Before I begin the final phase of the prologue, I'd like to thank everyone that has taken the time to read these posts.
If you missed either of the first two parts, you can find links to them here:
Without further ado, Part 3!
Helyan’s father, Avuran Brightfoal, was a tall, intimidating-looking man who had spent the better part of his life adventuring around the world with a mercenary band, fighting beasts and bandits alike and making the world a safer place with each passing day. As a young, worldly man earning treasures and winning wars, it was expected that he would attract the attention of many a lovely lady, and it was only a matter of time before he fell in love and started a family.
Helyan’s mother, Cleryse, had been one of the best people ever to grace Nea’K’Oxa. She was strong-willed, smart, courteous, and beautiful to boot, grabbing Avuran’s attention and refusing to let go.
When Helyan was born, his father refused to settle down, continuing to live a life of adventure while Cleryse tended to their son. Avuran earned enough as a well-respected mercenary to ensure the family was well looked after, and he was home often enough to keep his wife content. Life was everything they had dreamed it would be, until Avuran became mixed up with the Necromancer.
For years the nation of Somberworth had been living in a state of fear and submission, cowed by the presence of the royal family’s personal sorcerer. Known only as the Necromancer, she was given complete autonomy to operate within the country as she saw fit, using the people of Somberworth as test subjects for her twisted experiments.
The rest of Nea’K’Oxa looked on in disgust and fear at the evil things she was rumored to be creating: soldiers who felt no pain, children created in a lab instead of conceived through natural means, armies of the undead. Though all were clear regarding how they felt about the Necromancer of Somberworth, none were willing to do anything about it. She had royal protection.
When the King of Somberworth passed suddenly during Helyan’s sixth year, Avuran felt obliged to put an end to the evil within the country. Operating without the help of his band of mercenaries, Avuran was overpowered by the Necromancer and forced to flee.
The Necromancer didn’t look kindly upon the opportunistic vigilante, following Avuran to his family home and bringing death to those he held most dear. Their barn was set ablaze with Helyan trapped inside. Cleryse went in to rescue her child but was taken by the flames, her screams piercing the night and Avuran’s heart as he was forced to choose between saving her or his son.
By the time Avuran had dragged the child out of the barn, Helyan wasn’t breathing. Avuran managed to put some of his combat medical training to use and revive his son, but things had never been the same.
That was the first time Helyan had a vision. In the barn with the flames all around him, he watched his mother burn, her screams cutting as deeply into his soul as they did the darkness. In the pain and confusion, his mind found an escape. He slipped into unconsciousness, only to find the monsters waiting for him there, wandering around on a strange planet with too many moons filling the bright sky and unfamiliar plants underfoot.
Since that first night, each new vision had grown more intense, with one occurring every couple of weeks, eventually culminating in his most recent dream. It was the first time that the monsters had seemed aware of his presence, standing over his bed watching him, the glowing eyes that had haunted his nightmares for the last decade mere inches from his face.
Helyan let out an involuntary shiver.
Avuran walked down the stairs and approached Tala’s desk, leaning in to speak with her, ignoring Helyan in the most polite way possible.
Probably talking about taxes or something stupid when the world is about to fall apart around us, Helyan thought.
“We can’t waste time like this, Father! Every moment we hesitate could be our last.”
Letting out a sigh, Avuran finally turned to him, sadness in his eyes. “Alright, let’s go, son. Time to get this over with.” Without waiting for a response, he went back up the stairs, turning into his office on the right-hand side on the second floor.
Helyan knew his father blamed himself for everything that had gone wrong. Avuran feared his selfish desire to continue living like a young man was the reason his family had been taken from him—his wife lost to the flames and Helyan lost to his own thoughts.
Whether blame could be placed on anyone or not, Avuran was wrong about one thing: Helyan’s mind was not damaged, and he was not lost within his head. He just had priorities that only he could truly understand.
I’m not damaged no matter what anyone thinks. These visions are not a sign of impairment. They’re proof of enlightenment.
“I’m not lost. I’m aware.”
Dammit, I didn’t mean to say that out loud. I need to pay better attention when I’m with my father. I need him to believe what I saw this time. He’s the key to Mulden’s safety. With him behind me, everything else will fall into line.
Avuran sat behind a desk far bigger than Tala’s, made of solid oak and hand carved by the elves of Arrowwren. The desk was imposing enough; it could make anyone look intimidating sitting behind it. With Avuran though it didn’t have to. His demeanor and presence did all the work.
Sitting tall in his chair, Avuran looked his son up and down, subconsciously weighing and measuring with eyes honed by years of combat experience to determine the inner thoughts of a man with a mere glance. Without warning, Avuran’s entire demeanor shifted. Letting out a deep sigh, the intensity faded from his face, replaced by an aura of sadness.
Not a good start.
“What is it, son? What’s got you so worked up that you had to alarm the good people downstairs?”
Helyan let the comment slide, choosing to focus instead on what was important—the message. “Father, I know what’s going to happen. It’s an invasion. The monsters will be coming from the sky to destroy Visfirth, setting it ablaze and laughing while it burns to the ground. We need to do something. Once they take Visfirth, they’ll come for us; I know it. Wherever they’re from, they’re trained fighters. We won’t be able to stop them unless we prepare in advance. We need to call for help!”
“Helyan, we’ve talked about this.” Avuran leaned forward, resting his chin on his fist. He had begun to pull away from the conversation already. Helyan recognized the slightly glazed look in his eye. “Your visions aren’t real. It’s just your mind trying to trick you. I know the urge to believe them may be strong, but it’s just an illusion. Why don’t you stop worrying yourself over this and head down to the docks? I’ve heard a lot of the ships have already started to arrive for the festival this weekend. Go enjoy the view, be a kid, and have fun. Kalkod knows how long it’s been since you last relaxed.”
“They are not tricks or illusions, Father! These visions are real. They’re a warning from the gods to keep us safe! For years I’ve been having visions, dealing with constant pity from everyone I know—when I’m not being avoided like a leper. And it’s all been for this, to save our people! You have to believe me. Visfirth is in danger, and we’re the only ones who can do anything about it!”
“Stop it, Helyan! Please, just stop this stubborn insistence. You aren’t having visions of monsters from another world. You’re just sick! You need to accept reality!” Frustrated, Avuran threw a stack of papers off his desk, then got up and started to pace. “I’m sorry, but I don’t have time for this today. Just go down to the docks, and look at the ships. Or go walk through the gardens. Something, anything! I just can’t have you here right now.”
Hearing his father dismiss him like that, making it clear he wasn’t worth even the time it took to be political, when all Helyan wanted was to save lives, killed him inside.
I needed him to believe me. The only one who can make a difference—my own father—is so convinced I’m unstable that he won’t even listen to what I have to say.
Disheartened, Helyan let his head drop and slipped out of his father’s office without another word. His mind was clouded by the sadness of being so utterly rejected. He had known it was a possibility, but in his heart he had believed his father would trust him, that he would understand the urgency of Helyan’s message and at least look into it. In a haze, he walked back to his house.
I need to prepare him for this whether he believes me or not. If my words aren’t enough, I’ll have to find proof. I’ll travel to Visfirth myself and capture one of the monsters. Then he’ll have to believe me.
Helyan sat at his desk and pulled out his notepad. If he were going to find proof for his father, it would take time. Each moment he wasted raised the possibility that they could be attacked, completely unaware. Picking up his pen, he began to write, detailing what he knew of the invasion and what Mulden needed to do to survive. The last thing he wrote was a letter to his father. He knew what he was about to do was risky. If he didn’t return, he needed his father to understand . . .