Sword of Cathmor

By: Shinga

Chapter Two

"Threat of War"

Disclaimer: All me, all mine, back off. ^_^

A/N: Okay, response to reviews here... to Chevira Lowe, don't worry I'll finish it if it kills me. And that's possible. Damn dangerous stories, always trying at my neck... O_o to RedFeather(I'm going by your other name here Amy ;)) You're not the only one who is in love with him. Go on, start the fanclub. ;p ^_~ And finally to Speedette, thank you for the critisism. And to be honest, being thrust into a story has always worked for me O_o I think. If I'm catching your meaning. The prologue is far from finished, in fact, the whole book is far from finished. It will take quite a while. ^_^ Okay then, that's all. R/R folks! ^_~

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*



"So you understand my problem," Euphemios said the next day as he stood, leaning against a tree. "I have until this evening to think up with some way to be with Viu."

"I for one predict that the relationship is doomed," Kerros said plainly.

"Why!" Euphemios demanded, swiveling around to look at the Forest Elf, who was sitting on a bench nearby. "We can make it work!"

"It's not that," Kerros said with a grin. "It's the time limit she gave you. She could have at least had the decency to give you a week or two. It's never a good idea to get involved with a woman who pushes you to the edge."

"Kerros..." Euphemios groaned.

"Only fooling."

"Yes, I was aware of this." The Prince didn't seem too pleased.

The Forest Elf suddenly gasped and stood up quickly. "I've just had an idea!" Kerros sprinted up to Euphemios and ignored the apprehensive expression from him. "Maybe a peace offering to the Queen, so she'll like you!"

"Kerros, please try to be serious."

"No need to worry, Eu, I am," Kerros took Euphemios by the arm and led him around the garden, grinning. "We know Hesperos and Vezdana hate eachother... well, perhaps loath would suit them much better. Yes, loath. We know that peace between the kingdoms is hopeless, only because of the royalty. We need peace. But both of them are too stubborn to admit it. So what if you make the offer instead of relying on irresponsible adults?"

Euphemios stopped walking, and so did Kerros. "It's insane," He said simply, staring with a frown down at his shorter friend.

"I thought it was rather brilliant," Kerros said with a mock pout. "Explain to me what's so absurd about it?"

"I will," Euphemios said, holding up his hand and started ticking off the fingers in a list. "My father never listens to me when he's angry, which he always is when Vezdana's around, both of them think I'm too young to have any good ideas or reasonable opinions, the cause of their arguements are next to impossible to stop, and they'll probably guess about Viu if I happen to bring anything up."

"Very well thought out and interesting reasons. However..." Kerros said. "They are all pathetic. You're just being a coward, Euphemios. Talk about it with the King when the old witch isn't here. Secondly, send a nice letter to the Queen instead of approaching her directly about it. Third, that's the most obvious thing I've ever heard you say. I know we can't stop that. But I'm sure if the King and Queen agree to a peace treaty, then they'll figure out some way to stop it without warfare. Fourth, ignore that. If there's peace, then there should be no objection to a relationship."

Euphemios pondered on all of Kerros' arguments for a while before he nodded solemnly. "All of those are perfectly acceptable, and I could make them all work."

Kerros beamed with pride.

"Save for one problem."

Kerros sulked. "You can always find the bad in everything, can't you?"

"It's Viu herself... she's a Vampire. I'm Faeryn. The Faeryns are a very rare species. There's only a few thousand of us spread around all of Gaian. My father is insistant on me marrying another Faeryn, so the bloodline stays strong, and the Faeryns don't die out, especially in the royal family."

"Ah. Now see, that would be a problem."

Euphemios suspired heavily, feeling completely thwarted. He glanced up at the sky, which was rapidly growing dark. He had gotten an extra worried lecture from Afton, since he had been thinking about Viu much more then usual. All day he had been plotting, and each idea was worse then the last. Kerros was no help at all so far.

"Oh, do quit sighing already! You're starting to get me depressed," Kerros said with his hands on his hips. "And that never happens."

"But there's no way to fix this! What am I to tell Viu? 'I do apologize, Princess, however we are doomed and can never be together, hey let's just be friends'?"

"Well," Kerros considered this for a second, then shrugged. "Come to think of it, that isn't too far from the truth, now is it?"

Euphemios groaned and covered his face with his hands, determined to ignore the rapidly setting sun.

"You could run off together," Kerros suggested cheerily.

Euphemios yelped and dropped his hands down to stare, gaping in disbelief at the Forest Elf. "You... you... what!"

The Elf shrugged. "Your father's not too old, he can remarry and have another heir to rule Gaian when he dies. You can just take the Princess's hand and run off to live together up in the mountains or something."

Euphemios just stared, unable to speak for a good few minutes. Then, "Are... you... insane!"

"T'was only a offer."

"A mad one! I am the heir to the throne, and so is Viu for Vantasia! We both can't simply abandon that!" Despite Euphemios' desperation, he knew his place.

Kerros folded his arms across his chest as if offended. "Well it's in all the storybooks," He argued.

"If you'll take a bit of notice, they rarely have happy endings."

"Of course they do, you just tend to read the depressing ones. I read the 'The doomed Princess and Prince rode off together, never to be seen again, lived happy as a normal couple, had eight kids and died together as happy old hags'."

"You call that happy?" Euphemios asked with a raised eyebrow.

"Well, I do see it as much better than the 'The king's soldiers found them, mistook them both for evil imposters, and killed them both' version."

"How delightful."

"So, as I was proposing..." Kerros leaned his arm on the prince's shoulder, a familiar smug smirk on his tanned face, yellowed by the setting sun. "You and your pretty Princess marry in secret, then hide off in the mountains together. I'm sure if you keep away from the Trolls and those uppitt Mountain Elves then you'll both be fine."

"It would never work, Kerros."

"You like the idea."

"I like the idea of marrying Viu, not running away."

"That is so you."

Euphemios only rolled his eyes, then looked up at the sky, most now a purple color, the stars becoming increasingly brighter. "It's getting late." He muttered. "Viu will be here soon..." This reality made him groan again.

"Stop groaning, you sound like an old man." Kerros snapped. "And try to suggest the running off thing, see what she says."

"I can't!"

"Fine, then I will."

Euphemios looked puzzled. "You won't be here."

"Why not?" Kerros asked, grinning and turning away from the setting sun. His face was now shaded and the back of his hair was highlighted. "I'm always welcome, aren't I?"

"Well, yes I suppose..."

"But nothing. I finally get to meet this pretty Princess of yours." Kerros clapped his hands. "Oh, I'm so excited! Aren't you, Prince?" He grinned.

Euphemios groaned once again.

*~*~*~*~*~*

Euphemios, Hesperos and Kerros all sat at the banquet table, not a word passing between them. The Vampires were late for the meeting, and it was awkward sitting there in silence.

Well, perhaps not quite so silent. Kerros was restless, squirming in his seat and humming some upbeat song, and once in a while would take a fork and tap it on the table in tune. Euphemios periodically cast his friend a berateful look, which certainly never worked. Hesperos stared with an expression of supressed amusement at Kerros.

"It ah..." The King said slowly. "It is quite pleasant of you to stay the night, Kerros."

"Oh your highness!," Kerros said immediately, sitting up straight and abandoning his anticts. "You know it's much more a pleasure for me to be here in your presence then aimlessly roaming the city streets all evening."

"To tell the truth no, I didn't know that." Hesperos said flatly, raising an eyebrow and resting his chin on his hand.

"Most likely because he just lied." Euphemios smiled.

Kerros only smiled cheerfully at the King as he innocently picked up a fork and flung it at the Prince, who was laughing.

"Am I interupting anything?" Said a familiar voice, quite unamused and completely cold.

All three swiveled around in surprise, as none of them had heard anyone coming in. Kerros saw Vezdana standing at the end of the table. He let out a squeak and shrank into his seat ever so slightly. She narrowed her eyes at him and scowled. He waved back with a forced smile.

"Vezdana," Hesperos stood and politely bowed. "We were just waiting for you."

"Yes, I am late," Vezdana said, taking a seat opposite of the King. "But I will not stoop so low as to apologize to you."

Hesperos seethed for a moment before he very forefully sat down and clutched the arm of the chair so powerfully that his knuckles turned as white as his hair.

"Shall we get straight to business?" Vezdana asked airily.

Euphemios' eyes averted over to Kerros, who only looked just as perplexed. He looked back at the Prince and shrugged very slightly. They both wondered the same thing: Where was the Princess?

"Er.. father..." Euphemios hurried to say before the King and Queen truely began the meeting. "If we may... I mean to say, can Kerros and I er.... well...."

"You see, highness," Kerros said as casually as if nothing was wrong. "The poor little Prince is having some trouble with his studies and the real reason I came tonight was to see if I could help. So if we may be excused?"

Hesperos blinked. "Fine then. Carry on," He said, waving them off and turning his attention back to the very disgruntled Vampire.

Both the young men jumped up from their seats and hurried to rush out of the throne room. Kerros waved cheerfully to the glaring Queen one last time before he closed the door behind them.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

"Where is she?" Euphemios cried as soon as they reached the silent safety of the garden, where the evening bugs were chirping and fireflies illuminated their faces. "She said she would be here!"

"If I remember correctly, she said she would ask the Queen if she could come," Kerros pointed out as he sat down on the same bench he had been on earlier that evening. "That was no garantee on her part, you know."

"You mean I won't see her?" Euphemios asked helplessly.

"I wouldn't rely on it." Kerros shrugged. "And don't groan or sigh or anything please, it really is getting old."

Euphemios moaned.

"Would you hold it against me if I were to hurt you now?"

"Euphemios?" Came a soft voice from behind the Prince. Euphemios yelped and swiveled around to see that there was nothing in sight. He blinked.

Kerros yelped as well when suddenly Princess Viu stepped out from behind the tree, dressed in a dark green velvet dress that billowed out behind her and blended with the shadows. She smiled at Euphemios rather solemnly and nodded to Kerros.

"Viu!" Euphemios breathed. He resisted a very odd urge to run over and embrace her, but he merely smiled. "I... I thought you weren't coming..."

"My mother said I had to stay," Viu said softly, her smiled melting to a small frown. "But I came for a small while, to see you as I promised."

Kerros cleared his throat loudly and spread his arms open as if to draw attention to himself, which he was fully intending to do. He raised an eyebrow.

"Oh..." Euphemios grinned and gestured toward the Forest Elf. "This is my friend, Kerros. Kerros, the Princess Viu."

Kerros bowed his head respectfully and Viu smiled and nodded to him.

"I cannot stay long," Viu said, returning to look at Euphemios. "There is good reason for my mother's refusal to let me come... it is a long and very foreboding story, but now is not the time for it to be told. Such responsibility is not mine. But please... did you do as I requested?"

Euphemios shot a look at Kerros, who gestured for him to continue.

"Well... Kerros suggested... er..." Euphemios gulped, looking back at Viu and then quickly blushing and looking at the ground. He really didn't want to say it. "That... we... offer a peace treaty... between the kingdoms... you know, since my father and your mother are at constant battle... and..."

"Dear Lord, you're pitiful." Kerros said casually.

"I pondered on this as well," Viu said, ignoring Kerros and staring straight into Euphemios' face. "But that is not the only problem."

"Oh, do let me guess," Kerros said, holding his hand up to silence her. "The fact that Euphemios is a Faeryn and the bloodline is strong and there's no way in the High Lord's name that a relationship between the Faeryn Prince and the Vampire Princess would ever be permitted."

Viu frowned and continued to look at Euphemios. "You realized this too," She said, as more of a statement then a question. She sounded resigned.

"Yes," Euphemios sighed.

"Would I be of any help at all if I tell you this is hopeless?" Kerros asked cheerfully, earning very meaningful glares from the Prince and Princess. He blinked. "I suppose not then."

"Euphemios!" Hesperos' voice could be heard booming from the garden entrance. Viu gave a small surprised gasp and Kerros yelped.

"My father!" Euphemios hissed, looking at the startled Princess. "Hide, Princess, hurry!"

Viu nodded and rushed behind a large oak tree, more then large enough to conceal her small body. She pulled the hem of her dress out of sight.

Euphemios turned just as Hesperos walked up to the small clearing. "Father?" He said calmly.

"The Queen has left, and I need to speak with you...its a matter of grave importance," Hesperos said very flatly, his eyes haunted and his face looking pale and gaunt. He lowered his head and turned on his heel, walking away from them and back into the castle.

Viu peeked around the tree. Kerros sat in silence, looking from the castle door to Euphemios and back again. The Faeryn Prince stood, stunned. The bugs continued to chirp and the fireflies blinked rapidly around them.

"This is my cue to go home, isn't it?" Kerros asked, breaking the silence.

"You can stay in my quarters until my father is done," Euphemios offered tonelessly, turning over to Viu, who had reemerged from behind the tree. She didn't let him speak.

"I must go now." She said in a quiet voice.

"Yes," Euphemios said reluctantly, frowning and staring at her eyes, shining with the light of the fireflies, moon and her own glitter.

"I will return when I can, Prince," Viu promised, bowing slightly before she stepped back away from him and disappeared into the shadows.

After an awkward pause, Kerros cleared his throat. "I think I'll just climb up the wall to your room now, Prince..." He got up and sprinted away from the Faeryn.

"We have stairs-- oh, never mind..." Euphemios shook his head and exhaled. He looked over in the direction Viu had disappeared. With a final sigh, he turned and went after his father.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

"What took you so long?" Hesperos asked when Euphemios entered the treasure room, looking quite out of breath.

"I didn't know you'd be here," Euphemios answered a bit resentfully, wiping his forehead with the back of his hand. He wasn't sweating all that much, but his face was warm. "I looked everywhere. After about five different rooms, a servant finally told me you were here."

Hesperos chuckled quietly. He could easily picture the peeved look on his young son's face when the servant had informed him of the King's location.

"Is there something you need to talk to me about, father?" Euphemios asked, looking around the huge rectangular room full of piles of gold and silver, jewels sparkling cheerfully in the collections.

The king's light aura faded instantly and a dark frown overcame his face as he became serious again. "A few things, son," He said. "First off, your twentieth birthday is coming up in only a few short months. I was only fifteen when I took the throne, you know, so you must be prepared for the same responsibility."

Euphemios rolled his eyes slightly, but Hesperos didn't notice. The Prince had no idea how many times he had heard that story, and was tired of it.

"And I was thirty-two when your mother gave birth to you. I'm getting older, son. I'm still young enough to rule, but you need to take more responsibility around the Palace."

Euphemios stared at his father for a moment, inwardly gleeful. Not because his father was giving him some control, but because this conversation had nothing to do with Viu. The last thing he wanted was for Hesperos to have spotted the Princess in the gardens with him.

"And..." Hesperos sighed. "There's something else. It's about Vezdana."

Eyes widened, Euphemios had a horrid feeling he had assumed wrong. "What about her?" The Prince asked, his throat tight. He kept clenching and unchlenching his fists nervously.

"The rather peaceful rivalry between our kingdoms is growing steadily more violent every night. I do not see how we can do anything about it. But I can see through the Queen's eyes that she'll do anything to win this fight."

Euphemios was totally and completely confused. He knew the kingdoms had problems... but an actual war? He felt his anxiety about Viu fade away very quickly, a new terror arising in him. War... that meant death. That meant destruction... and more problems. Viu...

The King could easily tell what his son was thinking. "Yes, a war. I believe the actual battle will break out soon. And the dark creatures, I'm afraid, are likely outnumbering us."

"But aren't all the Elves with us?" Euphemios asked in astonishment. "With the Forest, the Common and the Mountain Elves, it would be enough would it not?"

"Most of them, I do believe. The Forest Elves are most certainly on our side, the Common as well, except for a choice few. The Mountain Elves have little concern for the people of the flatter lands, and would be hard to convince. But even the ones in the cities around the waters, though most of those are smugglers and thiefs, should be on our side." Hesperos said thoughtfully. "But Vezdana has been putting all the magic into her troops that she possibly can. She has more Trolls, Goblins and Black Dragons then I'd like to even think about. I don't see how our Elves, Fairies, and peaceful Mages and Warlocks can stand against them."

"What are you saying? We lose before we even battle?"

"No, of course not. But there is something..." Hesperos nodded across the room through the path between the piles. Under an opening in the ceiling was a large marble plaque set into the ground, rimmed with gold. Set into it was a sword, glimmering mischeviously in the moonlight.

Euphemios looked over at the stone, and the sword in it. He was dumbfounded... there was no possibility his father would use it in battle! "The sword of Cathmor?" Euphemios asked quietly, staring over at him in bewhilderment.

"Yes," Hesperos said, staring at it. "You know the legend, so I don't need to tell you again. About the beginning of the Faeryns, the magic sword that kept Cathmor's power after he died."

"Yes..." Euphemios said very slowly, giving his father a wary look.

"Back to our first topic..." The King said. "About you having more responsibility." Quietly, with light steps, Hesperos walked over the the sword and stared at its almost addicting glow. A glow that no one was sure if it was really there or not, but one could sense it.

"Erm..." The Prince gulped. "My responsibilty... is it about the sword?"

The King nodded very slightly. "This sword needs to be guarded very carefully. Vezdana will do anything to win, even break into this room and take the only thing we have going for us."

Euphemios was stunned. So Hesperos did intend to use the sword, if all the war became that desperate.

"You wish me to oversee the guarding of the sword?" He asked.

"Yes. Do you think you can handle it?"

"It doesn't seem too difficult of a job, I think I can."

The king glared at his son with a demeaning scowl. "It is a big job, Euphemios. A very big one. The kingdom depends on it, as does our entire race."

Euphemios stared, feeling a blush heat up on his face. He looked down at the ground. Well, when he put it that way...

"But," The King's tone lightened as he approached his young son and placed his hand on his shoulder. "I think you'll do just fine. Just remember what is at stake."

The Prince swallowed hard, wondering why that last part was of any help to him at all. If anything, it made him more nervous. He nodded shortly.

"You may go now. I'm sure Kerros is up to something." Hesperos chuckled and left Euphemios alone in the treasure room.

The Faeryn prince gingerly walked over to the Sword, staring down at it just like his father did. There was no doubt about it, it did have a sort of unseen glow, a power radiating from it that was felt but not seen. Euphemios sighed and dropped to his knees. He stared at the sword in disbelief, calculating everything that has just gone on.

When he spoke, his words were monotonic and quiet. "And only an hour before this, my only concern was making peace between father and the Queen so I could fully win over the Princess..." He groaned. "Now I have to protect the Sword of Cathmor while my father uses limited troops to battle the very Queen I thought I could make peace with. My former problems seem a bit trivial, now don't they..."

"I do believe that's the first time I've ever heard to talk to yourself."

Euphemios cried out and jerked his head around to see who was behind him. The shorter Forest Elf was there leaning against the doorway into the room, smiling rather solemnly.

"Kerros..." The prince said quietly, with a frown. He wasn't frowning at his friend, but at the complete dismay of the situation.

"You're guarding the Sword?"

"Oh, not right now."

"I knew that," Kerros rolled his eyes and huffed. "I meant that that's your job now, right? Making sure the Sword is safe."

"Yes," Euphemios sighed and looked at the floor again. "Vezdana is gathering armies to attack Gaiathan and any other country or city on Gaian's side... at least thats what my father believes to be true."

"So me suggesting you and Viu were destined to be apart wasn't too innacurate?"

The Prince glared.

"I really can't say anything without getting that expression, can I?"

"I wonder if Viu knows about all this..." Euphemios said, avoiding any other conversation. He looked back at the sword with a scowl.

"She never hinted in the gardens," Kerros shrugged. "You know what I think is rather odd? That of all the prophecies your old teacher taught you, you never heard anything about any great war between the kingdoms."

"Are you saying it won't happen after all?" Euphemios turned, looking hopeful with raised eyebrows.

"No, you prat. I'm saying Afton was hiding it from you."

"Are you being sarcastic? Please say you are."

"No, I'm not."

"Great."

"Here's a novel suggestion, why don't we go ask the old Elf? I know for a fact that Afton stays up late studying all the time, it would be a fine idea to see him now."

The Prince looked up from the ground. "And how do you know he stays up late?"

"Ah, that. Well, why don't we simply say when he's all so concentrated like that, he's fairly easy to startle."

"Kerros!"

"Oh, stop it, mother," The Elf smirked. "Well, shall we?"

Euphemios sighed. "Fine." He stood, brushed off his pants, and went over to Kerros.

"Do follow me, Your Highness," Kerros said loftily, acting like some uppity tour guide. He smirked and turned left down the hallway.

The prince started to follow, but stopped suddenly. Confused, he turned and looked at the sword again. It was if... as if he could feel a tugging, a cry of help coming from it... he felt it pulling at him. An urgent whispering fill his mind, in several quiet languages, sounding much like a small child, or perhaps hundreds of small children at once.

"Hey! Prince! Are you coming or am I interrogating Afton alone?"

Euphemios shook off the feeling and followed Kerros.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Meanwhile in the dark castle of Vantasia, Viu stood in shock as her mother bent on her knees in front of a trunk. Viu pulled her velvet dark red cloak closer around her shoulders. The immenent cold of Vantasia didn't bother her, being a creature who could handle cold better than heat. The room was small, the walls, floors and ceiling made up of gray stone. Many trunks and vases filled up to the ceiling. It was no treasure room, merely a storage place for meaningless tools and gifts. There were no windows and the only light came from a lantern sitting on a table in the corner. The fire was blue.

"I do not understand," Viu pleaded quietly, watching apprehensively as her mother gently opened the old trunk, dust disturbed off of the lid.

"Hesperos and the rest of the Faeryns are a threat to us, daughter," Vezdana said coldly, pulling out a small dagger made of rusted iron. Even in the light, it did not shine. "If our Vantasian kingdom is to survive, then the Faeryns cannot."

Instantly, Viu's thoughts travelled to Euphemios. She hid the anxiety well. "But why can we not make peace with them?"

"Peace?" Vezdana laughed mirthlessly. "That is quite impossible, Viu. Light and Dark cannot co-exsist. Good and Evil are too disimilar to get along. One must destroy the other, and Dark will reign."

"So you wish to take the Faeryns' kingdom and make it your own."

"And I will do so."

Viu's face bore no expression, but inwardly she pleaded that her mother's plans would not succeed. "What do you plan to do with that, mother?" She asked, staring hard at the dagger.

"This?" Vezdana stood, holding out the rusted blade and smiling without humor. "I'll use it to kill whoever is guarding the treasure room in Hesperos' palace."

"Why break into the treasure room? There's nothing but gold and rubies, sapphires, emeralds... nothing of any value to us in Vantasia. We weigh our treasure in silver and onyx. Gold means nothing in our kingdom."

"You are wrong there, child," The Vampire Queen stood, much taller then her daughter. Viu looked up at her with furrowed eyebrows. "In that room is the Faeryns' greatest treasure, the very thing that holds the power that created them in the first place. It is the one thing they can use to find us, and win. But if they do not possess this treasure..." She raised a questioning eyebrow down at the Princess.

"Then... then they cannot fight us," Viu concluded, emotionless. She looked away as if focusing on the latern, but secretly she was displeased with everything. "What is this powerful thing you are planning to steal, mother?"

"The Sword, child," Vezdana said. "The Sword of Cathmor."

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*



A light tapping at the door enterupted Afton as he sat, gazing hard at old scrolls on his desk. He jumped a little and grumbled, certainly not in the mood for visitors. Brushing out his beard a bit, then scratching his bald head, he gathered up the scrolls and shoved them under his desk. No one needed to see those, but no matter. They would not understand the Ancient Runes anyway. Finally he answered the door, using a proper manner as he pulled it open. At happening upon Prince Euphemios and the Forest Elf Kerros (who he had met unfortunately on several late occasions), he blinked.

"What are you two doing here at this hour?" He demanded.

Kerros jerked his thumb at the Prince and smiled brightly. "It's Euphemios. He needs to ask you some things."

"Me!" Euphemios started, but Kerros shot him a meaning glance. The Prince instantly composed himself.

"Er..." Afton looked from one to the other before stepping aside to let them in. They accepted the invitation and stepped inside the old studying room, barely big enough for the three of them together.

The room was indeed very small. And considering it was never big to begin with, it was crammed with bookshelves and the desk, and several books and scrolls on the floor. The room was dusty, hardly even clean at all, and lit by a small candle on the desk, nothing more. Kerros snickered into his hand, but stopped himself after Afton scowled.

"Now," Afton said, sitting down again and lightly adjusting his robe. "What is it that you need, Your Highness?"

Euphemios squirmed slighty, fidgeting with the front of his tunic. "Er... have you heard... anything from my father?"

"Ah, you speak of the matter of Queen Vezdana declaring war against Gaian? Yes, of this I've heard about."

"He spoke to you then?"

"No he did not, but I have my ways of finding things out," The old Common Elf sat back and set his hands on his purtruding stomach. "I also know it is now your duty to guard the old Sword of Cathmor, would I be correct?"

Kerros and Euphemios exchanged almost wary glances. Kerros looked properly nervous and Euphemios slightly less so. Euphemios looked back at Afton.

"Yes..." The Prince said. "Are you... sure you haven't spoke to my father...?"

Afton chuckled and shook his head. "I am much more then just your old boring tutor, Euphemios. I've been a Mag much longer then a professor."

"You! A Mage?" Kerros cried out in shock, earning very exasperated looks from both Afton and Euphemios. "Er. Sorry."

"Yes," Afton said solemnly. "It is hard to fathom, as they have all died out, but I am blood of the Ancients. I am also a Prophet, yet not a powerful one. Now... I know of an old legend that prophesied to coming of Evil, the war against the Night that would occur once again."

Kerros laughed without mirth, and even a bit nervously. "Well would you imagine it Prince, you didn't even have to ask."

Euphemios looked rather pale. "You... answered my question then."

"So," Kerros said. "What exactly does this prophecy nonsense say?"

Afton cocked an eyebrow. "It is everything but nonsense, Forest Dweller. It says that Evil will rise in power again, and the only hope of holding it back in its place is the Sword of Cathmor, carried by a young warrior, a Faeryn."

"Oh. You mean Euphemios then, don't you?"

"Me!" The Prince's eyes shot open and he forced a very painful sounding laugh. "Oh no, I can't be any warrior. That's ridiculous."

"Feel a little insecure, Your Highness?" Kerros asked, amused. Euphemios frowned... the Elf was taking this whole thing way too lightly.

"I know it can't mean me," He said firmly.

"I would not argue that just yet, Euphemios," Afton warned, looking down at the scrolls. "It does mention that the warrior is of royal blood here."

"There you go then, Eu. It's you," Kerros said, using a pun that the Prince had learned long ago to just tolerate.

Euphemios couldn't say anything anyway. He just stared at the old Elf, stunned. A warrior? Sure he had dreamed of it, but never thought he might do it.

"It is quite late," Afton said abruptly, slowly standing up. He walked to the Prince, a great deal shorter, and looked up at him. "Get some rest, Prince. According to the scrolls, much will happen between the time the war is declared and the time that the young warrior claims the Sword and saves the kingdom. You will not have to worry just yet."

The Prince sighed, but certainly not with relief. "Alright, then, I can worry about my foreboding fate later..." He said, turning to the door. "Come on then, Kerros."

Kerros bowed to the old Elf. "Farewell, old wise one!" He said deeply as he and his friend opened the door and left.

Afton stood for a while in the silence, then picked up the aformentioned scroll and carefully opened it, reading the lines to himself in a whisper.

"And the power-filled Sword of the Faeryns will disappear, as will a Figure of Darkness, and then, only then, will the warrior's power be born."

*~*~*~*~*~*~*