Golnar stood in the ballroom of the Belles Mansion surrounded by finery. The marble floors shined as though they were freshly cleaned and polished. Candelabras lined the golden walls. More candles were overhead in large chandeliers. Tables were set up along the sides with enough food to feel a village for a half a year. Flower arrangements of bright summer flowers as tall as Golnar were positioned throughout the room. Everything around him exuded extravagance.
As a child living in the fourth ring of Aurumist, he never would have dreamed of being in a place like this. He never would have imagined he would live in the palace making decisions that affected the entire kingdom. Due to the luck of being clever, he was able to advance beyond required Lessons to Advanced Lessons. With hard work and sacrifice, he was able to get an apprenticeship in the largest library in the kingdom that stood in the second ring of Aurumist.
It was in this library that he read and studied about the first followers of the Ancients. These followers believed the Ancients were the true gods of Regventus. The Ancients were twelve gods. Each god representing a land in Regventus.
These gods stood for power. The Ancients came to Regventus to find a land in chaos. Magical folk were competing with non-gifted people for resources and land. The Ancients sent a plague to kill the non-gifted to give the kingdom to the magical folk, but weak followers of other gods intervened. These magical folk followed the Brother and Sister. They believed all were of equal worth. These magical followers reached out to the non-gifted and healed the sick.
The non-gifted flourished. They rose to power alongside those with magical ability. There was a war fought between the followers of the Ancients and the followers of the Brother and Sister, led by the head of the Adalwen family, Nathin. The war lasted many years. In the end the Adalwen family and their followers won, and King Nathin ruled. His family was in power over 1000 years, but the followers of the Ancients were always in the shadows waiting.
The followers of the Ancients convinced magical folk to hide their powers to gain the trust of the non-gifted. Over the many generations, the followers of the Ancients forgot their magical power, but not their duty to regain the kingdom. Eventually the way of the Ancients grew in numbers and power.
Just over five hundred years ago, the line of Adalwen was forced from the palace of Aurumist. The followers of the Ancients had ruled ever since. Magic seem to disappear from the kingdom, but it was always there. The magical users who followed the line of Adalwen retreated into hiding. Those with magical blood continued to be born all over the kingdom, but their magical power lay dormant. It was said when the time was right, the Ancients would release the power of its followers. Golnar believed that time was upon them.
As Golnar learned about the belief that those with magical ability were meant to be the true leaders of the kingdom, he learned how to recognize magical blood. He realized why he was so clever. He realized why things came so easy to him, and why people would sometimes bend to his will. He had magical blood himself.
Golnar dedicated himself to unlocking his magical ability. He studied how magic was used, and how you could unleash it. He found old books on potions. He searched and found an old woman who practiced magic. He was able to get useful information out of her by torturing her. Once he was sure he had all the information he could get, he ended her to keep his secrets safe.
He learned enough of magic to work his way up the ladder until he was a healer and advisor in the palace. He still only knew very little about magic, and he wanted to know more. He wanted to be a full fledge magic user. He found ways to capture more magical folk. He studied them, and he kept them alive until he found all he could. Then he killed them. Sometimes if it was necessary and he was aware of where they came from, he would send word anonymously to the family that their loved one died by some tragic accident
More than anything, Golnar wanted power. He resented his childhood and watching his mother work endless hours to keep him and her feed. He watched her wither away with hunger and sickness until she died while he was working in the library. If his ancestors had won the war a thousand years ago, he never would have suffered. His mother would have lived an easy life. Golnar wouldn’t have had to fight day after day, struggling to reach the top. No magical-blooded people should never have to struggle as he did.
Golnar was blessed by the Ancients. He knew he was meant to live in this time, to usher in a new way for Regventus. With magical-blooded folk in their rightful place and non-magical folk where they belonged, there would be less hunger, sickness, and untimely death. Non-gifted people should never have been able to flourish. They should have died out with the sickness long ago, but due to the weakness of those who should have led, non-magical people were saved. Now the kingdom was too crowded and too chaotic. There was suffering because there was no order.
Golnar checked on a table close to the end of the room. Thirty small vials full of golden liquid sat on the table. Each one for the twenty-eight invited here tonight by Camelia and two invited by Golnar himself. It would be the first of many gatherings that would take place this year. Gatherings where influential magical-blooded folk would come to have their power unleashed. They would start with the high class, then magical-blooded soldiers, before working to identify those in the outer rings with the ability.
Tonight had to go perfectly. Camelia had invited fourteen couples for the first gatherings. These were fourteen couples she had identified as the most influential magical-blooded couples in the city. If all went well tonight these couples could unleash the gift in their families and hold more gatherings. If all went well tonight, a chain of events would be put into place that would be a huge step closer in accomplishing Golnar’s dream. The other two vials were for Viceroy Till and Viceroy Daracha. Till would be needed to help control the city. Golnar felt that Daracha would be helpful as her people of the Lowland Forest were rumored to have many hidden magical folk. He hoped Daracha could turn some of them to their side.
“Golnar is everything to your approval?” asked Camelia Belles as she came into the room wearing a dark red ball gown, looking everything wealthy and fine.
“Yes, very good Camelia. You are sure you have invited the right people for us to begin.”
“Yes, I am certain. Now, I have done everything you have asked. Do you guarantee the safety of my son?” asked Camelia.
“Lord Kedan will be very safe. He is as safe as he can get at the moment. I’m sure he and Teryn spoke to you of their news and their trip,” replied Golnar, picking up one of the vials and examining it.
“They did. It’s wonderful, a child already. I hope they stay many months in the River Valley. Teryn needs rest, and they will be safe there.”
“They aren’t expected back until at least after summer. By the time they get back we will crown Kedan as king. His position will be secure as well as that of his child. You have nothing to worry about,” assured Golnar as he carefully placed the vial back onto the table.
“Good, now excuse me. I must find my husband so we can meet our guests. I have explained everything to him. I have told him he has your assurances of keeping his wealth and home even after the new way is instituted. I hope that is correct,” said Camelia adjusting her skirt.
“Yes, with a magical wife and as the father to the king, he will be assured of all the wealth and comfort he has now, possibly more.”
Camelia nodded and glided out of the room.
An hour later, the room was full of chatter and excitement. Camelia had spent the last few weeks visiting each family to let them know what was happening. They were skeptical of course, but with Camelia showing them her new powers and the promise of powers of their own, they agreed to at least come to the gathering.
Golnar watched as Till and Daracha came into the room and walked up to him.
“Good evening, Golnar,” greeted Till with a bow. “Everything is ready, then? Once again you are sure of the safety of this concoction you have made?”
“Yes, as I have told you before, everything is perfect. I have taken the elixir myself and you see the results. It won’t be a pleasant experience, but it won’t last long. When you see what you will be able to do after, it will be worth it.”
Till nodded as Golnar turned to Daracha. “Do you have any qualms in taking the elixir? If so, you will need to tell me now.”
“No, I am confident in your ability to do what you say. Besides, Till will be going first,” said Daracha in her wispy voice. Her large eyes watched Golnar, unsettling him.
“We have other news to talk of before we start. We have it confirmed that our spy can get to the new king of the magical folk,” said Till rubbing his hands. “How good would it be if we could crush them before they even get started?”
“You are sure of this? It’s not some trick?” asked Daracha.
“I have a good feeling about this. I had a letter sent to me yesterday. The spy says he has a way to get into the family of the one protecting the king. He is sure of it,” replied Till. “Besides what harm could he do to us even if he is lying? I have given him no information of our plans.”
“What does he want for his trouble?” asked Golnar.
“If he succeeds in killing the king, he wants a fine home for his family in the first ring of the city and a place on the council,” replied Till.
“The council is full at the moment,” said Daracha eyeing Till. “What did you tell him?”
“I assured him we could meet both of his demands if he can provide proof of this king’s death. We can always find a place for him. We are making Lord Kedan a king, so we could easily create a new council seat, or displace someone if need be.”
Daracha raised her eyebrows. “You say it like it’s nothing to displace someone, but you must remember if we deem one of us as replaceable, we are saying we are all replaceable.”
“No need to worry about that, Daracha,” said Golnar “We will see if this spy can do as he says. If he succeeds, we will find a way to give him what he wants. It will be worth it if we can rid ourselves of this young king before he can cause trouble.”
Daracha nodded in agreement.
“I think this spy will strike soon, so we won’t have to wait long. I told him to inform me as soon as possible what happens one way or another. If he fails, he might be useful in other ways. He says he is from an old, powerful magical family.”
“I wonder if others from these old, powerful families could be turned to our side if they know what is coming. Maybe this spy of ours could give us more names to contact,” pondered Golnar.
“That’s a good idea. When I hear from him next, I will ask him if he knows others who would want to trade secrets and perform task for favors,” said Till smiling.
“Now, we will be starting soon,” said Golnar, “Till, you come with me. Daracha find a place amongst the crowd.”
Daracha nodded and made her way to the other people in the room who were drinking, eating, and talking. They stood around the room or sat around tables. Golnar spotted Camelia Belles and waved her over. She nodded her head and made her way to Golnar and Till.
“Are we ready, Camelia?” asked Golnar walking with her and Till to the table of vials.
“Yes, everyone is here. Do you want to begin now?” asked Camelia.
Golnar nodded, and Camelia took a deep breath and turned to face the crowd.
“Attention, attention please,” announced Camelia in a loud voice. “I am glad you could all join us tonight. We promised something very special as you know. I know many of you are skeptical and apprehensive, but we will provide proof before we ask you to do anything.” She stopped and nodded at Till and Golnar.
“I call to your attention Viceroy Till and Golnar, healer and advisor to the Lord of Regventus.” Camelia waited until Golnar and Till were by her side. Golnar had a vial of the elixir in his hand.
“Whether you realize it or not, all of you have magic in your blood. It has always been there in you, in your parents, and in their parents and so on. Your ancestors were asked to ignore their magic for the good of the kingdom, but the time has come to unleash it once again. Golnar will explain how,” finished Camelia as she waved Golnar forward.
“I have created an elixir that will wake up the magic in your blood. It will unleash the power inside you that you never knew you had. You will be able to do things you could only dream of before. Behold,” said Golnar.
He waved his hand, and every candle in the room blew out. Some people in the crowd screamed as everyone else mumbled in the darkness. Golnar waved his hand again, and the room was basked once again in candlelight. Many people gasped.
“Now to show you that this elixir is safe and effective, Viceroy Till has agreed to be the first amongst you to take it so you may all observe. There will be some unpleasant effects, but they will not last long. Till, come and take the elixir,” said Golnar.
Till walked up in front of Golnar as he was handed his vial of elixir. Till took the stopper out of the vial. He smelled the liquid, and paused for a moment. He looked behind him at Golnar who nodded at him. Till toasted the room and drank every drop in the vial.
He stood straight for a moment before the vial dropped from his hand and fell on the floor, shattering. Till started to shake. He dropped to the floor and moaned, holding his stomach. He convulsed for several minutes before laying still, while many in the crowd screamed and called for him to have help. He then slowly rose from the floor and looked at the crowd in the room. Everyone went silent.
Till raised a hand and brought it down. All the tablecloths that were on the various tables flew off and neatly folded themselves on the floor, leaving all the dishes and flower arrangements on the tables untouched. Many in the crowd applauded.
“Now it is time for all of you to unleash your magic as well,” said Golnar. “Come forward and accept your elixir.”
The crowd stood still for a moment, before Daracha came forward and took a vial from Golnar. Next a woman took her husband by the hand and drug him up to the front of the room to receive vials from Golnar. More couples followed until everyone had a vial of elixir in the room.
Golnar smiled at everyone and instructed, “When you are ready, take every sip of the elixir.”
Soon the room was full of the sound of shattering glass and screams. People writhed on the floor as the elixir took effect. Before long, all were once again standing up straight trying out their new abilities by levitating objects and summoning glasses of wine to drink.
Golnar addressed the room, “I know you are all very excited about your new ability. You are free to practice your new craft in your own homes, but we ask that you use discretion in public for the time being. If you have any questions or require assistance, you may contact Camelia.”
The crowd nodded in agreement. Many came up to thank Golnar. The people laughed and celebrated. The party lasted well into the night. Eventually everyone left for the evening except for Golnar.
“I think that went well,” remarked Camelia looking around the ball room. “I was afraid they might destroy my house with their new powers, but they all behaved nicely in the end.”
“I’m glad it went well. Your house would have been a small price to pay for the security of our kingdom, but no harm was done. Just a small mess for your staff to clean up in the morning.”
Camelia nodded and walked with Golnar through the room towards the exit.
“That’s odd,” said Camelia stopping to look at one of her flower decorations that had completely died.
“Maybe a spell gone wrong. They are all new at this,” suggested Golnar.
“Maybe,” said Camelia. She touched the arrangement to try to bring it back to life, but it did not work. “Hmm, oh well. I’ll just have it thrown out in the morning.”
Golnar nodded and walked out with Camelia.