Chapter 0:

Prologue

The King and His Dancer


"Who would've thought this is what I'd be doing at two in the morning"Bookmark here

The small sliding window to this unassuming room was covered in frost. Winters are particularly harsh in the mountains, so this isn't a surprise to the hooded man looking out across the skyline.Bookmark here

"Bard hasn't contacted me yet either. I guess that's fine. I can do my job anyways."Bookmark here

"Still, using my magic like this.... what a waste."Bookmark here

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In the world of Karnosea, there are two types of people. Those who can wield magic, and those who cannot. While there are many subsets of these people ranging from humans and demi-humans, to dragon-kin and the undead, the world can neatly be divided into those who wield magic and those who don't. For every ten million of your average person, there is typically one magic user, or Mage, born.Bookmark here

Magic, in this world, is still a largely mysterious thing. Few mages that can claim to understand the nature of it. Only one has ever managed to achieve true mastery.Bookmark here

Though all mages can use whatever magic they choose to, each mage has what's been called an "affinity". A mage's affinity determines the strongest types of magic they can command. To give an example, the mage in this world with an affinity for water is Ilithil, the elven court mage of the Formene Republic. No mage alive can ever match Ilithil's peak control over water, and he has a greater potential to control water than anybody else alive.Bookmark here

A mage's affinity also determines what they themselves can control without spellcasting. Where most mages would need the time to cast a spell, be it audibly or mentally, Ilithil can control water without needing to think much about it.Bookmark here

Though much of magic remains unknown to most people, there is something all mages know very well.Bookmark here

No two Mages can ever have the same affinity.Bookmark here

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Deep in the heart of the Kingdom of Edherst, located in the Obsidian Mountains, there lies a city so large and prosperous, the buildings are said to be coated in gold. Baalmoth, the City of Coins, and the seat of the Edherst Kingdom.Bookmark here

At the very center of the city lies Inwic Tower, and at the very top sits King William Inwic, Ruler of the Edherst Kingdom and fifth of his line.Bookmark here

King William, known as the Everlasting King, has brought prosperity and peace to this land, once ravaged by poverty and strife under his fathers rule. In different provinces of the Kingdom, the peopleBookmark here

Now well into his elder years, the King has been in power for almost two centuries. While many people live well over 100 years, William is one of the few that may live to see 300 years of age, considering he took power when he was 100 himself.Bookmark here

In a country as industrialized and powerful as Edherst, it comes as no surprise that to maintain power for 5 generations, the Inwic family must command incredible power. William himself is uniquely powerful in the nation, and the world, for two reasons.Bookmark here

First, William commands dimensional magic, incredibly powerful magic that allows him to open portals to other dimensions, maintain absolute control of the space around him and, if need be, he can change the laws and rules that govern this dimension in a localized space at will.Bookmark here

The second reason why William is so powerful is due to his right-hand man.Bookmark here

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Little is known about the history of the man that would go on to be known as "The King's Dancer." When the King was just 90 years old, he set out on a journey out of the Obsidian Mountains to lands unknown. When he returned 8 years later to prepare to take the throne, he brought the child in tow.Bookmark here

160 years later, and that child is now William's right-hand man. Now known as Samson, he has become known throughout the courts of nobles as the king's "Dancer." Though officially the Prime Minister has power only second to the King himself, Samson speaks with the authority of the King as well.Bookmark here

Skilled in hand-to-hand combat, weapons handling, long-range marksmanship with a variety of weapons, melee combat, heightened senses, incredible strength, and a certified genius, one could understand how someone like him could be useful. His real strength, and the power he affords the king, is the magic that he wields.Bookmark here

Samson wields a unique type of affinity which has only been seen three times in the world before.Bookmark here

You see, Samson has an affinity for Blood Magic.Bookmark here

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"Why is this necessary William? Could you not have the Special Intelligence Bureau handle this?" It was quite clear Samson was unhappy with the request, but he would always hear William out. He owed him that much.Bookmark here

"We both know the nobles have too many field agents there." Both men knew this to be true. Since the subjugation of the tribes of the Venklif Valley, the faction of nobles seeking to undermine the Royal Family's authority has been getting bolder and brasher. Though none of the nobility had the gall to openly speak against the king, there were many that worked in the shadows, hoping to weaken his hold over the kingdom and its people.Bookmark here

"Still, is this necessary? Could we not imprison him instead? I'm sure the intelligence he holds-"Bookmark here

"Enough!"Bookmark here

The bags under Williams' eyes made it clear he has lost enough sleep over this decision. "I'm sorry, Samson. I know you hate to do this, but you're the only one I can trust with this." William's face held a grim visage, and it was quite clear he didn't enjoy asking this of his oldest friend.Bookmark here

Samson, behind his apologetic expression, was many things. He was confused, a bit annoyed, but most of all, he felt bad for his old friend. This was clearly something that needed to be done, at least in his mind, and he recognized that.Bookmark here

"At least tell me I can bring my Bard with me."Bookmark here

"Of course, Samson. Anything you need. I'm really sorry to ask this of you."Bookmark here

"I suppose it can't be helped. You owe me a drink when I get back though."Bookmark here

As Samson turned his back on the king and departed, he could feel the sadness in William's gaze as he watched him go. His old friend had a lot of work ahead of him as well. After all, it was a lot of work running a nation.Bookmark here

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The worst part about this assignment, Samson thought, was just how unbelievably *cold* it was. Winters in the south were no joke, especially in the Obsidian Mountains. Though he could easily keep himself warm, it took a lot more effort to do so while attempting to walk down the snow-covered sidewalk.Bookmark here

"Still," Samson thought to himself, "at least it's much warmer once I get inside."Bookmark here

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The grand ballroom of Baron Gamin was magnificent. Adorned with Dwarven runes on each of its 50 marble pillars, with chandeliers made of gold and armored suits of Star-Metal running along each of the longest walls, it would inspire awe in anybody that entered. Each Marble wall, the intricately carved elder-wood floors, and the beautiful mural painted on the ceiling could inspire reverence. If one didn't know better, it would be easy to believe it was created by the gods.Bookmark here

Samson couldn't help but laugh at the irony. "Such beauty created by such a loathsome man." There weren't many people in the world that Samson was truly disgusted by, but Baron Gamin happened to be one of them. Unfortunately, he also happened to be one of the strongest allies the king had.Bookmark here

"Samson, how intriguing to see His Majesty's right hand here!" the Baron belted out with a grin. The thick cigar hanging from his lips was quickly removed by his thick fingers as the old dwarf quickly made his way to greet the man.Bookmark here

"Always a pleasure, Baron Gamin" Samson said with a smile so convincing it would deceive the king. "I've been assured that you're prepared for tonight's festivities?"Bookmark here

"Of course, Samson. My people will play their part, you just have to play yours." Though the Baron might be many things, untrustworthy was not one of them.Bookmark here

"Still, I'm sorry to do this to you, Gamin. Especially on the night of your daughter's wedding." For once, Samson was being completely truthful. He regretted having to do this, and the way he hung his head made that very much clear.Bookmark here

The stout baron patted Samson on his right arm. "Nonsense, it must be done. The realm comes first, does it not?" The baron paused. "Still, to ruin the mood of such a joyous occasion...." Gamin was displeased, but not with Samson.Bookmark here

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A light jingle went off in Samson's right ear. "Everything is in place" said a voice right after.Bookmark here

"Perfect timing," Samson said aloud. "Baron Gamin, are you ready?" Samson asked, with just the slightest grin on his face.Bookmark here

"Of course, Samson," Gamin said with a laugh. "I can't wait to see how you pull this one off."Bookmark here

Samson pulled the cuff of his sleeve close to his mouth and spoke into the enchanted button affixed to it.Bookmark here

"Everybody, it's time to execute a traitor."Bookmark here

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