Ten year old Crown Prince Wolfgang, stared out the glass window of the school room on the second level of the castle, at the many small farms that dotted the countryside. He knew he should be studying his History but the tutor was teaching in a dry, monotone voice and he had other things on his mind. He hoped Mother and father would come back soon. His parents, the King and Queen of the Kingdom of Mandell, had been visiting Seyah the neighboring Empire. King Brandon hoped to form a peace treaty with the Seyahan Emperor Malik.

The Kingdom of Mandell had been at odds with the Empire of Seyah for centuries. No one really remembered how the war had started but other than a few outright attacks it had mostly consisted of border skirmishes. In the interest of peace, the Mandell King and Queen had decided to try to forge a treaty agreement which would ally the two countries stopping the constant battles making them both stronger and better for it. They had been gone for almost a whole moon cycle.

"Rider Coming!" The call rang out from the guard tower.

Wolf looked up from his studies excitedly looked up from his studies at his Tutor. "Maybe the rider has news about mother and father, Sir!" he exclaimed excitedly to his tutor. His black eyes begged to be allowed to go meet the rider. The tutor gave the small boy a forbearing look and ruffled his dark curls.

"Go ahead." he said "You won't be able to concentrate if you do not hear what the rider has to say." By the time he had fished his sentence the young prince was already out of the school room and down the hall headed toward the throne room.

When the prince arrived at the throne room he skidded to a stop at the outside edge of the crowd of courtiers waiting to hear the news. He watched as the rider was kneeling in front of his uncle, Duke Emil, who was standing in front of the steps leading to the twin thrones.

The King had left Duke Emil in charge of running the country in the absence of the Royal couple as Wolf was still too young to be placed in charge and the Duke was the next heir to the throne after Wolf.

Wolf watched as the Duke accepted the outstretched scroll from the messenger and quickly skimmed it. For a split second Wolf thought he saw a glint of pleasure in his uncle's eye but then just as quickly it was gone, and a very serious expression appeared on his face. Wolf wondered at the foreboding look on Duke Emil's face.

The Duke turned and climbed the three steps to the platform on which the thrones sat and faced the crowd. Confusion swept through Wolf, only the King and Queen were allowed on the platform. He was allowed with permission to mount the throne platform but even he was never to touch the thrones, the matching symbols of power over the country. He dismissed it and turned his attention to his Uncle. Wolf's stomach sank at the look of regret mingled with grief on his uncle's face. Then the duke spoke.

"It is a sad day. I regret to report that the King and Queen have been assassinated."

"NO!" Wolf heard himself shout. He fought back tears. It couldn't be true. There must be a mistake they were due back in less than a fortnight.

"I am afraid it is all too true Wolfgang" consoled Duke Emil. "The Seyah Empire obviously lured your parents there in order to murder them." He raised his voice and looked over the crowd.

"They thought they could weaken the Kingdom of Mandell, but we will not allow that. Although it is a heavy burden, I, Duke Emil of Mandell, will step forward and act as the King Protector until such time as Wolfgang is old enough to rule as King on his own."

As he said this he took a step back and sat on the throne. A gasp went through the crowded throne room, then a smattering of clapping, led first by the Duke's most loyal supporters, then turning into a roaring applause.

Wolf stood like a statue rooted to the floor with shock. Confusion, sadness, anger, loss all of these emotions swirled through Wolf's body. How could this be happening? His parents were dead, and his uncle had just effectively taken charge over the Kingdom.