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Large wooden chairs surrounded the enormous table, candles lined the middle giving ample light for eating. The room itself was ten times bigger than Henry’s house in Zulin. A beautiful silver chandelier hung from the ceiling brightening the room further.

Even Kyburn was impressed at the level of detail put into making the room immaculate. Stone floors etched into perfect squares making the floor smoother than Henry had ever seen. The walls were covered in elaborate drapes, colors varying from purple to yellow. The main theme, Henry noticed, was purple, which he assumed was Cara’s favorite color. Gorgeous paintings were placed in particular spots on the wall giving it a perfect symmetry look.

“Stop gawking and sit down.” Kyburn slapped his back.

“You must admit… the Queen has taste in fine things. It’s beautiful.” Henry complimented.

“Perhaps, but don’t let her catch you saying that.” Kyburn cocked his head at Henry.

“Don't let who catch you saying what?” a female voice said behind them.

Henry and Kyburn turned their heads to see Cara, the queen, standing in the doorway.

“Your majesty.” Henry and Kyburn said in unison while bowing.

Cara smiled politely and acknowledged their bow with a slight bow of her own. “It is good so see you again lord Kyburn.”

“And you, your majesty,” Kyburn replied.

“Please… no need to be so formal, Kyburn.” Cara looked at Henry. “And who is this?”

“I am Henry, your majesty.”

“Pleased to meet you, Henry.” Cara smiled again. “What might you be doing following Kyburn around?”

“I… uh.” Henry panicked, unsure what to say.

“He is the son of Josef and Lauryn.” Kyburn looked at her overly emphasizing their names.

Cara returned his gaze with a confused one. She raised an eyebrow at him skeptically, wondering why he was acting strange.

“Henry is seventeen,” Kyburn said it in a way that sounded like his age explained everything.

Looking at the queen than to Kyburn, Henry was completely confused. He couldn’t understand why they were acting so weird. He was about to ask when Cara’s face turned into realization.

“Oh. Oh, that’s… him.” Cara stared at him as if he was on display for something.

“Yes. Well, now that that’s out of the way.” Kyburn coughed. “Do you happen to know where the king is?” he changed the subject quickly.

“He is changing into something more comfortable,” Cara replied.

“You’ve spoken to him then?” Kyburn inquired.

“Briefly… yes. He will be down shortly.” Cara walked over to one of the heads of the table and sat opposite from where the king would normally sit. “Tell me, Henry, what do you do in Zulin? I’m sure Kyburn keeps you very busy.”

“Ahem. I was studying to be the next Professor, but my dream is to be a Historian.” Henry said, half excited, half worried.

“Oh? Do you study under Gus Opin?” she asked elegantly. “He was always a sweet old man.”

Kyburn almost spit up from choking on his wine, nearly spraying the liquid from his mouth.

Henry and Cara looked at him and Henry smiled. Gus Opin was many things, but Henry would have guessed that ‘sweet’ was the last word Kyburn would use to describe him.

Henry couldn’t help but chuckle at Kyburn’s outburst.

“Forgive me,” Kyburn said to Cara.

“If you dislike him, why did you offer him a place in Zulin?” Cara asked.

“It’s not that I dislike him, your majesty… he just… is an odd man.” Kyburn tried to explain.

“Well, he was always kind to me.” she defended him. “If-”

Cara cut short as Xerath entered the room. “Good. Everyone’s here,” he said.

Xerath wore black well-fitting pants with a knife at his hip. His dark maroon shirt was loose for comfort and was tucked into his waist. He pulled it off quite well with his rugged looks and jet black hair.

His face lit up like a fire when his stare rested on his wife. He walked over to her, bent down, and gently kissed her cheek. He left her then sat at the front of the table.

“I’ve just gotten word that Erik is in Nolvis. He is camped a few miles outside the city.” Xerath relayed the information. “I’ve sent a messenger to him for a meeting here, inside Calchester.”

“Is there more news of the creatures that attacked?” Cara asked. “What are they? What they look like.”

“If I may?” Henry interrupted nervously.

There was a pause in the room, so Henry took that as permission to continue.

“They are large lizard-like creatures roughly the size of a small horse but are much shorter,” Henry explained. “They have large armor plating on their backs and their whole body is covered in scales. Gus’s books are very detailed in describing them,” he added.

“The size of a horse?” Xerath looked troubled. “Tell us more.”

“Thick hides make them impervious to projectiles. Bows and crossbows won’t penetrate their skin.” Henry sorted through his memories. “Their faces are broad and horns on their jaws and head resemble a common lizard. Their shoulders are broad and their necks are thick as well, along with tales.”

“They sound quite frightening,” Cara commented. “Do you know why they are here and have chosen now to reveal themselves?”

Henry looked at the queen awkwardly. “I’m afraid I can’t answer that. As to your first question, we do know they have been here for hundreds of years. A large portion of the books are based on journals kept from scholars throughout our history. Most of what we know is speculation I’m afraid.”

“I see,” Xerath said. “What do you know of the Ancients, Henry?”

Cara and Kyburn looked at each other than to Xerath. Henry guessed this was part of the reason he came on this journey with Kyburn. From the beginning, he had little information for the reason for his participation.

Kyburn had been vague on answering his questions, he had finally, after many attempts, told Henry it was up to the king to tell him. Judging from the look on Kyburn and Cara’s face, Henry hoped he would finally find out why.

“I know quite a bit more about our ancestors, sire,” Henry said skeptically. “Why-”

“Tell me about them.” Xerath interrupted the boy, his eyes focused on Henry’s face.

Henry shifted in his chair uncomfortably and adjusted himself, straightening his back against the chair.

“I know that the Ancients are real and they lived long before us.” Henry started. “I was fortunate enough to visit one of the ruins in the Fossland Mountains a few years ago. It wasn’t till I saw it for myself that I believed Professor Gould that it was real. They were also believed to grow in height over eight feet.”

“Who is Professor Gould?” Cara asked.

“He is Henry’s professor in Zulin. He’s been teaching Henry in his classes for many years.” Kyburn answered.

“I see. Please continue,” she told Henry.

He cleared his throat and resumed, “They lived in Isulia for thousands of years it has been estimated.” Henry started again. “Their technology was so advanced we still cannot comprehend what they were capable of. We know they went extinct but we can never know when their civilization collapsed or why. There are three known ruins throughout Isulia that we know of. Two are in Xer, one in the Fossland Mountains, and one near the coast in Shonax. The last is located in Tykin in the far north next to Zoslin city in the Durmore Mountains. The Ancients were believed to have had technology allowing them to communicate hundreds or thousands of miles away. Though that fact is un-”

“That's enough.” Xerath cut him off rudely. “I’ve heard all I need to know.”

The room grew silent and Henry thought he did something wrong, which made him sweat from anxiety. Kyburn had a stone face and revealed nothing. Queen Cara looked at Xerath like she knew what was happening but didn’t betray the room. Xerath sipped at his wine like nothing was happening then looked at Henry again.

“What if we told you, there were four locations, not three,” Xerath asked slyly, with a smirk.

“I… I would want to know where.” Henry said with both shock and glee.

“Kyburn? You have been asking to tell the boy, would you like to do the honors?” Xerath asked him.

Kyburn smiled nervously at Henry. “The fourth ruin is in Kligira, Henry.”

“This is all said in confidence,” Cara added. “If you were to tell anyone of the ruin in Kligira… well, I don’t have to tell you what would happen.”

“It has been kept secret for twenty years, Henry. You must not tell another soul.” Kyburn emphasized and ignored Cara’s obvious threat to Henry. “Outside of this room only two others know of its existence.”

“I don’t understand… why keep it a secret? If it's just another ruin, why go through the trouble of making people believe there are only three ruins?” Henry asked.

Another long pause brought Henry’s curiosity to its peak. He wanted to blurt out, demanding an answer but he kept his mouth shut and waited in silence. Several exchanged looks of worry and unease caused Henry to fret over the magnitude of the secret.

“The reason…” Cara broke the silence. “Is because of what we found in the fourth ruin.”

“What did you find?” Henry hung on every word like a child.

“We found a room full of large metal cylinders. All were empty but two.” Xerath said. “Two of these tubes were active, a cyan glow coming from inside.”

“What was inside?” Henry asked before Xerath could continue.

He raised an annoyed eyebrow then continued, “What we found inside, Henry, were two Ancients.”

Henry had guessed something like this once they mentioned the active cylinders but dared not believe it till he heard it. Xerath’s confirmation overloaded his mind. Henry’s train of thought flew every which way in possibilities.

“Henry.” Kyburn brought him back. “Do you understand we’ve told you?”

“Yes, sir,” Henry whispered. “The Ancients didn’t go extinct... they're still alive.”

The realization took Henry a few moments to sink in. A million more questions entered his brain but before he could barrage them with more Kyburn stepped in.

“There are only two that we have discovered. We have been searching for more ruins ever since.” Kyburn explained further. “Before the war with Kligira, excavation of the ruin was supervised personally by king Armin himself. We later learned he figured out a way to wake them from whatever the cylinders are.”

Kyburn paused and looked at Xerath for permission to continue. Xerath nodded and Kyburn turned to Henry once again.

“After the war and unfortunate death of Armin during the battle in Yidor, all hope of resolving the mystery died with him and his wife Brinna.” Kyburn explained, his tone changed at the mention of king Armin and queen Brinna. “We believe Queen Brinna destroyed the key to awakening the Ancients before she killed herself.”

“Where is the ruin?” Henry asked curiously.

“Under the castle in Riqun.” Cara said bluntly. “We have great influence, as you well know, in Kligira and the Chancellor will grant us diplomatic immunity if we desired it.”

“I don’t understand why you are telling me this.” Henry looked confused but glad to finally be told the truth.

“Henry.” Kyburn paused, thinking. “The war with Kligira was...” Kyburn looked to Xerath who shook his head.

“What about the war?” Henry’s heart rate increased rapidly, fearing something terrible.

Xerath coughed and Cara looked uncomfortable, "Careful Kyburn. He's not ready for that one." Xerath said sternly.

"Not ready for what?" Henry asked, frustrated. "Tell me, please."

"We've trusted you with many secrets, Henry. Prove to me you can be trusted with this, then I swear I will tell you everything." Xerath promised.

Henry's frustration turned to anger and he struggled to contain it. He didn't want them to see him like this so he quickly calmed himself but couldn't help but think why they would keep more secrets from him when they already trusted him with this much.

"You can trust me, sire," Henry said calmly. "What would you have me do?"

"Good. I have sent several messenger hawks to Regent Trygve in Riqun requesting his seal of approval. He won’t deny me. Once things have settled with Vulkira, I want you to go Riqun, go to the ruin and find out how to awaken the Ancients.”

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About the author

MorseCode

Bio: Hello, all. I am a new aspiring author and I'm extremely excited to share my stories. I've always loved writing and bringing the ideas in my head to life, though it was only recently that I began to write on a more serious level. I have many many books I wish to write and I hope I can share them with you all in the future. I have a lot to learn but I hope to grow into a more experienced and learned writer.

I don't shy away from gore, which will be present in all my books to come. I hate plot armor, and I do everything I can to make things as real as possible. Real decisions, consequences, logical outcomes, and making a darn good story are my main focus.

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