In the kingdoms, there are many lords, kings, and queens. People calling themselves leaders can be found in every city and town, but only a handful of times is there a man or woman worth a bow. Those that would never search for a follower and need no power, but turn around to find nations at their feet.
Thaylir was no more than a beggar as a child, born of lands far away. By 14, fortune would force him into the ranks of an army for a king he would never love that was sent to its slaughter in the Battle of the Barren Lands. At 18 he would be one of only twenty men to return with the heads of the four opposing lords.
A man born with nothing but a name would now be known by an entire world. The king would give him the title of champion and place him in a tower for all to see. He was no longer just a man, he was now an idol and he was used to rally the city’s people when blood was to be spilt.
The mind is a crazy thing. It can blur the lines between gods and men, and it can be persuaded to believe that the lines never existed at all.
Here is the final story of a man, a king, and a god.
Part 1: Men Rise and Kings Fall
Thaylir, a poor man, awoke in a castle surrounded by guards and servants as he did year after year since that battle. To his side was a beautiful wife, and not 1000 paces away were two young boys.
“Sir, you have been summoned by the throne”. He turns to see a young boy standing at the door.
“Of course I have”, Thaylir murmurs under his breath. He puts on his only acceptable clothing for an appearance in the royal room.
Before he leaves, he makes sure to kiss his wife and kids, as he did every morning before he dared to leave the chamber. He was then was escorted to the throne, as he was at each sunrise.
The two make their way downstairs and through a pair of giant gold doors, carved with the Crest of the Living Ship. A bellowing voice shouts in the distance. “Finally Thaylir! I’m glad we could all wait for your grand entrance”. The king was not a patient man, and he was not a happy man when it came to Thaylir.
You see, the king of the Sivantia Isles needed Thaylir’s face to please the people, and he did not like needing others. While he was ready to pamper the champion of his wars, he was not prepared to give him respect.
Thaylir joins two others who are already in the audience of the king. Grint, the captain of his fleet, who was more of a pirate than a leader. The other man was Maru, a Sersan Warrior, and overseer of Death’s Gate; a prison built to torture and mutilate.
The king stared at his champion. “Maru brings word of an army forming in the Barren Lands, where a lord still stands”. The king rises from his throne in anger, “You brought me four heads”, he exclaims.
Thaylir glared up at his king, “Then Maru brings you lies from a poor soul he has been torturing for many days and nights”. He turns to the water walker, “These men have nothing left to lose, they will tell you anything to stop the pain. Their lords are dead, and I brought proof of that years ago”.
Both men move towards one another, tension rising, as Maru’s hand begins to glow. “I tire of you two”, roars the king, slamming his fist into the throne, knocking off one of a thousand golden scales the chair was covered in.
“Thaylir, you will announce to the people that we are readying for battle. Grint and Maru, get your soldiers in line.” The king walked down from his royal pedestal as all bow before him, Thaylir last to fall on one knee.
The king makes his way down the long echoing hall, ripping a banner from its post as he passes. It floats towards the ground, the face of a wolf emerges as it folds over on itself. The crest of Thaylir the Silver Fang lay on the ground.
The royal doors close behind the king, and the room once again rises. Maru is first to leave and makes a point to step on the ripped banner. Grint looks at Thaylir and without saying a word, walks out of the room behind, picking up the wolf and placing it on a table.
Before Thaylir can have a second thought about what happened, the room begins to shake, and screams begin to come from multiple directions.
The champion immediately rushes towards the chambers he had kissed his family goodbye in just moments earlier. Dodging stones falling from the sky above, he makes it back to his bed to find none of his family there. While shouting for them, he pushed open another set of doors to the side that lead to a balcony, usually used to praise the people below, now to view them falling victim to flames.
Below him Maru emerges from the castle, launching himself at shadowed figures all wearing masks of some kind. Thaylir could not make out the details from his perch.
Maru’s hands glow once again as water begins to flow from his fingers and take the form of a blade in one hand and a chain in the other.
He pulls his arm back and whips it forward with lightning speed, sending the liquid chain towards one of the figures. It wraps around the masked man’s neck and flings him toward Maru, the blade awaiting his arrival, and embedding itself in his stomach.
The man falls to the ground and the mystic weapons seem to vanish.
Maru then lets out a giant roar, as the Sersan takes on a different form. Now twice the previous size with a murky liquid armor covering his body. Two masked soldiers try to run, but with a quick backhand one man is sent flying through the side of a building and the other is tripping over his own feet. He has just enough time to look up as a sword plunges through the mask.
Grint, standing there, pulls his blade from the body and points it at another group of masked figures as his crewman swarm in behind him.
“Not one survivor”, he screams as he tosses his sword towards them, skewering the leg of an enemy soldier.
The battle only rages on for a few more moments. It seemed as though they came with little numbers for a siege of this size.
Maru drops the last soldier, and begins to run into buildings, water flowing out of the windows and doorways of each, putting out fires one by one.
Grint looks at the dead, “This was no army that attacked us, it is maybe 30 men”. He picks up one of the masks, searching for a marking he might recognize. Unable to find one, he throws it back down.
It ricochets off the face of the soldier he took it from, leaving a gash. But instead of blood, sand flows from the cheek. He picks up another of the dead and checks his wounds. Once again, not blood but sand blows in the wind from the holes in its chest.
He begins looking around for the royal guards and Thaylir, but none are in sight. He quickly turns to the castle and makes a mad dash for the front doors. His men take notice and run after him.
The doors are wide open as he reaches the entrance, guards laying on the ground and a trail of sand leads inward toward the throne room.
Grint sprints down the hall knowing now that it was all a distraction. He makes it halfway to the royal stairs of the throne to see Thaylir sitting there, frozen in place like he didn't even notice Grint enter the room.
“What happened here? Where is the king? Where were you?”, Grint began yelling anything and everything that goes through his mind. Thaylir still sits, only his eyes moving towards the captain.
“I was here. The battle was here. My family was here. And your king was here. How are you going to ask me where I was? Where were you when the walls came crashing down?” Thaylir’s voice rising with each statement.
“Where were you? Fighting ten men outside while my wife and child died to a hundred in here!” The champion pulls his curved, fang style blade from the arm of the throne.
Grint looks around again to see piles of armor scattered among the sand, more of the masked men had fallen in this room, than the city outside.
Thaylir runs at Grint sword in hand, but before he could get within range, Maru jumps from behind Grint, pinning the mad champion to the ground. Maru places his hand over Thaylir’s face as a bubble of water consumes his head.
With the life leaving Thaylir’s lungs, he grabs his sword and stabs it through the side of the water beast. Maru’s body was now a wave of water rushing over the gasping man. The water rushed toward the throne and reverts to a man on his knees at the steps of his king.
“Where is he”, Maru utters, in barely more than a whisper.
Thaylir stands up and throws a dagger past Maru that lodges in the stairs beside him. “I wouldn't look up if I were you” Thaylir says, as he slowly walks back to his chamber.
Before Maru can change his gaze, a drop of blood falls between him and the throne. He can't force himself to look up as another drop splashes into the stairs below.
Grint looks to the sky, and collapses to the floor. He sees his king pinned to the ceiling with daggers, like the one Thaylir had thrown past his own face moments before. An hourglass cut into the chest of their leader.
The king is lowered from the ceiling, and preparation for his ceremony begins while the people of the city salvage what they can from the scorched earth. During this, Thaylir never moves from his chamber.
After 7 days of mourning and smoke still rising from the ashes, the kingdom gathers for the ceremony to add the kings essence to that of the Sivin crystal, like his ancestors before him.
His body was laid on a massive pyre, built nearly as high as the castle itself. Maru begins the prayer for the lost king, and the ascension to the realm of the eleven, and the gate of the Tri-gods ensues.
While Maru nears the end of the ceremonial speech, the blue Sivin crystal is wheeled out from a fortress below the castle in a carriage covered in gold and jewels. The crystal was only moved for kings and gods.
The crystal begins glowing brighter and brighter, as it moves toward the body of royal blood. Two guards hand it up to Grint at the base of the wooden monument. As he moves up the encircling ramp, the crystal begins to pulse and vibrate within the captain’s hands.
Finally reaching the top of the tower, he looks down at his king one last time, placing the large gem on his chest, above the ghastly scars he had witnessed days before.
Maru speaks the last words of the prayer, and the crystal glows brighter than ever before, blinding all in attendance.
"Now he will begin his journey", Maru shouts, lowering his head.
At that moment, the crystal dissolves into a pile of sand.