Written by: James C. Kimball and Mike Smith
In time the iron chain rusts and becomes brittle. Where the rust is most predominant is where all the stresses of the world will seek to break it. It will be re-linked with a tattered linen rope. A tattered rope yet clean and pure, so bright that it illuminates the darkness, so strong and resolute that its bond is unbreakable.– The Book of The Arrani, passage 4:07
As you lay in your straw bed you hear the sound of rainfall assaulting the roof above you. You are sore from chopping wood all day and wish only to fall asleep quick. Instead the pattering of rain lands so hard you wonder if your thatched roof will hold or come collapsing down upon you. Your wife lay sleeping beside you snoring, and your son on the floor curled up in a ball on a bed of hay. You wonder how they can sleep through this storm and are suddenly overcome with frustration. You creep out of bed, and stumble into the next room to sit at the kitchen table. You face the front door and find your stare fixated on it for some reason. A steam gently wisps from under it. You think you hear a knocking, a gentle wrapping at the door. You realize that you don’t, that it is all in your head. Then you hear a voice from deep within. “Open the door” You contemplate the situation momentarily, before standing from your chair. As you question reality, you begin to realize that you are not the man who has just stood up. This person is not you, his actions nor words, nor thoughts. None of these things are your own; yet you are somehow experiencing this first hand…
As you walk towards the door, the air seems far warmer than it should be, as if a blazing fire awaited the other side. The handle is hot, but with a grim determination you grasp onto it and pull. On the other side is a figure, tall and cloaked in black wools; a cowl pulled over his head. The rain seems to evaporate itself and turn to steam before even hitting the cloak. You step back, as the figure steps forward, till you are both inside. In the candlelight you can make out the shadows beneath the cowl. It is the Prince of Hell.
You clear your throat and speak, and as you do you hear your own voice though the words are not of your crafting or thoughts… “What brings you here demon? Isn’t my brother’s life enough royal blood for you to feast on?”
The demon lowers his cowl to reveal his pale white skin and long red hair. His voice is a dark whisper, as if he somehow has taken care to not wake your child and wife. “I have come on the matter of a promise.”
“My time has passed Demon, I have put my ambition behind me when I buried my brother. I have a wife… a son.”
“Not that promise, for that, your own failures voided that promise. I talk about your promise to avenge your brother’s death.”
“Have you come to lay your head on a block for me demon?”
The demon snickers as if he is amused by the jab. “No, I offer you Jonathon Travance.”
A combination of rage and confusion stirs when you hear the name. “I had heard he was dead.”
“Are you still strong enough to do the job?”
“If you want him dead, do it yourself.”
“You made a promise.”
“I was enraged, my brother was dead.”
“I remember it well” sais Xualla before repeating back to you in a normal mans voice… “I promise you Xualla, by the blood of kings, I will avenge the death of my brother.’”
You are annoyed because the voice you hear is yours, or is it, … you deflect your annoyance with a statement, “I have a son now, he needs his father.”
“You had a twin, your other half, his life stolen for a tract of land he could have claimed for himself without the king’s consent. He killed your brother, robbed your son’s future, your grandchildren would have been kings.”
Deep within you feelings long hidden within your soul begin to break free and surface and tear your reality apart. Your head reels with pain and confusion. This strange vision or possession or whatever it may be fades to black and silence.
* * * * *
An unknown time passes with this nothingness, until you feel movement in your arms. Light begins to give way to sight, and you are loading supplies on your horse.
As you look down you see your son. He is handing you yet another satchel to latch onto your horse. It is obvious to you that he is trying hard not to cry in front of you. “When will you be home?” he asks.
You ignore him because you don’t know what to say and so you just continue packing.
Persistently the boy clears his throat and he asks again, “How long will you be gone, Father?”
You stop and turn to the young boy, and kneel before him. “There are some things that must be done, some duties that must be attended. Be strong my son, remember in your veins flows the blood of kings. Our family is all that matters, you must grow strong, have a son, and always make certain our family does not forget who we are. We are the Mardux, and our line is the line of the old kings…”