Prologue

At this point, I have reached almost 150 pages. Here’s a sneak peek at the first 3 pages of the rough draft. Maybe I’ll have to make like an old-fashioned serial and post some of the subsequent pages in a few days, and then the pages that follow, and so on and so forth…
Again, tabbing it all in and spacing it appropriately is a pain, so forgive the formatting. Please, please, please comment if you like, don’t like, or are indifferent to anything. Feedback is always appreciated!
Enjoy.

Regis Dahven, crowned ruler of all Alcostia, was not himself today after awakening from a midday nap.  This afternoon, he was none other than Suzerain Kortara, the infamous Augira responsible for taking untold numbers of lives and scarring the nation of Alcostia during the centuries-old events now known as Kortara’s Ruin.

Despite the overly-understanding, placating treatment he received from the regial steward upon waking up, Kortara was in a relatively good mood.  Although he hadn’t been himself in several days according to the lunar calendar hanging in his chambers, he had previously put plans in place that had undoubtedly been ready for at least a day.  He had dressed as hastily as possible and left his chambers to begin the walk down to the passages below the palace.  Specifically, he was headed toward the Illuminated Dungeons.

He hummed softly as he descended the stone steps that took him further and further underground.  Most of the cells that were beneath the regial palace in Malbec contained criminals who had been convicted of various crimes. The Illuminated Dungeons, located one level below, contained a completely different sort of criminal: those who had the potential to access Auri, the life force that existed within all living things.

At this point, most of the individuals housed in that portion of the dungeon were useless, of partial Augiri heritage. Most pure-blooded Augiri had been wiped out by the Order of Illumination over the last two hundred years. Augiri had become relics of the past; the Order hadn’t captured an actual Augira in almost twenty years.

Of course, that didn’t mean that the Dungeons were empty.  Suspected Augiri had to be brought to the capital and tried for their supposed crimes.  Even when they were truly guilty of nothing more than angering their neighbors, the Order of Illumination had a reputation to maintain.  They couldn’t very well let them go back home, spreading word of the Order’s mistake.  Instead, they were sentenced to life in prison, where the Order could keep a watchful eye on them.  The poor wretches in the dungeons were nothing more than unlucky souls.  They were as able to access Auri as a rock was.

Such a pity, Kortara thought.  There used to be so many of us.  Now I have little recourse but to pray to the Nameless One that this idea works and hope for the day that my followers provide me with more suitable…supplies.  One way or another, He always provides.  I am certain that there has to be at least one Augira somewhere in Alcostia, at least one!  And one is all I need.    

Kortara sighed as he walked, but he was not put off by the difficulty of his situation. There was simply no help for it.

He started humming again as he made his way through the maze-like passages, undisturbed by the dim torches lighting the walls and the dancing shadows. This was the one place in his entire palace where he felt like himself – at least, when he was himself. Here, in these musty corridors, he was in control once again.

Finally, the hall widened and doors began to appear on either side. Men in brown robes stood guard at two-door intervals, their swords at odds with their monk-like appearance. They seemed surprised to see him today, but they recovered enough to bow as he passed. He eventually stopped in front of a cell door on the right.  The man guarding this door kept his face neutral, showing no outward sign that Kortara was unexpected.

This, Kortara thought, is why you are my most elevated of disciples, Pevnir. 

The guard bowed.

“It is a pleasure to see you today…Regis Dahven” the guard said, looking questioningly at his leader as he said his name. Kortara smiled dryly. Of course, he understood the need for clarification.

This sort of thing happened when the regis wasn’t always who he appeared to be.

I suppose that it must be complicated for them, he thought, watching the wariness on the man’s face.  But really, they have no idea.  To have to share a body – a consciousness – with others…  Why, it is enough to make a man go mad!

He smiled at this irony, letting the silence hang for just long enough to make Pevnir nervous.  Finally, he took pity on the man.  I really shouldn’t toy with him…

“It is I, Pevnir,” Kortara said into the waiting silence. “I do hate being called by that fool’s name, but I suppose it cannot be helped.  I appreciate your diligence.  May the one who goes without a name reward you in the next life.”

The suzerain waited for the expected reply. Pevnir smiled, his composure slipping as he breathed a sigh of relief.

“As His will dictates,” the guard responded, adding “Exalted One. We await your coming and tremble at your might.” Pevnir bowed again, his eyes locked in a reverent gaze with the suzerain. He unhooked the keys from his waist and handed them over.

“How fares our guest this afternoon, Pevnir?” Kortara asked as he jiggled the key in the lock. Pevnir was one of his most loyal followers, and he believed in their cause with a fanatical exuberance.  Kortara trusted him with doing the best he could, but Pevnir was not Lucid.  There was no telling if frustration or his salvation lay on the other side of the door.  Despite the possibility of yet another disappointment, Kortara’s hands trembled with excitement.

“Fine, Kortara,” the man replied, “Druv was in the Hand who picked up the boy.  He really thinks that this one might be able to complete the Marks.  His bloodline isn’t pure, but Druv thought he had more Augira in him than the others.  Could it finally be enough?”

Kortara pursed his lips.

“I simply don’t know. I have never been reborn before, you see,” Kortara said with wry humor.  “Although I have faith that this will work eventually, I simply cannot hazard a guess until I try.”

Pevnir nodded.  “I will continue to pray to the Nameless One for you.”  He seemed self-conscious of this admission, as if he’d been too informal.  When he spoke again, his speech was slightly rushed.  “Everything’s as you requested, and we’ve set up the chamber for you. All is in readiness.”

“Perfect,” Kortara said as the last tumbler gave way. The lock clicked and opened. He paused before opening the door and looked at Pevnir. “I will need your help. After.”

“Of course,” Pevnir responded, bowing his head.

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