Prologue: The Coronation
A man walked down the center aisle of the courtroom. Behind him the great wood doors slammed shut; ahead the throne waited, empty.
Hundreds had traveled from far off provinces to witness this moment: his crowning. The most affluent, the nobles and well to do merchants, stood on either side of the aisle. Their clothes extravagant-flamboyant even-especially when compared to the austere military cut of the tall man who walked between them.
He wore a dark green suit, the hems trimmed with accents of gold. This was extravagant for him. He had never been one of excess, preferring function to aesthetics, unlike his peers to either side. But they would not be his peers much longer. He was to ascend beyond them. At long last, he would be king.
The people loved him. He was lauded as a hero of the realm. His reputation preceded him. The invincible prince. The conqueror of demon hordes. The slayer of Ismath the vile dragon. The list went on and on. There were few in all the world who could match his honor or renown.
He strode past them, his loving fans, his eyes focused on the dais ahead. A knight in shining armor stood to the right, a man in a blue suit stood to the left. The knight held a sword before her, the tip resting on the stone floor, her hands folded upon the ruby pommel. The man in blue held a circlet upon a padded tray. The circlet was a simple affair, a gold band with a single emerald in the center.
The man took his first step up the dais when the hall’s doors flew open. With a cascading BANG, they burst from their hinges. A gust of gale wind followed, ripping the sapphire banners of the royal family of Lolyk from the walls. Guards flew through after the doors, knocked from their feet. Shouts rang through the halls outside.
A hooded figure ran through.
The guards within the room started to charge. A guest screamed, others began to move, as if they intended to run from the room.
The figure ignored all this, her path set directly ahead.
The man turned, a half-formed shout of shock on his lips.
The words never formed. His cry for help, his last words, whatever they had been were silenced forever. Her dagger found him far too soon for anything else. The dagger she had drawn before she’d even entered was already hilt deep in his heart.
The man staggered forward, falling over her shoulder. She stumbled back with him, letting him roll off her to the floor. His body slumped to the ground with a solid thud.
A stunned silence fell over the hall. It lasted only a moment, not even an entire second. Long enough for those present to come to one unavoidable conclusion.
The crown prince was dead.
The figure stood over her kill, unmoving. The guards rushed to surround her, but now it was pointless. She had no intention of fleeing. They swarmed her, grabbing her arms, her shoulders, baring steel in her face, at her throat. She didn’t flinch.
They pulled the hood back to see her shocking white hair, partially braided on one side. The style revealing one ear, but that was more than enough to prove who she was. Its pointed tip was proof of her parentage. She was the daughter of a demon.
She opened her eyes. Eyes that glowed purple with arcane power. All in attendance recoiled at the sight of them, yet they lacked the hard edge of a murderer. Rather they almost looked as if they were about to cry.
There was only one woman with such features, yet, as if she felt the need to banish any doubt, she declared to the stunned crowd, “I am Keres Alistair, the Banished Mage. I throw myself at the mercy of the kingdom.”
The Banished Mage had returned.
The crowd was silent as the Banished Mage was escorted out. Her head stood high as she strode out of the defiled throne room. She stared straight on without a shred of regret in her eyes. Her shoulders relaxed with every step she took from her kill, like a great burden had finally been lifted from her soul.