The vast continent of Rathunia hummed with life as it once again began to prosper under the grateful watch of the Gods. In the twelve years since the war on Draitia had begun and ended each of the five Kingdoms had struggled with the demands of increased population. Though life had become easier in the five years since the war across the sea ended and many of the Beings had returned to Draitia, there were also a great many who'd refused to travel back to their homelands, haunted by the memories of predugice and bloodshed. They had striven to make a life for themselves feared loosing everything they had gained to start again. Even after five years of peace ships still arrived from Dratia carrying Humans who no longer felt welcome in their homeland and Beings whose bad memories left them wanting a new start.
For some Kingdoms it had been easy to adjust to the flow of Beings into their lands. The snow covered lands of Vintasia to the north received the least of the refugees and managed well with those that had dared enter the eternal cold lands. There was space to spare for those willing to endure the harsh environment and a surplus of work to be done. The mountainous mining lands of Bergendale to the west thrived with the endless additions of able bodies willing to take work in the mines, but the shortage of food to their Kingdom left all who lived there distraught and easily angered. The western lands were too dry and tough for farming, leaving their appetites victim to the luck of their markets. The Beings were forced to work twice as hard, competing constantly and still barely able to provide more food then before.
The wealthy southwestern lands of Rikvain welcomed refugees without hesitance, housing many of them in spare rooms as cooks and cleaners. The large country had many lush fields perfect for farming and offered those lands to refugees for hefty fees that they could work off until they were able to buy the lands for themselves. Rikvain was also home to many deep forests, where bandits and beasts roamed freely. Because the land in Rikvain was so desirable for farming many of the farms were frequently attacked, leaving Refugees and citizens alike dead, their children forced into debt that was almost impossible to pay back. The wealthy citizens invested heavily in the farmlands and refused to sell them cheap no matter the circumstances. Desperate families meant cheap workers, and the aristocrats of the glimmering city could collect their profits while enjoying more leisure time then they'd had before.
But the seaside Kingdom of Thalace to the east, where the ships came into port suffered heavily with every ship that arrived. Built within the towering cliffs along the ocean there was no land to farm nor room to expand their city. The merchants, while willing to hire additional help could not afford to assist the large number of Beings and Humans that came directly into their city. Many of the new arrivals stayed for weeks, deciding where they would go and what they could do, while the citizens of the Kingdom struggled to continue with daily life and keeping their own families fed and safe. Crime the likes of which they had never seen erupted on the winding streets and there was little that could be done with nameless faces that came and went so quickly.
Deep to the southeast the Kingdom of Eldain fared no better. Because of the constant warmth that blessed its lands Eldain had become a popular choice for the refugees, and they all knew that before the war it had been one of the most prosperous lands on Rathunia. Within the first few years it had been filled to capacity, every job possible occupied and even its lower streets crowded with Beings hoping for a place to fit into the ever warm lands that reminded them of what Draitia had once been. The bright sandstone glowed with a fiery magic that called to them a sense of what their Sacred city, Sidverina, had once been like. The wealth that it promised gave them hope. But it didn't last long.
Much of Eldain's farmland had been destroyed to build new homes and the forests bordering its lands deeply demolished, angering the neighboring Kingdom of Rikvain. As with Thalace, crime had risen as the starving and desperate fought to survive. King Havard of Eldain knew that his streets were still crowded with Beings trying to adjust and fit into his kingdom. The glittering city of the Goddess of flame was blessed with a reputation that promised comfort and opportunity. Outside the city walls lay miles of countryside and fertile farmland where many of the refugees had built homes, but there were still more coming, and so many yet lived upon the streets. The first few years had left the Beings of his Kingdom stressed with hunger, and though the shortage had been tamed there were still complaints from the starving. Yes, there were always complaints, about the food, about the Beings still homeless on his streets and the bandits and criminals within the forests bordering his kingdom and now within its very walls. As King he was supposed to be seeing to all of them, fixing everything, but King Havard had troubles of his own.
The death of his wife tens years earlier had shattered the once attentive King, drawing him away from the troubles of the common Beings within his city and forcing him to consider his own, inevitable death. Every Kingdom on Rathunia had been built in honor of a Deity, and each royal line sired an heir that possessed a trace of that ancient magic. That power was usually granted to the first born, and almost always a son, and King Havard had expected no less when his first son had been born. But Alrik had been born as any other human child, without the Dragonnian power that their throne demanded. The King's hoped had risen and fallen again with the birth of his daughter Anora, human as her brother and just as ineligible to take the throne. He'd been forced to wait two more years, stressed and terrified of another failure before his final son came into the world. Not a night had passed during his wife's last pregnancy when King Havard hadn't been gone, praying until he could no longer speak for the heir he needed. And finally, by the grace of the stars Aiden Drayce Havard had been born, the soft tufts of his hair black as night with small, hardly noticeable strands of fiery reddish orange.
What should have been pride for the birth of his heir had been overshadowed by the not so silent mocking of neighboring Kingdoms. That it had taken him three tries to sire a proper heir was laughable, and Aiden had been so small, his magic so weak at birth that King Havard was forced to keep the child within the castle walls until he'd balanced out. But it wasn't as easy as waiting for the boy's magic heritage to balance with his human blood. By the age of five Aiden had been as perfect a Dragonnian as his mother, able and brimming with a dragon's magic. The Beings of Eldain praised the young heir and welcomed him readily, but King Havard himself was still ashamed of how long it had taken him to provide an heir to his kingdom. That shame, and his fear of the dangerous refugees fueled his need to keep the child hidden within the castle grounds. Hidden away from those who might laugh and others who might see his dragon's blood as a curse and hurt him.
It was known to the Refugees and all on Rathunia that the Eldain heir was born with dragon's blood, and that that blood gave the boy fiery magic. Loved as he would be by his own people and those who knew him, there would always be others who lived in worry that he would not be able to control that magic, or that he might let it corrupt him. The Dragonnian's were known for their ancient magic, and aside from the royal line in Eldain they were only found on the dark continent of Dochanolc across the sea. In those dark and treacherous lands their proud race had hidden from all the world, using their magic in anger to destroy entire towns and ravage forests. They were proud, dangerous Beings with powerful magic. On Dochanolc they were hunted, and the reputation their people held made the refugees from Draitia wary of the young prince.
Watching his youngest son grow King Havard had known his own share of that subtle fear. Aiden was wild to say the least, and unlike his older brother Alrik, he had no interest in ruling over Eldain. When he was meant to be studying the laws of the kingdom he was often found gazing out the tall, stained glass windows, daydreaming about life outside of the castle. While his tutors paced with impatience he was nowhere to be found. Most days it seemed only Anora knew where to find him, and that was because fragile as she was, she was the only one he confided in. Yes, King Havard had more then his share of worries, and with Aiden's coronation drawing ever closer those worries grew and overshadowed the downtrodden King.
Pacing over the polished orange marble floors of his throne room did little to ease the King's troubled mind. Once upon a time just seeing that beautiful, flawless orange had filled his with such joy because it had reflected the light in his wife's eyes. She had been as much an oddity as their son, a female heir, more beautiful then the sunrise and just as powerful. But she had also been kind. What he wouldn't give to have her once again by his side. King Havard sighed heavily, moving away from the cushioned throne and towards the towering terrace glass doors. Held high by beautifully carved pillars it offered a view of his kingdom that could leave any who stood upon it breathless. After all, Eldain was beautiful, bright and crafted by some of the best artisans who had once lived.
King Havard turned away from his city, his bushy gray brows overshadowing his brown eyes. Below him his shadow stretched across the floor, making him look much thinner then he was. "Guard," He called out, looking to the young man in the red tunic and bronze colored chest plate. "Has Aiden been seen yet today?" Early evening was shining upon them and even he had not seen his youngest son since the sun had risen.
"No sire, all of his tutors have left their usual complaints." The guard replied stoically.
King Havard shook his head and strained to clasped his hands behind his back. "Find Alrik and send him to find Aiden, I want him brought to me immediately."