Folklore and Fairy Tales
Benjamin looked up at the ceiling, carefully considering his words.
"Have you ever heard of the raids?" he asked her genuinely as he tried to determine how much of an explanation was warranted.
"Not... really," she admitted somewhat nervously.
'I wonder how differently I would have responded had I not heard Kypher mention it last night. I hope he's not concerned I wasn't more surprised. But...'
"Very well, then," Benjamin replied thoughtfully with his usual friendliness and calm.
She smiled, relieved. 'He doesn't seem bothered.'
"Have you had much exposure to the Kingdom Learning Program?" he asked her.
"Yes," she said, surprised at the question. "I thought that was normal. I mean, doesn't everyone use it?"
"Many do," Dorothy softly agreed.
"Didn't you?" Avera asked, the question addressed to Benjamin.
"Ben is an exceptional case," Dorothy answered, her voice adopting a grave seriousness which was uncommon of any of them. "Though, not uneducated. What he learns, he reads in books, the likes of which you have seen."
"Why not use the KLP?" Avera asked, trying not to come off as being impolite.
"I'm afraid I would have lost myself in my studies," Benjamin told her, seemingly amused, "but the books do me dandily."
"Hmm. Yes," Dorthy said, her eyes on Benjamin. "As for the raids," she continued, her eyes returning to Avera with shadows of consideration, "it was the crescendo of a lost piece of history."
"It began with the reign of King Stephan," Benjamin picked up, continuing the familiar tale. "He was a kind and benevolent ruler, and the people prospered under his governance. Until, one day, he fell ill."
"In his sickness," Dorothy continued, "he sent out one of his most trusted and loyal advisors, his son's armor bearer, a man they called Ramus."
"Ramus was a man of war, a hero, loved by the people and the king," Benjamin told her, conveying the story with great personal investment. "It was he who would ride with the king's son into battle. It was he who would bring matters of war to the King's Court. When a banquet was thrown for the prince's coronation, he was given the seat of honor at the table."
"It was on that day that the King sent him to the Seer to inquire of him whether he may live, and it was on that day that an ungodly lust for power consumed the man. The King had called him as a friend, but what he had was a man of perdition. Ramus went to the Seer with his apprentice, a man named Blackridge," Dorothy went on, and, as she did, her eyes shifted to ghostly shadows of the past and long forgotten memories. "The two men fought their way through the night against the elements." She shook her head. "There were thunderstorms that night throughout the kingdom, from Rivdul to Nuar it was reported driving rains, tumultuous winds, and flashes of fire from heaven." She paused before muttering, "Perhaps we should have known."
"When they arrived," Benjamin continued on, dismissing the comment, "they were told that the King would live, were his death not determined by their hand."
Dorothy nodded. "Sebastian knew that the men had evil determined against him. He hid his apprentice in the loft of the cabin where he stayed and instructed her to follow them at their departure."
"The men killed the Seer and the King," Benjamin told her, his voice a solemn lament, "and they would have killed more, had the apprentice not come to rescue the prince."
A look of horror spread across Avera's face, she having become enraptured in the treacherous tale of yore, and she felt the weight of his words as he continued to speak.
"Once Ramus came to power, he issued orders for the armies of the king to go out and murder the country's own citizens. All who were loyal to the King of Pyre were put to death."
"And what of the Prince?" Avera asked them, having become overly invested in this lost chapter of their country's history.
"Having escaped the murderous hand of Ramus," Dorothy answered calmly, "he fled to a hidden refuge in the mountains, taking with him many of the King's servants who remained faithful to his father."
"However," Benjamin added with a whisper of excitement, moving to the edge of his seat and raising a finger before his face, "he had a newborn son whom he left in the care of the Seer, and the child remained in the city." His eyes watched her, their amber flecks like sparks of newborn flame.
"When Ramus learned that Casper's son was still in the city," Dorothy continued, her eyes glancing back to Benjamin, "purge of the Pyreans. All who were loyal to the King in the city were put to death. All Armorials were put to death. All who would not comply in the search for the young prince and the officials who remained... were put to death." She paused, looking back into dark and distant memories.
"Within hours of the King's assassination," Benjamin continued, "there were raiding parties headed by Blackridge terrorizing the people in a relentless search for the royal heirs. Fearing for their lives and the life of their child, Prince Casper and his wife, Penelope, took horses and began their journey through the forest to the mountains east of Kedar."
"Even after their departure, the raids continued for weeks without end. There were screams of terror throughout the city. The crashing of stones through windows and other forms of destruction were commonplace. Residents were dragged from their homes to the war-torn streets as explosions destroyed storefronts, and hundreds were murdered night after night. There was much blood and destruction in those days," Dorothy told her with pained expression, bringing her teacup near to her mouth without taking a sip of it.
"But what became of the Seer and the Prince's son?" Avera curiously protested.
Benjamin and Dorothy shot each other startled glances which puzzled her.
Benjamin closed his eyes, lowering his head with his voice, "No one knows what happened. They were lost to the annals of a history no one remembers."
Dorothy sat, gently sipping her tea with a small, pensive smile on her face as he spoke. "Some say they fled to the mountains and were never here at all, others that they were killed during the raids and no one was the wiser. Yet, some say that they live, even now, patiently awaiting the day that the kingdom will be restored, the breaking of a new and brighter dawn."
"Isn't that more folklore and fairy tales?" Avera said, finding the whole thing a bit of a stretch.
'There's a reason some history is forgotten.'
Benjamin's face broke into an amused grin. "Is it?" he said, almost laughing. "Well," he paused, throwing his head back and catching it in his hands, "I suppose it does sound a little extraordinary, doesn't it?"