The sky was a canvas painted in pleasant shades of sunlight, a few clouds here and there and flocks of birds flying in tandem. There was music in the air, of birds chirping in the forest, a stream flowing down the hill, of people chattering in excitement, the royal army drilling somewhere in the distance. Amarynthos – The city of light, stood tall upon a lone hill extended by meadows and surrounded by a natural boundary of Oak forest. From a distance, the Amarynthos city walls looked like a magnificent golden crown upon the solitary green hill amidst the forest and Amarynthos castle looked like a shining pearl upon the crown. The Castle lied right at the peak of hill, a beautiful round structure made of pure white marble that shone like silver. It rose into a single column, converging towards its centre with broad and arched windows and huge doors. Anyone high enough or far enough could see the huge halls covered in golden draperies, their four outer halls on every floor, each converging into a bigger and circular central one. The size of halls proportionally reduced as one moved up the floors, the top floor had one room for the king and the queen, one for the prince Darrius, a study room with a big telescope, a royal kitchen and central dining hall. At the top was a flat circular terrace, at the centre of which was a circular seat. The terrace was surrounded by a low, golden railing so that anyone who sat on the Central Seat could look in all directions and as far as possible. Some 8 feet above the seat floated a golden disc made of Amarynthosil, a rare and cosmic metal, which shone like white light. From it a beam of intense white light pillared through the sky and somewhere very high above spread in all direction showering Amarynthos in shimmering and subdued golden light. It was no ordinary seat, it was a throne made for gods and Amarynthos was notan ordinary city, either.It was The City of Light, the Guardian City of The Seven Holy Cities.
Prince Darrius had been a prodigious child, he could read by the time he was 2, shoot arrows at moving targets when he turned 5, finished most of the books in the open section of the Royal Library by 7, defeated the royal advisor in a game of chess by 11, beat knights at sword play by 13 and was deemed the greatest Royal to have been born since Amarynth The First. He had always basked in glory and had always been praised whether he wanted it, or not. This was his 17th birthday and he was supposed to take up the kingship from his father and act as the guardian of The Kingdom of Seven Holy Cities so that his father could retire to the 7th holy city of White Mountains. However, the prospect of having responsibilities had never appealed to Darrius. He had always been an explorer, within and without. Travelling though the seven holy citieslost in his thoughts. But now, he was expected to sit upon the Throne of Light and watch upon the entire kingdom. The cities had once been constantly attacked for their seven Divine Virtues by the clans of Arthos, a demonic place at the other end of world, so far, so remote and so treacherous that nobody who ever went there returned to tell the tale. In order to create a full proof barrier,The Seven Holy Cities pooled their seven virtues: Agility, Foresight, Strength, Perseverance, Focus, Wisdom and Spirituality into the Disc of Amarynthos and bound them with forsaken spells to create a Shell of Guarding Light over the Kingdom. The only condition for the spell to work was there must be a king of Amarynth’s bloodline on the Throne of Light, guarding the Disc and through it the seven cities. And hence, Darrius was honour bound to take up the throne.He so wished he had an elder brother.
There were roughly 30 minutes to noon, the crowd had already gathered around the circular castle, all eyes set upon the Throne of Light. The Royal army that had assembled in the meadows outside the city walls had begun to parade in 4 flanks through the 4 Main City Gates into the four major streets that divided the city into 4 Symmetric quarters, towards the centre of the city, to the 4 Royal gates of the castle. The wealthy citizens had prepared their seats on the terraces of their plush houses to get a better view of the throne of light. All the arrangements were in place, be it food, music, performances or fireworks. Darrius knew these were the last few minutes of his carefree life. He stood by the window and heard people cheering at the sight of him, they had always loved him, and he wished they knew him. He looked far into forest. It was a beautiful day. The world seemed to be really happy. Somewhere far into the forest he could see a small cloud of smoke rising for what could have been a camp site, Many villagers and citizens from far off 7 cities had been travelling to Amarynthos to witness The Ceremony.
It was time now. The King Amarynth The Third and his wife Queen Larrisa came out into the balcony and waved at the crowd. They looked toward Darrius, who was standing at some distance from them and motioned him to join them. “You look splendid, Son. Every maiden in the 7 citieswould want to be your queen” said Queen Larrisa totally impressed with her son’s royal attire. A golden breastplate with a shining disk of Amarynthosil embedded upon it. A red velvet cape supported by golden brooches over his shoulders, a sword with an emerald sheath and silver hilt hanging at his left hip by his black leather pants. “Make us proud, Darrius. Be an able king, you know you are capable of greater glories than most of your ancestors. Just remember that the purpose of a king is the welfare of his subjects. He does get all the luxuries but he also gets all the responsibilities and fulfil them, he must” said the King. They took the stairs, there were 4 of them one at the outer gate of each of the four outer halls. Soon they climbed them and were standing on the small terrace, waving at the crowd that surrounded them in all directions. The Royal army had reached the gates and were playing trumpets and drums which echoed throughout the city. People started cheering, shouting, crying in pleasure of having the chance to view the entire royal family next to the Throne of Light. The royal family was greatly loved. And the people knew what was coming next. The Endowment of Kingship upon their much loved Prince Darrius. Every heart in the city was ecstatic with joy. Darrius was still looking at the cloud of smoke looming upon the forest, far away from all this frenzy.
The King raised his hand and the entire city fell silent. The chattering stopped, the drums and trumpets subsided, and even the birds seemed to have stopped chirruping. “My Dear Citizens of The Kingdom of Seven Holy Cities” his voice loomed upon everyone, it was a kingly voice, deep and wise. “It has been the greatest honour to act as your representative over all these years. I am grateful to all of you for all the love you have showered upon me and my family.I am an old man and I tire quickly so it’s only valid that someone young and more capable takes up my place. As my son has come of age it seems fit to pass upon the responsibilities to him,” He paused as the crowd burst into cheers, waiting till they stopped, then continued, “and I will gladly retire into the White Mountains to spend the remainder of my time reading and writing. The ceremony, as you all know, is very simple. I pass this crown made of Amarynthosil to Darius and thus transfer the kingship to your able young prince” With this raised his hand toward his head and slowly lifted the crown from his head. “I, Amarynth TheThird, from the House of Amarynth the First, endow kingship of the Seven Holy Cities upon my son, King Darrius, the first of his name.” He looked at Darrius but Darrius was looking into the forest, at a looming cloud of smoke.
As Darrius looked into the cloud he never realized when the sounds of the world vanished, what remained was the smoke playing itself into unrecognizable patters changing colours from violet to brown to black from time to time. He could hear faint sound of his dad shouting ‘Darrius! Look at me!’ ‘Darrius don’t look at that cloud of smoke!’ ‘Darrius! It’s a trap!’ ‘Darrius!’ He could feel the panic in his voice but still he couldn’t look away from the cloud of smoke. Then he saw her. She appeared amidst the cloud of smoke tied in chains, pale and weak, but still beautiful. Her copper brown hair covered her face, most of it. She looked up and he saw that her eyes were grey. He had never seen her before but he knew her and she knew him too. Arianne, yes that was her name, he knew it. How he knew that, he had no idea. She looked troubled, and as her grey eyes locked with his deep blue ones, he knew she needed help, that she needed to be rescued. Before he could think, he jumped off the Throne of Light, ran down the castle and made his way through the crowd. They were shouting, they seemed perplexed, but he couldn’t hear their voices and his eyes could only see Arianne, and his mind only knew that she needed help. The Royal army blocked his way but, they were no match for his battle prowess and much less for his agility. He pushed one with his elbow, unsheathed his sword and slashed at them with the back of his blade, slipped past them removed his cape flung it at the soldiers in front of him jumped over them and pushed himself passed the entire 100 yard long flank with a giant leap powered by a push from the shoulder of one of the soldier covered in his cape. He ran past the doors which were open, sprinted as fast as he could, reached toward the edge of forest and could see the Golden barrier of light ending there right before the forest started.He jumped and went past the barrier without a second thought. Next moment he heard a loud crack, mist that was covering his mind settled he turned back and saw the Golden barrier was falling like autumn leaves, he looked at the Throne of Light, there stood his father, with an arrow through his heart. Darrius’ heart stopped for a moment. ‘What Have I done!?’ ‘Father!’ he tried to turn back and return to the city but was stuck with shock wave and thrown back into the forest. He was too stunned to make any sort of sense or find any shred of meaning out of what was happening. Deep down he wished this all to be a nightmare, but he knew it wasn’t. And then he heard laughter. It was booming from the sky, which up to few minutes ago was painted in pleasant shades of sunlight, but now had suddenly turned into violent shades of purple. ‘Ha Ha Ha Ha! You have strayed, Prince Darrius. You lost your kingdom or should I say ‘Would have been kingdom’ to your One Worldly Desire. Your father is dead! The Spell has been removed! Arthoswill once again rule the world! And the power of Seven Holy Cities will be ours! All because of your One Worldly Desire” and the laughter continued, humiliating him but there was another sound that was haunting him. One that was too weak to be heard over that laughter. But one that his senses could not miss, ‘Help Me Darrius.’
“Arianne…” he said tired, defeated, broken but not lost.