Footsteps echoed through the hallway, the pace professing a man in no apparent hurry. His robe scraped lightly over the riveted floor, the sound dissipating as he paused at the door. The threshold was much more than a dark, wooden barrier, but a visage of what the world had become-of what his life had become-since the passing of his master. It was an inevitable loss, he knew, but acknowledging its necessity and accepting it were two vastly different things. The latter came in painful throngs, one appalling image after the other, each threatening to disrupt what was left of his faith. After a moment of silent nostalgia, he pushed against the door, the scars on his hands an ever-present reminder of what his past decisions had cost him. Pocked, worn; aged-the door stood defiantly against time, its tales written on the surface for all to see, though Amon knew that only a select few had ever looked upon it, and even fewer knew the door existed at all.
Shadows covered most of the room. There was a lone torch at the far end of the chamber, though its smoldering flame did little to combat the darkness. Amon stepped in the room, his cautiousness appeased by the simple fact that his life was no safer outside of the room than it was inside. It was chilly; the cold, black stones seeped a sense of foreboding, an aura of malcontent that not even his previous master could have mustered. He knew that he was in the presence of evil-true, inconceivable evil. He knew there would be no salvation, not in such a place; not with this...creature. Despite all that he knew, he continued to move forward, deeper into the gloomed chamber. There was no furniture, nothing but a hand-woven mat splayed in the center of the room, a robed figure bowed in silence atop it. Amon did
not speak, but watched in equaled reticence. The prayer lasted for a long while, longer than Amon was comfortable waiting, but obviously not longer than he was willing to remain. When it was over, he found himself oddly intrigued. He had seen people meditate. He had even tried it himself before, but the prayer session he had witnessed was nothing like that. The figure seemed to fold over itself, more a lump of cloth than anything living, and then, as the wind overturns a leaf, the figure was facing Amon, a void of nothingness beneath a cowl-a face of shadows.
"Why are you here," the cowl questioned, though it was not asked for the creature's benefit, for Amon knew what he was dealing with.
"Lord Idris is dead," Amon said.
The cowl nodded. "And you are here to proceed without him."
Amon frowned. "No...my lord, I come for guidance."
"No, you did not." The cowl shook back and forth. "You have received your guidance. Nothing has changed, Amon."
Amon looked to the side, a disconcerted look covering his face. It makes no sense, he thought, everything has changed.
"You are here, my son, because of fear." The voice laced the final word with a level of disgust, as if it carried a rancid taste.
Was it true? "Perhaps I am afraid," Amon managed.
The cowl nodded once more. "You have seen him, then?"
It was Amon's turn to dip his head. "In the city, in Dunmont."
"And the city is gone," the voice affirmed.
"Aye, my lord, Dunmont is no more. It stands abandoned, forgotten."
The figure had moved, though Amon was not sure when. There was a small slit in the black stone; it must have been looking out at the city.
"So, why did you come?" the voice repeated the previous question.
Amon struggled against his frustration. "I should not have."
He may have been mistaken, but the cowl's movement seemed to disagree, though only silence followed. Amon fidgeted against his apprehension, the confusion of the moment enveloping him.
"I stood beside him, a compass to his madness, but I cannot captain this ship. Please, my lord, I require guidance." Amon's voice had an unnerving quality to it.
Perhaps his fear was that none would come, that he would be left to wither away in his own self-doubt. It was a terrifying prospect. There was absolutely no victory for him if he were to proceed alone, that much he knew was certain. A Seeker lived, even though he had watched him die across the see. Alone, Amon knew only defeat awaited him.
"Focus your thoughts elsewhere, my son. These fears are built upon a foundation apart from rational thought. You fear inevitabilities that will not come to pass. You fear perversions of the future that manifest only in your mind. Take these thoughts and cast them from your consciousness. There is only you and what you must do, nothing more." The cowl turned from the slit in the wall to face him once more. "Fear is not real, my son. Fear is an apparition."
Some of Amon's worries seemed to flutter away, but many of them stayed, hanging on like a parasite bent on draining the every last bit of life from him. He nodded, masking his disquiet with determination.
"You must meditate, my son. You must find your own way."
With a bow, Amon exited the dark room, his mind racing as he searched for some semblance of salvation. He had an enemy, even if he did not yet know his path and that, in and of itself, would be enough to keep him going. The polished obsidian steps looked treacherous, but he knew that the slippery image the rocks boasted was a myth. His feet found purchase on the dark stones without issue, leaving him to his thoughts as he left the monstrous tower. Thus far, nothing had gone as planned, and the shocking nature of that revelation managed to increase the anxiety that built in his soul. He could barely seem to focus as he moved through the large city, its inhabitants brushing by him as if he did not exist. When he came upon the small river his thoughts returned. The scene was mystic, as if this part of the city had ceased to exist. Ash floated through the air. His throat filled with the dry scratch of smoke. He frowned at the feeling, but moved along the river until he reached what was left of the building. It was more of a husk of smoldering ruins than anything resembling a structure, much less a former Brotherhood hideout. Amon moved through what would have been the doorway and stalked through the coals. There were bodies around him, he knew, even if some of them were not the least bit identifiable as such. The stairway was gone, collapsed as if it had never existed. And then, as he looked over the ruins, he saw a hand creep up from the ash. The skin was black, charred. Amon was sure he heard a moan.
And, amidst the death and destruction of the ruined hideout, Amon smiled.
Hey everyone, thank you so much for stopping by and checking out the story. I will be posting a new chapter every Tuesday and Friday until the entire novel is on Wattpad. However, I would like to let everyone know that The Lost Prince is on Amazon. I am giving the book away for free on here, but if you loved the novel and feel like purchasing a copy, or gifting it to someone else, I cannot express how honored I would be.
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The Lost Prince (The Shadowdancer Chronicles, Book One)Fantasy
Three decades ago the realm bled. Today, The Lost Prince lives. Kareth is a legend, a mythical hero; a brigand who just so happens to be the Prince of Panthos, the realm The Silent King destroyed three decades before. Kareth is real, he is alive, an...