Part 1 - Acceptance

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Prince Donovan knew his father and mother, King Tarran Answaar and Queen Katherine Answaar had decided to be more lenient and patient with him. For this, he was eminently grateful. His parents needed him to become more familiar with all matters of state. For life for a ruler is an uncertain thing. When his father eventually died, Etmindor's stability would depend on how smooth the transition of power was. In the end, they agreed to allow Donovan to travel North and hunt boar with his friends, to participate in what had become an annual tradition. Afterward, he would return to Kandalare to finish honing what would be required when he became king.

Even though Donovan was next in line to be king, he had never aspired to become a ruler. He had often wished he wasn't the only heir, for he enjoyed hunting and traveling with his friends, as free as the wind.

Donovan walked over to a log he had used for a bench for the last two years. He sat atop the vast deep valleys ridge, where he could observe everything for miles. A pine and hardwood scented wind gently wafted upward from the forest below. It was here where he and his brother Changa felt more at home than anywhere else.

Though Donovan and Changa were not true siblings, they had grown-up and played together since they had both learned to walk. Typically, where you found one, you would find the other through thick and thin. Whether in Kandalare, Changa's clan, or the surrounding countryside getting into mischief, it was always so. It seemed like yesterday when they were nine years old playing soldiers.

Their closeness did not happen by mere chance; it was by design. King Tarran and Centaur Chieftain Maska, Changa's father had grown up together as children, and it had served to bring both races closer together. Both families had mutually agreed, after speaking to Queen Katherine and Changa's mother, Cearne. They would send their respective sons to each other's family when they were nine years old, during the day.

Both King Tarran and Maska believed Mankind's and Centaurs' futures were inseparably linked. Their plan was for four months a year, five days a week, each would learn about their adoptive family races needs, desires, and cultures. Their challenges at first were many, but with patience and understanding those had faded away with time. As a result, their friendship flourished. Now the other four kingdoms were instituting a similar arrangement.

When they were sixteen years old, at a special ceremony, both Changa and Donovan had each received a steel sword forged by Centaur master smith Aganar. The presentation of the swords had signified each was now a man; both would from this time onward accept responsibilities as an adult. Each was also considered a second son by those who had recognized them as a family member.

This and more were reasons why Prince Donovan had come on this trip. He needed to escape, to mull things over. He unsheathed his sword, once more admiring its polished steel blade as sunlight played along its length. There were no greater blacksmiths than the Centaurs and it had always been so. Royal Families and wealthy merchants alike eagerly sought their skills. Donovan noted someone was approaching and saw Changa was walking towards him. He sheathed his blade and stood up to face his closest friend on Aederan with a smile.

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