The continent of Kahal is very much like the world we know. Kingdoms rise and fall, wars are waged and people do what they must to live their lives, which is considerably more difficult if you have monsters to worry about as well. Witches, dragons and demons are known to exist, and they all have their own stories to tell.
Kalliope sat in her chair at the far end of the throne room, fidgeting with her already peeling cuticles . She usually found the ordinary weekly hearings unpleasant, but this one she deemed unbearable.
“How much did we lose this time?” demanded King Leander.
“Two farmers, five cattle, and roughly three acres of crop fields,” replied a voice that Kalliope recognized as the royal advisor Theophil’s.
The reverse U-shaped arc the hearing hall’s seats were arranged in did not allow her a clear view of the speaker. It became eerily quiet, considering that there were more than a hundred people packed into the room. Kalliope read fear, sorrow, and anger in their faces. They had endured the attacks their entire life, but now they yearned for revenge.
“Three times in the last month is too much,” declared Leander. “We must put an end to this!”.
Kalliope watched the weeping wives of the lost farmers raise their heads in confusion. Her brother, Prince Aeron, rose from his seat and glanced in his father’s direction.
“People of Ryze, we have lived in fear for too long. Since the foundation of the Kingdom have we been victims of attacks of vicious beasts. Too much land has been destroyed, too many lives have been lost.”
The prince walked in front of the King’s throne, now speaking directly to the people.
“For this reason I, Prince Aeron, son to His Majesty King Leander Cruis Naesa IV, volunteer to track down and slay the monster that has caused this kingdom pain for too long.”
Aeron turned around to face his father and sank to one knee.
“Your Majesty, if you would allow me a chance to prove myself a worthy successor, I would be honored.” The king’s eyes found those of his son, and after a moment of searching consideration, he stood up. The room fell so silent that Kalliope could hear her own heart beating. King Leander stepped towards his kneeling son.
“Stand”, he commanded. “You know the procedure of the ritual I assume?”
“Yes, Your Majesty” replied Aeron.
He raised his chin and returned his father’s lingering stare.
“Very well,” said the king, who turned his back on his son to walk to the throne, where he picked up his dagger and wine goblet that lie on a stand by the seat. Kalliope started as the king pulled the weapon, gashing Aeron’s forehead with a deep swathe in to his glabella. The prince didn’t flinch as the blood swiftly poured from the wound. Kalliope saw the queen avert her eyes to stare at the floor. King Leander sheathed the dagger and caught the blood dripping from his son’s chin in the goblet. Kalliope’s stomach turned as she glimpsed the blood.
“Prince Aeron Naesa, I hereby appoint you the leader of the Dragon Hunt to track down and kill the beast known as Nightveil. You have time until your marking has healed to gather troops, resources and courage. Upon returning successfully you shall receive riches beyond measure, honor, and recognition throughout the kingdom, as well as the title of ‘Dragonslayer’. Should you fail, however, to prove yourself capable of slaying the monster and to come back without the head of the beast, i shall make you consider death a welcome change. Drink from the goblet to show that you embrace pain to fulfill your duties, and the ritual will be completed.”
Prince Aeron took the goblet and lifted it to his lips without hesitation. Both the king and his son turned to the still silent crowd.
“Spread word!” boomed the king’s voice. “of Prince Aeron the Dragon Hunter! Spread word that the Dragon Hunt has begun!”
The room erupted in applause.