Olandern, December 543
Olandern, December 543
The sword whistled as it circled above Ciaran’s head then swooped down on his opponent, but Caderyn parried and jumped out of the way. It seemed like hours had passed in the half-an-hour since they had begun their duel. Caderyn, better known as “the king,” was stronger than Ciaran imagined for an older man. Of course, Caderyn had trained for many years when he was younger, and Ciaran never had any training other than what he could teach himself from watching others. Ciaran had always been the outcast as a child, being different from everyone in various ways, from his extraordinary height and golden yellow eyes to his wittiness and quick tongue. People said the shunning he received when he was young led to his downfall.
The sound of steel on steel echoed through the Great Hall as Ciaran attacked again. Caderyn’s sharp eyes picked up the beginning of the attack and parried once more, slipping his sword past Ciaran’s. Elsewhere in the castle, Caderyn’s and Ciaran’s soldiers lay slain or wounded, and only a few still lived.
Somewhere in the distance, a hunting horn sounded, splitting the silent night air. Help was coming, and Ciaran knew that the approaching warriors were not fighting for him they were the wild barbaric clans, fearing nothing and running wild. No one knew where they came from; they came and went as they pleased. Many times before, small rebellions against the king had been crushed by them, and Ciaran feared they would do the same to him. He hesitated for a split second, silently debating what to do, then whirled on Caderyn with a new strength. The king stumbled backwards, then fell onto his back, his fingers releasing their grip on his sword. It slid across the floor, and Caderyn reached for it. Ciaran towered over him, the hood of his grimy cloak covering his smile.
“So, then, I have finally gotten what I’ve wanted for so long.” Ciaran reached down and pulled a sgian dhub out of his boot, moving it into position to throw, but it slipped from his gloved fingers, crashing to the floor. Caderyn rolled over and grasped it in his hand, pulling back his arm to throw. The knife soared through the air and found its mark in the center of Ciaran’s heart. Small trickles of blood began oozing out, and Ciaran dropped to his knees, breathing heavily. His face twisted in anguish and his hand groped at the sgian dhub, but the pain overruled his strength. Ciaran collapsed on the floor, struggling for breath. Caderyn climbed slowly to his feet, keeping an eye on his enemy. Then leaned down and picked up his sword, turning to sheathe it.
Shouting their battle cries, the barbarians entered the castle.
A strong wind swept through Stargonia, blowing out candles and covering the sun with clouds.
The warriors stopped in their tracks, dropping their weapons in both horror and amazement.
The sun came out again, and the people of Olandern set about relighting candles and lamps, and then returned to their tasks. Many did not pay attention to what had just happened, too busy with their duties to stop and think. Only a few wondered what had taken place, but they quickly dismissed the thought, thinking it had been a strong gust of wind and nothing more.
Inside the castle, the king was nowhere to be found. Where the king had been just moments before, Ciaran now stood, his eyes flickering maliciously. In his hand he held Caderyn’s sword, the hood of his dark cloak was thrown back, and his disfigured face could now be seen clearly. Crisscrossed on the left side of his face were battle scars from bygone years, and his dark brown hair hung limply down to his shoulders. Hate and greed blazed in his eyes. He was now the king of Olandern, and all of Olandern would pay for his past.