OWEN BORNE

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The King and Queen are dead.

Those words escaped the lips of every single person here at Icestone. They spoke almost like they couldn't believe it. Many didn't want to believe it. Owen didn't want to believe it.

His own parents... dead. Murdered in their sleep. Necks slit. He still hadn't gone to see his older brothers and younger sister. The moment the Myster gave him the news, Owen thanked him, and then left his room. He had absolutely no idea where he would end up, but on some level, he knew there was only one place he could go. Only one place where his mind could reset and grapple with the gravity of the situation.

Now, he sat at the lip of the tallest tower in Icestone and overlooked the entire city. Funny how stone walls over fifty feet high and fifteen feet thick still couldn't protect his mother and father from an assassin's blade. What a despicable joke.

A drop of water hit his hand. Owen craned his head up towards the setting sky as dark storm clouds rolled in. For just a moment, he believed that the Gods cried for the loss of the King and Queen. But then a question came to mind: How could the Gods even exist if they weren't able to stop a killer who would make them sad? No, they weren't crying. The rain was just rain.

Borne made his way down the stairs and pulled the hood of his cloak tight around his face. The last thing he wanted right now was for someone to recognize him and try to offer their condolences. He would receive plenty of those in the coming days. For now, he just wanted to be left alone.

Owen reached the back side of The Diamond Keep. Again, he didn't want to be bothered and if he went up the main staircase, someone would surely say something.

His fingers wrapped around the stone bricks that jutted out of the wall and pulled himself up. His feet then followed and helped push him towards the battlements of the Keep. In under a minute, he scaled the wall. Borne now peeked over the edge to make sure that no Royal Guard was in view, and then snuck in. However, the hairs on his neck tingled as chills shivered down his spine. He turned around and looked out across the northern side of Icestone. While he could see no one, it felt like someone was staring. Watching.

Owen looked to his left, towards his bedroom where he heard the horrible news, and then to his right, towards The Great Hall of Icestone. He still wanted to go back to his room and curl up into a ball on his bed. He wanted to fall asleep and then wake up to see his mother and father just carrying on with their daily lives. That wasn't possible anymore and Owen knew he had to accept that. And the only way to accept it, was to face it.

Borne went right.

Four Royal Guards stood in front of the oak double doors that led into the Hall. They wore all black armor with white accents at the arm braces and shoulder pads; and attached at their shoulders were blood red capes that dropped down to the crook of their knees. The hilts of their swords were wrapped in black leather, and the silver steel reflected the torch light so much, it blinded Owen for a moment. No matter where he looked, each one was draped in black, red, and white. The colors of his house. And right in the middle of their armor was an Eagle full spread.

His family sigil. His father's sigil.

Now, it was fully his.

The guards parted in the middle and pushed the doors open for him. "My Lord," they all said as the hinges of the entrance groaned like an old man. A point of life his father would never reach.

Richard Borne was only thirty when his wife, Alice Borne, gave birth to their youngest son. Only two years later would they have their final child. A girl. Emma Borne. To say that his fourteen year old sister was gorgeous would be an understatement. With her jet black hair, Emma's sky blue eyes stood out even more. Their father already had a list of other men who wanted to marry her in order to form alliances, but of course, the King would always say that every suitor was not good enough. Privately. Owen agreed.

However, he had two older fraternal twins as well. Jacob, who was older by three minutes, and Winston. Now, with their father dead, Jake would take the throne. Some think that Winston harbors malicious feelings, but Owen knew that not to be the case. While the second oldest Borne was incredibly tall, broad shouldered, barrel chested, and could swing a sword with enough power he could cut a man in half with one swing, Winston was no king. He was always meant to be a warrior. When they were kids, if anyone picked on Owen or Emma, his older brother would be there to straighten things out with his fists. But, Jacob was not like that at all.

While he was also tall and quite muscular, Jake knew how to deal with people in a calmer manner. Instead of beating someone into the ground, he crafted his rhetoric in such a way that his words could do more damage than a sword ever could. Or repair the damage, depending on the situation. Yet, those two knew exactly what they were going to be and almost no one doubted that Icestone would go through many prosperous years with those two at the helm. Owen, on the other hand, had zero idea what his place would be.

Now, as he got closer to the middle of the Hall, his siblings looked nothing like their actual selves. At this moment, they looked like small children who had no idea how to defend themselves. Owen knew he didn't look any better.

He now stood next to Jacob and stared down at his mother and father. The blood had been wiped away from their necks, but a faint hue could be seen around the stitching. Owen found it strange to see how peaceful his parents looked. Soon, the Myster would allow for the public to say prayers for the dead before moving King Richard and Queen Alice to the Diamond Crypt with the other members of the Borne family. Undisturbed.

"Any idea who?" Owen asked with a slight head turn.

Jake shook his head and said, "Not a clue. Haven't even thought about it yet, to be honest."

He nodded and turned his attention back towards his mother and father. Owen closed his eyes and whispered a prayer to the Fallen God. "May they fall with You now, to rise higher than ever before."

"My King," Myster Honin burst into the Great Hall with his chest heaving in and out. Shallows breaths escaped his lips as he tried to get the words out of his mouth, but Jacob told him to relax and collect his thoughts. Finally, he said, "My King. We've just received Ravens from every single Northern House."

"They already sent their condolences?" he asked.

"No... no..." the Myster shook his head and still kept heavily breathing. "We will need to send our condolences to all of them. Every King and Queen of the North has been killed."

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