The sun reached out with its final rays as it sunk below the harbor. The sky was streaked with red and gold, and as the light faded the white castle walls shone red against the darkening city, like a ruby in a glittering sea.
Busy areas around the city began to light up to greet the coming night. The restaurants, shops, and pubs would burn for many hours. As the industrial districts fell silent and dark, areas catering to the after-hours grew more bright and began to fill with a bustling roar.
The citizens of the city celebrated the close of another busy day, oblivious of the dark figure that sat many miles away, envisioning them with malice. He grinned as he imagined seventeen of his best assassins moving toward the city like shadows in water; seventeen death messengers whose actions this night would put into motion several events that would bring Enora to its knees – and to his mercy.
By the morning he would know that they were successful – he had no doubts that they would be – and he could set off to Enora himself, to take from her the key to his long-awaited glory. As soon as he was certain that his assassins had all met with perfect success and that none of them were stupid enough to be captured, he could sweep into Raemon City, the capitol. The chaos and confusion would be so great the theft would go practically unnoticed.
Once they were in his possession, there would be nothing to stop him. Emperor Shrinan was the perfect puppet and most loyal ally; he had him convinced so completely that the old fool could never suspect the truth: that his adopted son had brewed a traitorous conspiracy so twisted and dark it would never be fully understood. Only he, the predator, the malediction, would ever know the whole truth, the secrets, and the treachery.
His goal was simple: to rule. He had desired it since he reached manhood. His mother had sent him to his father in the mountains to learn of warfare. His father was a great general, and a hard man. When he saw his father commanding his armies like extensions of his own hands to crush his foes, the boy knew his destiny. When he made his first kill, he knew his pleasure.
His father tried to instruct him, coach him, about leadership, respect, and discipline. His first kill was a well-liked sergeant whom the boy had overheard one evening talking to his mates around their campfire. The sun had set, leaving the air a dusky blue, and the earth relinquished much of the heat from the day to the clear night sky.
"Stars, did you see that boy out there today? ‘Daddy, I want to kill an Itriscian!'" Sergeant Nijen aped in a girlish voice. The other soldiers laughed and sipped their coffee. The conversation continued, but the boy left them silently, fuming. He did not take well to criticism. His weak adolescent emotions could not bear the weight of the insult. He would make them respect him. In the night, Sergeant Niven was stabbed twelve times. The crime was not discovered until the morning. The General did not punish his son, though there was much outrage among the ranks; nobody saw the boy enter the tent.
"My son, this event troubles me beyond comparison.