Seven Years Ago "Fire," he murmured. It was everywhere, consuming any that got in its way. It was funny watching fire at its worst; that thing was a glutton for everything around it if given full control. Today was a day like that, where fire decided it was time it took the reins and satisfy its cravings for those who belittled it. And he stood there, watching as the fire took down his home and all the memories he shared with it. He continued watching as the fire went straight to the main building of the castle, where the throne of Aurelia stood. "Your Highness!" shouted a familiar voice from the distance. He paid no heed to it, for his eyes were still studying the fire, still in shock at what happened not too long ago. In his current state of mind, he remembered his father on the throne, his mother standing by the king's side. He remembered seeing Alexandros, his father's most trusted advisor in court, drew his sword at the king of Aurelia. There were clashes of swords, metal upon metal, blood on the ground, bodies dropping like flies; and just like that, the kingdom was thrown into a complete state of chaos. He remembered running for a very long time, through winding corridors and hidden passages. He was with the king's loyal men, guiding him out of the chaos in the capital, but he did not see his family. "Your Highness," the voice shouted again, this time, closer, "The Capital is gone," He finally turned away from the fire, only to find Ser Dylan, his father's royal guard, kneeling before him. Frowning, he gestured to him to stand; "On your feet, Ser Dylan," the young prince paused for a moment, bracing himself for news he wished were not true, before continuing, "Tell me more." The knight obeyed and stood, taking off his helm. "Your Highness, Caer Aurana is overrun by Alexandros's men," he watched him pause for a bit, "And our people," The young prince nodded, oddly calm about the whole situation. But if one would properly study this young man, they would see him stiffen, his hands slowly curled into a tight fist; he was shocked, and very much frightened at what just happened. But he was also very good at containing them. "What of the king? And my mother?" The knight, Dylan, bowed his head low; "Your mother is no more," he watched him pause again, "The king is dead." His expression changed briefly to despair, but quickly returned to the calm, austere façade he had previously. Though his face may not show it, the nuances of his body language showed fear; it was too soon, he thought, too soon for this to happen. Yet, it would seem that fate had something else in store for him. The young prince watched as Ser Dylan took out a sheathed sword that was strapped to his back. The knight knelt before him and handed him the sword of the late King Cerunnos Arcturus Sol Falenas, the heirloom of the Sol Falenas dynasty. "Long live the king," he said, his voice grim and hard. He watched as the other men around him knelt with Dylan, head bowed low; "Long live the king," they repeated together. Perhaps, if he was born in a different time, in a different place, he would not have to make such an important decision for his life and everyone else's. Perhaps, if he was born a farmer, he would have lived in the farm all his life, and the biggest responsibility he would have is to make sure the animals had enough to eat. He would have liked it; having choices in his life, that is. Only a dream, he thought to himself as he brought his hands to the Sol Falenas heirloom, only a dream of a little boy who once lived in that castle. The young prince wrapped his hands around the sheathed sword, gripping tightly. It was heavy, as though reminding him of the duties his father and his forefathers bore on their shoulders when they ascended as kings. And now, though lacking the official ceremonial robes, he is just like them; a king, forged from blood and fire. "I, Reinhard Arcturus Sol Falenas, swear vengeance upon those who betrayed the crown," he spoke out, as calmly as he could. He felt his body shudder at the weight of the sword; "As true king of Aurelia, I will reclaim my throne and restore my kingdom to its proper state. I swear, upon the Twelve Trinities; they will pay." - - - Present He awoke to the sound of flowing water, of farmers pulling their cart of wares to the centre of town, of laughing children wandering freely in the streets. They sounded nothing like the time he stood in the streets of the Capital, fleeing from the enemies. Of course, those were different times. Seven years has passed since the burning of the Capital. The new king of Aurelia, Alexandros deLorne, survived the hellish revolt of the time that came after the burning and spent his whole time rebuilding Aurelia and the Capital. And all this time, he had hope to hear some news of a revolt against the new governance, or any unrest among the people in the Capital; anything to give him more purpose for his quest. But during his time, traveling and fleeing from one place to another, none of the things he hoped for happened. They were all very peaceful, maybe even happier than before. One of such was the very town he is in now, Eridanus. Rein stepped out of his bed and opened the window. Eridanus, the "River Town", they called it; blessed with life from the river that flows between them, into the neighbouring kingdom, and out to the sea on the other side of the continent. The river, originating from the mountains that surround the town, was the town's main source of fresh water for the crops that grew around it and the people living in it. Should one gain control over the river, one would have control over the town itself. Thankfully, for Eridanus, the lord of this town was a kind and considerate man. He has seen this man once when he presented himself in court, to beg an audience with his father. Rein, being the curious young man he was back then, found out that the lord had wanted to open the trade route to the neighbouring kingdom through Eridanus. It was a sound idea, Rein once thought, having a free trade zone between the two kingdoms. It would have fostered a mutual alliance between the two, benefiting both sides. Yet, his father, being the paranoid man he was, could not accept it. But he remembered that request very well. "Rein," someone called out from behind him, "Everything has been arranged. We'll meet with the lord of Eridanus tonight," He turned to see Dylan, now looking slightly weathered and grizzled, unlike how he was seven years ago. Age has begun to work its effects on this thirty-nine-year-old man, judging from the wrinkles forming around his eyes. "Thank you, Dylan," he nodded, turning back to the sight outside his window, "I hear he has an interesting family." "Aye, he does. Two sons, the eldest at twenty-one and the second at eighteen. The eldest is just about ready to take over the business," Second? "You make it sound like there's a third in the family," "His daughter, the youngest," Dylan chuckled, "Word from the streets seem to suggest that this girl hardly leaves the house during the day," He frowned, "A shame, to be cooped up like that." "Her father's overly protective of that one since the passing of his wife," "Ah, I see why now. Still, a shame," Rein found himself watching children playing below his room. Odd to see children playing by a tavern, but perhaps such a sight was common here in Eridanus. "Why the sudden interest, m'boy?" He smiled, watching the children at play; "It might be important, in case things don't go well with negotiations tonight," Dylan wondered at his words, and eventually understood what he meant; "They say they've seen the girl sneak out of the house at night," "Where does she go at night?" He shrugged, "Nobody really knows. But you know, young women at that age. They probably have someone they fancy out there. Who knows?" Rein turned to him, "Does she have anyone?" "Not that I know of, no," he tapped his fingers to his chin, trying to remember, "There was the smith's apprentice. But that was a long time ago, they said." "I see," Rein was quiet for a moment, thinking of something, "Well, let's hope it doesn't come to that," "And if it does?" He frowned, turning back to the children below his window, "Then it just has to happen," he placed his hands on the window sill, gripping it slightly, "A vow is a vow, Dylan. I will reclaim my throne, through any means possible," The old knight seemed taken aback by that, stepping away from the young king. Rein was no more than twenty-five years old, a young man at his prime; fit, healthy and full of vigor. Yet, there was something else to this king of his, something old and tired in those eyes of his. He knew this man was ready to sacrifice everything he could for his purpose, yet, he also felt that there was something more than that. Whatever it was, it made Rein seemed more humane than the late king Cerunnos. Dylan made his way to the door, pausing briefly to look back at the distant figure of the young king Reinhard; "You're not like your father at all, my king," And with that, he left, leaving Rein to ponder at his words.