Prologue: What the Moon Saw
The night was Starless.
The shrill cry of an infant pierced through the fog-like density, shattering the mystical airs into tiny molecules of glittering drops unseen to the mortal eyes.
The crescent Moon hung pale and distressed in the midnight air, too feeble to move.
The Moon could only see so much death, before its veil of glow withered over the lands.
Beside the cooper-headed infant with shocking amethyst eyes stood a young Boy of no more than ten cool, dank summers.
(This was his tenth.)
He was composed for the strange situation that he was in.
What situation, the Stars asked behind the wispy clouds that drifted along the unlit horizon, what situation, for they could not see.
The Moon made no answer, frozen into numbness by the shock of sudden death that should not have happened.
"What do you intend to do with it?" The Boy asked.
His words were like daggers in the cool, silent air.
(So were his eyes.)
The Wind ruffled his short brown hair, and the short spikes danced with the swift bitter movements of the air.
Here was a Boy who was used to the affections of the Wind.
There was also a Man too, in this scene, in the night.
The Man was much older, with an ugly scar on his face that looked like a deep gorge on his face in the dim moonlight, and his presence was symbolic, because he was old and the other was young; he was ugly and the other was a Boy and all Boys were beautiful; he was cruel and the Boy was still learning to be cruel.
"The girlie paid good money for this babe to never be found again, and we'll make sure of tha', won't we, Georgy," said the Old Man.
(He liked rhetorical questions: they made him feel clever, and being clever meant a lot of things in the world they lived in.)
"Right," the Boy replied casually—enough so that the Old Man would twitch and be annoyed and yet reveal his plans all the same.
It was a game that they played, and the Boy was winning, because he was patient.
(Patience was just one of his many virtues.)
"Ya don't got no bit of curiosity in ya, lad."
(How predicable; the game was getting boring, so perhaps he should choose a new game.)
"We'll have to lure the king what's-his-name of Maren to here," the Old Man went on, "Then we'd see how a childless king does with an orphan newborn."
The Old Man cackled. "Who'd look for a lost heir to some land in Tortall in the prince of Maren?"
The Boy nodded dutifully, and did not point out that this babe was a girl, not the boy that the woman paid for them to kidnap.
(Knowing when to be silent was another one of his virtues.)
The kingdom of thieves was not a monarchy, and its Kings were elected by the people—and the people only elected the strong; there were many ways in which it was poetically just that this Old-Man-Old-King of the thieves could toy with the king of Maren, and probably the king of Tortall came in somewhere too.
The Boy was still young, and he had many journeys up-hill yet to take, one of the lessons being to pay attention to politics of the lesser kings.
(The lesser kings did not deserve capitalization.)
The Boy was still young, so he had his youth to grow into the New King.
(Surely by his multitude of virtues.)
A cloud covered the frail spark of the Moon, and then passed on quickly.
When the Moon recast her rays on the land, all that remained was a copper-headed babe and a no-longer-childless king.
Author's Note: There, I got all the [enter]s out of my system. The main body of the story will be in normal prose, after the prologue.