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The isle of Xome was always a bone of contention between the two lords of Akronia.
It was never certain what exactly was so important about that tiny pearl shaped piece of barren land, locked in by two mighty flowing rivers on both sides that had captured the hearts of two friends and turned them into foes.
Lord Richesse was the hot headed one. He struck first and spoke later. So was his nature. But Lord Syhla was the one with a cool mind and spirit. He had the rightful claim to Xome as it was passed onto him by his father after the old feudal lord had discovered and flagged it on one of his hunting expeditions.
Later on, when Sikam replaced his father as the new Lord of Syhla, he invited his dear childhood friend Ric to share the beauty of the vast nothingness of Xome that glittered in the moonlit nights of winter.
That invitation proved fateful. Greed and jealousy took root in the gullible heart of Lord Richesse – all adequately fueled by his new bride Jana, the eldest daughter of Lord Ducai who looked after the neighboring lands of Kirtam. And why would they care to snatch such a small piece of barren land? Because more land made for a bigger landlord, of course. What a terribly dumb question to ask!
Akronia and Kirtam were two very tiny scraps of independent provinces in the vast territory of the current region of South Asia.
Akronia was divided into two parts – east and west. The west was ruled by the amicable and emotive clan of Richesse while the east was looked after by the strong, hardworking farmers of Syhla. Lord Ducai, an expert in weaponry, alone had complete control over Kirtam. Fortunately for him, none of his neighbors ever felt the need to challenge that. He, however, couldn’t resist scheming, no matter how insignificant the scope.
Not much, if anything is known about these domains since they ceased to exist well before man learnt the art of meaningful archives. We are talking some six to ten thousand years BC. What little is known comes from word of mouth well suited for bedtime stories and legend seekers.
While Lords Syhla and Richesse were busy bickering over Xome, a strange newcomer entered their lands. He was a tall, dark man with no apparent intent for good. His whole aura seemed to scare. To begin with, he dressed strangely. A long dark robe with a hood covering most of his face and a long slim sword carved out of raw iron hanging from his waist.
His name was Kalum. Or so he told them. He had come in search of fire, he told them.
Fire? They exchanged suspicious glances as two quarreling lords, joined by Ducai, sat beneath the huge tree where all three of them held courts or town meetings. Why would a man travel as far as he had for such an abundant and easily available element? Why, he could rub two stones together and make fire. Or twist a dry twig enough times in a bed of dry leaves and rocks and stoke up a fire as big as reached the sky! Fire? Really?
Yes. Really. Kalum said. For this was no ordinary fire. This burnt dull and scorched more. And it burnt blue.
They all laughed. Well, all except Sikam.
The meeting was adjourned. Lord Ducai graciously extended a stay-the-night invitation to the stranger that he equally graciously declined. He had a place to stay, thank you much for the kindness. He would prefer to camp in the empty unclaimed land of Xome.
Unclaimed? How dare he! Lord Syhla was quick to correct that misunderstanding only to receive a smirk from the dark man. Sikam did not know the true treasures Xome held, did he? If he did not know, the land could not be his. A land should never fall into the hands of one who doesn’t understand it. Hence, unclaimed it was.
Treasures? Now this was interesting! And it was enough to stop the two leaders of the enemy camp in their tracks too. Sikam of Syhla was in a pickle. For you see he knew what treasure Kalum talked of. But he could not disclose it. What was worse was that he could not wield it either.
“It belongs to me.” Kalum smiled decisively at Sikam. “If you are wise, you shall not contest.”
“I own that land.” Sikam lashed back. “You cannot usurp it.”
Kalum’s dark eyes glowed with comprehension. Sikam’s claim, no matter how displeasing, was true. It tickled Kalum's just nature and he could not find it in his heart to defy such bravery. Hence, he made a deal.
Chapter Two: Khuzdoh
And in that castle, lived Demon…
The barren land of Xome cradled a secret portal leading to the sacred cave of Khuzdoh where the Blue Fire lived.
Kalum, belonging to a long line of fire breeders needed to possess the trinket, the Scepter, which controlled the ancient fire to attain the highest honor of his order – the gift of controlling the element of fire.
If Sikam agreed to give Kalum a safe passage, one without war or worry, then Kalum would return the favor by not claiming Xome and leaving quietly after his mission was accomplished.
Sikam was a peaceful man. He was never inclined to war –always wasted too much time and gained nothing really, in his opinion. The way Kalum had proposed the terms to him may have been less than charming but at least he was asking for a favor in his own arrogant odd way. Perhaps, he would agree to share his journey to Khuzdoh with the landlord of Xome as an additive to sweeten the deal?
Kalum agreed. And the two went on their way.
How do you suppose that sat with Ducai and Ric? Not too well. Not too well at all.
It is said the two sneaked into the secret portal behind Kalum and Sikam and followed them quietly up to the cave of Khuzdoh. They all saw the Blue Fire together, sleeping curled up in the Scepter standing aloof on her torch-lit throne whilst Narzul, the fire dragon and guardian of these magical entities, sat bowed in attendance.
Kalum stepped inside the circumference of the throne, whispering a few verses in some tongue that Sikam did not understand. Narzul stirred but did not look up. In fact, his alert shoulders and back slouched a little, indicating a sudden onslaught of slumber. Had Kalum's verses drugged the creature magically?
Sikam did not ask but watched quietly.
Kalum advanced toward the sleeping Scepter and once he was but a foot away, he waited for a fraction of a second before leaping forward and grabbing her with both hands, jerking her out of her throne. The Blue Fire in the Scepter bubbled and rolled and an immense wail unleashed from her bosom. The torches lining the edge of the throne came to life and danced around in frenzy trying to find a way to swoop down on Kalum and free the Scepter from his grasp. But the light from the Scepter herself kept her guards at bay.
Narzul still slept.
Kalum grabbed the globe mast of the Scepter and covered it with his massive palm. Now his verses were loud and passionate and Sikam could see tongues of Blue Fire leaping out of the glassy globe and immerse into Kalum’s person. Kalum was consuming the sacred fire. But before the ritual could be completed, something drastic happened. Two fresh bodies stumbled onto the throne and broke Kalum's concentration.
Narzul woke up.
That gigantic mass of fire and gold and ash stood up to his entire height and roared. His roar shook the gravel on the floor and the boulders lining the walls of Khuzdoh. The Fire in the Scepter grabbed Kalum by the neck with her thick blue tongue and started to strangle him while her fiery guards swooped down on him and stung his limbs.
Sikam saw Kalum fall as he saw Ric and Ducai rush out of the deathly cave to save their own limbs from being turned into dragon feed.
Sikam was a brave man. He also carried a sword. He leapt forth and sliced the flying fires one by one but they multiplied and attacked him. Kalum managed to free his neck from the Scepter’s grip and jabbed her in the middle of the throne floor where the ground grabbed her so that the Fire couldn’t move and was trapped within. Then he unsheathed his own sword with one hand and slashed each firefly diagonally into neat halves till there were none left.
But the fight was not nearly over yet.
Kalum got back to the stuck Scepter, now reciting perhaps another verse to possess the Fire as she remained trapped within her glassy confines.
Narzul had seen them both, Kalum and Sikam, and now wanted revenge. He breathed fire.
Sikam jumped out of range and Kalum tackled it with the very Scepter he held in his arms. The surface of the Scepter deflected the dragon’s breath and it shot back full force into the dragon’s chest. Other than making the beast more beastly and furious, it did little damage. Narzul was up in a moment to strike again. But this time his fire met Sikam's sword. The weapon burnt red and stung the Lord’s hands. He dropped the blade but picked up a burnt out torch and flung it into one of Narzul’s eyes.
Narzul lost an eye and bleated with pain. Just then Sikam picked up his sword again and drove it home into the dragon’s chest. The impact was immense. It was like sticking a raw blade into a pile of fiery coals. Tongues of fire leapt up. Tongues of fire swirled around Sikam and grabbed him, scorching his skin to bare bones.
Sikam writhed and screamed with agony and fell into darkness.
Chapter Three: Demon of Realm
One lunar month is all it needs to turn the tide.
With every rise of the full moon
The Scepter of Fire emerges from her cave
In Khuzdoh where Narzul guards her and lets no one enter
Except the Demon King.
The mighty Krâl can summon the Scepter.
He can send the Scepter back into hibernation.
He can destroy her. He can wield her.
He, his power and the Scepter are one.
And all else be warned to not venture here or be killed for treason. (The Realmics)
When Sikam woke up again, he had a peculiar mark on his thigh. A fiery red crescent. Kalum told him that was the mark of courage, decorating the first slayer of the original Demon – Narzul, the dragon of Khuzdoh.
But there was more to it that even Kalum hadn’t anticipated.
Sikam of Akronia was to become significant in more ways than that. His red crescent wasn’t just a decorative mark of courage earned in the face of a raging monster Demon. It was a source of great power and dynamic physical strength. That tiny shiny Red Crescent was the mark of the first of the royal race of Demon Slayers.
However, all this glory had come at a steep price. The price they all had paid by being trapped in the unknown universe of Realm where Narzul forever breathed fire and the Scepter lived. A world where strange creatures, long of limb and broad of bone, pure of heart and sharp of wit, lived and prospered eating local greens and writing stories.
Owing to the recklessness of Ric and Ducai, the portal back to Earth was destroyed while they tried to escape, absorbing the entire lands of Xome, Kirtam and Akronia into the Realm below. Much to the dismay of everyone involved, the territories lost their familiar boundaries in the process, leaving everything for the taking for he who had the guts and the power.
Sikam had the guts but Kalum had the power.
Kalum's possession and taming of the Scepter had brought the fiery guardians and Narzul back to life as it had refilled the Scepter with sacred Blue Fire. Only now Kalum ruled them all. Kalum now was a powerful fire Demon. He could control fire and wield it to his will.
Had he wanted, he could have overtaken everything by force using his Scepter and his Dragon. But Kalum's sense of justice prevented that. Some say it was actually fear of resistance from Sikam that kept Kalum’s hostile use of might at bay.
I’d say those some would be right.
Besides, with Ric and Ducai unwilling to be ignored and forever whining about their lost legacies and constantly referring to earthly alliances with the powerful Sikam, it was only reasonable that the land be justly divided among the four lords.
However, none could ever again deny the supremacy of the new Demon Kalum. He was declared the uncrowned Krâl of the Realm by means of sheer power. More so by the natives of the Realm who regarded the sacred fire a kingmaker in her own right and she had chosen Kalum by submitting to him.
Who were these natives of the odd universe of Realm?
They were Giants.
They were called the Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateapokaiwhenuakitanatahu. Or Buzurgs for short. They were book lovers and exceled in the arts of archiving.
The Buzurgs wrote two kinds of chronicles. One was history of the Realm that was showcased both in the Realmics and the personable accounts of the Storytellers. The other was the Law of the Realm as dictated by the Scepter before the advent of Kalum and later on augmented by Krâl himself.
The Realmics are believed to be the only authentic source of Law in the Realm.
According to the Realmics, the Realm had always existed. And so had the Scepter, Khuzdoh, Narzul and the Giants. They believed the owner of the Scepter owned the Realm too. While the one bearing the Red Crescent was the one the Fire feared.
As was proven in time.
Chapter Four: Ducimus and Richesse
The lands lay barren; no seed, all dust.
The men lay dead; just women, all cursed.
It was a truce gone bad with Krâl Kalum. Lord Ducai never saw it coming.
After the land of Realm was divided, under the supervision of Buzurgs, the need to rebuild anew was just as pressing as the need to eat, bathe and live.
While Kalum took the throne and title of Krâl and dubbed his territory the Kingdom of Volttus, the clan of Syhla, under Sikam's strong leadership, started fresh in a new world on their share of Realmic land. They farmed and called their new country Enth.
Lord Richesse named his new country after his family – Richesse. Affluent in natural minerals, the country of Richesse had a lot to offer and share with the neighbors.
Ducimus was where Lord Ducai ruled.
As the population grew, so did the bounties of land and trade. It was evident from the start that in order for all to survive, all four lords and their people would have to coexist in peace. It was also important to have rules to facilitate national and international relations and that such rules be acceptable by everyone.
Since there already existed a supreme power in that odd, new universe that came with its own set of laws, few as they may be, and the ownership of that power, that Scepter, made Kalum supreme, the laws Volttus automatically became the constitution of the Realm. All other countries beside Volttus were of course free to legislate for their own benefit but those laws could not cross over homeland boundaries and became void in that event.
Unpleasant as it may be, it was what everyone had to agree to. The power of Scepter demanded that and in time so did the authority of Krâl.
Sikam of Syhla had no worries there. He wasn’t the jealous sort nor did he crave power. His red mark of courage and the respect of his people had already filled his cup to the brim. Besides, owed to his combined venture with Kalum into Khuzdoh, he enjoyed a special place with him that the Demon King refused to share with any other.
Sikam desired no more.
But nature smiled upon him still. He was soon blessed with a beautiful boy. Baby Aloysius bore the same crescent as his father by birth and it was obvious the boy was just as special as the man who’d sired him. The Enthonians, out of love and respect for their leader, declared that the title of Syhla would now be used only for the family of Demon slayers. Hence, began the long line of Syhlain Royals of Enth.
Lord Ric was happy as a lark to be handed down such wealth on a platter - all those minerals and gems. He wasn’t inclined to discipline much either, therefore, it suited his temperament a lot that someone else took control. It was mighty helpful and fine that Krâl was there to scare everyone into submission to law and civility. All Ric had to do was rule. It is believed he did not live for very long to enjoy his new domain since the climate of the Realm wasn’t compatible with his delicate self. He caught a bad cold and died, was succeeded by his wife, Jana, who brought up their son Ezem to become the next king. But that’s another story and a fairly uneventful one at that.
Now Ducimus was a juicy monarchy. Lord Ducai was now King Ducai of Pompousness by all means. He also loathed the fact that everyone in the Realm had more or less the same acreage for homeland space. You see, on Earth, he had more land than both Ric and Sikam combined and even then he wanted Xome. He was the power hungry, lusty and crafty wolf of the forest. It is believed he liked to receive and present good wine and women as tokens of goodwill among friends.
And who could've been a better friend than Krâl of Realm if all went well?
Ducai picked out a dozen of his most beautiful harem virgins and sent them off to serve Krâl. A harem virgin was a rarity on her own and then a dozen of them! How long do you suppose had Ducai waited for this to happen? And why? Sure, being in Krâl’s good books was profitable but why be so generous. A cartful of fresh produce of the season from Enth or the first batch of gems from a new mine from Richesse was always enough to put a smile on Kalum's face. Besides, the mighty Demon never asked to be showered with gifts.
Dark hearts have dark purposes.
Kalum wasn’t much into women. He enjoyed the company but he rarely indulged himself that way. But to return the girls would indeed be a dishonor to Ducimus. Hence, he kept them all. And he pleased them all. And to one he lost a bit of his heart. She was young and pretty and naïve. And she made him happy. Until one day when he came to her and found her confiding with one other Ducimus woman. Both whispering, secretly conspiring on how to grab that vital piece of information and send it to Lord Ducai for that much reward!
Traitors! Spies! So that’s why Ducai had planted them there!
The women were arrested. Krâl’s army prepared to wage war against Ducimus. Lord Ducai had brought the worst upon himself. He had attempted to gain knowledge of how to snatch power, the Scepter, from the Demon King. This was treason. This meant war.
Those were the early days of the kingdoms and none had huge armies. But Krâl didn’t need a huge army. He could burn and kill with his eyes alone. The Fire in his being was fatal alone for the enemy. And his revenge was ugly. He slayed every man, adult or child, in the territory of Ducimus and left the women alive to despair.
“Send your women to deal with the mighty Krâl, will you?” He laughed as he pointed his sword to Ducai’s bared chest before he pierced his heart.
Next, he let his soldiers lose to plunder cities, destroy crop, uproot trees and burn forests, slaughter animals and poison the big lake that supplied water to Ducimus. And then, he let the women go. Left to wander the streets and fields of their ruined land.
One of those scorned women was Ducai’s youngest Queen, Saon. Sixteen years of age and pregnant.
Although Krâl and his soldiers hadn’t physically abused or dishonored any of the Ducimus women, the devastation caused by the war was enough to tarnish their lives forever. Without food, shelter, clean water and their men –the Ducimus women were turned into a symbol of misfortune.
And the fear of Krâl and his ruthless forces instilled in the hearts of all others was so deep and fresh that none came forth to help the victims either. None except Sikam and his people. Since the Realm was divided into rough quarters, all four kingdoms were next door neighbors to each other and Karu-Thren was the longest borderline that Enth shared with any of her neighbors. Karu-Thren: the border between Enth and Ducimus.
Sikam loaded some hundred camels with food, shelter and other essentials and marched this caravan towards Karu-Thren. However, upon reaching there, they found the area barred by barbed wires. He could’ve cut and passed through but that would’ve been a violation of sovereignty. Sikam knew the wires weren’t put there by Kalum; it must’ve been the Ducimus themselves.
A psychological reaction perhaps?
So the Syhlain Lord sent off a messenger to the Ducimus Queen, sending news of the goodies on camels and asking permission to pass through. The messenger returned by nightfall with dreadful news.
“There are no women there!” He was hysterical. “They’re all monsters! Not women! MONSTERS!”
Sikam and a few of his nobles calmed him down and asked for the entire story. The poor man didn’t know much himself except for what Queen Saon had told him.
“It was the poisoned lake water that killed the women. Or disfigured them. I – I didn’t understand her. Queen Saon says she didn’t drink any so she survived. And she says they don’t want any of our charity or anyone’s charity. She said – she said the Ducimas are fine without help and will avenge their doom!”
“Oh, poor girl.” Sikam’s wife grieved. “So young and been through so much!”
“She gave me this.” The messenger took out a small vial from his picket and handed it to Sikam. “She said the lake is of no use to them anymore. This is some potion that she wants you to spill into the lake water. She says – she says the lake is yours from now on.”
Sikam eyed the vial and pocketed it. And the caravan returned to Seren Vehn, the capital of Enth. As soon as they reached the gates of the city, Sikam ordered his nobles to safely escort the Lady and his people back to their homes whilst he with one of his trusted men rode off to the lake Queen Saon had newly entrusted him with.
The lake was a scenic treat for the eyes. Tucked away in the high mountains, it was a lovely spot that basically belonged to both Enth and Ducimus but Sikam had long ago unofficially withdrawn from it in favor of Ducai as a gesture of goodwill. Since then the Enthonians shared water resources with Volttus. Well, not just water, Sikam could've asked Kalum for anything. The Demon King had declared just one man his ‘ally’ and that man could ask anything of Krâl and Krâl would indulge him.
Anyhow, upon reaching the lake, Sikam saw a major change. Apart from the frothy murky water, the same barbed wire ran across the northern border of the woods indicating the lake officially belonged to Enth. Sikam sighed deeply, not really understand the need for the tangible border but mourning the loss Ducimus had suffered. He may not have questioned Krâl for being so merciless but he couldn’t forgive or forget the excessive force with which Volttus had handled the entire issue.
But then that’s exactly why one must never mess with Krâl, isn’t it?
Sikam took out the vial and spilled its ice gray granules into the recently poisoned, murky lake water. As soon as the grains hit the water surface, the murkiness broke to shreds like a pie crust. Then it bubbled, foamed and dissolved, revealing pristine water.
“Is it clean now?” Erik, Sikam’s prime advisor, asked, suspiciously staring at the water all the while.
“Let’s test it.” Sikam smiled and before Erik could know enough to protest; he’d scooped up a palmful of lake water and drunk from it.
“My Lord!” Erik screamed in horror finally but it was perhaps not needed. Sikam stood smiling and fine.
“It’s clean,” he said and the two men rode back.
The water indeed had been cleansed of all poison and impurities that Volttus had dumped in it but the potion that Saon had requested Sikam to spill into the lake was no ordinary poison sucking agent either. Those ice gray granules had revenge trapped in them that Sikam released when he dropped them in the lake.
The Storytellers wrote that the lake was no longer plain water afterwards. Or else it wouldn’t have proved fatal for Kalum.
Hence, it is not exactly known how Marzong came to the Realm. Some say he followed his uncle with Ric and Ducai and it was actually his presence that had given the two lords reason to venture into Khuzdoh. They had promised Marzong to get him to his fire breeding uncle and it was because of this favor –this uniting of nephew with uncle – that had saved the two meddling lords from the wrath of Krâl.
Well, till Ducai brought it upon himself of course.
However, some Buzurgs believe that Marzong either entered the Realm on his own later or was brought in by Kalum since the boy was Krâl’s very own protégé. The basis of this version is that no one could find a record of Marzong's presence in the Realm during those initial times when the humans from Earth had first discovered the alternate universe. And Buzurgs recorded everything. How could it be that this particular incident escaped them?
Anyhow, fact was that when the odd seasons changed in that new universe, two people couldn’t bear them. Ric and Marzong – they both fell ill, contracting cold of some nature that looked harmless but apparently ended up claiming their lives.
Ric died and was given a fitting decorated burial by his wife and peers.
Marzong, on the other hand, had an entirely different, less ordinary fate. He was branded by Kalum as his heir.
The Demon King couldn’t bear to lose his nephew but he couldn’t make the cold spare the lad either. Hence, he sent for Himar, the Sardan of the earliest clan of Buzurgs, and asked him how he could save the life of his only family member as he lay frail and pale, staring death in the face; spared but a few breaths to say goodbye to those he loved.
“Brand him,” Himar said plainly. “Make him your heir.”
“I can do that?” Confusion spread across Krâl’s face. “How?”
“Place your left palm over his chest and will him to be spared, to have what you have. He will rest till you cease to exist. And then.” Himar paused briefly. “But you can only brand one when there is some life left in the body. I hope Marzong isn’t dead, Krâl.”
“I’ll be damned if he is!” Krâl growled and rushed to his protégé’s bedside.
Marzong wasn’t dead, was almost alive. Kalum quickly performed the ritual, and even though he was the Demon King, he himself didn’t know what such a simple gesture as placing his palm over a dying man’s chest and wishing a certain wish would do.
It worked a miracle.
Marzong’s pulse steadied as color returned to his ashen face and suppleness to his leathery skin. He was breathing again as if asleep. And there was a small mark on his chest where Kalum's hand had been. A scar the size of a pea that looked like the claw of the Narzul, ready to attack…
That was the mark of the Demon. And it meant power.
Marzong slept in the depths of the Demon’s castle, centuries on end while the power of Volttus grew. New alliances were made while old ones either wilted or grew stronger.
Richesse saw the rise and fall of many monarchs and the web of internal politics weaved so thick and intricate around and within its own walls that for many a year, the Richesse had no time to take part in the Realm around them. They were quiet with introvert tendencies till Xavier Leon came to power.
Ducimus was a story, a legend, an epic in its own. Saon ruled with an iron hand. She was political, she was smart and socially savvy – sweet when it suited her and disruptive when it didn’t. The interesting fact is, the borders of Ducimus were closed to outside influence on purpose and for an equally good reason, others preferred to stay out as well. Hence, there are unconfirmed stories about Saon’s heiress.
None are sure whether she was the child Saon gave birth to or was adopted or created by the underground magical forces that continued to brew spells unknown and unnoticed by the rest of Realm. Some say Saon had given birth to a boy, named him Nivis and gave him in the keep of the Grand Wizard to be strong in those ways. Then, adopted a human baby from Enth, gave her a sip of the Elixir for immortality and trained her to take the throne because she wanted to see a woman rule Ducimus for then and eternity. Whatever the truth may be, Arela was a fitting monarch and she carried on tasks left unattended or incomplete by her ancestor with great passion.
In Enth, Sikam ruled blissfully and peacefully. His friendship with Kalum saw many years and shared extreme glory. But it was not eternal.
The water of the doomed Lake that Saon had so graciously gifted to Sikam was indeed elixir to every human and Syhlain who drank from it. The magical qualities of the potion that Sikam had poured into its depths at Saon’s request were meant to secure the unmatched powers of the Syhlains to the benefit of the drinker. It was soon found out that it also bestowed mortal beings, Syhlains or Humans alike, with immortality.
For a Demon, however, it did neither.
The history of friendship between Enth and Volttus is not long and less colorful. The tales of its enmity however are legendary and sparked by the fact that one fine day, while riding through the cherished woods that Sikam so loved, he and Krâl fell thirsty. Their canteens had run dry but there was nothing to upset their joyful trip –the land was strewn with water bodies and that magical lake that had brought such abundant gifts for the Enthonian was close.
Sikam led his friend and one of Krâl’s attendants to it.
“But wait!” Sikam stopped Kalum as he was about to dip a finger in the lake. “You must know that it was Saon who had sent me some crystals to treat the lake water, of course. It has done us much good but for you – I cannot say.”
“Nothing can hurt me.” Kalum smiled and then added, “Besides, I trust you my friend. If it is good for you, then it is good for me.”
“Krâl must consider the danger though –” the loyal attendant tried to speak but Kalum shot him an angry look that nipped the doubts in the bud.
That was fateful.
No longer had Krâl dipped his hand in the tranquil water to scoop up a mouthful that his fingers, then hand, then the entire arm began to burn. The fire Demon was alight. Sikam didn’t understand. He quickly filled his canteen with more lake water and splashed over his friend to save him. But it set the flames more ablaze and fierce. Krâl Kalum shriveled to his death while his attendant and Sikam stood stunned by the horror of it all. As the fire died and ashes dispersed, the Volttian attendant took flight instantly.
The incident was duly reported to Marzong – the new Krâl of Volttus.
Hells were unleashed. Sikam was killed and his armies and people butchered but Syhlains are not easily put down for reasons already celebrated. Aloysius took the reins of his falling Enthonian kingdom and hauled it up with sheer strength of his muscle and mind. Peace was restored. Treaties signed and borders sealed.
But trust and friendship were outlawed in the Realm forever.