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One

By December 25, 2017IC

“With these rites we commend the soul of Hadakura into the life beyond. Long live the King.”

Ura looked down at his father in repose, his body clad in a warrior’s armor, the Crown’s regalia emblazoned across his chest — the symbol of a lion, red and gold. Thousands of mourners huddled within the Hall of the Civil Aspect stared back at him as his eyes swept the crowd. He removed one of his black gloves, reached down into the pyre on which his father lay, and, from his fingertips, a crackle of flame shot forth, setting the pyre ablaze.

“Long live the King!” the audience echoed in celebration.

He should have taken the Sojourn, instead, Ura thought, it would have been proper. But the elves of the Last Sojourn needed living bodies to mutilate for their twisted ends. Hadakura had certainly sent his share of the elderly down that forested path to their death. The former King believed until the end that the sacrifices of the Sojourners were needed to stop some great evil, but in all of his years as the Crown’s Archmage, Ura had seen little to suggest the man had not simply been duped.

As the crowd filtered out of the Hall, Ura’s eyes met with those of Kade, the High Cleric, who had already begun packing his vestments. The old cleric looked away, hunching over to lift the altar from the floor.

“It was a lovely ceremony,” he said, “and I hope you will continue to serve me as you did my father.”

“Of course, Your Majesty,” he replied before shuffling away.