictory memories now flowing through him. He remembered serving with honor and prestige, but he also remembered the relationship if you could call it that with her. And he remembered something...deeper. During the days of King Jaime's rule, the so called establishing days. Where the Angels assisted in the building of New Camelot supposedly where the seat of the Holy Roman Empire once laid.

Gabriel remembered a night of passion, and then---something else. He remembered the oscillating depths of a deep pool of water, and feeling himself coming up for air. And for some reason a deep groundswell of rage---


"You WHAT!?"

Gabriel stood in the devastated village, the evidence of Bethicia's foul witchcraft around them. The corpses around them were once animate, and still let out smoke from the remaining residue of the demon witch's sorcery. And before him and the friends he'd made were four lesser knights associated with Sir Larg arrived...and started with reprimands.

"We reserve the right to tell you where to go. Sir Larg, the Duke of Arcturia Province, has been licensed to expand his domain to include these outlying villages. And this does not fit with your licensed actions during this mission to the frontier." The man was squat, balding, unpleasant and bequeathed a nasal voice that only heightened his smug delivery.

Gabriel had his hand on his sword before long, and both Jerome and Tamerin needed to step forward and grip his arms to prevent him from drawing his sword on the Duke's men. The lesser knights noticed this, remembering that it was not unknown that Gabriel Dulac could destroy tanks with lightning bolts cast from that sword...but their commander seemed to be assured. That, or entirely too smug. "Recall that Sir Larg was given great privilege for the utter sacrifice of this deleterious mission. He owns this village, this very land you set foot on. Whether it is repaired or not is his business. Not yours. Take care not to overstep your boundaries, Sir Dulac."

Gabriel calmed down, knowing he could not well strike down these men without---without being rendered a traitor.


Gabriel looked down at his hand and morosely wondered at the way this was being handled, "Do they...even want to uphold their oaths and defend our allies...?"

Jerome whispered back to him, walking up on the fellow knight, "They say they do, but based on what I have observed and from my file on Larg, the man is a consummate glutton, and only wants to use this to amplify his personal wealth and prestige. Doing as little as possible, and still getting to be labeled the hero."

Gabriel nodded, looking ahead of them at the Duke's men.

He distinctly wondered if he COULD get away with it. Just hit each one with the right level of electric shock. Willing participants in the greed and evil of a man like Larg was more than Gabriel was willing to allow. Again, his hand went to his sword, and Jerome pressed his hand against Gabriel's.

"If you must, then wait for the other shoe to drop. Larg has made it obvious in the past how little he regards the other knights, wanting them out of the picture so he can make a play for more court control. If you see something suspicious, THEN let your sword fly." This quiet advice by Jerome made Gabriel turn his head and look at him.

"Truly...? The man is so heinously greedy he would make such a plan in the face of---"

"He doesn't believe," Jerome responded, "That Abaddon exists. Even in the face of hard evidence, casualties, a city aflame, and a monster's carcass recovered, the man only believes what his corporate and monetary interests require of him."

Gabriel was silent, but he kept one hand on his sword. He was sure of it. Larg was a mistake to ever be allowed as far as he was now. S-Surely, it was his twisted poison in the King's ear...


The traveling party arrived at the frontlines, held currently by a massive border wall and fence that apparently had taken some hits. Even as Gabriel, Jerome and Tamerin arrived, there were visible holes being patched up by the Duke's men in the distance. The camp they were due to report to was a spartan one, constructed in the field so that if anything happened, those present could respond most quickly. The camp was constructed of several more large walls, metal fences dragged along the journey planted between oaken rods. In between military issue tents for those more favored by Duke Larg there were bargain bin, commercially available tents for those who were outside his favor. Even the ground itself seemed to be divvied up - the more even areas were given to those who the Duke preferred, mostly those who flattered him the most...while those who failed to keep up with his whirling array of wants were left to pitch camp on pitiful, uneven earth.

And knowing Larg, they were expected to be grateful for even that.

Entering the main camp area, comprised of a cobbled together pathway in the midst of the camp to the Duke's quarters, Gabriel fought to keep a neutral look on his face as he heard Larg complaining;

"I TOLD you miserable buffoons! I want the finest bed in the damned province! I want Garancia Red from Bourbon! I want my gilded suit of armor!" Gabriel started to tune him out except for a few pretty telling words; "I WANT! I WANT! I WANT! I WANT!" Even with all his finery on, with the best his men could manage, the Duke still just wanted more and more.

Gabriel looked at the other two and shook his head.

As the three entered, standing before the flustered and obese form of the Duke, the large man scoffed, "And they call YOU lightning be so distracted by the plight of filthy peasants...bah!"

"It is part of my oath as a knight to serve the common man." Gabriel stated in an even tone.

"BOLLOCKS TO THE CODE!" Larg announced, and picked up a cup full of the drink he'd been complaining about and threw it on Gabriel's feet. The finery dressed "gentleman" was in no way shape or form prepared for any sort of battle. But then, that was probably what he supposed subordinates were for. "You are assigned to follow MY orders! Understand? And I order you to survey our fine border wall and ensure it is closed off from all...interlopers."

"You mean the Apollyon Hord---"

"Superstitious nonsense and unproven mere THEORIES." Larg said and looked at Jerome suddenly, even more red in the face, "And don't think I don't remember your disrespect for me, Calazzo, you Italian swine. That poem three years ago was and is unbecoming of a knight of your stature."

"But more than fitting." Jerome replied, and this incited Larg to another tirade of profanities.

Gabriel looked over at him with a slight smile, note to self, I must find out what that poem said.

The Lightning Knight asked, keeping that amused smile, "And...anything else you'd have of us?"

"Yes," Larg grumbled, running his hand through his beard, "Make sure that Miralia Casteler learns her place. The very idea that Jaime gave a whore a Knightship and a sword---when he could've given ME a sword..."

Gabriel at once recognized that name, his grip on his sword tightening for a moment at how Larg described her, eyes widening somewhat. But for now he kept quiet and nodded, "With your leave." And at a gruff motion from the Duke, Gabriel headed out. He remembered her well indeed. She was, before even the Queen, his first love. She started out as a courtly sort of attraction for him before becoming...shall we say, more.

Tamerin walked after him and looked at Jerome, puzzled, "What's...did Gabriel know this Miralia woman?"

"Oh yes," Jerome knelt down and whispered in the boy's ear, "She was his first."

" Or" Tamerin blushed, not feeling entirely sure where this was going. Was this woman Gabriel's...?

"Yes." Jerome gave the mathematician's answer and looked up, the sun was almost going down now. Which in these parts could herald some dangerous times even behind the walls...


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