Here we go. This is the the prologue to my novel, The Lost Prince, Tolkien inspired coming of age story . It sets up the story, while going for your jugular. Please leave me feedback. I plan to post more chapters in the future, along with revisions allowing you take a journey into my creative process. Now, let the adventure begin….
Valora, the Silver City, was burning. It was no dream, it was no fantasy, it was a nightmare come to life. Orange-red flames spewed from the towers like a snake’s tongue licking its own mouth after a fresh kill. The building that suffered the most was the Royal Palace, the center of the City. King Michael, the ruler of Kalidor, had valiantly been holding back the armies of Talia, the black witch of Malice, until she was able to summon Slag, the black dragon of Angmar.
The outside villages were overcome easily now the capital city was about to fall. If Valora fell so too would the rest of the kingdom-just what Talia wanted.
Geldolf, the White Wizard, ran frantically through the halls of the Royal Palace searching the Royal Family in the chaos caused by the witch’s army on the inside, and the dragon’s attack from the outside. Geldolf’s worst nightmare had come to life. Kalidor the great kingdom was falling just as prophesized almost a decade ago. From the other direction came Aldaron, the elf lord, his long flowing brown hair ruffled from having to cut his way through goblins, orcs, and brutes of various sizes, penetrating the castle walls, wielding barbaric weapons in their cruel meaty hands.
“The castle’s been breached. The goblins have penetrated the walls. Everything in their path is being razed and they are making their way to the upper levels. We don’t have much time,” Aldaron frantically told him.
“What of the king?” Geldolf paced pensively.
“He’s mustering the remaining members of his army in the throne room for a last stand. He sent me to help you gather his family and evacuate them to safety,” he told his old friend while looking into Geldolf’s ancient gray eyes where he saw something he rarely saw in them; fear and uncertainty. “Have you found the queen? ” He asked.
“One of the soldiers told me she’s in the nursery with the children,” Geldolf told him “I’m on my way to get her now.”
All of a sudden the ceiling of the palace came crashing down from the fiery breath of the monstrous black dragon, whose silhouette eclipsed the moon. The dragon snapped its body back and shot itself forward like a cannon ball and unleashed its volcanic breath on the castle and its defenses. Chunks of debris fell, separating the wizard and the elf-lord. The two recovered and regained their composure, breathing in the dust and ash from the destruction.
Suddenly a sharp cry like a tortured dove echoed in the halls. Princess Ariana, who was the tender age of six, running out of the nursery, her golden locks covered in soot, and flowing behind her. In her arms she carried a baby wrapped in a light blue bundle, her younger brother Michael, barely three months old. Behind her a goblin swung its axe uncontrollably at the girl until he was slain by an arrow of Aldaron. Geldolf and Aldaron hugged and tried to comfort the trembling and terrified young Princess.
“Princess Ariana, are you hurt? Is your brother hurt? Where’s your mother?” Geldolf asked the young frightened Princess struggling to accept the situation around her.
“He came in through the window. He was swung his axe at me…he…he…he hurt Mommy.” She trembled, clutching her sleeping baby brother close to her. Aldaron picked up the poor Princess and sleeping Prince then followed Geldolf down the stairs of the castle, dodging flames and debris from the dragon’s attack. They finally reached the main hall of the castle where the King and his troops were attempting to barricade the room, hoping to mount an affective counter attack.
“My lord!” Sir Garrett, the King’s man-at-arms and best friend addressed “we don’t have the manpower to mount an effective counter attack the city is over run and the orcs are cutting their way through the castle. They will be here shortly. If it wasn’t for that damn dragon…”
“I know!” King Michael barked back in frustration, chaos surrounding him at every turn. He was thinking of the safety of his family above all but he also was concerned for the safety of the soldiers fighting to protect him and his kingdom.
“Where is Duros? We lit the beacons and King Bernard swore an oath to you…” Garrett continued.
“What would you have me do?” the King answered trying to make a fast decision “My soldiers are falling around me. Their courage is hanging by a thread. And my family…” He breathed in and saw out of the corner of his eye Geldolf and Aldaron with Ariana and baby Michael in tow. The King breathed a sigh of relief. Now he could the focus on commanding and motivating his troops.
“Form ranks, form ranks! You are warriors of Kalidor, sworn to defend our land from any foe no matter how large, and that you shall!” The King barked to his soldiers, trying to muster whatever courage remained.
He turned his attention to his friends who had just arrived safely with his daughter who ran into his arms. He kissed his daughter and looked into her eyes, “My daughter, you’re safe, thank the almighty. Are you hurt at all?” the King asked softly. She shook her head indicating she was, but her eyes said other wise. “Is my son alright?” he asked Aldaron, who was holding the boy just roused from sleep and crying.
“He is unharmed, just rattled” the elf-lord told his friend. The King kissed his son on the head, and the Prince stopped crying. He handed the baby back to his daughter. He asked them where his Queen was but the solemn shaking of the wizard’s head told him his Queen, his love, was dead.
“My lord, you are outnumbered and your barricade will not hold. I fear that Kalidor has fallen to Talia. We have to get you out of here immediately.” The Wizard advised. The King closed his eyes and looked away. He knew it was the end of his kingdom, perhaps his people, certainly his own life. But he refused to accept it would be the end of his family.
“No.” he told the wizard and the elf “It is not the end. It’s the end of my life but not of my family. Not the line of the Stormriders. You told me once of a way to save my children. The prophecy Tiresias had foretold …” he turned his attention to his baby boy, “…that my son and daughter would avenge me.”
“The darkening and re-lighting of the Silver City” Geldolf muttered under his breath.
“Take my children, both of you.” The King commanded. “Raise them separately where the witch cannot find them until the day they are ready to reclaim their legacy.” Geldolf nodded and knelt to the Princess. She was crying and shaking, clenching her baby brother closer then she ever did before. King Michael too knelt before his daughter, wiping the tears from her cheek.
“Ariana, my daughter, please” he spoke solemnly “I need you to give your brother to Geldolf. It’s for your protection and his.”
“No!” she sobbed “Please Daddy I can protect Michael. Please don’t take him away”
“I know you can” The King consoled her “but it is necessary for you two to be separated for the time being. You will be together very soon.”
“What about you Daddy? When will I see you?”
“You’ll see me again. I promise.” And the King kissed his only daughter on her nose. She smiled and reluctantly decided to hand the baby over to Geldolf but not until she kissed him gently on the forehead. Michael’s baby eyes opened and met the gaze of his sister. For a moment it seemed as though sister and brother were the only people who existed. But it was only a moment. The BOOM of a battering ram rattled the throne room. The Princess staggered but her father caught her. She handed baby Michael to the wizard who then waved his hand and put the Princess to sleep. Aldaron cradled the Princess in his arms.
“I will take her to my realm and raise her as my own. She will be loved and cared for.” He told the King. He nodded and kissed his daughter goodbye for the last time. Next he handed Geldolf a sword. The sword’s handle was silver and crafted into the shape of a phoenix.
“Give this to him when he comes of age. It will be the means for my subjects to recognize him.”
The wizard nodded as he and Aldaron mounted separate horses as King Michael turned his attention toward his soldiers suffering fatigue from valiantly holding back the forces of Talia.
“My brothers!” the King addressed his troops, looking mighty and stoic in the splendor of his ancestors. “I know the fear that grips you! I know that many of you feel the battle we face is already lost! That as a people we should lay down our arms and surrender. You are hoping the witch will spare us the pain of a slow agonizing death for a life of slavery. I’m not! Yes, like you I am afraid of what lies in the world beyond, but I will not find out by dying a cowards death! I will knot kneel before the enemy! I will not end my life in bondage! I shall meet my end with dignity!”
“I shall meet my end in glorious battle and make such an end as to live on in the annals of history! Will you join me? Will you die with me on your feet and not your knees?”
“Aye!” the soldiers shouted in unison.
A loud BOOM sounded, they didn’t have much time. The witch’s army would be upon them as soon as the battering ram had broken down the door. Another BOOM sounded raining splinters from the oak door.
“Battle formations now!” Michael ordered. Geldolf and Aldaron mounted their horses on the opposite sides of each other hiding the King’s children under bundles of clothes.
BOOM! Went the thunderous drum beat of the battering ram, splintering the barricade further.
“Remember.” Michael encouraged. “You are soldiers of Kalidor, protectors of the Silver City Valora, and you fear no enemy!
“Ride for honor
Ride for love
Ride for family
And the stars above
Ride for legacy
Ride for country
Ride for VICTORY!”
The soldiers shouted in unison, letting their enemy know they were ready. It wasn’t a moment too soon. The barricade was shattered and an army of orcs and goblins swarmed the royal hall like a nest of bees. The Kalidorian soldiers fought like the great heroes of the ancient tales carving their way through the first two waves of the armies attack. But, they could only hold on for so long until Talia unleashed her brutes and Minotaurs, too much for Michael’s valiant forces. In the chaos of the battle Geldolf and Aldaron rode out of the throne room and out the second level of the eighth level of the Castle. There was nothing either of them could do for the King; his fate was out of their hands. The two stared into each other’s eyes then split in different directions. Aldaron took the right and vanished into the smoky abyss while Geldolf rode to the left. The dragon caught sight of Geldolf and unleashed his fiery breath upon the white wizard. But the wizard was quick witted enough to surround himself with a shield of protection of which flame could never pass. The dragon lost interest and continued and ascended toward the sizzling sky. Geldolf rode faster and faster using the light from his staff to force his enemies out of his path like a battering ram while carrying a sleeping child in his other arm. Finally, the wizard passed the love bridge over the river Althea that according to legend was built by the love of a Kalidorian princess and a farm boy from the hills across from Valora.
If the lovers who built this bridge were watching tonight they would be heartbroken. The Wizard thought to himself as he rode into the fields and meadows outside the city. He paused for a moment once he reached the hills, gazing down at the sleeping child nestled in his arm then toward the Silver City one last time, it was burning.
(And no I did not paint the image above, John Howe did and it is fabulous)
Copyright ã 2008 Todd Matthy