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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

The Reluctant Consort - 1. Chapter 1

Rashan, Silver Shore Marquis, Makes a Mysterious Wish

In a time of prosperity, four kingdoms came together and formed an empire.

The great Kaveh Miran, an accomplished general from Silver Nation, led the great political alliance that made Sun Kingdom, The Iron Lands, Blood Nation and Silver Kingdom into one.

This great alliance became The Akasha Empire.

By joint decision, the kings of each nation named Kaveh Miran the Emperor of Akasha, making him and his family responsible for keeping the peace between nations to ensure a long-standing empire.

Kaveh accepted the mandate and built an Imperial City in the middle of the Akasha Empire naming it Akan. The Capital City of Akan made it easy for any nation in the alliance to approach his Imperial Palace for assistance, as needed.

The Miran Family would then take on the duty of protecting and serving all in need.

The Akasha Empire was abundant with natural resources: cultivating land, minerals, food, and water. What they did not have they made up for by trading with neighboring countries.

Merchants in Akasha grew prosperous businesses and rose to fortune and fame in a glorious era known as The Miran Era.

When Kaveh Miran grew tired of the constant work, he left the care of the empire to his three children: Kiyan, Kastan and Kyra.

Kiyan became Emperor of Akasha, Kastan an Imperial Prince of Akasha, while Kyra married a foreign king to strengthen Akasha’s allies and became Queen of Tanad, moving to the North of The Akasha Empire.

Of all his children, Kaveh Miran always believed Kastan was the strongest.

For that same reason, Emperor Kiyan made Imperial Prince Kastan the commander of Akasha’s Armies.

Kastan took on the role of protector of the Akasha Empire and lived his life for the safety and care of the empire and its people. When he turned twenty, he too married a princess from Blood Nation to strengthen the Imperial Family’s allies.

For this marriage, Kaveh Miran granted Kastan a Dukedom in the middle of a lush valley named Silver Shore. Kastan took his new wife to live at Silver Shore Valley, glad to escape the many pressures of the Akasha Imperial Palace.

Princess Jian was two years younger than Kastan. She was beautiful and reconciled to her fate. She married Kastan out of duty. Their marriage was a mutual alliance and when she got pregnant, they were both happy that their new home would have an heir to carry on their lineage.

Kastan did not count on his wife being too delicate to give birth.

He certainly did not think that Jian would die in childbirth and leave him responsible for a newborn son.

The night Jian died, Imperial Prince Kastan held his newborn son in his arms and promised himself that he would never allow another weak partner near him.

*~*~*~*

Ten years after Jian’s death, Prince Kastan had established Silver Shore Valley as his permanent home, choosing to visit the Imperial Palace when it was necessary.

His reasons deeply tied to his ten-year-old son, Rashan.

Silver Shore was a lush valley surrounded by rolling hills, green fields, wild forests and a stunning silver river that flowed through the valley heading to the ocean. Under Prince Kastan’s care, the people living in the valley prospered and Silver Shore became a coveted utopia.

It was an unattainable utopia, as most of Silver Shore’s residents were family members of Prince Kastan’s core army.

These families turned Silver Shore into both fortress and paradise for those who were lucky to call it home. These men and women who lived within the valley protected it with fierce devotion. Until it had become prestigious to marry into a family living in Silver Shore, or to meet one who called Silver Shore home.

Silver Shore Valley residents treasured Kastan and affectionately called him Duke Silver, a nickname started by his best friend and right hand man, Temu.

Temu was a fierce General who had adopted Kastan as a brother.

The people of Silver Shore also spoiled Kastan’s son, Rashan, calling him Little Prince when he ran around the main town with his nanny and guardian. Kastan was grateful for the residents of Silver Shore as their devotion added a layer of protection for his most precious son.

No one would dare touch Rashan at Silver Shore.

Kastan’s manor, which stood in the most secure part of the valley, was called Sun-filled Manor. Kastan’s father had named it when he came to visit and discovered that the morning sun filled the halls without prejudice.

Kaveh Miran decided the name Sun-Filled suited the manor, and deemed it a perfect home for his grandson, Rashan.

And so, Kastan and Rashan called Sun-Filled Manor home.

They lived with Kastan’s three loyal friends, Temu, Safan and Naveed. There was also Rashan’s nanny, Fara, and Yasmin, the housekeeper, who managed all of Sun-Filled Manor. A feat worthy of a general, as the manor was as large as a palace.

At the start of Rashan’s eleventh year, seven people stood in an open garden that led to a cliff behind the manor releasing lanterns to the sky.

Kastan watched his son carefully hold his lantern, and then send it up to the sky. The higher it rose, the wider Rashan smiled. When his son closed his eyes to make his wish, Kastan stepped closer to listen in.

Rashan always spoke aloud on his wishes, hoping his father would hear them and help make them come true.

This year was different.

Kastan frowned when Rashan decided to murmur his wishes with a sense of fervor this year.

“Please make my wish come true this year,” Rashan murmured. “I’ve asked so many times already. You have to fulfill it this year, please.”

Kastan frowned deepened. He was sure he had done his best to fulfill all of Rashan’s wishes this past year. From giving him a black horse like his father’s, to redoing the east wing of Sun-Filled Manor to accommodate Rashan’s sword training, he had done it all.

Why was this kid still making a desperate wish this year too?

This wasn’t the first time he had heard this murmur. He remembered the same hushed tone when Rashan turned nine. It disappeared when Rashan turned ten, but now it was back in his eleventh year.

Curious, Kastan placed a gentle hand on Rashan’s right shoulder making his son look up at him.

“Shan, is there something you want that you don’t have?” Kastan asked, sure that his son was not missing anything material.

He worked hard to make sure that Rashan had everything he needed.

Rashan bit his bottom lip, worrying it a bit, before he shook his head, no.

Kastan lifted his right brow in question, and his heart squeezed when Rashan smiled at him.

“Fara told me that this little wish of mine must be granted by a higher power. Even if the people call you the god of war, my wish can only be heard by the god of fate,” Rashan said, dropping his hands to his sides. “Fara said I must be pure in my wish for it to come true, otherwise he won’t hear my prayer.”

Kastan glanced at Fara who was standing with Yasmin as they watched the lanterns float into the night sky. This was a good start of the year, and he had promised them a bonus envelope to take to their families. They looked happy. He was glad for it as they took care of his most precious person.

Kastan wondered if Fara knew what Rashan’s wish was, his frown deepened when he remembered she liked to keep his son’s confidence. Meaning, if Rashan wanted a secret kept, she was more than willing to help Rashan. The only exception was if the secret was one that could harm Rashan, then she was the first to run to Kastan’s study.

Since Fara had not told him this secret, it was not harmful to Rashan, but…

“Rashan, remember what I’ve said before. We must make our own way, our own path,” Kastan felt compelled to say. “You must state what you want to get, and set your mind to getting it. This is how the world works. One must not leave anything to chance.”

“Fara said that would be your answer,” Rashan said with a thoughtful nod.

A few minutes passed in silence. They both looked up at the sky watching the lanterns float away, lighting the dark night. Then Rashan took Kastan’s left hand, his small hands gripping Kastan’s much larger hand.

“When I’m sure my wish can come true, I’ll tell you, Pa.”

Kastan crouched low to his son’s height, and brought the hands holding his left one to his lips.

“I’ll look forward to it, Shan,” Kastan said with a small grin, eager to discover what wish his son kept so close to his heart. “Now, are you ready for the new year’s dinner? Why don’t we go inside and discover what Yasmin’s made for us.”

“She spent the whole day cooking,” Rashan said, excitement filling his cheeks with color. He squeezed Kastan’s hand tight, before he rushed off to Yasmin’s side, declaring his hunger.

Yasmin and Fara each took one of Rashan’s hands and started in the direction of the manor, their pace unhurried.

Kastan watched them, smiling as they talked about the colorful moon cakes Fara made, roasted chicken, lotus root soup, the list of delicacies seemed endless.

Kastan straightened to his full height when the trio entered the kitchen using the back door. He turned to look up at the lanterns, which had traveled a distance away. He was conscious of the three men he trusted with his life moving to stand on each side of him.

“Your Grace,” Temu spoke first, standing on Kastan’s right. “When will you respond to the summons from Emperor Kiyan?”

“After the new year’s celebrations end,” Kastan answered with a heavy sigh.

He folded his hands behind his back, dragging his gaze away from his son’s lantern to the rest of the valley sprawled below.

The night filled with lanterns released by hopeful souls living in Silver Shore. The streets were alight, celebrations taking over the main square in town. The sound of joyful music echoed in the air. His people were happy and in peace.

Kastan hated to break the spell with foreboding.

“None of them will fault you,” Naveed said from Kastan’s left side, answering his thoughts. “We are all content with the path we’ve chosen. Silver Shore has enjoyed five years of peace because of your staunch support, Your Grace. The Akasha Empire is our home too. We shall fight with you to guard what we’ve all built together these last five years.”

Kastan looked at Naveed’s profile.

Naveed was the most sentimental one of the three while Temu was more quick to anger and action.

“War is not confirmed, yet,” Kastan reminded Temu and Naveed.

He wasn’t ready to think of war just yet.

“I’m only answering summons from my Emperor Brother. He could be asking for a peacekeeping tour. The problems at the West Nation’s border are all solvable with a competent diplomat.”

“The palace is full of conspiring politicians,” Safan said, the third and most important man in the trio said. “A summons reaching Silver Shore means one of those old men has aggravated relations at the west border and forced the Emperor into a tight corner. Whether it is peacekeeping or war, you’ll need to be cautious, Your Grace.”

“You are all right,” Kastan said, after a minute of thought.

His oldest brother tried to keep direct summons to a minimum. Kastan appreciated that, as it meant that he managed all armies at will. Every turn of the moon, Kastan made an appearance at the palace where he met his brother, and discussed any pressing problems in the different nations. They managed an amiable working relationship.

Summons were scattered, Kastan disliked them, as they meant an extended stay at the palace. He did not like the idea of leaving Rashan alone at Silver Shore. Worse, he never wanted to entertain the idea of Rashan moving into the palace. That thought made him shudder.

“Whatever the order, the outcome cannot change,” Kastan murmured. “Silver Shore stays intact and protected.”

“Yes, Your Grace,” they all agreed.

Kastan smiled this time, his lips curving wider. He was glad that he never had to worry about these three. They made the mess in the imperial palace easier to face.

“Duke Silver,” Temu said, his tone teasing. “I have a serious craving for Yasmin’s roasted chicken. The lanterns won’t return now. We’ve set them free; they’ll land where they will. Why don’t we head back to the house to eat?”

Kastan had yet to thank Temu for the interesting nickname that had spread through the valley and the empire like wildfire.

“Who has stopped you from racing to the kitchen?” Kastan asked.

“Duke Silver no one dares eat while you’re standing out here staring at the sky with that mournful look,” Naveed said.

Safan moved around Naveed and came to wrap an arm around Kastan’s shoulders. He was a hulk of a man, with bulging muscles gained from his love of using a hammer at home and axe in battle and in the homestead.

Safan turned Kastan around with a simple squeeze and led Kastan toward the house, launching into a tale about Rashan breaking into the chicken coop earlier in the afternoon.

Kastan loved listening to Safan’s tales about Rashan. He loved it more that Safan managed to dispel the anxiety growing from their coming uncertain future. His message clear: enjoy the quiet and peace for now.

*~*~*~*~

Three days after the New Year’s celebrations ended, Kastan rode his black warhorse into the capital wearing his colors. His dark coat decorated with embroidery to fit his station and a blood red cape cascading down his back with a black tiger crest right in the middle. It was the symbol of his army and his family.

Temu and Naveed followed Kastan close, the thundering hooves of three black warhorses cleared the road faster than any shout from the street officers. People moved to the side when they saw them racing down the streets of the Imperial City Akan.

Kastan paid them no mind, and did not slow down until he saw the large black gates of the Akan Imperial Palace ahead. Slowing down the pace of his horse, he watched the gates slowly start to open; the soldiers guarding the gates all formed a neat line on each side of the palace gates, their black uniform with gold embroidery matching.

They saluted Kastan as he rode through the open gates into the Akasha Imperial Palace.

Kastan led his horse to the foot of the series of stairs that led to the front doors of the palace’s greeting hall. They called them the thousand steps doorway. A man’s luck depended on what he found at the top of the stairs. It could be a cool reception, a warm greeting, or nothing, at the extreme one found death at the end of a sword.

Kastan walked up the stairs with a sense of nostalgia. He grew up in this palace, running up these steps with his sister and brother. As he turned ten, his interests turned to the extensive training grounds beyond the main palace where he learned how to wield a sword the right way.

His training master insisted he learn how to use all weapons in the palace’s arsenal. The challenge was welcome and with it, his thirst for adventure. The solid walls around the palace started to feel stifling, and he longed for a life outside the Imperial City. Everything he had done since he turned twenty and married Jian was to gain independence to live outside the palace. He dared not imagine the idea of returning into this opulent cold palace.

Silver Shore was far more comfortable compared to this place.

“We have a reception,” Naveed murmured, his instinct for danger alive and at work. “I count five people.”

Kastan nodded and finished the last set of stairs, his senses alert. Standing ten steps away was his brother, Kiyan, and his sister, Kyra: an Emperor and a Queen.

Behind them were two of Kiyan’s aides and Kyra’s shadow guard, Sanin.

Kastan did not slow his steps, but Naveed and Temu did, stopping right by the last stair.

“Kas,” Kyra said, racing to him without a care for decorum.

Kastan braced himself as she launched herself into his arms. He lifted her up and turned around on the spot, pleased to see her. He missed her dearly.

“Kyra,” Kastan kissed her cheek when he set her on her feet.

She was beautiful in a moss green silk dress cinched at her waist with a wide gold belt, with long sleeves and its long skirts sweeping the floor. Her long dark hair fell down her back to her waist, with intricate gold leaves keeping it in check. She looked every bit a queen.

“You grow more beautiful with time.”

“I would say the same, Kas,” Kyra said, reaching up with her left hand to caress his right eyebrow and the scar there. “This still makes you look dashing. How many hearts have you broken since I last saw you?”

“None,” Kastan said.

“That can only mean countless,” Kyra said with a laugh, as she took his right hand, and led him to their Emperor Brother. “Kiyan, why do you restrain yourself when you’re as glad to see Kas as I am?”

“He is Commander of Armies, not to be jumped on at will,” Kiyan said, when they reached him.

Still, Kiyan stepped closer and pulled Kastan into a tight hug.

Kastan held his brother, relieved his siblings were in good spirits.

Kiyan let him go, reaching out to arrange Kastan’s red cloak with a small smile. He looked around Kastan, taking in Naveed and Temu who bowed in greeting, still his gaze remained searching.

“Rashan?” Kiyan asked, after a minute.

“With Safan at Silver Shore,” Kastan answered, noting the quick wave of disappointment that flashed over both Kyra and Kiyan’s gazes. “We needed to ride fast. The journey would have been taxing for him.”

“I miss him,” Kyra complained. “I last saw him when he turned ten. It was his birthday a few days ago. I wanted to give him a gift.”

“You’re welcome to Silver Shore at any time. You could send the gifts to him too,” Kastan said. “You must visit Silver Shore before you return to Tanad, Kyra.”

“What about me?” Kiyan asked. “Must I leave the palace to visit my nephew too?”

Kastan sighed.

His Emperor was unhappy about his choice to keep Rashan away from palace life. That much was obvious.

Still, Rashan adored both Kiyan and Kyra.

“I will make arrangements for him to make a short visit soon,” Kastan said, though he sounded reluctant even to his ears.

Kyra glanced at Kiyan, before she tucked her hand in the crook of Kastan’s left arm.

“Come in, Kastan,” Kyra suggested. “I made sure there was plenty of food and drink ready for when you arrived. Your men can follow us and we’ll get them settled.”

Kastan turned and nodded to Naveed and Temu who followed them.

“Thank you for answering my summons so soon,” Kiyan said, as they went down a long hallway. “I imagined you might be delayed for a week or so.”

“I always come when you ask,” Kastan reminded his brother.

“You’re the only one I can count on,” Kiyan said, his tone enough to make Kastan pause.

Kiyan was the most powerful man in the empire. He should fear nothing, especially with Kastan by his side.

Still, an Emperor had more worries keeping him awake.

“Kastan, can you trust me with Rashan? It’s dangerous to leave him alone at Silver Shore.”

Kyra squeezed Kastan’s arm, and he caught her censoring gaze when he looked at her. She wanted him to take it easy with Kiyan.

“Your Imperial Majesty’s offer is hard to ignore,” Kastan said. “I’m afraid I would have to wait to give you an answer. Your servant is weak when it comes to his son. I can’t force him to do anything.”

“Aren’t you being too nice a parent?” Kiyan asked, leading the way into an elegant greeting room with tables laden with food and drink.

Three retainers met them at the entrance, holding trays that they held out to Kastan, Temu and Naveed.

Kastan took the warm wet towel from the flat tray and used it to wipe his hands. Behind him, Temu and Naveed also wiped their hands. The retainers took the now soiled towels away and Kyra urged them deeper into the room.

“I still have a lot to learn,” Kastan answered Kiyan’s observation, noting that the remaining retainers moved in silent coordination leaving the room and closing the double doors tight. “Is the Empress not joining us?”

“She is occupied with our sons,” Kiyan said, indicating for them to take seats at the largest dining table. Kiyan sat at the head of the table, and invited them to join him. “Besides, what I want to discuss concerns the empire.”

Kyra sat on Kiyan’s right, while Kastan and his men took the left side.

Kastan waited for Temu and Naveed to settle before he pulled out his chair and sat.

Kyra and Kiyan allowed Kastan and his men to eat and drink in silence for a few minutes.

Kiyan was the one to break the silence first.

“Kastan,” Kiyan said.

Kiyan watched him with a somber gaze. Guilt bloomed in Kiyan's gaze and Kastan looked away, sipping his wine, unable to take that guilt.

“West Nation has become a problem,” Kastan said, bringing up the topic on his brother’s behalf. “All your attempts at negotiation have failed.”

“So, you already understand the situation,” Kiyan said with a heavy sigh. “West Nation is matching on our border. All attempts at reaching an amiable agreement have dissolved. They sent me the head of the last envoy I sent to them. All because they want the iron mines at Mount Kin.”

Mount Kin spanned the length of Akasha’s west border with West Nation. The mountain was in Akasha land, and the people living at the foot of the mountain were skilled metal forgers. They mined iron from the mountain caves and were a huge source of income.

The Emperor would need to respond with force on any aggressive move against Mount Kin.

Kastan met his brother’s gaze.

“Say it,” Kastan said, giving his brother an assuring nod.

“Are you sure you will not send Rashan to stay with us in the palace?” Kiyan asked instead. “He is important to us, as much as he is to you, Kas.”

“Rashan is happiest at Silver Shore,” Kastan said, noting the flash of disappointment in his brother’s gaze.

“Then, Commander,” Kiyan said, his tone hard. “Akasha is at war with West Nation. I’m leaving the west border to you.”

Kastan placed his goblet on the table and gave his brother a single nod in answer. He knew his brother would repeat this same order before the Imperial Court tomorrow morning.

Kastan turned to Naveed and Temu. He gave them a short nod and they both got up from the table, excusing themselves. They headed out to start discrete preparations.

“This war is on two fronts,” Kiyan said, lowering his voice once Kastan’s men left the room. “One shall be fought at court, dealing with the Minister of Trade and the Empress’s father, the other by you, at the border.”

“I have pledged my Queen’s Army to you,” Kyra said, her gaze on Kastan. “You’ll need all the support you can get.”

Kastan pushed his food away, and concentrated on understanding the plot at court that had led them to war.

*~*~*~*

Four days later, in the early morning, a white ceramic bowl hit the polished wood floor, spilling water on the rugs under the table. A matching jar quickly followed the bowl and shattered into pieces, adding more water to the growing mess. Ceramic shards spread across the floor, accompanied by a scream that split the quiet morning.

“Shan, you have to stop this,” Fara begged. “Breaking dishes won’t stop what is coming. You have to be braver.”

“Why can’t I go with him?” Rashan asked, tears tracking down his cheeks. “I’m old enough to join the ranks. Why won’t he take me?”

Rashan picked up the bowl filled with his morning porridge and flung it on the floor. The spilled porridge mixed with the ceramic shards. Looking for the satisfaction of breakage, Rashan picked up a ceramic vase and threw it toward the door.

A strong hand with a silver plated leather arm bracer saved the vase. Silence filled the room as Fara moved aside when she noticed Kastan standing at the entrance into Rashan’s rooms.

Rashan sniffled and turned away from his father. He reached for the cushions on the chaise lounge and threw them on the floor.

“Rashan,” Kastan’s tone was enough to stop the most stubborn of souls.

Rashan ignored him, and kicked the table next to the chaise lounge.

“A tantrum this early in the morning will only aggravate Fara,” Kastan said, entering the sitting area to place the vase he held on a short wood table. “You’ve created a mess in here. How old are you?”

Rashan wiped his tears away with the back of his right hand, and bit back a sob.

Kastan sat in an armchair across Rashan, his gaze on the mess of ceramic shards on the floor. His boots crunched on a shard of broken glass and he moved his leg with a shake of his head.

“Where do you get your temper?” Kastan wondered aloud.

Fara snickered in her corner, and Kastan shot her a look before he turned his attention to his angry son.

“What do you think this will accomplish?” Kastan asked.

Rashan bit his bottom lip harder, his hands in tight fists. His long hair fell around his slender shoulders. He had yet to dress for the day, still in his sleeping clothes. The fire in his eyes was familiar though. Kastan was proud to see it, but at this moment, he could not afford to give in to Rashan’s demands. The battlefront was not a place for his son, not yet.

“Rashan?” Kastan prompted, wanting to know why Rashan was so angry in the morning.

Rashan took in a deep breath and took the few steps needed to stand before Kastan.

“I have not missed practice once,” Rashan started. “I follow all the advice Master Safan gives. I train hard to make sure I can accompany you to battle, Your Grace. Why won’t you allow it?”

“What of Silver Shore?” Kastan asked, folding his hands against his chest, facing his son on equal footing. “Who will I leave the care of Silver Shore to?”

“Master Safan can handle it,” Rashan said, his gaze unwavering.

“What is your title, Rashan?” Kastan asked.

“I am Rashan Miran, Silver Shore Marquis, son of Imperial Prince Kastan, Duke of Silver Shore.”

“And who is in charge of this valley when I’m away?”

Rashan bit his bottom lip, holding Kastan’s gaze, tears filling his eyes.

Kastan kept waiting for an answer until Rashan dashed the tears away with his right fist.

“Silver Shore Marquis is responsible when you're away, Your Grace,” Rashan said, his tone wavering. "I'm responsible."

“With the help of Master Safan,” Kastan reminded him. “Sun-Filled Manor must have a master at all times. If we both leave for war, Silver Shore falls; do you understand what I’m telling you, Rashan?”

“Yes, Your Grace,” Rashan said with a sad nod.

He dropped his gaze to the wooden floor, his little hands still in fists.

“Silver Shore is home to our troops, they must find it standing when they return.”

“Who do you think has the more important job, you or me?” Kastan asked.

Rashan looked up from his study of the floor to meet Kastan’s hard gaze.

“Your Grace has the more important job,” Rashan said.

“Wrong,” Kastan said, his tone gentle.

He shifted in his armchair and held out his right hand to Rashan. When Rashan took it, he smiled and pulled his son closer.

“You have the more important job. You must take care of yourself and Sun-Filled Manor so that I don’t worry when I’m out there. Remember all that Master Safan has taught you in your training. Don’t allow yourself to get injured, or ill. If you do, then I'll only worry about you. Do you understand your role in this war?”

Rashan sighed and nodded.

“I understand, Pa.”

Kastan studied his son for a minute. He had made all the necessary arrangements to ensure Rashan’s safety at Silver Shore.

Safan would be in charge of security, but it would be good for Rashan to carry out small responsibilities to calm his annoyance. It would not be easy for them to be apart, chores would distract Rashan from the anxiety of waiting and the stress of war.

Kastan sunk his fingers into Rashan’s hair, stroking the silky strands for a second.

“Now, you’re going to help Fara clean this mess you’ve made,” Kastan said, looking around the messy room. “If you’re good, and don’t annoy Fara through the process, I’ll give you a gift, Shan.”

“What gift?” Rashan asked, his eyes bright with excitement.

Kastan smiled and got up, folding his hands behind his back.

“A trip to the Imperial City, Akan,” Kastan said. “Your Aunt Kyra was asking about you.”

“Yes!” Rashan jumped in excitement, he raced off to find a broom, and Kastan turned to Fara.

“The trip will be short,” Kastan said, having decided on it on a whim. “Two nights at the imperial palace at the most, then we’ll return home.”

“I’ll make preparations, Your Grace,” Fara said, just as Rashan returned in a whirlwind of activity.

Kastan chuckled as his son started sweeping with enthusiasm.

Noting Temu by the door, Kastan left Rashan in the care of Fara, and stepped out of Rashan’s quarters.

“The Hidden Keepers have arrived,” Temu reported. “They’re waiting for you, Your Grace.”

Kastan gave his son one last glance, and led the way to the concealed hall in the back of Sun-Filled Manor. The Hidden Keepers would be responsible for keeping Silver Shore and Rashan safe while he was at war with West Nation.

*~*~*~*

This link is to a Character List to help you track all the characters in TRC.
Suilan Lee, 2019-2021
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
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Chapter Comments

11 hours ago, Andre Delport said:

Sui, great to have a new story - thank you. A very promising prologue and 1st chapter -  looking forward to the  remaining chapters.

Thank you Andre! 

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Wow! This has the potential to be a really awesome story. Like REALLY awesome. YES!!!

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Excellent chapter! There’s quite a bit going on behind the scenes. The emperor is plotting, Rashan has a secret wish, and there’s no shortage of intrigue at court. This has all the ingredients of one of your amazing, twisting, turning and surprise filled novels. I’m definitely looking forward to the next chapter! 😃❤️

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The desires of a stripling son to prove himself in battle echo down through the ages, In our era sending an heir off to school carries with it the same challenges that battles with sword and spear did in other times. You have created an era, Sui, and its challenges with care. I am looking forward to seeing how each of the characters meets his particular problems. This tale echos many of the events of my life – my father was a warrior and had to leave his wife and child as he was assigned to distant battlegrounds. I was that child and was just as angry (and frustrated) as is the young man in this chapter, but I did not have a pottage bowl to throw on the floor. I was sent away to military school at which I failed the first year, went back the second year to prove I could hack it and then the final two years because I was loving the challenge. I graduated as valedictorian of my class and a member of the CO's staff.

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Now we get a very interesting contrast in Duke Silver to the warrior in the prologue.  He may be feared, but not by those he loves and love him.

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