A Kingly IntroductionMature

Lokidae Laufidus heard the guards’ feet thundering after him, the agonised screams off in the distance, the firing of guns and explosions. He smelt the dusky scent of gunpowder, acrid in the air, the metallic tang of copper and blood, the harsh burn of smoke and the cloying sweetness of burnt flesh. The clash of metallic boots against stone faded slowly, but still he ran, ran until he fell, forward into muck. Much which tasted of metal and salt, a puddle that dried flaky on his skin, a cesspit that flashed red in the fading lights which felt sticky on his hands… a pool of blood that laid shared beneath both him and a corpse. He staggered to his feet, nails catching on the ash laden cobble wall beside him. Again he started to run. And once again he ran until he was caught…

This was the city of Sanctuary; the central hub of activity from around the lands, the trade capital… and the home of the Monarch. The unconquerable, the Silver City, the Gem of Na’Kiforia. Tall white walls eclipse the outer ring of the city known to all as the Outer Wards or the Black Smog District. Home to what the Aristocrats called the Lowbloods and those who had no class as they sit cast in the cities’ unforgiving shadow. Voiceless to all. Unheard and uncared for. An industrial way of life, their streets caked in ash and dust from the spiralling chimneys spewing black smoke into the sky. No man or woman who lived in the Outer ring had been observed to live past three hundred years of age, killed off by infection or smoke-lung or starvation. Every eye glances over the bodies lining the street, and only in the depths of the night do they mourn for the littler bodies; the unseeables, the children who also lie glassy eyed with flies crawling from sore filled mouths. One could barely move through the area without a mask or cloth pressed to their face; the scent of unwashed, mud caked bodies and Ryt Rot and sickness made the air unbreathable and toxic to all. This was where all riots and rebellions began. Only the monthly raids by the city guards could keep them from uprising. But a darkness was rising from the hearts of these people, a rage that lunged and coiled and flamed within the streets. The flames of rebellion. The monster of war.

The third ring sat above; shielded by large air cleansing constructions, separated by a large wall from the Black Smog District and covered in large exotic parks. Its plants were imported from all over Na’Kiforia and beyond, from the abyss of space and the alliances they held. It housed the Middleclass and those of Mixed Blood. Laughing gaily and adverting their eyes from the wall separating them from those below, they lived their lives cared for and pampered. Pets. Doing what they’re told for expensive trinkets from their king… pawns in his little Game. The ring itself was split into four districts, Garden, Market, Arcaden and Eterna. Each pretended all that resided within was perfection. Rarely did they desire to uprise, but with the scent of war on the wind, rarely grew closer… and with a single event their scenic lives were thrown into chaos. That day the shield generators came down, the wall was infiltrated and rebels stormed the Garden District.

Beyond the middle ring was the Ethereal Ward or the Upper Wards. The centre of the Game; a constant battle of words and trade, each person spitting pleasantries in place of curses and waiting to one-up the others. Large manors circle shopping districts and community plaza’s, and private armies train secretly behind closed doors. At its centre lay the Seat of Power for Na’Kiforia; The Silver Citadel, or the Monarch’s Throne. On the very day the Middle wards were destroyed and the black ash rained down upon their streets they ran; drawn from the skies in mercenary ships… and laughed at the fools who remained.

The streets were filled with carnage and chaos. Rebels leapt from buildings, raining fire down on the Guards who drew blade and gun against them. Magic was wrought and used, blood splattered like crimson rain from below and above as Military Vehicles were shot down from the sky. Their wings crumpled and groaned, before carrying themselves and their passengers to Void’s eternal embrace. Buildings crumple beneath bombs and rubble. Then the King’s Rosa Commanders were released… and a fight became a war and the streets were painted with blood.

And the Monarch… King Laufidus? Where was he when his land needed him most? Dead? Lost? In fact it was none of those.

He was running. He was scared. He was arrogant and foolish and most of all… He was a target…

To think that not hours before the city was quiet and peaceful… Long live the King;

The King is Dead; and a man now takes his place.

[Not a few hours earlier]

Waiting, waiting why is it that I am always told to wait? I am king am I not? So why is it the council always sends me off to wait whenever they are in session? Like a petulant and disrespectful child, all of which I’M NOT! Laufidus the current king of the Seraphim and ten times self-elected for the Seraphim ‘most benevolent’ award, crossed his arms in disgust, glancing around himself as he waited for the bumbling fools who called themselves the archangel committee, or the ‘Council’. Resisting the urge to stomp his foot his face twisted briefly into a scowl, before it smoothed over into an unreadable and slightly disdainful mask. Cold chartreuse yellow eyes narrowed as he took in the burnt steel and amber colour theme that surround him in the lobby of the Council’s room of business. He clicked his fingers, a sharp snap sounded, echoing in the vast space surrounding him, before it was dwarfed in the sound of running feet.

“Yes your majesty?” Came the breathless voice of his newest serving boy. Laufidus looked at him icily, letting the anger he felt at being abandoned in the room shine down upon the boy. After all, if the Council wasn’t here to bear his wrath, the lad would have to do. The boy flinched under the force of the glare, “Your majesty? Have I done anything to offend you?” One of Laufidus’ eyebrows raised itself, perfectly manicured and elegant.

“Did I ask of you to talk?”  He murmured down to the lad. The boy quailed and opened his mouth to speak… probably to spew apologies and kiss the ground at his feet. He rose a hand, stopping the boy in his place. “Fetch me a mirror if you will, and ask the maids to make their way here. I am in need of a refurbishing. The amber is putting me off, and conflicts with my outfit. Understood?” The boy nodded, looking everywhere at him and around him, but in the eye. “Well then, scram! Bye! Off with you! Pourquoi êtes-vous encore là? »

He turned and sighed, if the boy kept that up he will be sacked in but a week. He looked towards the door, and to his surprise, saw it begin to open.

“Your highness, we are all deeply sorry of the wait we put you through, we were just finishing our discussion.” Laufidus’ eyes narrowed yet again, an arrogant sneer spread across his lips.

“And are you going to enlighten me to these… discussions?” He asked in an almost cloyingly sweet voice. “We were discussing about the immediate rise in taxes that we were planning to put into play. After all we all know how much you love money.” His eyes narrowed at that news, and a wide smile extended across his face as he chuckled.

“Great now I can finally buy that estate in haven that I wanted, and those boots, maybe a seventh pool? Ooh how about a new council?” Several of the members glanced at him with hostility. The rest ignored the thinly barbed threat. They all however looked at him with sick fascination.

“But, my lord, don’t you already have a ridiculous amount of spare cash? Shouldn’t you already be able to buy the boots you desire?” Laufidus looked at them in irritation, and disappointment.

“No, you fools, it’s not the boots that cost an unholy price. It’s the estate… Why in the blazes would you think the boots would cost that much?  Although they are most definitely worth more than any of you.” He trailed off into a mutter. The council members turned to look at each other with cold eyes and barely hidden sneers.

“My lord the last pair of boots you bought were priced at over 2 Million Credits… We assumed…” One of the Council members stuttered. Their voice was that of low silk and gravel, but it was a definite female tone, sexless however within the robes they wore.

“You assumed incorrectly. As per usual.” Laufidus snarled, before calming himself with a single, deep breath.

“How much do the boots cost this time then?” That council member continued with an accusatory tone in their voice. Laufidus looked down at his hands and counted his fingers. He murmured something under his breath and looked up. “Well it depends on whether I want them thigh high or calf high. But calf high, which is what I desire, is around about 62 billion credits.”

“For a PAIR OF BLOODY BOOTS!?” One of the council members yelled out in shock, the hood that normally sat upon his head had fallen around his neck during his outburst, revealing a ruddy face flushed in anger. Ah, he is so plain and oh… that’s why I asked them to wear the hoods again… what’s his name? Nial? Nedai? Neval? Nadial! That’s the one! Laufidus turned to him with dark eyes, anger seemed to radiate from him in waves. “No Nadial, it’s for one boot, not bloody as of yet.” Laufidus purred in a cloyingly low tone, though it will be when I’m done with you.

“It‘s 124 billion for a pair. By the way, it seems I need to remind you yet again to keep your hood up. You now I cannot stand the sight of your faces.” Nadial looked at him with hate in his gaze. That one will need to be put down before he goes rabid and bites back.

“It’s Neil, your majesty.” He spat. Laufidus shot him a cool look in reply and he paled.

“How much does the estate cost then?” The previous Council Member asked. Laufidus merely smiled indulgently, before turning towards the sound of running feet. The lad was back and it looked like he had brought a mirror- and an entourage. Laufidus relieved the mirror from the boy’s trembling grasp, before holding it up to his face. Oh I am a looker. He brushed a strand of green hair behind his ear, running a hand through the rest of his otherwise raven locks. He looked up at all the maids whom had respectfully decided to bow. “What is it you want done, your majesty?” One of the maids asked. He looked over at her and flashed her a charming smile.

“See all the amber?” The maids nodded dutifully. “Good, well I want it replaced with emerald by this afternoon. All of it.” All the maids looked at each other with dismay.

“But your majesty! There is no way-“ One of the maids began.

“Pardon?” Laufidus cut her off, eyes flashing and sparking with magic at his anger. “If I tell you what I want done, it will be done by you!”

“But-“ Laufidus looked at her, eyes going from angry to kind in a moment, before he laughed. A soft hand reached out to brush her cheek, and he whispered, “You’re fired. Get out now. If anyone else has any problems please speak up.” The maid in question burst into tears before running off, and all the rest held their tongues. “Great, well then, start. Please.” They couldn’t get moving quick enough.

~T~

Walking swiftly through the halls and glancing haughtily over at any maid or serving child that dared glance his way, he pushed open the large, heavy, silver-wood doors that signified the Throne Room. The doors hit the wall with a thundering crack, and in a flurry of movement he was surrounded by an adoring crowd of servants and nobles. With the anger slowing ebbing away to a dull glow of satisfaction at the awe of his subjects, he made his way past the large tapestries falling in gentle waves from the ceiling and the guards standing stoic like statues around him. Nodding gracefully in agreement to the idle chatter surrounding him, he turned on his heels and slumped down into his awaiting throne. Black and silver spires arced from its back and twisted together into his crest. Light filtered down from the large stained glass windows behind him, illuminating the moss green satin covered pillows resting around him. With a lazy wave of his hand the court was set into motion.

 “First up.” He called in a drawl, eyes flickering down at the man cowering before him. Watery eyes, a pale, blotchy face, thin lips and lank hair- He’s obviously not a farmer, too pale for that, plus the gold chain half hidden around his neck suggests that he is wealthier than his unkempt appearance suggests. The fact that he’s hiding it; or trying to, indicates that he doesn’t want it known… Let me see what you have to say. The man drooped into a low bow and raising himself nervously he began to speak. “My lord, your radiant majesty; ruler of this wondrous land…” He lamented simperingly, and Laufidus chuckled; nothing made him more pleased than praise, however his smile dropped slightly, but this was going on for a bit too long.

“Enough, cut to the chase; we all know how wonderful I am… I don’t need you to affirm it.” His court giggled politely; women dressed in long ballroom gowns, ruffled up to the neck in lace and silks with colourful masks upon their faces, cooled themselves with decorative fans and twittered sly replies behind their hands. The men merely snickered, glancing over at the bumbling fool who lavished their king with praise from a lead tongue. “Ah, yes… of course your exaltedness…” At this moment his eyes were darting around him like flies in a vacuum… Laufidus could see him sweating from above… he gulped weakly and began once more to speak. “I… am a farmer f-from the Har’iri plains, just outside of Haven’s city borders…Just last w-week my b-brother Stephaan, stole my prized Ravarran Cow[1]. Without it I can’t-” Laufidus rose a hand, and the man stopped as if he had been struck. He glanced up at the hand and a flicker of trepidation danced across his face.

“Your name… It’s Varqui, isn’t it?” The man gulped, his eyes seemed to bulge from his skull and his skin went an unhealthy grey colour. He nodded, and glanced at the guards around him. “You’re a crook who scams people using this very story… you are quite infamous. But a charlatan shouldn’t use the same trick twice-fold. Very unprofessional.” Laufidus shook his head in mock disappointment, before a cold cruel smile stretched across his face. “What do you have to say for yourself?” The man’s, Varqui’s eyes narrowed in anger and a scowl flashed across his face. Before the Guards could react he pulled a gun out from his coat and pointed it at Laufidus’ head. Damn, the weapon detectors appear to be down again. I thought I asked the Council to look into that after the last break? Imbeciles. I wonder if the cook made those wonderful tiny cakes for dessert? Wait, gun, deal with that, then dessert. “You try to take me!” he screamed, gun raised threateningly, yet shaking from fear and rage in his grasp. “And I’ll blast his head in!” The court had started whispering at the sight of the flourished weapon, and started giggling once again at his maniacal cry. Their voices twirled into a monotonous whisper… The Game has gotten exciting… A weapon? Oh my!... What’s his majesty going to do...? Laufidus’ own eyes had narrowed, and with an almost bored look he drawled “Really? An Iro 45[2]? If I was going to be killed I would at least want it to be by a stylish weapon. But what can I say; I shouldn’t be surprised that a piece of trash would own trash.” He snickered darkly, fingers rising to touch his temple.

“Shut up! Don’t move!” Varqui screeched, stepping backwards and raising his finger to caress the trigger.

“If you are going to shoot me, can you hurry it up? I have a tailor appointment in an hour and I still have other people to see to so…” Laufidus glanced him over dismissively, “Or you could leave… I really don’t like killing people.” Varqui snarled and his finger bit the trigger… or tried to, for as his finger glanced the cool metal he was encased in a shimmery green mist and thrown violently against the wall. He shrieked and struggled against the translucent mist… the magic… as it tightened around him in a vice grip and panicked his eyes met Laufidus’. Fear, always fear, sharp, thick, choking. He hissed, head throbbing lightly against the onslaught. They were lit with an ungodly spiralling glow from deep within; overflowing with pure magic and Varqui gasped and screamed and was silenced with one. Sharp. Snap. With a soft noise of disgust Laufidus released the grip he had on the corpse. With another wave of his hands the Guards leapt to action, carrying the body from the room. Then with a forced cool voice, they can’t hear the trembles, they can’t, he called “Next.”.

~T~

Forty minutes and one impromptu colour change later, Laufidus was walking once again towards his private quarters. His eyes were sunk deep, and exhaustion shook his hands. Three more assassination attempts, one by the cook! He did enjoy those little cakes too… to be honest, he was tired. What is my schedule for this evening? Ah yes, the tailor’s last fitting for my boots, a customary signing, trade route planning, glance over the Alliance network… sign some things… Dinner? No there is… huh, oh yeah, the diplomacy meeting with that riot ringleader… he wanted to meet about something or other… Damn, and all I want to do is sleep. He chuckled before, mentally scoffing, Sleep? Not bloody likely, his eyes going from ahead to glance down at his Timekeeper. I should have about 20 minutes after my tailors meeting by myself… Maybe I can reschedule… no… He frowned and continued walking, his feet leading him past familiar doors and halls until he stopped afore his own. Well let us get this over with. Before he pushed open his doors and entered.   

He knew not of what would happen; nor what he was getting into.

Fool

[1] Not actually a cow. A large mammalian creature prized for its pelt, milk and meat.

[2] A gun commonly within the possession of street gangs and merchants. Low calibre, low power and low class.

The End

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