Everyone assumed Prince Calis died with his father when Argonis the Pyromancer, who had hidden his essence in a torch brought into the room, set the room ablaze destroying everything except the fabled Obsidian Throne. They never found his body, but many had leapt to their deaths as the fortress sailed over the hillside. Kragis, the Royal Mage, died fighting someone far more powerful than him. With Kragis gone, no one could stand before Argonis.
Long considered a bastion of safety for the people below, the flying fortress became became a place of evil. People ran from the shadow passing over them.
The throne survived because mere fire couldn't damage the volcanic rock. Argonis took the seat within the day, and the land of Trydin bowed down before him. Those whom he suspected of any ill thought died in a fiery blaze.
Argonis grew more suspicious each day, seeing dislike in every face. The sudden deaths grew more blatant: a clerk here, a family of servants there . . . an entire village where he'd never set foot.
Argonis didn't sit comfortably on the hard, stone throne.
Draken knew he would die in a fiery blaze as well. He did his work with the Royal Guard and hated protecting the monster on the throne, though that sometimes kept others safe from the pyromancer's wrath.
The Keep had settled for a few weeks at the capital, stocking up on supplies, which meant Argonis ordered everything taken without pay. No one dared complain.
"We can't live this way.".
Draken glanced to his right, startled to hear the words in a place where people hardly dared whisper at all. He saw no one. His mind playing tricks on him? Had he thought the words, rather than heard them?
"Will you help to free us of the monster?"
The words were far too clear this time, and not his voice. He stopped, there in the shadow between two booths. "Show yourself."
The old man did -- a lowering of a glamor for a moment so that their eyes met, then he pulled it back up. Dangerous if Argonis sensed the magic. "I must be careful. Argonis wouldn't be happy to know I'm here."
"He's outlawed all magic."
"Oh yes, of course he has. He knows his weakness. Come with me."
"I can't see you."
"I'll take your arm."
He could have refused. Instead, he let an ephemeral hand guide him to treason -- or so he thought until he found himself in a small hovel, the faint light from the window showing both the old mage and another man who stood by a table.
"Calis?" Draken said softly. He knew the shape of that face, and even though this apparition leaned heavily on a crutch, he still looked like the prince. "It can't be --"
"Draken," he said and offered the hand free from the crutch.
He shook his head. "It can't be. I won't be part of something that is no better --"
Calis waved his hand, silencing him as he had so often . . . before. "Kragis shoved me to the window and dropped me out, wrapped in magic. It lasted as long as he lived, which was not, quite, long enough. I survived the fall, though. Locan found me."
Draken shook his head, certain this had to be the work of Argonis, preparing to kill him for treason --
No. If Argonis wanted him dead, he'd just kill him. That's what he did. Argonis didn't trust the Royal Guard, but he couldn't do without them to keep at least some semblance of calm in the fortress.
Argonis was starting to bring in his own people, though. None of the guard would be safe for long. Draken had to take a chance.
"What can I do?"
"Good man," the mage said and slapped him on the shoulder. "We have to be fast. We dare not let you fall under any more suspicion."
They would only have once chance to pull this off. Before long, Argonis would have his own people in place and Draken knew what his fate would be. He'd been trying to find a way to escape, but Argonis found everyone who tried to get away. So he had to be daring instead.
He dragged Prince Calis through the fortress and into the throne room; it was no show. Calis couldn't walk and he'd put up a fight. He threw the prince at Argonis's feet and the pyromancer leaned forward from the throne, staring at the ragged heap at his feet.
"What is this?"
"This is Prince Calis," Draken replied and kicked at the fallen man.
"Impossible! I killed them all!"
"I worked with the prince," Draken replied. "He thought he could trust me."
"And he couldn't?" The pale grey eyes looked into his face. "So I should?"
"Depends on how well you intend to pay me."
Argonis stared and his hand twitched.
Calis threw the rock he'd been holding clinched in his hand and it shattered at the same time Argonis began to cast a wave of fire. Draken threw himself over the Prince and hoped --
The fire brushed over the top of them and burnt like hell, but it didn't kill them. After a moment's shock, Draken leapt to his feet and found Locan, who had been linked to the rock, standing beside Argonis, holding tight to the pyromancer's neck where lightning played across the skin. Argonis's eyes grew large with anger -- and power grew in his hands. He was going to win --
Draken drew his sword and stabbed him through the heart. The sword melted in his hand, but it was too late for Argonis. He died in his own fire.
Calis had the throne destroyed, refusing to sit on something touched by such evil. They tossed the pieces, and the ashes of Argonis, to the wind. Draken, Locan and Calis brought the land back to order, and forever after the people saw fire as the sign of evil; mistrusted and trapped in hearths.
Find more of the Forward Motion Flash Friday Group here:
And don't miss out on
for more fantastic quick reads!
for more fantastic quick reads!