~*~ The hills are shadows, and they flow
From form to form, and nothing stands;
They melt like mist, the solid lands,
Like clouds they shape themselves and go *
-Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Kingdom of Myaengaer, Devonshire: 822 AD
"Ah, Prince Caleth. If you'll follow me, sire, your father is awaiting you with the rest of the Grand Council in the Council Chamber. The king says it is of the utmost urgency.”
Caleth followed his father’s tall, angular minister, wondering what had the Council in such a state of fervour. At twenty-three, he had been entitled to sit in on Grand Council meetings for more than two years now, but this was the first time he had been summoned in urgency. He brushed back his light brown hair, which had a tendency to fall curling towards his blue and amber eyes, and waited in the doorway as Marick announced him to the Council.
“Prince Caleth Havilaire, heir to the throne of Myaengaer and leader of the Myaen Guard, here to join the Council.” Caleth rolled his eyes. Of course these men knew who he was since most of them had advised his father from before he was born, but it was a part of the traditional formal code of Council meetings to be announced on entry.
“Caleth, join us,” his father’s deep voice beckoned. “As we were discussing, this rider was intercepted on the road to Amareth, so we can only assume that’s where he was headed.”
As Caleth looked puzzled, King Jorhal elaborated. “Yesterday afternoon, a rider was captured moving fast on the Amareth road. From what we know, the crest on his cloak looked much like the insignia of the former Shadow Army.”
Distressed murmurs broke out amongst the Council. “Yes, it is rather alarming. The Shadow Army has been disbanded since the disappearance of Heolstor Tolucan. What we do not know is whether this man is a Shadow-cult lunatic, or whether this points to something even more sinister. There have been whispers of activity beyond the Baroume Mountains, and sightings of smoke rising over their peaks. If this is true, I fear something larger than the odd lunatic is beginning. In any case, the Grand Duke and Duchess must be notified that this man was riding their way. Caleth, I want you to ride to Amareth with a small group of the Guard and deliver this message personally. Darius and Gwyneth deserve to know, although my old friends have been gone for many years now. In the meantime, we will try to find out more about this rider and his purpose. For now, Council is adjourned.”
As the men rose around him, some with sceptical faces, others looking grim, Caleth pondered his task. The Grand Duke and Duchess of Amareth? Vague memories flitted through his mind of a tall, regal, black haired man and a beautiful, golden haired woman laughing with his parents.
Now that he thought about it, there had been a little girl too. A silvery-white haired little girl that he had played with, with flashing, violet-tinged grey eyes. He had stolen her toys and hidden them, but something bad had always happened to him after he did, like tripping and breaking his own precious toys. He wondered why that particular memory had come to him now.
He shook it off and headed towards his chambers to pack for his ride, wondering if this family which hovered on the edge of his remembrance was perhaps in danger. Thinking about the grave look on his father’s face, he reflected that maybe they were indeed.