Half Blood--History's Retelling

Fiction By Heather // 6/1/2010

 The Crown of Ages was created long ago, when the Highlands and Lowlands were still one, by a master smith named Terbus. He had been commissioned by the wisest king of all, Malchus. King Malchus had Orkanilia's guiding hand on him and from a young age had been filled with great wisdom. King Malchus had striven for and asked for this wisdom from Orkanilia.
When King Malchus died, the crown was passed to his son. His son too had exceptional wisdom and everyone knew that Orkanilia's hand was also on him. As the crown passed from father to son, down through the years, the wisdom varied, but never by much, and it was the greatest age our country had ever seen.
The crown had never been passed from father to eldest son—rather, counselors and the king agreed together which of the sons was the most wise and worthy. Many times it was the first-birthed son. Finally, there came a king whose sons were twins. The first-birthed twin was Keller; the second-birthed, Jeremas. Neither Jeremas nor Keller walked with Orkanilia—rather, they thought that the crown merely gave wisdom to the bearer. But Keller, because the crown had many times passed to the eldest son, was secure that he would receive the crown.
Their father, however, knew and grieved that his sons did not walk with Orkanilia. He knew his sons to be unworthy of succeeding him—so, on his deathbed, he put the crown into my great-grandfather's care, to be hidden until a suitable heir was discovered.
When Keller and Jeremas discovered their father's plan, they both tried to steal the crown from my great-grandfather. Both barely escaped with their lives. And both, instead of reconciling with their father, were so angry that they lashed out at each other. And thus Loryss y Benlirath, the War of Sundering, began. For years, the two sides fought back and forth. The country split between them—Keller in the south, Jeremas in the north.
Eventually, even the dragons split. Some joined Jeremas, some Keller. Some, such as the Great Dragon, my great-grandfather, remained neutral. Through his contact with the dragons, Jeremas became tentative friends with my great-grandfather. Then, the light shone through, and he dedicated himself to Orkanilia. But he knew himself to not have much wisdom for ruling, so he asked the Great Dragon to not bestow the crown on him, but save it until another, wiser man could be found. Keller discovered this and realized that, though the war was far from over, his brother had essentially won. From the on, Jeremas fought to protect the crown—Keler fought to gain it.
Jeremas died, and Keller died, leaving sons who ruled split kingdoms but were not wise. The Great Dragon sired a son, and passed the crown to him, and died. So the heirs of the war continued—and so the war continued. It continues to this very day.

It seemed to Varian that, as Archflame's voice droned into the story of the crown, the flames in the fireplace changed color, and rose, and shaped themselves into the events that the Great Dragon's voice was describing. He could see King Malchus, being crowned by the gifted Smith Terbus. The crackling flames were the voice of the old king speaking to his sons. The snap of trapped water releasing from a log became the clash of the twin brothers' swords. The drifting sparks shimmered into a fleet of dragons and their riders, flying into battle.
Then Archflame's deep booming voice stilled, and the cavern was silent. The fire dropped back into the grate. Varian stirred and glanced down at the crown, twinkling in the firelight.
"A country split for this? For a lump of shaped metal?" he whispered.
"We fight not for the crown, but for the kingship it represents. We will not have a maddened, gold-lusting king on the throne of our countries."
"Where do I fit into all this? And why does Danilos want the crown?"
"Cannot you see it? Though the legend of the crown giving wisdom is foolish, it is the most popular legend that has survived about King Malchus. Danilos would have heard it—indeed, I fancy that had you not been shielded from such things for your entire life, you would have heard of it too."
"Why do you think I was shielded?"
"The royalty of the Lowlands have traditionally been a very arrogant people."
Varian thought of his half-brother and nodded.
"They are not willing to admit that they have been fighting a loosing war for all these years. Naturally, they are not willing to pass along the full story. And I imagine that Danilos had something to do with the suppression of the facts. He wanted you as distanced from your Highlander blood as possible, for if you ever gained contact with your uncle, there would be disaster."
"Because of my mother's murder."
"Yes. Jokk has evidence, but no way to present it. If you had found him it would not be conducive to Danilos' plans."
Everything suddenly clicked in Varian's mind, pushing past the fog of shock from everything he'd heard that day. "He wants the Crown of Ages to exploit the wisdom it supposedly bestows."
"And, I suppose, he thinks that he could reunite the countries and take over the throne." Archflame shrugged. "I do not make a habit of trying to guess my enemy's mind. I worry more about how I will defend my charge when he strikes."
"D'ye think it will come to war, Archflame?"
"Yes, I do. Danilos wants the crown, and he has been foiled several times. Oh yes, sending his son here was a last resort. Before that it was a couple of young, foolish dragons, and before that a bounty hunter, I believe. But ever since his son's death he has been lying low—licking his wounds, you could say. I shudder to think what his next assault could bring."
Varian ran his hand through his hair. "How do ye think that I fit into all this? Fleet said somethin' about finding my destiny, and Jokk said that I hadn't come here except by God's will. Of course no one does anythin' but that it's God's will, but I dinnae know what Fleet meant."
"Fleet and Jokk see something in you that not many men possess—a wisdom greater than your age. I see it too. You are compassionate and understanding, though perhaps impatient. You sincerely desire to do what is right. And, though he has given you no reason to, you love your brother and worry for him."
"Especially after all this with Danilos."
"I think he will be well protected. I see something in the future for him as well. But now, for you—" Archflame lowered his head and stared into Varian's eyes.
Varian stared back, trying not to blink. Archflame's great golden eyes struck him once again as deep wells of wisdom and knowledge. But there was also something wild about those eyes, a deep, almost animal-like fierceness and pride.
He lost track of the time. It may have only been a few minutes, but after what felt like hours, Archflame looked away.
"Orkanilia has shown me many things about you," he said quietly. "It would not do to tell you all. But this I can promise—although you will not bear the weight of the crown and the countries, you will save the life of the one who does."
"Soon? Or later in life?"
"I do not know. Orkanilia does not show all—there is much that he prefers to keep shrouded."
Varian smiled faintly. "To be found only by the one earnestly seeking Him above all else?"
"Some things, yes. Others, I do not think we will ever know on this earth."
"I can handle that."
Archflame laughed, then leaned down and touched his snout to Varian's forehead. "Go then, with my blessing. You have much to do, for I fear that the darkness of war will cover the land before we are fully prepared for it."
Jevran had seen no light for several days, and when a lantern suddenly pierced his vision, he flinched. He'd heard no footsteps since the time he'd been thrown in here and left. A thousand fantastical fears had flitted across his mind, but as he saw who stood behind the lantern, a cold chill spread throughout his body.
Danilos glared impassively at him with eyes as black as coal. Then he stepped inside the cell and removed the gag.
"What happened to your eyes?" Jevran hissed, forgetting everything else.
"It happens when you complete the initiating rites," Danilos said. His voice was cold, smooth.
"Rites? For what?" Jevran winced as Danilos yanked him to his feet by his bound arms.
"Save it," Danilos snapped, pushing him out the door. "And as for what rites, you don't want to know. Suffice it to say that I am now more powerful than any human being—and any dragon beast—on the face of this earth."
Jevran dug his feet into the slick cobblestones and turned. He thrust his face close to Danilos'. "You're a sorcerer."
"Move to the top of the class." Danilos slapped him, then planted a hand in his back, shoving him relentlessly forward.
"You've traded your soul for power!"
"If you speak again before I give you leave, I'll make your suffering ten times—no, a hundred times—worse. Ah, going to be silent now, are we? That's a pity. I'd almost enjoy showing you how much power I have."
Jevran ground his teeth and let Danilos propel him along. They entered a corridor, half-filled with mud and sludge. Then they turned into a small stone room.
Danilos gave Jevran a push, then pulled the door shut. The lantern-light flickered over large wooden objects jumbled into the room. Then, as Danilos used the lantern to light the others hanging by wall brackets, Jevran began to see more. There was a chair sitting close by, and shoved against one wall a small desk. These looked shiny, fairly new, as if someone had just brought them down. Then, beyond, a large, circular table, scarred and stained by something dark. Jevran edged toward it and bit back a cry.
The dark stains were blood. He could see chain scorings in the table, and suddenly the hulking mass in a corner became clear to him—an Iron Maiden.
"What are you doing?" he yelled, turning.
Danilos turned from lighting the last lantern, his eyes narrowed. "Sit down, my king." He indicated the chair.
Jevran twisted his wrists, tried to wriggle one hand loose. He was trembling. His chest felt constricted. "Why did you bring me down here, to the old torture chambers? What's going on?"   
The ropes suddenly fell off his wrists. Jevran brought his hands forward, looked down at them in disbelief. What was—
"I said sit." Danilos thrust his arm out, palm toward Jevran.
Jevran grunted as an invisible force slammed into his chest, throwing him against the chair. He gingerly raised himself, feeling a swelling bruise where the arm had dug into his ribcage.
Danilos chained his arms to the arms of the chair, palm upward. Then he began pacing—back and forth, in front of him. Jevran watched, his muscles so tense he felt as though one movement would snap them. What was the sorcerer doing now?
Danilos, his old counselor, a sorcerer? What did he think he was doing? Sorcery was forbidden in the Lowlands and the Highlands. With those coal-black eyes, everyone who saw him would know. Jevran yanked one arm up. The chains held him fast. Fear shot into him, spreading its ice over his entire body. The hairs on his neck rose, and his breath came in sharp bursts.
"I want to make a proposition to you." Danilos turned and stood in front of him. "You know that I wish to go to war against the Highlands. I have just made that possible with the full support of the council by telling them that a recent assassination attempt by Highlanders was foiled and that you're in hiding because of it."
Jevran glared at him.
"You act like you're the one who can kill with a look," Danilos chuckled. "Anyway, the only thing that the council is holding out for is that I get an official authorization of war from you. Signed, sealed, all that sort of thing. Everything we need is in the desk."
"And you really think that I'd do that?" Jevran snapped. "Are you mad? No, stupid question. If you weren't your eyes would still be blue."
"You're on thin ice."
"Maybe so, but I'd prefer it to simply agreeing with your schemes."
"It will save you a lot of pain, Jevran." Danilos swept his arm around the room. "These walls are thick, as is the door. We are buried underground. No one will hear your cries. No one will come to your rescue. Besides, there's no one left in the castle who would dare, anyway."
"What do you mean? Onna, Mel, and Tikah—I never treated them well but they're Varian's friends, and…" Jevran's voice trickled into nothingness as Danilos interrupted with a laugh.
"The herb witch, a scrawny stableboy, and a dirty, gangly kitchen maid? Those are who you're relying on for your rescue? Pitiful. Even more pitiful since they're dead."
"Dead?" Jevran stared at him. "You wouldn't—"
"There are a lot of things I'm daring now that I never would before I gained my power."
Jevran leaned his head back, closed his eyes. How can this be happening? Why? Then…I need Varian. Another first, he realized grimly, admitting that he needed his younger brother. "Why?"
"If you think you're going to get me to explain everything to you in a monologue, like the villains in all the heroic tales, then you're wrong. I prefer to keep my secrets."
"I'll say."
"Don't be smart. I know it's only that you're hiding your fear. What you don't realize now is that I can smell your fear, Jevran."
The man started prowling again. He passed out of Jevran's sight, behind him. Jevran's tried to twist around to follow his path. Useless.
"I can smell your fear just like you can smell what's for dinner. You stink with it. The whole room stinks with it. And I know, from your fear, that you will do anything I say."
Chills ran down Jevran's back. "Really? I think you're reading me wrong, sorcerer."
He felt clammy fingers touch his neck. Jevran flinched and hunched his shoulders. Danilos' hand slipped around his neck, settling at the base of it, with his thumb and index finger squeezing slightly on either side.
"Was that an invitation?"
Jevran gritted his teeth. "Take it any way you like it."



I both love and hate this chapter. Danilos makes me so mad, but Jevran's getting wiser. I especially liked what he said to Danilos - "You've traded your soul for power!"

Kyleigh | Wed, 06/02/2010





This chapter is so good, but I agree with Kyleigh...I also hate it too.  Danilos is such a horrific character....Kudos to making such a "good" bad guy.

Clare Marie | Wed, 06/02/2010

"I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve." -Bilbo Baggins [The Lord of the Rings]

The dialogue between Jevran and Danilos was great...

...but did I miss something? When did TIKAH die???!! Weren't she and Mel going to the Highlands? So it's a bluff, right? 



Anna | Wed, 06/02/2010

I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right. --The Book Thief

Of course it is, Anna.

It's just a bluff.  You'd do the same thing in your dialog if it could cause anxiety for your readers.

Bravo for Jevran!  Well, since evidently he's not going to die, and I also don't believe he'll cave, something must be about to happen...

...grrr.  Cliff hangers!

James | Thu, 06/03/2010

"The idea that we should approach science without a philosophy is itself a philosophy... and a bad one, because it is self-refuting." -- Dr. Jason Lisle

It had BETTER be a bluff, and

It had BETTER be a bluff, and the next chapter had BETTER get published soon, because I don't know how long I can handle suspense like this.

LoriAnn | Sat, 06/05/2010

@Kyleigh: I really like that

@Kyleigh: I really like that line too.

@Clare: thanks, I was hoping that Danilos didn't seem too over the top.

@Anna: maybe she didn't die. Then again, maybe she did. You'll have to keep reading.

@James: since when can you read my mind and predict what I'm going to do in my story? :0)

@LoriAnn: so says the queen of the cliffhangers herself!!


Heather | Wed, 06/09/2010

And now our hearts will beat in time/You say I am yours and you are mine...
Michelle Tumes, "There Goes My Love"

LOL, Yeah, I loved this

LOL, Yeah, I loved this chapter Heather. You better not have killed Tikah and Mel and Onna! But then again, I guess I can't talk as I've done some pretty awful things to characters in the past.--And will continue to do so in the future... XD We writers have a bit of a dark side sometimes.

Kay J Fields | Wed, 06/09/2010

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