A/N: Greetings, this is Storm. Some background: This story is currently in the process of being re-written; like many things begun in the eighth grade and re-read many years later, there's much that can be improved upon. So, any constructive criticism would be extremely welcome, hints to improve, what you like, what you don't like, what I could change to make it more believable, etc. Also, I re-did the formatting on this one; I hope it's easier to read, now. Thanks to Danielle Oaks and Loki Mischief-Maker who pointed that out! Read on!

Chapter 1—Prologue I

The sorcerer's body was unused to such exertion, but he heaved the solid oak bar onto its fasteners with a burst of fanatical energy. No magic, he couldn't waste his magic, but now his study would be sufficiently protected until he…did what he had to do. Not treason, never treason, Majesty, could you not see? Only what is best…I always do what is best… He reflected sadly for a moment, and thought about a smiling little boy, ten years old. That boy…who could foretell, who could know that he would grow up to become...become this? I did not see it...I, who saw so much, I did not see it!

The heavy oak shuddered, snapping him to the present. So. They had come. He hadn't expected anything less. Let them burn it, let them break it to splinters, let them come, let them try. He scuttled over to his desk, the weight of untold years pressing his shoulders inexorably down. But he did not need height to accomplish the singular greatest undertaking of any magician in the country, nay, the world, nay, in all time, now and forever.

He rubbed the bronze fondly, polishing it with the pad of his thumb. This had always been a favorite piece of his. He had millions about, but none quite like this. Soon, ther would never be anything equal. It will be remembered forever. I will ensure it. Memory, living memory…a little boy, big brown eyes

The door shuddered again, but he was not unduly worried. It was a good door, stout and well-built, and included a bit of helpful fortification from his own arsenal of skills. He turned his attention to the small object in front of him. Small, but mightier than all. First things first. He traced the outline of the piece, red leaking from his finger like blood. Once he had completed the outline, however, the red vanished. There. It was a tricky spell, but not one that required much power. It would only ensure that neither time nor elements would ever tarnish it a hair. Simple. Every 'prentice learned it. Now…

He gritted his teeth and reached for a knife. A moment, and…red leaked onto the piece yet again, but it was no magic; this was blood. There was no spell for what he wanted to attempt, but the best way to harness unknown powers was blood-magic. The power in his blood…he shuddered. It even scared him. His clouded for a moment. Such a sweet boy, skinned his knee. Tears in those brown eyes, just wanted to make the tears go away…gods…

As though to keep him on task, his attackers battered the door again. Blood covered the bronze in front of him, smearing on his work spot. He closed his eyes and felt, listened…the rush of power was now a gale, untamable. He was to submit to this? He would be killed, killed, engulfed before he finished his task. He fought, fought like a novice. Ordinary magic was one thing, this…avalanche…storm of fire…he submitted…

And he was riding it. Riding the storm. He laughed in exhilaration, laughed until he went hoarse, laughed like a mad man. Perhaps he was. But this…this was ecstasy beyond anything he had ever felt, sweetness the surpassed all sweetness… "Is death so sweet, Majesty?" Those cold, hard eyes, like frozen earth, swept over the body of an innocent, blood creeping towards his throne. "When it is your enemies, it is sweeter than anything." But the sorcerer saw only the face of a small girl, eyes wide and glassy. He saw no enemy.

His resolved hardened. He was harnessing more power than any could, and he still lived. For now. But he could feel his life force pour into controlling this raging flood. He had precious little time. The blood on this little object, this mighty force to be reckoned with, sparked, as though alive. It ran towards him, that red flow, trickling downhill on the uneven work surface, even as the innocent blood shed so many years ago flowed towards him in the throne room. The slaughter of innocents, the butchery of babes and women, it must end. It must end. I will end it!

"A ruler," he forced through a clenched jaw and gritted teeth, with almost no voice. My hoarse whisper will change destiny. "A good ruler. A just ruler. What this country needs. The country always needs! The ruler. Will be marked. With the mark you bear. All will know. All will know. Alone…Unique mark. No other. No fire shall touch thee, no time shall wither thee, no water or storm besmirch thee. So—sayeth—I! Your—master! Blood calls! Blood rules! Blood will tell!" All the power, he forced it into that object, inadvertently forging a bond between the blood in his hand and the blood on the table, the blood that was now being soaked into the bronze like a starved flower. All of it. Every last drop. Must succeed. "If you kill your enemies, they cannot return to haunt you. You have won the war." He collapsed, and was dead before he hit the ground, a smile on his lips.

The guards burst through the room with frightening ease. The door had been unmovable, and then…without any reason, they were through, the wood in splinters. Spreading out quickly, weapons drawn, they scanned the room. Except for various bewitched pieces of jewelry lining the walls, nothing was amiss. The room held an ominous air of peace. And except for a chaotic swirling of dust motes in the torchlight, the work table was empty. So was the room. The sorcerer, or his body, was nowhere to be seen.