The Secret Keeper–last half of the story

Ten hours later Tearden was on a plane to America. He’d always wanted to travel but had never had the money. Now he was going on somebody else’s dime. By the way the men kept glancing at him when they thought he wasn’t looking, he couldn’t tell if they didn’t trust him or feared him. The Nicolae hadn’t been a people to fear for the last few centuries. Before that peopled feared they would come and steal their daughters but that was a thing of the past. So it must be that these men don’t trust me, he concluded.

I guess I did lie to them, he thought as he looked out the plane window. But I don’t trust them yet either. The last thing I want them to know is that I inherited a few gifts from Dracul as well.

“We’ll be landing in a few minutes.” David said from the seat next to him.

Tearden was suddenly nervous. I hope I haven’t made a mistake, he thought.

An hour later he was about to enter a building that he could feel had over 60 Nicolae inside. David and Nicholas had implied they had only captured one of the Nicolae. Tearden was led to a room on the fourth floor. There were several men staring at an empty room through a window. A greying man stepped forward.

“You must be Tearden. We’re glad you could join us. My name is Bill and I’m in charge of this investigation. In a couple of minutes we will be interrogating one of the Nicolae. I’ve been informed by Nicholas that that’s what you know them as?”

Tearden nodded. The door to the room opened and a tall muscular soldier brought in a middle aged dark haired man that was undoubtedly Nicolae. The soldier directed him to sit in one of two chairs that sat on either side of a metal table and then stood against the wall. Bill nodded to one of the men and they left the room Tearden was in and then entered the room with the Nicolae.

“Hello Danny, my name is Nick and I’m going to ask you a few question. Are you aware of the consequences if you don’t answer?”

Tearden had never seen a Nicolae look so scared. Not in all of his ancestors memories. “What consequences is he talking about?” He asked Bill.

“For the moment just observe. We’ll discuss things later.”

Maybe this was his purpose. He and his ancestors had always wondered why they were able to access the memories of those that had died before. Every contact his ancestors had ever had with the Nicolae he had knowledge of. He could feel when one of them was near and even pinpoint their exact location. Tearden knew much more about the Nicolae than he planned on letting the Americans know about.

I can make a difference, he thought. Maybe I can help them . . . maybe they’ll let me join them.

Tearden focused back on the interrogation.

“How many of you are there?”

“I don’t know.”

“Tell me how many you know about then.”

Danny paused and licked his lips, obviously nervous. “I can’t tell you how many I know about.”

“Why not?”

“Only our king can give you information relating to us as a people.”

“How about you give it to me anyway.”

“Please . . . I . . . can’t.”

Nick, the interrogator, nodded toward the window and Bill turned to one of the men standing behind them and nodded.

“Go ahead August. One cut on the arm.” The man said as he tapped a device in his ear.

Tearden quickly turned back to the interrogation and watched as a cut mysteriously appeared on Danny’s arm.

“Please, stop hurting her! I’ll tell you everything I can!”

“Okay, how many Nicolae do you know about?”

Tearden could see the panic on Danny’s face.

“I told you I’m not able to tell you. If I could . . . I swear I would.”

Another nod and another cut appeared on Danny’s arm.

“Please . . . ask me something else.”

“Fine. What exactly do you mean when you say you can’t?” Nick asked.

“I physically can’t. If I opened my mouth to tell you, I wouldn’t be able to speak and if I tried to write the information, my hand would be stopped. I can’t give you information that is forbidden, no matter how desperately I wish to. So there is no point in torturing her.”

“Tell me about your king then.”

“There’s not much to tell. He left us around 300 years ago and we haven’t seen him since. We’ve searched but haven’t been successful. That’s about all I’ll probably be able to tell you.”

“You really haven’t been very helpful.” Nick said, nodding at the window.

“Stop!” Danny yelled when another cut appeared on his arm. “What have we done? We haven’t hurt anyone. What right do you have to hold us here?”

“We have a right to protect the American people.” Nick said.

Tearden turned towards Bill. “Let the poor man go. I can give you more information than he can.”

“Really? The facts you gave my men were barely bread crumbs.”

“I had no reason to trust them. I’m not sure I trust you, but I might be able to help both parties.”

Bill spoke into an earpiece and Nick stood up and addressed the soldier. “Take him back.”

Tearden watched as Danny was escorted out of the room, blood still dripping from the three cuts on his arm.

Tearden followed Bill out of the room and into a conference room on the same floor. Four other men joined them and sat around a table. “This is Tearden.” Bill said addressing the other men. “He has some information on the men with powers. Apparently they are called Nicolae. Please introduce yourselves.”

“I’m Josh.” The youngest looking man said first.

“My name’s Nathan.” The next said with a smile.


“My name’s Anthony.” The last man stated, with a nod.

Tearden know nothing about any of them, other then their names but he already liked Nathan and Anthony best. Dale was his least favorite. He seemed . . . well, kind of cold.

“Now that that’s taken care of what can you tell us?”

Tearden took a deep breath. “First off, Danny was right. They won’t be able to tell you anything that will jeopardize their safety or give you any real information about their king, so it would be pointless to continue to interrogate them. However if you found their king, then you could ask him all the questions you want.”

“And I assume you are able to give us that information?” Bill said, leaning forward onto the table.

“I can . . . but before I do, I would like you to promise, in writing, that if you are able to bring him in, I get to be a part of the interrogation.”

“Agreed. Dale, right it up.”

Tearden watched as a document was printed and signed.

“Now . . . what do you know?” Bill said sliding the paper to Tearden.

“The king has a mark on the underside of each wrist in the form of an intricate dragon. They would be mistaken for a tattoo but there not man made. The mark on his left wrist he was born with and will be void of color. The one on the underside of his right wrist will be even more vivid and detailed and will contain many shades and colors.”

“He’ll look between the ages of 21 and 45, regardless of how old he really is. He may have boys but the oldest son will have a similar dragon on his left wrist. About 150 years ago the king at that time told my ancestor that they were headed to America. I’m guessing his descendants are still here.”

“That’s not much to go on.” Bill said.

“The only other thing I can think of that might help is he’ll have moved around a lot. The king can live up to 200 years, so he can’t stay in one place very long. I’m guessing he would also change his name frequently. Also, I doubt he would live anywhere near the Nicolae. He’s been hiding from them for the last 300 years. If any of them saw him they would recognize him.”

“Thank you. Is there anything else?”

“Not that I can think of at the moment.”

“Well If you think of anything call me immediately. Josh will take you to your apartment.” Bill said, dismissing him.

Tearden didn’t hear from anyone for over a week. He quickly got bored of sitting in his apartment and spent the days exploring the city. Josh had given him a credit card to use for food and other needed items, so Tearden took advantage of the time and money to explore different restaurants and shops.

One night as he sat and watched TV the doorbell rang for the first time. Tearden tentatively moved toward the door not sure of what to expect. He looked through the peephole and quickly opened the door.

“They found the king,” Josh said. “Bill wants you to come immediately.”

Tearden ran inside and quickly put on his shoes. Finally, Tearden thought, both terrified and excited. If I don’t do this right, I could be considered a enemy to the Americans and a traitor to the Nicolae. But on the other hand I could be a hero. He thought as he left with Josh.

The Secret Keeper

One of the problems with being the holder of a secret centuries old is the constant worry that someone will find out. And when they do . . .

Tearden was such a keeper. He was the great, great, great . . . never mind it was just to many greats to mention. The point is, he was a descendant of one of the most vicious men in history, a man that only his descendants were aware had even existed.

Now there were legends . . . everyone in these parts knew those, but the legends only scratched the surface of who the Nicolae really were. This was the secret passed down to Tearden, a secret that came in the form of memories from his ancestors, every last one of them. It was a lot of information to sort through and a lonely secret to keep.

So when two men in suits knocked on his door asking him if he knew anything about the legends of the Nicolae, he was both terrified and excited.

“May we come inside?”

Tearden swallowed and opened the door for them to enter.

“Please sit down.” The tall brown haired man invited Tearden.

Shouldn’t I be the one inviting my guests to sit, Tearden thought as he sat down in the chair opposite them.

“My name is Nicholas Kline and this is David Robertson,” The tall man said gesturing toward his shorter, stockier companion. “We did some DNA testing on a young man in the U.S. and discovered that he came from this region of the world. In an attempt to find more answers we came here. An old woman a couple towns over said that you might have more information for us.”

The men waited patiently for Tearden to reply. “I’m sorry . . . exactly what information are you looking for?” Tearden said.

“There’s a legend in these parts about a mysterious people called the Nicolae. We want to know how they came to control magic and we’re pretty sure you can tell us.”

“What makes you think I would know anything more then the rest of the town?”

“We’re good at what we do.” David, the shorter man said, speaking for the first time.

“Well? Nicholas asked expectantly.

“Okay . . . well, first off, I don’t think magic is the right word.”

“When and how, did they get this magic or whatever it is you want to call it.”

Tearden took a deep breath and decided to tell them just a little more than what the legends told, “It’s the ability to manipulate matter at will and it started about 100 AD.”

“Do you have this ability?”

“No.” Although Tearden was void of the ability to manipulate matter, he did inherit something from that ancestor of his and these men did not need to know about it. Tearden didn’t mind that he hadn’t inherited all that the Nicolae had. Their power came with a high price. One that Tearden was glad he didn’t have to pay.

“How is it you know about them?”

“Tearden certainly wasn’t going to let them in on the fact that he was a descendant of this heinous man from history. My ancestor was in the same village as their ancestor.” He would keep his real relation a secret. “The knowledge has been shared from father to son for generations.”

“So if you don’t know how it started, can you share what you do know about this power’s origin?”

This is where Tearden needed to be careful. If they found out that the power and curse had affected his ancestors as well even if it was in a different way, then they might want more from him than just answers.

“What I know . . . is that a cruel and viscous man showed up in my ancestors village with the power to control matter. This man and his followers decimated the people killing and raping. His name was Dracul. One man from the village was determined to stop him. The people were not hopeful. What could they do against such power?”

“A couple of years later the man returned. He said that the only way to stop Dracul was for a virgin to willingly put herself in a position where Dracul would notice her. If Dracul harmed her in any way it would bring a curse on him and his followers. Much to the man’s dismay, his own daughter volunteered. When Dracul returned to pillage the village again, this young woman made sure she caught his attention. What happened next isn’t really understood. We know that Dracul raped her and then became furious and left the village with the girl and his men. Every year the descendants of Dracul would show up in the surrounding areas for a day stealing young girls of marriageable age and then disappear again. This happened up until a few hundred years ago when those attacks stopped. There hasn’t been any sign of them since.”

“Did anyone ever try to go after them and get their daughters back?”

“Many did. They would follow their tracks into the mountains but at some point the tracks just stopped. No one was ever able to find or recover their girls.”

“Why do you think it stopped?” Nicholas said.

“I have no idea.” Tearden lied.

“Have you ever met these people?”

“No.” Tearden lied again.

“You seem to know more then anyone else we’ve talked to. Why?” David asked.

“Like I said, my ancestor came from the same village. The knowledge has been passed down to me.”

“There were other people in this village as well that lived to tell the tale?” Nicholas asked, cocking his head slightly.

“Of course.” Tearden swallowed nervously.

“Why is it . . . that you seem to be the only descendant to know any real detail?”

“My ancestor was the village bard. He was afraid that Dracul might come back and seek revenge on the village, so he left, and passed the history to his eldest son, charging him to keep it a secret.” This time Tearden only told a half lie. It was true, that his ancestor left the village with his family but his ancestor was never a village bard.

“Exactly what secret was your ancestor afraid would be known?” David asked.

Oops, Tearden thought scrambling for an answer. “That they had the power to manipulate matter.” He responded a little too quickly.

“The whole village would have known that. I don’t think you’re being completely honest with us and I’m wondering why.” Nicholas said.

“What exactly do you think I’m hiding?” Tearden asked defensively.

“I think you know what happened to them and where they went. I think you’ve met them personally, and I also believe you have a very good idea of their powers.” Nicholas said.

Tearden stood up. “I think you can leave. I’ve been very hospitable to two American strangers and don’t appreciate the accusations.”

“I don’t think you understand. We’re in a bit of a crisis and we think you can help us out.” Nicholas said.

“We would like you to come with us to America. We’ve found some of these people, your people, and we would like you to help us figure out what we should do with them.” David said,

Tearden’s curiosity was peaked. “They are not my people, and did you just say you have the Nicolae in captivity?”

“We do.” David said.

Tearden walked over to the window and looked outside, while he contemplated the ramifications of going with them. If I refuse . . . I wonder if they would take me by force. Then again if I went with them willingly . . . I could . . .

“I’ll go.” Tearden said. “But I expect to be treated respectfully and not like some criminal.

“Why would you think we would treat you any other way?”

“I’m just making sure we understand that I’m coming on as a consultant and will expect payment and accommodations.”

“Agreed. You will be expected to sign a confidentiality agreement before we leave.”



End to the first half of a short story based off of a character in one of my books. Second half to come next week.

A Wizards doom, Naicik

Here is part of the first chapter of the wizard story I shared a couple of posts ago. I hope you enjoy.

Naicik hated gathering mushrooms in the forest. The dead, silent trees were creepy and the mushrooms hard to find. His grandfather kept telling him how lucky they were. Most people would give anything to have mushrooms fill their bellies. Naicik hated the foul tasting things. He much preferred the large scaly kallum. Meat was rare and thus of great value. This time of year the kallum were holed up deep in the mountains for warmth. In three days he would be sixteen and then, come summer he would be allowed to hunt them. They were extremely dangerous, but would feed their family and many others for months. Naicik’s family was known for their success in hunting the scaly creatures.

Although it had come at a cost. Naicik’s two uncles and one of his older brothers had died hunting the creatures. His father believed it was better to die by their three inch claws and large teeth than from hunger. Naicik couldn’t wait. “I’ll be the best kallum hunter in the family,” he thought.

After filling his basket Naicik headed home. His entire family lived in a one bedroom cottage at the very edge of an even smaller town. His grandfather told him that a long time ago their ancestors lived in the capital city of Admikal. They had a large estate but men had come at night and killed everyone but his great great grandfather Trist and his sister Amyt. They were starving when they reached a small village on the outskirts of the Admikal. The people in the village took pity on the two youth and nursed them back to health and gave them the cottage that Naicik still lived in.

His grandfather told him he should be grateful for the blessings of a home but all Naicik could think about was the large estate that used to be theirs. He dreamed of taking it back someday.

“What took you so long?! You weren’t daydreaming again were you?”

“No Runok, I wasn’t daydreaming. It just happens to take awhile to find the mushrooms. Maybe tomorrow you should gather them if you think you can do it faster.”

“Nah, I need to reserve my strength and energy for the upcoming summer hunts.”

“Well then so do I, since I’ll be hunting this summer as well.”

“Actually . . .grandfather is trying to convince dad that he should make you wait until your eighteen.” Yetin said, as he walked up behind him.

Naicik whirled to face his brother. “No way! The rule has always been sixteen!”

Yetin just shrugged, “I’m only telling you what I heard.”

Naicik opened the door and stormed in. He dropped the mushrooms on the ground and faced his grandfather. “Is it true?! Are you telling dad that he shouldn’t let me hunt the kallum?!”

“I have given your father the same counsel I gave when your older brothers turned 16, that he should wait till they’re a bit older. He hasn’t listened to me before, I doubt he will this time either.”

Naicik heard laughing behind him. He turned to see both of his older brothers laughing at him. He grabbed the stool at his feet and threw it at them. They dodged it easily enough which only made him angrier.  Having older brothers was such a pain. They treated him like he was just a kid but he was only three days from being a man.

His parents arrived home shortly after. His father raised his eyebrows at the broken stool. It wasn’t hard to miss things in such a small place. Naicik felt a sliver of guilt at his fathers look. He knew he shouldn’t have been so careless.

“Runok and Yetin were taunting me. I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have thrown the stool. I’ll fix it tomorrow.”

His dad nodded and went outside to chop wood. Naicik knew his father meant for him to follow. All private conversations had to happen outside of the cottage. There was just no way to whisper quietly enough to avoid eavesdropping.

“Naicik, your brothers are always trying to get a reaction from you and you typically manage to stay in control. So what made tonight different?” His dad asked, picking up the axe.

“They suggested that you might not let me hunt the kallum this summer. They said that grandpa had convinced you to wait until I was older. When I confronted grandpa he said that he had tried to convince you before with my older brothers but to no avail. Then they started laughing at me. I am just so tired of being treated like a little kid. In three days I’m going to be a man. Why can’t Runok and Yetin see that.”

His dad began chopping wood without a word in response. Naicik started stacking the wood. His dad always took his time when responding. While they were working Naicik thought about the dead forest and all the wood waiting to be chopped. That’s one thing we always have enough of, he thought, laughing. His father stopped chopping and waited for an explanation. “We may always be on the brink of starvation but we will always be warm.”

“You’ve always been unique Naicik,” his dad said, putting down his axe “You see things in such a different way. Your brothers don’t understand that. They see it only as fuel to ridicule. You’ll make a great man and I think an amazing kallum hunter. We’ll start your training the day after your birthday. I want to make sure you’re trained and ready for when the kallum leave their caves. Come on lets bring in some wood for the fire.

Naicik stacked the wood next to the fireplace and then went and helped his sister Amyt and his grandmother wash and prepare the mushrooms for dinner. His grandmother was born with Qusan magic. Her gift was in cooking. There were many magical gifts from Qusan. His mother was also Qusan blessed. Her gift was as a healer. To have two gifted in a family was extremely rare.

Naicik had only tasted mushrooms that were cooked by someone other than his grandmother and had run outside to spit it out. So, as much as he hated the mushrooms he was glad his grandmother’s magic made it possible to eat them.

He wished he had been given the magical gift of the hunter. Then his brothers would have been jealous of him from birth. Oh well, I’ll just have to work so hard that I will be the best non-gifted hunter there is and then my brothers will have nothing to tease me about, the thought made him smile.

The next three days crept by. He marveled at how slow time could actually move. The day of his birthday arrived. He woke to a mouthwatering smell. His grandmother smiled at him. “We’ve been saving our money so that your day would be filled with great food. For breakfast I’ve made bread. It’ll be done soon.”

It had been months since Naicik had been fortunate enough to eat bread. Naicik tried to climb out of bed without waking his siblings. Which was difficult since they were all sandwiched in the same small bed. He went and warmed himself by the fire. Today was the day! It was unfortunate that he would have to wait until tonight for the celebration to begin. It was tradition to wait until the time of day in which you were born, before you celebrated your right to manhood. Naicik had been born during the lucky hour of twilight. His good friend, Sunder, however had the misfortune to be born in the early morning. A very unlucky time of day.

Fortune had smiled on his family in that aspect as well, none had been born during the dark hours of morning. Any other time of day was fine and was neither lucky nor unlucky. Except for twilight that is.

“Aww, the bread is finished!” his grandmother exclaimed.

“Shh!” Naicik said.

It was too late. His brothers had heard and were quickly scrambling out of bed. They all gathered around the bread in anticipation.

“We will wait for everyone.” His grandmother said

“Mom, dad, grandpa quick the bread is hot and ready to eat!” Naicik said.

“I think I will sleep a little longer.” His grandfather said rolling over in bed.

“Grandpa, please now is no time for your jokes. My mouth is watering at the smell and my stomach is grumbling in anticipation!”

“Alright, Naicik I suppose bread is worth getting up for.”

Everyone was quiet as they slowly ate the bread and savored every bite. When Naicik finished he gave his grandmother a big hug. “That was the best present you could have given me.”

“Now that we have full bellies lets get to work.” His dad said. “The villagers will be coming for the celebration and since granny is the only gifted cook in the village I’m sure we will have many guests. Runok and Yetin I want you both to gather the wood for the bonfire. Naicik and Amyt, I need the two of you to gather as many mushrooms as you can find. I would also like you to try and gather as many smolong as you can. You have four hours to collect so that your grandmother has time to cook them.”

“Come on Amyt.” Normally Naicik would have thrown a fit about having to gather the mushrooms and more especially the smolong but today he didn’t mind. Not when it was in preparation of his birthday celebration.

Naicik waited until they were deep into the dead forest. He had already gathered most of the mushrooms closer to the cottage. “Amyt you gather the mushrooms and I’ll collect the smolong.”

Amyt eagerly agreed. The smolong were hard to collect. They burrowed into the dead wood and the only way to grab them was to use a small tool that would reach into the hole and pinch their butts and then you had to pull them out. Naicik started inspecting the nearest tree. He only managed to find one.

Naicik was pleased with what he and his sister had managed to do in four hours. They had collected several bags of mushrooms and three buckets of smolong. They hurried home and presented their bounty to their grandmother. “Oh! Well done you two. We will have a feast tonight. Now go help get things cleaned and ready and make sure you leave time to wash up before everyone arrives.

Naicik helped his brothers finish the preparations for the bonfire and then helped his mother and father with the other outdoor preparations. Houses weren’t big enough to hold anything other then small family affairs so whenever there was a get together it was always held outside. His father had felled several small trees the last couple of weeks and Naicik helped roll them into place so that people would have places to sit. He also helped his mother put some boards over some stumps so that they would have someplace to set the food. When he finished the only thing that was left was the food preparation and his sister and mother were helping granny with that so he decided it was time to go clean up.

Water was a scarcity so it was reused. Dirty water was poured into a large container that had thick spongy moss that sat on top of tightly packed sand. The bottom layer consisted of a layer of carbon. The clean water was stored in a bigger container that sat on four-foot poles. It was there that Naicik went to get a bucket of water to clean himself. After ducking his head in the water and scrubbing with a bar of soap he then used a rag to scrub off the dirt and grime. By the time he finished his brothers were waiting to do the same. He went inside to put on some clean clothes and then wait the few remaining moments for his friends to arrive. I can’t wait, he thought, in a few minutes everyone will know me as Naicik the man. I will no longer be treated as a boy.

 Naicik’s grandmother was still in the cottage finishing the last of the meal preparations. She turned and grinned at Naicik. “You’re not getting nervous are you?”

“No way! I can’t wait.” His granny chuckled and then went back to cooking. He knew his granny could see right through him. He wasn’t real fond of being the center of attention and that was what this celebration was all about. Half of what I said was the truth, he thought, I can’t wait to be recognized as a man.

Naicik absently rubbed the back of his hands while he wondered how many people would show up. I know all my friends will be here, he thought, they promised me they would. I don’t know about the rest of the village though. I hope dad’s wrong and there won’t be as many people from the village coming, which would just make me more embarrassed. Naicik realized he was rubbing the back of his hands and thought it odd that they felt warm almost hot. Now that he was thinking about it he felt really warm all over. “Granny?”

“What is it Naicik?” She asked without turning around.

“Can you get mom. . . I don’t feel very good.”

Granny turned and looked at him and then yelled for his mother and came to his side. His mother entered just seconds later. She felt his head and announced to his gathering family that he had a fever.

Naicik suddenly cried out and cradled his hands to his chest. “The back of my hands burn!”

“No! It can’t be.” He heard his grandfather say. “Quick Amyt, pack a bag with as much food as you can. . . Runok, Yetin get everything he will need for a long journey. Now! We haven’t a moment to lose.”

“Grandad! What is this all about?” His mother demanded

“Naicik is a wizard. In a matter of minutes he will permanently wear the mark of a wizard on his hands.”

His mother started crying and his dad quickly left his side to help with the preparations for his urgent trip. This isn’t happening, he thought. Being a wizard is a death sentence.

Then just as quickly as the heat and pain began it stopped and two beams of energy rose from the back of his hands towards the roof.

“Now! You must go now!” His grandfather shoved his pack into his hands and looked him intently in the eyes. “Those beams of energy will last for one hour. The king’s guards and anyone else in the area including the villagers and your friends are likely to find you within that time. If you’re caught . . . you will be killed, do you understand? Naicik numbly nodded his head.

“You must run deep into the woods. Don’t stop. Even after the beams stop they’ll be hunting you. They’ll never stop. I knew a man years ago that boasted about knowing a way to leave this world, yet not by death. You must find him or die. His name is Seltyd. Last I heard he lived far south. Now go! There is no time to say good bye.” His grandfather practically shoved him out the door.

With fear now raging inside him he ran. This can’t be happening. This was supposed to be my moment of joy. Becoming a man was supposed to be something wonderful. Now I’m being hunted . . . by who . . . the very people that were coming to celebrate with me.

A Wizard’s Doom

I decided to do something a little different today. I’ve been working on a new story for a while and thought I’d post the prologue for fun. It’s in it’s raw form. I haven’t started editing this story yet but hope you enjoy it, errors and all.


King Custis walked the castles dark hallways, nodding to the guards as he passed. There was too much unrest in the kingdom for him to sleep soundly. The recent droughts had left his kingdom crippled. The people were grasping for someone to save them. I’ve done everything I can to help them, he thought. Yet they’re not satisfied. They think a wizard has the power to do anything. They don’t understand that even my abilities have limits.

He paused and walked out onto one of the many balconies that overlooked his gardens. He sighed. It saddened him to look at his brown and withered plants. The droughts were a result of the conflict among the people. Qusan had always been a planet sensitive to its people. They had lived too many years in wealth and ease to remember the history of their world. Instead they considered it legend or old religion depending on who you talked too. Custis knew different. The archives were clear and the stories from his ancestors could not be ignored.

When evil flourished Qusan would withdraw deep inside herself. She couldn’t bear it. The result was always the same. Rain stopped falling, lakes dried up, plants died and with it the animals and then the people. Why couldn’t they see that it was their wickedness that drove her away? My magic can’t restore that, he thought. Only the magic in my people, can bring Qusan back from hiding deep in her core.

They were two hardened to listen to him though. In search for a way to help his people he had called for the magic of a seer. It was her visit now that kept him up. He had hoped for help . . . instead he was told of horrors that would begin with his death, and continue for another four hundred years.

Custis rubbed his eyes. I’m so tired, maybe I’ll try to sleep again, he thought as he headed back to his room. He noticed his messy bed upon entering, evidence of his internal struggle. He climbed into bed and tried to quiet his thoughts.

A sudden pain woke him from sleep. King Custis stared at the sword that was thrust through his chest trying to make sense of how it got there. He looked up at his guard full of questions and pain as darkness began to envelope him.