Belgeral

At the moment, Zarokal and Rhodan were discussing the border between Drasnia and Nadrak lands. "Look, Zar, I like you, but you're asking too much from my people."

"What's wrong with a little extra protection between the border to prevent rebels and smugglers to cross that border as easily?" Zarokal asked, sorely confused by politics.

"For one thing, Angaraks massed on any border makes the West nervous, and another thing, my country makes its livings off of spying and smuggling. What you're suggesting is both harmful to my economy and a source of tension for the West."

"Then what would you suggest, oh wily one?"

"A wall, maybe? One that's easily scaled and not that guarded."

"But that defeats the purpose of a wall."

"It will look good on the treaties, and the image of some kind of barricade between us will appease the Alorns . . . mostly, plus show the Angaraks were the boundaries are for now."

As the meeting progressed, I watched my distantly related cousin. He had matured since I last met him, but then, one would have to, ruling all of Angarak. His features had hardened, and his catlike eyes were steely, not the soft blue of his mother's eyes. He was almost as tall as the Chereks and his form was full-fledged, rippling with corded muscle. I also think he had aged faster than normal humans, for he now looked like he was in his late teens. His cheeks possessed the characteristic scars of Murgos, marring his otherwise handsome features.

Zarokal, despite his naïve ideals, managed to expose any loophole that would harm his people more than the Westerners. He clearly possessed the wisdom of the Gods, but his youth at times seemed to cloud his vision.

"Torak may have cracked the world and sunk Riva, but I am not Torak," Zarokal was saying, "nor are my people! Why must we pay for the sins of a mad God?"

"Because you are his son and heir," Ungar replied, "his crimes and dues fall to you to make right."

"Alorns," Belgarath grumbled, closing his eyes and pinching the bridge of his nose. I silently nodded in agreement. We were, as a race, very stubborn and we hold onto grudges too strongly. We have hated the Angaraks since the days of the War of the Gods, ever since Torak cracked the world, and as the ages past, it only got worse.

To make things short, the meetings between Zarokal and the Alorns alone lasted a week. I did my best to keep fights from breaking out, but it was hard, especially with the Chereks and Rivans, both of whom keenly remembered their losses after Vo Mimbre and demanded retribution. On the plus side, only one fight broke out, and it wasn't even Zarokal's fault. Ungar's son, Ulgar, thought something the Demigod had said was an insult and attacked him. It was over quickly, ending with the Chereks apologizing.

Finally agreements were met and the meetings moved on to those between the Angaraks and the Arends, who also wanted Vo Mimbre and the surrounding countryside paid for, as during Torak's stay there, there had been substantial damage done by his forces on the land. The young barons of the Mimbrates and Asturians were finally brought together inadvertently by Zarokal and they joined their sides to form a unified Arendia, symbolized by a Mimbrate prince and an Asturian princess marrying each other.

The Ulgos didn't have much to add, just that the Angaraks swore to promote peace, which Zarokal agreed to. The Tolnedrans were another matter entirely. They tried to weasel their way into every treaty and deal made in that fortnight. Finally, Zarokal snapped.

"ENOUGH!" he roared, shaking the very ground with the force of his rage. We all ran into the tent where Zarokal and the Tolnedrans were meeting. What I saw still frightens me. Belgarath stared in horror, Beldin swore, and Polgara almost fainted from shock.

It was as if Torak had returned to the West in the form of his son. His eyes were blue fire, his face appeared scorched, and an aura of darkness surrounded him. His sword was in hand, and it blazed with a blue fire not unlike my own blade.

Zarokal, or Torak, turned towards us and glared at us with ire unseen since Torak's fall. "Will you stand against me as well?" he asked, wrath and annoyance dripping from his words like venom. "These mortals seek to make me a lesser pawn in their games, it shall not be."

"Zarokal, this isn't you," I said, trying to calm him. "This must be Torak's madness."

"Do not test me, mortal king," Zarokal growled, "For days these humans have sought to harm me and my people, I shall stand for it no longer. I shall take what is rightfully mine, by force if necessary!"

"Boy, think!" Beldin roared. "You don't what to be like him, do you?"

The Demigod paused.

"You don't want to be like Torak, because of what he did to you and Pol! Remember the scars!"

Zarokal suddenly winced in pain, dropping his fiery sword and arching his back.

"Remember who you are, Zarokal, and that is not Torak."

The aura faded away as Zarokal faded from what I learned was his true form, the Son of the King and God. He groaned as the madness passed, and Beldin approached him warily. Zarokal collapsed to his knees, and began to weep, realizing what he had done. Beldin, seeing him like that, wordlessly embraced the boy.

I ushered out the Tolnedrans, letting the family had their moment.

Beldin

"What have I done?" Zarokal wept. "What have I become?

I held the boy tenderly, saying nothing. What could I say? He was just now realizing the burden he had to bear. Belgarath and Polgara joined the embrace, and we all wept together. Finally, Zarokal stopped crying. He sniffed, and then we stood.

"Are you alright now?" I asked.

He nodded.

Pol kissed his brow. "We love you, Zarokal. Nothing will change that."

"I know, but still . . ."

"This isn't going to be easy, Zarokal," Belgarath said softly, "but you aren't alone. We will always be here when you need us."

"Alright." He sniffed again, drying the tears in his eyes. "I suppose I scared the Tolnedrans pretty badly."

"Ah, they needed a dose of reality." I growled. "They didn't know who they were messing with."

"You should go see how they are, though," Belgarath suggested.

I walked outside, where the Tolnedrans were packing up. "And where do you think you lot are going?"

"We are leaving. Tolnedra will have nothing to do with the spawn of Torak, or his people."

That I wasn't expecting. "What? You're just going to leave?"

"Try and stop us, dwarf."

I didn't, but I did warn the others.

Belgarath started to swear, and Polgara sighed. "I guess they have the right to leave."

"But what kind of an example will that be to the Alorns?" Belgarath spouted angrily. "What if they leave as well? I've worked too long and hard to have our one shot at peace destroyed because of this!"

"I guess Torak's won after all."

We all turned to Zarokal, who leaned wearily against the edge of the table. "I mean, because of his madness, I ruined everything. His greatest weapon was me all along."

Polgara strode in front of her son. "Look at me." When he did, she spoke firmly. "You are not Torak, you are not his weapon, and you are not responsible for any of this."

Belgeral came in. "I'm sorry, I tried to convince the Tolnedrans to stay, but nothing short of threatening their lives would make them stay."

"What of the Alorns?"

"They're feeling rather smug, believing themselves right all along."

Belgarath sighed, "Why me?"

"Maybe Destiny likes you." I suggested.

My brother glared hard at me. "You are a cruel little man; you realize this, don't you?"

I smiled, "Yes, yes I do."

"I don't see how making light of the situation is going to solve our problems." Zarokal stated somberly.

"We do this to keep from giving into despair." I said with a straight face.

The Demigod suddenly brightened up, as if an idea just came to him. He strode outside, where all the Alorns, Arends, Ulgos, and the ready-to-go Tolnedrans stood around.

"Hear me, people of the West!" He declared, "I apologize for my madness before, but I am not the one responsible for it, it is my father who is to blame. Torak seeks, even in death-like slumber, to keep us separate and standing alone, so that his minions could conquer us more easily if he returns. I shall not keep anyone here to their word if they now wish to retract from these accords, but I beg of you all, don't let Torak win, not this time!"

Ungar looked around, and then, with a scowl, strode forward. "I don't know who or what you are, Demigod, but if you truly oppose your father and the Darkness he served, and if Belgarath is behind you, then the Chereks will as well."

Belgeral joined the Cherek king, "As will Riva. We two peoples remember the scars the Dragon God of Angarak left on this world more keenly than most, and so if we are willing to put our anger aside to unite against a common foe, then why not the rest of the world?"

One by one the other rulers of the races joined Zarokal, save the Tolnedran ambassador. "No," he said, "we have seen the face of Torak in that boy, and we shall not serve a dark master."

The Tolnedrans left the next day.

Zarokal

That left the rest of Angarak to agree to this, but the only ones who would give me any trouble would be the Murgos. Fortunately, with the promise of retaliation from not only the West, but the East as well, the Murgos gave in without much more complaining. The Gorim of Ulgo became the voice of the unified peoples of the world, with Belgeral representing the West and I the East.

I'll admit that not much else happened. When I returned to Mallorea I learned that Kalistos had left. The King of Hell's words still rang in my ears, but it would be many years before he would become a real threat again.