The Death of Princes

The Death of Princes



After five thousand years of uneasy peace, while all other lands watched in disquiet as the north grew in power, another celestial event occurred. Once more a sword crossed the heavens, an alignment not seen since the coming of Nalvahgey.

It was at the height of this great conjunction that two princes were born, Sondehna of the Iabeiorith and Karmaraa of the Korith Zadakal. Every seer across the world took note. Though they knew that something momentous was about to occur, they could not say exactly what it might be, for it was at that precise time that their vision deserted them. On that day all oracles failed, and none could see what lay ahead.

The two princes grew, and it was soon apparent that each was a reflection of the other. They were born almost at the same hour, their fathers died at almost the same time and they ascended to their respective thrones on the very same day. It was clear that fate was speaking, but no one, not even the best of the seers, could tell what was being said.

There was a long-held custom where the powers of the world – the Iabeiorith, the Korith Zadakal, the Korith Ial and the Korith Zinu – would come together in order to maintain the peace. This gathering always took place under the auspices of the seers at the Rolnir, the very centre of the world. In those days the Rolnir was forbidden territory, a holy place given over to the Creator. Dark storms raged inside the encircling hills, and there was an unspoken belief that to cross the boundary was to invite doom.

So here it was that Karmaraa and Sondehna met, and though the meeting between them was cordial, contention grew afterwards, as both of them became enamoured of a young seer called Soivar.

It was said by the west that Karmaraa had kommah with Soivar, that blessed state of souls destined for union. But the north denied this, saying only that Soivar had kommah with Sondehna instead. However it may be, when Sondehna and his embassy left the Rolnir, Soivar went with him, beguiled either by love or by sorcery.

The Korith Zadakal considered this act an insult to their prince and an affront to the sanctity of the seers, and they demanded the return of Soivar. They even gained the allegiance of the Korith Ial and the Korith Zinu, but it was to no avail, since all were intimidated by the power of the Iabeiorith. Thus, contention grew between the north and the rest of the world. And it festered.

As the years passed, the Iabeiorith became ever more insulated, and ever more fractious, until it came to pass that Sondehna would have all things his way – or not at all. There was a particular prophecy, one of the oldest, of how a ruler would come, one who would unify the world, remove all divisions and bring down the Creator’s word to all. Sondehna began to believe that he was that one. But there was a test. The unifier must dare the Rolnir.

Sondehna gathered all his forces to him. When he was ready he would march south and take the Rolnir by force. All that dwelt in the north lands pledged their loyalty to this endeavour, all except for the Korith Peis. They refused.

Sondehna was no longer one to tolerate any dissent, of any kind, and with the refusal of the Korith Peis to honour the old allegiance between the two peoples he decided to make an example of them. It would be a sign to the rest of the world how foolish it would be to defy his will. So Peis-homa, alone of all the cities of the north, was laid waste and her people were slaughtered to the last. Afterwards heralds were sent to all the great powers, showing them what would happen if they also chose to defy the will of Sondehna. Many were cowed by what they saw, as this was a darkness and a power they knew they could not match.

The only one who would not be cowed was Karmaraa, and with as large a force as he could muster he marched to the Rolnir to defend it from the mad desire of Sondehna. He, Karmaraa, would make himself protector of the holy centre.

On the eve before battle, even Karmaraa knew doubt. How could anyone withstand the great black army that now darkened the horizon? It was then that he decided to pass into the Rolnir himself, crossing its hills, the Leein Komsel, so that he could humbly beg the Creator to intercede. What happened next has passed into legend.

With the dawn the lords of the west could not find their prince, and with the great dark army of the Iabeiorith approaching they were at a loss as to what they should do. But then Karmaraa walked down from the hills of the Rolnir and there was a power about him and within him, and before their very eyes he transformed his stave from that of fire to that of spirit, from red to white, changing the purpose of stone itself and re-forging it with his will. No other had ever done this, before or since. It was the mark of the word, the word of the Creator. So Karmaraa, armed with the holy white, the white of spirit, the grace of the Creator, and with full mastery of all the elements, stood forth. He defeated Sondehna in single combat and burned him from the world.

Now battle was joined, but so great was the power of Karmaraa that no enemy could withstand him, whether sorcerous blade and shield or summoned demon.

After the battle was won, and with the black army in full retreat, it was soon revealed that with the death of Sondehna, Soivar had taken her own life and that of her children, all burning to death upon a great pyre. Whether she did this in mad grief or was overcome by the horror of sorcerous enslavement was never known. All that could ever be said in future days was that here began the Wars of Unification, even as the house of its dark instigator was ended.

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