The Pendant

A fantasy novel of a young prince whose troubled by a dark sorcerer's presence in the grey mountains. His father, King Aranide, together with King Meros and Queen Lina have already defeated this sorcerer and his dark army and forced him into exile. His return after many years only results in battle and false allegiances, it's up to the Prince to end all war once and for all.

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2. A Prophecy

“Julius!” the Prince called, it was his servant that he had grown up with since he was able to walk. The King thought it would ensure loyalty at all times if they viewed each other as brothers rather than master and servant. The King had taken him in as an orphan after he had heard his cries from inside a barn, he was never treated like an orphan or an outsider but he was made to feel at home within the castle walls. “Yes Prince Aralus,” he said with a certain curiosity in his voice, “I’m guessing you’re on an errand, since there would be no other reason for your help at this time of day.” “You know me too well Julius, make sure my horse is fed and my belongings gathered. I ride out in an hour, and also, pack your things too.” “Surely you don’t mean to ride out now?” Julius asked with a puzzled face. “It’ll be nightfall in no less than a few hours, why don’t we wait for morning?” “Julius, there are some things that can never wait, consider this one of them.” “Of course Prince Aralus, everything will be tended to.” The Prince sat in his chair by the window as Julius left the room, he saw the children playing in the courtyard and the women sweeping the footpath. At this moment, Aralus understood his duty not only to his father but to the people of Moralan. He knew that on his shoulders lay the destiny of the kingdom, not only with this errand but with whatever happened from that point onwards. He understood that he would become king one day and that only he could mould the future of Moralan from beside his father’s throne. He felt the burden of many innocent lives on his shoulders as the thought of the Dark Army entered his mind. He shrivelled in his chair. The stories he was told by his father and the old townsfolk of the Battle of Landron had struck fear in his heart, only a fool would not be afraid of what the Dark Lord was capable of. The Prince settled himself as he laid his hand on his sword, Aralus always found comfort in it regardless of the situation. “Prince Aralus, every thing’s in order. It’s just you that needs to get ready sir.” “Yes Julius, there’s no need for me to get changed. I’m on my way down.” The Prince followed Julius into the stables where his horse was waiting, Julius was right, everything was in order. “You, Julian,” the Prince yelled “tell my father I have left and he should expect me to be back before the banquet, and also tell him I’ve taken Julius with me.” “Yes Sir,” she replied as she bowed and left the stables. The Prince climbed on to his horse with an edge of swiftness about him and rode off with Julius close behind. The watchmen ordered for the gates to be opened as they’d noticed the Prince riding towards them. It was unusual for the Prince to leave the castle twice in a day let alone within the space of a couple of hours and the watchmen had also noticed the baggage and extra horse him and Julius were carrying. It didn’t take long for all those in the castle to begin to put two and two together and realise the rumours were true. The Prince had chosen to take the quickest route in order to get to Heralus before sundown and so they began their journey through the Thick Forest. A network of paths had been already been cleared throughout the forest to make travelling much easier for all those who ventured through it. Julius knew every inch of the Thick Forest as much as Aralus did, for they had played endlessly in it as children. It didn’t take long to get from one side of it to the other as the forest was wider than it was long. It was only a problem travelling through the forest if you weren’t familiar with its layout, as the pathways almost formed a maze through the thick greenery. It was a lucky coincidence that Landron was the furthest city east and it was only a forest and a valley away from the borders of Heralus. The castle city where Queen Lina had settled was also the closest city to the border and that too was separated by a valley and forest. Once they had gotten through the Thick Forest the sun was now presenting itself much lower than it was before they had left. The valley was lush and nothing but green reflected on the eyes of both men. The valley had stretched into the horizon where the figures of lofty trees could be made out. A meandering lake split the valley right down the middle and its front was greyer than the stones of the castle. The lake had provided a perfect reflection of the sky’s warm canvas as the sun began to kiss the horizon. By now Aralus had agreed he wouldn’t make it to Heralus in time before dusk and so decided to ride down towards the lake and set up camp for the night. “Julius, it’ll be a rough night on the ground. As soon as it’s dawn we ride out again.” “Where would you be without me?” Julius mocked as he pulled out a large blanket and pillows from his bag. The Prince slept with his sword by his side, not once in his sleep did he take his palm of the hilt. He lay there peacefully until he broke into a sweat and started jolting. He was having the nightmare again after he slept many nights without it. It was always the exact same one from the same view; he was running through the royal halls of the castle. He could hear the screams and cries of the servants as the castle was ravaged by the Dark Army. The corridors filled with black smoke from the burning furniture and banners, it was hard to see amongst the smoke and battling soldiers. Despite all the bodies that lay on the ground and those who stood fighting, he still made his way up into the royal chambers. His mother’s bedroom lay at the end of the hallway and he could see her lying on the bed completely unaware of what was going on. The fight hadn’t managed to make its way up into the royal chambers but the clatter of steel and the choking smoke should have surely waken her by now. He sensed something wasn’t right and ran across the hallway towards her. A cloaked and hooded figure had appeared next to her and so he stopped immediately. He was unsure of what this person was doing and who they were and so he just stared; he stared with hope that this man wasn’t doing his mother harm. That this person would wake his mother and lead her out of the castle to safety. The figure unveiled a pendant from under his cloak and began to mutter, a black stream of air had begun to travel from his mother’s face into the pendant. He continued to run across the hallway, desperate to save his mother from the evil that he could see. The figure turned towards him then there was a scream, his mother’s scream. “Aralus! Aralus! Are you okay?” Julius exclaimed as he shook the Prince vigorously. “You’ve had another nightmare haven’t you?” Aralus sat up gasping, a cold sweat dripping from his nose. The moonlight had reflected of the lake and onto the Prince’s face as he began to settle. “It was worse this time; it was almost as if I was there. It seemed so much realer than before; I can’t help but feel that these nightmares are just me reliving a memory. It felt so true Julius, but it can’t have been.” “I know how you feel Aralus, but you know you weren’t there the night your mother died. Like your father told you, you was with your uncle in Nesada Aralus, now go back to sleep. It’s best not to dwell on such things.” They both lay back down on the ground and covered themselves with the blanket, Aralus was reassured by Julius and almost felt safe his presence. However, Aralus had realised his tight grip on his sword hadn’t loosened at all as he looked onto the veins bulging from the back of his hand. He felt at peace once again and looked up into the sky; the stars were bright and visible as the skies were clearer than ever. The moonlight beamed down on him and he felt such wonder and bliss inhabit his mind and body. He thought of all he could do to prevent what was inevitable, but he knew there was no way out of what was destined to happen. The people and he could no longer live in fear of Abbadon and the Dark Army’s resurrection whilst they lived peaceful lives in Moralan. With this thought he came to a realisation, all must end very shortly. It was dawn and the cold breeze still swept across the valleys. It wouldn’t be long before the summer sun was high in the sky and its rays beamed down on their faces. It was mid-summer and so the temperatures were soaring, Aralus knew the horses would tire and thirst quicker in the open and so set out to reach Heralus before the sun was at its peak in the clear skies. They rode across the valley, admiring the scenery as they went by. The king’s deer ran unusually close to the horses as if they didn’t feel threatened by the Prince and Julius. It was only when they heard the roars of the mountain lions that they decided to run back up into the hills. Aralus and Julius rode far into the horizon until the figures of the lofty trees seemed closer than before. The Prince remembered coming through the forest before, but the trees seemed to be much larger than he remembered. Nonetheless, they rode towards the forest, the number of trees gradually increased as they came closer to the forest entrance. The Prince pulled out a long piece of rope and gave one end to Julius and tied the other to the saddle he sat on. “Tie that to your saddle, I can’t have you getting harassed by the branches now, can I Julius?” Julius grinned and nodded at Aralus before they set off into the forest. The trees formed an emerald ceiling over their heads; the tree trunks had formed chestnut pathways and the grass a cushion for the hooves of their horses. Darkness fell upon them as the sunlight was blocked off by the ceiling and the horses neighed uneasily. Aralus looked over at Julius, for he wasn’t familiar with the forest this way. They trotted onwards, caution and attentiveness evident in both men’s faces. They knew riding in the dark was never a smart choice but they also knew sunlight wouldn’t fall upon this forest no matter how long they waited and so they rode on. Aralus had come to a halt and so Julius stopped too, a branch broke in the distance and the Prince instinctively placed his hand on his sword. There was an echoing silence and Aralus looked around, trying to identify where this sound or person was coming from. “We mean you no harm Prince Aralus,” a croaky old voice muttered. “We have a prophecy to tell you, your highness,” another gruff voice murmured before they both began to giggle. “Show yourselves or I shall come seeking you,” the Prince roared as he drew his sword. “There’s no need for that young Aralus” said one of the voices as two old cloaked women stepped in their path from behind the trees. “Things are not always as they seem young prince,” she continued. “For who you see peace in could be at war in their minds, and not everyone is who they say they are.” “The Dark Lord has returned and he’s formed his alliances, choose whom you place your trust in wisely Aralus,” the other interrupted. “For you shall be King much sooner than you think and your visions are also much closer to home than you think. You will be the one to destroy the Dark Lord’s pendant and then end his time.” “What are you talking about? Who are his allies? Destroy what?! Answer me!” Aralus thundered. “All will be clear in due time,” they simultaneously chanted as they stepped back behind the trees and faded away.
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