The Imperium Games

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prologue

In Ivertia, when a star dies, a sorcerer is born.

The brighter the star has shined, the stronger the sorcerer will become. But whether the sorcerer will be good or bad, is only for them to decide.

Nevertheless, this story is not about a sorcerer. Nor is it about magic, or wonders.

It’s about cruelty and betrayal, yet also about friendship and bravery. It’s about discovering who you are, and who you can become.

And it all started with a game. A cruel one where all the players will fight to be the last one who stands.

In Ivertia, when the king dies, it’s time for the Imperium Games.


Jonas’s legs were shaking uncontrollably as he set on the stiff wooden chair. His mother, Queen Hersha, stood upright beside him. She had a chair behind her, yet she refused to sit down. Jonas could feel the nerves that came out of her body in waves. They were as enormous as a tsunami. But like the Queen she was, she kept her cool.

The tension in the air was almost unbearable as they all waited for more news concerning the King’s condition. Jonas’s father, King Ortelius, has felt unwell for a week or so before he finally collapses that morning. Hours had passed since the castle’s healer entered the King’s room followed by Ivertia’s oldest sorcerer, but neither of them ever came out of the bloody door to give them any concrete news.

“Stop it, Jonason!” His Mother hissed behind closed lips, not even sparing a look at her eldest. His younger sister, Princess Marla stiffened beside him. Jonas slipped his hand into hers, and squeezed for a second, before returning his back to his thigh.

“The Eques House do not show feelings in public” Jonson could’ve heard the old man’s voice, ringing in his head. Shame filled his heart, for he couldn’t even comfort his little sister without worrying about the consequences. What a coward.

When the door finally opened revealing both Merlin and the Grand Healer, Jonas wasn’t sure what made him more nervous. A future where his father was dead, or the one in which he survived.

“I’m sorry my Lords. King Ortelius the Third is no longer among us.”

Queen Hersha fell to her knees with a loud cry.

Others would believe she mourned the death of her husband. But Jonas knew better. There was no love between the two, not even friendship. But now that the real ruler died, the Queen would become a Lady.

Jonas never blamed her for not loving his father. He didn’t love him either. The King was a cruel man and even a crueler father. Now he was dead, and Jonas would finally be free from his father’s long and sharp claws which always seemed to find him.
If only.
Even in his death, the old man had one final trick to mass with his eldest son. “The Imperium Games will begin in seven days when the sun rises. Every contestant must find a healer and a guard by then” Marlin declared.

And Jonas wondered whether his father had finally won.

*******

On the third day after the King’s death, Jonas had his guard, but still no healer. He was running out of options. Without a healer, he had no chance to survive out there. He didn’t want to win the Games and become the next king, but he had no will to die either. Without a healer, death was inevitable.

Jonas could always choose one of the Head-Healer’s apprentices. But the Head-Healer was once his father’s healer, and Jonas wanted nothing to do with his father.

When the sun was placed in the middle of the sky, Jonas finally caved and decided to pay a visit to the Head-Healer. As he marched through one of the many corridors in the castle, he saw Merlin standing at the end of the long hallway observing him. Almost as if he was waiting just for him.

Jonas liked the old sorcerer, and it wasn’t simply because of his father’s hatred towards him. When he was just a kid, the Sorcerer would visit the castle almost once a week. And when he was around, Jonas felt as if he was always watching him. Some days he gave Jonas sweets, and on others, he showed him a little bit of magic. The sorcerer showed young Jonas nothing but kindness, while all he knew in the castle was at best indifference and at worst cruelty.

Merlin was his role model. His hero. And even though Merlin almost disappeared when Jonas became a teenager, his unexpected visits always made him feel better.

“My young Lord.” The laughter in Merlin’s voice brought a smile to Jonas’ face. “Merlin. What brings you to the castle?” “Why don’t you walk with me boy. I have a proposal to make.” Jonas nodded, and the two began walking towards one of the many gardens of the castle.

Even with the white hair on his head, and the wrinkles covering his face, Merlin always appeared young and strong. But that day, he simply looked tired. A little scared too.

“Jonas, I know you haven’t chosen a healer for the games yet. My daughter Melody is a remarkably good one.” Dumbstruck Jonas Froze in his spot. He was well aware of the rumors surrounding the old sorcerer. He knew some believed he had a young daughter in his household. Jonas simply never believed in those teils.

“I trained her myself, young Lord. She is eighteen, a good healer and she will be loyal to you.” Merlin said.

“Merlin, I do not know your daughter. How can I trust her with that?”

“You do not know the Healers’ apprentices either. Yet you do know the two of us.”Jonas felt Merlin’s gaze burning his neck.“Don’t decide today young Lord. I will visit you tomorrow, tell me then your decision.” Jonas nodded. He could think about it, though he doubted he would agree.

“Before you decide though, just remember this, she is a better healer than me. And if you want to survive you will need her.”

“But what if I don’t want to win?” What if because of his unwillingness to become the next king he would get her killed? What would Jonas say to his hero, if he killed his daughter?

“I didn’t offer her because you need her to win. Jonas, she will keep you alive, and you will keep her on the right path. There’s a storm coming, young Lord, and when it’ll finally find her, I’ll be relieved to know you will be there for her.” Merlin said.

“I will think about it.”

And he had. It was all he could think about that night. But it was only when Merlin approached him the next day that he finally found the answer.

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