Authors: Brian D. Anderson
The Reborn King”
The Godling Chronicles (Book
Six) The Reborn King
Brian D. Anderson
Original concept by Jonathan Anderson
Copyright © Brian D. Anderson 2014
Names, characters and incidents depicted in this book are products of the author's imagination, or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental and beyond the intent of the author or the publisher.
hough I dedicated Book One to my son, this final installment is particularly special to me. It is the culmination of years of hard work which began when my boy came home from school one day and said, “Dad! I have an idea for a story!”
is for the light in my heart and the best reason I have to keep breathing – Jonathan Anderson
Table of Contents
The shadows danced along the stark walls of the dilapidated shack as the candle flickered and dimmed, stubbornly resisting the draft seeping in through the cracks in the wood that threatened to blow it out. The air reeked with the smell of rotted fruits and vegetables - food for the pigs that could be heard squealing and jostling in the pen directly outside.
The four elves gathered around the small table in the corner farthest from the door waited in silence, their hands fidgeting nervously in front of them.
Several minutes dragged by before the door creaked open to reveal a tall elf with red hair and narrow, piercing eyes. Clad in the cloak of a
he stepped inside and surveyed the scene.
“This is all of you?” he asked in a soft, yet deep voice.
The dark skinned elf sitting nearest to him looked up. “This is all that can be here without arousing suspicion, Tallio. But there are more. Of that you can be certain.”
Tallio scowled before taking a seat at the table. “Their fear is a weakness they must soon overcome.”
“Do not mistake prudence for fear,” the elf shot back. “My people are steadfast and loyal. They will not hesitate to act when the time comes.”
Tallio looked him directly in the eye. “Let us hope not. And the rest of you? Does your resolve still hold?”
Two of the other elves nodded, their faces grim.
“Then it is settled,” said Tallio. “We will move against them as soon as Darshan is away.”
A stocky elf to the right of him huffed and shook his head.
“You wish to add something, Vixis?” Tallio asked.
“I do,” he replied evenly. “I wish to add that you are all fools. What do you think will happen if you succeed? Do you really imagine that things will go back to the way they were?” He leaned in closer to meet Tallio’s gaze. “All you will achieve is to bring death to everyone here. The wrath of Darshan will know no bounds. He will burn us to cinders.”
Tallio sneered. “If you fear death, then perhaps you should leave these matters to those with the courage of their convictions. Darshan is not invincible. And I will not sit idle as he spreads his lies.”
“How can you be so sure they are lies?” Vixis countered. “What could he possibly gain from such a deception?”
“If you think I will ever believe our people to be a mongrel race spawned from the loins of the gods, then you are sorely mistaken.” Tallio tensed, his fists clenching so tightly that his knuckles gleamed white. “Darshan has caused nothing but despair and doubt amongst our kin. Many have wandered east without purpose or hope, their minds and spirits broken by the words of a false god. And to think that he has brought forth offspring…mothered by one of our own.” His right fist slammed violently down onto the table, nearly shattering it to splinters. “No! This cannot be allowed. I will face Darshan alone if need be.”
“And you will die alone if you do,” Vixis told him. “I have seen his power with my own eyes. And though he may not be invincible, his strength is far beyond any of us.”
Tallio leaned back to scrutinize Vixis for several seconds before speaking again. “It seems to me that you have not come here to offer your support,” he stated.
He paused, waiting for a response, but Vixis remained silent. “So why
“To offer you an alternative,” he finally replied. “Many of our kin have decided to retreat to the desert. There we hope to find a new life and peace. We can live as we once did amongst our own kind. The humans will leave us be, and our desert kin would welcome us gladly. I have come here to ask you to abandon this madness and join us.”
“Our desert kin have allied themselves with Darshan. And even if that was not so, what sort of existence do you expect to find there?” Tallio’s tone was dark and dangerous. “Shall we leave our traditional homes and lives behind? Shall we cower off into the sands and forget who we really are?”
“To seek peace is not cowering, it is wisdom,” Vixis responded. “Would you rather see us destroyed than find a new life? Our kin have lived in the desert for generations – free of gods and human corruption. Why should we not seek the same?”
is my home,” Tallio insisted. “And I will not be driven from it by lies and slander. You would have us slither away…a mongrel race bereft of honor. You would allow the forked tongue of Darshan to continue poisoning the minds of our kin. And you would allow his cursed offspring to linger upon this very world that the
has charged us to protect.” With each word his voice rose in intensity and the fire in his eyes burned ever hotter. “But I for one will
sit idle while all that I hold sacred is being destroyed and defiled.”
“Your hatred has blinded you, old friend,” said Vixis, sorrow and pity in his eyes. “And it will be your undoing. I can only pray that you do not drag our kin into the fiery depths along with you.” He rose slowly and bowed to the others. “I wish you well. I honestly do. And should you change your mind, my kin and I shall be departing east in one week.” He strode to the door and looked over his shoulder. “I hope to see you again...soon.” After giving Tallio a final searching glance, he lowered his head and stepped outside.
The three other elves sitting at the table exchanged uneasy looks as Tallio stared grimly at the door his former friend had passed through. After a brief moment he rose to his feet and with slow deliberate paces, made his way across the room. He turned briefly to the others before sucking in a deep breath and following Vixis out into the night.
Vixis had walked only a few yards when the sound of footfalls from behind caused him to pause and turn. He regarded his fellow elf steadily. “I take you have not come to persuade me further,” he said.
“You know I cannot take the risk,” Tallio told him. “There is too much at stake.”
“Would it make any difference if I swear to keep your secret?” He could see the resolve in Tallio’s expression and frowned. “No. I suppose not.”
The flash of steel thrusting into his heart was quick and precise. Vixis gasped just once, his hands briefly clutching hold of Tallio’s arms. A tear then rolled down his cheek as the light of life quickly faded from his eyes.
Tallio lifted the body over his shoulder and laid it carefully beside the shack. After covering it with some loose brush and
twigs, he returned to the others. Their accusing stares swelled his anger.
“And what would you have me do?” he shouted. “We cannot trust our fate to those without the courage to fight.”
A thin, dark-haired elf clad in a simple tan shirt and trousers pushed back his chair and glared at Tallio. “Vixis was no coward, and you know it! He simply wanted us to consider a different path.”
Tallio held up his hand. “Calm yourself, Faliel. I only did what I had to do in order to protect us. Vixis carried knowledge that could have doomed us all. And though he was once my friend, I am not convinced he would have kept it to himself. He fought alongside Darshan, and served as personal guard to King Lousis. How could we know for certain where his allegiances lie? Darshan is a trickster and a liar. Many an elf who once despised humans now willingly serves alongside them. Even Lord Theopolou was not immune to Darshan's influence.”
There was a long silence as the two elves stared at each other unblinkingly. Finally, Faliel heaved a deep sigh and sat back down.
“That some of our kin need to be sacrificed weighs heavily on my heart too, brothers,” said Tallio. “But we must look to the greater good of our race. And that means all traitors and heretics must be destroyed.”
He leaned forward and grasped hold of Faliel’s hand. “Believe me, there is no other way.”
Faliel nodded weakly. “And we are with you. Even so, I cannot help but lament the passing of any of our kin, traitors or no.”
The third elf, much younger than the other two yet with the bearing of one who had seen much bloodshed and battle, fingered his dagger unthinkingly and narrowed his eyes.
“You have something to say, Hasheen?” asked Tallio.
“I do,” he grumbled. “Have you given any thought as to what the elves from across the sea will do once they arrive? It is well known that Aaliyah sent for aid not long after she met Darshan. They said it would take a year before we could expect assistance. Well, a year is now nearly up. If they should take up Darshan’s cause, we cannot hope to prevail.”
“All the more reason to make haste,” Tallio countered. “We cannot allow them to fall prey to the same lies that are being spread among
people. Victory must be swift.”
“Do you know where the heretic is hiding?” Hasheen asked. “My people have been searching for weeks to no avail.”
A sinister grin crept upon Tallio’s face. “Yes, I do know where she is. I know where they all are. Including the half-breed.”
Hasheen frowned. “I see no reason to kill
. She is an innocent – a mere victim of birth – and should not suffer for the crimes of her mother.”
“She is an abomination,” Tallio snarled. “Innocent or not, she embodies all that we have warned our people against. But if it helps to ease your mind, I promise that she will not suffer. Plans have already been set in motion.”
“You do know that killing her will bring the wrath of Linis down upon us,” Hasheen warned. “He is not one to be trifled with. He will never rest until he has had his revenge.”
“I will deal with Linis,” Tallio said. “His crimes have already warranted his execution…and I will personally see it
done.” He reached in his shirt and pulled out three sealed scrolls. “Inside these are your instructions…that is, assuming you are still with me?”
There was a long pause. All three elves then nodded in turn.
Tallio smiled, clearly pleased. “Then make ready. We move soon.”
* * * * *
The cavernous throne room was dark and bitterly cold. Not that he could feel the chill nipping at his flesh any longer. At least, not in the same way mortals feel it. As a man, he'd anticipated winter with dread and spent all his extra coin on the thickest wool and finest furs. But now he was no longer mortal, the cold was a welcome friend. It was a reminder of a life when he'd known the simple joys of a laying under the sun on a warm spring day, watching the birds dart across a cloudless sky. The cold was gone…for a time. And for a time, he was contented.
He thought back to that first day when he'd drawn the Sword of Truth from its cradle and held it aloft. While gazing upon its beauty he'd all but forgotten that, only moments before, he had taken the life of a once dear friend. More than that, it was his dearest friend.
The man's blood was still warming the marble floor just a few feet away, yet all he could see was his prize.
He had heard the stories, just as every other member of Amon Dähl had. The Sword of Truth. A weapon of unimaginable might…and danger. But the reality was quite different. To wield such terrible power, even for a moment, was a burden beyond human understanding. But to do so for eternity was utter madness. And it was that madness he had only managed to conquer through sheer force of will.
He placed his hand on the hilt of the
. At this moment it was protruding from the stone floor just beside his throne, its blade having cut through the rock as easily as if it were human flesh. As the power raged through him, he tilted his head back in ecstasy.
He took a deep breath, and while watching it billow away in a cloud of vapor after escaping his lungs, began to wonder if he actually
to breathe any longer. Was it possible that such mundane acts could be left behind completely? He hadn’t eaten in months, yet felt no hunger. Could he truly abandon all things human? He smiled inwardly. Soon he would have time everlasting to puzzle such things out.
He could feel the chaotic and fearful emotions of the people in Kratis. At one time, the idea of the enemy invading was unthinkable to them. But news of the defeat in the west had hit hard. And for the first time, his followers had doubts. They didn’t understand. They believed that serving the Reborn King guaranteed their places in his new world. It didn’t.
So let the west come
, he thought.
There is no reason to stop them
Those who survive will have proved their worth. And once all is over, it will not matter who they fought for, what flag they carried, or even if they hate Angrääl and its king. Ultimately, all who live will serve my purpose.
Only one thing remained to be settled - Darshan. He had tried so many times to hate him, but at best could manage only a mild animosity. He had even begun to respect him. The young godling had disrupted his plans far more than he'd imagined possible. Yet for all his efforts, the end would still come and the boy would still die. Nothing had changed.
It was regrettable. He would have made a powerful ally. To end a life so filled with promise was always a waste. But without the death of Darshan, the cleansing would fail. Though the boy was human in body, his spirit was that of his chief adversary. The gods must not endure…and the earth
burn. The disease unleashed by arrogance and self-indulgence would be eradicated, and a new world reborn from its ashes.