Some of you may not know this, but I enjoy writing. Not just on this blog or other blogs (totally available for guest posts for those that are interested), but I enjoy writing stories. Last November I did NaNoWriMo, and I made it to the 50,000 word count, enough to be a “winner.” Since then I have reworked that story a little bit, to the point that it is completely different. I thought it would be fun to publish a prologue to the story here. I have never shared my writing publicly like this,and honestly, I am terrified. That being said, I would love your feedback. I want to get better, and want to know if this story sounds at all interesting. Please let me know. The working title for the story is “Leaving Pendar,” but it might change somewhere along the way. In any case, here is the prologue. Please enjoy, and let me know what you think.
Melaine slept in her bed in the small servants’ quarters. It was late in the night, and it had been a busy day. The Naming Ceremony for the newly born prince had taken place that day. He had been given his mortal name and the title of crown prince and heir to the throne of Pendar. Most children born in the kingdom were given mortal names in a Naming Ceremony, but only this child could be given the title of crown prince. Most Naming Ceremonies were small and involved the immediate family and the local Shepherd, who handled the religious portion of the ceremony. For the prince, it seemed like the whole kingdom had turned up to see what he would be named. The Shepherd who was performing the ritual was the King’s Shepherd, the highest religious office one could hold in the kingdom. It had been a beautiful ceremony and event. For the servants, it had also been an exhausting one. Melaine had been anxious to find her bed once she had been released from her duties for the day.
Not surprisingly, her husband, Jaspar, had not come to their quarters yet. Melaine worked with the cook in the kitchens, and was one of many servants there. Jaspar, on the other hand was the king’s personal man. He went everywhere the king went, and was often very late coming home. When they had first wed, this had bothered Melaine quite a bit, but after their ten years together, she understood why. The kingdom did not stop needing a king just because it was dark and past her husband’s bed time. She was used to falling asleep in their bed alone. She just appreciated that she woke up to the love of her life each morning.
She also appreciated that the quarters they had were so large. Because he was the king’s personal man, Jaspar had been given the largest servant quarters in the palace. She was sure that most successful merchants or tradesmen did not have homes as large or luxurious as their quarters. They may be servants, and as such their lives were not their own, but Jaspar’s position provided them access to some of the niceties that life had to offer. Including the large, comfortable feather bed that Melaine was enjoying at that moment, while she dreamed of herself and Jaspar having the run of the giant palace. It was a pleasant dream that would never come true. It was a good thing that her dreams were her own. She did not even share them with her husband.
Suddenly, the door to their quarters burst open, as Jaspar rushed inside. The noise startled Melaine awake. She sat up in her bed quickly, trying to open and adjust her eyes to see what had caused the sound. She stared at her husband, while she wiped the sleep from her eyes. She could make out his shape, and was fairly certain it was him, but his face was still fuzzy. She tried to speak, to ask him what was happening, but in her daze, she was having a hard time forming the words. Her vision became clearer, and she could just make out his face in the dark. It was frantic. He was distressed, and he kept looking over his shoulder. She got up to go to him in the door, but before she could reach it, he had closed it and rushed over to their wardrobe, and began pulling out clothes.
“Up, Melaine, you must get up and get going,” he said, not realizing in his frenzy that she was already up and moving. “We must get ready to go now. There is no time. Find some plain clothes, nothing fancy, and get dressed. Do it quickly!” The urgency in his voice was thick and strained. Something was very wrong.
“ I am up, Jaspar, and of course I will do as you say, but what is happening? Why are you so frantic?”
“There is not much time to explain everything. Please get dressed. We must hurry.” His voice was becoming more anxious and frantic each time he spoke. “All I can say right now is that the king is dead. His rule has ended, and his kingdom may fall.” With that statement, his voice changed from frantic somber. His final words came almost as a whisper.
The king was dead! She could hardly believe it. There were so many questions running through her mind. How could this have happened? Who had done this? The most important question: Why? She didn’t ask any of the questions. It was typical for servants to flee when their masters died. It was their one opportunity to escape servitude. If they remained, someone would become king, and they would simply be passed on to them. They were property at that point, and they came with the palace. The king had been good to them, but she knew that not all kings would be. The next king could be harsh. He could be abusive to his servants. He may not select Jaspar to be his personal man. He may demote him down to cleaning the pig stalls. It had been known to happen. Even worse, he may refuse to recognize their marriage, splitting them up, and marrying them off to other servants or his own house. There had been plenty stories of things like that happening. She found herself wondering who the next king might be, as she was getting herself dressed and trying to gather what supplies they could bring with them that would be easy to carry. Her back felt stiff, and she had not fully recovered yet from the day’s activities. That was when she remembered. She knew who the next king would be.
“What about the prince, Jaspar? Is he safe? Would he not be the next king?”
“He is safe, for now, I hope he will stay that way, but he will not be king yet. He is an infant. None of the Great Lords would recognize or respect his rule. Some would not hesitate to kill him if it meant the throne. Perhaps he will be king someday, but for now he must be kept safe!” Jaspar put special emphasis on the last part. It made Melaine begin to worry and wonder.
“Husband, where is the prince? How is he being kept safe?”
Then she heard it. It was a fuss, like a child makes, coming from a small bundle Jaspar had been holding when he came in the room. She stared at for a moment, and saw some small movements. She walked over to it, and moved one of the blankets to uncover a perfect, beautiful round face. His white eyes stared up at her, and his fussing turned to sounds of contentment. She swore in that moment that the child even smiled at her.
“The king asked me to save the prince. He asked me with his dying breath. The intruders did not know the boy was in the room with him. We must hurry, Melaine. We must leave here and go as far away as we can if we are to save him.”
Riickaar had been summoned to the inner chamber of the Temple of the White Magix. As a Knight of Pendar, he had had the pleasure of serving here at the temple, protecting the Magix for many years now. He had even been promoted to Captain of the Guard, commanding the small group of Knights charged with protecting Luthiene, Mistress of the White Magix. He had his pick of all the Knights to serve with him, and had assembled a team of the finest, most loyal Knights. They were loyal to him as their captain, and more importantly, they were loyal to the Mistress.
Riickaar entered the chamber where the Mistress sat, and immediately dropped to one knee and bowed his head. He did not know if she saw him. It did not matter. This was the custom. This was the practice. He would stay there on one knee, head bowed, until she acknowledged him and bade him to stand. No one announced guests for the Mistrees, and guests certainly did not announce themselves. Out of respect for her and her calling, one would wait until one was addressed by her. Riickaar knelt and waited.
Very shortly, she spoke to him. “Captain, please stand and approach my throne. You have been summoned, and we have business that needs discussed.”
He stood, and respectfully walked toward her throne. The throne was cut from the whitest marble that had ever been found in the world. It had a high back that was slender toward the seat, but as it went higher it fanned out, like the rays of the sun. It was beautiful and glorious. The woman who sat in it added to the glory and beauty. She shone with the light of the White Magix, a glow that never left her. Many Wizards would show the same glow when the used the Magix, but it always faded. For the Mistress, it never did. Not for this Mistress, or any Mistress or Master that had lived before, until they had passed from the mortal world. Riickaar suspected that the Mistress had always been beautiful. Had she been a normal woman, he imagined many a man would be smitten by her. As it was, he could not fully make out her face because of the light. Many who met the Mistress only once felt that they were in the presence of deity. The Knights and Wizards knew better, of course, but commoners were much more superstitious.
The captain approached her throne, and then once again fell to one knee. This would be the position he would keep for the entirety of their conversation. “Mistress, it is my pleasure to serve the Light and the Light’s servant, Luthiene, Mistress of the White Magix. What would you ask me to do, Mistress? What doe the Light require?”
“Yes, Captain, what I ask of this night, the Light requires. We have found ourselves in dark times, and we must be obedient to the Light if we are to survive. King Edgewar is dead. He has been murdered by a servant of the dark. The Magix has shown me this. He was a kind friend to this temple and to the Knights, but I fear that who follows will not be. I fear that the next king looks to bring chaos to this kingdom, and to destroy this temple. I fear he serves the Nothing, the Great Darkness. This is what I have seen in the Light this night. I have not seen his face, only the results of his rule.”
“I will prepare my men, Mistress, and for the Light, we will find this man, and we will destroy him before he comes to power. For the Whit Magix, we will save this kingdom.”
“Loyal Riickaar, long and faithful have you served as the captain of my guard. What you have spoken is not what the Light requires of you. The Light has another quest for you, and you must complete it, or all hope will be lost.”
On the shore of the Great Salt Sea, a tall dark figure stood alone, and waited. The figure stood, feeling the breeze on his cheeks and in his hair. He closed his eyes and breathed in the salty air. He could smell the blood that had been spilled this night. It always energized him. The thought of it made him smile. He could not spill the blood himself, not now, but he had his servants, and their acts were the same as his own. So he stood and waited for the appointed time, and breathed in the smell of salty air and spilled blood, and he smiled.
In the distance, but not too far off, he heard the sound of human feet approaching. He reached out into the night, and perceived that this was what he was waiting for. His servant was returning to report. The first phase of his grand plan had occurred, and his servant was coming to report the success. The smile on his face broadened. Everything was happening according to his plan, and now it was all happening quickly. The waves from the sea were coming further onto the beach. They were lapping on his boots now. He did not feel the wet. He looked up at the clearing in the trees, and waited, until his servant appeared. He was moving quickly, but not at a run. He was simply moving with a purpose. He made his way to the beach, and then bowed his head to the lone dark figure.
“Master,” he said, “it is finished, as you have commanded.”
The figure smiled. As he did, a thick, black, haze began to engulf him, up to his neck. Then it moved from him to his servant. His servant looked up at the black fog, and tried to scream as it entered his mouth, then continued down his throat and into his lungs. Instead of a scream, all that escaped the man was the fog, having performed its work. It returned to the lone figure and disappeared. The servant’s body dropped to the beach, lifeless. No blood was spilled by my hands, the figure though, smiling to himself, that would be forbidden for now. No blood, but I can still feed on his soul.
The dark figure turned toward the water and walked into it, then he stepped onto the water and began walking toward the center of the sea. The black fog returned and engulfed him, and then it disappeared, taking the figure with it. The sea remained clam and undisturbed, reflecting the stars and the moon above. The woods around the shoreline of the sea were silent and still. What had just occurred was more than a death, and somehow nature had understood.