Lost

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Dear readers, this story will soon be available on Amazon, so there's only the prologue left to be read for free. I'll share the link to the published book as soon as it's available. Thank you for your support!


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The great hall was quiet. If there were screams of dying people outside or the crashing sound of burning houses falling down, they didn't penetrate the thick walls of the palace. No one was left alive inside; every inhabitant had either fled or, if less fortunate, had been killed.

No one except for two men. One was lying among the fallen soldiers, his comrades, the other slumped over the throne. Both were slowly coming to again.

"My lord," the soldier on the floor croaked while trying to lift himself up. A deep wound in his abdomen promised a certain death sooner or later. "My lord, I'm so sorry. We couldn't protect you..."

"It's not your fault, old friend," the lord replied hoarsely. His gold embroidered tunic was soaked through with blood as well although he tried to stench the flow. He could barely breathe. "We didn't see them coming. You and your men did everything you could. But my family - could they flee?"

"Yes, my lord," the other man answered with a cough. "Two soldiers escorted your wife and son through the secret back door. I'm sure they will be safe. Your gods will protect them."

"My gods..." The lord's bitter laugh dissolved into a shaken sigh. "They deserted us. I should have known. Building this city inside enemy territory - it was Father's crazy dream. Sooner or later the sessera would stop tolerating us here.They just waited long enough for us to feel safe, build this prosperous city - and then attack once we let our guard down."

The soldier stayed quiet.

After a moment, the lord continued, "I always knew who you and your people where. And they killed you as well. As I said, it's not your fault." He took a deep, labored breath. "What about your family? Do you think they made it?"

"My father-in-law is a clever man," the soldier replied. "He will protect my wife. I just regret... that I won't see our child. It is due any day now."

"Maybe my gods aren't that cruel and grant at least our children long, happy lives... elsewhere," the lord murmured, closing his eyes. "And maybe... they make better choices... than their... ancestors."

With a clutter, the sword he had still clutched fell from his bloody hand.

The soldier mustered his final reserves of strength and crawled forward until he had reached his lord's throne. "May your Goddess of Heaven welcome you... in her realm," he whispered as he took up the sword. He couldn't read the words inscribed in its blade, but he knew them by heart. It was a prophecy that his lord's father had received from a priest long ago. It said, "Hold me and you hold everything. Lose me, and you lose..." Everything. The last word was missing; the sword's tip had broken off while the lord had been striking at the enemy leader. With a cruel laugh, the leader had taken the tip as a trophy as he had left.

The soldier carefully pulled out a lose stone right behind the throne that hid a secret compartment; the usual place to store the sword when it wasn't worn. He barely managed to put the sword into it, but pushing the stone back into place was beyond him. With a groan, the soldier fell down next to his lord.

Not able to open his eyes again, he noticed light footsteps coming closer. A familiar hand touched his brow, soft words were whispered in his mother's tongue. He managed to answer a few words before he, too, succumbed to his wound.

Then there was only silence again in the great hall. Outside, the city was burning.

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