Prologue to War

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Dedicated to Nence for a awesome cover! Thank you Nence! (Btw; if you want a cover for your own works, then just PM her!)

 Beep: WARNING! Undergoing massive rewriting! The first half of chapter five has been spliced out and turned into the prologue. Try not to be confused: IT'S A MESS!

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PROLOGUE TO WAR.

In my heart the world was come to an end; the world I had built had come to an end. But I had forgotten, this world I had created was no longer mine; it was theirs. -Jhaden Clasheron, Memories Forgotten, 332 3rd kingdom, 12th age.

“Will you, upon oath of your soul swear to uphold the laws of this kingdom; lest the Father find fault, and see ye gone?”

Those eyes . . . they were so defiant, so stubborn, so strong. Jhaden was surprised that the Archlord did not glance away from them as he stared at the king-to-be he was about to name, standing across the throne on which lay the royal crown and staff.

“I do so swear!” Du'renskold stated, deeply and clearly, his magnified voice echoeing across the throne room.

Thousands of nobles and warlords watched in silence the ceremony unfolding before them. This ceremony had only ever taken place twice before, and the last time it had happened had been such a long time ago that there was not a single living memory left of the event.

“And do you, upon pain of your honour, and upon pain of your soul, swear to protect and defend the people of this realm till you are called to our Father's bosom?”

“I do so swear!” Du'renskold replied, his voice filled with the victorious moment.

“Then take up this sword, and claim this throne, that none may 'ere face your righteous wrath and stanned alive!”

Du'renskold reached out, and with firm confidence, grasped the golden shaft of the staff and slowly raising it on high, sat upon the throne. Smoothly and quickly, the Archlord reached down and lifting the crown up off the back of the throne, held it up for all to see, and then lay it on Du'renskold's head. The silence was only shattered again by the Archlord's voice.

“In the name of the Father, it is done!” The ancient, wizened old man, dressed in simple grey robes threw his arms wide to the roof of the room. “All hail the king!”

The room instantly errupted into wild cheering, and resounding waves of the words all hail the king. Other society's might have been a bit more formal about such an event, but not the Arrels, life was short for a warrior, and you never knew where your path might take you. They knew the value of what they had. Change!

A new king.

Jaden watched, trying to keep the bitterness in his heart beneath the surface as he clapped quietly from his corner. Jaden had built this kingdom from the ground up; not a stone of it's foundation was unknown to him nor unstained by the sweat and blood of his hands. It would fall without him. The stones would slip, the wood would rot, and in the end these people, so happy to be rid of him and forget him would be at one another's necks . . . or begging for him to return.

Du'renskold turned silently to Jaden, and without a word, inclined his head slightly to him. Respect. That was like a final wrench to the dagger sunk deep into Jaden's heart, and turning, he spun and marched up the stairs leading to the castle's eastern tower.

Castles belonged to the sunset, Jaden decided, standing on the ramparts of the east tower. Before him was spread Tia D'laeron city; open like a map to his tired eyes. The city stretched to the horizon and beyond, it held many great buildings and palaces . . . but Rhaztaran Fortress was the symbol of all Arrel's pride.

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