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Amensol's Shadow: In The Shadow Of The Sun, Part Six (Finale)

    • 97 posts
    September 7, 2020 11:46 PM PDT

    Amensol’s Shadow: In the Shadow of the Sun

    (Part Six, Finale)

    The 14th Tale of the Unseen Pillar of the House of Amensol, by Benonai

     

     

             Dirty Sam peered up at the full moon from beneath the King’s mezzanine.  Darkness had fallen fast as clouds obscured the horizon, but the full moon was too bright not to take precautions.  He noticed curtains half closed in a window on the second floor, just outside the King’s chamber.  It provided plenty of cover until the time was right to carry out his mission.

             The alleys were clear of people, even at this early hour.  This part of town was not traveled much, being at the end of the street and only housing supplies, warehouses for the King’s building provisions.  He was intimately familiar with almost every square inch of Thronefast, having spent so much time here over his life, and a good portion of that covertly.  It seemed fitting to him that this mission be carried out here at the King’s own house, where the trouble began.

             Sam leaped and grabbed the edge of the mezzanine and hoisted himself to the ledge and over the railing.  The window was too far to jump and the wall was too smooth between windows, even with the elaborate trim and cornings all over the building.  The roof, however, was accessible as he scanned around.  The mezzanine was partially covered by a porch that extended out from entrance.  The tall pillars holding the corners reached up to the stone moulding just under the roof of it.  The hand holds there were small, but just enough.  Sam pulled himself up as high as he could and squeezed the pillar with his legs, giving him enough time to reach beyond and to the top of the roof.

             As he was making his way around the roof to the window, his mind flashed back to his previous missions at the King’s Hall.  There had been a few, all of them different, and for differing purposes, but all aimed at one goal, to stop the powerful men nestled high above the masses from gaining access to Dragon magic, whatever the cost.  His mind’s eye recalled the sights, the smells, the feelings of those important tasks, each burned into his mind, as all of his missions had been.  Some say it’s hard to kill, but easy to kill again.  Sam had never experienced that.  Although he was very good at his job, each death was still significant to him. He just felt the higher calling of his work, following the Old One and the unimaginable outcomes he was able to see through his time-skewed perspective.  That, and the fact the Old One was the only soul, other than dragons and one other who posed no threat for now, who even knew the details of the Dragon Accord and the power it contained.  The Old One had not even trusted Sam with that knowledge. And Sam didn’t want it.

             He reached the area of the roof just above the window and knelt down.  His fingers gripped the edge tightly as he rolled over the edge and hung precariously off of the edge, looking for the proper dismount. His feet were still a good cubit from the sill and another cubit inward due to the roof’s overhang.  There was a small lip around the top of the window that seemed is best bet.  He swung his legs backwards, rocking himself, and moving forward, he reached out with one hand and caught the lip and gently eased his feet to the window sill.  He slipped into the window behind the curtain and paused.

             The king’s voice carried as he spoke to one of the guard’s in his study.  Sam waited patiently out of sight. He had as long as it took.  Minutes rolled by as he listened to the King ramble on about his needs for the next day, making sure he would have everything he needed to keep his schedule.  The guard finally left.

             Sam listened to the King’s footsteps, walking to the table by the fireplace, picking up a cup, hesitating, and walking back toward where Sam knew his favorite chair was, facing the fire and turned away from the window.  This is it, he thought.  Am I ready?

             He felt a tug on the back of his collar.

     

     

             Kole heard the moaning from the assassin who laid beside him on the ground.  It had taken him by surprise so he was not able to brace at all from the fall, and he was clearly disoriented. Kole’s breath returned to his lungs after the fall and, in a panic, he reached down and found his knife by his side.  In one quick motion, he pulled it out and thrust as hard as he could to his side.  It sank deep into the right breast of the assassin.  He cried out in pain and it startled Kole and froze him in place, looking over at the long dagger protruding from a bleeding wound.  The instincts returned to the assassin and he reached over and yanked the knife from his wound. Kole was still immobilized by fear and uncertainty as he watched his knife enter the hand of the trained assassin next to him.  The blood bubbled up out of the wound, and the assassin began to cough.

             The assassin looked over with wild eyes at Kole, his face half grimaced and half enraged.  He swung Kole’s dagger back in his direction and, instinctively, Kole caught it in his hook, the metal sparking as the two objects made contact.

             “Who’s there,” came a voice from the window.  The king looked out on the skirmish on the ground below.  “Guards, quick!  To the rear entrance, ground floor!” he barked, as the sound of clanging metal and scurrying feet were heard outside his door.

             The assassin rolled over, applying more pressure to the dagger hanging precariously over Kole’s chest.  Kole pushed and strained as hard as he could as the assassin pushed against his weaker body.  His muscles gave way to the overpowering strength of his assailant, and Kole released his upward pressure as he shoved sideways allowing the dagger to slide through the fleshy part of his shoulder.

             Kole’s freed hook on his right arm, now free, swung around his wound and made contact with the assassin’s face.  A sickening crunch followed as the steel shattered the the nose bone.  Instantly, the assassin recoiled, grabbing his face, still coughing and wheezing as blood filled his lungs.  Kole cried out as he pulled the dagger from his wound and, in a moment of total focus, zeroed in on his target and thrust the dagger into the neck of his enemy, bringing the tip down into his chest and severing his juglar.  The assassin’s body loosened, and finally settled fully to the ground as the blood stopped flowing.

             In pain, Kole raised himself up from the ground as the King’s guards made their way to his location.

             “On the ground! On the ground,” one guard shouted at Kole, who immediately dropped to his knees and grabbed his shoulder.  The guards came over and grabbed the dagger out of the assassins neck and removed his twin daggers that were sheathed at his sides.  Kole noticed, as they were looking over the body, that there was a small vial, only half full, tucked into a strap on his belt as well.

             “Careful,” Kole said faintly. “Those daggers might be… poisoned.”

             “KOLE!?” a familiar voice rose behind him.  Kole heard the footsteps of the king racing to his location.

             “Kole, my boy,” Avendyr said, making his way to Kole’s side.  “Are you hurt? Do you need a cleric?”

             “My shoulder,” Kole winced, and he laid back onto the ground, with no more strength to sit up.

             “What happened here? What is going on?” Avendyr asked, kneeling beside the familiar, yet matured boy he had known so well.

             “I saw… this man,” Kole stopped himself.  His job was to eliminate the threat without alarming the king that he had been the target of an assassination.  He was completely lost as to what to say.

             “He… attacked me as I was walking down the alley,” the lies were beginning to line up in his head as he rested. “He yelled something about Red Raven and tried to kill me, but I fought him off for a second.”

             Avendyr looked over him with soft eyes.  The years had brought this young man up well.  He looked so much like his father, Honnai, Avendy thought.  It made the wound of losing him open again at just the thought of Honnai.

             “Everything else is a blur,” Kole continued.  “I cut him. He cut me.  I was able to disorient him just long enough to finish him off.  I swear, Avendyr, he attacked me. He attacked me.”

             Avendyr grabbed his hand. “I know, I know.  Just rest.  Brennuel, fetch Lorn in his quarters and tell him Kole is injured and we need a cleric.  As fast as you can, go.”

             Avendyr stood up beside Kole and looked down at the blood soaked body.  Why would this dwarf attack Kole, he thought.

     

     

     

             Dirty Sam rubbed the back of his neck, his mind playing tricks on him. His leather soled shoes silently floated along the floor to where King Avendyr was sitting in his chair. The king sipped habitually on his nightcap, staring into the fire and letting the stresses of the day leave his mind.  Sam reached down to his left side and pulled his dagger from its leather sheath, making no sound at all.  He brought it around low, out of eyesight until it made contact with the skin of the King’s neck.  He made a quiet shushing sound next to the ear of Avendyr.  A swallow rippled under his blade.

             “Oh King,” Sam said quietly, “I have come to deliver balance – to our world.  I implore you, please make no loud sounds.  Or I will kill you.”

             The King stayed silent.  Sam was not even looking him in the face, but staying at his back behind his luxurious chair.

             “It has been a while since I visited your house, King of Men. Let’s see here… oh, yes.  I killed the great Lorn’s replacement after he attempted to seduce his captains with tales of treasures if only they would pilfer an elven storehouse under cover of night and blame it on a Revenant war party.  Ah, but you didn’t know about that, did you?”

             “Who are you,” the King said low, in a hushed tone.

             “Simple enough question, you’d think,” Sam said.  “But, it just seems that nothing in life is ever simple.”  Sam took a breath and paused.

             “Assassin.  Justice-seeker.  Enemy.  Friend.”

             “What are you doing in my house,” Avendyr seethed; this dead man was playing games with him.

             “Father. Son. Nephew.”

             “Oh-oh, you will not make it out alive, I swear to you.  Might as well kill me now.”

             Sam pushed the edge of the knife a little firmer on the neck of the king.

             “Soldier. Hero. Traitor.”

             You, sir,” Avendyr said quietly, “are no hero.  And if you were a soldier, you definitely are a traitor.”

             “Undeniable, yes. I do not blindly follow any rulers.  Your sheep know your voice good enough; all of them bleating after you and your wars and your conquests.  It’s true, also, that you have set yourself apart here in this world.  The ever-optimistic commander leading his men to slaughter.  Tell me, O King, how many men have fallen in your quest for power? I have counted recently.  Five on the western coast, three in their tents in the central plains, twelve there were outside the caves of Ka-druhorr pursuing a beaten enemy. There were another three captains on the road through the mountain pass. Then there was Narian…”

             “Narian,” Avendyr asked. “Your misinformation gives you away.  Narian Castigue isn’t dead, you pathetic weasel.”

             “Oh, no?” pondered. “My, you have stumbled upon the truth and made me a fool, Avendyr.  No, wait, that’s right. He is dead.  Do you know how I know?”

             Sam leaned in closer to Avendyr’s ear.  “Because I killed him.”

             Avendyr’s face exploded into a murmuring rage, unable to move due to his predicament. His mind fumbled around for a way to break free from his captor.

             “You lie.”

             “Do I,” Sam replied.  “Would I be so frivolous with something as profound as ending a life? Come now, King, what do you take me for? A common thief?”

             “I take your for a dead one,” he seethed.

             Sam dropped a piece of parchment onto the king’s lap.  It was hard to read; it looked as if it had been previously crumpled into a ball, and was moist all over.

             “This, O King, is the parchment that listed Narian’s work on the High Dragon word ‘death’.  It is very dangerous magic, indeed.  I stole it from Narian’s study several moons ago.  But, you know Narian, the classic overachiever, he repeated all his research and made another.  There was just no stopping him.”

             Sam leaned away from Avendyr’s ear and moved to the other side of his face, still out of sight.

             “So, I sent his work back to him, stuffed it down his throat, you know, as an experiment.  The magic worked.  He died. He will have no obvious signs of struggle or of the nature of his death.  Let’s just say he died of old age, eh.”

             “How typical,” Avendyr said.  “The vermin step out of their hole to boast, but only in the clear. You wouldn’t talk so tough facing your King like a man.”

             “Yes, that is typical.  You have, as always, jumped to conclusions without knowing enough to make sound decisions.  I speak the truth, so I must be boasting.  I guess I’m just a crazed killer.”

             Avendyr grunted out a chuckle.  Your words, not mine, he though.

             “It just so happens that, even though Narian Castigue was a wretched person, arrogant and dismissive, hated by those who served him, I would rather not have killed him.  The truth is, O King, if you had not pushed him to continue down this reckless path, he would still be alive.”  Sam paused, thinking of the life he just took.  It’s ironic how the one thing he was good at was the one thing he begrudged.  It was truly his passion, tragic and necessary all at once.

             “I have spent my life preparing and fighting for others’ causes,” Sam continued.  “I finally found one worth fighting for and, unfortunately, he was in the way; and so are you.”

             “Well, allow me to bring some relief to your struggles,” Avendyr exclaimed, grabbing Sam’s arm that held the dagger and bearing down on it as hard as he could to break free from the hold. Sam fought back, curling his arm up with all the might he had.  The king pulled the arm away just enough the drop like a weight to the ground. He hit the wooden floor and instantly rolled forward away from his captor.  His sword lay on a table across the large room and he only needed to cover another half of the room.  He heard Sam’s footsteps behind him, the soft plod of his leather bottom shoes quickly recovering from the surprise.  The king leaped forward toward the table and his had slammed down on the hilt of the sword and wrapped instantly around the grip.

             A sharp pain in his back and a dull pain in his chest signaled Sam’s knee pounding Avendyr’s body into the table as he stretched across it.  The king dropped to one knee as he tried to swing his sword around in a defensive posture.  His hand was met with a kick that immediately dislodged his sword from his hand.  Avendyr was once again weaponless and at the mercy of this assassin.  He felt his first wave of fear as his assailant gripped an arm still stretched out across the table and pinned it down.

             Sam was still behind Avendyr as he leaned over the table, allowing his face to be shown for the first time to the king.  With his left hand he held down the king’s arm and, as he started to chant something under his breath, began cutting marks into Avendyr’s skin with the hook where his right hand would be.

             “Aargh,” the king cried out, feeling the burning sensation that accompanied knife wounds. Outside the door, Sam could hear the footsteps of the guard posted at the door as he approached.  As the door to the king’s study swung open, Sam loosed his grip of Avendyr long enough to grab the dagger he had sheathed at his side and hurl it at the almost open doorway.  It opened just in time for Sam’s long dagger to brush past the door and lodge itself in the chest of the guard.  He gently staggered forward and fell through the open doorway and onto his face, driving the rest of the dagger up through his back.

             Sam reclaimed the arm of the king though he had not stopped the chanting under his breath.  After a few more cuts, he released the king who fell wincing to the floor.  Avendyr quickly grabbed his arm, soaked in fresh blood, and held it to his chest to help stop the bleeding. He rolled over to get back to his knees and staggered up onto his feet. He grabbed a shirt that was strewn on the back of a chair and wrapped it around his arm and stumbled back across the floor to his sword, still laying in the middle of the room on the floor.  He moaned as he bent over and picked it up, then barely made it to a chair against the outside wall of the room, and hastily raised it up instinctively.  Sam was not by him.  He was across the room at the door, turning the guard over and retrieving his blade.  He watched Sam wipe the blood off of the dagger and sheathe it once more.  He knew that dagger. The dark  elven handle still bearing the markings that were branded into it: HONNAI.  Sam slowly crossed the room, looking defeated, not victorious.  His hook found the opening to his shirt at the arm and pulled it up to his elbow.  And, he began to chant.

             Avendyr looked across the room to the handsome man in the short beard, skin the color of fresh tilled soil, and missing his right hand.

             “Kole?  What… what is the meaning of this,” the king said quietly through his panting and pain.  “I, I don’t understand”

             Kole, who took the name Sam several years ago to mask his identity, took the hook on his right arm and placed it on the skin of his left forearm, and he began to cut.

             “You traitor, you worthless maggot!  You abandoned me and turned on me? You are aligned against your own people, working with Red Raven? You killed your own, your brothers-in-arms!  You weakened the standing of your race, ruining our advances on crushing the Revenant, who killed your mother and father?!”

             Kole’s face winced as he continued to cut into his own arm, his blood mixing with the blook of the king that still coated his hook.  He removed the hook from his arm and dropped it to his side.  He wearily walked himself to a chair facing the king and dropped into it.

             “How could you,” Avendyr growled, his expression mired in shock and disgust.  “Your heritage, your privilege, the blessings that were bestowed upon your by my family, by me, and YOU… you throw it all away, for what?  For money? For fame?  Answer me!”

             Kole barely showed signs he knew the king was even there. He rested his bleeding arm on the chair rest as the blook ran down onto the upholstery.  Kole had seldom felt so tired, so unmotivated to continue.

             “I have answers, Avendyr,” Kole said. “I do, but you won’t understand, even after I tell you.  It is your blessing and your curse.  You do not care about anyone’s opinion but your own.”

             Kole continued, “I remember the first time I saw you in this room. It was only for a moment.  I pulled an assassin out of the window of this very study, what, twenty-six years ago.  I told you he had attacked me to quell suspicions of an assassination on you. You know as well as I do what would have happened if you would have suspected a group of trying to kill you.  There would have been civil unrest everywhere.  Allistan found out about the attempt on your life just in time to send me to spare it. “

             "That’s absurd,” the king said.

             “And you, you asked me to stay. So, I stayed.  I stayed for the next ten years, doing the bidding of the king under Lorn, may he rest in peace.  I fought for Men, as my father before me, as my mother before me, rooting out so called evil, all the while knowing the truth of the raids on the Revenant.  They were in the way of possible pieces of the Dragon Accord, weren’t they?  Living in the caves and tunnels near the surface near Ka’Druhorr.  All that power, just waiting there to be discovered and used. For Mankind, right?  For your people.  It’s always for the people, isn’t it, Avendyr?”

             Avendyr stared at Kole with a sullen look, hurting inside and out by the betrayal of the boy who had revered him once upon a time.

             “You give great oratories about on the glory of your people, all the while lying to their faces.”

             “You don’t know what you’re talking about!” shot back Avendyr.

             “Oh, don’t I?  Sending fathers and brothers and sisters and mothers to die, fighting for a seemingly noble cause, only to deliver artifacts of great power. For who?  Has this made their lives better?  Has this power been shared with them? Oh, no.  That would be unwise.  If this power got out, it would certainly fall into the hands of those who would be our enemies, right?  So, you must keep all the power for yourself, isn’t that right?  You, the one who is alone to be trusted with power.  You, the one heir to the throne of Amensol.  You, the son of a man who abandons his children, who lies to their faces, who denies them his affection and the truth of their origins.  You, the one who hides that information from your own kin, who spies on his family for signs of sedition if they are ever to learn they have right to the throne.  You, the one who chooses revenge over discipline, who cuts the hands off of children then leaves them to suffer.”

             “That’s not fair, Kole!  My actions saved our people, and the people of this entire world!  Your sacrifice saved countless lives.  And I don’t spread rumors of our kinship because it is just that, rumors!”

             Kole lifted his head and stared directly at Avendyr.  A fire and anger were stored up for this moment, but now that it was here, he felt it dissipate in the face of futility.

             “I… know you know. You can lie to me, tell me you don’t. You can tell me all about the greater good, for the glory of our people, for the stability of Thronefast, whatever you want.  We both know the deception and the secrecy goes one direction; for your benefit.  You have lit up this world with a great light, shining like a noon day sun, bringing wealth and prosperity to a number of our people. You speak of great qualities: honor, valor, love and sacrifice.  But, you have hidden behind these things, haven’t you, Avendyr, son of Amensol?

             Avendyr shifted in his seat, no longer thinking of his arm, but of the threat this assassin now poses to the sanctity of his homeland. Kole kept talking

             “The sun always hides its dark side, always shows the brightness on its face. It never reveals its shadows, its darkness. But, in the shadow of the sun, there lies true intention.  There hides its true expressions, never allowed to show outwardly, but always present, just behind the light.”

             “I have branded you,” Kole said. “I, and my master, have been unable to sway you in your search for power and the secrets of the Dragon Accord.  It is not for this time or for you.  As much as you think of yourself and your role in this world, you are but a small cog in the machine of fate.  You will not have the power of the Dragon tongue, or the answers in the Dragon Accord.  And, I have been forced to this last effort to keep you off of that path.  I can’t kill you, Uncle, for more reasons than one.  But, I know myself, and what I’ve done, and what I’m capable of.  I can kill myself with little hesitation.”  Kole peeled the cloth from his wounded forearm to expose a symbol carved into the flesh. “Narian exposed some powers with the research he has done over the years.  I’ve been studying it in secret, as had Allistan.  There is much power in their written and spoken word, those dragons.  I have marked us both with a symbol that binds us together for life.  Our fates, to an extent, are intertwined.  The marking on your arm and mine are identical.  If you were to die, I would die.  If I die, you will as well.”

             Avendyr removed the cloth from his arm as well and peered at the mangled flesh and stared at the symbol cut into him.  Kole recited the words he was speaking earlier as he cut himself, and Avendyr’s wound glowed crimson.  The light seemed to burn in the wound, and Avendyr pushed the cloth back over top of it.

             “Therefore,” continued Kole, “I have set these terms.  Narian is now dead.  His research will die with him.  If you try to replace him, I will kill myself.  If you try to retrieve any other pieces of the Dragon Accord, I will kill myself.  If you send an emissary who as much as asks a question about the Dragon Accord of another leader, I will kill myself.  And you, dear Avendyr, will die as well.  No one will know who it was or how it was caused.  You will have died from some natural cause. Oh, and the magic has other effects, as all magic does.  Unfortunately, this magic only holds for ten years, at which point we will both die.”  Kole stood up and began abruptly walking toward the doors to the mezzanine.

             “Wait! You can’t be serious,” Avendyr exclaimed, rising and following him.  Avendyr’s mind raced, trying to figure the way out of this serious situation.  He had many close calls with death in the past, but this was different. The panic gave way to anger.

             “No dragon magic is strong enough to kill me!” Avendyr shouted as Kole continued to walk away from him.  “But I swear to you, Kole, I will hunt you down and lock you away for the rest of your miserable life for this.  And, trust me, it will be long, just to be sure.”

             “So long, Avendyr.  The next time I see you, you will die, one way or another; or I will see you at the side of our forefathers in death,” Kole said, walking out into the night. “Spend your time well, for our people.”  Kole lowered himself over the railing of the mezzanine and disappeared into the night.  Avendyr never saw him again.

     

     

     

             Kador sat rather still in his chair at the tavern beside the road near Avendyr’s Pass.  He wasn’t sure how to react to a plot against the king, his great uncle, made by his estranged father who was an assassin.

             “I… uh… am not quite sure what to make of that story,” he finally said, shaking his head, refusing to make eye contact with the man in front of him.

             Kole lifted the left sleeve of his shirt up past his forearm.  I rather large scar was vivid and light colored against Kole’s medium brown skin.  Kole placed the arm down on the table and began mumbling words again.  The scar on his arm lit up and faint red color, almost like it was buried deep down under his skin.

             “So, this is all true,” Kador half asked and half wanted to be false.  “This is too much. I can’t be party to any of this anymore.”

             Kador stood and turned to face the door, and Kole caught his arm.

             “Son, I don’t have much time to finish my story.  Please, let me finish.” Kole’s demeanor had changed from the half century old swashbuckling braggadocio, to a imploring older parent.  Kador paused in his tracks, staring at the door.  He wondered the consequences of running out now, as he had ran out of the old man who had raised him.

             “I have ran away before,” he said, not looking back at Kole.

             “I know.  Allistan died the night you left.  I left you with the man that raised me.  He was not the best choice, I admit, but he was all I had.  He made a great sacrifice for me, moving from his home and changing his name.  I also told him to keep the research he was doing a secret from you, that you had to find your own way in the world without being bred for a single purpose.”

             Kador stood completely still, not wanting to make a decision on where his life would take him from this point.

             “Funny thing how fate works.  I told you you couldn’t change your status.  You are definitely the son of an outcast assassin of noble blood, and warriors and saviors of Men. You are rich and poor, good and bad, powerful and vulnerable.  But, you can choose what you do with it.  Be the hero, be the villain?  The choice is up to you.

             Kador heard a thud hit on the floor beside his feet.  It was a worn old backpack, stained and patched in places. It had a wooden handle that stuck out of the opening, not quite fitting all the way in the bag.  The engraving said ‘HONN-‘ burned into it.

             “This bag has all you need to make the most of your lot in life.  You are ready to make your decision, as I was when I left your mother, not wanting to endanger her in the life I had to lead.”  Kole stopped for a moment, thinking of his wife and child, and the choice he made to leave them.  What would have been the outcome of staying with them, raising his son and being there for his wife.  What would that have changed?  What could he have done different that would have made a bigger impact for his people, for the sake of his mother and father, who gave everything they had, even their life?

             “But, like I said, boy, only fools look back and wonder and regret.  Make your choice, live with it… and die with it.  It’s our calling and curse, son.  The unseen pillar that props up the House of Amensol, for better or worse.  I’m just glad…. I found you.  In time.”

             Kador turned, hearing Kole’s voice change slightly.  Kole was hunched over, his forearm glowing.

             “Ten years goes by pretty fast, eh,” Kole slurred slumping farther down in his chair.  “Take the… sack and go. No regrets. No re-grets…”

             Kador watched as the light slowly dimmed in his scar until it was completely gone.  Kole was dead in a tavern in an obscure village near Thronefast with nothing of value on his person.  Kador stood there for a long time, looking at the man who was his father. He finally turned, looked down at the sack by his feet.  He bent down slowly looked it over on the outside, picked it up, and threw it over his shoulder.  He left the bar, his father, and his old life as his feet cleared the threshold of the tavern door.

     

     

             Epilogue

     

             Kador sat around the small fire he had made up against the mountains a ways from where he had met his father for the first and last time.  The sack he had been given contained only three items: a dagger, a letter, and a rock covered in a cloth.  Kador had pulled them out and they were laying on the ground beside him.

             He picked up the knife and gently removed half of it from its leather sheath.  It was a fine metal, razor sharp on both sides of the double-edged blade.  The handle was an oiled wood of some kind, expensive looking, but the stains covering the sheath told a story of the busy life this blade may have had.  He took the knife and tied it to his belt.

             He looked down and grabbed the letter sitting folded in two with his name scribed on the outside.  He slowly opened it and began to read:

    Kador, my son,

     

    I am glad I had a chance to speak with you after all these years.  It must have been hard on you as it was on me growing up without my mother and father, as it was for my father before me.  We share each other’s burdens in that way.

    Return to your ancestral home; the directions are on the back.  It has been left to you.  Seek out Marla when you arrive.  She will take care of you.  She has a collection of letters telling you of your heritage, of the courage of your ancestors and our time here on Terminus.  They will help you understand who you are.  There is also a collection of Allistan’s work that lays out the importance of the Dragon Accord and the impact on the world should it be found and studied by the races here on Terminus.

    I have also placed an orb in this sack.  It is a long shot, but I am hoping that you are worthy to tap its spring of knowledge and wisdom, as I was able.  If you are unable, take it to the southern cliffs and throw it into the sea.  It is much too dangerous to have it found.

    If you are able, I am hoping you will take up the task I could not finish.  There are far more sinister workings in the world trying to get their hands on dragon magic, including dragons themselves.  You must finish the task.

    Let the strength of your mother rest on you in days of trouble, the stubbornness of your father help you when you grow tired, and the hope of a day of peace and safety give you the determination to complete your mission.

    Kole, son of Honnai

     

             Kador refolded the letter and dropped it back into the sack.  He looked over at the rock.  He picked up a corner of the blue material that wrapped it and hesitated.  What if nothing happened?  What if it did?  His hand took the corner and threw it off of the rock.  A smooth stone, slightly translucent and reddish in color lay on the ground beside him.  He looked it over.  Veins of other material broke up the gem-like quality of the stone.  He slid a finger across it.  It didn’t hurt.  He did not get attacked.  As a matter of fact, nothing appeared to happen at all.  Feeling more confident, he picked the stone up and felt its slick exterior.  It felt as though it had been highly polished.  And the red glow inside seemed to radiate in pulses, as if it were alive.  He rubbed his hand over its smooth exterior, then noticed the glowing seemed to get slightly brighter.  He heard a noise and turned to his right in the direction of the sound.  There on the other side of the fire from himself, he saw a gathering cloud of smoke, and a voice spoke up from the midst of the smoke.


    This post was edited by benonal at September 7, 2020 11:49 PM PDT