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Well this one is the longest... A King Reborn (Challenge IV Prelude, Chapter 18) Chapters so far: Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9 Chapter 10 Chapter 11 Chapter 12 Chapter 13 Chapter 14 Chapter 15 Chapter 16 Chapter 17 Chapter 18 Chapter 19 Chapter 20 A King Reborn (Sorry, I had some really bad lighting issues with most of the rest of the builds.) throneroom by skaforhire, on Flickr The Desert King Ark'Mora Raa looked down on the Nile Croc emissary lying prostrate before him. He was in his secret throne room in Kaligem – the lost city was being repaired quite rapidly, and he thought that he may be able to move the capital from Sultan’s Gate back to his home in a matter of months. But today, he was here receiving pledges. The Nile Crocs were an interesting lot, he could remember freeing their ancestors from the clutches of the Goblin King, 2000 years ago. Of course then they were mostly denizens of the Enchanted Forest and not the Mainlands. He was pleased with the emissary’s people. Apparently they had already begun to fight near Queenscross in his name. It did seem as many of Kaliphlin’s peoples were pledging to their true leader once again. For the first time in a long time, he began to think about his first life, how he came to be, and Ner’I’ti. Oh Ner’I’ti… +-+-+-+-+-++-+-+-+-+-++-+-+-+-+-++-+-+-+-+-++-+-+-+-+-++-+-+-+-+-++-+-+-+-+-+ The very chamber that they sat in presently was not always a throne room. In fact, it had been the burial chamber the entire Raa Dynasty. His Greatest Grand Father still sat behind him, however the rest of his relatives were no longer occupying the chamber. tomb8 by skaforhire, on Flickr He remembered coming to the Tomb of Kings as a boy with his father Ahmendi Raa, his older brother Kalin’ti Raa, and his father’s closest advisor, Horros. This was the first time he had been allowed into the sacred crypt, and he had many questions. “quit your prattling,” his brother complained. “Father has brought you here to witness my ascension to the line of kings.” Ark’Mora was wise enough not to incur the wrath of his brother, and he knew that his brother was about to become a god, and his training told him one does not upset a god. Even if that god is his spiteful brother. The other gods had chosen Kalin’ti, and it was now time to begin his ascension. His brother was lucky, his father was still alive to start the process. His father began the sacred ritual, which lasted all of two minutes. “Fathers, gods, rulers to come, we call to you to begin Kalin’ti Raa’s ascension to Pharaoh.” Ark’Mora zoned out thinking about what this all meant. He was there because he would be first minister to his brother, although not a god like Kalin, he still would be essential in running the three kingdoms of Kaliphlin. His father had not been lucky enough to have an advisor of the same bloodline; he was forced to kill his two brothers to take the throne. His first minister, Horros, was a much different man, and Ark’Mora had realized early on in his tutelage that Horros likely kept the kingdom together, as his father distanced himself from the mortals. His father cared more for preparing himself for his second life that managing the kingdoms. This was evident in the current war against the Snow and Dark Elves of the northlands. There were rumors of the Western Marches preparing to rebel, also. His grandfather had destroyed most of the great Drow cities that were North of the three Kingdoms and had forced their people to begin to build settlements underground instead of above it, but his father’s turning away from military matters had allowed the Snow Elves and their darker kin to resurface. As first minister, he knew he would have to prosecute the war. DSC_1732 by skaforhire, on Flickr Twelve was a young age to be tutored in the way of statecraft, but Horros was sure that Ark’Mora was a promising student, so much that he had convinced his father to decree that Kalin’ti could not kill Ark’Mora. Kalin had already killed one of their brothers, as he saw him as a rival. Ark’Mora was considered too weak, and would soon become unable to bear and heir, thus taking away any sort of divinity. Ark’Mora snapped back to attention when he saw Horros’ bad eye staring at him. He knew the boy was daydreaming. His father was finishing the last part. “And May the line of Raa continue in eternity.” He had given Kalin’ti the blood amulet already, and Ark’Mora had been a little sad that he had not paid attention to the ascension. He wanted to see if Kalin’ti would change before his eyes or not. With the ceremony over, Ark’Mora began more questions. “Why is this space vacant he said, pointing to a position closest to the father of the Dynasty, Kaliph Raa. DSC_1730 by skaforhire, on Flickr “The closer to Kaliph Raa, the more important the Pharaoh. As you can see, the baby king is all the way at the end of this row, and right here, in the most important spot is your grandfather, conqueror of Nocturnus and Great Uniter of the Three Kingdoms.” Horros said. At this moment in time, Ark’Mora was uneasy thinking about the darkness of the third kingdom, Nocturnus. In time that would change greatly. Ner’I’ti… His father followed this up with his own boast: “That is my spot, I am worthy of my father’s spot. And for that reason, when Kalin’ti ascends to the throne in many lifetimes from now, I will begin my voyage to the second life here in this spot.” Ark’Mora was almost positive that his father would not be considered high enough by the priesthood for this spot, but there was a more suitable spot two sarcophagi down from his grandfather. He doubted that any of the living Raas could live up to his grandfather. His mind shifted to another time. He was walking through the streets of Kaligem with his brother and Horros. Horros was teaching the boys about responsibility. “You must be humble to people, they are your life blood” Because Kalin’ti was a god, Horros could no longer give him lessons, but he could give Ark’Mora lessons, which were meant for Kalin’ti to listen to and benefit from the same advice. Ark’Mora doubted that Kalin’ti listen to half of the speeches. Neither his father nor brother were very good with the people, and took the god aspect to a new level, his father would not let mortals touch him, while his brother believed that all mortal possessions, including their own lives, belonged to him. This was one of those times. “The hand that helps a lost soul, will have another soul to serve him in the afterlife…” Horros trailed off as Kalin’ti walked up to a sleeping man on the street. DSC_1803 by skaforhire, on Flickr “You!” Kalin’ti said, “Why do you pollute my streets with your filth?” The man jumped up immediately realizing who was standing before him. He immediately bowed. DSC_1804 by skaforhire, on Flickr “I am sorry my lord, I am a veteran of the West Marches Campaign. I came home and my house is gone, the new temple is being built there. I have no money, no more clothes, and my wife died of pox. I laid my head down here as the streets are the only home I know now. Please forgive me, I will move on.” The man graveled. DSC_1806 by skaforhire, on Flickr Kalin’ti threw the man up against the wall, and the frightened veteran cowered back to the ground. The prince lifted his foot up and began stomping on the man’s face. “You will not dirty my city. You are nothing. You are sand between my toes. You are fleas on a camel. You must know your worth – nothing. You could not have the courage to die fighting the Faeries of the Enchanted Forest, you can die here beneath my boot!” DSC_1809 by skaforhire, on Flickr Horros gasped, he knew he could not stop the prince, now that he had ascended. This was the first time the Desert King had seen someone die in front of him. +_+_ Ark’Mora’s mind flashed forward to his father’s death. He had died in sleep, and from the rumors the boy had heard, most likely from too much drink. He was now in the Tomb of Kings, where Kalin’ti was directing men to begin crafting the sarcophagus at the foot of Kaliph Raa. It was at this point that Ark’Mora had had enough. His father could not have been a god, let alone be buried next to the greatest god kings of all time. “The priests have not approved this yet.” Ark’mora said. DSC_1749 by skaforhire, on Flickr “You belittle our father after his death?” his brother said. “You think yourself on the same level to decide where a GOD is buried?” “I think Horros would agree with me, we must wait for the priests.” Ark’Mora said, knowing that he was standing on quicksand in this situation. “Horros has gone to the great hall to serve our father.” What? The Great Hall? This meant that Horros had been prepared for the afterlife – killed, mummified, and packed into the Great Hall. This was a common ritual for wives, petty servants, and cats, but not for a first minister. Horros was supposed to oversee the transition between Pharaohs. “That is not the way it is done!” Ark’Mora protests. “You will join him in the hall. Father demanded it.” His brother snickered. “Tomb Guard, take my brother to the Great Hall!” The tomb guard came forward to apprehend the boy. Without thinking, Ark’Mora ran to the tomb of the Greatest Raa, and took his staff. A gold Serpent that was said to hold immense power, that only a god could wield. Ark’Mora should not have been able to remove the staff, but he needed something to defend himself. DSC_1750 by skaforhire, on Flickr It slid out with ease, and he turned on his brother. The guard hit the ground prostrate and mumbled “oh great one.” His brother kept coming though. DSC_1754 by skaforhire, on Flickr Ark’Mora declared in a booming voice “You are not worthy, Kalin’ti. You and our father are not worthy of the power of these thrones.” And as he forced his brother back, he fell into the shallow water that surrounded the sarcophagi. But… DSC_1758 by skaforhire, on Flickr It wasn’t shallow for some reason. As he pointed the staff at his brother, his brother kept sinking… the water should not even come up to his knees, but still, his brother sank. DSC_1760 by skaforhire, on Flickr Until finally, his brother disappeared without a trace. Unlike the ascension of his brother, where Ark’Mora witnessed nothing unusual, he knew that in that moment he has ascended, and he knew he was a different person. +-+-+-+ The Desert King let his mind wonder. The War against the Shadows, The reconquering of the Drow. The decimation of the Snow Elves… his three greatest military achievements. The great Arch, the Triumphal Dome of Merriph, The great Golden Road, the third wall of Kaligem, his greatest architectural achievements. His land to soldiers initiative, his adoption of citizenship for all three kingdom’s residents, even the non-human ones, his greatest political achievements. He had accomplished this all before 35 years of age. None of it compared to the love he found in Nocturnus though. The staff had led him to a cave in the Dark Kingdom where he met her. She helped him tap his powers, before he fell in love with her, he never knew that he could be so powerful… powerful enough to destroy a whole subcontinent – twice. His mind immediately went to their last moments together. It was one year after he had sunk Ulandus, and they were back in this same chamber. DSC_1764 by skaforhire, on Flickr Things had taken a turn for the worst. He had used the same mass ritual to try and destroy most of the Western Marches. western march by skaforhire, on Flickr But something had gone wrong. It had not succeeded as planned. Another great force had played against his ritual, many of his priests had died in some sort of backlash, and his reports told him that a new ruler led in the West. One who over the next six months would unite the Western Marches, tap the power of the Faeries of the Enchanted Forest, enlist the Goblin King of the same realm, ally the remaining Drow, and find a way to maneuver and army hundreds of miles to Kaligem, while dealing devastating blows to the Pharaoh’s forces. His name was Agalmar, Lord of Pender, the largest city in the Western Marches, and we was now in the Tomb of Kings. DSC_1765 by skaforhire, on Flickr “False king, Kaliphlin scum, I come here to destroy you once and for all! The people of Historica are free from your bloodline’s tyranny.” The intruder announced himself. “I Agalmar of Pender will vanquish you.” Ark’Mora called back. “Your people brought this war upon them. Three decades of peace shattered by the killing of a baby! The nation of Kaliphlin will be restored.” He readied for a fight. He was exhausted, his magic was still recharging. Much of it had been drained in the long war with South Kaliphlin and Ulandus – They had risen up in protest over his connections to Nocturnus. A trait the Ulandians would hold even to the present day, a distinct hate for the immortal, the undead, the ever living. They still cursed the name Nocturnus to this day, and most during his first life knew that the region was the source of his great magic and immortality. “You attempted to destroy the West as you did Ulandus. Well, we were not so equally terminated. Maelord, our great Fae Wizard saw your spell in progress, and the Faery forces countered your blow before it was too late.” Agalmar said. Ark’Mora would learn after he began his second life that his spell had worked partially, destroying much of the landmass of the Western Marches, and creating the Mystic Isles. Avtoday by skaforhire, on Flickr Ark’Mora stepped forward to fight the man, only one guard stood in between the two rulers. But then, out of the shadows the Goblin King appeared behind the Kaliphlinites. DSC_1767 by skaforhire, on Flickr Ner’I’ti, always by his side since his pilgrimage to Nocturnus, had no chance. The Goblin King sliced her belly, and at the same time, their unborn heir, in one fluid motion. Ark’Mora raged. He turned on the surprised Goblin King and took his head in one motion. DSC_1769 by skaforhire, on Flickr He turned around to see Agalmar dispatch his last bodyguard. But before he could make it to the Western King, he felt cold… so cold. Out of the corner of his eye he could see the Faery Magelord, Maelord. His body weakened, but he still had to fight the upstart King. For her. DSC_1771 by skaforhire, on Flickr They spun, and thrashed at each other, block after block after block, and Ark’Mora could feel all his being draining from his body. Maelord was chanting. DSC_1773 by skaforhire, on Flickr Then he felt a blade enter his back. As he fell, he turned to see the Dark Elf Prince Drooz’Kang, his bloody face smiling after just receiving vengeance. DSC_1775 by skaforhire, on Flickr He could hear them talking over his body. He was not dead. He knew gods did not die. But he was trapped. DSC_1776 by skaforhire, on Flickr “We cannot let them have his body. He is immortal, he could still rise. It would be better to take him with us back to Avon Hill.” Agalmar said. “The staff is the greater source of his power. I will take this, and forge you a sword my king.” Maelord said. “You may need it in the coming battles of retribution. The rest of Kaliphlin will not sit idle. Drooz’Kang spoke up. “I consider our bargain complete human king. Do not come over the Northmounts, our alliance held until the Desert King fell.” “Believe me, dark elf, we have no desire to tread on your tundra filled lands. Stay north, and we will not have a problem.” Agalmar said. At this point, Ark’Mora’s vision faded to black as the last words that he heard came from Maelord. “Perhaps I will make you a new coat of arms too… something more… dragony? Maybe?” +=+=+=+=+= emptyw by skaforhire, on Flickr The next thing he remembered was waking up foggy, and walking. For hundreds of miles. Day upon Day upon day he walked without knowing where he was going. His first clear memory was back in this chamber. But it was so much different. All of his kin, save Kaliph Raa had been plundered. The powerful enchantment protecting his burial place seemed to protect some of what was around him, but mostly just his sarcophagus. empty by skaforhire, on Flickr He could feel his own body regenerating, he looked down to see that he was mostly in burial rags, but he could see fresh flesh returning to his body. He felt… good. But lost, longing for her, longing for his power, his throne. Sadness swept over him as he realized that the dynasty had ended with him, and that respect for his family had dwindled enough that people dare loot their graves! He knew at that moment that he would bring back his family’s honor. He would restore the great kingdom of Kaliphlin. DSC_1729 by skaforhire, on Flickr --------------+ In the weeks to come he gained men, money, and most importantly Kaliph’s staff. Which had been given to him by a supporter… Ra… he was brought back to the present by the Nile Croc’s voice. “My lord, may I please rise and tell you more about our operation?” The Desert King smiled, benevolence, humility, but power and strength. The four points of rulership according to Horros. He would show his subjects all these traits, and he would put the Ulandians back into the ocean, tame the rebel lords, and forge new alliances to strengthen Kaliphlin once more. DSC_1798 by skaforhire, on Flickr