A Dragon's Call

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A young man with dark brown hair in regal clothes hurried down the hall, a much taller man in armor following several steps behind him. They turned down the corridor and entered a well-lit room where a few men spoke in hushed voices while sitting in the plush seats.

"Why have you asked me here?" He says in a confident voice, addressing the apparent leader of the group. They all stopped speaking and turned to face him.

"I have made the decision that you will follow the Call now." The middle-aged man held up a hand when the boy began to speak, "Time is of the essence; Roderick wants the throne, and has finally come to take it. We can't afford to have you wait any longer."

"Father, I am of more use here. No one can take the time to go with me, it's a waste!" He argued, trying to gain footing in the argument.

"Athmas, you are a prince. You have to follow the Call, or you deny your heritage." The King said, "Your brothers-"

"I'm not my brothers! I am a third born son, a position more suited for battle than heritage. If Tiburon falls, Nitroes will take his place. If he falls, Natalie's husband will be able to take the throne in his stead." Athmas sighed. "Four accomplished generals have to die before I will be marked in history."

The King closed his eyes, "This isn't a discussion. You are going to a safe house tomorrow morning at first light. There you will await those that will be chosen to accompany you."

Athmas turned to leave, defiance flaring in his eyes. He wanted this, he truly did, but he should be fighting, not traveling around the countryside. The man in armor followed him out, but caught his arm after they turned a corner in the hall.

"Prince, this is a huge honor." He tore from the guard's grip, quickly moving down the hall to disappear into his chambers. The knight sighed, "The one time you aren't proud..." He muttered, but not loud enough for anyone to hear.

That night the young prince didn't have to pack anything away. His bag had been prepared for him, filled with clothes for any occasion, but nothing very fancy. A few people visited him, each sent by his father. One cut his hair differently, one instructed him on whatever basic common folk things he had missed learning due to lack of time, and the last was the castle bookkeeper.

The old man had hobbled in with a large book tucked under his arm. "Don't read it until you get to the house, and then you must take the time to memorize every page." Athmas had nodded and placed the book in the bag among his clothes.

He also picked out a few books of his own; two of his favorites and one he hadn't finished. He also slipped in a few notes that he had saved, though they weren't very important.

In the years to come, all Athmas would remember was the weather. At first, as he left the castle, it was fairly warm in the morning light. He was still getting used to the common clothes he wore, which were very different that his usual garb.

The first day in the carriage was warmer than he would have liked, but he slept most of the time. As evening drew near he noticed it was comfortably cool. He had warm soup with potatoes for dinner. The night was pleasantly cold, but by midnight he had gotten a sheep-skin blanket for warmth.

The next two days were redundant, and he spent the time reading and looking outside, even occasionally talking to whatever guard riding near the window.

The last day of travel started with a cool morning, and he had more warm soup to keep away the cold. It didn't get any warmer, and when he looked outside he saw that they were moving uphill. By lunch he could see a small town below them, but he didn't look out long because of the cold. After dinner he had more furs draped around his seat and make-shift bed. Nightfall came with colder winds that left him bundled up in fur.

Midnight left him chilled through the furs, straight to his bones.

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