Before the guttering fire was allowed to flicker into oblivion a small servant scurried over to bank it with fresh logs. Smoke billowed out, the flames irritated by the disturbance, but the scent did little to cover the stench of fever and now, in these late stages, of putrefaction.
Thick tapestries showing great battle scenes hung on the walls of the chamber. Rich fabrics covered the furnishings and furs from the desert wildcat were piled high upon the bed. All of them were filthy. Weeks without fresh air had seen to that. Servants too fearful of causing the King’s sickness to worsen meant windows and any other opening that might cause a draft had been stopped up. Death was present. Everything smelt of it.
All the servants who ran in and out with remedies demanded by healers, all the courtiers who came to see how soon they could expect the King to die and their positions solidified or rendered obsolete by a new regime, all of them wore it on their faces.
The King’s gnarled fingers gripped at the fur covers with what little strength they had left, his lined face creasing, his thoughts drifting between the conscious realm and that of the spirits. The healer had not left his side and in all honesty, Garesh found the man an utter fool. He wore ridiculous ceremonial costumes, skins and heads of wildcats, and chanted gibberish that could be no help to a feverish King. Then again, perhaps the King’s second in command should be happy. As High Councillor to King Emril, so close to absolute power, he didn’t want his superior to recover. He wanted him to die.
King Emril had reigned with power; raising the Reluwyn from an independent kingdom of settled nomads to rulers of an empire that spanned half the known world, named hubristically Emrilion. He had been ruthless, his cruelty furthering his domination, his single-mindedness never questioned by his subjects, but his time was over and Garesh had waited long for this. He was ready to rise up. All that was needed was the King’s denial of his impending death to be overcome and a signature to be scrawled upon the Regency document Garesh had drawn up. After all, Emrilion had no queen. Emril’s wife had been deemed by him a threat to his power and had been dealt with accordingly. The Alakvalto blood which ran in her veins, which drew from an old magic that allowed the person to shift between animal and human form, had been her undoing. No King of the Reluwyn would be seen as second in power next to his ancient blooded Queen. The marriage had served a purpose at first. Then it had not. Her own husband had signed an Edict condemning shape-shifters to death, suppressing their kind and accusing them of Dark Spirit influence. Queen Anis had burned alive, supposedly cleansed of her Dark Spirits, and Emril had watched. Now an entire ancient magic was left in the realms of silence.
For Garesh, such a move had unwittingly cleared the way for his ascension to power as Regent upon Emril’s death. No one had expected the tenacious King to catch fever with the rest of the inhabitants of the crowded Emril city but he had. Despite the lack of a blood-regent to call on, Emril was ever wilful, and until now had refused to hand over any of the power he had spilt rivers of blood to build. Garesh’s only hope was to bring young Prince Trevisian, Emril’s only son and heir, to the dying King and hope the boy’s presence would persuade the sovereign to sign the document that even now resided in the pocket of Garesh’s silk robe. As Regent Garesh would rule in the boy’s stead until his taking of a wife, as Reluwyn custom dictated, would raise him to Kingship. When that time came Garesh would make a play for the position of High Councillor as he had held under Emril, until then, he needed to secure his power.
The High Councillor was going for the boy now. He strode through the palace with all the purposefulness that had led him out of the courtier’s muck-heap and up to the King’s right hand. The robe he wore flared out behind him and his leather shoes thudded on the tiled floors. He passed walls with frescoes depicting the ascent of the Reluwyn’s from a nomadic tribe in the Tao desert into a mighty nation. The quickest way to get to Prince Trevisian’s chambers was to pass through the fountain courtyard, made of sandstone, the chambers off which contained the King’s numerous concubines. Since Emril’s illness Garesh had taken to passing by those rooms often.
This time he did not stop however, but went on, passing the fountain which had frozen on the first day of true winter. Its icy shards were suspended, waiting for the first day of spring that would release them in their downward journey once again. Garesh did not notice its beauty, he entered the Hall of Banners where all the bloodlines of the Reluwyn were represented, apart from that of the Alakvalto. It had been taken down and burned along with the Queen. All courtiers and council members had been gathered here for the past week waiting for news of the King, forming factions and fighting amongst themselves.
Garesh, usually taking time to flatter and persuade the courtiers who held the most influence and whose support he would need to secure his Regency, skirted the main throngs and headed to the left of the great stone columns. He had no time to waste, the healer said the King would die any day and without the Regency document signed Garesh’s plan would fail. No amount of flattery would be able to unite all the courtiers and council members under his authority without the King’s signature.
He took one of the hall’s side doors and headed to the north of the palace. The Prince’s rooms were soon reached; Garesh strode into the brightly painted seating chamber that looked out onto the jewelled courtyard, the heart of the palace. Trevisian’s dark head was bent over a stick he was carving, his tutor in the corner putting away swords, no doubt from a recent training session. The boy started at Garesh’s entrance. His dark eyes widened but quickly relaxed when they saw who it was.
“Out.” Garesh’s voice brooked no argument. In spite of the turmoil at court he still held the highest sway and the tutor, needing no second bidding, obeyed the High Councillor without pause.
Garesh didn’t even bother to watch the tutor leave, his eyes were already focused on the Prince and, once the closing of the door sounded, he strode forward. The rapid movement caused the boy to jump, drop the stick which rattled on the floor, and stand up, moving towards the window in the far wall.
“My Prince, do not be startled, I am come to take you to your father.”
Trevisian said nothing. He took another step back his eyes widening again.
“Your father is dying.” Garesh didn’t expect sorrow from the boy. The yellowing bruises visible when the boy had been bent over carving his stick were reason enough for no tears, but Garesh needed him to come to his father. “You are to be the new ruler.”
“Ruler?” came the small boy’s voice. He was not more than twelve. “Father is King,” he said, as though nothing else made sense.
“For now, but you are his heir Trevisian. Do not look frightened, I know you fear the responsibility but that is why I am here. We are to go to your father and ask that I may help you rule. Would you like that? Or would you like to do it all alone with no help and make mistakes? Would you like to disappoint your father?”
This was the closest the young Prince had looked to crying. He stood very still, but did not answer. Garesh’s impatience grew; they had to get back to the King.
“I can help you if you help me now, but if you do not help me now you will be alone, there is no telling what could happen to you…” Garesh let the ominous words linger and work on a child’s imagination. “We wouldn’t want what happened to your mother to happen to you would we? Isn’t that why I told you to hide your true self? Now will you come and do as you’re told again?”
Whatever images the boy conjured in his mind, it was enough to make him nod his head. Without waiting for a change of mind Garesh’s hand reached out and grabbed the boy’s, his grip vice-like. He dragged the Prince after him, the child having to skip and run to keep up with the legs of the tall, thin man.
Before long they had re-entered the festering room where the King lay. His eyes were open now, their bright green irises startling again his white skin. He looked almost lucid but his breathing was shallow. The healer told Garesh it would not be long. Garesh threw him a look of derision but said nothing. He had work to do.
“My lord King,” he said, kneeling beside the bed, taking the coarse, gnarled hands that had wielded blades and sent armies on their conquering way. “I have brought to you your son.” Garesh turned, keeping one hand on the King’s and reaching the other out to Trevisian who still stood on the threshold of the room.
“Come,” commanded Garesh. The boy flinched instinctually as if he was about to be hit. He hunched his shoulders, making himself smaller, but he came. Garesh made him kneel and the High Councillor took one shaking hand of the boy’s and put it with his on the King’s.
Emril turned his head. His eyes took in both faces, that of his High Councillor, sharp and lined, and that of his son, dark and young. His breathing became louder.
“I have been speaking with your son, lord King. Your time…you may well get better, but if not your time may come soon and there is no provision. Your son asks that you will give him a guide. His young years make him ignorant, he has asked that I guide him in his ruling that the glorious Kingdom you created might endure.”
“Weak…” wheezed the King. “Weak.” His green eyes were hard upon his son’s face.
“Young, my lord King, young and in need of guidance,” Garesh continued doggedly, “I put myself forward to be his Regent, lord King. It is his wish and best for your Kingdom. Will you sign a Regency document, my Lord King?” The question was out. Garesh had asked it. Now all he could do was hope the King would die. He could not put himself forward for such power without Emril becoming angry. If he recovered Garesh could lose more than his position, but he would not recover, even now the High Councillor saw the weariness in the King’s eyes.
“No…” whispered Emril. The slightest of movements indicated he wished to shake his head.
Garesh’s body tensed. The hand he held over Trevisian’s and the King’s tightened, his claw-like fingers digging in. He glanced at Trevisian. Had the boy heard?
Then the King shuddered, his breathing harsh and ragged. The healer tried to approach but Garesh swung round like a wild animal and cursed him away. He would not let this be the end, he would not let the King go without signing the document. He threw Trevisian’s hand away and rose up, bending over the King and obscuring Trevisian’s sight.
Garesh snatched up a quill from an inkstand beside the bed. The King still shuddered, his body falling prey to multiple spasms, and then as Garesh wrenched the document from his pocket and spread it upon the King’s chest the ruler ceased to move. His green eyes dulled, his breathing stopped, he lay still.
This would not be the end. Garesh could hear voices behind him. People had been summoned by the healer proclaiming the King to be dead. Had he been wailing like that the whole time? Garesh didn’t know. He felt the press of the Prince’s hand on his back. Did he wish to know his father had died? Garesh didn’t know. But the High Councillor knew he wouldn’t let this power slip away from him, not when it was so near. He seized the King’s hand with his own, placing the quill between the King’s dead fingers and marked the Regent’s document with the signature he had seen signed a thousand times, a simple series of lines. The ink glistened in the candlelight. Then it slowly turned matt and, with the indelible mark now on the paper, the future of the Kingdom was set.
10 Years Later
Kiara drew the short sword from the sheath on her belt and worked quickly on the rope that bound the child’s hands. When she felt the bonds give way she moved onto the next.
“Run, Talia,” she called to the first. “Quietly, keep to the shadows.”
The little girl leapt up and darted to the cover of the nearest porch. There was a gathering of Imperial Guards further down the earthen street. They stood together muttering to each other, a good day’s work done according to them. As the two suns were setting Kiara had come. She wouldn’t let the Laowyn children be taken away from their mothers for Reluwyn palace slaves no matter what her uncle said about obeying the ruling authorities. Damn the Reluwyn!
Another set of ropes broke under the sword Kiara had carefully sharpened on stone and another child ran free following Talia, darting in and out of the shadows of doorways before being lost in the alleys of the forest town of Miresh.
“Rue, you must send a message to your parents, get them to tell the others they are taking children for slaves, people must hide their children, do you hear me?” Kiara whispered urgently. The young boy nodded and ran.
Kiara went to the last of the children, another young boy who was whimpering, younger than the others and far more scared. When she took the ropes between her two small hands the boy yelped.
Kiara froze, her fingers gripped on the rope and her crouching position stilled. She prayed the guards would not have heard. Perhaps their congratulations on such a successful capturing mission would have been enough to drown out the boy’s cry. Seconds ticked by. The murmur of voices had stopped.
Hearing nothing and not daring to turn and look, Kiara worked on the ropes again.
“You! Stop! Stop in the name of the Prince!” The harsh command rang out against the wooden forest buildings making Kiara jump.
“Run!” Kiara yanked the boy to his feet with the bonds she hadn’t managed to cut and, thrusting her sword into her belt, pulled him with her down an alley to the left. She wasn’t sure if the boy was even running or if she was simply dragging him. Her arms burned with his weight. She turned left again, then right down another passage way.
The guards’ legs were longer, they were gaining on her. She heard the whistle of something flying through the air and then a lancing, hot pain suddenly pierce her thigh. She stumbled, cursed and freed an arm from the boy to rake her fingers at the wooden walls to balance herself.
She would not be caught by them. She would not be taken alive. She’d heard what they did to Laowyn woman, what their Prince allowed. She’d die before they took her. She caught sight of a dagger sticking out of her thigh. If she kept running she’d bleed to death before they took her and she might just get the boy to safety.
A surge of adrenaline pulsed through her body. She lunged sideways, her free hand finding the rim of a water pot standing by a door and yanking it over. The jar crashed down across the path behind her, its clay body smashing and water flushing out. She limped forward, trying to run, not looking back when she heard a man fall.
She made it to another junction in the maze of alleys. She turned a corner and then, suddenly, a hand yanked at her clothes, dragging her through a doorway and onto the floor. The wooden door was shut quickly but silently and darkness fell across the young woman and the boy sprawled on the floor.
Hands were jammed across both their mouths as each moaned in pain, and then the captors and their captives waited.
Footsteps thudded past the door. Reluwyn shouts could be heard. Kiara’s breathing was ragged, she felt the seep of warm blood down her leg, she still clutched at the boy.
After some time there was movement in the dark house.
“Will you be silent?”
Kiara nodded and she felt the boy do so too. The hands were taken from their mouths and she rolled over onto her back, the movement making the dagger cut further into her leg. She threw her arm up over her face to whimper into the sleeve of her coat.
“And who is this young man?” came the familiar voice again.
Kiara had been trying to make it home, she hadn’t realized how close she was to getting there.
“This is Raffy uncle,” she replied, between heavy breaths to control the pain.
“Raffy,” he repeated, as he did so a lamp was lit. The sudden illumination made Kiara’s eyes ache but soon she could see Djeck, her uncle’s servant, moving towards her and the boy with the oil lamp. Her uncle was kneeling down, helping Raffy to his feet, though the boy still cried and tried to collapse again.
Kiara, unable to speak for the pain, pulled out the short word from her sheath again and threw it down on the floor next to the boy. Zephenesh, her uncle, picked it up wordlessly and cut the boy’s bonds.
“Djeck, put the light on the table and then take Raffy home, make sure the road is clear, the Imperial Guards should be lost in the maze of alleys by now but you must be careful.”
Djeck obeyed without objection. He took a cloak that was hanging on a hook by the door and covered the boy in it before slipping out with the boy’s hand in his.
Zephenesh turned to his niece and without speaking began to tend her leg. He took off his belt and slipped it around her thigh above where the dagger was embedded. He tightened the leather sling rapidly, without warning, and made Kiara wrench upwards and gasp. She threw her arm over her mouth again, stifling a scream and biting the leather of her coat.
“This will hurt.” Her uncle took hold of the dagger’s handle. Even the pressure of his hand felt like burning inside her thigh.
“No, no, no,” gasped Kiara. She kept murmuring it, even when Zephenesh counted down from three, and another scream came when he pulled it out on two.
She felt the blood flow, but the belt did much to stem it, and then Zephenesh was up, gathering strips of fabric from the box of medicinal herbs and bandages that sat beside his bed in the adjoining room. He took a cup of water from a jar beside a bowl and poured it across the wound. By the time he was bandaging Kiara’s leg she had passed out of consciousness.
Over the Northern sea the two suns finally dropped their red heads following one another in the train of dusk. Darkness descended unbidden over the moorlands that stretched for miles beside the roiling sea. Against the raging of the waves the crickets sang out their evening ballad from the shelter of purple heather.
The Reluwyn thief, risen with the darkness, stood halfway down one of the moorland hills staring at the dirt track which lay at its bottom. The first indication of what he waited for was the trembling of the heather heads, as though they feared what was coming, then the crickets stopped.
The summer sun had long been baking the track below him creating the perfect medium for carrying sound. Drawing back the wide cuff of his coat he pulled an old friend from the leather holder tied to his forearm. The small dagger caught the moonlight for a second, showing the holder’s sharp nose and dark eyes, before being stabbed into the stony earth of the hillside.
A three-day-old beard he had no intention of shaving blunted the hard lines of his square chin. Dropping to his knees he bent his body round until he could put his ear by the knife. Lifting his hands to shield out other noise he closed his eyes behind the raven locks falling over his face and concentrated on the sounds.
Thud. Thud. Thud. One, no wait…a two horse carriage. It was a heavy one judging by the vibrations but it travelled with speed. The man raised his head, his dark eyes taking in the road below. At that speed it would only be a short while before the carriage came round the corner in the road but the driver would have to slow his horses to a trot if he didn’t want to run the risk of turning over the vehicle. That worked well for the thief. That worked perfectly.
He turned his head into the evening breeze, smelling the brine on the air that came up from the sea. Taking a deep breath he let out a long, low whistle. That done, he tugged his dagger free of the dirt and returned it to its holder, rising as he did so.
Thin drabs of cloud were strewn across the star laden canopy, obscuring the brilliant burning diamonds in places. The moon, just escaping the clutches of a cloud, let down its soft silvery light, casting the landscape in an eerie grey. Through this metallic world Dainus moved with fluidity. His great smooth flanks tensed repeatedly in his grand stride. His neck, with its thick crest, let wild an ebony mane like black fire. His lustrous black hooves found the rough heathery ground surely though he moved with such rapidity. He responded to his master’s summons like the flash of dark lightening.
Reaching the head of the hill on which his master stood, the beast slid with practiced skill to a timely halt, hocks sliding beneath him, hooves digging into the soil. The horse’s veins bulged, but with excitement not exertion, and his skin quivered in the night air as he surveyed the small valley below. He was as a night phantom, silhouetted on the skyline, almost a trick of the eye.
The thief stood, his broad shoulders straight and unflinching, his feet firmly planted on the side of the slope. He had his back to his horse and to a casual observer he would have seemed ignorant of the beast behind if not for the hand he moved at his side, beckoning his beast closer. Dainus picked his way slowly down the slope, barely making a sound, an impressive feat for a creature his size, until his muzzle touched his master’s outstretched hand.
The road still stood empty, but the thief had seen the moon catch a carriage window on a bend in the far off road. The black horse’s ears pricked, picking up the sounds of the carriage. Master and beast waited, time suspended, the only movement in the surrounding hills the wind in the heather and the carriage on the road.
Then, with a suddenness that was unexpected the thief turned, and with one motion, grasped the reins with Dainus’ long mane, threw a foot into a stirrup and launched himself into the saddle. The soft black leather welcomed him and without waiting he drew from a sheath beneath the folds of his coat a blade. It sliced through the air, its double edge ending in a viciously sharp point. He twirled it unconsciously, licking his lips, tightening his grip upon the reins.
The shift in weight was not something even the acutest of eyes could have caught at midday, but the horse knew his master’s will and leapt forward into motion. All at once, with gathered haunches Dainus forelegs reached out and the horse bounded forwards down the hill.
Before they reached the track the carriage appeared around the bend. Saliva flecked with blood foamed at the carriage horses’ mouths as they cantered round the corner, the carriage leaning its massive weight over, the driver squealing in dismay.
The thief did not expect the speed. He cursed the driver and then adjusted his course. Dainus’ head swung sideways and he brought his weight to bear on his left legs as he swerved. The thief, not taking his eyes from the goal, rode on despite the change.
For a moment the carriage seemed as though it would topple down the hill but the horses that took its strain stayed true to their course. The lumbering vehicle threw itself back onto all four wheels, jolting and juddering before settling.
The moment had come. The thief held his sword high and seconds before he would collide with the vehicle let out an almighty cry.
The driver, whose concentration had been taken up by his horses, turned towards the oncoming rider. His eyes turned fearful, his hands freezing on the reins before he sprang to life and urged his horses on, daring to outrun the highwayman.
But the thief had not misplaced his trust in Dainus. The fearless beast kept on course and swooped in front of the carriage rearing as he did so. The carriage horses slid to a shocked halt, one rearing in response, the other trying flight. The leather harness that had born the strain of the carriage’s two-wheeled trip around the hillside finally gave up. Leather cracked and snapped. One horse escaped, the other wheeled round in circles, his bridle caught up in the wreckage. The carriage shafts dropped to the ground forced into the dirt by the momentum of the carriage, and the driver flew from his seat onto the track.
Dainus hop-skipped out of the broken carriage’s way, the thief staying in the saddle while the vehicle came to a final halt. If there were guards inside they would use their first opportunity to attack. The thief could not afford to lose his advantage. The carriage stopped and minutes ticked by but there were no guards. No one came out.
Dainus pranced in agitation, impatient to charge again. The thief reined him in and then dismounted, if anyone was in the carriage they were in no fit state to fight. He let Dainus go and continued on foot. He was stilled by a groan coming from near the foot of the opposite hill. The highwayman turned, approaching the noise cautiously. There was a tangled heap showered in shards of wood from the carriage shafts. When he got close, the thief could see the twisted form of a man, the carriage driver. He cast his eyes over the body, its legs bent at inhuman angles and its face bruised and bloody.
“Mercy…” whispered the man, “Mercy…”
The thief was an ominous shadow to him. Perhaps the driver thought he was death come to take him. A muscle jerked in the thief’s jaw, he turned his blade in his hand, the point coming up under the driver’s chin. The skin bulged around the point, one push, and the man would be dead. Temptation lingered and then the thief moved swiftly, turning the blade, kneeling and knocking the driver out with its black handle.
Something cracked by the carriage; the thief was quick to swing round, his sharp eyes picking out a dazed occupant emerging. They clung haphazardly to the door and swung back and forth with it on its hinges, unable to steady themselves. The thief advanced toward them. The carriage sat in the rut it had dug during the accident. The poles to which the horses had been lashed were shattered, thick splinters of wood strewn everywhere, several of them cracked under Trevisian’s heavy boots. The person glanced up in acknowledgement of his presence muttering something inaudible.
The highwayman came to a halt before the traveller, his dark coat falling back into still folds around him. Dark eyes took in the elderly man whose hair was a mere straggly ring of grey encircling a smooth head. It left a bare shiny circle which reflected the moon’s light. Apparently the hair which had once inhabited the top of the old man’s head had migrated, with age, to his chin to form a long grey beard.
But it wasn’t the hair or the face the thief cared about. It was the clothes the traveller wore. They made the highwayman step back unconsciously, he flicked dark eyes around himself, ensuring that no one else was present, and then looked back to the old man, taking in the deep navy of his silk tunic, the silver length of cloth that hung from each shoulder, the emblem of Emrilion formed in gold and pinned to the courtier’s chest. This man was a Reluwyn courtier. This man came from the palace in Emril city.
People in the Northern Moor villages had spoken of Reluwyn officials moving in the Kingdom, travelling far, carrying messages. The tittle-tattle had grown increasingly since the intrigue at the Reluwyn court had begun. All of Emrilion had been interested to know what exactly their Prince and High Councillor were planning. The noose around racial differences had been increasingly tightened under the Regent. Even with his current nomadic existence the thief had heard things.
He looked at the man again. It didn’t matter who he was. His rank proved that there must be precious cargo in this vehicle.
“You shall never get away with this,” the old man’s voice rasped like metal on stone.
The thief’s eyes flicked from the open door of the carriage to the old man’s face. He said nothing and apparently the man needed no encouragement to continue his threats.
“I ride under the protection of the Reluwyn High Council.”
Still the thief remained silent.
“Under the High Councillor Garesh!” The man’s voice rose higher, courage winning the battle against fear. “Under the Prince himself – he shall not let you go unpunished.”
The thief’s body tensed. His fingers were tight on the handle of his sword and he no longer lounged back on one leg as he had done. His thin lips were set in an uncompromising line and his dark eyes grew ever darker as he stepped forward his breath warm on the old man’s face.
“The Prince does not concern me, old man, your cargo does.”
Harsh rasping laughter sounded out. The old man’s face looked pained but he laughed defiantly on anyway. The thief would have admired it if there wasn’t work to do.
“We carry nothing but the Prince’s laws. He shall punish you for this. Your body shall hang on the gates of Emril city for the vultures to peck at.”
“I think not.” With that the thief did the same to the old man as he had done to the driver. The courtier crumpled readily, his hands released from their clinging on the door, his frame falling in the dirt.
Leaving the old man behind the thief bent his tall body forward and followed his sword into the carriage. Silk curtains billowed fitfully in the evening breeze. Cushions were thrown in disarray and the carriage lay empty of inhabitants, even of the treasure he’d hoped to find.
He sheathed his sword and began picking up the cushions, throwing them in a pile, searching beneath them for anything of worth. His hands hit the wooden seat of the carriage repeatedly until they felt something cold, colder than wood. He drew from between cushions and blankets a silver box. Returning to the moonlight to examine it the thief recognized the royal crest, a desert wildcat like the Alakvalto’s of old had favoured when protection had been needed for the nomadic Reluwyn in the Tao desert. At least that was the legend that had become myth under Emril’s rule. Pausing only briefly to take this in, the thief turned to opening the box.
Finding it locked the thief left it on the ground and went to rifle the old man’s pockets. He must have the key if he was travelling with it. Perhaps there was something of worth in the box. If he managed to smash off the crest at least the silver box would fetch a little. His guess was right, before long he drew out a silver key matching the box from the courtier’s inner pocket. He unlocked the box, lifting up the lid and then cursing loudly. There was nothing in it but paper.
Large archaic scrawls in old nomadic Reluwyn threaded their way across the pages,
Provinces of Emrilion,
By royal proclamation, from the court of the Lord Prince Trevisian Alakvalto of the Kingdom of Emrilion, under the charge of Lord High Councillor Garesh, all Kingdoms loyal to Emrilion, the Reluwyn, Mier Elves, Chieftains and Radichi Warriors, are to cease all trade and communications with the Laowyn.
A group of Laowyn, claiming to speak for their people, claiming they are a resistance against the Kingdom of Emrilion, are the root of insurrection within the Laowyn people. They are in direct conflict with Lord Prince Trevisian and the High Councillor Garesh and all free peoples of the Kingdom of Emrilion. No toleration shall be given to the Laowyn, no mercy shown, and no commercial interactions are henceforth permitted.
Any man, woman, or child found in contravention of this edict shall be found guilty of rebellion against the Lord High Crown Prince of Emrilion and sentenced to death by beheading.
This proclamation is being sent to every corner of Emrilion. All Laowyn who read this proclamation shall know that further insurrection will result in swift and crushing retribution with no further mercy shown. The Great Kingdom of Emrilion will not bow to rebellion.
By order of High Councillor Garesh.
Lord Prince Trevisian Alakvalto, Son of King Emril of the Kingdom of Emrilion.
The thief crumpled the paper in his hands, dropping it in the dirt of the roadside. This was no concern of his.
Philippa Jane Keyworth – Fantasy Author