1 Ch1 - When the Sky Falls Dark

Your Majesty, the King

Chapter 1:

When the Sky falls Dark

WARNING: This chapter contains graphic violence, gore, and death.

He couldn't stop his hands from trembling. His long, white blonde hair fell behind his back in a loose ponytail and swept back and forth across his shoulder blades as his legs fidgeted. Dressed in all black, his pale skin seemed as if it were illuminated, contrasted by the dark surroundings inside the wagon. His fragile frame sunk into the wooden bench, making him look out of place, surrounded by the men conversing in a relaxed manner.

"Silas, are you afraid?" Another, older man who had been sitting across from the boy questioned him, leaning forward with his hands on his knees, as if he were interrogating the younger man.

This young man, Silas, said nothing at first. He tightened his hands together and sucked in a breath, "No." His voice was low and gentle, suiting his youthful facial features. His side-swept bangs fell into his eyes. He pushed them back with the back of his hand and said, "I'm anxious."

Another man in the group, appearing younger than Silas, laughed. "We're all anxious, Henry, anxious to finally avenge our brethren! I've been waiting for this moment-"

Henry looked sternly at the younger man and said, pointing his finger at him, "Jacob, this mission isn't just for revenge. We're making a point. They need to know that the elves are not as weak as they believe."

It was true that the elves had weakened, but as their numbers grew fewer and fewer, they began to come even closer together to prevent their entire race from being destroyed. The years had not been kind, and many of the remaining elves had only a third of the elven blood of their ancestors. This meant that the elves' previously notable pointed ears and slanted eyes had now faded, and most of the eleven children now resemble humans more than elves, much to the chagrin of the elven leaders.

The elves had quickly grown to hate humans. They preferred to live surrounded by nature and they refused to live in large towns. Many of them built homes into the trees and lived off the land, where they would grow their own crops and trade.

Yet elves were not always this volatile. In the last one hundred years, the previous king of the Yurseur Kingdom had a great interest in the forest civilization of one of the larger elven tribes. He sent envoys and gave gifts and other expensive goods to gain their favor. The elves finally accepted a trade agreement and all was well for the next fifty years, until the next king took over.

King Yevvon, the previous king's second son, was a prideful man. He ruled with an iron fist and was known for heavy punishments for criminals. After inheriting his father's power, he began to run the kingdom to the ground, so to speak. Soon the citizens of the Yurseur Kingdom became restless and were beginning to revolt under his tyrannical rule.

Feeling his reign crumbling underneath his feet, the king looked for someone to blame for the failing of the kingdom, and soon his gaze landed on the peaceful elves.

"It is their fault our kingdom is losing power! They are hoarding their knowledge and resources and keeping what they know away from us! We must not let them cripple our kingdom!" The king's words were well received in the kingdom, and soon anyone of known elven ancestry in the capital city was either captured and punished, or exiled.

Once word had traveled to the elves, it was already too late. A military envoy had been sent to the largest known elven village and had surrounded them without warning. The chief of the village was given an ultimatum: either have the village be enslaved or all die. The stronger of the villagers that attempted to fight were quickly subdued and murdered in front of the village as a show of power, while the rest had surrendered and were quickly taken away.

This led to the other elven villages moving outside the confines of the Yurseur Kingdom. The neighboring kingdoms had no interest in involving themselves in the feud and instead chose to play no part.

Silas closed his eyes, attempting to catch up on what little sleep he could. Though he had trained most of his life, he still felt inadequate. The sword on his back felt as if it weighed a thousand pounds, and his hands were dripping in a cold sweat. In all his seventeen years of life, he had never killed another human being. He had killed animals for food, but never another living human being. The thought made his stomach churn.

Jacob's viewpoint was more similar to how most elves thought. They wanted to seek revenge, but most of them had decided it was not worth the loss. They chose to live in seclusion, most choosing to live a nomadic lifestyle, flirting between the farthest reaching kingdoms to the perimeter of the sea, at the tip of the world.

Their own group was a mix of three tribes that had lived together since the "Capital Siege", as most of the elves called it. Silas's own tribe specialized in swordplay and hunting, and they were responsible for teaching the rest of the elven population how to properly defend themselves against future invaders. That was how this envoy of rebels came to be.

Henry sat at the head of the cart, his back facing the coach directing the horses. "Now men, remember your training and you'll stay alive. When you stab someone, try to stay as calm as possible. If your weapon is damaged, use anything you can get your hands on to kill the enemy. Fight for your life, not for your honor." He said wisely, shifting his eyes over the crowd of soldiers.

One of the other soldiers, Thomas, asked, "Our goal is to kill the royal family, correct?" Though they had been briefed on his mission for the past year, training every day for this chance, many of the soldiers felt like their mission was more of a dream than a dim reality.

Henry wordlessly nodded his head. The faces of the other soldiers flashed understanding.

The bread and light soup Silas had eaten earlier was churning violently in his stomach. He looked down, calming himself once again. Everything will be fine. I will complete this mission and I will carry out my duty as a proper elven soldier.

The cart continued down the abandoned path, hiding in the thick foliage of the trees. This path was specially created by the elves long ago as a trade route, but now it was used for elven convoys. To finally be using it for such violence… it left them all with a strange feeling.

"Prince Clarence, it's time for bed." A young boy, about seven years old, was leaning on the cold stone window frame, breathing in a fresh breath of the summer breeze. The air was cool, and he enjoyed the fair weather. It was as if nothing could be wrong at that moment.

The prince nodded his head, still enjoying looking out the window. The maids were very used to this behavior. They prepared his bed, pulling down the bed covers and fluffing the pearly white pillows for his royal head to rest on.

Clarence sighed. I wish I could sleep outside under the stars… In a way, the child was jealous of the soldiers that were able to adventure around the kingdom, seemingly without worries. He had always enjoyed asking his guards stories of their travels, but he naively believed only good things could happen while adventuring.

There was a shallow knock at the door, and then an elegant, well-dressed woman entered the room holding a large colorful book in her hands.

"Clarence, it's time for bed. Come lay in your bed and let Mommy read you a bedtime story." His mother, Queen Racliffe was a tall, mature beauty. She was now twenty-eight years old, but she looked as young as twenty. The prince had inherited her strong, dark eyes and her deep blue hair. Everyone could tell he would grow up to be very handsome.

The queen sat at the edge of the bed as the boy reluctantly came over and sat on the bed, pulling up the thick red quilt under his nose. "Mother, can you read the story about the elves?"

The queen looked displeased. "Are you sure? I read this story last time as well." Though she would not openly admit it, she did not like the elven race.

Her son's enthusiasm could not be crushed, however, and she sighed as she opened to the creased page and began reading. "Once upon a time, there was a beautiful elven boy…"

The group of men quietly exited the cart about half a mile away from the castle and parked it inside a small wooded area, by a large farm. This farm had long been abandoned, most likely an elven family chased away from their home. It made the perfect hiding spot.

"Fredrick, Alvan, you two run ahead and survey the scene. I want you to do a headcount of all the guards outside and report back to me at the destination point here." Henry was directing the men using a map he had traced out of the castle. All the men were kneeling on one knee on the ground, circling the map and listening to Henry's words carefully.

"Yes sir!" Fredrick and Alvan said dutifully. They grabbed their supplies, both armed with bows and swords, and left quickly, slipping away into nearby brush. The rest of the soldiers waited for twenty minutes before they began to move, in case the scouts ran into trouble on the way to the castle.

Fortunately the road was quiet, and there was not a carriage in sight. Today was not a trade day, so many merchants were resting, preparing to send out their next shipments. Fortunately the group was able to quickly make their way to the castle, reaching their destination in only minutes.

By the time the group had reached the outer castle walls, the scouts were waiting at the meeting point, chatting impatiently with each other.

"What were the results?" Henry asked quickly, probing the two scouts.

The shorter, black haired man answered first. "There are at least three guards at each guard tower, and then there is one man per walkway, so about fifteen or so guards on duty at the moment. It seems like they have just finished switching out for the night shift. The rest are probably asleep in the barracks."

Henry seemed pleased with this and nodded his head. "We are ready to go. Men, split up into your teams. Each group will attack the guard towers first and then move in from the outside. We are looking to kill as many of these royal scum as possible. Leave no survivors."

At the utterance of leave no survivors, Silas felt his chest drop, and a shiver ran down the back of his spine. They had previously discussed the idea of leaving no witnesses, but it felt too overwhelmingly real now that they stood outside the castle of their sworn enemy. While Silas did not feel what they were doing was right, he could not betray his people.

Silas and Jacob were placed together as they had at training. While Silas was cool headed and patient, Jacob tended to run into the fray without a single thought of stealth. This was why the two had worked so well together, because they pushed each others' limits.

Jacob tightened the leather holster around his sword and smiled, looking happily at Silas. "The time to avenge my family has come. I won't let them down!"

Everyone in this troop had lost someone to the human raids, be it parents, siblings, lovers. Their hatred was becoming almost commonplace, but Silas was uncomfortable with such strong emotions. He had always been one to sacrifice himself for others. He hadn't personally lost someone who was close to him to the human raids, so he felt a disconnect between this anger and himself.

Yet he would never admit this to the other soldiers, for the fear of being shamed or even exiled.

"Let's get moving." Silas said calmly, tightening the grip on his sword.

The other groups moved as quickly as he and Jacob had, climbing up the shadow covered bricks of the palace walls. They were able to reach the top undetected.

A drunk guard casually stumbled past Silas and Jacob, who were both hanging on to the rocks on the side of the wall. Jacob saw the man's turned back as an opportunity. He climbed up, slid himself down onto the ground, and then ferociously slit the drunk man's throat and pushed the man off the side of the wall without a second of hesitation. Silas refused to watch the man fall to his death, instead he reached his hand up and was grabbed by Jacob, who dragged him up over the wall and down into the shadows.

Once his feet had landed, that was when he heard it. SPLAT. The unmistakable sound of bones breaking… blood splattering… the skull crushing from the impact… Silas felt a wave of nausea come over him.

Jacob smiled at that sound, "This is why you can't hesitate, Silas. You have to kill them first, so that's not you on the ground." He seemed very proud of himself.

Silas could only weakly nod his head, swallowing the vomit that had climbed up the back of his throat.

The prince woke up with a start, drenched in cold sweat. He had a nightmare again. This time, he was being chased by a group of stoic soldiers, reaching about ten feet tall in height. Wherever he ran, their shadows would catch up to him. Finally, he had found his room and hid under the covers when he heard the door open, and then footsteps came towards his bed… and…

"Prince Clarence!" A harsh whisper rang out in the quiet room, and the prince shot upright in his bed. There was his maid, Esther, holding a candle, dressed in her night clothes and an overcoat.

"Esther, what are you doing here?" Clarence wiped the sweat off his forehead as he asked this, still trying to calm his shaking heart.

Esther looked nervously over her shoulder at the closed door and whispered, "There are men breaking into the castle. Your mother and father told me to alert you… You have to go hide!" The older woman harshly whispered this, dragging the child out of the bed, leaving no time for Clarence to fumble into his bed slippers. She glanced around as she quickly led the boy out of the bedroom and into the adjacent toy room, where the boy spent most of his days playing with the toy soldiers and the wooden toy house his father had purchased for his future baby sibling to play with.

The maid quickly pushed the boy inside and stared at him gently, as if it would be the last time she would lay eyes on him. "Promise me you won't leave this room no matter what… No matter what someone tells you… If someone comes in, try to escape. Please…" The corners of her eyes were glistening, and her eyes looked glossy, as if she had been crying.

Clarence had noticed a tear slid down Esther's face, and just as he was going to ask why she was crying, Esther quickly shut the door behind her. The warm light in the room had been extinguished, and now he was sitting alone in the dark room. The dolls on the shelf looked at him without blinking, and a silence that Clarence was not used to crept into the room, starting in the dark corners and moving in towards him. Clarence's small body began to tremble in fear.

His tiny hands reached up and clumsily tried to open the door. The door was locked from the outside. His hands could only grasp the knob and try to turn it futilely. The prince screamed for his maid, slapping his open palm against the door as hard as he could, but all he heard was the sound of sliding from the other side of the door. The warm light from the bottom of the door quickly ceased, and he heard the door to his bedroom shut. The sound of frantic footsteps echoed in the quiet, sleepy halls.

Clarence couldn't stop his hands from trembling. He felt his eyes sting as he quietly snuck to the far corner of the room, next to the dollhouse.

"This dollhouse was specially crafted. If you unclip the hatch inside the house, you can move the dollhouse away from the wall and there is an escape path. If anything is to happen, go here." The past words of his father echoed in his mind.

He unclipped the hatch and shoved the doll house aside. There was a dark, cobweb covered path inside. It seemed like it hadn't been used in many years. When Clarence looked down the path, he swore he saw the eyes of the men chasing him in his dream.

With a startled jump, he slammed the doll house back against the wall, panting. I'm so scared… what do I do…? The prince asked himself, curling his body into a tight ball. His small silhouette faded into the dark shadows of the room, hiding him from view.

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