The kingdom of Corbach stretched cross many lands. Where once stood independent nations, there now was simply Corbach. The tribes to the north with their Frozen Ways. The wanderers to the South, the origin of magic. To the West, Forest-wide and unknown. Into the east simple farmland and on it simple people made their homes. And in the Center of it all, the royal family built their fortress, and from there they ruled.
In the east, Helkias sat near his mother’s grave, or rather the place they’d chosen to honor her. His father stood only yards away leaning at the entryway to his home. Nurem’s mug steamed in the cool winter air. The wine had warmed them both. Until Helkias had come to the conclusion that Alis should be brought up to date on their lives.
The Blackraven rose.
“I must know father, with everything that’s passed. With all I’ve told you. How can you welcome me so?”
“Easy, my boy,” he chuckled, “Long ago your mother and I chose this place to make our home. And we agreed then that no matter what came to pass here we would always find respite and love here. And when you came to us it became even more important to us.”
Helkias accepted the mug from his father’s outstretched hand.
“I promised her no matter what, you would have a place here. No matter what came to be, who you came to be, you could always come home again.”
Nurem held his son. Tears welled in both their eyes. And Helkias sobbed, embracing his father someone whom he had never dared hope to see again.
“The wine has done its job then,” Nurem said stoically. Helk pushed himself away and let both his hands rest on Nurem’s shoulders. He chuckled and wiped the tears away.
“Clearly it has,” Helk threw one arm around his father’s shoulders and led him back inside, “Does not mean we should stop it from its task.”
They drank long into the night and the morning sun found them asleep at the kitchen table. Nurem rose first and groaned as he stretched. He looked at his son. He had not thought to see his boy again. The rumors from the capital were too outrageous, too slanderous to be anything but propaganda. He chuckled. His boy, the one he had told when and how to shovel horse shit was the stuff of royal propaganda. It was absurd. And yet, the way Helkias looked at him across the fire. Nurem wondered what else had happened to his son those many months away.
“Helkias,” Nurem shook his son awake.
“Err whassat?” Helk turned away and shrugged his feathery cloak over his head.
“Boy, you have to ride to meet whosit’s, the girl,” Nurem set the cook fire to burn and hung a pot above it.
Helk pushed his hands through his hair. And glared at the sun.
“Figures I’d come and start a durned revolution hungover and with wine shits,” Helk groaned in a familiar fashion as he rose, “Well, does nothing to complain about it.”
The Blackraven’s shadowy form stalked. To the Outhouse.