One Legend : Before the Fall

We all have secrets, some more terrifying than others. What if your secret is one that threatens your life to reveal? What if it threatens the ones you love? You'd do everything you can to keep that secret, no matter how terrible. No matter how soul destroying.

The secret eats away at him. Sometimes doing what you think is right is only leading you down a dark path. In the end, you're left with pain and regret. He keeps himself hidden... At the cost of his light.


3. A Foiled Plan?

     The King and I headed into the Council of Rule's meeting, all of which were held in that same room. I expected it to be a little bit more fancy or something, but it was incredibly dull. The walls were basically barren, painted with the Cerventen colors and absolutely no windows, or even pictures, of any kind. There was one large bookshelf at the back of the room with a few books missing, probably the same ones that I saw on the large circular table of wood in the center of the room. 
    Around the table sat four Council members with an empty seat for the Head of Council, King Saru. Each council member was assigned a specific Kingdom to keep the King informed about. Cerventen, now the most powerful Kingdom on the continent, was in King Saru's eyes responsible for the order of things being kept in check. Therefor, if any Kingdom was in need of aid or was becoming a threat to that order, the Council member in charge of that Kingdom had full reign to do what needed to be done to maintain order.
    Lady Falliah, the one I told you about before, took the place of her mother on the Council after she had died a few months prior. She was in charge of Deistan. To her left sat Sir Johl, an eldery bald man with dim, brown eyes who looked like he was about to fall asleep every moment he wasn't actually sleeping. Sir Johl was in charge of Gertaswa. To his left was the empty seat, and to the empty seat's left was the one in charge of Metyal, Sir Karo. Karo was middle aged and well mannered, with short orange hair and large green eyes. He and I spoke often and I always enjoyed his friendly company. The last council member whom was in charge of Vaneka was Lady Beatrice, another middle aged member who couldn't hold a candle to Lady Falliah's beauty. She had shorter hair for a woman, her brunette curls barely reaching the bottom of her neck, brown eyes that were slightly less dim than Sir Johl's, and a resting frown that made her appear as though she was constantly bitter about something.
    "Welcome, Prince Panik." Sir Karo greeted me sincerely and then turned to King Saru, who was just getting to his chair to sit down. "Finally letting him experience what it's like to rule a Kingdom, Your Majesty?"
    "Indeed," Saru responded happily, "I recognize both mine and his growing ages."
    "He certainly has the intelligence and temperment to--"
    "Enough. We didn't call His Majesty here for friendly conversation." Lady Beatrice sternly said, rudely interrupting Karo. All eyes turned to her. "Get to what's important," she said.
    Everyone seemed annoyed with Lady Beatrice but nobody had the nerve to ever announce it to her, probably because she was almost always in the right. The Council called the King to their meeting that he wasn't originally invited to, so it must have been something important.
    "Sir Johl, Gertaswa is yours to handle." Beatrice said, motioning to Sir Johl.
    Seeing as Sir Johl always looked like he was dead tired it was always difficult to tell if he was paying attention or not. "Ah, thank you Beatrice!" He exclaimed as he snapped back into the meeting. He wasn't fooling anybody. "There's been yet another uprising, Your Majesty. We have to contain it."
    "You all have the permission to do what needs to be done to protect your Kingdoms. Can you explain why you needed me to be here for this?" Asked the King.
    "The number of opposing forces that King Unger is dealing with require far more than a single battalion. We'd need to send a large majority of our army in order to contend with the enemy." 
    Lady Beatrice took over for Sir Johl, who was speaking for too slowly for her taste. "To put matters simply, my King, we require Vaneka to be ready to defend us should any problems arise here at home."
    "Ah, that does make sense." Saru replied.
    "Vaneka is mine to look over," Lady Beatrice declared, "I'll send word as soon as our meeting is over."
    "That won't be necessary, Beatrice. Jayx is already here in the castle." My father turned to me. "Once we're adjurned, Panik, I want you to inform Jayx of our request so he can take it back to King Vanek when he heads back home."
    I bowed to the Council before returning to paying almost no attention to anything. I was getting bored and slightly aggitated. The matter that we were called there for was swiftly taken care of and yet Saru was still sitting in his chair, showing no signs of any intention to leave. I wanted to go back to training with Jayx but I didn't want to be rude or show how uninterested I was in the politics. 
    Hearing my name subconsciously jolted my attention back into place. Lady Falliah was covering up the cover of a large book with her hands. 
    "You don't need to be here for this last thing." His face was subtly becoming slightly red. "Go on outside and look for Jayx, okay?"
    "I'll do that, Your Majesty. Thank you." I bowed to my father and then shook everyone's hands before I headed back into the throne room, where a guard was waiting for us to come out.
    "My Prince. I apologize for disturbing you right now, but there's something going on at the bridge. Jayx Zilnix is requesting you meet him there immediately." The guard said before bowing and escourting me outside of the castle. 
    We walked through the front doors into the fresh air and cool breeze. The path from the main doors quickly led onto the white stone bridge that was over the wide river that crossed in front of the castle. I could hear Jayx's voice from afar as I ran across the bridge to greet him.
    "Surely there are more important things for you to be doing right now, General!" His voice echoed through the air. "His Majesty's guards are more than capable of incapasitating these idiots."
    I finally caught up with Jayx in the middle of the bridge, half way between the city and the castle. Jayx was standing in what seemed like a square formation of all the castle's guards, boxing in four individuals. 
    "I've been bored, Blademaster. Figured while you were here I might as well show you how far I've come." Said the Cerventen soldier that was facing off against three men in black robes, with hoods so large you couldn't see their faces.
    "Is that--" I started before being cut off by Jayx.
    "Aurixen. Cerventen's Golden General."
    I couldn't make out Aurixen's face, but the more decorated than normal armor gave away the soldier's identity along with the lengthy, gold cape he was wearing. Ordinary soldiers in Cerventen's army do not wear capes, only the General does and the few Officers that choose to. He was battle ready, his two swords in his hands.
    "The Prince has come to enjoy the show as well!" Jayx shouted to Aurixen.
    "Ah, that calls for a unique circumstance, doesn't it?" Aurixen replied as he tossed one of his swords to the ground. "Have to keep the royalty entertained." 
    "Show off." Jayx laughed as the rest of the soldiers cheered. 
    Aurixen didn't seem like he cared about what was happening. Both he and Jayx were treating the assault on the castle like it was some kind of theater performance. It did seem kind of silly, though. What kind of assault hinges on the success of three men breaking through the entire castle's guard? He held his blade down at his side, as if holding a stance was needless.
    All three of the robed men lunged themselves at the General and I immediately saw why that man was the leader of Cerventen's entire army. He was effortlessly evading all of their attacks, deflecting their weapons with what appeared like some kind of sword dance. Each and every movement of his blade was intentional and aimed exactly where it needed to be, as if he was getting visions of where his opponent's weapons would be in the coming second. 
    "Quit stalling and finish it!" A soldier shouted from the other side of the formation.
    Aurixen didn't acknowledge the soldier's words by voice, but by action. He went straight for one of the men, ready to lunge straight at him. I noticed that while Aurixen was heading for one, another was charging at him from behind. In one of the swiftest motions I've ever seen, Aurixen held his sword up, pointed straight at the man in front of him. He then brought his sword backwards to ready his lunge, his heavily armored arm elbowing the man behind him in the face, sending him to the floor unconscious. He quickly lunged his blade forward as it went straight through the other man's face. As that man's lifeless body began to fall to the ground as well, the last man was charging at Aurixen and was extremely close. Impossibly, Aurixen leaped up into the air and brought his sword behind his back while simultaniously turning 180 degrees. He fell to the ground while swinging his blade diagonally, cutting the third man's head clean off.
    The crowd roared in cheers and clapping. Jayx was beside me utterly silent as if he wasn't the least bit impressed.
    "Clean up this mess immediately." Aurixen said to the crowd as he picked up the unconscious body and threw it over his shoulder. He started walking towards Jayx and myself. "I'm going to take this one to interrogation." He added.
    "Is our friend heavy, General?" Jayx asked while he and I walked with Aurixen towards the castle doors.
    "You can take him if you want. I'm a little exhausted after that difficult fight and my arms could use the rest." Aurixen laughed to himself. "Been years, hasn't it, Jayx? How long are you here for this time?"
    "King Saru and I are teaching the Prince to fight, actually."
    "We've never actually met, have we, General Aurixen?" I asked with sincerity.
    "We have not." Aurixen answered promptly. "My aplogies, my Prince. I'd remove my helmet but my hands are a little full."
    "Not a problem, General, it's an honor." I replied truthfully.
    The stories I'd heard of General Aurixen before I had met him were stories that gave the impression he was like the Jayx of Cerventen. Powerful, fierce, and undefeated in combat, it's no wonder he was chosen to lead Cerventen's army. The only concerning aspect was that he apparently was on the wrong side in the beginning. He was just a soldier under the Old Kings when Vaneka invaded to give my father the throne.
    We quickly arrived in the main hall of the castle. "You can accompany the General to interrogation, Panik. I'll be with your father until you're finished.
    Aurixen and I headed through the doors to our left that led to a hallway. At the end of that hallway was the stairs to the cells which were very rarely occupied, if ever.
    "Not sure why Jayx wanted you to join me down here, my Prince. I hope you don't mind the sight of blood." Aurixen said as we made our way down the stairs. "Or the sound of screams for mercy."
    When we reached the bottom of the stairs we were in another hallway that went on for about the length of eight prison cells. There were eight cells on either side of us and they were all empty, smelling absolutely rancid. They were also barren, not a single thing in them other than dirt and cobwebs. Aurixen dropped the body on the ground in the middle of the hallway.
    "Um, General?" I asked in a tone making it obvious I was slightly confused. "Is that supposed to mean that THIS is interrogation?"
    "Is that an issue? What better place to threaten criminals than somewhere they can look in horror at the rest of their lives?" He replied before kneeling beside the hooded man. "Let's see..."
    When Aurixen pulled back the hood and revealed the criminal's face I was shocked to see it was a boy no older than I was. How soon he was willing to throw his life away. 
    "Well, this is quite the surprise." Aurixen said upon seeing the boy's face. 
    Aurixen clearly knew who that boy was. He immediately started shaking him violently in an attempt to wake him from his state of unconsciousness. While it did take a while, the boy finally woke up. He rose so fast he almost scared Aurixen. 
    "Welcome back, Mr. Fann. Do mommy and daddy know what kind of child you've been today?" Aurixen asked mockingly.
    The name Fann sounded familiar to me but at the time I couldn't figure out why. The boy didn't react to Aurixen, but instead stared menacingly at me in silence. 
    "I suggest you answer me, Mr. Fann. If you don't, I'll--"
    Aurixen was stopped in the middle of his threat when the boy ferociously lunged himself at me, swiftly pulling a sharp knife out from his robe. My senses took over, leading my one hand to shove downward with great force on his armed hand, knocking the knife to the floor. Then I lifted my leg to kick the boy backwards allowing Aurixen to catch him and pin him to the ground.
    "Act up again, kid, and I'll show the Prince why these cells are consistently empty."
    "You'd threaten my life, thinking it would mean anything to me?" The boy said, finally breaking his silence. He then stared at me as he did before. "It's cozy in that life, isn't it, Prince Panik? Why is it fair that you get adopted into royalty, while others like myself get stuck being adopted into a life like mine? You're no more deserving than I am!"
    His words were delivered to make me feel guilty or to pity him. However, they had neither effect. I had no memory of any other life. I couldn't imagine what it would be like to live a life like the one he did because I had never seen it, so his words fell upon me empty. I stayed quiet as his face grew red and stressful.
    "We all must live in the circumstances that we're given. You are right when you say he's no more deserving than you, but that is irrelivent. Be a man and tough it out, kid. There are many others who would be jealous of the life you live just like you're jealous of the life Panik lives. Just be glad your life isn't worse, because it could easily be." Aurixen explained with passion. His voice then grew emotionless. "Attempted murder is not the answer. And unfortunately, you must pay for it like all others who commited crimes here in Cerventen. With your life."
    Every part of me wanted to intervene and remind Aurixen that the kid was only that. A kid. But the remaining parts of my mind were lingering on the one fact that would stop me from saying any objection. Criminality in Cerventen is at such an immensely low level and is such a rare occurance that clearly, something King Saru was doing to criminals was working extremely well. Perhaps that's what it was? Only the truly insane or evil would dare commit a crime knowing it would inevitabely end in their death.
    It didn't come to any surprise to Mr. Fann, I could tell from the blank look on his face that he knew his life was about to end. Just as Aurixen readied his sword for execution, we heard foot steps coming down the stairs to us.
    "Not this time, General." Jayx ordered as he reached the bottom of the stairs. "King Saru has made an exception. Mr. Fann is to be locked in a cell and he would like you to pay a visit to his parents."
    Aurixen rose to his feet and sheathed his sword. "I'm assuming it's not a social visit." He said.
    "Well obviously not." Jayx replied. He then shrugged and added more information. "I'm sure you know the drill by now. Talk to them, see if they had any involvement or knew anything, and then inform them of their son's whereabouts. Sound about right, my friend?"
    Aurixen nodded and proceeded to pick up the boy and shove him into one of the empty cells. 
    "A guard will arrive shortly to watch him. Come with me, Prince Panik. Your father's waiting for us in the throne room."
    When we returned to the King, we discussed various things relating to Mr. Fann while waiting for Aurixen to bring us news. I learned a lot about his family as well as him. The boy wasn't new to crime in the city, just new to something as bold and borderline nonsensical as attacking the Royal Castle. In almost every circumstance, no matter how minor it may have been, crime in Cerventen was absolutely untolerated. Basically any law breaking act was met with lethal force. Few exceptions had ever been made where the criminal would be locked up instead of executed. Any sane person would think this to be tyranical or entirely unjustifiable, but there was a method to the madness. With reminders posted throughout the city so visibly, you almost had to force yourself not to see them. Cerventen, with every single potential criminal in fear of certain death, was more peaceful within its walls than any other kingdom in history.
    I mentioned that exceptions were rarely made, right? Mr. Fann was one of such rarities. It wasn't because of his age as you might be assuming, but because of his family. The Fanns were friends of Saru's from his childhood. They weren't as close to him as Jayx was, that's certain, but they opted to abandon Vaneka to join Saru in Cerventen when the crown was finally his. Once they had settled in the Fanns were tasked with creating and owning a travel service. Saru's ultimate goal when he took the throne was to create a unitied and peaceful continent of kingdoms. He provided the funding for the service, which would allow people to be escourted to any city they wanted. The Fanns were also allowed to keep any profits, and in exchange for that deal that eventually made them very rich, they offered to assist in any costs Cerventen's army would require.
    A couple hours had passed before anything happened. We were expecting to hear any information from Aurixen's own lips, but it wasn't him that came through the throne room doors.
    "I demand an explanation, Saru!" Shouted an angry, middle aged blonde woman as she stormed into the room.
    Her harsh, grouchy voice matched her somewhat wrinkled and unappealing face. I knew it had to be the boy's mother.
    She looked over at me and frowned. "Prince Panik. I was hoping I wouldn't have to see you here." She said with distain, making it painfully clear that she resented me and blamed me for what happened to her son.
    "Your conversation is with us, not the Prince." Jayx replied, turning her wrath away from me.
    "On visit from Vaneka again, Mr. Zilnix? Must I constantly have to remind you that you hold no power within Cerventen's walls? My argument is with the King and nobody else." 
    "There will be no argument today, Neria. Nor any other day. The boy will stay in his cell as long as I am King." Saru answered.
    Mrs. Fann tried to counter his point. "Do not ig--" She began before being cut off when my father stood up from his throne.
    "Be silent!" He roared fiercely. "This is not his first offense and you and him have both been given plenty of warnings. Exceptions to law very rarely occur, as you know, and I have made an exception for your son at least four times. It does not matter if you are my friend, if you are the richest in the kingdom, or if you contribute to much of our military's strength. Cerventen will be safe and peaceful, regardless of the personal sacrifices I have to make."
    "You're making a mistake, Saru." She replied.
    "KING Saru, Mrs. Fann." My father quickly corrected her.
    "My husband and I followed you because we believed in you. We threw our old, comfortable lives away to assist you in your endevors. We always looked to have your back when you would have ours, but it looks like nothing we did means anything to you. Expect no more contributions from us, Your Majesty." 
    "Take your threats with you on your way out of the castle, Neria, and your money as well. I do not need it." The King said with no reluctance. "Your son's freedom and hatred for mine endangers Panik's safety, and that will not be tolerated. Take her back to her home." He ordered the guards.
    As the guards escourted Mrs. Fann out the doors, Sir Karo appeared from practically nowhere and touched his hand to King Saru's shoulder. They whispered to each other to keep Jayx and I from hearing them, but I was able to hear them clearly.
    "Further instructions, My King?" Sir Karo asked.
    "Position a couple of our spies to monitor the Fanns. They are capable of much, and I do not want that boy to leave this castle." Replied the King.
    As Sir Karo left the room shortly after the guards, Jayx decided to express his concerns. "That seemed an unwise approach, my friend. The Fanns contribute much to solidifying Cerventen's military power." He spoke with doubt.
    "It's a good thing we have Vaneka's army as an ally, then, isn't it?" Saru happily answered. "Ha, but don't worry. The council and I will solve the problem I just created with haste." He then turned to me and smiled. "It's been a long day, Panik. Perhaps you should retire to your room for the night?"
    I agreed with him, thanked Jayx for an incredible first day of training, and left the two of them to themselves. While I thought the long and eventful day was over, I shortly learned after reaching my room that there was one more surprise in store.


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