Arganan, former Count of Lazulis and uncle to his niece Calista, the new ruler of Lazulis, sighed.
Here he was, at the entrance to the humble town of Selphia. From the outside, it already looked nothing like Lazulis City. The gates were there, like how there was back in Lazulis at the entrance, but they were already wide open, ready for any visitor to come in. There were guards at the gates, but they didn’t really pay much attention to him going through.
It was fine. He didn’t mind the anonymity. No one knew who he was here, anyway, save for a select few that his niece informed about his arrival beforehand. Namely, a doctor named Jones and his wife, Nancy, who ran a clinic in this place. After the whole war against the Gurak, after Arganan nearly died from trying to harness the Outsider’s power, Calista used the time as an excuse to send him away from Lazulis for “medical treatment” due to his “complicated conditions.”
Calista, after formally taking over as ruling Lazulis, sent him to Selphia to “seek further treatment and recover peacefully.” What he knew it really meant was “get rid of him so she could rule without him hanging over her shoulder any longer like he did to her for the past ten years of her life.” He didn’t blame her for kicking him out of Lazulis as soon as she could, however. He hurt her too much for any forgiveness.
“Are you alright, sir?” He looked to his right to see a woman approach him. Her long ponytail stuck out from the helmet she wore, and he realized that she must be a knight, given that and all the armor she wore. “Do you need any help?”
“I’m on my way to the Tiny Bandage Clinic.” The former Count of Lazulis managed. “The Countess of Lazulis said I was supposed to stay there for…treatment.”
“I can lead you there, if you’d like.” The lady offered. Arganan guessed she couldn’t be any older than her twenties, given her young appearance. She looked about the same age as his niece Calista, or perhaps a few years older.
“I appreciate it. Thank you.” He hated how hoarse he sounded, but at least she seemed nice. He’d heard that there were knights protecting the town, and he had seen one or two busy on patrol earlier, or else he would’ve asked them for directions. As she led him at a steady pace, he followed.
It was not often he was ever outside Lazulis Island. It was years since he left.
But now he was here, in Selphia, even if he didn’t want to be here.
“What’s your name?”
The young knight looked towards him, blinking. “My apologies, for not introducing myself earlier. I’m Forte. I’m a Dragon Knight here in Selphia.”
“Dragon Knight?’ He questioned. The way she spoke reminded him of Sir Therius—a bit formal and polite as well. “I haven’t heard of such a position before.” He’d certainly heard of knights, but…dragon knights? That was new.
“It’s my duty to guard Lady Ventuswill, as a Dragon Knight. However,” Forte paused, before continuing, “it’s a duty that’s more on paper due to her vast power as is. Due to that, I mainly patrol the town and take care of its citizens.”
A duty on paper? And if this Forte was a Dragon Knight… “So, that means Ventuswill is an actual dragon?”
What the hell had his niece got him into?
A town where a dragon resided? No wonder the castle seemed rather large compared to the rest of the town. He had a feeling a good portion of it belonged to the dragon Ventuswill herself, for her to live in.
It made a lot of sense that Calista brought him here, now that he thought about it. Dispose of him in a place where a dragon ruled and he had no idea who anyone and everyone was. Selphia was a small kingdom, and rather far from Lazulis, in addition to not being part of the Empire that Lazulis was part of (Selphia was part of a different, larger kingdom of sorts) so there was little point in reaching out to them for trade and/or military alliances at the time.
However, he did know that his niece had wanted to reach out to more places such as Selphia. Perhaps sending her own uncle here was a way of checking things out and seeing what it was like there, without going there herself (then again, she hadn’t given him any instructions as of what to do the moment he got here, so he doubted that could fully be the case). Not that Calista could go and leave Lazulis too soon, after all. She had to establish her reign as Countess and fix up Lazulis City from the war with the Gurak, as well as solidify the new peace with the Gurak Continent. Despite her wishes for freedom and wanting to see the world, Arganan had a feeling she wouldn’t be doing that too soon, despite her rise in power and his fall from it.
“We’re here.” Forte’s words got him out of his mind, and he realized he stood in front of a small building. The sign read “Tiny Bandage Clinic,” and he stared for a moment.
“This is the place?”
“Yes. It is.” Forte seemed unfazed by the confusion in his tone.
He didn’t mention aloud that he imagined the building to be larger than this. Perhaps they didn’t get patients that stayed over too long. Thanking Forte for her assistance, he moved to go inside, opening the door. Forte informed him to let her know if he needed any help, and he figured that he might end up asking her for more directions later. After all, if she was regularly patrolling as part of her duty, it was likely she’d be best to ask for detours to go places in town.
The Tiny Bandage Clinic’s interior had a cozy sort of atmosphere, despite shelves of medicine lined at the back and a few hospital beds lined up there, too. Perhaps it was because of the cabin-like aesthetic, given the wood-paneled flooring and the actually-cozy-looking hospital beds (with screens to separate people from view as needed). He noticed stairs to his right, likely heading upstairs where the people who ran this clinic slept. Two people that were already in the clinic both turned to face him; a man with gray-ish hair and a blonde woman. Both were dressed in medical uniforms, so he figured they must be the people running the place.
“Are you Arganan?” The doctor approached him, and Arganan noticed the spectacles over his face as the man smiled at him, offering his hand to shake. “I’m Jones, and this is Nancy. Your niece, Countess Calista Arganan, told us you’d be coming.”
“I’d like to hope she did.” A faint chuckle escaped the former Count as he politely shook hands with them. “Would be strange if I just dropped in out of nowhere.”
Both Nancy and Jones exchanged odd looks at that remark, before Nancy offered him a smile.
“We received a report about your condition, but we’d like to just do a quick check-up on you to see if there are any changes between then and your arrival here, after you put your things down. Is that alright?”
“Yes. It’s fine.”
Having barely survived the Outsider’s attempt to drain him of his life, Arganan regained enough energy between bedrest and heading to Selphia to at least stand and walk around for a bit, but he knew, just from how he felt standing up and sitting down, that he was much weaker than before. It made him feel powerless. Losing his position as Count didn’t help either.
They did a quick examination. Arganan sat on the side of one of the hospital beds as Jones and Nancy both examined several papers, writing down little notes here and there. Arganan had noticed some people walk in and out; Forte from before, and a shorter, pink-haired guy to buy medicine from the husband-wife duo. This was probably the main medical centre for the entire town, regardless of status. Back in Lazulis, those who could afford it had private doctors and/or nurses of their own. That was certainly a change he’d have to get used to.
“We have your results ready.” Nancy spoke up, and Arganan looked towards Nancy and Jones, realizing that their attention was on him again.
“Not much has changed since what we saw on the report from your niece.” Jones noted. A soft smile rested on his face. “Nothing has worsened, either, given what we found today and what you’ve told us. As for recovery from how you were weakened during the war, you should get some regular exercise; take a walk around this village daily, for instance. And if you need to rest, which you might have to do frequently for the first while, rest. The last thing you want to do right now is overwork your body, or else it’ll take longer to recover. You might need to take some painkillers, but that really depends on your tolerance.”
“Is there anything else about how the Outsider itself might’ve affected me? Other than physically weakening me, that is?” Arganan took a deep breath, looking him in the eye.
Jones frowned. “You’re the first patient I’ve had dealing with health repercussions from this Outsider. and I’ve never heard of it until I received your earlier report from Lady Calista, so I’m getting more notes from Miss Mirania of Lazulis Island, to look for any other potential complications. Until the notes arrive, however, we can’t do much until then. If you experience any troubling symptoms, in the meanwhile, like suddenly feeling faint, or a palpitating heartbeat for example, please inform me or Nancy right away.”
“And no need to worry about paying us.” Nancy offered Arganan a soft grin. “Your niece has that arranged for the entirety of your stay here.”
Part of him was a bit relieved at that, knowing that he didn’t have much Gold on him. Sure, he got sent here with at least enough Gold’s worth to probably buy a couple of his own meals, but he was more than sure he’d have to work somewhere at some point if he wanted to get anything other than necessities here. He also wasn’t sure for how long Calista intended to keep him here, or how long it would take for his health to improve regardless (if it ever did), so figuring that out was essential. But at least he could rely on living with Jones and Nancy for now. That was something.
Arganan thought about asking, but then decided that he was better off doing so in the morning, after he got some sleep. It was a long journey to Selphia by airship, after all, and he could take some time getting used to being on the ground. Speaking of being on the ground…
He recalled Nancy and Jones’ odd expressions when he tried to make fun of ‘dropping in out of nowhere.’ “I also have another question.”
“You both had…some rather odd expressions when I made my joke earlier. Is there something else going on in Selphia that I should be aware of?”
Both Jones and Nancy looked at each other, before Nancy chuckled softly.
“Just yesterday, a young woman named Frey dropped out of the sky. As far as all of us know, she’s the new Princess of Selphia.”
Argaann stared at her. “She literally fell out of the sky? How?”
“Apparently, she was attacked on her airship on the way here. Luckily for her, Lady Ventuswill broke her fall, so she wasn’t gravely injured.” Jones frowned, before moving to check his papers. “I’m afraid I can’t tell you much about her condition other than that. Doctor-patient confidentiality, after all.”
Frey, the new Princess of Selphia? And she just came here the other day?
The former Count of Lazulis knew something had to be up. And he certainly wanted to find out—after he got some sleep, of course.