Once upon a time in The Realm of the Eternal Sun lived a loving and benevolent King in a castle which he filled with his beloved children. The King loved and doted on His precious offspring and delighted in watching them grow and mature into adults who served The Realm. One year, in the Cooling Time, a daughter was born to His Highness, and as with every arrival of one of his children, the King held a huge celebration through the entire Realm to welcome the little apple-cheeked Princess, whom he named Valor. As was the custom, the Sentinels danced for thirty days and nights to honor the new arrival, and all the citizens of The Realm sang songs of joy to herald her safe arrival.
Every child of the King grew up to become important citizens of the Kingdom. Their work advanced the borders of the Realm and gave the King great pleasure and pride in his family. Whenever a babe was born, the Heralds could foretell the strongest characteristics of each one, and the King bestowed a Quest of Honor upon every child, according to their strengths. Each heir was set on a Life Path and was equipped accordingly. Valor was no different. At the end of the month-long festivities, a ceremony was conducted and the King imparted her Quest of Honor upon the little Princess. The babe was not yet aware of the calling bequeathed to her, but as she began to grow and walk her path, Destiny would reveal to her all she needed to know.
Alas, not everyone in The Realm rejoiced to hear of the birth of Valor. Traitors lived amongst the Royal Family…spies willing to give their life to bring an end to the Reign of His Majesty and his lineage. They served Apocalypto, the dark lord, who ruled the execrable underworld, Infernius, with seething hatred for the royal family. Apocalypto’s every thought pertained to the destruction of Eternal Sun and he was consumed with a single-minded passion to bring it about. Now, Apocalypto engaged Seers who were able to discern which of the progeny received quests that would bring damage and destruction to the dark realm. During the celebration for Valor, these Seers received strong portents of the annihilation that was to come to Infernius by the hands of Valor and many other royal subjects. Fearing his demise, the Evil One put a bounty on the heads of these particular inhabitants of The Realm that promised to bring him harm. And so it was that the spies inside the Royal Kingdom spread word of the great reward awaiting anyone who could slaughter the targets.
It was while the King and His youngest children were on Respite on the Healing Mount called Teally’s Dream that he received word that certain of his children were marked for death. Fearing for the lives of His precious ones, His Highness called the Council to order. Acumen, his most trusted adviser, stepped up close to the King and spoke in a grieved tone of voice, “Your Highness, the Council fears for the safety of your children. After hearing the plan of the Evil One, we understand he will stop at nothing to bring about the death of The Ones who threaten his reign.”
“Then we shall increase our Sentinels! Designate Guardians for each child, redouble our efforts to protect them!” His mighty fist pummeled the throne. “No one will hurt a hair on the heads of any of my offspring or they shall pay the ultimate price!” His voice boomed with fury.
“My Liege, if I may speak freely?” The King nodded. “Placing Guardians on individuals will only draw attention to them. They would be marked and it wouldn’t be long before Apocalypto and his fiends began their attack. The Council has a plan, Your Highness, and we find it to be the soundest and safest way, although it may well be the most difficult.”
“Whatever will keep my family safe, Acumen. I’ll do whatever I must.”
“We believe the children will be safest away from the Kingdom…”
“No!” The King shouted, rising from his seat. “Separation cannot be the way!”
“For their safety, My Lord! Think of their safety! Sending them out of The Realm in disguise, where they will be familiar to no one, not even the dark forces, is the only way to keep them alive! You have loyal subjects in other lands who could take in these children and keep watch. For their safety, Sir, please!”
The King bowed His head in what appeared to be defeat. Slowly he nodded his affirmation. “We will do what is best.” When he raised his head to look into the face of his adviser there were tears flowing from his gentle and loving eyes. “No matter the cost.”
Unbeknownst to the Royal Guard, a traitor hid among the shadows, biding his time until he could safely return to his Master. He snickered with beastly delight in the knowledge he had garnered this night. Surely it would bring him favor with the Evil One, for Apocalypto could not be outwitted with one so wily as he keeping watch.
Following the stroke of midnight the Diviner was called and one by one the children were magically disguised for their security. Gathering his descendants at Bascille’s Fountain, His Highness called upon the Cleric to bless the Life Path of each beloved child. Then with one last kiss the King tucked a gift into the cloak of every little cherub and watched his beloved hearts handed up to the Sentinels who were awaiting their charges on horseback. The noble steeds snorted in the cold night air and their anxious feet stomped the ground. In one motion, the animals turned swiftly and galloped into the night as His Royal Highness crumpled to the ground in anguish.
And so began the life of Valor…
Art work by Tim Baker Art http://www.timbakerart.com/