One bright, sunny day in Aroria, chief of the islands of the Moreskoan Kingdom, a teenager named Dustin Rickland was walking home from school. His soft, lovely dark brown hair waved gently in the cool breeze as his handsome green eyes scanned the path for any obstacles he might stumble over. Some people standing nearby looked at him strangely as he turned off the main road onto the narrower road that led to only one place, and that was the royal palace. What none of them knew was that this young man was the oldest son of King Manfred and Queen Kate Rickland of Moreskoa, and a fine son he was to them.
Eventually, he walked through the gigantic palace doors and entered the huge, sunlit courtyard that branched out to nearly every room in the palace. He then took a left turn and made his way down the long hallway that led to the royal family's living quarters. Palace guards lined the walls of the hall, and as Dustin passed them, they bowed respectfully. He smiled and waved back.
Finally, he reached the door of the royal living quarters and knocked, because his parents hadn't given him keys yet. Before long, his loving mother Kate opened the door.
"Dustin!" she exclaimed happily as she stepped aside for him to walk through. "How did school go today?"
"Pretty good, mom." Dustin replied as he jerked his backpack off his shoulders and tossed it onto the couch beside the door. Then he spotted his younger sister sitting at a small table reading a book. "Hey Cassie," he began, smiling when she looked up, "how'd you get here ahead of me?"
Cassie smiled. "My P.E. teacher was out sick, so I was able to go home right after history class."
Dustin nodded. "I see. Well, enjoy your book."
Just as Dustin was about to go off to his room, his father Manfred came out of the kitchen holding a cup of black coffee in his hand. "Hey son," he called, "how was school?"
Dustin turned around and replied, "It was fine."
Manfred frowned and asked, "Why's your face so dirty? What happened?"
"Oh," began Dustin nervously, "one of our knights got drunk and I caught him robbing some guy in an alley."
"So you took it upon yourself to stop him." Manfred said in an attempt to drag answers out of his nervous son.
"Yes." replied Dustin simply.
Manfred put his coffee down on a little wooden stool and crossed his arms. "Didn't I tell you not to get into swordfights so readily?"
"Yes dad, it's just that I-"
"Disobeyed. I know. You should've let me know what was going on, rather than take things into your own hands like I told you not to."
"Sorry, I just forgot."
"Conveniently, yes. I gave you that sword only for self-defense, but I see that you've become obsessed with it. I hate that I have to do this, but I'll have to take that from you until you've matured enough to use it correctly."
Dustin's heart sank, and he cried, "But dad, I am mature enough! I'm sixteen years old!"
"Well then, you ought to act like it. Give me the sword."
Tears began welling up in the young man's distressed eyes as he unsheathed his beloved sword and handed it to his father. Then he quickly walked away to his room so his father wouldn't see his tears.
Meanwhile, over in Ruby City, capitol of the massive Haskarsian Empire, a young man named Paulo Feliz was sitting on his couch and polishing his dark grey boots when he suddenly heard a sharp knock on the door.
"Hey mom," he called, "someone's at the door!"
His mother, a short blonde woman who made her living as a doctor, emerged quickly from the kitchen and peered through the door's peep-hole before announcing, "It's Mr. Bidrele." and opening the door.
Tanuk Bidrele, a tall, bearded swordsman wearing a tightly tucked black shirt under a dark brown coat, stepped through the doorway and said, "Greetings, Scarlet." to Paulo's mother. Then he nodded at Paulo and greeted him as well.
"Hello Mr. Bidrele," began Paulo looking curiously at the long, thin briefcase Tanuk had in his hand, "what's up?"
Tanuk sat down on the couch beside Paulo, took a deep breath and said, "A spirit of rebellion against our Empire is spreading rapidly through Localaku, a country rich in delicious, exotic crops. Emperor Richard VII has appointed me to go there and see if military involvement is necessary. Since you're my student, I figured I'd take you with me."
"But teacher, you've only been instructing me for a month. Am I really worthy to accompany you?"
"Worthy enough," began Tanuk as he bent down to open the briefcase he'd brought and pulled a heavy sword out, "especially with this."
When Tanuk handed the sword to Paulo, he stood up and weighed it in his hand before saying, "I don't know what's so special about this one. It's a lot heavier, I notice that."
Tanuk shook his head with disapproval at Paulo's unobservant way. "Are you blind, or do you notice that there's a switch on the hilt?"
Paulo looked closer and replied, "Oh yeah. What's that do?"
"Activate it and see for yourself."
He slid the switch into the "on" position and widened his dark brown eyes as he watched a red-orange glow creep from the bottom of the iron blade, all the way to the needle-sharp tip. Then he looked at Tanuk in bewilderment.
"Yes, that's no ordinary sword; that's a flame-sword. It's as sharp as any sword, but with the intense heat, it packs an extra punch. This one belonged to your father years ago, and I felt you should have it, now that you're old enough."
"Thank you, Mr. Bidrele." Paulo said as he deactivated the flame-sword and watched the glow die off.
"You're very welcome." replied Tanuk as he rose to his feet. "Now, pack your suitcase. We're leaving at 5 o'clock in the morning to catch the early plane."
Manfred shut the door to his bedroom and unlocked a long, wooden chest before dropping Dustin's sword into it. Then he closed the chest before looking up and smiling at Kate, who was sitting on the bed, patching up a hole in one of his shirts. However, he was confused when she didn't fully smile back.
"What's wrong, honey?" he asked her.
"You know Manfred, I think you're being a bit hard on the boy."
Manfred sighed. "He needs to learn obedience, but unfortunately, he learns best the hard way. Besides, he should be focusing on his education right now."
Kate shook her head in disapproval. "Manfred, you know our son. He won't thrive unless he's doing what he loves."
Manfred took a deep breath before replying, "If that's the case, I'd rather him live than thrive. Kate, you're privileged to bear the title of 'mother'. Be careful that you don't allow our children to make you lose it." With that, he left the bedroom.
A few hours later, Dustin sat at his empty desk in his comfortable bedroom as his mind raced with thoughts of sorrow and self-pity. He'd only been doing what he loved, giving his swordsmanship a chance to shine, and now here he was, with his sword taken away from him. What could he do now? He really had no hobbies. Besides school and church, his sword was basically his life, and it seemed his father was determined to crush all his ambitions. "Why?" he thought to himself pitifully. "Why does everything bad have to happen to me?"
Just then, Manfred called for Dustin, breaking him from his flustered thoughts. He rose from his desk, opened his door, and walked out into the living room, where he found his father and mother sitting side by side on the couch. An empty chair sat in front of them, and Kate motioned for Dustin to sit down in it.
As Dustin seated himself, Manfred cleared his throat and said, "So Dustin, your mother tells me that you have ambitions to become a knight, as I did before you. Is this true?"
"Yes dad." Dustin replied with hope in his voice.
"Well, your mother and I have decided that since we don't want to choke off your aspirations, we'll send you off to be taught by one of the best swordsmen in the kingdom."
Dustin smiled and said, "Thanks dad. But why is it that you can't teach me?"
"Oh, I could, except for one thing: There are three basic styles of swordfighting used in Moreskoa. Each one reflects a bit of the personality of the user, so the style that suits me may not suit you."
"What are the styles, dad?"
"The first one is the most aggressive, and it's called the Raskan. It emphasizes a fast, offense strategy consisting of sequences of rapid strikes that overwhelm and immobilize the enemy.
The second style, the Halotinian, consists of a wide array of strikes and blocks, making a well-rounded warrior capable of facing a variety of opponents with ease.
The last style, the Torlenian, is the one I use. It involves staying composed and blocking your opponent's blows, catching him off guard when you do your strategic, powerful strike. Now, the question is, which style sounds best to you?"
After thinking for a moment, Dustin said, "I think the Raskan."
Manfred nodded. "Alright, that's it. I'm gonna find you a Raskan teacher. Go to bed a little earlier tonight, because I'll have some business for you to handle before school tomorrow."
"Alright, thanks dad."
"No problem." Manfred replied, smiling reassuringly at his son before giving him a hug.
Author's note: Well, there's chapter one! I hope you enjoyed it, and if you did, please follow the story so you can be notified when I update it. I plan to update on Mondays and Fridays or something like that, but we'll see. Also, please leave a comment below if you've enjoyed it so far, because I always appreciate feedback. Have a nice day!