Author's Note

This is the first short story that I finished, it is meant to be just that, short. This story can be treated as a beta-test, it was actually created so that I could see my weaknesses and strengths as a writer. Turns out the former are numerous and the latter few, making writing a less-than-ideal career choice. Nevertheless, I refuse to delete this story on the basis that someday I might decide to try and rewrite it as a longer story with a better arc to the storyline and a smoother integration of the concepts and backstories. Should I do so, however, I will save it as a different file.

TheBeardedOne

27/10/02

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Author's edit - I'd completely forgotten about this story until I rediscovered it while searching for another.
It may be cliche-ridden, but I hope you enjoy it anyway.


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Prologue

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On the world of Eyarth, Mortals and Immortals co-exist uneasily, the Mortals envious of the Immortals' eternal lives, the Immortals worried about the Mortals jealousy and fear. Only one Mortal country, Eldrakal, has truly embraced the Immortals, and has developed its society round them. In Eldrakal, Immortals are free to do what they wish without fear, as long as they do not act unjustly or unfairly to others. Many Immortals in Eldrakal have in turn 'adopted' mortal families, aiding them down the generations, giving help and advice, acting as a surrogate parent or a trusted adviser as the situation requires, and allowing those families to include the name of the Immortal in the family name. Other Immortals have chosen to serve and protect Eldrakal, some in the army, others freelance, all acting for the good of the country. The inclusion of Immortals into the country is symbolised by the enchantments woven into the Crystal Crown, created at the Founding of the Country by six Mortal mages, and six magical Immortals. By mutually agreed tradition, only a Mortal can wear the Crystal Crown, and once placed upon the Mortal's head, the complex spells woven into the crystalline matrix of the Crown sense the Monarch's personality, and Calls an Immortal to their side, to become his or her friend, advisor and aide. With a long-term view available to him or her, the Monarchs of Eldrakal are renowned for unusual honesty, stability and the courage to take decisions that will have negligable short-term impact, but will prove beneficial in the long-term, sometimes over a century in the future. However, even the longest and most stable traditions can be overturned by treachery and bad luck...