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A Hero's Visit Home

Chapter One


I awoke from my dream in a deep, cold sweat. My bed sheet clung to my chest. My head was pounding, swimming with the odd memories of my recent dream.

Sure, I knew of Orion. Who hasn't? Born a commoner, adopted by a Sultan, earned a crown... The most famous adventurer since the legendary "Famous Adventurer". The mere thought of him being dead sent shivers down my spine.

A measly rock... felling the greatest Hero of all time, and a part of me wondered if it was true, as a war in Thebes (and many magical barriers, if what I've heard is true) has blocked all communication from many places for quite a few years now.

Who am I, you ask? My name is Erihkam Shamsuel, III, the Prince of Shapeir - Erik or Rik for short. My father won the throne by Rites after young Prince Myron declined to succeed his Grandfather after his death. I really can't say my life has changed much since my father's reign began; he was the head of the Royal Guard, and was Sultan al-Rashid's right-hand-man, next to Ja'afar. I was still with the people I'd always known, the only difference now was that I was Prince.

By my seventh birthday, however, my life changed even more-so than before. During a faire in town, the local Enchantress had an audience with my father, and talk soon centered on me and my future. I was 'gifted with a natural flow of Mana,' she had said. Soon thereafter, my training under Lady Aziza began.

My father was thrilled, and my mother even more! "It is not uncommon for the ability to use magic to infuse itself within a bloodline," Aziza had noted. My Aunt N'tarbe as well as my Great-Grandfather (on my mother's side) both know magic.

Three years of my life were dedicated to Aziza, whom I had come to view as an Aunt. She taught me skills I never thought possible! Opening doors with a simple flick of my wrist, willing flames to shoot from my fingertips, how to cure wounds with just a few words... I was, in a sense, drunk with knowledge.

More time passed, and when I was eleven, Aziza informed me she felt I was ready to face the Wizard Council of W.I.T. (Wizards Institute of Technocery). I passed my trials (which involved battling the elements on many fields) with flying colors, and declined their offer of staying to study under their guidance, telling them that Lady Aziza's guidance was all I needed. That was the first time Aziza had ever hugged me.

Now, as I near my eighteenth year, my powers are far superior than ever before! Just recently, Aziza had instructed me with creating my Familiar (And her Familiar - Gwendolyn, a brilliantly orange 'dancing fish' as she called herself - was hoping I'd summon a fish of my own.)

The ritual was tedious and exhausted me both physically and mentally, and lasted well into the night. Finally, just as I was on the verge of collapsing, a storm filled the air of the room, then as suddenly as it had begun, it stopped. An eerie red flickering glow began to fill Aziza's darkened back room, which cast our shadows to dance along the walls.

Weakly, I stood and turned to the direction of the glow. There, standing before me, was the most brilliant mare I had ever laid eyes on! She stared me directly in the eyes, flames flaring from her tail and mane, and black feathered wings which stretched out before tucking into her sides and vanishing. Slowly, she bowed her head to me.

I reached out, running my hand along her dark, velvety pelt, and when she spoke my name, there was a brilliant flash of flames! She was gone, and a gold chain hung from my wrist and the smell of sulfur filled my lungs. Aziza kept silent as I inspected the length of gold left on my arm. There was a gold charm on the chain, and I gently ran a finger along the wings of the horse trinket. That is how Morning Glory, my Familiar, was born.

The hot desert desert sun woke me early that morning, and I groggily stumbled out of bed and started my morning routine. As I finished pulling on my shirt, there was a knock on my bedroom door before it slowly creaked open.

"Oh! You're already awake," my sister, Alexandria, stood in the doorway, her brown eyes squinting as she looked at me, "Is everything okay? You look a bit shaken."

I stifled back a yawn. "I'm fine Xand, just didn't sleep straight through the night."

She shrugged, "Dad sent me for you, he wants to see you in the conference hall as soon as you can." I nodded, and she walked off, all six feet of her. I had to admire her, she's only two years older than me, but I've seen her best the Captain of the Guards in a duel.

My father wanted an official meeting with me, an early meeting too... It was either one extreme or the other, and I didn't know whether to panic, or be anxious over it.

Slowly, I made my way down the hallway, taking a shortcut through the throne room, and soon arrived at my destination. I took a deep breath, and opened the door.

"My Prince," the source of the voice was on his feet in a bow to me. I smiled at the muscled bald man, who smiled back and reclaimed his seat.

"Erihkam, I would like to introduce you to Issur, the finest Weaponsmith in the Eight Deserts." The man's expression didn't change at hearing my father's praise.

"Your father has high expectations of you," he said. I blinked and looked at him, then to my father with a slightly confused expression

In reply, my father just smiled pleasantly. "Issur here has been working on a little project for me." I nodded as I took a seat opposite Issur, waiting for my father to continue.

"With a little help from some Wizards," Issur's sounded as if he'd been forced to say the word, "I was charged with making my finest blade to date."

"For you, my son," Dad continued, a slight smile on his face. "I believe with a bit of weapon expertise, mixed with your magic skills, you could out-perform your sister." He gave me a wink, but I knew it was more than just the sibling rivalry he was helping here.

I had to give out a short laugh. "Me? With a sword? This is a joke, right?" I looked back and forth between Issur and my father, Issur had pursed his lips together and was looking back at me.

My father shook his head. "No, Erik, I'm not jesting. Issur here has even volunteered to teach you the basics of swordplay."

Issur nodded, and stood up, clearing his throat. "My Prince, this... this 'MageBlade' has the fury of the Dragon contained within." He bent down and hefted a leather bound cedar box with ease, setting it on the table. "I have forged it under rather strict conditions in a heart of flame." Issur slid the lid of the box off, the sunlight filtering in through the high palace windows glinted off the blade of the sword. "The sword was crafted specifically for you, and you alone. There is no sword known to be like it."

I was trying to understand what he was talking about as he wrapped a white cloth around the hilt and almost lovingly raised the sword from its box. The silvery-black blade seemed to shimmer as it moved, and I saw hints of red woven into the metal. What I saw of the hilt was a bluish leather, with golden pearl-like metal for the hand guard, as well as encasing a vibrant blue gem at the very end. A blue gem with pinkish, purplish and reddish swirls moving under the surface.

"My Prince, this sword has a mind of its own, and can tell when excessive force is needed." He looked a bit skeptical at his own words, but continued after clearing his throat again. "Once you wield it, it will not let anyone else, nor will it ever draw your blood or harm anyone you desire it not to."

I raised an eyebrow at his words. "You know, it's not safe to trust something that has a mind of its own." I had to mention it, as it was one of my father's many sayings.

The Weaponsmith chuckled and glanced over to my father before continuing. "Prince Erihkam, it's more like an extension of your own consciousness, the Wizard in charge of the project assured me it's safe." Again, he seemed to not believe his own words. He gave off the aura of having only done this project because it was ordered by my father.

I gave a slight nod, and smirked a bit as Issur made his way around the table to me. I stood as he approached, anxious despite myself. He towered over me, and could likely snap my back with a simple pat on it, even if he did look to be in his fifties.

He held the sword out for me, and I put my hands out for him to place it in my grasp. He gently placed the flat of the double-edged blade against my palm, and I immediately felt a rush of Mana surge through me, through my very essence. The sword was acquainting itself with me. It felt... exhilarating! Like I was born with the sword in my hand.

I opened my eyes to realize Issur was now a few steps away, the cloth still in his hand, and my hand around the blue leather hilt.

"Well, go on, take a few swings!" My father seemed as anxious as I was. I wasn't about to question the time and money he invested in this.

With no more encouragement, I grasped the hilt and swung the blade through the air. Another rush went through my body, and I realized I actually felt the movement of air against the blade, which seemed as light as a feather in my hand now.

Again, another swing, and the same sensation of feeling what the blade should have rippled through my very core, causing my grip to weaken, the sword slipped from my hand. I jumped in reflex, but wasn't fast enough; the sword sliced quickly downward, stopping only when it struck my foot.

Both Issur and my father went to rush to me, but the only damage done was that I now had a ruined shoe. The sword was unable to cut my flesh.

"Amazing!" Issur whispered, clearly in shock that the magic infused in this "MageBlade' actually worked. He continued on then, as if nothing happened, "Seems you need to practice on your swing. If you can, meet me at the Guild Hall in an hour. Sherem gave us permission to practice with him and your sister today."

I held back a scoff. "Sure, last thing I need is Lexa seeing me fumble around with a sword."

Issur smiled, putting a hand on my shoulder. "If she knows what's good for her, she'll hold her tongue. She's not beat me in a duel yet." I wasn't sure if he was joking or not, and had no clue how to reply to such a comment.

Swallowing hard, I looked at my sword and finally spoke. "I'll see you there, then. I need to go get a new pair of shoes, and change into looser clothing." After a bow from Issur, and a nod from my father, I put my sword, which I had dubbed DragonFury, back into its box and carried it rather awkwardly up to my room.

A Hero's Visit Home