The air is crisp and chilled as Lord Hiddard Larks turns to glare into the eyes of his darling wife, Molly. For today is to be a special day. Today is the twin’s birthday.
Ten years old now, he whispers to Molly as she extends her arms and complains of the cold. By the feel of it, my husband, summer has ended.
“Yes, it has.” He responds. Wishing for another warmer day for the children that would not come.
With cold feet, he carries a candle over to light a fire. Fire is now needed throughout all of Toan. It may take one or two moons before the entire castle feels the warmth. He will hurry the Clans to ignition.
“Wonderful, but what time will the festivities begin?” Molly asks.
Realizing he has no choice but to answer, he begins to move his tongue to say what she would not want to hear.
Unfortunately, my love, there will be no festivities for the King has summoned me to Mason for a meeting. Molly hated Mason as did Hiddard, but there was no choice but to meet the King’s demand. Many moons ago his refusal cost him his wife and three sons.
The sweet smells of lavender rice remind him of her standing in the middle of the kitchen stirring over the open flame while the laughter of the twins often reminds him of his boys and the fun games they played. He had plans for his sons to grow into strong men, but that was taken away by a murderous tyrant.
Hiddard has never forgotten the horrendous sounds of their screams and the smell of their burning flesh as he stood powerless to save them.
“You and me and the twins must make our way there. Besides they have not been on an adventure in a while. This could be their birthday present.” He explains.
Molly frowns with disgust in her eyes. On the first day of winter, they must travel the road with the children no less to the horrid Mason. The cold has manipulated your mind, my Lord.
Placing his arms around Molly, he assures her a safe journey but also breaking additional news at the same time.
“My love, I must tell you something more. Five Enforcers deserted their duty post making their way here. You know the law, and I must uphold it.” He says.
” You have a strange way of upholding the law Hiddard.” Molly replies.
“You know I am being watched and can’t take any chances with your lives. I will do what I must.” He barks.
Forcing open the door and letting out their kindest laughs were the children.
“My loves, what have we told you both about knocking?” Ask Hiddard.
Laughing as their father tickled them both was their favorite.
“Sundo and Celest hug your mother.” He ordered.
“You both give the warmest hugs. Happy birthday!” Molly exclaimed.
“Yes! We are ten now.” Said the twins in unison.
“I have a surprise for both of you. We will be going on a journey to Mason.” Hiddard says.
Up and down they jumped as they had been yearning to leave the castle. Molly smiles and grabs them both.
“Now, Nanny will help both of you pack a bag with warm coverings for the road.” She says as the thought of only being their stepmother confronts her. Their joy fills the air as they hurry for the door.
“Sundo, wait for a second son.” Hiddad commands.
“You are now ten years old and considered a man. As a man, you must attend to your duties. Son, five people broke the law, and now they must be punished. You will accompany me and my men to the Pit where justice will prevail.” Hiddard justifies.
Sundo had heard of his father handing out justice before but he did not clearly understand.
Hiddard dresses in layers and finally places his black pelt over himself. Sundo was ecstatic as his father hands him a matching pelt.
They hurry to meet up with three of Hiddard’s men and made their way to the Pit. The Pit was where men and sometimes women awaited to be transferred to Mason to fight in the games. Dread was upon the air.
Hundreds of moons ago, the Bolong family guarded the Wall but wanted more. They were bored so they decided to bring a proposition to Fefinar, Guardian of the Keys by way of Queen Palera. Fefinar had much power, but he did many things in secret. In secret, he created the games. He supplied human capital by buying men and women from outer realms. They would fight to the death and Fefinar and the Bolongs collected gold by placing bets with the Ta’l Bank.
Now, the Bolongs still run the games, but for the entertainment of the Realm. Hiddard is a responsible supplier, a job he despises.
Another job he must adhere to is the duty of executioner. Anyone who deserts their post or tries to escape their military position within the Force is sentenced to die.
A tall man opens the gate to the cell where the men were being held in. All five were scrawny and filthy. One called out for water while others seem to have accepted their faith. The men were lined up in front of a stoned gigantic Titano Boa snake parched above arenas the insignia of the Larks House.
Feeling sorrow in his heart Hiddard glares into their young faces thinking of Sundo who was about to witness the King’s terror by the hand of his own father.
A shorter gentleman hands Sundo a light sword.
“Whatever you do, do not drop this sword and do not look away.” The man orders.
“I won’t.” Sundo replies.
Hiddard looks to the spectrum sky, closes his eyes, and whispers a prayer before turning to the men.
“I Lord Hiddard Larks, protector of the Outskirts of the Zaylen Realm sentence you to die by my hand. Do any of you have last words?” He asks.
The young man who asked for water responds.
“This Realm is cursed with a dark spirit that can only be healed by a Dawn! He is coming, and he brings the morphs of death with him. I saw them. I saw Death Claws. These men are afraid, but they saw him to. Tales that were told to us children by nurse nannies are real. Boilos is real and he searches for the one who will bring forth the dragons.” The young man cries.
Hiddard releases his black sword made of magma glass from its scabbard. With one swing, their throats were slit with cuts so deep their heads rolled from their bodies. Sundo did not look away nor drop his sword. He has a proud look in his eyes, and careful not to speak of it just yet.
“Give them a proper burial.” Hiddard commands.
Taking the hand of his son, they head back towards the castle. Hiddards feels Sundo wanting to question him but silence remains.
Dawnies, I hope everyone enjoys chapter two. Where do you think Hiddard’s true loyalties lie? With his family or the king? Why?