Disclaimer : I do not own any hero of the Inheritance Cycle.
A/N : This story is dedicated to my most favorite writer. The one, I admire for his writing style – that's why the name 'Strong-Pen'. To Restrained Freedom for his healing story 'An Enemy's Heart'. May he finds the time and courage to finish it.
On the highest tower of Urû'baen's citadel there is a forbidden room, where a lonely man sits and watches the stars at nights. He marvels at the miracles of the sky, how the constellations bring order, by dividing it into smaller segments, how they affect the lives of mortals.
The Astrologist and The King.
The man leaned over his ancient celestial map, spread open on the desk and examined it for the umpteenth time with critical eye. Things that were, things that are and things that would be, all were written in here, on the stars. The obscure destiny of kings and their subjects, of nobles and commoners, of valiant and cowardly, of rich and poor, all could be read, all could be revealed to him. He was the one who could bring into light the mysteries of the stars, the conspiracies of constellations, the fates of mortals.
With his dividers he measured the distance between two planets and using a triangle he calculated and noted something on a piece of parchment.
The man was aged, with a dry, wrinkled, angular face and thin lips, pulled in a straight line, between his crooked nose and his hard jaw.
'His Majesty won't like it. He won't like it at all,' he murmured and his shoulders tightened with anxiety.
Changing his position around the table and facing his map from another angle, he busied himself to calculate the same issue, trying to find a solution to his problem but, as much as he tried, it seemed that the result was exactly the same.
'No, he won't like it, but I have to inform him.'
He looked again at his astrological map, the same one he had inherited from his father, as he too had accepted the same heirloom from his ancestors, all the same, as back as the family members could recall.
It is said that this particular map, of an elfin construction, had served the ancient kings of the realm, predicting times of war, times of peace and revolutions. Providing information given from the Gods above about births, deaths, dethronments. Even during the millennium peace, imposed by the Riders, the map was useful to the old kings, same as were the man's ancestors, same as was he, himself.
Because, maybe the King was one of them, the powerful Riders, maybe he had conquered dominion, magic and immortality but, as all kings were, he was suspicious and he superstitiously liked to be informed, about the changes of the world. His world.
And, in the astrologist's opinion, he did well to be cautious. The king could be immortal, but not invulnerable.
The old man sighed, letting his shoulders relax a bit. About a month ago, he had noticed this little sign on his celestial map, no doubt a magical sign. This little shadow, trying to establish its existence. It had started as a tiny dot and for three days now it was getting bigger and bigger, the size of the nail of his little finger.
'The King …' he nodded. 'He has to know.'
The astrologist wrapped up his map with utmost care, placed it on a leather cylinder decorated with silver carvings, locked his quarters to discourage any potential intruder, and left.
At this time of the day one could find his Majesty in his throne room, granting audience … this was another matter. There were many who waited outside the royal doors. Too many, for the man's opinion, to be accepted. Arrogant nobles and gracious ladies, haughty generals and opulent merchants.
As he walked past them all and, ignoring their murmurs and protests, came in front, the two fully armored guards crossed their spears stopping his rush.
'I have to see the King.'
'His Majesty is otherwise occupied.'
This was not much of a surprise. However, he knew by past experience that the doors of the King were never closed to him.
'This is very important.'
The guards glanced at each other. It was their duty to keep outside any obtrusive person who would like to disturb the King with business of their own. But if it was about something really important and they refused entrance, neither one would like to face the King's wrath later. They withdrew their weapons and one of them opened the heavy doors a little and stepped aside.
'His Majesty is holding a meeting with his two new magicians' he informed him. Was there a well hidden hint of disgust in his voice?
The astrologist lifted an eyebrow and entered the hall.
They were there, those two repulsive young men, with their obnoxious appearance and their depraved manners. He didn't like them at all and he was not the only one. A few weeks ago they had appeared in the palace, both of them, with their gaunt forms, their bald heads and their evil glares, and they had offered their services to his Majesty the King. And they had been accepted. They had not offered any name, if they had one. They were known as the Twins. The greatest magicians of all in the realm! At least that was what they alleged to be.
As soon as both of them became aware of his presence, they turned to look at him, their two bald heads united. Four, dark, impenetrable eyes pierced his core.
'Your Majesty,' he bowed with respect in front of the King and stayed there, waiting for the permission to speak more.
The man on the throne stood, large, broad shouldered, his skin the color of tarnished bronze, his gaze fixed on the leather cylinder in the astrologist's hands.
'You have something for me.' It was a statement not a question, his voice low, rich, and commanding. He waved for the Twins to wait at the outer chamber.
'My King, another one has appeared' the astrologist said, as soon as they were left alone. He took the map out of its case with the greatest care and spread it open on the table in front of the King's presence. 'Another shadow.' With his index finger he indicated the place in the universe where the phenomenon had been presented.
The King leaned above the map. There was indeed the said shadow, on the constellation representing the 'Dragon'. A twin shadow of the other, the one which had appeared about three years ago, on the constellation of the 'Warrior'.
For a little while he examined the painted signs representing the constellations, coming from distant millennia. The colour had faded but the shapes were fairly distinct. The 'Dragon', represented by a giant, winged snake, curled twice, thrice and devouring its tail, in the part of the eyes two painted flames. And the 'Warrior', represented by a man astride, his legs melting, becoming one with his galloping horse's body, his muscular hands holding a longbow, stretching an arrow ready to strike.
'The Warrior and the Dragon' the King whispered.
He crossed his hands behind his back and began pacing up and down into the throne hall for a long while. His back was rigid and his gaze obscure. He turned again to his astrologist, piercing him with his dark eyes for a moment.
'Can you tell where?'
'No, my Lord. But it is not as close as the other. The first one is about to come closer. Soon it will be here. And you, my King, will be the one to bring him into your dome.'
The up and down started again. The astrologist had just implied that the shadows represented two persons. But what else could it be? The King had suspected it himself. For over three years now he had used all his magical powers to investigate the first one. But the shadow, the Warrior, had kept its secrets sealed. And now there was another one? First … a child and now … an infant.
'It is auspicious to bring the one here' the old man said. 'You can keep an eye on him.'
'The Warrior …' the King whispered again, '…and the Dragon.'
He sat on his throne, gripping the side carvings where his hands usually rested.
'Bad news … bad news is coming. I have a premonition.'
The astrologist gathered his precious map from the table and placed it again in its safe, cylindrical case.
'This cannot threaten your reign, your Majesty, as long as the shadows remain separated. It is written on the stars, on the planet representing your dominance. They must be kept separated.' The old man bowed to him. 'I'll keep my eyes fixed on them, day and night. And if …'
The king stopped him, raising his finger. Commotion, voices speaking loudly and exclamations were heard from outside. A woman shrieked.
'It is here!' the King stated and stood stiff. 'The bad news.'
The doors to the throne room opened widely, one of the guards rushed inside, a frightened look in his eyes.
'Your Majesty! …' the man cried. 'It's Lord Morzan … Your Majesty … He is dead! They are bringing in his body!'
The old man, holding his precious map tightly on his chest, withdrew behind a column and from there, half-hidden among the shadows, he watched the beginning of the events that were destined to change the future of Alagaësia.
Six men, all dressed in armor, entered the throne room, holding horizontally placed shields on their shoulders, creating a makeshift bed. On this bed was lying the blood-covered body of a man. His clothes were torn, his chest open, his long, dark hair hanged dirty, matted, blood-knotted.
The soldiers, under the command of their captain, brought the body in front of the King and placed it before the footing of his throne. Behind them courtiers, guards, servants entered the throne room, everyone throwing terrified glances at his Majesty and around. A dead silence followed the previous commotion, occasionally disturbed by a choked whisper or a sigh.
Morzan, the notorious for his rages Rider, was lying before them, in the throne room of Urû'baen, in front of the King he once helped steal a newborn Dragon, destroy the Riders, gain the power and control, and create a centennial reign.
The dead man's face was stained with dried blood. A long, ugly gash on his right cheek marred his once handsome face. His eyes were closed, but his mouth gaped open, as if he was about to stand and start raging against all the bystanders, against his killers.
But, as the dead could obviously not do such a thing, there was still the King, who, with a single word could send everyone to oblivion.
'Who did this?' King's voice was cold, like ice.
The captain of the squad took a step forward and bowed.
'Your Majesty, we do not know yet. We investigate and, as soon as we find ….'
Gesturing, the King cut short the man's talking.
'Where is his sword? Where is Zar'roc?'
'My Lord … the killer stole it from the fallen body. His Dragon … is dead too.' So spoke the captain and, not willing to be the victim of the king's rage for the bad news he had carried, he stepped aside.
Another silence followed, frozen as the ice in the middle of a forest in winter.
The King was gazing at the body in front of his feet. The unfathomable look in his eyes would not reveal his innermost thoughts. Everyone else in the throne room was waiting with bated breaths. His rage was about to burst. In fact, it was already late.
But it didn't.
One by one, he descended the stairs of the dais under his throne. He fixed his eyes on the captain of the squad and nodded at him to approach. The man knelt before him.
'Command me, your Majesty!' He was a tall, rough man, in his early thirties. Duty was the cause of his existence.
'Take your men and go to Lord Morzan's castle. Carry the news of his death and bring here, to me, the woman Selena and her son. Now!'
The captain stood, always ready to obey.
The astrologist shook his head. The events had started to take their turns.
'… the Warrior …', he whispered, '… he is coming!'
'Wait!' The King's voice was cold but its tone held no wrath. The captain, having started for the doors with his men, returned in front of the throne and knelt again in the presence of his monarch.
'To approach and enter the castle, strong magic is needed' the King stated. He looked towards the Twins. 'You two! You will accompany the soldiers but your powers will not be enough. I shall give you words to use. You leave tomorrow, at the third hour. Now go! All of you! Out!'
The astrologist watched the magicians, courtiers, soldiers, the guards and servants, one by one abandon the hall with bowed heads. They bypassed the body of Morzan with frightened looks in their eyes. Even dead, the man terrified them.
He was the last one to leave. Before the doors to the throne room closed behind him, he turned for an instant and took a glimpse of the interior. And then, with astonishment he saw, him, Galbatorix, the great King of Alagaësia, the powerful overlord of the realm, he who was answering to none, collapse on his knees before the blood-covered, dead body of the fallen Rider. And then, the doors closed and he saw no more.
A/N : Your reviews will be my support. Otherwise, I will be unable to write a story like this one. With my limited english and without your support, I will not make it. So, please, review.