Prince Kolkalis (Kol to his friends) was bored. As usual, he had nothing to do. In the Water Realm, there was no kingdom to be ruled, and no people to govern. Everything was managed by the City Guard, mercenaries from the Water Realm. They were harsh and cruel. He had seen more than one innocent mistreated by the Guard. Yet he could do nothing about it.
He may have been Emperor Aetillius’s heir, but he was not very closely related to the royal family. His father had been the lord of Kirlos castle, the last great fort of the Earth people. Kirlos had been only a day’s march from the capital of Gyrehose, but just before the Catastrophe, hundreds of thousands of people had Earth-travelled in to the capital, because the wards had been raised. His father had stayed behind to let the peasants escape. He had lost his life in the attack on Kirlos. His father had been the brother of Emperor Aetillius. Both of those royal brothers were now dead – Emperor Aetillius died during the Catastrophe, his father had died in Kirlos. General Gherinmus Hector was the next in line, by the Emperor’s order, but he had been presumed dead, for he had not been found again. The three sons of Emperor Aetillius were also dead. His eldest son, Praed (short for Praedillius), was rumoured to have had a child, but no such child had come forward.
Yes, Kol was the only one they found to dump the responsibility of kingship on. Yay. People thought being the future king of the Earth people was fun, but they failed to understand the heavy burden on him. His was a sorry case – he basically had to do whatever the Water King, a.k.a, Emperor, told him to. On the other hand, he couldn’t have fun, to ‘keep up appearances.’ Because obviously, Princes couldn’t have fun. He decided that he would have some fun. He called for his guard. “Marcus”, he said to him, “Fetch the royal chariot. I’m going to visit the Air Realm.” Marcus bowed and ran off. The Air Realm was the most interesting, according to Kol. He didn’t like the Fire Realm, much; it was far too hot. The Water Realm, being his home, was boring. The Air Realm had loads of mountains and forests, and he enjoyed the cool wind. He got dressed and walked down to the main gate. On the way, Lord Ferolis came over. He bowed to Kol and then slapped him on the back, before walking alongside him to the chariot, chattering the whole time about the new repairs he had made to his Aerofoil. Kol smiled. He loved his little brother. Fer was only interested in Aeronautics. Kol often joked that he should have been an Air kynd. He finally got into the chariot and waved goodbye to Fer. He commanded his charioteer to move. The charioteer whipped the reins and the horses ran out over the earth before bending space around them and breaching the Realmwall. The huge barrier surrounded each realm, but magical horses like his own, Jorus and Huntrel, could breach the Realmwall. Of course, a Mage like Kol could do it too, but he preferred it when his horses did it.
The swirling purple and blue masses dissolved around them as another rift opened and the chariot entered the Air Realm. The rift closed behind him. Being a Mage, Kol could sense the shockwave as the air sealed itself shut once again. He didn’t have any more Earth Magic; nobody knew why, but he still had his Mage magic. He could open portals and had keener reflexes and senses than normal people. But he had nowhere near the level of power of the Water King. His chariot entered the Air Realm in the Air King’s palace. The King was waiting for him. After expressing a few words of cordiality, Kol expressed his desire to tour the surrounding villages.
As his chariot pulled across the vast plains, he saw a village up ahead. He commanded his charioteer to enter the village. Once he entered it, he was shocked. The whole place had been turned to rubble. Only one or two extremely damaged houses had survived the calamity. “What happened here?”, Kol wondered out loud. A villager hobbled up. His wings were broken and he had a slight limp. Kol’s heart went out to the man. For an Air kynd, their wings were their life. Without them, they felt inferior to others of their community. The man spoke up, “Prince Kolkalis, greetings. Our village was destroyed by an enormous earthquake. Last night, a huge wave of power swept over the village. Our mages screamed as the magic ran over them. Next, the earthquake came and destroyed our homes. Most of our nests are gone. We’ve lodged in the town center, the only building left. We’ve sent word to the Guard. They said they would come down tomorrow to look into matters.” The man bowed and stepped away. Kol’s mind turned as he realised exactly what had caused that wave.
There was an active Earth Mage around.
And he was powerful. Very powerful.
Until next Sunday…