A Rising Light: Prologue
Ealdræds massive frame outlined the evening sky at the top of the highest castle tower. His long black hair and beard draped over his black dragon scale cloak.
"Everything that lives in Holbeck, bow to your king!" Ealdræd shouted from his perch.
The sky filled with dark clouds as Beadu forest nearly bowed to the ground from the tumult of westward wind brought on by the words of Ealdræd. Not only did the trees bow, but every living thing in all of Holbeck heeded the command of their King.
It had been ten years since Ealdræd had given half of his soul to the evil that had promised him power to command every living thing in his Kingdom of Holbeck. Every evening he exercised that power, and every day he strove to expand his kingdoms reach.
Moments after the daily bow, rain fell so forcefully that the wheel ruts in the road filled nearly the instant it began. Not a soul was found outside of the makeshift huts that sat in the shadow of the castle walls.
In one such hut was Ealdgyð, one of few women in the kingdom unfortunate enough to have conceived a child. As a little girl, she had dreamed of one-day holding her own child. Her dream would be had this day, though it was sorrow that filled her heart.
Ealdræd had taken her, forced upon her himself in a drunken rage. That is how she had conceived the child that was fighting to enter the cold world. Ealdræd knew of the child and if it was a boy he promised to kill Ealdgyð and raise the child as the future King of the land. If it were a girl, he would have them both killed the very day she was born.
The evening turned to night as Ealdgyð fought to bring a life into the world. At nearly midnight just as the baby was born, the door of the shack burst open. A flood of cold air rushed into the candle lit one room shack as a hooded figure appeared at the door.
"Quick, there is no time!" A man's voice came from under the hood, "Ealdræd's men are nearly here."
"What do want?" Ealdgyð cried clutching her baby close to her chest.
The man lowered his hood revealing a thick beard and tangled mess of black hair, "There is no time, King Ealdræd will kill you and your baby girl."
Ealdgyð hadn't even had time to see if it was a boy or girl. She held the baby up and looked, it was indeed a baby girl. She then held the baby close, wrapping her tight in a blanket made from old clothing all stitched together.
Ealdgyð studied the man, he looked a lot like Ealdræd, with a large frame and black hair. There was a kindness in this man's eyes that Ealdræd was not capable of having, otherwise she would have suspected it of being Ealdræd himself.
"She is staying with me," Ealdgyð said with tears streaming down her face, "You can't take my baby!"
In the distance, the sound of the great castle gate being lowered echoed through the village of shacks. The gate crashed to the ground with a thundering boom that shook the castle walls. The sound of horses trotting through the mud soon followed.
"Search every shack along the wall!" The voice of a commander thundered, "The baby has been born. If it is a girl kill it and the mother. If it is a boy, kill only the mother and bring the baby to me."
The bearded man knelt down next to Ealdgyð, "Please, I have seen a vision of this child. She is the only hope left in the realm. Soon Ealdræd
will control not only Holbeck but all of Aenaghar. If you allow her to die at the hand of Ealdræd, you are allowing the hope of a world free from a tyrant to die as well."
With eyes full of tears Ealdgyð stared at her babies face, "Wassa, that shall be your name. It means uncertain because that is what your life has begun with, uncertainty."
Ealdgyð held Wassa out to the bearded man with tears running down her face. The chaos of the search was drawing close, her only hope of saving the baby girl lay with this strange man.
"I am Cenric," The man said opening the door, "If you are not killed, word will be sent about Wassa in due time."
Cenric rushed through the door and disappeared into the rain with the baby girl tucked safely within his cloak.
Ealdræd paced back and forth in front of his throne while the commander of the army stood before him in silence.
"There is no excuse," Ealdræd said without raising his voice, "Do you know what you have done?"
"Sir, we have searched every shack within ten miles." The commander pleaded, "It is just a child, we can force women to have more if you want?"
Ealdræd turned to the commander and lifted him off the ground with an outstretched hand, "That child is one hundred percent royal blood! Her mother was the direct descendant of the realms original king, and I am her father!"
With a flick of his wrist, Ealdræd threw the commander across the room and out the window of the castle.
"Hellcniht.." Ealdræd whispered into the shadows of the room, "What would you give for the other half of my soul?"
"Immortality" A whisper echoed across the room, " Is that not what you seek?"
"Yes," Ealdræd said, "You can have my soul in its entirety in exchange for immortality. There will be no heir to my throne, it will be mine forever!"
The moment the words escaped his lips he dropped to his knees in agony. Darkness surrounded him as his soul was taken by Hellcniht.
"Now rise you fool," Hellcniht shrieked, "Without a soul, you are mine to command. Without a soul, you have no free will left. Though Immortal, you will forever be my pawn in the war to destroy mankind."