Chapter 001: Awkward Introductions

The first installment of my web serial, Chronicles of Sevestia. I will be updating weekly, so please be sure to subscribe!

For more of my writings, be sure to check out my reddit: https://www.reddit.com/user/SevereDifficulty

The summer sun was high above the coastal city of Traug, tirelessly beating down on it’s residents as the hours slowly went by. A handsome knight found himself excitedly skipping down the city’s main street, through the famous marketplace and towards the gates of the Marble Keep. Heads turned as he passed, scolding him as he forced his way through the crowds. But how could he not, especially after a summons from the King himself? It didn’t excuse his ridiculous bravado, but at the very least it made his elated state understandable. At least, that’s how I tried to justify Sir Gavin’s peculiar personality. 

Now I know it might not seem like it, but Gavin meant well. Even with his nose stuck high in the sky, his heart was in the right place. He cared about Sevestia, and the people who called our noble kingdom home. He just had a funny way of showing it. 

Not far behind, a skinny teenager frantically chased after the knight, receiving the majority of  the public’s flak. He didn’t mind though. He looked up to Gavin as a hero, and was honored to even have the opportunity to serve him as his squire. That young man was none other than myself, Fynieas Zef. Bright-eyed and full of wonder, I was like any other 16-year-old kid, unwitting to the true nature of the world. And let me tell you, it made dealing with Gavin’s ‘angry entourage’ a hell of a lot easier. I was bombarded with a flood of spit and garbage that day, but not even that could keep Gavin’s excitement from infecting me. 

A personal summons was a huge deal, the kind of thing a knight dreamt of as a boy. It was almost a sure-fire way to get assigned to the Castle Guard, the ideal job of any knight who valued his life. Our kingdom was formidable, so working guard duty was pretty much a guaranteed cake walk, safe from any real danger. I mean sure, there were some that sought after the ‘glory of battle’ or whatever, and maybe Gavin did too. Either way, I had my eyes set on making the Castle Guard one day. 

It wasn’t much longer before we arrived at the gates of the Marble Keep, and it was just as magnificent as I’d imagined. It was the first time I’d ever been inside the city’s walls, having grown up in a small farming community twenty-some miles east of the city. It was sheer luck that I even nabbed the attention of Sir Gavin, saving me from the gruelling life of a farmhand. In short, the fact that I was anywhere near a Royal Keep had me thrilled. 

The guards posted at the entrance waved us through swiftly, expecting Gavin’s arrival. I stuck to him like glue, becoming aware of just how different I was from royalty. Everything inside the Keep’s outer walls were clean and pristine, polished and kept in perfect condition. I’d never encountered anything like it in my life, but Gavin didn’t seem at all fazed by it. He carried on like he owned the place, as I gawked at every nook and cranny. The luxury they lived in, I longed for. It was the first seed of resentment that planted itself in my soul.

Gavin navigated the winding corridors expertly, taking us straight to the King’s audience chambers within minutes. He stopped in front of the great doors, beckoning me to come stand beside him. I listened promptly, as a squire should, and he leaned close to me whispered, 

“Whatever you do, do not speak unless the King speaks to you. Understood?” His tone was quite serious, which was strange. At least, strange for the short time I’d known the man. 

“Of course, Sir Knight.” He removed his cloak, draping it over my arms. 

“Very good. Now shall we?” He smiled faintly, pushing open the heavy oak doors. 

The audience chamber was a spectacle to behold, easily fitting hundreds of people between its walls. The marble was polished to a shine, a red carpet decorated in gold trim leading to the platform where the King’s throne was placed. Braziers lined the ornate walkway, illuminating the narrow path. I followed quietly, a little intimidated by the grand display. 

The King was seated in front of us, with two guards on either side. He was younger than I imagined, his auburn hair only beginning to gray. His smile was bright and friendly as he greeted us, Gavin giving me a prompt kick when I forgot to bow. 

“Oh, Sir Knight. Take it easy on the boy.” 

“I will not, Your Highness,” Gavin argued. “ I apologize for his unfavourable behaviour.” 

“Nonsense. I’ve been told he’s only been travelling with you for a month or so. Please, try and relax.” 

“My apologies, sir.” Gavin bowed once more, and I wasn’t making the same mistake twice. 

“Anyways, onto the business at hand.” The King sat forward in his chair, resting his elbows on his knees and chin in his hands. “Sir Knight, I must admit that you weren’t my first choice for this quest. I’ve sent three of my best, and all have yet to return.” He was good at hiding it, but I saw the fear flash in Gavin’s eyes. I was worse at hiding my cowardice. 

“My… My daughter has gone missing, and I fear for the worst.” I could see the tears welling as he looked down to his feet. “The Last Knight I sent almost a month ago. They should have returned by now.” The King stood from his throne, hoping down from the platform. He placed his hands on Gavin’s shoulders, making unsettling eye contact. 

“Sir Gavin, I beg of you, please find my daughter.” 

I wasn’t sure what I was expecting of a summons from the King, but it certainly wasn’t this. I mean sure, in fairy tales this kind of thing happens all the time. But this, this wasn’t a fairy tale. I could feel the sweat dripping off my face, and the dread pooling in the pit of my stomach. 

“Of course, Your highness.” Upon hearing Gavin’s response, the King’s smile stretched from ear to ear. 

“Now please, come with me. We will discuss things further in the war room.” 

“Of course.” Gavin replied promptly. “Boy, you wait here.” I nodded, weary to speak in the presence of the King. 

To this day, I’m still not sure exactly what was said behind those doors. I often wonder if the King claimed she was kidnapped, or if she fled of her own accord. Either way, neither of us expected what awaited us in the Eldergrove.

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