A/N: This is all my original work, please do not repost/copy as everything is mine. But do please read, enjoy and review.
In what appeared to be an abandoned shack, just barely visible from the poorly lit dirt road, two men found themselves in a life altering conversation. The moon had long since appeared over-head, lighting the road that attached two neighboring villages. The sparse lighting that reached through the many trees that attempted to block out the moons' light, helped ensured no way-ward traveler would wonder over to the shack in hopes of temporary shelter should they lose their way. An eerie silence had fallen over this section of the path. It seemed no one, not even animals, dared to walk the path this late at night. Even the hidden creatures that normally made their presence known during the night, were abnormally silent. They seemed to realize the importance of the conversation that was taking place in the lonely shack.
The appearance inside the small shack only helped the illusion of it being abandoned. The shack held just a single simple room that held all the furniture to cover the bare necessities of a living space. Broken in a corner, and completely unusable, lied a bed with the torn sheets covered in dust. Opposite the bed, lied what looked to have been a poorly put together hearth. In the middle of this darkened shack sat a table that could barely stand on its' own legs. And finally, the last pieces of furniture were two chairs placed opposite each other at said table.
One chair was occupied by an older man that had seen better days. His clothes were patched together from bits of unmatched cloth. Even with the stitches on the clothes, they still looked to be falling apart. The sword hanging on the back of his chair appeared un-fit for use as a letter opener, much less defending against any would be attacker. The man's greying beard hung past his chin; knots lined his beard as a weak attempt to keep his appearance above that of a servant.
The other chair was pushed farther away from the table than its' counter-part. The man who had previously occupied the chair stood with his hands flat on the table, slightly leaning over it. The younger man looked to be trying to intimidate the other man. The younger man wore clothes that told of a privileged life. The clothes were a clean, bright white that signified his high rank in both society and the military. His face was clean shaven with his long white hair tied loosely in the back, not a strand was out of place. His sword lied on the table and even though it clearly had seen battle, it too appeared just as majestic and privileged as its wielder.
The younger man's face was contorted with anger and annoyance. Siro had thought the meeting would last an hour at most. It seemed the older man was intent on wasting all of Siro's night with useless questions and worries. Siro had been planning this meeting for a while and without the old man's cooperation, his plans would come to a halt until he could come up with an alternative option; which could take up to a few years he didn't want to waste. The only option Siro saw that would be the most efficient, was the old man accepting his offer without complaint. Siro had never even once assumed the old man wouldn't agree.
"How can you hesitate to take this offer?" Siro demanded an answer once again from the older man; as if they hadn't just been arguing over the answer for the last several hours.
Lanos, doing his best to hide his fear, leaned back in his chair and idly scratched his beard as he pondered his answer. He wanted to appear un-phased by the prince's sudden outburst, so he made himself appear to be thinking over his answer which gave the prince a moment to hopefully calm down. Years of military service and serving under Siro, had taught Lanos that when Siro was mad, it was best to let him calm down before continuing any sort of conversation; fortunately, it usually never took long for Siro to calm down.
The offer the prince was trying to get Lanos to accept was certainly very appealing. If the princes' plan worked as he says it would, Lanos would once again live a life full of luxury. He would be able to, again, wield the power he knew he both could and should. He would regain his lost nobility status; perhaps he could gain more than what he had lost. It was a very tempting offer. What man, that lived a life on the streets, wouldn't take an opportunity to be wealthy and powerful? Lanos couldn't think of any.
If the plan didn't succeed though, it would mean his ruin; it would mean his death. What Siro was proposing, had many different opportunities to fail. Over throwing his fathers' kingdom was a very risky move. Treason was taken very seriously in the kingdom; as it should be. If someone was suspected of treason and found innocent, it would ruin their life; the accusation in and of itself, was a horrible thing to go through. If someone was found guilty of treason, they were granted an immediate trip to the gallows. Sometimes, depending on the severity of the actions taken for treason, a punishment worse than death could be granted. Lanos, even with all his years of service and high ranked status, had never found out what punishment could be worse than death; but he had seen several people given that sentence. He didn't pity them. He also certainly didn't want to join their ranks either.
"Pardon me, my prince, but it is treason you are talking about. I can't be expected to take that lightly and make a hasty decision." Lanos finally answered Siro. "It would be unwise of me to not consider every angle of this opportunity you are offering."
Lanos had known the prince for decades, since the prince was just a boy. Throughout that time, Lanos had seen the hatred the prince harbored for his fathers' rule grow stronger. The possibility of this all being a trick never once crossed Lanos's mind. His time working in the Royal Military allowed him to see things others might not have. He was able to see things the king couldn't; even when it pertained to his beloved sons. He wanted to make sure there was nothing Siro was keeping from him that might cause deadly repercussions to him if they were to win.
"Do you really think I would tell you about this plan without knowing it would work? What kind of fool do you take me for? The punishment for treason, for a member of the Royal Family, is worse than any punishment you could ever be given." Siro said, his anger and impatience growing worse.
Within the kingdom, society was broken into several classes. Royalty was naturally the top class. Treason from a family member was grounds for a punishment that was rumored worse than death; no matter the action the treason was in and no matter if the accused were eventually found innocent; a punishment was always swiftly given. Lanos was only ever told it was only for Royals to know what the punishment was, and only when they were older because they were the ones to administer it if needed. Since the punishment was worse than death, Lanos decided it could only be assumed magic was somehow involved. Magic tended to be a very unforgiving entity if channeled correctly, or incorrectly as it were.
Siro pounded his fist against the table in frustration before falling back into his chair. There were plenty of others that would love to be given the chance to do what Siro was offering Lanos. The reward for success in this plan far outweighed the risk of getting cost; at least, that was how Siro felt. If it wasn't for Lanos's knowledge of how the royal family worked and the layout of the particular castle the family would be at, Siro would have killed Lanos when he didn't answer in the positive right away. As it were, even if he hated to admit it; right now he needed Lanos for his plan to have the highest possible chance of success.
"Look, when we succeed, I'll make sure you will receive your own army that answers only to you. You will have total control of this army." Siro offered in hopes of swaying Lanos's decision to what he wanted it to be. There was no way Siro wouldn't have any control over this army, he would just supervise and command from afar; but he wasn't going to tell Lanos that.
Having an entire army at his call would certainly be useful. During Lanos's years in the Royal Military, he had made many enemies. Doing tasks that were less than admirable for the princes of the kingdom gained him many death threats in his life. He knew many wouldn't hesitate on carrying out if given the chance, which was why he went into hiding as soon as he was stripped of his power. Having an army to protect him while they weed out any possible defenders of the current king, destroying any residual resistance, would be a wise thing to have.
Even now, Lanos was constantly traveling only while the moon was out and only ever in the shadows to avoid those that were hunting him. His military career had only been used for personal profit. He trampled on many innocent people, without thinking about negative consequences, to get into higher positions in life; he only ever thought about instant gratification. He even spilled innocent blood for the sake of keeping his high position in society. Behind the scenes of the military, he was able to steal directly from the king himself to increase his own wealth and power. Because of the people he used in the process of doing anything illegal or shady to elevate his status, and from killing anyone that put was a risk of ratting him out, a trail could not be found linking him to the missing money. So, when he was eventually caught, he got off with only his title and worldly possessions being taken from him; it was considered a mercy that he was able to keep his life. He considered it worse than death because he was left with nothing.
A man could only survive for so long when he had nothing, not even his own name to rely on. Once people found out who he was, he was run out of the area. At the rate Lanos was living with the deteriorating little possession's he'd managed to gather or steal, he didn't have much time before he would be caught and killed for the crimes he had commented since losing everything. He didn't even want to think about how much time he might have until someone he had wronged in his past would find and catch him.
"I'll help you Siro; but I want your word as a Commander that all you have promised me will in fact be given. I want it in writing, and I want time to go over it to make sure you didn't add in any loop holes that might haunt me later on." Lanos said as he sat a little straighter in his chair.
The highest rank someone could achieve in the military was Commander. All male royalty were automatically given the rank Commander as soon as they were old enough to join; but others had to pass a very long and strenuous test. Only one in every thousand that tested for it, actually passed. The tests only took place approximately once every five years or so on average. A commander had to either die or, very rarely, retire, in order for someone to be able to test for the newly vacated spot and even then, it still took time to see if there were any candidates strong enough to have a chance to pass the test.
With everything one had to go through to attain the rank of commander, their word was finite. There were so many different tests and trials the prospective commander had to go through that when they finally obtained the rank, there was a very strong level of trust, a trust that was always backed by magic, between the commander and king. With the king giving his full trust in the commander, the people of the land followed suit in giving their trust. With the responsibilities commanders had to carry out, it was all but impossible for the king not to have full trust in his commanders. So, when a commander gave his word, it was always in the form of an oath. That kind of oath was laced with magic and could not be taken back. Commanders did not give their word very often because they were much too wary of who they were giving their word to. However, when a commander did give their rarely given word, there would never be any doubt of it being followed through. A commander, or anyone who gave a magic laced oath, had no choice but to follow through. The infused magic given with the oath would ensure it was carried through completely.
Siro held his hand out to shake Lanos' to seal the deal. Siro had no doubt the contract he would draw up would pass Lanos's inspection. The man may have been an excellent guard and could spot a spy a mile away; but when it came to spotting loop holes in contracts, the man had no idea what he was looking at. He truly was the perfect pawn for Siro's plan. Siro was all too prepared to write something that would look to be in Lanos's favor, but would only end up hurting him and favoring Siro in the long run. Siro had spent too much time working on this plan to have it ruined by someone who thought they would try to gain an advantage over him by using contracts to their advantage. The man hadn't even asked to write the contract himself; the man was a fool.
The men grasped each-others forearms and shook to seal their verbal deal; as was custom when making a verbal agreement. Without seeming rude since Lanos had yet to sign the contract, Siro released his grip on the other man's arm as quickly as he could. He didn't want to have to touch the man who had fallen from grace for longer than necessary. Lanos may had once belonged in upper class society as a nobleman, but that time had long since passed and Siro would never give him the same respect. Siro didn't want any pro-longed contact and risk tarnishing his pure white clothes.
"I'll send the contract to you in the morning. I'll make sure to send more details about your part in the plan as well. How long will you be here?" Siro asked as he smoothed over his clothes as he prepared to leave.
"I'll be here until someone gets too close to this thing." Lanos said, referencing the shack; he had taken to staying in a place for as long as possible until someone found where he was hiding. It never took long for someone to find his hiding spot, but it still gave him a day or two to rest before he was forced to leave. He relaxed in his seat now that the meeting was finally over and ending in what he believed to be in his favor. He would do his best to stay in the shack for as long as possible to get the contract sooner rather than later.
"Good. Be safe Lanos; I don't want you to die before you can finish your role." Siro said as he made his way to the door to leave after picking up his sword and placing it on his waist in its' proper place.
"You as well Prince Siro." Lanos said with a smirk.
Siro sneered at the man, upset Lanos would even hint he would die before his plan came to fruition. He didn't say anything because, truth be told, what he was planning on doing could very well get him killed quickly; long before his plans were completed. If he was lucky to get a proper trial from his father, if he was ever found out before he planned to be, his father wouldn't hesitate in dealing out a swift punishment. If his older brother found out first though, he wouldn't give a trail, he wouldn't hesitate to give Siro a slow and painful death. They had never liked each other; it was another reason for doing what he was planning, he didn't feel his older brother was the proper heir to the throne. Siro had long since decided his older brother, Menos, would be the first casualty of the war he's set out to start. If not Menos, then at least his father and mother would die first. Either way, the royal family would take a staggering blow very soon.
With nothing else left to be said, Siro nodded once in recognition of the polite farewell, ignoring the hidden jab, and quickly took his leave. As he left the shack, Siro muttered 'dierro', an Elvish word that roughly meant shadow. The spell took full effect not long before he started to walk parallel to the lonely path. Dierro was a spell he had learned fairly early in his life. The spell gathered the surrounding shadows and swirled into a cloak-like material that turned the casters appearance into a shadow. The spell worked best at night because of the dark, and as long as Siro was careful to keep his steps light and stick to the natural shadows whenever he passed someone, no one would know he was there. Not even people of his own race, a race that had far superior eye sight compared to other races of the planet, no one would be able to see him through the spell.
With the spell in place, Siro was able to swiftly run the entire way back to the castle and not have to worry about someone seeing him. There had only been a handful of people on the path and he had been able to easily avoid as he stayed just off the dirt path. Even when Siro had reached the castle he currently called home, it was easy to slip back in with no one noticing. The guards were too focused on looking out for visible attackers and since it was so late, there were only a few guards patrolling. Siro would have to remember that when he took over his fathers' kingdom. He would have to make sure his guards were always working in full shifts; not partial like his father allowed. He would also make sure they always looking for visible and hidden intruders so there wouldn't be a repeat of what would happen to his father.
Once safely in his room, he placed all the spells and charms necessary to ensure his privacy and Siro promptly started to write the contract. The sooner it was written, the sooner his plans could go into action. When the contract was written he would have his youngest sibling, Dracon, look over it to make sure it met his approval. Dracon was even better than himself at making contracts and Siro wanted to make sure there were as little room for errors as possible.
The two brothers had been working on this plan together from an early age. Since they were just boys, both brothers felt compelled to take over the dying kingdom. They had no doubt they would both be able to take the crown from their father. Both men felt the kingdom was dying because of their fathers' leniency on the people and allowing them to disobey laws and traditions with no repercussions. They wanted to de-thrown their father and renew the strict governing of the land from the days of old. Not only did they have to get their father out of the way though, they knew he wouldn't just hand them the kingdom, but they also had their siblings, the oldest brother and a sister who was older than Dracon and younger than Siro, to attend to. Siro and Dracon knew both their father and their older brother were too soft to control the kingdom to be able to renew the kingdom to its' former glory. Instead, they both, as well as the people of their kingdom, were waiting for a man to appear to bring them back to a golden age instead of leading the kingdom.
In a prophecy given dozens of generations ago, during their last golden age when the planet was first united under one crown, it was told that when the kingdom was on its' knees, a 'Protector' would arrive to lead them back to their former glory. Since then, it had been rumored that this 'Protector' would come from the royal family and when he would take the throne, he would make drastic changes to the land to bring back their prosperity from the last golden age. The prophecy wasn't detailed, but there had been many scholars that had studied the prophecy and the man who had given it and in time, an interpretation was given and followed. The two princes were sure the prophecy was talking about them. They would do all they could to make sure they were the Protectors told about in the prophecy that would reunite their dying kingdom.
By the time the sun started to rise to start a new day, Siro had finished the contract and had hidden agreements that would give him more than what Lanos wanted to give. After quickly reading over it one more time to ensure he left nothing out, Siro signed the bottom of it. Siro was confident that even though he wasn't as good with contracts as his younger brother, there would be no errors in the one he made. He rolled the parchment up and slipped it into his robes to safely hide from anyone's prying eyes. Siro left his room and quickly made his way to his brothers' room. Without knocking or signaling his presence, Siro barged into the room, unconcerned of what his brother might have been doing.
In the far corner of the room, opposite the door, was a large matted training area. Along the two walls that bordered the matted area were different weapons waiting on their stands to be trained with. In the middle of the matted area was a man slightly shorter than Siro, but with more visible muscle, practicing with one of the weapons.
The weapon was just shorter than the man was tall. At the edge of the white spear shaft, instead of the normal spear head, a long, nearly six inches in length, curved white blade rested there. On the opposite end of the blade, a six inch white chain was attached to the shaft. If used properly this weapon could be a very effective short, medium and with magic, long ranged weapon. It was a favorite of Dracons when he was feeling particularly mean spirited in battle.
"Practicing with the naginata brother? I had thought you were bored with that weapon?" Siro asked as he watched his younger brother use the weapon to swiftly slice through the air.
"What does it look like?" Dracon grumbled under his breath as he continued with his exercises, set on ignoring his brothers' uninvited presence in his room.
Ever since he was a child, Dracon had been known for his temper. The smallest things would always set him off and he could take hours, or even days, to calm back down. His attitude was always brash and to the point, never bothering to care how he may be perceived by others. As a child, his temper was simply written off as a child's tantrum for not getting his way; his parents waved off the anger problems, saying he would grow out of it. It was only his title as prince that kept him from being expelled from school or having any legal problems for the many fights he had started.
When he had finally managed to barely graduate from school, he had already chosen what field he would master in. He had always wanted to join the ranks of the werewolves. Werewolves, seemingly from holding both human and wolf traits, had always had high tempers. Dracon had always felt a pull towards the mastery of the werewolf gene. He hadn't wanted to enlist into the actual militant version of werewolf mastery, but a law that had been placed several generations ago made it so all elves had to join a military branch once they were done with their general schooling. The start of their mastery learning would also start their training to be in the military; it was set up to be joint training for mastery level and military training. Because of the law, if Dracon wanted to master any ability, including the werewolf gene, he would have no choice but to join the military. Dracon had little time left prior to his graduation of his general training when Siro started to put his plans to take over the kingdom in place. Preparations were already in place to ensure his high rank in the militant branch of werewolves.
"Lanos agreed. I need you to go over the contract and sign it." Siro said, not bothering with pleasantries, knowing his brother didn't care for them.
Dracon uncaringly dropped the naginata and made his way to his brother. Dracon snatched the document from Siro's hand before he could even fully pull it out from his robes. Dracon walked briskly to his desk that sat mostly abandoned in a darkened corner of his room and quickly read over the contract. After just a few short minutes, Dracon signed the contract without making any changes to it.
"Are there no errors?" Siro asked, concerned his brother was perhaps too hasty in reading over the document to notice any mistakes and that was why he hadn't made any adjustments.
"Within the month, our father will fall and the kingdom will be ours." Dracon stated with a smirk, completely ignoring his brothers' concern. He wasn't concerned about it, so he saw no reason to talk about it.
"So will our siblings, they are just as foolish as our father." Siro said as he walked towards his brother's desk. He took Dracons avoidance to his question to mean he hadn't found any concern with the contract; especially since he had signed the document.
"It will be nice to not have to deal with them anymore." Dracon said as he rolled up the parchment back up to hand back to Siro.
"Our entire family will fall; none of them will be alive by the months end." Siro said as he grabbed the document and put it back in his robes.
"Be fast brother; the sooner we get these plans in action, the sooner our dear parents and dear brother and sister will be dead." Dracon said, sounding sickly sweet.
Knowing that all that needed to be said had been said, Siro left his brothers' room. Since it was day time, Siro had to travel to the shack completely off the road and hidden by the surrounding forest. He didn't want to waste any time by waiting for nightfall. There were many travelers on the road that Siro had passed, but none had noticed the swiftly running elf in the surrounding forest. As was promised, Siro found Lanos in the shack waiting for him. Without a word being said between the two, Siro handed the contract over to the former nobleman and left, not bothering to wait for the man to read it. It went without saying that once it was late enough, once it was dark, Siro would come back to retrieve the contract that would, at that time, have three signatures at the bottom. The contract would allow Siro to kick off his plans.