Free chapters from the prequel of the epic fantasy story of the Arid Kingdom. New chapters added weekly. Enjoy!
Chapter I – The Vision
Inerishia had a vision.
As she sat by a wide-open window with diaphanous curtains, she could see something else in the sky. There were no more peaceful foamy clouds and no more deep blueness to gaze at. There were darkness and commotion, red flashes revealing a boiling movement of silhouettes and shadows.
People with spears, many of them, ran to the left of the unclear scene, their mouths wide open and their summary clothing revealing muscular arms. Another flash of light made their skin red. Inerishia had no doubt now. They were demons who were letting out a cry of war, but she could hear nothing. The vision flowed before her eyes in mute silence until, suddenly, it dimmed and faded away.
Inerishia raked through the empty space with trembling hands. “What are you trying to show me?” she pleaded. The whole room turned dark, then, as she spun to find something to see, she noticed a spot of light. She hastened that way, then slowed down. It was the calendar, a thin board of marble with numbers and words made of crystal dust, carrying sparks on a certain date. It was today, but the clock at its side was three hours later from now. The young seer’s ginger brows drew together in a frown. “Are you saying this will happen today?” she questioned the invisible.
The bright spot faded away leaving her in the darkness, then as she turned around, the room’s details and colors came back. Eager to find out more before the vision will stop, she asked, “What should I fear?”
A cloud descended out of nowhere right before her. On that foggy layer, her husband and her daughter appeared, both surrounded by blazes of fire, and then she saw herself coming between them. When that representation of her took one step toward her husband, her little girl was covered by fire entirely, and when she stepped toward her daughter, her husband was swallowed by the flames.
“No!” she shouted. “I want to save them both! Show me how I can save them both!” she cried, barely blinking as she was afraid to lose the vision. The obscurity returned and it remained so for a concerning length of time. “There has to be a way,” she murmured, pacing back and forth. Vague and general questions had never been of help when she had had visions. The despair surged, so she asked, “Please show me the safest place for my daughter!”
A spot of light appeared right next to the door. She hastened that way and saw the foggy representation of a castle with towers and golden roofs. “The Arid Kingdom’s palace… Thank you,” she whispered, an agonizing pain spreading all over her head.
Overcome by a blaze of shivers, she shut her eyes and sank to her knees. It had been the longest vision she had ever had, and all those things it had told her terrified her. However, as soon as the pain became bearable, she got up and went to the desk, took the first pen that came in handy and scribbled a letter asking General Waltario of the Arid Kingdom to take care of her daughter. Her writing was trembling but every sentence was coherent.
She wrote in a trance until she reached by the end of the letter. Slowing down, she lifted her head only to meet her disheveled reflection in the mirror. She dropped the pen and sighed deeply. “What am I doing? This is so reckless.”
Looking down at the letter, she read what she’d written, then shook her head. “I must be going crazy.” Yet, after reading it once again, thinking about that strong vision, she folded it and hid it in a pocket as her last resort, in case today’s plan was going to encounter unexpected changes. In less than an hour, she and her family would be going on an important mission disguised as a trip to the in-laws, her husband’s parents.
Drawing a chair near her, she laid her head on the table to take some rest. The ability to foresee the future had started soon after she had given birth to Ines, and although it had been years since then, she still had trouble understanding those visions. Not everything they showed happened, and sometimes, what happened, in the end, showed her that she had not interpreted them correctly.
It was until recently when she learned that asking questions during those hypnotizing and unstoppable trances made them clearer, but even so, she refused to talk about them with someone else. Because she’d given false alarms before, most people in the stronghold believed she was paranoid.
Feeling better, Inerishia straightened her back and set on tidying herself up. As she brushed her long apricot-tinted locks of hair, she thought of multiple safety measures to take before the trip, other than sending her daughter to General Waltario. Asking for help from a person she’d barely talked to once, a few years ago, was absurd.
Teacher Coldpeak moved around the classroom with one hand at his back to sustain a straight posture, his chin lifted up in the air full of chalk and old paper aroma. His shelves bordering the walls were full of documents and books of all kinds which he knew by heart.
The vast knowledge he possessed about the world, its history, and its wonders made him a proud man. His hair reached to his shoulders in grey and white strokes, touching the golden shoulder plates of his royal red coat, the kind of coat that he used to wear whenever he offered lessons to someone. That someone was now the king’s seven-year-old son, Prince Soris.
The boy sat at a desk, staring, sometimes peering, at some map and a notebook, its white pages filled with shaky markings and pen writing which bore essential information about the map. The teacher strolled from one side to another, his short heels clicking soundly on the dry and dusty wood of the floor.
“Well, let’s see what you learned from today’s lesson,” he said, taking his time to clearly pronounce each word as he took a long and well-polished stick to point at the large map on the wall.
The boy lifted his brown bangs and looked up with confidence.
“So what’s this large spot of land?”
“Indeed, that’s the name of our continent. What about this one here, that’s even larger?”
“Right. Our unfriendly neighboring continent which calls us to war almost every ten years. All right, now let’s see the countries. What country is this?” he asked pointing at the top of the continent.
The boy’s eyes lightened up. “That’s the Northern Kingdom. Mom’s kingdom.”
“Yes and no. It is the Northern Kingdom, but we can’t call it your mother’s kingdom. It’s the kingdom where your mother was born in. Careful how you use your words, my prince. King Northshade might get angry at you. Anyway, next. What’s this tiny, round spot here?”
The boy relaxed in his seat. “It’s the Central Palace.”
The teacher gave a long blink then waited. The boy looked at him then at the map, then back at the notes on his notebook. Coldpeak banged the stick against the map. “No. Don’t look there. You were right. This is the Central Palace, but I’d like you to say more about it. What do you know about this state?”
Soris took his time to yawn. “They control the continent. Every king and queen must listen to them.”
“Yes. They’re the strongest and thankfully they use their power only to keep our continent in a state of peace and harmony. Our history was a lot bloodier before they took over our continent and compelled all Ceteralum countries to sign a peace treaty and also a submission treaty.”
“They are scary people,” the prince added. “Dad said they’re very harsh to the kings.”
Coldpeak cleared his throat intentionally. “Well, that’s how they keep the greed for power at bay.”
A couple of loud knocks disturbed their conversation. The teacher opened the door and received a folded piece of paper.
“It’s from his Majesty,” the soldier said fugitively before vanishing from the teacher’s sight.
Coldpeak arched his eyebrows rather offended as he read the king’s short message: make your lessons longer today, at least one hour. “Is he not satisfied with the way I teach his son? He never cared about his son’s knowledge. What’s wrong with him?” he muttered to himself, then looked at the boy who was making a paper boat. The teacher shook his head. He himself was against longer lessons as he had his own plans for the rest of the day, so how was he going to keep the boy’s attention for another sixty minutes?
“All right, Prince Soris. Allow me to tell you a bit about the White Castle, the stronghold which is independent of any control.”
Taking a long breath, the boy pushed the toy-boat away. “I know about the White Castle. They’re a small country in our big country. They don’t listen to my father, and they don’t listen to the Central Palace either. Their border is around the Spiral Forest. Now, may I go out? I’m hungry.” He looked at the golden clock on the wall to signal the teacher that it was about time.
Coldpeak glanced at the clock and blurted out, “Well, we’re two minutes past the usual hour. That should count as a longer lesson.” He looked straight to the boy. “Enough for today. See you tomorrow, my prince. You’re free to leave,” he said rushing out the door way before the prince.
Next chapter coming soon! I hope you enjoyed this.
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