Hey readers! This is my first fic so far, so try not to be too hard on it. If you like it, please review, and even if you don't like it, send me a message. Any advice on changes is welcome! Note: All of the events and characters in this story are fictional. So hope you like it and Enjoy!
Prologue – A time of weakness
November 21, Neapolis, 8 A.D.
Stepping out into the courtyard, the boy gasped in surprise. It was midnight. The plants and trees of the royal gardens were washed in a gloomy, pale light from the moon, making their features hardly distinct. He was standing beside one of the small ponds, looking into the ebony black water, hardly blinking. Around the courtyard was the palace, columned in dozens of marble, fluted columns, now looking dead and scary. The floors of the rooms were covered in countless mosaics and the walls painted with frescos. Zanthos slowly made his way through the courtyard. The trees made the gardens felt cozy, but at the same time uncomfortable. Their shadows made ghastly shapes on the small paved path. The ten year-old saw a shape moving throughout the gardens, creeping through the large palm trees. Zanthos clutched his arms. The weather outside was getting cold and windy, even though he lived in southern Italy. The boy looked at his small linen tunic. It was embroidered in gold thread, made into patterns and symbols. On his small feet was a pair of leather sandals.
The figure moved farther and farther away, and the boy followed. The shape walked through the courtyard, rustling past the bushes and flowers. Zanthos could barely make out its form, but he was convinced it was a man. Creeping past the private rooms of his sisters, Zanthos decided to see where this man was going. This mysterious man woke him from his sleep. As Zanthos rubbed his eyes, he was quick enough to notice that the man was looking for something.
By now, the little prince was out of the courtyard, and standing in the halls leading to the servants' quarters. From the doorways to the rooms, a warm orange light shined through. Keeping quiet and against the walls, Zanthos saw the man walk into one of the doorways. That's cook's room. Zanthos thought to himself. A small window in the wall let the prince see what was happening inside. Standing up on his toes, Zanthos discretely peeked into the room.
Inside were two people. His own father, Banipal, and his older, twenty five year-old brother, Hector. They stood around a small hearth. The man the prince followed was wearing a dark woollen cloak. As he took it off, the boy realised it was his family's oracle, Saris. He had come from the distant lands of India, many years ago, even before Zanthos was born. Saris always predicted carefully and astoundingly accurately. Adjusting his hearing, Zanthos yearned to hear what the people were talking about.
"Saris? What took you so long?" The king asked.
"I'm sorry my lord, someone was following me. I think it was one of your servants.'
"As long as they haven't spotted where you were going, everything is fine. Sit down." Banipal waved to the oracle. He spoke again, this time in less confident tone. "The reason that I have called you here is about your prediction that you had made earlier today. You said that it was urgent."
"Yes my lord. The gods have given me terrible information. It is about your youngest children." Zanthos almost gasped by the words. He and his fraternal twin sister were the youngest of the Neapolitan family at the time.
"Yes, what about them, Saris?"
"These news will shock you my king, but I have no choice but to let them out to you, such is the will of the gods. I saw it my dreams, yet I will show you with other means." Saris gravely bowed and held out a piece of broken bone for Banipal to see. Zanthos recognized it. Saris usually used animal bones as means of telling the future. This method he brought from the faraway lands of China, where the process was commonly used. "The bones never lie, my king, and these predict an awful fate, I can feel it."
Saris tossed the bone into the fire of the hearth. A cracking noise filled the empty room. The light from the fire made ghastly shadows on the men's faces. Before long, Saris took a pair of iron tongs, which lay beside the hearth. Gently grabbing the bone, he gingerly laid it on the tiled floor near the fire. Smoke arose from the bone. Cracks all over the stem indicated that the process was finished. After moments of cooling, Saris picked the bone up and inspected it closely.
"Yes my lord, this is serious…The gods of Olympus tell me fate of your two children is very uncertain." Saris shook his head and gave the bone to Banipal. Two cracks the size a forefinger stretched across the bottom part of the bone. They were similar, both shaped like two hooks.
"What does it mean?" The king inquired with a worried look on his face.
"The two cracks represent your two children, and since they are fraternal twins, they are quite different. Lastly the hook represents the hand of death." Saris pointed to the cracks.
The king gulped and asked "Does this mean they are going to die?"
"No Banipal, I'm afraid it's worse. The smaller one of the hooks symbolizes your daughter. Her hook is pointing down, meaning that she will suffer a fate so disastrous, it will be worse than death itself." Saris gravely looked down. "My dream had told that she isn't meant to live. She will destroy everything we hold dear. Her brother Zanthos will be doomed to wander the earth, searching for something long lost."
"I can't believe this. There must be some mistake Saris. Your predictions are never wrong, but this is ridiculous. How could the children of such an ancient and blessed dynasty be cursed?"
Zanthos slid down the wall, covering his face with his hands. His straight, jet black hair glistened in the moonlight coming from the gardens. He couldn't believe what the oracle had just said. Slowly standing up, Zanthos breathed hard and was on the brink of sobbing. Trying to reject what Saris had just said, the prince didn't want to hear any more. Stepping out into the gardens, Zanthos once again clutched his arms, in hope of trying to make himself more comfortable. The boy quickly ran through the courtyard, not even looking back to see if anyone had seen him running through the palace at this time of night. And besides, it wouldn't matter to him. The news had taken over his emotions completely.
Running up the stairs and through the great corridors leading to his rooms, Zanthos burst through the wooden door of his bedchamber. The little prince spilled onto on his bed and immediately covered himself with the white cotton blanket that lay on top of it, making the curtains covering the large windows of his room ripple from his motion. The small candle on the table close to his bed went out in a blink of an eye as Zanthos tossed and turned. Closing his eyes and cuddling to one side, Zanthos wished his midnight prophecy telling was just a slight dream. The wind blew softly from his open window, filling his room with an air of fear. Even though this was just a prophesy, that might or might not come true, Zanthos was rocked by the words of the old oracle. His phrases flew over the boy's mind, not letting him think of anything else. He never forgot those words. "He will be doomed wander the earth, searching for something long lost…"