Chapter Six

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Years after King Maras gained his throne on his twentieth name day marked the beginning of the end of Panthos. He was the first King of the Vint that was in obvious pursuit of peace with the Kingdom of Panthos. Many people thought him weak and timid for his attempts at peace. The Vint is known for its ruthlessness, as all are no doubt aware, and no northern King had ever looked well on those that refuse to bend the knee. Regardless, the King knew that a lasting peace with Panthos would grant him exclusive control over the continent, as well as at least some dominion over the Isles-all except Ovum, of course. It took him three whole winters to finally receive a reply from Queen Somara. Her skepticism of his motives was well known and almost all of the people of Panthos were against any agreements with the north. Panthos trusted their Queen, though, and would stand behind her no matter where she led them. The first meeting between Somara and Maras was to be near the end of the Trist Summer, named for the four years of heat that sweltered Panthos, much like it did Tristos each and every year. The heat was almost unbearable, and thousands of people died under the face of the beaming sun. The leagues between the wall of Mardom and Lilanth were filled with treacherous deserts and canyons and, coupled with the Kori River, made the trek one of the most dangerous journeys a man can make. Somara decided that if the King of the North was willing to venture the thousands of leagues that it would take to meet with her, she would grant him an audience. So, she sent her best riders bearing the crest of Panthos along with her royal ring as an invitation to Lilanth, the City of the Moon.

It is said that it took them an entire moon's turn to reach Harrendom, braving the elements, savages, mercenaries, and bullying knights that are located only in the Vint. Now, no Uthari would ever claim to fear a knight of the north, but they can be a grand annoyance to a traveling man, even with the Seal of the King granting them passage through the empire. One of the riders was none other than Narris, the Queen's brother and Commander of the Uthari Sacred Guard. Narris was a strong fighter, perhaps one of the best of the Uthari, and equipped with an increasingly short temper. Like most Uthari, he was quick to kill first and think about the consequences later. It was not a wise choice to send him into the Vint on a peace mission, but the Queen trusted him as she did no other.

Once they arrived, the King greeted Narris and his entourage of fifty warriors with open arms. As the modest Uthari host rode through the gates of Harrendom, the people threw petals of the Arum flower in honor of the Moon Gods to mark their way to the keep. King Maras himself met them on the steps and embraced Narris according to Panthosi customs.

"I trust that the Moon Gods have granted you a pleasurable journey to our humble kingdom?" The King said behind a gracious smile. The man could have blended in with any crowd of peasants, if not for his wardrobe. He was a man of average height and weight, with jet black hair and a soft smile. The only thing dangerous about him was his hazel eyes. They came with them an aura of deception, a fire of passion. He wore a silver wrapped longsword at his left hip and a matching dagger on his right. He wore a gold crown inlaid with jewels from every reach of the empire upon his head, and ten different rings forged from the ten most precious metals of the world on each finger. His breastplate was a deep blue notorious of the Steel of the Isles, which was thought to be impenetrable. Lying on his shoulders were golden eagles tipped with silver and diamonds for eyes. The clasps were formed from the eagles' claws and anchored the largest cloak that Narris had ever laid eyes on. It was the length of three men, and the stitching on it was said to have taken ten years to finish.

"The Gods favor those in their service, sire. I bring a letter from Queen Somara meant for your eyes alone," Narris replied, holding up the sealed parchment.

"I am pleased that she thinks so well of me as to send her finest warrior to make me this offer of peace." The King's face remained passive, but his eyes were alive with fire, and Narris knew that he was not to be trusted. "You must be fatigued from your journey, Lord of the Uthari. Please, I have made my solar available for you."

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