Short Story: The Orb
The following is a short story I had to write for one of my summer classes. I ended up spending a lot more time on it than I originally thought, and am proud of the finished product. That is why I am sharing it here! I may write a follow up to continue the story depending on reviews and how much time I have. Please enjoy and feel free to leave comments:
The hooves pounded on the ground as the three horses raced to their destination. The riders pushed their horses to the limit to return to Androsia, capitol city of the island nation of Theras. These three men and their mounts were scouts, sent out to patrol the mountain passes and cliff overlooks. While out on their latest patrol they had spotted the sails of their enemy’s ships along the horizon of the Afasian Sea. The scouts of Androsia were expecting the attack. What they were not expecting was the magnitude; several thousand individual ships had been spotted, and there seemed to be a never ending tide of them. This was the burden placed upon the scouts as they raced back to Androsia, to warn of the oncoming tsunami that the enemy had mustered.
After the massive iron and wooden gate of the fortified walls that surrounded the city was parted, the scouts headed straight to the capitol building without missing a step. The capitol building had been created after the founding of Androsia, nearly a thousand years prior. The founders had built a massive structure at the highest point in the city, which was already situated on a tall, gently sloping mountain which overlooked the fertile valley below. The size alone was impressive; however what was truly awe inspiring was the effect created by the building, which was created using the purest of white marble. The consequence being that, on bright and sunny days which were frequent during the summer seasons, the capitol building shone brightly and could be seen from miles away in any direction. The use of the white marble was done on purpose by the founders who wanted the residence of their leader, as well as the main government building, to shine as a beacon of hope for all those weary of the gloom of tyranny.
Once they had dismounted their exhausted horses, the three men proceeded to the inner chamber of the magnificent structure. The leaders of the nation were sitting around the table, with the King of Androsia at the head. The political system of Androsia was a revolutionary experiment a thousand years ago when the nation was founded. After all that time, through high points and low points, the system remained. The King of Androsia was determined by the eledest son, as was customary throughout the known world. The major difference rested in the fact that the King did not have full authority. There was a parliament consisting of politicians representing all the major cities in Androsia which could vote to pass and carry out laws for the nation. The King signed the laws into power if he deemed them appropriate or could veto them. If the latter occurred, the law could still pass if three-fourths of the members of Parliament vote for its passing. In this way, the true desires of the people could be carried out.
It was the King who was the first to see the scouts enter. He stood as they crossed over to the table. King Garreth Andros stood over six feet tall and had a muscular, athletic form from his years of service in the army. His service was not too long ago, as it was only five years prior his father, King Frederick Andros, had abdicated the throne in favor of his son (a common practice to ensure that the King of Androsia wasn’t a feeble, dim-witted old man). As part of his grooming for the throne, Garreth had been taught law, politics, economics, philosophy, mathematics, and military strategy throughout his childhood into his early adulthood. He was well respected, and even loved, by all except for the enemy now making its way to the island. One of the few faults of the young leader, the coming attack was probably his biggest.
“Majesty, we apologize to interrupt this meeting, however we have laid eyes upon the enemy’s ships. All of them. Far too many to count,” said Daniel, the most senior of the three scouts as the men gave a quick bow of their heads.
“It is worse than we feared,” one of the leaders at the table said.
“All is not lost. We have the high ground, the defenses. If all goes according to plan our messenger to Galacea should have arrived the other day. Once they learn of what’s at stake they will surely reinforce us,” calmly stated King Garreth.
“We must also ensure we have a plan if they don’t reach us in time, or if they don’t attempt to aid us at all,” said James, overseer of Parliament, representative of the Royal House of Andros, and childhood friends with Garreth.
“This is why we ensured evacuation routes to the northern bay, with ships waiting for our citizens and special cargo. While we continue the fight, they will make their escape out to sea,” replied Kind Garreth, who could see no other alternative. Surrender was not an option. He would not risk the lives of his people or the fate of the special cargo. And how very special it was.
This cargo was the catalyst for the oncoming attack. It was discovered during the last conflict with Salamar, the enemy that was now approaching Androsia. Salamar is on the southern border of Galacea, the two connected only by a thin strip of land that had essentially become a “no man’s land” due to border conflicts. Galacea called upon Androsia to assist with Salamar’s attack on the strip, attempting to claim it.
It wasn’t the first time Salamar had attempted this. The reason was an old tale, more of a bed time story for children, that claimed there lay a relic from the Old Ages, the time of the first kings, of mythical creatures, and of powerful magic. According to the story, after a long and brutal war, the victorious king consulted with his closest friend, a great wizard, to lock all the magic in the world away so that there may never again be such horrendous violence and destruction. The great wizard agreed and, with the help of some other wizards, was able to hide away the world’s magic in a golden orb. This came at a cost, however, as the many mystical creatures were turned to stone. The wizards, through the great effort to accomplish this task, relinquished their powers as well and, one by one, they died. The great wizard remained, however to watch over the golden orb.
As the years went by, and the Great War forgotten, people stopped believing. They began telling the tale as a story for children rather than the history of their people. The people of Salamar never stopped believing; they weren’t allowed to. The ruling family of Salamar instilled the belief of this tale in their people. The current king, Zaeed, was one of the more ambitious of the long line of kings of Salamar. He not only wanted to find the golden orb as proof, he wanted to harness it to bring back the magic and restore glory to Salamar. For the orb was rumored to possess great powers; healing powers, able to cure the sick by them merely basking in its light. The orb could was also rumored to be able to unleash destruction upon the world.
King Garreth Andros was recalling all of this as the leaders of Androsia continued discussing the impending battle. He also recalled how the forces of Salamar fought more viciously than usual. It seemed King Zaeed was on to something. At one point during the conflict, Garreth, then a commanding officer in the army, got lost in the woods and found himself and his company of men without proper food or shelter. It was just as the sun was falling and the wolves had begun their terrifying song that an old man appeared and took them to his hermitage. He fed them, gave them drink, and somehow healed the wounded. He told them stories of how he lived here alone, healing and aiding the poor people who got lost in the woods fleeing from Salamar. He seemed very old and weak, yet he looked at Garreth with eyes that showed resilience.
After the men fell asleep, the old man approached Garreth.
“I can’t last much longer on my own,” the old man said, his voice weak. “I see something in you that I haven’t seen in a very long time, young man. I hope my old eyes aren’t deceiving me.”
Before Garreth had the chance to say anything, the old man took him by the hand with surprising strength and showed him what appeared to be a well outside in the back. It was covered with vines and shrubs and looked as if it had run dry ages ago. After moving some stones and brush aside, the old man tapped on three different bricks with his staff. Garreth was about to say something when, all of a sudden, one side of the well dropped out of sight. Awe struck, Garreth approached and saw that there was a spiral staircase that seemed to lead into the center of the earth. With his mouth agape, Garreth allowed the old man to take him down the staircase.
“What you are about to see, hasn’t be seen by anyone in about two thousand years,” said the old man, as the two walked for what seemed like only minutes. What the old man showed Garreth, changed Garreth’s life and the life of a nation, of a world, forever.
In the highest keep of the capitol building, the old man stood at the balcony.
He wearily watched the horizon as thousands of ships crossed the sea to claim what they believed belonged to them, threatening the city he now called home and the people he now thought of as his own. “We thought we would end the bloodshed. We thought we would end the violence,” whispered the old man to himself as the sun began to set behind the ships of Salamar.