(An Epic Tale of the Fall of Man.)
Prince Saelus, son of Serses,
slithered in silence toward the strangers,
his long white robes entwined with golden lace trailed behind him.
Two men were at either side,
clasping half-drawn swords.
Saelus stood a pike’s length ahead of his guards and examined Korvas with piercing eyes for a moment
before swooping down upon the army from the shadows.
Smirking and laughing, he chastised their leader,
“Korvas, O king of war, king of arms,
how is it one as great as you can flee so hastily from battle and sacrifice his sacred honor?
I’ve seen prouder men cut down before my eyes,
men who’d rather have their life’s breath ripped from their chest
than linger on as traitors to their kind.
Is this the same Pleonides who razed golden Trest and brought its mighty bastions tumbling down?
Is this the same warrior whose name even the Scythmenides fear–
the same man who stands here,
kept at ease by broken men whose lust for war is as faded as their pride?
Twenty strong at arms–
as strong as battered shells may be–
and twice as many wounded.
What a valiant effort it must have taken
to drag these lame men through the shallow mountain passes!”
The prince’s sharp words drove deep into the heart of each man like the deadly archer’s point.
But Taedus, Korvas’ right-hand whose fury never dies, fired back with wits sent from the gods,
“Saelus, son of the white haired king,
I am pleased to hear such warm and welcome words.
Tell us more, Saelus–he who cowered by his father’s side while men of lesser rank were sent out to the fields to die!
We bravely fought and cut down twice as many as we lost ourselves.
But the butcher would not cease,
not even when the blanket of night was pulled over our heads.
Tor himself loosed assassins upon our ranks to wing among our tents at night like wraiths,
slitting throats as they went and spilling dark black blood upon the ground.
Yet you, prince of bitter words, condemn us for retreating behind the walls that kept you safe from a battle you would not fight.
Hear my words Saelus, robed in white with golden lace, your cowardice will bring Thaemnius lord of hate crashing down your walls!”
Korvas stood his ground between the two and lifted up his arms.
He whispered a brief prayer to Collomnus and sent it wafting off upon the gentle breeze before urging his host:
“Saelus whose heart yearns for peace,
we have come to rest, not exchange harsh words.
Forgive my men, for they have seen the mouth of hell open up before their eyes and their hearts are filled with bitter wine.
Take me to the chamber of the white haired king, your father Serses,
for there is much that I must tell.”
On this request the prince placed his thoughts–
hardly fitting for a man of royalty–
before motioning for Korvas to follow.
Saelus whipped around upon his heels, flashing his gold-laced robe,
and made haste toward his father’s chamber.
Klemnos god of law was watching down from Termidus–
that earthly realm of the gods deep within the forbidden range of Taemnos–
and read the heart of Saelus.
Thalia, Korvas’ immortal mother, spied her son exchanging words with the deadly prince whose tongue is forked.
She turned to Klemnos the vengeful and begged him at once:
“Klemnos, wise as you are, the heart of Sersides is false, his tongue is sharp,
and his mind is racing black thoughts of death for his guests;
jealousy is his guide, his master–
bring warning to Korvas king of arms, my uncle. My son must know!
Make haste to the world of man
or else I will wake my father Storm and ride down upon white hot bolts of death and strike that wicked prince down with all my fury!”