Prologue: Part 4

I DO NOT HAVE AN EDITOR–There will be errors


Part 3:

Rhageon language:

Roggae- Father

s’Nysurria- the King, the Warlord

Muwwe- Mother

Sthora- Lady

Genrys- second-in-command

Tolla- Hello (formal) ; Tilla (informal)

Carfa- Yield

Jardee- curved blade, similar to a scimitar

Pesissido- Dissmissed

 


Ghyria, the Capitol of Rhageon)

Tomo

 

I never been to the city of Ghyria but I had definitely heard plenty of rumors.

Everyone did in Bighorn, the small village that I grew up in. When tradesmen would venture off to the city that never sleeps, my siblings and I and the other children would wait by the gates for them to return with stories and small gifts.

There was always wonder–unparalleled wonder in their eyes as they retold stories of their jaunts and adventures into the city of Eternal Light. Baring gifts of small toys and sweet candies, I used to envy the tradesmen who returned. How could they come back? I wanted to yell. I did not understand why they could witness the magnificence of the famed city and leave it.

Before Roggae’s riding accident left him with a pronounced limp, he too used to travel into Ghryia for trade.

A tanner, Hector would take his desert horse and a wagon bearing his wears to the city and when we came back, he would bring with him gifts for me and my four other siblings and a mouth brimming with stories.

Streets paved in starlight, buildings crafted from moonstone, a night sky rivaling the beauty of the city itself. A city that never knows true darkness, that is what his Roggae had said to me. He had placed a necklace with a shard of a moonstone over my head when he said this. A boy at that time, who was scared of the dark, hearing stories of a city that always possessed light, comforted me.

Holding that same necklace to his heart, I finally reached the end of the outskirts when I caught the first sight of Ghyria.

Hector did not lie.

From the perch of the desert horse, I am witness to the most awe-inspiring sight. Breathless, I am truly breathless, I said to myself as my eyes devoured a sprawling city drenched in moonlight.

It was as if the moon is closer to the city, as if attesting to the patron goddess’s dedication.

A glow emanated from the city. A light that both healed and blinded with its sheer magnificence.

From my vantage point, I looked eagerly over the architectural marvels of the sweeping builds, the uniformed homes sparkling with lit lanterns, the paved streets teeming with people and shops.

And at the epicenter of the city is the true masterpiece, the castle Luñana Meskka. Christened in glimmering, silvery beams, the castle is named for the Frysessan word for moonstruck. The eastern country held the perfect word to describe the castle whose splendor rivaled the utter vastness of the night sky.

Legend has it that the castle was carved from moonstone, but it did not seem credible until now.

Eager to see the castle up close and finish his mission, I steered the mare forward. Even the horse under me seems excited to the city. Or the beast is as desperate for cool water and food as I am.

As a messenger, it was my job to deliver the message quickly and without fault. Though I have been on the road for days with little no rest–hours have bleeding into days, I could not delay. There will be time to marvel at the city and purchase gifts for me family but in this moment, I hold what could be a vital message for the country of Rhageon.

Unconsciously, I reached down and patted the pack to feel for the bound and stamped scroll. Relieved to find it still there, I urged the horse onward.

Within the hour, I am swept in the throng of the bustling Ghyria citizens.

“I have already failed to keep my eyes forward and focus miles ago,” I mutter to myself as I pause to marvel at the sights.

It was as if every shadow has scurried form the luminescence that breaches every street, canal, and threshold. There was no discrimination: all are swept in and accepted into the light. Smiling faces and healthy slanted eyes greet me as I pass through the road. Even though it is well into the night, the city does not look like it is ready to settle for bed.

Music was streaming through every corner. Traveling bands sift through the streets and where they went, people stopped what they were doing and came together to dance. Smells that have every taste bud at attention tempt me but I somehow find strength to push forward.

As I grew closer to the castle, I must admit that there is an undeniable pull. It was as if it is calling me, pulling along a heartstring that beaconed me to come home.

We Rhageons have always been known as a practical people. Our more ostentatious neighbors, Mycea and Aestha have called us backwards and uncivilized, not understanding my people’s indifference to flouncing their wealth. We do possess wealth, tremendous amounts of it. The country’s treasury has remained flush throughout the centuries, despite a few unfit ruler’s unwise decisions, and the mines have blessedly never ran dry. It is not customary for Rhageon’s to “sit on their wealth” like others may do but to instead pay respect to their gods and community.

The bards speak of a time before mortals, when the world belonged to the First Race, the Feyeria. They were the first creations of the goddess Lyceria and were lovingly dubbed “the Fey.” They were the first to come across and split up the continent of Xyermeis into the four countries: Rhageon, Aestha, Frysessa, and Mycea. Off of the Fey Sea, the Fey choose not to claim the monster-ridden peninsula Death Island. Believing that the legends were true that the goddess Bemarisse sent her rejected demonic creations to the island to thrive, the Fey settled their roots within the Four Kingdoms long before Lyceria created the Second Race, the mortals. Little did she know that with her decision, she would bring utterly devastating mayhem to the First Race.

The second largest country on the continent, Rhageon is the only country that has chosen to fully acknowledge their upkeep of the old religion. Frysessa has endured a cloak of secrecy but due to its proximity to the Fey-infested Island, the country has remained even more hushed about the matter. The people of Mycea and Aestha only believe in one god. It seems impossible for people to believe that one entity can possess such powers and hold over people.

The Rhageon people have always possessed a resolute love, respect, but also a level of healthy fear of our deities. How can we not?

Throughout our history, the bards and historians retell the gods shining their favor and delight with us mortals but in times of conflict and strife, the gods were at times the ones to stroke the flames. Troublesome Collic loved to meddle with mortal’s daily affairs. There were numerous myths of the god of the desert luring unsuspecting mortals to their deaths. Tricking them with illusions of oases, they were none the wiser until they realized they were waist-deep in quicksand.

But while there are gods who we must be cautious of, it is their devoted patron goddess Lyceria who continues to prove her love for her creations. And it is impossible to not believe in her love when she strategically dropped a massive moonstone from the sky right in the center of Ghyia hundreds of years ago.

Striking the Earth with a blinding light, the moonstone fell from the sky. Many went blind as the stone came down. Their eyes were stained silver. The citizens knew that this was no other moonstone but a gift from their goddess. The giant stone brought the citizens health, magic, love, power, and the arts of healing. A child born blind would be brought before the stone and would wake the next day with seeing eyes the color of shimmering silver. Lovers who quarreled would go before the stone and would leave with a resolved love that rivaled the earth and heavens. Women who revealed gifts of astuteness and resilience were brought to the presence of the stone and were formally anointed as Lyceria’s priestess. It was not only a rise in status but a blessing that entrusted the gifts of foretelling’s and being at the ear of the goddess’s faint whispers.

Rituals both formal and simple were performed before the stone and during the annual Moon Festivals; the citizen crowded around the stone and celebrated its presence. In times of darkness and distress, the people lit candles around the perimeter of the moonstone and danced away the fears throughout the night.

It was not until a silvery-white lightning bolt struck a boy who would later become king that the moonstone would serve another purpose.

The boy, Desimond, had been dazed yet unharmed after the strange occurrence. But that night, Desimond had epiphanic dreams of a castle etched in a mountain of moonstone. The ethereal sight captivated him until he became obsessed with the visions of the castle embedded in rays of winking azure, milky white, and tender pale greys.

Dedicating his youth and his sanity, Desimond justified this obsession claiming that it was the goddess who sent him the image of the castle in his dreams. Desimond did not witness the beauty of his vision until he was a wizened old man. His squinty grey eyes were almost blind by the time he laid them on the finished castle.

Brought to tears, I dashed my palms across my eyes to hide the show of weakness as I finally reach the gates of the castle.

This is the true meaning of “lunana messka”; to be utterly spellbound by the inhuman magnificence of the castle.

It is like being in the presence of a living, breathing fairytale. Ethereal to new levels, one cannot help but hold their breathe at the sight of the castle impressed so devotedly into the moonstone. Fantasy and reality clashing into this mad harmony, the details and passionate architectural designs of the castle are lost in the splendor of the moonstone. How can man-made compare to such purity? It appeared as if the moonstone is dedicated to being the castle’s facade–a wall of shimmery slabs of moonstone. The spirals atop of the castle shoot past the castle’s wall, reaching skywards and appearing to almost kiss the very heavens. Pensioned by the greatest master glassblowers stationed in the Tailor’s Den, expansive, masterfully crafted windows are fixated into the castle–the intention for the occupants to be at constant audience to the glory and be rejuvenated from the healing light of the moonstone.

Beneath me, I felt my horse grow restless. Shaking its head and impatiently shifting beneath me, I jolted as I realize I must have been staring for a while. Face becoming red, I tear my eyes away from the castle and lead the horse to the watchtower.

“Halt. What business do you have within?” A deep, muffled voice comes from above my head. Halting abruptly, I cautiously watched as a group of armed guards approach.

Quickly scanning my eyes, I spotted the sentries above, pointing their arrows tipped in silkworm poison towards me.

Gulping, I moved the scarf I wrapped around my face to protect myself from the desert winds enough to reply, “I am a messenger from BigHorn. I have important news to deliver to s’Nysurria.” My throat was rough and scratchy from thirst but I must have been clear enough because a group of guards soon came around to check my packs and pat me down for weapons.

The message had come two days ago. Once the message touched my hands, I had ridden like the Bemarisse, the goddess of Death, was riding on my heels.

After a few moments, the gates were opened. Relieved I urged my exhausted horse forward. Servants rushed up and I hopped off and took the wineskin handed to me. Forcing myself not to gulp down the cool water, I watched, as my horse was lead to a trough. Wiping the back of my hand across my lips I followed the servant towards the castle doors.

The servant leaved me by the lip of the stars and I hurried up to be greeted by another set of guards waiting for me.

Thorough, I thought, they were very thorough here.

The other guards must have been informed of my arrival because the soldiers preformed one last sweep of my person before calling out, “Open the doors.”

The colossal door slowly groaned open. Half expecting an orchestra to announce my arrival, I shook off any apprehension as I strived through the opening.

The castle’s magnificent interior almost rivaled the exterior.

It was like a city within a city; a sprawling metropolis governed and divided by the castle workers, it was a shame no one will ever fully appreciate the grand fortress when is such close imminence to the giant slab of moonstone.

Walking through the courtyard was like sifting through a forest of giant trees; the towers dominated the air. Looming over me, I noticed the patterns atop the pillars resemble rows of teeth. Grand, with imposing white towers that look down at like masterless djinn, feeling eyes on my back, the I peeked upward and spied attentive soldiers from the belvederes atop the towers.

As I bustled through the courtyard, I noted with wonder the towers appear to be as if they are growing. Each tower and building deliberately designed to appear as is rising in stature and size as it reaches the apex of edifices, where the Warlord resides.

Stationed closer to the heart of the castle are opulent caravanserais for visiting nobility, ambassadors, and courtiers. To help             the established men and women retire from their travels, the buildings are in eyesight to the several man-made oasis’s, that served as aesthetics and sport. Those who appreciated a more pastoral view will enjoy the sights farther east, where closer to the wall, a field is open for the castle’s livestock and royal stables and kennel.

I was soon swept in the throng of castle workers, dignitaries, ambassadors, tourists, warriors, merchants, and priestesses as they mill throughout. Finally reaching the lip of the courtyard, I bowed as I passed a fountain that lies in the center as it sputters clear blue water from the statue of an enormous wolf.

Reaching the final building, I repeated my inquiry within and the armed guards open the doors. Continuing on, a surge of pride rumbles throughout my chest. I was bringing honor and pride to my family by completing my mission.

I did not take the time to pause and look up in admiration at the rich opulence of my country’s wealth surrounding me. My sand and dirt-caked skin was a rough reminder of my purpose as I hurried past the expanse of magnificent tiles, a hand painted mosaic–the image of the moon goddess and the silver face of the moon.

Similar to the First Race, the Rhageons respect the arts, dedicating every inch of the castle walls with extravagant paintings. The ceilings reveal various expressions of the night sky–twinkling yellow stars, bold depictions of ghostly, giant planets, the audacious sun in harsh shades of yellow and orange, and the resplendent, glittery brilliance of the moon in every phase. The attention to detail was almost masochistic in its effort to dazzle and bewitch. Each pillar was engraved with fine and shallow grooves, the exposed framework look as if to be burdened with layers and layers of polished woods, and entire walls are dedicated to murals and patterned designs. The mad, chaotic art gracing the castle would have been gaudy but somehow, it worked. The castle was alive with not only the lives filing through the hallways but with art.

My sandals clicked on the black and silver marble tiles. Each step left a fading echo as I passed rooms bursting with grandiose spoils and immaculate rooms with high ceilings and intricate light fixtures holding nine candles each.

The recently conquered Menis was now a city-state that exports priceless goods: lapis lazuli, lumber, salt, sugar cane, emeralds, gold, and saffron.  Due to past, weaker kings, the city-state had parted from Rhageon and had lived as its own republic. And therefore, a threat. But since the current Nysurria took the throne after Rhamick, the Warlord had made it a mission to reclaim the exiled city-state and had done so quickly.

The plunders joined the room overflowing with precious, extraordinary pieces. The collected spoils is organized, numbered and heavily guarded try to tempt the man to stop and become enthralled under the spell of their power. An assemblage of preserved pottery embedded with rubies and emeralds wink at the messenger and the famed statues with various animal heads and human bodies from every stage of life, stare after the man, the painted black eyes rapt on his retreating form.

Walking opposite to me now, servants with colorful and unique head wraps and scarves, carry baskets filled to the brim with lush, ripe fruits, grains, corn stalks, raw, spun silk ready to be fashioned into garments, and chatter as they perform their tasks, pausing to bow with their fists over their hearts as they passed Lyceria’s shrine. A young girl walked with a bucket of grain, a small brown monkey coiled around her neck nibbled on a banana as it idly mutters.

Enormous, rectangular windows reveal the raw beauty of the desert winds; potted cactuses with enchanting pink flowers and wildflowers, the country’s symbol, sit atop the ledge. The windowpanes were embedded with the welcoming, healing energy of polished malachite. A rolling, answering wave of heat brushes against the back of my neck.

Before a large cut of moonstone, the edges uneven and fissured, a small statue of the moon goddess rests beneath a raised dais, the willowy form and large almond-shaped eyes illuminated by nine lit vanilla candles and surrounded by interweaving, varicolored rugs. Outsiders who are ignorant to the stories of their devout Lyceria would have wondered why the castle choose not to have a grandiose and immaculate shrine for their patron goddess.

Diplomats from the pretentious and sprawling lands of Mycea had turned their noses up at the small shrine and the stoic and the dreary Aesthan men had not outwardly revealed their displeasure and kept their icy expressions in impeccable, expert place. Unlike their gods, Lyceria preferred modesty and found beauty and treasures within the soul more cherished over flamboyant, extravagant displays. So like their goddess, Rhageons–especially those who live in Ghyria–did not decorate their homes in gaudy colors but favored significant and contemporary art rather than ornate and flashy pieces. A goddess who has many faces–nine for the phases of the moon–Lyceria’s shrines were positioned in nine various locations where her people can pray. The main temple was farther west towards Massiet where the Warlord’s Muwwe was primarily stationed as Head Priestess unless her presence is requested, as it was today.

The High Priestess Cemara, Muwwe of the Nysurria, performs prayers for a crowd of people waiting to be blessed, taking their small offerings and soothing their bright and fevered eyes. The High Priestess’s silver bangles clink with her movements and the white paint designed across the expanse of her taut figure is stark against her healthy, ebony skin. With the New Moon here and the sudden drought that plagued Rhoh a fortnight ago, the masses plead for reassurance and guidance, their voices rising with despondency.

The New Moon can deliver misfortune to those who hold sins and darkness in their hearts. If one does not purge the evil within them, calamity and death will inevitably follow. Refuges from Rhoh–kohl-rimmed eyes caked with tears and tunics stained with sand and sweat–lament the sudden droughts that have afflicted them and a young man with a gold tooth and thick, black tattoos etched across his bald skull, pleaded on his knees for redemption–his wailing haunting, which causes the gooseflesh on my arms to rise.

But the High Priestess keeps a calm visage as she touched each person’s forehead, whispering as she presses crushed sage. Concluding her prayers, she kisses the person’s forehead as she whispered a plea, “May Lyceria lead you to the light.”

I nodded in approval as I passed by, quickly bowing to the diminutive statue of the goddess in respect as I hurried on towards the training yard.

I crossed through the arcade, which opened up to the training yard. The arches are stained in flourishes of red and indigo, as if someone had lone ago, decided to throw buckets of paint across the surface.

I heard the grunts of the fighters and the clash of steel before I came across the crowd of moving bodies. Large pillars strung with lanterns were lit to highlight the large open space of the training yard and allow the people from the rows of bleachers to observe the hard-willed men and women preforming rigid drills. Candles and offerings were left at the feet of the statues of the sibling gods, Hyrisis and Fatima, as their stone faces overlooked the area. The former’s stance proud and indomitable in his armor that’s rumored to be the shade of dawn, the latter’s unembellished eyes, unwavering as she surveyed and judged those her disciples.

Half-naked bodies were slick with sweat and sand as they trained with a single-minded purpose: to become the greatest. The heavily, tattooed tawny bodies performed their drills, dodging, lunging and jabbing with an eerie grace and I tried  to not look too awed by the best warriors of Rhageon practice their deadly technique. “It is like a dance,” I said aloud. “A deadly dance that only the elite and dedicated could ever hope to master.”

The elite warriors are easy to distinguish–nine braids with silver and red beads–carrying a deadly aura with hardness about them that only the fiercest warriors could ever hope to attain.

One of the generals, Sthora Heleroa, was currently off to the side speaking with one of her celebrated protégées Manuel the Mountain, the victor of the Danviel games two months prior. Rumors had even reached the small hamlet where I lived. The Mountain was rumored to be a fighter with no educated grace but with a wildness that resulted in his bloody victory. Normally, the most skilled warriors are trained in Ajax, where veteran soldiers train the aspiring soldiers. Sent at a young age, the young women and men who chose to fight for Rhageon joined the school and braved the strict rules. Manuel had not been sent to the school, growing up in a modest family who had recently suffered a death. Manuel had to provide for his family after the death of his roggae and trained in secret to prepare for the games.

The generals’ brassy, red hair was striking underneath the afternoon sun as she performed a series of moves with a curved sword to the fatigued young man, his body slick with sweat but his eyes rapt and lethal.

I shook my head and ignored the stroke of envy that suddenly gripped me. To be able to be under the tutelage of one of the notorious warriors our country has to offer, it would be such an honor. My hands tightened their grasp on the sealed letter as I walked towards the edge of the yard.

Halting by a solitary, young Ironwood tree, the purple flowers soft against my skin, I turned my neck back and forth, struggling to remember where my employer told him to go next. First was through the castle gates, the palace doors, the training yard, then…something about a meteorite and the private training yard.

A loud grunt followed by the sound of clashing steel swords comes from a little farther to the east. A satisfied smile tugged at my list as I followed the sound, sure that it must be the Warlord training in his private gardens.

Dodging a scattering of rocks that reach the height of his waist, I narrowly missed a tripping over a loose stone when I spotted a red-tailed hawk resting atop a tall grey-brown Mesquite tree. The predator tilted its head as a gust of wind tickles the back of my neck. Whistling at the bird, I marched forward through and not the first times, wished that I could take the time to fully explore the legendary gardens where the preserved and carefully monitored meteorite was held.

Remembering the story Muwwe told me about the meteorite, she had mentioned how aeons ago–even before the Fey roamed the Four Kingdoms without fear–the Rhageon ancestors came across the large rock that plummeted from the sky. A gift from their goddess, our ancestors believed this was a sign to build the city around the relic to protect and honor their goddess’s gift.

Extending my neck to peek over the high hedges blocking the view, I could almost imagine seeing a flash of glistening light.

Turning a corner and dodging the stubbornly prickly branch of an attractive Red Yucca tree, I halted as I came across two men, both in their prime, currently circling each other like lions atop a limestone cliff. Too focused or too careless, the two men did not pay attention to the peril beneath their feet. A loose rock crushes underneath the taller man’s foot, tumbling down the gorge.

The dark-haired man with nine braids and the man with silvery-white hair circled each other as they wait for the other to make the first move. Their movements were effortlessly graceful–a predator’s ease. I could not help but pause. Enraptured.

A few months ago, while on duty, I had been trekking through the countryside and had froze when witnessing a mountain lion stalking its prey. Hiding behind a large tree,  I dared to not breathe as the feline pounced on the idle, grazing deer. It was a savage battle; the deer’s high-pitched shrieks stealing my breath. But it was the intent look in the predator’s’ eyes that still haunted me. In those depths, I knew true fear. True intent. True power.

I pushed down the urge to pinch myself as I observed two of the greatest warriors in Rhageon fight with innate grace. Genrys Nortega is the first to move; his taller and more slender frame swift as he strikes low–followed by twisting his body as he ducks underneath the answering swipe of s’Nysurria curved sword. But Nysurria is quicker. Settling on the balls of his feet, the Warlord launches himself suddenly at his opponent which inhuman speed.

It was like white lightning had suddenly struck–the Warlord’s white hair only visible as he moved with unparalleled swiftness, dodging the parried attacks and suddenly going on the offensive as he lunged with assurance–then striking again with an inert strength. Though Nysurria does not have a bulky build with slabs of intimidating muscle like Manuel the Mountain, there was a wildness about him. s’Nysurria eyes remained cold and calculating–a calm that can only be found by the hardiest of men or women who cannot be fazed by death and carnage.

A predator who can reign in his harsher qualities as he effortlessly attacks with grace and effectively tire his opponent without breaking a sweat–was a creature that I pray to Lyceria never to come across in battle.

As the dance of swords proceeds, the silvery-white form landed blow after blow on the fatigued Genrys. Suddenly the air was tense as Nysurria shoulders the leaner man in the solar plexus–taking his right leg and hooking it beneath s’Genrys left. Silence pulsated as the dark-haired man lands on the grass with a thump.

Soon as the other man’s body touched the ground, Nysurria pointed his jardee –a curved sword–at the other man’s neck, demanding as he yells, “Carfa!” Yield!

The dark-haired man slammed his head on the grass, growling, “Carfa! Now get your fat ass off me, Torien!”

Stunned, I watched as the Nysurria backed off the other man’s body, setting his jardee to the side as he threw his head back in laughter.

“Nortega, you have always been a sore loser,” he finished.  Abruptly lifting his head, his silver eyes ensnared me, “Tolla, Tomo of Bighorn. Are you going to continue to stand over there and stare until the vultures pick out your eyes?” The Warlord finished with a smile with all teeth and no humor.

I tried to swallow past the sudden dryness in my throat and failed. Silver eyes captivated and held me without wavering; the power discharging from the silvery depths seemed otherworldly but not wholly unkind. It was embarrassing to admit but I had grudgingly believed that I had snuck up on the men but as I looks back into s’Nysurria primal gaze and toned body ready to pounce, it seemed almost ludicrous to believe anyone could sneak up on the Warlord of Rhageon.

Picking himself up, Nortega brushed the dirt from his skin and linen wrap.  Finding his efforts satisfactory, second-in-command acknowledged me with a nod. Turning back to his friend, Nortega gifted a slight smile to his friend, “Thank Lyceria you watched our fight. Now you and our goddess can be witnesses to Torien’s treachery.”

The Nysurria only smirked at his closest friend’s snarky remark.

“Sore loser,” he repeated, flicking the end of his braid with indifference.

“Beast,” Nortega retaliated with a wide grin.

Shaking his head, the Warlord of Rhageon zeroed in on the sealed letter in my hand. “That is the Mycean King’s seal.”

The letter with a gold H in the center of the wax blue seal abruptly became heavy in my hands. Hands shaky, I bow before my king and lift the message in my hands.  “Nysurria,” I say quietly.

I could feel watchful and bright silver eyes on me. The Warlord leaned down took the letter from my hands. Still bowing, I heard the breaking of the seal. The mounting anxiety, which had been rising since the heavy and ornate letter came into my hands, was about to burst through. If the Warlord seemed so indifferent, there was no need for alarm, right?

Nortega motioned for me to stand.  Straightening my spine, I watched as he stood behind s’Nysurria, his earlier humor vanished. Nortega was tense as the Warlord opened the letter, dark eyes, sharp as a hawks’, narrowed on the Warlord, as if he could read the other’s man facial expression like a book.

A few moments could have passed yet it felt like a century until Genrys Nortega broke the silence, “What does the fat King want, s’Nysurria?”

I released my breathe in relief.  The question had been budding on my tongue but knew it would be idiotic to disrupt.

The Warlord did not answer. The tension in the air was thick like a miasma. Between the uncertainty in Noretega’s eyes and the severity in s’Nysurria silver ones,  I held back the scream that demands to be let out.

Rhageon has always kept a wobbly but stable relationship with the neighboring country that was only separated by the Beser Desert–neutral territory where trading mostly occurs. The country of peacocks with strange ways and only one god could never hide their disgust as they interact with us Rhageons. Many times, I had been tempted to throttle the snooty Mycean merchants who would mutter in their fast-paced language with too many vowels as they looked up and down in discontentment.

A growl broke through the tension. Vibrating from his chest, the Warlord pulled back his lips, revealing his sharp teeth sharp and white as he responded, “The peacocks have gone too far. They have declared war on us, thinking we are too ignorant and weak”, he spited out the last words with fury, his lips curling and revealing sharp, white teeth.

Nortega did not look surprised, nodding as his intelligent eyes look off into the distance, as if already preparing battle strategies in his head. “This war has been a long time coming. Remember the incident with the young village girls in Ramayara?”

I had heard rumors of the “incident” claiming that Mycean merchants had snuck into the small but prosperous village of Ramayara with the intent of kidnapping young Rhageon girls to sell in Mycea. Slavery has been outlawed in Rhageon since the Fey fled to Death Island and Mycea a few decades later. For those men to attempt to steal these girls–the prized wildflowers of Rhageon–advocated what type of country that could create such monsters.

Na, I remember,” he snarled, “Nortega, go gather my generals; we have war to discuss.” Looking back at me, he nodded, “Pesissido.” Dismissed.

I turned to leave as the white-haired man began to undress. Walking out of the garden, I noticed a blinding white light from behind me. Turning quickly, the Warlord was gone and in his place, a giant white wolf.


 

Part 5

 

 

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