Chapter III: Dal’coler – Part II

“Perhaps it’s time to release kritars on the Shadowlands” the voice sounded in the throne room.

The royal brothers’ gazes landed on the youthful features of king Marn’sul Dal. They were almost sure that someone will suggest that, but not that this someone will be their father. Marn’sul, usually collected and almost ethereal, now emanated with foreboding aura. This, alongside with the vision of kritars stomping over the bluegrass of the Shadowlands and eliminating not only the enemy, but also the shadow fairies, was painting the future in much more ominous colors.

The meeting table, which was standing on the elevation that was swallowing sounds and was not allowing any curious ears to hear the important information the royal family shared, was embraced by the light, reaching far to the high, crystalline ceiling above it. Each prince had a throne-like chair which surrounded the high seat of their father. No one ever tried to listen or spy in this chamber. No one ever wanted to check, what traps this room had and what spells – aside the sound one – protected it.

One seat was empty. As always.

“They will kill the fey too” Risel, the second son, looked like the mere idea of kritars being sent once again, was making him sick. He always was the most delicate among the Marn’sul sons.

“But the darkness will be pushed back, and will think twice before attacking again” first son, Lerrel, was more bloodthirsty. “Shadow fairies will die either way. We are not here to bargain with the enemy.”

“You are a fool, Lerrel. If we allow our vassals to die, we won’t be better than the force we fight with” Arlis, the third son, was against father’s idea as well.

They all knew from the spies who worked under Nymre, that godsoul particles startes attacking the lands which bordered with Kilyan’s realms. They roamed the woods, taking strength from lesser beings, swallowing them all and making them part of themselves. The more souls their ate, the more powerful they were becoming – condamned by own god, suffering thousands of years of neverending pain. Yet the Kilyans didn’t have even a droplet of pity for them.

“I think not only Lerrel is a fool here” another voice reached the gathering and all eyes turned to Lorian, who so far was sitting silently, not adding anything to the discussion.”

Marn’sul Dal’s gaze landed on his fifth child and then a smile crept over his graceful face.

“So you call me a fool, son.”

“Not without reason, father” Lorian’s black eyes danced from the largest seat towering above the table, to his brothers’ ones. “I doubt a kritar could do more than me.”

Now, that amused Risel, who almost burst with laughter. His deep blue irises beamed with joy.

“So you think that hundreds of darkbound beasts can do much less than a one darkness weaver? Even if you shapeshift, Lorian, you can’t fight something that came straight from under god’s heart.”

“That’s why I say they can’t do more than me” was Lorian’s calm response. “They are parts of a god. Kritars will do as much as I, but will additionally destroy the Shadowlands.”

Marn’sul nodded at this with well-seen praise.

“We don’t want to cause more fear and death than it’s needed,” he agreed. “Good that at least one of my sons uses his crowned head.”

Lerrel threw a hateful stare at the throne on which Lorian was sitting. Lorian replied with a charming smile.

“So no kritars” Arlis counted chances. “But what other options do we have? Or do you really think about sending Lorian there and allowing him to sacrifice himself in an epic battle?”

“They would sing poetry about him. I think he would like that, even after death” Lerrel had to add a remark, though no one reacted to it.

“There is one option” again, Lorian attracted all the attention. Even Lerrel’s, as much as the firstborn son would hate to admit. Lorian waited to add weight to his words and when he had them all on the edge of the knife, he grinned darkly. “The prophecy.”

Silence reigned among the High Shee. Even Marn’sul narrowed his thin, elegant brows in disbelief.

The prophecies were more frequent in the past, but now, when Orha collapsed and buried the last pythia under the hard stone and thick earth, the Kilyans stopped relying on them and seeking signs in the future.

This particular prophecy was known only to royal lineage and most of the Kilyan kings refused to even acknowledge it. To even think that a lesser being could in some way save the fae from demise and torment was so offending, that most of them were pondering if the pythia who shared it with the world was in her right mind.

Not that all pythia were sane. This one either way died in a gruesome way, executed by king Innar.

Who – on the other hand – was killed by his own son.

“What prophecy you even talk about” hissed Lerrel, knowing the reply very well.

“Of course the Cat, the Fox and the Raven” Lorian waved his hand, accenting his words. “It’s the only prophecy which could make you salivate with rage, Ler.”

The firstborn huffed in anger. Calling him “Ler” was usually the last thing someone could say before he reacted with sheer violence. Of course, in this case he couldn’t.

“The Cat is already approaching” continued Lorian. “And I think I found the Fox.”

Risel’s eyes opened wide, resembling full moons. Arlis swallowed soundfully. Lerrel looked like he ate a human finger. They all felt like being given a slap in the face. Only Marn’sul started to nod, with understanding and – again – obvious praise.

“Difficult times need extreme solutions,” he said eventually. “We are not in position to refuse your idea.”

“But, father, he sought the Fox” the anger started to boil in the firstborn. “Possibly even considers himself already a Raven. This is madness! This prophecy is forbidden and we should seek another solution. We can’t put our future in the hands of such a low race!”

But the king, as usual when he wanted to end any complaints – and the meeting – stood from his seat, and stepping from the elevation the table was standing on, he said.

“We are fighting with more than a threat and we are fighting for more than our lives. And in such a situation no means are too low and no savior is too…”

He pierced Lorian with his gleaming pupils.

“… human.”

Forest is where I belong. My gods live there.

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