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Part 1

Erik woke to Torstein gently shaking his shoulder. “Sire, forgive me. If we are to meet Xerath on time, we must leave soon.”

“What time is it?” Erik yawned.

“It’s nearly midday, sire,” Torstein replied.

“What!” Erik jumped out of his bed and quickly dressed. “Why didn’t you wake me sooner?”

“Last night sire, you’re… seizure. And everything that has been going on, you’ve had little sleep for over a week. I thought it would be good for you to catch up on your rest.” Torstein explained.

“Oh. Right.” Erik felt a slight tinge of guilt for getting upset with Torstein. “You were right, I needed the sleep.”

“I just received word from the north sire,” Torstein said gruffly which was equivalent to excitement for him. “Rayman and his men have boarded a ship from Bienrior and are making their way to Buxmar, where they will head here to Nolvis when they are able.”

“When they are able?” Erik asked, concern in his voice. “Why wouldn’t they be able to travel?”

“Apparently sire,” Torstein cleared his throat. “Ben was killed and several are seriously injured. Mark was on the verge of death when they left port, his status is unknown.”

“Ben,” Erik said, sitting down. “I didn’t know him.” sadness entering his voice.

“He was a good man, sire,” Torstein replied. “I knew him. He had a family.”

Erik looked up at Torstein’s face, which betrayed little of his emotions. “I want you to track down his family and see to their safety and that they will be well looked after.” he paused. “Forever, his wife and children will grow old.” lowering his head, Erik felt guilt for sending the man to his death.

“As you wish, lord.” Torstein nodded agreement then coughed, grabbing Erik’s attention again. “As for the guards who found you in the field, sire.”

“What of them?” Erik looked concerned again. “Did they speak of my illness to anyone?”

“No, but I feared they would so I assigned them to a remote post,” Torstein said.

“Why? They did nothing wrong. They helped me.” Erik frowned. “Undo this, Torstein. I want good men like them near me.”

“Uh… of course, sire.” Torstein “I should have consulted you first.”

“It’s alright Torstein. I know you have my best interest at heart.” Erik encouraged, “Those men kept their mouths closed about it and I want more men like them with us, not sent away in fear.”

“Forgive me, sire.” Torstein bowed. “It won’t happen again.”

Erik sighed heavily, “Torstein, do what you do best. I am not trying to berate you. Now let's put it behind us shall we?”

Wrapping his sword hilt around his waist, Erik secured Frostmoon to his hip. “I’m going for a walk… I need fresh air.”

“Very good sire,” Torstein said, bowing again as he walked out of his tent.

Erik stepped out to the sun, nearly at its peak. A strong breeze washed over him, cooling him from the heat of his tent. His sandy blonde hair flailed in the wind, his cape, hooked on his left shoulder, flopped behind him. Erik started walking through the camp of tents. This part of the camp was mostly soldiers but Erik saw an occasional woman and children running about.

The grass beneath their feet was flattened from hundreds of feet marching constantly over it. Erik paused at the tent with a cross on its white exterior. This was the medical station.

He remembered the woman last night, he wracked his brain for her name. “Amira.” he thought. Erik contemplated going inside to see her but guessed she would be elsewhere when Amira poked her head out of the tent.

“I can see your shadow on the tent! What do you w-” Amira trailed off as she recognized him. “Your majesty… I didn’t know it was you.” She quickly stepped from the tent and bowed slightly.

She wore the same, dull blue colors from before with the white trimming but it did not diminish her beauty.

Erik chuckled and smiled stupidly at her, “It’s quite alright. I’m sure you’ve had a stressful week.” he joked. “You know? Fleeing for our lives, forced to leave our homes, loved ones to care for.”

Amira burst into laughter and Erik couldn’t help but laugh as her laugh was contagious. “I needed that. Thank you,” she said. “Is there anything I can do for you, sire?”

“I-” Erik hesitated. “I was looking for you actually.”

“Oh.” Amira’s cheeks turned red. “What for? Are you still in pain?”

“No… well yes. My head does hurt but that’s not why I was looking for you.” Erik stumbled over his words.

Amira’s orange eyes stared at him and Erik had a brief moment of panic. “Uh, actually if you do have something for my head, that would be wonderful.”

“I do,” Amira responded kindly. “Please come in, I’ll prepare it for you.”

She ducked into her tent and disappeared. Erik hesitated before following her inside.

The tent was hot and stuffy inside, but enough air coming from the open tent saved him from sweating profusely.

“It will only take a minute,” Amira assured him as she raced across her tent back and forth grabbing ingredients and herbs. “This has a mild sedative in it but will relieve your pain in minutes.”

Erik watched her pace across the room, stirring and mixing things. Her long brown hair flowed down her shoulders, before, Erik had seen it tied in a ponytail and couldn’t fully appreciate the lushness of her wavy hair. She was very short and petite, Erik easily stood over a head taller than her. Her smile was captivating but her eyes had a certain seriousness to them that Erik couldn’t place.

“I hope you will not be offended by me asking but… how old are you?” Erik asked. “You seem to know exactly what you are doing and apparently you run the medical center?”

“You think I am too young to organize first aid in a camp?” Amira stopped what she was doing and stared at him, annoyed. “I assure you, I know what I am doing and I do it quite well thank you. I owned my own clinic in Vlakias I’d have you know.”

Erik raised both hands in defense, “You mistake my intent.” he said. “If I have offended you, I apologize, it was not my intent, I swear. I believe you are more than capable.”

“Oh, well… then why are you curious of my age?” Amira wondered. “You know a woman doesn’t like it when a man asks her that.”

“Duly noted. I know that now, my apologies.” Erik said. “It is your eyes,” he said bluntly.

“My eyes?” Amira stepped back and put a hand to her face, self-conscious now that he mentioned it. “What’s wrong with my eyes?”

“Nothing!” Erik blurted out. “You have beautiful eyes.”

“Thank… you,” she said suspiciously, squinting her eyes at him.

“I- I just noticed them last night… you have the eyes of someone who has lost someone dear to them,” Erik said more seriously. “I know that look.”

Amira’s nose flared and Erik knew he had upset her again, “I don’t see how that’s any of your business.”

“You’re right… it’s not.” Erik said, standing to his feet. “I should be going now. Thank you for your time.” he regretted bringing it up in the first place and he berated himself for not thinking it through.

Erik walked to the entrance when Amira called to him from behind, “Wait.”

He turned to her once again and stared into her alluring eyes. “Your medicine,” she said. “I haven’t finished it yet.”

Amira placed another ingredient and mixed the awful smelling liquid, while Erik stood there awkwardly waiting.

She took a sharp breath, “My father died.” she said quickly. “In the war… with Kligira.”

“I’m sorry for your loss,” Erik said softly.

“Thank you,” she replied, still mixing the herbs. “I saw it in your eyes too. I still have my mother. You lost both your parents. That must have been difficult, especially for one so young.”

“Yes. It was.” Erik paused. “You are familiar.” he changed the subject suddenly. “I know you from somewhere. Have we met before?”

“I-I don’t know.” Amira turned her head away from him, clearly lying.

“Vlakias. When the Vog attacked.” Erik said as realization dawned on him. “You were there... after the Vog left. I remember you sitting over me.” he couldn’t clearly remember the details but he recognized her face. “You were the woman who stitched Torsteins head to, weren’t you?”

Amira looked visibly uncomfortable, “I was there. Yes.”

“Why didn’t you say anything? You saved my life and Torstein's. I would have rewarded you.” Erik said. “When Durlan said it was a woman who helped, I never gave it a second thought.”

“I don’t want a reward from you,” Amira said bluntly. “That’s not why I help people.”

“Yes. Of course.” Erik nodded in understanding. “Even so, you saved my life and I thank you. If you change your mind. Ask anything of me, and it is yours.”

“I didn’t save your life,” Amira admitted. “I only gave you something to help you sleep and for your pain, much like the one I’m making now.”

“But, the scar, on my chest,” Erik said, confused. “A wound like that would kill any man but I didn’t die because you saved me.”

“No. Your wound was completely healed when I got to you.” Amira said frustratingly.

“Then how-?” Erik started but was cut short.

“I don’t know how. Do you really think I healed a wound that size in a few minutes?” Amira sounded angry now. “I don’t know what that monster did to you but I didn’t save your life.”

Erik brought his hand to his chin in thought, ignoring Amira’s last rant, which would have wounded his pride if he listened. “Hmm,” he said.

“Are you listening to me?” Amira flamed. “I don’t like being ignored.”

“It was Fel,” Erik whispered, continuing to ignore her. “Something to do with the melding.”

“What are you talking about?” she looked interesting now. “Who is Fel?”

“Hm? Oh. Fel is the giant Vog from the castle.” he said it so casually it left Amira dumbfounded. “I think the scar has something to do with my visions. He called it a melding or fusing but he cut it short because he said it would kill me.”

“Sire?” Amira said, concerned for his sanity. “Are you feeling well?”

“Yes of course. Why?” Erik asked obliviously.

“For a start, you’ve completely ignored me and lost yourself in thought.” she began. “Now you're telling me this… Fel, was talking to you? I was there and I heard no one but you talking to yourself.”

“Oh right. That’s because he can only talk to me with his mind.” Erik plainly said, unaware how crazy it sounded. “You couldn’t have heard him. Doesn’t matter. I know why.”

Amira stared at him blankly, clearly second-guessing her opinion of him. “Sire, I’m going to say this as plainly as possible. I think your seizures have taken a heavier toll on you than I originally thought.”

“Oh.” he quickly went through his conversation with her and realized how crazy he sounded. “I see why you would think that. Trust me though, I’m not crazy.”

“Right. Here’s your medicine.” Amira changed the subject.

“Thank you,” Erik said awkwardly. “You… think I’m insane don’t you?”

She stared at him with her beautiful orange eyes and said nothing. Erik smiled at her, disappointed that she didn’t believe him but at the same time, couldn’t blame her for not believing him. He turned to leave again but stopped. Erik wanted to prove to her that he wasn’t crazy but he would have to prove that his visions were correct. How he would do that, would push her away until the time came.

“Amira.” Erik started. “I know I sound crazy but… by the time I get back word will have spread of General Brynd.”

“The General from Tykin?” she asked with skepticism on her face.

“Yes. That General. News will come that he attempted to slip into Vulkira unnoticed and take Vlakias behind our backs.” Erik said as he watched Amira’s eyebrows raise. “He fought the Vog and lost, his whole army was defeated.”

She said nothing but Erik could tell he made it worse, for good reason. He would just have to wait for her to see. “I’ll be on my way now. Thank you again for the medicine.”

“Glad to be of help, sire,” Amira said rhetorically.


Part 2

Xer’s border walls were a sight to behold. Straining his neck upward, he stared at the lip of the wall where a Xerian guard shouted and waved his arms at them.

More shouting could be heard but the gates remained closed. After a few moments, they heard footsteps and clanking of armor behind the gate and loud creaking noise. The metal gate slowly opened outward and he saw chains sliding down on each side from a pulley system, probably in the wall.

Erik urged his horse forward and passed through the gate with Torstein and three guards following. Two of the guards were from the night before when he had his seizure, the third was Durlan from when Fel attacked Vlakias. Durlan was the guard who was nearly crushed by Felkuru’s paws and somehow managed to come out without a scratch.

Jebbin was expected to accompany them but had politely refused, saying “You need to be king and I won’t stand in your way.”

That had confused and upset him slightly but brushed it off until he added, “I will come only if Cara asks for me.” Erik had given up on understanding Jebbin after that and left the old man in camp.

They rode into a small clearing which was walled in by another wall. Dozens of guards lined the top of the walls and Erik’s gaze stopped on king Xerath, standing next to his friend Kyburn. Erik didn’t know Kyburn well but he knew the man was a dear friend to Xerath and he had saved the king’s life in the war.

Erik whipped his leg over his horse and slid down to the ground as did Torstein and the rest of his men. He stalked closer to the wall where Xerath stood, his hand on his hilt, casually rubbing the hilt of Frostmoon.

The onlookers shifted nervously but Erik and Xerath didn’t break eye contact. They were measuring each other up, one held the power and the other, none. Xerath could turn Erik and his people away and watch them be slaughtered, safely from his walls but Erik was his brother in law. His wife wouldn’t have him turning her brother away in a time of need, especially when the situation was entirely out of both of their control.

Erik noticed a young man standing behind Kyburn’s shoulder, he made note of the boy. “Xerath. I’ve come to ask your aid.” Erik shouted, his voice echoing off the city walls. “Grant me entry and I will tell you everything I know.”

A dead silence followed and even Torstein looked worried. Erik knew Cara was here, he wished to see her even if negotiations went poorly. He hated to rely on his sister once again but he had hoped she would smooth things over with the king.

“Come!” Xerath shouted back after a long pause. “We have much to discuss.”

An instant later, a small gate, lined with metal opened slowly for him. He nodded to Xerath in a silent thank you, then approached the gate. A dozen guards led him through several alleyways and gradually climbed upward. The streets were well built and the city was extremely clean but Erik never saw a soul. This entire section of the city must have been deserted.

Ten minutes passed when they walked by a fancy looking inn. Erik admired the look and decorations but his attention turned to the Xerian guard addressing him.

“We will be arriving soon, lord,” he said. “King Xerath and queen Cara will be waiting for you.”

“Very good.” Erik nodded at the man and continued following him.

Durlan whispered something and Torstein quickly shushed him. He fell silent and walked the rest of the way to the castle entrance without another word.

Four more guards stood on watch as they entered and six of their escorts dropped off behind them as they went inside. They were led through the main room and up a winding stairway. They stopped on the second floor and the hallway opened up to a large corridor.

One room entrance was lit from torches on the wall, they stopped there and the guard from before turned to Erik again.

“Only you may enter, lord,” he said. “The rest of your guard is not allowed entry.”

“Very well,” Erik replied.

Torstein stepped forward to object but Erik held up his hand in protest. “It’s fine Torstein.”

He nodded and stepped back. Erik’s guards looked stiff and stressed but he knew Torstein would keep them in check.

Erik pushed on the door and it slid open with a creek. He stepped through and four people sat in chairs. Xerath, Kyburn, and the young man from before had made it here before him, probably through a shortcut, which made Erik wonder why he was unnecessarily led through the city instead of straight here.

Cara was the fourth. She sat next to Xerath looking beautiful as ever but Erik couldn’t help but notice a twinge of sadness still in her eyes.

“Hello, sister,” Erik said softly. “It’s good to see you again.”

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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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