Chapter One


Sigal

The eight year old half-elven boy went tearing off down the slope back towards town hot on the trail of his six year old sibling. Their father, Cyrus, was the lord of the quaint little town of Sigal; and their mother, Silvaria, wouldn’t be to happy that Corrin had been playing a little rough with his brother, Methos. As he approached the house, he could see the tall elven woman waiting for him, her long flowing silver hair made her hard to miss. The rather stern look on her face wasn’t very encouraging; toying with the idea of dealing with this later ended when she noticed him. Glaring down on him with a look that could scare away a horde of orcs, he approached with caution, “So, what do you have to say for yourself young man?”

“It.. was an... accident?” Corrin stuttered out with a nervous grin, looking anywhere but at her. “Umm....yes?” There was no point in trying to win this argument. She had already made up her mind, and was waiting for him to incriminate himself farther. “You see, we were playing and we... were attacked by a band of rouge bandits!” So be it. He pulled the wooden sword out of his belt where he kept it. “We were up on the overlook, and they had us surrounded five, no six of them! I was holding them at bay when two somehow managed to get past me!” He was dancing all over the yard, swinging the sword, around acting it out as he went. “They went right for Methos, I had to protect him!”

“How noble of you,” Silvaria muttered watching as she fought against the slight expression of amusement that threatened her stern mask.

“Yes! Unfortunately, during the struggle I was disarmed and they began to use my own weapon against us! We had no choice but to run for it, I distracted them while Methos ran for it. Once he was clear I was able to slide down the cliff to safety.”

“Uh-huh...” she wasn’t smiling, “You know, lying to your mother is not a good thing Corrin.”

“Me? Lie? How could you accuse me of such a thing?” Trying one of his best innocent faces.

“Well, first of all, you still have your sword, and you are in much better shape than your brother is. Which is surprising since you slid down a stone cliff side.”

“Well... umm....”

“Well anyway, I guess I should fix the slight discrepancies,” before he could move Silvaria had snatched the play weapon out of Corrin’s hand. “Now for the tumble down the cliff...”

“Wait! Wait! Wait!” He stepped back waving his arms, “alright, I didn’t go down the cliff!”

Silvaria put a look of mock confusion on her face, “but how did you escape from the bandits then?”

“There were no bandits...” he muttered quietly under his breath while looking at the ground.

“No bandits? Is that what you said?” The boy nodded, not looking up. “Then how do you explain what happened to Methos?”

Corrin sighed, there was no getting out of this anymore, “We were playing, I was the courageous prince and he was the evil wizard” He looked up at his mother, “Good always wins out over evil, right?”

“Yes, and it always will.” She was smiling again, “that is why you will do the right thing by apologizing to your brother and then take your punishment without complaint.”

“Punishment?” he began to ask.

“The only solution for lying is to seek the truth, I will see you in the library as soon as you are done with your brother.” A disheartened look fell upon Corrin’s face. It was his worst fear, locked away in a boring room surrounded by boring books for a long boring day. Well at least it is almost over already. He turned to leave but was stopped by one more question from his mother. “Where did you get the idea you could tell me a tale like that and get away with it?”

“I asked Dad about one of his stories once, he said...” the boy paused for a moment to recollect his father’s exact phrasing, “The past is merely a fiction used to explain the differences between your current physical situation and mental state.”

Silvaria’s eyes opened wide at that statement, “Your father says a lot of things, and now I’ll have to say some things to him.” She calmed down, “Now go apologize, I’ll be expecting you in the library in a few minutes.” With that she turned and walked into the house. Corrin followed a moment later. He wasn’t exactly sure what Dad had meant with that statement, but if it would take some blame off of him, so be it. He went looking for Methos. Silvaria found Cyrus behind his desk in his study doing some of his hated paperwork. “Teaching our son to lie now Cyrus?”

He looked up with a start and saw his wife holding Corrin’s sword, “What? I would have done no such thing.”

“Then perhaps I should demonstrate on you what your son did to his brother with this,” as she held out the toy weapon.

He looked throughly confused, “Now you’ve completely lost me. I though this was about lying, not violence.”

“Bandits? How many of them?” “Five or six... Wait! That has nothing to do with anything! When I asked him about it, he said you told him that ‘The past was merely a fiction...’”

“Ah yes, I’ve always liked that quote. It’s true you know, as long as...”

“I don’t care.” She said flatly, “I want you to stop encouraging him with your stories. All he cares about is running about on wild adventures. He can’t see what’s really going on.”

Cyrus stood up and walked over to his wife, “Sounds like he’s got a lot of his old man in him,” he was met with a cold stare, “Alright, I’ll talk with him.”

“He’ll also never learn if we never discipline him.”

“I’ll agree to that, after all ‘Discipline is only bad when it is enforced by someone with a heart of stone.’”

A smile finally broke across Silvaria’s face again, “Where do you keep coming up with these sayings?”

“That is a secret.”

He returned her smile with a mischievous grin, “So, what’s for supper?”

“That is a secret as well,” she poked him in the stomach with the sword, “and you don’t get any if you don’t get your work done, now get cracking.”

“Oof, alright, alright, I give. I’m going.” He sat back down at his desk as she left the room, “what a slave driver.”

“I heard that!” echoed from the hallway. This wasn’t exactly what she had in mind when she decided to marry Cyrus, Silvaria thought as she walked over to the library. Looking after two children was one thing, but three? Oh well, it was still far better than what would have happened had she stayed with her people. She reached to library, Corrin wasn’t there yet, but there was a large bouquet of wild flowers waiting for her. Cyrus definitely did have his charms however. Corrin entered the library a moment later looking rather sullen. “Something wrong dear?” Silvaria asked.

“No,” he sat down at the table in the middle of the room.

“Okay, we’re going to continue where we left of with archaic lore,” she picked a large tome of the shelf and put it down in front of him. “Do you remember what we were doing last time?” The lesson seemed to go on forever for the boy who just wanted to play outside. Useless information, facts and boring stories. Eventually his mother said the words he had been waiting for, “Well, I guess that’s enough for tonight.” He instantly cheered up from his half-asleep state and bolted for the door. It was just about to dark to do anything outside anymore, but if he was lucky... “Hold it!” So close... he turned to face his mother again with a pained look upon his face. “It’s time for supper, get your father and wash up.” Dinner was an interesting experience, the parents kept throwing odd glances back and forth, while the boys sat there both looking rather sullen.

The meal passed uneventfully and in silence until Cyrus decided to break some news to them, “I was just going over some new information that had arrived from the border, it looks like Dunassi is on the move again.”

“Again?” Sylvaria asked, “Now what are they doing?” Dunassi was the neighboring kingdom, and it was common knowledge that King Thadeous, Dunassi’s ruler, was looking to ‘expand his power’, as it was put. They were always fighting someone, now was no exception.

“I don’t know, looks like their battle isn’t going well for them. They’re gathering forces nearby. My guess is a reserve army, just in case. Nothing really to worry about but I’m going to put the city on alert, just to be on the safe side.” Corrin knew what that meant, no more wandering about outside the city walls, great now what was he going to do?

“What... what happens if they come here?” Methos asked quietly.

Sylvaria gave her youngest son a warm smile, “Don’t worry about a thing, your father won’t let that happen.” Corrin noticed a slightly more grim look on his dad’s face. He tried to hide it, but Cyrus wasn’t very good at that sort of thing. Cyrus had always been an up front sort of a person. In his youth he had gone off on his own to seek adventure away from his father and brother. They never did approve of his running about, it was hardly ‘appropriate’ behavior for the second prince to the kingdom. But the outside world called to him, sitting around in a dark castle negotiating with foreign dignitaries was hardly his idea of fun. And now he had to talk to his son about this, also not exactly fun.

After dinner he took Corrin out to the garden behind the mansion, and they watched the stars begin to come out. “So, why are we out here?” Corrin asked curiously.

Cyrus looked at him and sighed, “Your mother thought I should talk to you.” Corrin started to say something, but Cyrus cut him off. “Somewhere she’s gotten the idea that I may have been a bad influence on you. So in order to rectify this, I’m going to tell you a story. The story of how your mother and I met.”

“I love that story!” Corrin had heard it many times before; his father, the brave adventurer out to track down the evil dragon. He struggles through all sorts of hideous monsters and obstacles that stand in his way, until he finally has the epic battle against the dragon itself. He rises triumphant and returns to praises and accolades from the entire kingdom.

Again his father sighs, “No, this time I’m going to tell you what actually happened.”

“What?”

“Just sit back and listen. It all started ten years ago, I had been bumming around the northern province of Sarrin. Most of the people there live just outside of the Karnak desert, and were claiming that there was an evil dragon raiding their dwindling food supplies.”

“So you jumped at the chance to fight this creature, and save the innocent lives!”

“No... and stop interrupting, it’s rude. Apparently the townspeople had figured out that I was the prince and they started demanding that I do something. I didn’t want to fight a dragon, you’d have to be insane to try something like that.”

“But...?”

“Anyway, they really didn’t give me much choice in the matter. I set out the next morning, from what I had heard, the dragon always came from over the desert.”

“You started in the desert? What about the jungle? And the orc infested mountains?”

“They never happened. That’s what I’m trying to show you,” He sighed again, this was hard. “Not everything I say is one hundred percent accurate... I... I...” Corrin just sat and stared at his father, “It’s called embellishment, it makes the story a little more interesting to listen to, that’s all.”

“So... every other time you told the story, it was wrong? What really happened then?” Cyrus smiled a bit, “That’s what I’m trying to tell you now, if you’d let me continue. Where was I?”

“The desert.”

“Right, the desert. Well, I wandered out into the desert. This was my first time out exploring a desert, so I was very unprepared. Deserts are very hot, dry, and have no shade. I finished off my water supply the second day I was out there; and instead of going back like I should have, I continued on. I foolishly thought I’d find some more along the way, regardless of the fact that I hadn’t seen any water up to this point. By day three I was starting to get a little worried, but it was to late to go back, I’d never make it. The only choice I had anymore was to continue on in hopes that I would find something. Eventually though my body gave out, I collapsed in a heap, I was finished.”

“So, there weren’t any monsters in the desert that seriously wounded you? You ran out of water?” Corrin asked, visibly disappointed.

Cyrus sheepishly looked at the ground, “Yeah... Now you can see why I like to embellish the story. Anyway, that’s where your mother found me. She had been out gathering something for her village when she spotted some vultures circling over something out in the desert. Out of curiosity she wandered out and found me. She nursed me back to life, we fell in love and the rest is history.”

“So what was the elven village really like then?”

“I don’t know, she never actually took me back there then.” He thought for a moment, “She just made a small camp on the outskirts of the forest, near the desert. She asked me what I was doing out in the desert like that, so I told her about my quest. I guess it intrigued her, she wanted to come along. Now I wasn’t sure if that was such a good idea, dragons can be fairly dangerous.”

“Fairly?”

“Right... non embellished story... sorry. I didn’t want to put her in such danger, so I insisted that she stay behind. She promptly told me that if there was a dragon in the area, it would be important information for her village to have. Also from the state she found me in, I could use all the help I could get.”

“Sounds like Mom.”

“Yeah, she hasn’t changed much, but I suppose that’s the nature of elves. So we went and ventured about, but never found any dragon. I had to chalk it up to over imaginative townspeople.”

“You never found the dragon?”

“Nope.”

“So, you never fought the dragon either?”

“Would’ve been a little tricky without a dragon.”

Corrin wasn’t quite sure what to say. His father wasn’t the legendary dragon-slayer that he thought the man was. What else might not be true? “So the big wedding you had then at Uncle William’s castle, did that happen?”

“Well, your grandfather, Henry, still ruled the kingdom at the time; but no, it didn’t. Your mother isn’t one for big cities and opulent celebrations and such. We just had a small ceremony out in a forest clearing near the city at her request.”

“Did you get to meet some of her family then?” It had occurred to Corrin that he’d never met any of his relatives from his mother’s side.

Cyrus stared into the stars for a moment, “No... sometimes I wonder about everything she gave up to be with me. It makes me a little sad.”

“Gave up?”

“You may be a little young to understand yet, but sometimes people just don’t like other people without ever meeting them. Your mother’s entire family disapproved of her marrying me, so they disowned her.”

“They disowned her? Why?”

“There was a time, when the humans and elves were at war. Some still hold grudges from then, especially elves who live a long time and tend not to forget things.”

“I remember Mom teaching me a little about that war I think. So they kicked her out of her village because of that? You didn’t have anything to do with it.”

“No...” He sighed, “But that didn’t matter to them, I am a human and that’s enough.” They sat in silence for a few minutes, watching the night sky. Then Cyrus stood up again and dusted himself off, “Well, I was sent to tell you not lie to your mother.” He grinned, “So, could you keep that in mind, or else next time she’ll have my head as well as yours.”

“Sure Dad,” Corrin stood up as well. “Alright then, time for bed. I’ve got some work to do yet tonight.” With that Cyrus sent his son inside, and followed a moment later. In his office he saw the stack of papers that he still needed to review. “That can wait till morning,” he whispered to himself, turning to the closet in the office, he opened it and pulled out an old trunk. Opening it with a nostalgic smile he looked over his old traveling gear, finally he spotted what he was looking for. His lute had been a birthday present from his father on his sixteenth birthday, and he had carried it with him everywhere he had gone afterwards. Now he pulled it out and plucked the strings to see if they were still in tune, satisfied he headed back outside and nimbly climbed to the roof of the house. On the peak he sat and began to play out a ballad, it had been to long and a few of the words had slipped his memory. Then a silvery voice came from behind him to fill in the gaps, he smiled as his wife sat beside him and they made beautiful music together.

At the end of the song she snuggled up to him closer, “Just like old times... the chill and everything.”

He put his arm around her, “Hey, how else was I supposed to get you to fall for me?” He grinned, “Do you know how long I had to sort through dry branches till I found enough wet ones to convince you we couldn’t have a fire?”

“You didn’t have to convince me. You could have come back empty handed in the middle of a forest, I would have been fine with using body heat to stay warm.” She said with a slight giggle.

“Oh sure... Now you tell me.” he said chuckling. They sat on the roof for a good part of the night, holding each other close and reminiscing, hoping that life could continued like this. Unfortunately it would not.