A/NPlease don't kill me, but I have removed this story from fiction press. I am selfishly keeping the prologue for this and for my next novel, Regent, on here simply because the reviews have meant a lot to me. (I will upload Regent on here once I am about halfway through writing it because frankly reviews keep me going :-D).

I originally wrote this story to give to my father who always wanted me to be an author. My purpose for putting this on here was to get feedback in the editing process because this was my very first venture into creative writing outside of a classroom setting. Since the story is complete and I am no longer getting reviews, I am removing most of it. I do not have grand illusions of becoming a famous author, however I will be self-publishing this piece because I figure I might as well get paid for it if someone actually does want to read it.

If you are interested in reading this further, you may find the rest at: http: / www. lulu. com /spotlight/TaraDavis.com/spotlight/TaraDavis

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-Prologue-

Sunlight shimmered through the dense canopy, dropping golden spotlights on the ground in front of the string of travelers. It had been a long three days and Regent was anxious to have their task completed. As they turned the bend, they caught their first glimpse of the boy who had induced this rare journey. She had heard him well before he came into sight and she laughed silently to herself. It always amused her to hear the thoughts people first projected about her—wondering why she was always in the lead. What would they think if they knew that she was over a thousand years old?

The horses plodded slowly on and the travelers took this opportunity to study the boy. He was short for a six year old—no taller than Regent herself—but strong. Picking up a lamb, he repositioned it into the fold, diligently tending the flock of sheep that he had been charged to keep. He carried a sense of responsibility that was rare in a child so young.

The lamb began to move once more out of the shadows. As the boy moved to redirect it, the sun hit his hair, bringing out the red highlights that had first brought him to their attention.

Regent shook her head. These people were out in the middle of nowhere. It was unheard of to have such a child born to parents without any Gifts. Regent almost pitied his family. They would have no idea what was to come.

The boy's home was now in sight. It was a tiny home in comparison to what they were used to, but well built and sturdy—a labor of love. Regent listened to see if those inside had noticed them yet, but no sound came. As they entered the courtyard, she motioned for her companions to remain on their horses—this should not take long. Dismounting gracefully, she walked to the door.

Before she had knocked twice, a yell came from the center of the house, "Just a minute!" It was the friendly call of a mother who was slightly overworked, yet enjoyed a good break for company. A few seconds later, the door opened, and a woman peered out over Regent's head. The color immediately drained from her face as she saw the finely dressed assemblage in her courtyard. Regent heard the mental count, "one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven…twelve." The last number 'said' as she pulled her eyes down to Regent's face standing below her. Comprehension dawned on her and she hurriedly tried to dust the flour off her apron and smooth out her hair, unwittingly adding flour to the latter in the process. "The Council of Twelve," she said in a tone of awe to herself. She blinked as if suddenly remembering she was not alone and then turned her head to yell into the house, "Kor! Come here. Quick!" She glanced down at Regent with a self-conscious half smile.

"What is it?" a gruff male voice asked from within. A moment later, a large man in a striped shirt stepped forward. The mental math was not necessary for him to realize that these were people you did not leave waiting. Gesturing to Regent he immediately said, "Please! Please! Come inside!"

Regent followed them into the kitchen area. The place was small, but clean. Dishes were placed upon the walls in order of descending size and various knick-knacks littered the counters. She could see the flour on the table where the woman had been kneading a loaf of bread. The man pulled out a chair and motioned for Regent to sit. She shook her head and indicated they should be seated instead.

The woman seemed embarrassed by the state of her home, mumbling about how she wasn't expecting company and how it was normally tidier. The man felt the need to introduce them—as if it were an accident that Regent and the Council were there. "Greetings, Your Highness. My name is Koresh and this is my wife Jorja. How can we be of service to you this fine day?"

Regent smiled. "Please, call me Regent." Her musical voice immediately caused the couple to relax…until she spoke her next sentence. "We are here today to speak to you about your son."

"Our son? Little Mage?" Jorja's thoughts betrayed that she feared he was in trouble and did not understand why.

"Do not be afraid, Madam. He has done nothing wrong. Has anyone ever spoken to you about his unusual hair color?" Regent watched as first confusion and then understanding spread over their faces. Koresh was the first to speak.

"We knew that his hair was slightly different, but the red highlights aren't all that strong—we only notice them in the sunlight. We didn't think there was anything unusual about him." The word "unusual" came out as an accusation.

"Sir, your son is very Gifted. We require that he immediately be removed from your home and placed in the palace to receive training." As was to be expected, the mother dissolved in a state of tears and the father became livid.

"You can't take our son from us! He has done nothing wrong! He hasn't hurt anyone. We've never seen any action from him that shows that he's different than anyone else. You have no right to take him!" Koresh spoke with force, however internally Regent could hear him calculating his chances of keeping his son from the Twelve if they truly wished to take him—they were slim. Jorja simply cried.

Regent put on a sympathetic look and sighed. "If it were merely a matter of one or two Gifts, we would not need to remove him to have him taught. However, your son was born with eight of the twelve. He is very strong—the strongest we have ever seen in the outer realm. He needs to be trained. He has been chosen."

The words had the intended effect. Jorja's weeping slowed as she stared into Regent's eyes. The expression on her face changed rapidly from sorrow to pride to pain, but she did not dare argue with the leader of the Twelve.

Koresh's inner turmoil stopped and his voice quivered as he spoke. "Speak plainly, Regent."

"Your son needs to be trained, for he has been chosen by the Council…" The words left little doubt of their meaning, but the parents breathlessly waited to hear the four words that had yet to be spoken.

"He will be King."