Aragoth: A Story of Gods and Men

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic


Two days prior to the Rosecliffe incident, Ashley and Cody experience a political bath with the Imperial Hierarchy that reveals more about the Empire's plans and how their society differs from
ours.

Chapter 14 (v.1) - Aragoth: A Story of Gods and Men Chapter 14

Submitted: March 05, 2019

Reads: 74

A A A | A A A

Submitted: March 05, 2019

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A A A

Aragoth: A Story of Gods and Men

This is my own fictional story made solely by me and my fantasies all likeness to real life people have given unto me their permission to be used and this story will take inspiration from but never exactly parody any real life  book, movies, etc. all of it is my own makings

IMPERIAL STORY ARC-CODY/ASHLEY

THIS IS A PLAY FORMATTED STORY WHICH WILL INCLUDE STAGE DIRECTIONS AND THOUGHTS OF CHARACTERS

STAGE DIRECTION WILL BE INSIDE OF STARS: *…..* THOUGHTS WILL BE IN BOLD. EXPRESSIONS WILL BE IN (PARENTHESIS) DETAILED DESCRIPTIONS OF PLACES, PEOPLE, OR THINGS WILL BE IN ITALICS. WORDS THAT ARE INSIDE OF –THESE- WILL TELL YOU OF A MAJOR SCENE CHANGE. SOME OTHER FORMS MAY COME INTO EFFECT AT A LATER DATE. ENJOY!

Chapter 14: Preparations

-Two days prior-

*Ashley is walking up to an Imperial guard inside Castle Draklor*

Ashley: “Hey. Do you know where Cody is?”

Imperial Guard: “Where is Mina and Fella? They should be able to give you that information, Hero.”

Ashley: “Mina and Fella, I think, are with him.”

Imperial Guard: “Then head out the castle towards the main plaza, towards the arched walkway, and take a right and follow the road it will lead you to the Battlemages Guild. I had heard that Cody was headed there to train for some event of sorts.”

Ashley: “Thank you!”

Imperial Guard: “It was an honor to serve you, Hero.”

*Ashley makes her way to the Battlemages Guild through the City of Draklor*

The Battlemages guild is a smaller castle that resembles a large temple, made with black rocks with the Imperial Flag adorned on many sides of it. Grand torches flare around the and on the towers situated on the four end corners of the temple and atop the grand cathedral like structure which serves as the main room of sorts. The grand cathedral has a large tower with a giant bell in the middle of the top room and four medium sized torches gleam on the outer edges of the tower. The windows of the guild are made of a red pane glass that makes up images of Imperial Mages through the eras. As Ashley makes her way inside the first thing she sees are mages of varying skill practicing their many arcane arts in the large main chambers of the guild on training dummies and each other.

*Ashley asks a Mage where she might find Cody and she is directed to walk over to the far end of the room and to an antechamber where Grand Master Villach and Cody reside*

Villach is wearing his usual Grand Mage attire which mimics Alltrian style clothing but instead of cloth it uses heavy chainmail with some cloth adorned on top of it and he has a large cone shaped helmet on over his metal face mask. He has large triangle shoulder pads on his shoulders and armored padding on his legs up to his knees and crows feather lassets coming from his waist and a cape made from the same feathers that only goes down to about his lower back instead of closer to the ground

Villach: “Ah, Hero what do you desire?”

*Cody is meditating atop a large burgundy pillow*

Ashley: “I was sent to look for Cody; The Emperor wants him to meet with us at the Royal Bathhouse.”

*Mina and Fella walk in from a side room*

Mina: “We are leaving already?”

Fella: “It would seem so, sister.”

Villach: “I shall awaken Cody then.”

Ashley: “Is he asleep?”

Villach: “Somewhat. He is merely not with us at this time.”

*Villach goes over and summons energy from his hands that go onto Cody’s head and wake him up violently*

Cody: “Ahhh! What!? Who!? Where!?”

*Cody looks around*

Cody: “Oh that is right.”

Villach: “Sorry to disturb your meditation my lord, but the Emperor requests you.”

Cody: “Think nothing of it Grandmaster. I was honored to partake in the seeking of knowledge with you, but for now I must away.”

Cody’s whole demeanor is very different than back on Earth, his voice is much more calm and collected while still being high strung and excitable, his vocabulary matches more of a refined noble now as he continues to spend time with said nobles. His body still is widely different than back home taking very different features than usual but he seems happier with himself now as a result. He is adorned in his Armor of the Gods or as some have come to call it the Golden Lion armor but he quickly changes into a white silken dress before departing.  Ashley is still fearful of her new environment, adjusting to the new way of life, unlike Cody, the transition has been hard on her as her life was decent and even pleasant which makes Aragoth a strange world she truly does not want to be in. She is wearing some of her clothes from home, jeans and a t-shirt, which help her feel more at home in Aragoth and the Empire ,which is widely different than America. Mina and Fella are still in their usual attire, their combat maid outfits, but their weapons are concealed obviously for the ease of the conscious of the public, not for fear of them but fear of weapons represent in the Empire, war.

Cody: “How do I look, My ladies?”

Ashley: “For a guy you pull off dresses and make up very well. You look great.”

Mina: “Ashley, is that an insult? For a guy.”

*She scoffs and turns to Cody*

Mina: “You look fantastic, my lord.”

Fella: “You are a symbol of Imperial radiance, my master.”

Cody: “Then I am ready to leave. (Cody faces a dark corner of the room) Guards!”

*Four guards cloaked in black appear *

Ashley: “Who are they?”

Cody: “The Dreadlord’s personal guard, he assigned them to escort the retainers and myself.”

The guards are covered in dark black armor and currently covered in thick black cloaks and you cannot see any of their features other than those dark cloaks and concealed faces

*Ashley, Cody, and the rest leave going across the city heading towards the Royal Bathhouse*

Ashley: (To Mina) “Why does the Emperor want to meet us at the bathhouse?”

Mina: “The Emperor has been stressed ever since the war began and everyone deserves to relax every now and then, but there is still work to attend to.”

*Cody, walking with a stoic stride, walks up closer to Ashley and Mina*

Cody: (Trying to sound encouraging) “Ashley! One thing I may wish to mention to you right quick. The people of the Empire are never ashamed, and do not fear their bodies. They will all be bathing together naked.”

*Ashley’s eyes open wide*

Cody: “I know, I know. Things here are variably different than from whence we came. There is no ill intent by it, they have no foul motives, but I do advise that you join us. It would be very rude to deny the requests of the Empire and its Emperor, I hope the uncomfortableness will subside in time, but we are there to talk business and war, the men and women of the Empire will take no japes at your body as long as you treat them the same respect.”

Ashley: “I just don’t like the idea of being naked in front of guys.”

Cody: “I do believe the Emperor will more than accept that contention as I plan to towel myself. If you would be uncomfortable in the nude, so be it. Just do not act a prude in front of the Nobles and Emperor because they are more than comfortable in their own skins.”

Fella: *Quickly walks up to join them* “Ashley, if it makes you feel any better off. Mina and I will be there the whole time.”

Ashley: (uncertain) “It makes me feel a little better, but still even if I am in a towel, they are still…..”

Cody: “I promise you. Nothing ill will become of you or anyone there.”

*The group makes it to the bathhouse and the black cloaked guards quickly disappear as the group walks inside*

The insides of the bathhouse are filled with men, women chatting amongst themselves and children playing with bath toys and making up games with each other. The room is made with white marble that has gold engravings, a wide color difference than most Imperial architecture. Columns of marble are lined to the far right and left side of the building holding the large building up. The ceiling has large circular bulbs that have windows inside of them that are open to let the steam out. The ground is made up of a red tile all around the many pools which people of differing stature bath or converse. There is a room at the very end with a 2 small doors that are currently being guarded by the Emperor’s Dragon guard. The group makes their way over there, Ashley avoiding as much eye contact with as many people as possible while the rest walk as if nothing is afoot. When they approach, the guards grab their weapons tight and stand erect and salute before letting them in. Inside the Emperor can be seen at the middle end of the large circular pool, from his left and right nobles are lined next to each other, men and women alike, chatting seriously about something. The pool is about 5 feet deep and the nobles sit inside, large for someone of Ashley’s and Cody’s height, but seemingly as deep as the 3-foot sections to the people of the Empire.

*A young-looking boy and girl walk up in servants’ garbs and bows, and Cody quickly disrobes and quickly grabs a towel before wrapping himself from his lower chest to just above his upper thighs*

Cody has always been self-conscious of his appearance from an early age and despite him liking his new appearance, he still seems to find the need to hide something from the people around him

*Cody and the servant boy walk over to the pool*

Servant Boy: “Everyone! Cody: The Chosen Hero of Drakla has arrived!”

*The nobles stand and salute as Cody, taking step by step, enters the pool and heads for the Emperor’s left side next to Lelorra*

Cody: “It is good to see you all once more, my friends. (His head turns to familiar face) Forneyus, your wounds are healing well.”

Forneyus: (Situated third to the Emperor’s right) “Kind of you to notice, your greatness.”

*The Servant girl bows to Ashley signaling her to disrobe and she does so hesitantly and the servant wraps her in a towel at Ashley’s command and then leads Ashley to the water*

Servant Girl: “Ashley: Hero of Drakla has arrived!”

*Cody is the first to rise and salute and the other nobles follow suit including the Emperor*

Cody and the others: “HAIL HERO!”

*Mina and Fella go towards Cody’s back and stand behind him while the Emperor signals Ashley to sit by his right side and she does so nervously*

Cody: (First to speak) “Your majesty, why did you call for us at such a time?”

Emperor Artorious: “I thought the bathhouse would be better suited for these stressful council meetings rather than the drab council room, at least for this plan.”

Cody: “Plan?”

*A noble raise his hand then speaks*

Noble 1: “When the Dreadlord gets here we can begin then your questions will be answered my lord.”

Cody: “As you wish.”

*Greggory appears from a corner and taps Ashley on the shoulder getting her attention*

Greggory: “What is wrong milady? You seem nervous.”

Ashley: (Whispering) “I never had to do anything like this back home, being like…This in front of so many people.”

Greggory: “Fear not, you are safe here. Cody explained many situations including this one to me when we had a rather long discussion of your society. I am ashamed of what your society paved for their people’s future.”

*The room goes utterly silent as The Dreadlord enters the room still clad in all his armor and cloaks*

Emperor Artorious: “Now we can begin. Dreadlord would you kindly disrobe?”

*a moment of silence*

*The Dreadlord and Artorious begin laughing for a time before settling down*

The Dreadlord: “You know that not an option my lord.”

Noble 1: “Ahem, we have been gathered here at the Emperor’s behest to run over a military operation that we will undertake upon the forces of Alltra. Dreadlord would you please begin?”

*The Dreadlord starts to walk on the pool water, not sinking into it, but rather walking atop it despite the heavy gear he wears, and speaks*

The Dreadlord: “Alltra has grown bolder and bolder in the passing years, and people have suffered because of this. I will undertake a military operation that wills, one: Infiltrate the heart of Alltra and claim vital information for our cause. Two: Set Imperial camps on keys positions in Alltra, and Three: Eliminate high ranking commanders of the Alltrian military.”

Noblewoman 1: “The Dreadlord has informed us of precious military documents going to Castle Alltor in their capital city of the same name. We will need a spy to take this document.”

Noblewoman 2: “We will need groups of soldiers to be situated at points that will spread the Alltrian military thin across their borders to allow for ease of access for our troops and spies in the area.”

The Dreadlord: “Due to the reliance of the Alltrian military to its commanders, we will need to wipe them out in order to instill military disarray and disloyalty amongst their morally broken forces.”

Cody: “What good could come from wiping it pitiful little commanders compared to their King and Queen?”

Emperor Artorious: “As The Dreadlord once explained to me, the troops have loyalty to the country and their ruling body, yes, but the troops fight alongside their commanders not their princes or kings, and especially not their self-indulgent queen, so they have a bond with their commanders, a bond much stronger than their rulers, a bond that can broken and exploited to our advantage.”

*Cody dons a crooked smile at the response*

Cody: “I see all too clearly. Let us show them our power!”

Ashley: (Quickly) “Wait. If we did something like this, wouldn’t it make things between Alltra and the Empire worse?”

The Dreadlord: “Ashley, it seems I will have to explain myself later but all in good time. First, we need to talk about stage one of our plan, a spy operation.

*The Dreadlord walks up to Cody*

The Dreadlord: “Cody you have become quite accustomed to the transformative magic, yes?”

Cody: “Quite so, how else could you get a body as perfect as mine, unfortunately, without its help… (Cody questionably smiles for a moment), why do you ask?”

The Dreadlord: “I will need you to masquerade as a high ranking noble of Alltra; I want you to disguise yourself as one of Lord Germaine of White Garden’s daughters.”

Cody: “Daughter!? I beg your pardon?!”

The Dreadlord: “Please calm yourself….”

Cody: (Angrily) “I will not do it! To willingly change my gender, my body in such a manner is an affront to the gods. Blasphemy, treason, I refuse!”

*The Dreadlord walks quickly towards Cody*

The Dreadlord: (Aggressively) “I know doing such a thing is defiling the will of the gods! I am their wrath! Do not act as if I did not know what you have already done to yourself prior to this event either. (Calmly) “I have already sanctioned the idea with the Emperor, as long as you take no pleasure in doing so but merely do it out of respect for thy nation and for its ruler’s victory in this war then you have done no wrong.”

Cody: (Weakly) “Your majesty?”

Emperor Artorious: “I dislike the idea as much as you do but being the daughter of a noble is the most effective way of achieving the military documents we seek.”

Cody: “Why not have a woman herself do this then? Furthermore, how could being a woman specifically be of any help?”

Noblewoman 1: “There are few in the Empire with magical abilities and even fewer who are female.”

Noblewoman 2: “Even if we did have someone, they would likely not be versed in transformative magic as it is the least used magic to date. We would run our opportunity dry before we could make good on this plan.”

Ashley: (Nervously) “Why…a girl. Why White garden”

*All the nobles look over at Ashley*

Emperor Artorious: “Excellent question Ashley. Dreadlord?”

The Dreadlord: “Women are a source of … splendor, in Alltra. Meaning that should Cody do this he will be able to infiltrate high priority military complexes easily, with the help of a potential male suitor.”

*Cody grows physically uncomfortable*

Ashley: “So the men of Alltra are all…”

The Dreadlord: “Let me stop you lest you continue with that statement. The men of Alltra live in a constant state of peace, and peace time is the best time for love to bloom. Cody, being a woman at the time, will be able to grab the attention of a soldier who hopefully will want to show off to the others how great their life is serving for the peace of Alltra, to prove how he is the best option for ‘her’, and get Cody to right where he needs to be.”

Ashley: “So…”

The Dreadlord: “Women may be seen as trophies in Alltra, but they are held on a bar unlike any other, they truly have freedom as they can do whatever they will.”

Cody: (Angrily) “Why can we not just get a woman to do it?!”

*The Dreadlord walks over to Cody and grabs him by the neck*

The Dreadlord: “Because, dear boy, few women of the Empire have magical powers and even fewer have the skill to so! How many times must we repeat ourselves?”

Emperor Artorious: “Dreadlord! Release him, now!”

*The Dreadlord lets Cody go*

The Dreadlord: “Yes, your majesty.”

*Cody is breathing roughly trying to stop himself from coughing*

The Dreadlord: “Ashley, now to answer your next question. White Garden is a place where many nobles go to find mates in the luxury of a resort; Lord Germaine is the most notable resident for having the most offspring, so having Cody pose as his child would surprise no one.”

*Ashley looks back at Cody and then back to the Dreadlord*

Ashley: “I understand.”

The Dreadlord: “The second phase will be done by myself personally, and phase three will commence when Cody returns…Successfully.”

Emperor Artorious: “I will meet with you all personally soon. Until then await further orders. (To the Dreadlord) Dreadlord, how goes your plan to march to the Tahitian region?”

The Dreadlord: “It goes well. I will cause reinforcements to scramble to the northern mountain ranges of Tahitian leaving openings for my forces to set up their camps outside the town boundaries of Rosecliffe, Verhame, and Gohem .”

Emperor Artorious: “Excellent. Then we are finished here. Do we all know where we are positioned?”

The Nobles: “Aye, your excellency!”

Emperor Artorious: “Then all of you except Cody, Ashley, and The Dreadlord are dismissed and are expected to await further orders from any of my officials.”

*The Nobles all stand, salute, dry, and redress themselves before departing*

Emperor Artorious: “Cody, I want you and Ashley along with Mina, Fella, and Greggory to head to Alltor as soon as possible.”

Cody: (Solemnly) “When do you expect me to… change?”

Emperor Artorious: “I need you all to head there by horse-back, so any time within the days you head there, preferably while you are camped.”

Cody: I hate camping “As you wish. I will do any and all for the Empire.”

Emperor Artorious: “Then you and your group may depart as well.”

*Cody bows his head and offers Ashley a hand in getting up as they all redress and depart leaving The Dreadlord and Emperor Artorious alone*

The Dreadlord: “He is a disgrace. He is made a worthy candidate as he is two steps from becoming a woman already; we already have a proper woman, Ashley, who would be more suited to take his place.”

Emperor Artorious: “Watch yourself, I had my doubts at first, I thought perhaps Cody would be the first Defiled to show up in Aragoth since the Era of the Demons, but his vehemence of the Heretics proved me otherwise. It is merely how his world is declining that he got stuck with this outmoded idea of beauty and grace.”

The Dreadlord: “It worries me no less, he has traded muscles for a fat rump. I fear if he follows this path, he may truly end up a heretic. Perhaps having a replacement for him would not be ill willed, however I would have little reason to do so, for now.”

Emperor Artorious: “Why do you think on such horrid things?”

The Dreadlord: “Because all things that drive men to madness, drive me to success.”

Emperor Artorious: “You would think Cody less worthy of success then?”

The Dreadlord: “I would, however I have never seen such a brutally effective and cruel warrior in all my days. Anger, sadness, hate, the verge of inferiority or failure, a longing to be pure and loyal to the Gods, these are the things that build a power unlike anything I have seen in anyone. It is why I am so hard on the poor boy, because it makes him insurmountably powerful, and forever useful.”

The scene is now Ashley and Cody walking with their retainers towards the outer stables

Cody: “So how does it feel to have Greggory serving as your retainer now?”

Ashley: “What happened in there!?”

Cody: “How do you mean?”

Ashley: “He mocked you, he berated you in front of everyone and no one batted an eye. Why do you let them do that? I thought you are some Hero that they listen to?”

Cody: “The Dreadlord and the Emperor are my only masters. I am above everyone else here, and I have to do what must be done for the glory of others rather than myself, that is why the Dreadlord put on that spectacle, so he could put my pride in my place and remind me that I am serving a greater good not just myself.”

Ashley: “I’m sorry.”

Cody: “You have no need to apologize.”

Ashley: (Under her breath) “You don’t deserve to be treated less than others though.”

Greggory: (Interjecting) “We will be to the stables shortly; we will get you both situated inside a carriage. Mina, Fella, and I will master the horses and we will pick up Allitran attire when we meet one of our suppliers on the border?”

Cody: “Certainly”

Greggory: “Ashley, my master, you are safe with me, us servants shall ride you to the border where we will make our first camp.”

Cody: “Always prepared.”

Mina: “We shall keep you both alive.”

Fella: “We swear it.”

Cody: “I know of your capabilities, but do not fail me.”

Ashley: “Thank you for doing this for us, guys.”

Greggory, Mina, and Fella: “It is our pleasure.”

Cody: (slyly) “I had best bet you did not notice that not one eye were laid upon you licentiously, Ashley.”

Ashley: “I do admit that the uncomfortableness went away after a while.”

Cody: “Good. Good.”

*Cody dons an evil expression as the group enters the stables and saddle up to leave*

Cody and Ashley walk inside of a carriage of red gold and silver with Ashley as Greggory and Mina direct the horses carrying it while Fella goes inside the carriage with Ashley and Cody to guard them for a time before returning outside on the horses

*Cody enters a prayer like stance*

Cody: (whispering) “Sieg Heil. May we come closer to salvation with your victorious grace evermore, my masters.”

Ashley: “What was that?”

Cody: “Oh, nothing. I am merely praying to the Gods who watch over us.”

Ashley: (laughing) “Why?”

Cody: “Because I am going to need all my strength to pass this trial.”

END OF CHAPTER 14

Aragoth: A Story of Gods and Men

 

This is my own fictional story made solely by me and my fantasies all likeness to real life people have given unto me their permission to be used and this story will take inspiration from but never exactly parody any real life  book, movies, etc. all of it is my own makings

 

IMPERIAL STORY ARC-CODY/ASHLEY

 

THIS IS A PLAY FORMATTED STORY WHICH WILL INCLUDE STAGE DIRECTIONS AND THOUGHTS OF CHARACTERS

 

STAGE DIRECTION WILL BE INSIDE OF STARS: *…..* THOUGHTS WILL BE IN BOLD. EXPRESSIONS WILL BE IN (PARENTHESIS) DETAILED DESCRIPTIONS OF PLACES, PEOPLE, OR THINGS WILL BE IN ITALICS. WORDS THAT ARE INSIDE OF –THESE- WILL TELL YOU OF A MAJOR SCENE CHANGE. SOME OTHER FORMS MAY COME INTO EFFECT AT A LATER DATE. ENJOY!

 

Chapter 14: Preparations

 

-Two days prior-

 

*Ashley is walking up to an Imperial guard inside Castle Draklor*

 

Ashley: “Hey. Do you know where Cody is?”

 

Imperial Guard: “Where is Mina and Fella? They should be able to give you that information, Hero.”

 

Ashley: “Mina and Fella, I think, are with him.”

 

Imperial Guard: “Then head out the castle towards the main plaza, towards the arched walkway, and take a right and follow the road it will lead you to the Battlemages Guild. I had heard that Cody was headed there to train for some event of sorts.”

 

Ashley: “Thank you!”

 

Imperial Guard: “It was an honor to serve you, Hero.”

 

*Ashley makes her way to the Battlemages Guild through the City of Draklor*

 

The Battlemages guild is a smaller castle that resembles a large temple, made with black rocks with the Imperial Flag adorned on many sides of it. Grand torches flare around the and on the towers situated on the four end corners of the temple and atop the grand cathedral like structure which serves as the main room of sorts. The grand cathedral has a large tower with a giant bell in the middle of the top room and four medium sized torches gleam on the outer edges of the tower. The windows of the guild are made of a red pane glass that makes up images of Imperial Mages through the eras. As Ashley makes her way inside the first thing she sees are mages of varying skill practicing their many arcane arts in the large main chambers of the guild on training dummies and each other.

 

*Ashley asks a Mage where she might find Cody and she is directed to walk over to the far end of the room and to an antechamber where Grand Master Villach and Cody reside*

 

Villach is wearing his usual Grand Mage attire which mimics Alltrian style clothing but instead of cloth it uses heavy chainmail with some cloth adorned on top of it and he has a large cone shaped helmet on over his metal face mask. He has large triangle shoulder pads on his shoulders and armored padding on his legs up to his knees and crows feather lassets coming from his waist and a cape made from the same feathers that only goes down to about his lower back instead of closer to the ground

 

Villach: “Ah, Hero what do you desire?”

 

*Cody is meditating atop a large burgundy pillow*

 

Ashley: “I was sent to look for Cody; The Emperor wants him to meet with us at the Royal Bathhouse.”

 

*Mina and Fella walk in from a side room*

 

Mina: “We are leaving already?”

 

Fella: “It would seem so, sister.”

 

Villach: “I shall awaken Cody then.”

 

Ashley: “Is he asleep?”

 

Villach: “Somewhat. He is merely not with us at this time.”

 

*Villach goes over and summons energy from his hands that go onto Cody’s head and wake him up violently*

 

Cody: “Ahhh! What!? Who!? Where!?”

 

*Cody looks around*

 

Cody: “Oh that is right.”

 

Villach: “Sorry to disturb your meditation my lord, but the Emperor requests you.”

 

Cody: “Think nothing of it Grandmaster. I was honored to partake in the seeking of knowledge with you, but for now I must away.”

 

Cody’s whole demeanor is very different than back on Earth, his voice is much more calm and collected while still being high strung and excitable, his vocabulary matches more of a refined noble now as he continues to spend time with said nobles. His body still is widely different than back home taking very different features than usual but he seems happier with himself now as a result. He is adorned in his Armor of the Gods or as some have come to call it the Golden Lion armor but he quickly changes into a white silken dress before departing.  Ashley is still fearful of her new environment, adjusting to the new way of life, unlike Cody, the transition has been hard on her as her life was decent and even pleasant which makes Aragoth a strange world she truly does not want to be in. She is wearing some of her clothes from home, jeans and a t-shirt, which help her feel more at home in Aragoth and the Empire ,which is widely different than America. Mina and Fella are still in their usual attire, their combat maid outfits, but their weapons are concealed obviously for the ease of the conscious of the public, not for fear of them but fear of weapons represent in the Empire, war.

 

Cody: “How do I look, My ladies?”

 

Ashley: “For a guy you pull off dresses and make up very well. You look great.”

 

Mina: “Ashley, is that an insult? For a guy.”

 

*She scoffs and turns to Cody*

 

Mina: “You look fantastic, my lord.”

 

Fella: “You are a symbol of Imperial radiance, my master.”

 

Cody: “Then I am ready to leave. (Cody faces a dark corner of the room) Guards!”

 

*Four guards cloaked in black appear *

 

Ashley: “Who are they?”

 

Cody: “The Dreadlord’s personal guard, he assigned them to escort the retainers and myself.”

 

The guards are covered in dark black armor and currently covered in thick black cloaks and you cannot see any of their features other than those dark cloaks and concealed faces

 

*Ashley, Cody, and the rest leave going across the city heading towards the Royal Bathhouse*

 

Ashley: (To Mina) “Why does the Emperor want to meet us at the bathhouse?”

 

Mina: “The Emperor has been stressed ever since the war began and everyone deserves to relax every now and then, but there is still work to attend to.”

 

*Cody, walking with a stoic stride, walks up closer to Ashley and Mina*

 

Cody: (Trying to sound encouraging) “Ashley! One thing I may wish to mention to you right quick. The people of the Empire are never ashamed, and do not fear their bodies. They will all be bathing together naked.”

 

*Ashley’s eyes open wide*

 

Cody: “I know, I know. Things here are variably different than from whence we came. There is no ill intent by it, they have no foul motives, but I do advise that you join us. It would be very rude to deny the requests of the Empire and its Emperor, I hope the uncomfortableness will subside in time, but we are there to talk business and war, the men and women of the Empire will take no japes at your body as long as you treat them the same respect.”

 

Ashley: “I just don’t like the idea of being naked in front of guys.”

 

Cody: “I do believe the Emperor will more than accept that contention as I plan to towel myself. If you would be uncomfortable in the nude, so be it. Just do not act a prude in front of the Nobles and Emperor because they are more than comfortable in their own skins.”

 

Fella: *Quickly walks up to join them* “Ashley, if it makes you feel any better off. Mina and I will be there the whole time.”

 

Ashley: (uncertain) “It makes me feel a little better, but still even if I am in a towel, they are still…..”

 

Cody: “I promise you. Nothing ill will become of you or anyone there.”

 

*The group makes it to the bathhouse and the black cloaked guards quickly disappear as the group walks inside*

 

The insides of the bathhouse are filled with men, women chatting amongst themselves and children playing with bath toys and making up games with each other. The room is made with white marble that has gold engravings, a wide color difference than most Imperial architecture. Columns of marble are lined to the far right and left side of the building holding the large building up. The ceiling has large circular bulbs that have windows inside of them that are open to let the steam out. The ground is made up of a red tile all around the many pools which people of differing stature bath or converse. There is a room at the very end with a 2 small doors that are currently being guarded by the Emperor’s Dragon guard. The group makes their way over there, Ashley avoiding as much eye contact with as many people as possible while the rest walk as if nothing is afoot. When they approach, the guards grab their weapons tight and stand erect and salute before letting them in. Inside the Emperor can be seen at the middle end of the large circular pool, from his left and right nobles are lined next to each other, men and women alike, chatting seriously about something. The pool is about 5 feet deep and the nobles sit inside, large for someone of Ashley’s and Cody’s height, but seemingly as deep as the 3-foot sections to the people of the Empire.

 

*A young-looking boy and girl walk up in servants’ garbs and bows, and Cody quickly disrobes and quickly grabs a towel before wrapping himself from his lower chest to just above his upper thighs*

 

Cody has always been self-conscious of his appearance from an early age and despite him liking his new appearance, he still seems to find the need to hide something from the people around him

 

*Cody and the servant boy walk over to the pool*

 

Servant Boy: “Everyone! Cody: The Chosen Hero of Drakla has arrived!”

 

*The nobles stand and salute as Cody, taking step by step, enters the pool and heads for the Emperor’s left side next to Lelorra*

 

Cody: “It is good to see you all once more, my friends. (His head turns to familiar face) Forneyus, your wounds are healing well.”

 

Forneyus: (Situated third to the Emperor’s right) “Kind of you to notice, your greatness.”

 

*The Servant girl bows to Ashley signaling her to disrobe and she does so hesitantly and the servant wraps her in a towel at Ashley’s command and then leads Ashley to the water*

 

Servant Girl: “Ashley: Hero of Drakla has arrived!”

 

*Cody is the first to rise and salute and the other nobles follow suit including the Emperor*

 

Cody and the others: “HAIL HERO!”

 

*Mina and Fella go towards Cody’s back and stand behind him while the Emperor signals Ashley to sit by his right side and she does so nervously*

 

Cody: (First to speak) “Your majesty, why did you call for us at such a time?”

 

Emperor Artorious: “I thought the bathhouse would be better suited for these stressful council meetings rather than the drab council room, at least for this plan.”

 

Cody: “Plan?”

 

*A noble raise his hand then speaks*

 

Noble 1: “When the Dreadlord gets here we can begin then your questions will be answered my lord.”

 

Cody: “As you wish.”

 

*Greggory appears from a corner and taps Ashley on the shoulder getting her attention*

 

Greggory: “What is wrong milady? You seem nervous.”

 

Ashley: (Whispering) “I never had to do anything like this back home, being like…This in front of so many people.”

 

Greggory: “Fear not, you are safe here. Cody explained many situations including this one to me when we had a rather long discussion of your society. I am ashamed of what your society paved for their people’s future.”

 

*The room goes utterly silent as The Dreadlord enters the room still clad in all his armor and cloaks*

 

Emperor Artorious: “Now we can begin. Dreadlord would you kindly disrobe?”

 

*a moment of silence*

 

*The Dreadlord and Artorious begin laughing for a time before settling down*

 

The Dreadlord: “You know that not an option my lord.”

 

Noble 1: “Ahem, we have been gathered here at the Emperor’s behest to run over a military operation that we will undertake upon the forces of Alltra. Dreadlord would you please begin?”

 

*The Dreadlord starts to walk on the pool water, not sinking into it, but rather walking atop it despite the heavy gear he wears, and speaks*

 

The Dreadlord: “Alltra has grown bolder and bolder in the passing years, and people have suffered because of this. I will undertake a military operation that wills, one: Infiltrate the heart of Alltra and claim vital information for our cause. Two: Set Imperial camps on keys positions in Alltra, and Three: Eliminate high ranking commanders of the Alltrian military.”

 

Noblewoman 1: “The Dreadlord has informed us of precious military documents going to Castle Alltor in their capital city of the same name. We will need a spy to take this document.”

 

Noblewoman 2: “We will need groups of soldiers to be situated at points that will spread the Alltrian military thin across their borders to allow for ease of access for our troops and spies in the area.”

 

The Dreadlord: “Due to the reliance of the Alltrian military to its commanders, we will need to wipe them out in order to instill military disarray and disloyalty amongst their morally broken forces.”

 

Cody: “What good could come from wiping it pitiful little commanders compared to their King and Queen?”

 

Emperor Artorious: “As The Dreadlord once explained to me, the troops have loyalty to the country and their ruling body, yes, but the troops fight alongside their commanders not their princes or kings, and especially not their self-indulgent queen, so they have a bond with their commanders, a bond much stronger than their rulers, a bond that can broken and exploited to our advantage.”

 

*Cody dons a crooked smile at the response*

 

Cody: “I see all too clearly. Let us show them our power!”

 

Ashley: (Quickly) “Wait. If we did something like this, wouldn’t it make things between Alltra and the Empire worse?”

 

The Dreadlord: “Ashley, it seems I will have to explain myself later but all in good time. First, we need to talk about stage one of our plan, a spy operation.

 

*The Dreadlord walks up to Cody*

 

The Dreadlord: “Cody you have become quite accustomed to the transformative magic, yes?”

 

Cody: “Quite so, how else could you get a body as perfect as mine, unfortunately, without its help… (Cody questionably smiles for a moment), why do you ask?”

 

The Dreadlord: “I will need you to masquerade as a high ranking noble of Alltra; I want you to disguise yourself as one of Lord Germaine of White Garden’s daughters.”

 

Cody: “Daughter!? I beg your pardon?!”

 

The Dreadlord: “Please calm yourself….”

 

Cody: (Angrily) “I will not do it! To willingly change my gender, my body in such a manner is an affront to the gods. Blasphemy, treason, I refuse!”

 

*The Dreadlord walks quickly towards Cody*

 

The Dreadlord: (Aggressively) “I know doing such a thing is defiling the will of the gods! I am their wrath! Do not act as if I did not know what you have already done to yourself prior to this event either. (Calmly) “I have already sanctioned the idea with the Emperor, as long as you take no pleasure in doing so but merely do it out of respect for thy nation and for its ruler’s victory in this war then you have done no wrong.”

 

Cody: (Weakly) “Your majesty?”

 

Emperor Artorious: “I dislike the idea as much as you do but being the daughter of a noble is the most effective way of achieving the military documents we seek.”

 

Cody: “Why not have a woman herself do this then? Furthermore, how could being a woman specifically be of any help?”

 

Noblewoman 1: “There are few in the Empire with magical abilities and even fewer who are female.”

 

Noblewoman 2: “Even if we did have someone, they would likely not be versed in transformative magic as it is the least used magic to date. We would run our opportunity dry before we could make good on this plan.”

 

Ashley: (Nervously) “Why…a girl. Why White garden”

 

*All the nobles look over at Ashley*

 

Emperor Artorious: “Excellent question Ashley. Dreadlord?”

 

The Dreadlord: “Women are a source of … splendor, in Alltra. Meaning that should Cody do this he will be able to infiltrate high priority military complexes easily, with the help of a potential male suitor.”

 

*Cody grows physically uncomfortable*

 

Ashley: “So the men of Alltra are all…”

 

The Dreadlord: “Let me stop you lest you continue with that statement. The men of Alltra live in a constant state of peace, and peace time is the best time for love to bloom. Cody, being a woman at the time, will be able to grab the attention of a soldier who hopefully will want to show off to the others how great their life is serving for the peace of Alltra, to prove how he is the best option for ‘her’, and get Cody to right where he needs to be.”

 

Ashley: “So…”

 

The Dreadlord: “Women may be seen as trophies in Alltra, but they are held on a bar unlike any other, they truly have freedom as they can do whatever they will.”

 

Cody: (Angrily) “Why can we not just get a woman to do it?!”

 

*The Dreadlord walks over to Cody and grabs him by the neck*

 

The Dreadlord: “Because, dear boy, few women of the Empire have magical powers and even fewer have the skill to so! How many times must we repeat ourselves?”

 

Emperor Artorious: “Dreadlord! Release him, now!”

 

*The Dreadlord lets Cody go*

 

The Dreadlord: “Yes, your majesty.”

 

*Cody is breathing roughly trying to stop himself from coughing*

 

The Dreadlord: “Ashley, now to answer your next question. White Garden is a place where many nobles go to find mates in the luxury of a resort; Lord Germaine is the most notable resident for having the most offspring, so having Cody pose as his child would surprise no one.”

 

*Ashley looks back at Cody and then back to the Dreadlord*

 

Ashley: “I understand.”

 

The Dreadlord: “The second phase will be done by myself personally, and phase three will commence when Cody returns…Successfully.”

 

Emperor Artorious: “I will meet with you all personally soon. Until then await further orders. (To the Dreadlord) Dreadlord, how goes your plan to march to the Tahitian region?”

 

The Dreadlord: “It goes well. I will cause reinforcements to scramble to the northern mountain ranges of Tahitian leaving openings for my forces to set up their camps outside the town boundaries of Rosecliffe, Verhame, and Gohem .”

 

Emperor Artorious: “Excellent. Then we are finished here. Do we all know where we are positioned?”

 

The Nobles: “Aye, your excellency!”

 

Emperor Artorious: “Then all of you except Cody, Ashley, and The Dreadlord are dismissed and are expected to await further orders from any of my officials.”

 

*The Nobles all stand, salute, dry, and redress themselves before departing*

 

Emperor Artorious: “Cody, I want you and Ashley along with Mina, Fella, and Greggory to head to Alltor as soon as possible.”

 

Cody: (Solemnly) “When do you expect me to… change?”

 

Emperor Artorious: “I need you all to head there by horse-back, so any time within the days you head there, preferably while you are camped.”

 

Cody: I hate camping “As you wish. I will do any and all for the Empire.”

 

Emperor Artorious: “Then you and your group may depart as well.”

 

*Cody bows his head and offers Ashley a hand in getting up as they all redress and depart leaving The Dreadlord and Emperor Artorious alone*

 

The Dreadlord: “He is a disgrace. He is made a worthy candidate as he is two steps from becoming a woman already; we already have a proper woman, Ashley, who would be more suited to take his place.”

 

Emperor Artorious: “Watch yourself, I had my doubts at first, I thought perhaps Cody would be the first Defiled to show up in Aragoth since the Era of the Demons, but his vehemence of the Heretics proved me otherwise. It is merely how his world is declining that he got stuck with this outmoded idea of beauty and grace.”

 

The Dreadlord: “It worries me no less, he has traded muscles for a fat rump. I fear if he follows this path, he may truly end up a heretic. Perhaps having a replacement for him would not be ill willed, however I would have little reason to do so, for now.”

 

Emperor Artorious: “Why do you think on such horrid things?”

 

The Dreadlord: “Because all things that drive men to madness, drive me to success.”

 

Emperor Artorious: “You would think Cody less worthy of success then?”

 

The Dreadlord: “I would, however I have never seen such a brutally effective and cruel warrior in all my days. Anger, sadness, hate, the verge of inferiority or failure, a longing to be pure and loyal to the Gods, these are the things that build a power unlike anything I have seen in anyone. It is why I am so hard on the poor boy, because it makes him insurmountably powerful, and forever useful.”

 

The scene is now Ashley and Cody walking with their retainers towards the outer stables

 

Cody: “So how does it feel to have Greggory serving as your retainer now?”

 

Ashley: “What happened in there!?”

 

Cody: “How do you mean?”

 

Ashley: “He mocked you, he berated you in front of everyone and no one batted an eye. Why do you let them do that? I thought you are some Hero that they listen to?”

 

Cody: “The Dreadlord and the Emperor are my only masters. I am above everyone else here, and I have to do what must be done for the glory of others rather than myself, that is why the Dreadlord put on that spectacle, so he could put my pride in my place and remind me that I am serving a greater good not just myself.”

 

Ashley: “I’m sorry.”

 

Cody: “You have no need to apologize.”

 

Ashley: (Under her breath) “You don’t deserve to be treated less than others though.”

 

Greggory: (Interjecting) “We will be to the stables shortly; we will get you both situated inside a carriage. Mina, Fella, and I will master the horses and we will pick up Allitran attire when we meet one of our suppliers on the border?”

 

Cody: “Certainly”

 

Greggory: “Ashley, my master, you are safe with me, us servants shall ride you to the border where we will make our first camp.”

 

Cody: “Always prepared.”

 

Mina: “We shall keep you both alive.”

 

Fella: “We swear it.”

 

Cody: “I know of your capabilities, but do not fail me.”

 

Ashley: “Thank you for doing this for us, guys.”

 

Greggory, Mina, and Fella: “It is our pleasure.”

 

Cody: (slyly) “I had best bet you did not notice that not one eye were laid upon you licentiously, Ashley.”

 

Ashley: “I do admit that the uncomfortableness went away after a while.”

 

Cody: “Good. Good.”

 

*Cody dons an evil expression as the group enters the stables and saddle up to leave*

 

Cody and Ashley walk inside of a carriage of red gold and silver with Ashley as Greggory and Mina direct the horses carrying it while Fella goes inside the carriage with Ashley and Cody to guard them for a time before returning outside on the horses

 

*Cody enters a prayer like stance*

 

Cody: (whispering) “Sieg Heil. May we come closer to salvation with your victorious grace evermore, my masters.”

 

Ashley: “What was that?”

 

Cody: “Oh, nothing. I am merely praying to the Gods who watch over us.”

 

Ashley: (laughing) “Why?”

 

Cody: “Because I am going to need all my strength to pass this trial.”

 

END OF CHAPTER 14

 


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