How to Access Previous Chapters:
- Click this link for the post that includes Chapter 6.
- The top of the post that includes Chapter 6 will also include the link for the post that includes Chapters 4-5.
- The post that includes Chapters 4-5 has links in the Author’s Note to the first three chapters of the story.
Now that you’re all caught up, please do enjoy Chapter 7! More to come soon! Thanks for your support!
As he strode away from the torture chamber, Dorian, the Supreme Ruler of Hitherland, smiled. He was impressed with Liem: his strength was unmatched, his obedience constant, and his manner aloof. The perfect candidate for Captain of the Guard, it seemed. To think: had it not been for Dorian’s kindness, Liem would still be alone: a sniveling orphaned nobody digging holes in the earth.
It did not take much to distinguish Liem from the other men under Dorian’s command. He had arrived at the barracks a twelve-year-old boy who had slain five trained soldiers with only a shovel. He was considered nothing short of a prodigy from the moment he joined their ranks. He was Dorian’s special project. Liem was trained how to fight, mangle and kill, and how to do all of while being utterly unmoved. He had learned from the best, Dorian thought. And he was becoming the best, second in his technique only to Dorian himself.
Dorian did not want to risk sending Liem to the front lines just yet. He was still young, and had some undeveloped potential. There was still an air of innocence about him that was impractical for a soldier. It was only a matter of time before he would join the fighting forces. He just needed a little more exposure to the ways of a warrior. He needed to become aware of the thrill of it all, to find that rush that would carry him unafraid into battle. He needed a glimpse of the enemy, a taste of power, the eyes of a woman following the gleam of his sword.
Dorian often thought back to the day he found Liem: it was his finest hour, the beginning of an era. He had spent years of his life orchestrating it. And it went off without a hitch. Under his leadership, the Royal Guard had all but crushed the Resistance. The kingdom was his now. And he deserved it.
Entering his chamber he nodded to the guards at the entrance. He said, “I want not to be disturbed,” and let the door slam shut. He latched it behind him and sat in his favorite chair. He was facing a large gilded mirror- it had once hung in the king’s chamber. The crown Dorian wore looked gaudy and misplaced atop his head. But he didn’t seem to notice. He adjusted it to his liking, grimacing at the graying around his temples.
He poured a splash of wine into his goblet and drank, savoring it. He caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror and the mischievous smile of his youth lit up his face.
There was a knock on the chamber door.
“I thought I said I was not to be disturbed,” he said, rolling his eyes.
“It is urgent, my liege,” came the muffled reply from behind the door.
Dorian sighed deeply. Had another sheep escaped, perhaps? Had a royal dish been broken? What on earth could be so important so early in the day as to disturb the Ruler of Hitherland in his solitude?
“Enter,” he said, mustering up all his patience.
The door opened and a crooked old man in a long robe stood in the entrance, leaning on a staff. The soldiers guarding the door looked to Dorian apologetically.
“Leave us,” Dorian said to them. The two soldiers obeyed reluctantly. The old man entered with unusual deftness for someone his age, and made sure the door was locked behind him. He made his way to a chair across from Dorian and bowed dutifully before seating himself.
“I have news about the Messengers,” the old man said this with as much fear as confidence.
“Of course you do,” Dorian replied flatly, “It is the only condition under which you are ever to disturb me. But I must admit, the tone of your revelation does nothing to reassure me.”
The old man appeared to ignore this comment and said simply, “The Messengers have made contact with the Other Side. A man and a woman from there are now in Hitherland as a result.”
Dorian’s eyes narrowed. The old man was unsure whether they were brimming with rage or euphoria.
“For what purpose?” Dorian asked him quietly.
“That is unclear, my liege,” the old man said.
“That is not useful to me. Perhaps you should answer again,” Dorian looked intently at the old man who shifted in his seat and cleared his throat.
“It could be surmised that the Messengers are attempting to regain their influence, and that these two from the Other Side have some role in helping them to do so.”
“The only influence the Messengers will have will be that which they exert on my behalf, at my command, in the name of the New Hitherland,” Dorian declared as though he knew it to be true.
The old man continued, “It appears, my liege, that the Messengers have also made some sort of contact with someone inside the castle.”
Dorian raised his eyes to those of the old man, “How long ago did this come to your attention? Unless you answer me now, your silence will follow you to your grave.”
“Within the last day, sir,” the old man said.
“Thank you for your service,” Dorian said, begrudgingly. “Leave me. And do not return until you know where the Messengers are hidden– and why the two from the Other Side are here helping them,” he paused, “You wouldn’t want me to take matters into my own hands, would you?”
The old man shook his head, “No, my liege,” he said, attempting to speak without his voice trembling. He bowed, taking his leave.
Dorian may have won his battle for the crown of Hitherland, but the war against the Old Way was not over. The Messengers were the last stronghold against him. With Their power at hand, Dorian would be invincible. But secrecy had always been paramount for their kind. The king’s death and Dorian’s attack on the king’s loyalists had driven the Messengers further into hiding. Yet they were still at work. It was only a matter of time before Dorian found them. And when he did, all the power of Hitherland would be his.
I must summon Liem and tell him to bring the girl, Dorian thought. Surely he is strong enough to draw the truth from her under my supervision.
Liem would be a warrior in due time; that was certain. But his job at present was not unimportant. The prisoner needed a guard who would not relent in his efforts to gain the information Dorian sought. The prisoner said little, but Dorian was convinced that she could lead him to the Messengers. Sheathing his sword and fixing his whip to his belt, he exited the chamber.
To the first soldier he saw, Dorian said, “Your name, soldier?”
“Xavier,” the young man answered him.
“You will summon for me the Guard Liem,” Dorian was urgent, but cold, ”He is ordered to fetch his prisoner and to report to me immediately. Tell him the fate of Hitherland is at stake.”
Xavier bowed to Dorian. Then he turned and ran into the dark to find Liem, the strongest guard in Hitherland. And he ran as though his very life depended upon it.