Chapter Five: If you can't win, die trying.

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     Tia’DiLeorna Fortress, Kinsingskeld city, Arreland.

     Fortresses always looked the best at sunset, decided Jaden Clasheron, the late king of Arreland.

    He stood, the wind whipping his long black hair about his scarred face, on the northern tower adjoining the keep’ outer wall. 

   It was his favorite place to spend his time; a place where he could stop thinking about all the things, he, as king, was required to consider, if only for a few minutes every evening.

   He leaned over the massive crenulations on the battlements, looking over the edge of the limestone tower down at the moat almost a hundred and fifty feet below. 

   He smiled, remembering the day he had climbed over the burning ruin of this very tower, his faithful soldiers behind him, cheering him on, his sister, friends, and brother on either side . . . what he would not give now to go back and relive those days. 

    “.Jaden,” 

    He sighed, his detecting spells already alerting him to the identity of the man standing behind him.

    He answered without turning.” Jacob.” 

   On any other day he would have been happy to see his brother-in-law but today wasn’t a day that would be remembered happily . . . not for him anyway.

   A heavy, calloused hand fell on his shoulder.” I’m sorry.” The other said simply.

   Jaden turned, looking his friend over; he was the same as ever, short brown hair, a heavy chain mail suit covered by a vest depicting the raven that was his people’s symbol, and his eyes, deep, wise, and sad as ever. 

   He shrugged in response.” It’s not important.”

   Jacob laughed now, deep and hearty.” Not important? You may be able to fool everyone else, but you can’t fool me, this has hit you hard, as it should. You’ve dedicated your life to the Arrel people, and now they’ve spurned you.”

   Jaden dropped his carefree stance, the true sadness and anger in his heart surfacing.” If only it had been a bit better ratio.” He said in a despairing tone”. But nine to one . . .! “ 

    “.I warned you.” Jacob answered simply.

    Jaden nodded, remembering what Jake had told him long ago. Life isn’t fair, what life produces is even less so. You trust a person, and they will betray you. You serve someone, and they will refuse to pay you. You love someone, and they will hate you. You give a people your life, and in the end they’ll spit you out and grind you into the dirt. 

    Granted that was a rather pessimistic view of life, not all of it was true all the time . . . but it was wise to expect little of people, and chances were you wouldn’t be disappointed.

    “. What are you going to do now?” Jacob asked grimly.” You always have a home in Isarua, should you need one.”

   “. I have a plan . . .” Jaden said vaguely, trailing off, not sure if his friend would approve of what he had in mind now that he wasn’t King of Arreland anymore.

   Jacob grunted, waiting.

    “. It’s crazy . . . “ 

    Jacob chuckled.” I recall some pretty crazy plans that you’ve come up with. What’s this one?”

    Jaden sighed; he might as well tell Jacob.” If my own people don’t want me, then I think I should go and find another people who do.” He gazed up at the hazy orange sun falling behind the mountains in the distance.

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