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Prelude to a New Era

There was a young golden-haired man sitting in a study. The young man seemed to be engrossed in scratching and erasing a document. The room was decorated in mostly wooden furnishings with the design of Luminomia’s flag upon many of the fixtures. It was a small but well kept room.

“Milord!” bellowed a strong feminine voice as the wooden door to the study burst open. The golden-haired young man raised his head to see who had disturbed his concentration. A young girl rushed across the large desk and frantically gave the young man a hug.

“Melantha, what-?” said the golden-haired boy before the girl kissed him on the lips. The surprise kiss seemed to render the young man immobile at first but he soon pulled his head back to break from the kiss. “What is going on with you?”

At this, the young lady gazed at the young man worriedly. She adjusted herself and sat on his lap. The young man appeared mildly annoyed by her decision but made no comment.

“I’ve heard that you were selected to be sent to the Dark Empire.” said Melantha in a concerned tone. Her face was inches from his. “I knew that I had to see you immediately. I thought perhaps I could provide some comfort for you.”

“I’m busy right now,” said the young man attempting to hold back the annoyed tone. “I’m working on a speech to convince Father and the Noble Court to consider investing more government expenditures for fixed assets.”

Melantha looked at him in confusion. The young golden-haired man sighed outwardly.

She’s only a woman so she can’t understand. thought the young man, But she’s the only person that listens to me. How can I make Father and the Noble Court do the same?

“Well, that sounds nice.” said Melantha after some hesitation. The young man knew that she neither understood nor cared about his desire to reform the current government structure. “I was hoping that we could enjoy each other’s company before you were sent on your journey. I… I’m terrified that we won’t have the opportunity in the future.”

The young man held back a snort. To his chagrin, Melantha seemed to notice. She appeared hurt and confused by his attitude.

“Milord,” began Melantha carefully, “I don’t wish to sound like a nuisance but this halts our marriage ceremony. I hoped that we could be wed within the month and now politics has sullied our prospects.”

He sighed quietly in exasperation. I don’t want to be bothered by this!

The honest truth was that he didn’t care. He felt overwhelmed when he first heard of the marriage arranged by his Father and a prominent business associate. All Nobles eventually married into businesses run by successful entrepreneurs. If a citizen proved capable of running a thriving business then they or their immediate progeny would be allowed to marry into nobility.

The marriage system had begun twenty-three years ago near the beginning of 2200 Aknad. The new societal structure had proved fruitful for both the nobles and the elite business leaders who viewed gaining nobility as a type of retirement. However, the ordinary citizens and minorities continued to suffer the worst under the strain of the Dark Empire’s power. He hoped to fix that by attempting to give more to the needy and hoped to motivate the other Noble Houses into focusing more on the nation-state’s needs. Currently, he felt the idea of preserving the dignity of the Nobility was too short-sided to fix the current problems of Luminomia.

His arranged partner, Melantha Candorn, had come to his family’s mansion and made an effort to get to know him. He was unaccustomed to an attractive young woman simply barging into his room. At first, he had felt touched by someone having an active interest in his life. He had happily spoken of his interests in government reform. He would explain his opinions to Melantha who would smile and nod at his statements. He had asked what her view of the government and people were but Melantha would only respond with shrugs or say that she didn’t know. When he attempted to question her views, Melantha had stated that the issues were “too big” for her to understand. Eventually, he realized that Melantha had feigned interest because she only wished to fulfill her wifely duties.

She didn’t actually understand his viewpoints about the current system and she was more interested in fulfilling her obligations as a wife. In truth, he felt bored whenever in her presence but she was the only person who would feign listening to him. He had spent most of his childhood alone because of his medical condition. His parents were against him having friends as they felt he should focus more on his schoolwork and Noble decorum. He had lived in solitude for most of his early life and so he felt that Melantha was better than nothing. Nobody else was willing to simply sit and listen either. Servants had their tasks and his Father disapproved of him bothering them; his own parents and fellow Nobility seemed disinterested in his ideas. He felt trapped and annoyed by his current predicament. Soon, he would be sent to fend for his life against Dark Creatures in the Dark Empire for what he felt were poorly created laws that existed out of too much compromise.

Melantha brought him out of his musings. “Milord, you know I’m deeply concerned, right? I wish we could just be married. My father was deeply saddened that it had been you selected to go. I worry for his health especially during these hard times.”

Melantha would usually speak of her family and how concerned she was for her father’s failing health. After the first two weeks of such discussion, he had assumed that she was trying to create a guilt trip so that he could push for marriage faster. He let his mind wander whenever she spoke of her family because she would repeat herself constantly about how hard at work her father was. He had no interest in hearing the same concerns whether genuine or not and he honestly felt bored of listening to her. He was about to respond to her when the door suddenly burst open. Melantha jumped on his lap out of surprise. He looked to see that his father had entered his private study.

“Son, a quick word – ah!” His father stopped speaking upon seeing Melantha sitting intimately on his lap.

A small smile made its way on his father’s lips. He noted the look of approval upon his father’s visage upon observing them. Inwardly, he felt a flash of rage upon seeing his father’s look.

Why is my life like this? He pondered, Why does nobody ever listen to me?

He didn’t like Melantha and he never chose Melantha as his life partner. His father always ignored his concerns and instead his father chose only to see what he wanted. Even now, the look of annoyance on his face was being misinterpreted for disturbing a private moment. In truth, it was because he understood what his father was thinking and wanted to tell him how wrong he was. If he were to ever do that, then his father would only see it as an insult to the family name and an embarrassment if the other Nobles learned of his so-called childish temper tantrums.

The hatred dwelling within him only grew as a result.

“Ms. Candorn, could you please excuse us?” said the tall blond man politely, “My son and I must discuss pertinent matters that are too distressing for lady folk.”

“Of course, your Lordship!” said Melantha. She immediately got up to curtsy before quickly leaving out the doorway.

He took note of his father’s impatient visage. He felt a wave of exhaustion because of the growing dread of what the conversation would entail. His father never listened to him. He felt tired of trying to have the same conversations only to be ignored and shut down. Conversing about this topic felt like self-depreciation but he knew that he had to try.

“Son, the Noble Court has decided on the date of your journey,” said his father firmly, “You shall be sent within a month’s time. You are not to return until you have succeeded with your quest. A prayer ceremony shall be held in your honor before you take leave.”

“A month?!” He shouted in surprise. He was unable to suppress his anger. Internally, he seethed about the entire idiotic predicament. “Let me get this straight; the Noble Court is sending me out in a month with the vain hope that I kill a high-ranking official? This is stupid!”

“Enough, I will not be questioned by my own child!” said his father thunderously. He shrank in his seat at the furious tone that his father used. His father continued in a firm tone. “You are to listen and follow as instructed. I have already explained to you that we are competing with the other Houses.”

His father moved from the opposite side of the table to stand in front of him and folded his arms. “We must ensure that our House achieves the highest of esteem. You must do your duty. There are to be no doubt words uttered from your mouth. We have already sent others who have failed in their quests. It would be an embarrassment to our House and an insult to other Noble families if you were to doubt their sacrifices. Is that clear, boy?”

“But father, what about the needs of our soldiers and common people?” He said, attempting to change topics and direct the conversation towards his true concerns. “With the Dark Empire pilfering our material resources, shouldn’t the Noble Court come together to keep a rigid hold on the resources we have left for the benefit of our country? We’ve been too heavy-handed in crushing rebellions and less focused on addressing their concerns for food, clean water, jobs, and medical treatment.”

“Boy, what did I just tell you about doubt? I don’t want you embarrassing our House further with such talk. The conference you assembled to speak of such matters was a foolish and naïve endeavor. ” His father said impatiently, “Why would any of the Noble Houses give up their rights of City-State autonomy? The current guidelines of Lordship are perfect. There is no interference between Noble Houses over laws or territorial rights. The quests that we’ve formed are a concession meant to preserve and protect our Noble system.”

That does not work,” The golden-haired youth told his father in growing agitation, “attempting to gain political standing over the other Houses by successfully assassinating one of their high-ranking officials is foolhardy. What would the end result even achieve?”

His father glared at him. He knew that he had touched a nerve by stating the Noble children sent out on assassination ‘quests’ were stupid actions but this was too important.

He pressed forward. “Historically, looking at the West as an example, this philosophy of all-or-nothing gains for power and prestige only leads to sectarian or factional warfare. Even if one of the Noble Houses became dominant, how could that help unite Luminomia against overcoming the Dark Empire’s military might? If the dominant House treats the other Houses poorly then we lose and if we stay uncooperative to keep powers within our own City-States then we still lose. We must unite as a nation to fight against them.”

“There is no incentive in that,” said his father stubbornly, the golden-haired man sighed tiredly. “You want to create some grand cooperation scheme, boy? Do it after you’ve proven yourself to the Noble Court and in honor of those who perished before you.”

His father swiftly left out the door in anger. The young man felt a flash of anger as his resentment for his idiotic father grew. Fuck you, fuck the Noble Court, and fuck this stupid system!

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