Chapter 1

Chapter 1

A Chapter by khina



Nadia did it because she had to.  It was a moral obligation, though she didn’t recognize it as such.  In fact, she herself didn’t consciously know what morals were at all.  For too long she had lived in a family where actions were governed by power and money, not by some abstract moral law.  She didn’t know what it was but she could certainly feel it.  Natural law might be misinterpreted or unexplained but it can never be ignored.  To her it was simply a relentless urging; an intangible nudge.  She had witnessed what James had done and though she could not explain why, she knew it as good.

                That is precisely why, as she had heard their pursuers drawing near, she had closed the door between herself and James.  He was now in the siege caves, a series of underground tunnels beneath the castle with exits to various locations inside and outside the Golgorian nation.  The tunnels were cut out in a maze-like fashion, designed specifically to allow the king to escape through and to confuse anyone who might try to pursue him.  She could only hope that he would find his way out safely. 

                His safety wasn’t her only concern.  She was in immediate danger as well.  First of all the castle was under attack.  The details she hadn’t yet worked out but she assumed it was a civil battle, a rebellion from within.  James had made an orange mark on her left temple.  “This will keep you safe,” he had said, but that was all.  Secondly, Just as she closed the door to the siege caves, the footsteps that she had been hearing became men in the doorway behind her.

                “Nadia!” a man’s voice boomed. 

                She turned to her right, keeping her head cocked sideways so as to hide the orange dot.  Revealing that to the wrong person might be deadly. 

                Three men stood on the other side of the small room, the light of the torches flickering off their leather chestplates that were dotted with flecks of animal bone.  They were from the Castle Guard, the golden cudgels hanging from their waists marked them as such.  She recognized them all - Angbar, Habrrah and Katan.  They were her least favorite of the castle guards and an arrogant posse of three whose motive was not of protection for her father but of self-advancement in the kingdom’s military ranks.  For Katan she had a special loathing for a more personal reason.  He was a disgusting man, no not a man, a coward.  She would never forget that night.

                She forced herself to push the thoughts out of her mind.  Right now she had more urgent matters to tend to.

                Aghballah zynnti,” Katan barked, his voice pressing.  It was Wartongue, a language developed to convey a longer message in as few words as possible.  Nadia wasn’t fluent in Wartongue but this phrase was one that all in the castle new.  It meant that the castle was under attack by its own people, the king and his family were at risk and they were to be escorted to the siege caves immediately.

                No!  They were heading to the siege caves.  They would find James.  She had to delay them somehow, but how?  She stood frozen.

                Katan urged on.  “Did you hear what I said?  We are under attack!  You must flee to the siege caves now!” 

                Nadia nodded, but she still didn’t move.  She couldn’t let them open the door behind her.  She had to do something quick. Running would be no use, the three men stood between her and the only other exit.  They were giant men, trained in some of the highest levels of combat.  Trying to fight them would be like a rat trying to fight a group of Scheethgar. 

                Katan’s face changed from a look of urgency to that of annoyance.  He stepped toward her, his barrel chest in front of him like a battering ram.  If she wouldn’t open the door, he would do it himself.  There would be no stopping him.  His minions followed close behind.

                She had to do something.  She couldn’t fail James like this.  Suddenly she felt a determination like she had never felt before, one that would push her to any length to keep James safe.  This time the fight was about more than money or power.  She knew what she had to do.

                Just as the men were halfway across the room Nadia twisted her head quickly to the right revealing the orange dot on her left temple.  She hoped that the torchlight was enough for them to notice. 

                Katan’s reaction said that it was.  His face twisted to disbelief, his feet stopped dead on the dirt floor.  For the first time since she had known him, Katan had nothing to say.  Angbar stepped forward from behind Katan, his intent to kill Nadia evident in his tight grip on his cudgel that hung at his waist. 

                Katan put up his hand.  “Wait,” he commanded Angbar. His eyes never left the mark on Nadia’s temple. 

                “But she bears the mark, Katan, she is a rebel.  She must be killed,” Angbar contested. 

                “Yes,” Katan replied, his eyes alight with an eagerness that terrified Nadia.  “But this one shall be mine.”

                Katan unhooked the Zytheblade that hung on his belt.  That particular blade had been designed by a Golgorian metal-smith, it was similar to a sword but hooked at the tip like a scythe  Though its original purpose was to more easily fend off a spear in close range combat, over the years it had found a new purpose - one of the most painful methods of death in the military’s arsenal. 

                Katan moved toward Nadia slowly, his Zytheblade pointed directly at her forehead.  

                “Do you understand,” he asked as he walked, “how long I have waited for this moment?”

                Nadia felt her pulse quicken.  She stared at the point of the Zytheblade as it moved closer and closer.

                Katan continued to talk.  “It was so bold of you to refuse me like you did.  Did you really believe that your choice would have no consequences?”

                The Zytheblade moved closer still.  Nadia knew that this was it, she had no escape.  She braced for the worst.

                “It is a shame, really, that the consequence had to be this extreme.  But alas, I have no choice but to fulfill my duty to your father, King of Golgoroth.”  Katan drew back his sword, ready to strike.

                Nadia closed her eyes.

                A thundering boom exploded through the room..  Then the ceiling above Nadia collapsed, raining down a shower of thousand year old stone and mortar, crushing her beneath the heavy stones.  The three castle guards remained quiet.  Katan stood frozen; Zytheblade still held high, aimed where Nadia had once stood.  But when the dust settled she was gone, covered by the stone that had fallen from the ceiling, certainly dead. 

                After a moment Katan lowered his blade and smirked.  “Men will falter and men will fail, but fate shall always prevail,”  he mumbled to himself, quoting an ancient Golgorian poet.  Then he turned and walked away. 

                “Come, we must find the king,” he commanded as he left the room.

© 2013 khina

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Added on April 13, 2013
Last Updated on April 13, 2013
Tags: fiction, fantasy, The Londorian Tales, Charles