Forgotten Fidelity

And now for some more world-building. I hope no one’s getting lost in all the names, although there are quite a few more today. Just ignore most of them. This is a rather dark story, but I think it got the tone I was looking for. Anyway, I hope you enjoy this!

The War of Lanuman was utterly devastating. Thousands were killed, and hundreds more displaced, scattered about the four corners of the earth, spreading news of the power and terror of the Great Tyrant. It is said that every palace in that land was burned in one night on orders of the tyrant, though none were built to take their places, for the tyrant would not set foot in Lanuman. He did, however, personally execute the royal family.

But this story is not about the poor souls conquered by King Hygasie, for doubtless you can imagine their fates in enslavement, poverty, and torment. No, this is about those who fled and escaped the tyrant’s wrath. Namely, the Karkomin family, led by Lord Corval.

The Karkomin family fled far, far away from the wasted lands of Lanuman, east to the region of Paltoren. There, Lord Corval used his influence and the money he had retained from his flight to attain a well-sized fief from the king of Paltoren, where he and his wife settled to raise their young children.

Now, Corval had seven children: four sons and three daughters. Their names were Timaen, Gavin, Hanani, and Rodden; Leimia, Estai, and Vora. Vora later married Amorso, son of Endremzo, but that it part of a different story.

It was largely agreed in Paltoren that Timaen and Gavin were the greatest of Corval’s children, in fact, of anyone’s children. This was largely because their father had not only taught them in the ways of chivalry and knighthood, but also in the mystic arts. And with regards to there, the boys were very powerful.

Timaen was the elder brother and Gavin the younger. Gavin excelled most of with the powers of water, and Timaen with the power and manipulation of fire. Timaen had such control, that he could pass a flame through a herd of cattle and not let a single one burn; Gavin had similar control, though he preferred a more practical approach to his powers. He frequently used his abilities not only in battle but also in peace, while Timaen was a terror of war.

Because of this, while both brothers were loved by the people for their exploits against their enemies, Gavin was seen as greater due to his tireless work for the well-being of the state. Mothers would sabotage wells before sending out their daughters to enlist Gavin’s aid, or else the daughters would sabotage the wells themselves for the same purposes. He was welcomed everywhere he went, and men enjoyed the tricks he could play with the wine at parties.

Meanwhile, Timaen began to feel left out. Sure, he was loved, but there were many things that water could do that fire could not. He could warm the hands of some peasant folk for a night in winter, but among those with wood to spare, there was little impressive about his power save the destruction it inflicted on his enemies.

Over time, Timaen folded more and more in on himself. When, after a great victory, he and his men celebrated in the hall and his brother began his magic tricks, he would sit silently in the corner, brooding. Later, he began to leave the halls entirely. After that, he stopped coming at all, and some men reported seeing strange lights coming from the valley below the hall and the city.

It cannot be said whether Gavin ever saw that there was something wrong, or if he was blinded by the laughter of his men, or his trust in his brother, or if he merely dismissed all doubts on the subject. It can only be said it was a surprise to him when his brother at last confronted him.

“Come, my brother,” Timaen said one evening. “Let us ride out to the far fields and see what we may come by.”

“Very well,” replied Gavin. “Though I doubt we shall find much there.”

Indeed, there was nothing there. But when they arrived, Timaen spoke earnestly, as through he really could see something beyond in the darkness.

“What do you think it is?” asked Gavin, trotting forward for a better look, his back turned entirely toward his brother.

“Your doom!” Timaen muttered, and unleashed a fire of rage hotter than he had ever done before. It struck Gavin in the back, and he was consumed by it. He screamed, but Timaen immediately silenced him. The horse whinnied in terror at the heat on its back. Timaen blasted it as well, and soon both horse and rider crumpled to the ground, burning quickly to ash.

Then Timaen took up the ash and scattered it to the wind, leaving not a single trace of his brother or his steed. And he smiled, contented.

When he returned, however, he was more than a little nervous. He had a ready excuse for his brother’s absence, but of course, as all murderers do, he feared he would be found out. His nervous silence was largely ignored by his family, who were by now used to his brooding, if not his complete absence from dinner.

“This is odd,” his mother remarked. “What brings you here? Aren’t you usually out and about, prowling the night during this time?”

“Ordinarily, yes,” replied Timaen. “But it has been a long time since I have eaten with my family, so I thought it might be a good time to begin that again.”

“How considerate! But tell me, where is Gavin? He should be here by now.”

“I’m afraid he was lost to the darkness,” Timaen said. “I told him not to go closer for a look, but he did, and all I heard of him after that was a scream and they whiny of his horse.”

His mother clutched her heart and his sisters gasped. “He’s not… dead?”

Timaen nodded gravely. “I’m sorry. But, please, do not grieve. I do not think he would want you to. Wasn’t it always his dream to die in battle? And now there is no testament to his final sacrifice, save me.”

“But what killed him?” asked Lord Corval, his face also in utter shock.

“I didn’t see. It must have been a fell beast indeed to slay him, though.”

“And you escaped to tell the tale?”

“I don’t think it ever saw me.”

Corval leaned back, a look of surreal puzzlement on his face. His wife embraced him, sobbing onto his chest. Timaen’s other siblings looked at each other, lost for words.

“I think I shall leave you all alone for a while,” he said, rising from his spot.

He left the hall, walking through the corridors of the castle to his personal chambers. As he walked, however, he suddenly heard quick footsteps behind him. Stopping to turn, he realized that it was his father, the puzzlement in his face gone.

“What is it?” Timaen asked.

“A beast attacked and killed Gavin and missed you. Yet, instead of reporting this murder to me at once or slaying the beast yourself, you wait until midway through dinner! Tell me the truth!”

Timaen stared at his father, dumbfounded that he had been discovered so quickly.

“Did you kill Gavin?” asked Corval. “Don’t think I haven’t seen you after your victories. Your eyes always fell on him with malice. Did you kill my son?”

Timaen turned around and walked quickly away.

“Oh no, you don’t!” Corval snapped, and Timaen found that he suddenly couldn’t move. “You are not returning to your chambers at all! Ever! The only thing preventing me from striking you down is that you are also my son. But get you gone. Take your horse and leave. You are banished from here henceforth.”

The spell was released, and Timaen turned to face his father, leering hatefully at him. He ran, ran to the stables, mounted his horse, and fled into the night. And whither he went, no one is yet certain.


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