“Okay,” Roshaun said, “I accept that I am this prince that you say I am.”
“Good,” the king nodded.
“But,” Roshaun continued, “I really don’t understand what you need me for. Clearly, I haven’t had an important role to play since no one has come looking for me in the years since my parents’ death.” Roshaun snickered, “I mean, I’ve been living on the streets for as long as I can remember.”
“You have to understand,” the king began, “that everyone thought you had died along with your parents. It wasn’t until just this time last year that we caught any wind of your survival when an old man who once served your family begged us to find you. He is the one that convinced us that we might find you. Sadly, the man passed away no more than a week ago without having seen his hope fulfilled. Still, I think he would be happy to know that you have been found.”
“And your role,” the king continued, “is just as important as any of the others in the royal families.”
“But why?” Roshaun asked. He shivered slightly from the cold his wet clothes produced.
“I suppose the best way to answer that question would be to start at the beginning,” the king said, “Back several thousand years, before any kingdom ever claimed that land and all its wealth as its own. Back then there were four gods who controlled and balanced the different elements of our earth: Rakshana, the goddess of our soil, and protector of our children; Sylvinor, the god over our oceans, and the giver of life; Eliktina, the goddess of our skies, and the one the gives us strength; and Lakviran, the god of justice, and destroyer of the unrighteous with holy flame. Each deity gathered people under their protection and guidance that eventually led to the establishment of four kingdoms; each was named after the god they claimed as their own. There was peace and harmony among these kingdoms for many years.” The king paused for a moment then leaned forward. His features looked ghastly as he furrowed his brow and continued.
“But,” he said, “there was another god. One that did not look over the living, but the dead. His name was Sholinar. Now, Sholinar was envious of the other gods because the people they had gathered worshipped and loved them, but not a single person worshipped or even loved him. His role as gatekeeper of the underworld filled all the inhabitans with fear, and this made him angry. In his anger, Sholinar schemed of a way that he could take control of all people in the land. He came to realize that the other gods had a weakness that he would come to exploit.”
“What was the weakness?” Roshaun asked
“The very people they served,” the king replied.
“People?” The very thought was absurd to Roshaun.
“The gods would never allow their people to come under harm while under their watch. They were benevolent, and they blessed the people that served them.” The king responded, “So Sholinar devised a wicked scheme. He approached the four gods at the annual creation festival, which as you may suspect was a festival that celebrated the world’s creation.
“‘Mayhaps,’ he said to the others, ‘you will find this sort of game amusing. I wonder how devoted to you the people would be if you did not interact with them so directly. I have watched your people, and I have seen how loyal they can be. But what if you didn’t interfere? How would your people act if they did not live in fear of your wrath? Surely they would become confused and bitter; their selfish nature would lead them to make war with each other.’
“Lakviran was the first to speak, ‘The people would not turn from justice and truth so easily. The Light created them to have such things in the very fiber of their being.’
“‘Indeed?’ Sholinar asked, his voice hissed, ‘since you are so confident, would you be willing to play a small game?’
“‘What are your terms?’
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