Ithuriel: Inception (Chapter One)

Presenting original fantasy fiction from Robert Roach, this prose series features sword and soul hero Ithuriel in adventures placed in fantasy lands.

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"Greetings, Master Ithuriel," the large man hears. Shaken from his funk, Ithuriel turns to see Orkus. The slender, potbellied man is nine years older than the colossal warrior -- & nine inches shorter. Like most men of that era, Orkus is properly dressed. This means that in addition to his fashionable tunic, the hook-nosed man is fully strapped with his broadsword, knives & any other weapons a reputable man might need. 

"Greetings, Honorable Orkus," Ithuriel responds. 

Orkus sports the finest clothing. Everything that the shorter man is wearing has been crafted with the finest workmanship. He's an elite -- by extension. 

Orkus is the "illegitimate" son of Kanta, one of Kahnuri's most vocal "elites" & vociferous opponent to Kahnuri's decades of change -- as was Kanta's father before him. The realm's families of "inherited wealth" are divided vis-à-vis the changes that are creating a more egalitarian society. Kanta is the leader of these dissenters. 

At his core, Orkus is a weaselly, self-interested & back-stabbing punk. That makes his addressing Ithuriel a bit out of character. Since they have shared the same social footing, Orkus talking to Ithuriel should be considered normal. But, outside of semi-formal settings, he's rarely addressed Ithuriel in the past -- particularly since Orkus has yet to be formally acknowledged as Kanta's son. 

This spineless sycophant, who's willing to do nearly anything to be "legitimately" accepted Kahnuri aristocracy, smiles at Ithuriel & continues to engage with the chiseled young man. 

"It's a fine evening, don't you agree?" Orkus asks. 

Ithuriel turns away from his view of the river below the bridge & toward Orkus. The big barbarian doesn't want to be impolite. 

"Yes," Ithuriel replies. "The blowing breeze is a nice change from our recent heat wave." 

"We can always use a cool down -- in the weather & throughout our society, don't you think?" Orkus inquires with a weak, insincere smile. 

Ithuriel is a bit surprised that Kanta's son is speaking to him on this subject. Their fathers consistently oppose each other on these issues. However, as Ithuriel is slightly distracted by this discussion & isn't paying close attention, there's movement in the shadows on either side of the bridge. 

Though Ithuriel would rather be alone with his thoughts, he's reluctant to be rude. 

"If you're referring to The Nigritia's continuing changes," Ithuriel rejoins, "King Telamahn, my father & the council have not been ‘hot.' But it is nice that there's been much more civility among the social changers' camp & the elites' group, being headed by your father." 

"I guess my father -- & my grandfather -- simply have the attitude ‘if something is working, why change it?'" Orkus reacts. 

"Well," Ithuriel replies, "if you can improve on something, why not do so? The peace across the entire continent over the past 50 years indicates that this may be the best approach -- especially considering that many of these queens & kings actually experienced The Nigritia's past costly warfare -- warfare that these changes are preventing." 

"History has proven that blood lubricates Kahnuri's autonomy & the engines of all our economies. There's no reason that Kahnuri, as a country, should resemble any other country -- in any way," Orkus says. 

"Yes, I know that you're stating your father's & other elites' perspective," Ithuriel counters. "But it's hard to refute that every ruling house shares King Telamahn's perspective. With Kahnuri & Sandeh's leadership -- especially considering our countries' centuries of enmity -- these changes are solidly being instituted. The old guard is teaching everyone that a better future & a more unified Nigritia are possible." 

As Ithuriel is speaking, movements in the bridge's shadows shift closer. Municipal streetlamps, set on the spanning structure's opposite sides & caddy-corner to each other, create both light & shadows in the bridge's vicinity. 

"You must pardon my difference of opinion," Orkus replies with a haughty air. "Your father is exceptional. No doubt. Two post-graduate degrees by 21. A general in the army by 32. Incredibly wealthy by 40. I -- we all have the highest respect for his accomplishments. 

"But no one born outside of Kahnuri's elite ranks can truly understand & appreciate the country's intricacies. No offense." 

"None taken," Ithuriel responds. "But then again, unless something's changed since yesterday, YOU were born outside ‘Kahnuri's elite ranks,' too, correct?" 

Orkus blanches at Ithuriel's retort, mainly because it's the truth. 

Throughout this back & forth between Ithuriel & Orkus, the four mercenaries continue to creep closer, continually using the shadows.

Orkus steps over to the bridge's waist-high wall. He looks down at the river, his body language inviting Ithuriel to join him at gazing at the waterway & resuming their conversation. Ithuriel does so. 

"You have a point," Orkus concedes. "Perhaps I should've chosen my words more carefully. In fact--" 

Orkus' "dogs of war" are very good. They're top of the line. Their silence is impeccable. 

But Ithuriel's ears are better.

Ithuriel story elements are the sole property of Robert Roach/Hometown Productions ©2020

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Words and illustrations by Robert Roach