“All is clear in the Keep, Sir. The Royals are sleeping soundly and nothing is out of place.” The Caeruminian recruit raised his sword in an honorary and awkward salute to his commander as he reported his first guard duty.
Commander Donarius was annoyed, if not also a little amused. “Son, what is your name?”
“Lance Berrington sir, Recruit Berrington.” Lance was nervous, he didn’t want to screw this up. This was his first time on actual duty after being stationed at the High Palace in Caerum Ba. This was an absolute honor and an honor that he has earned no less. All through training, he worked as hard as he possibly could so that he could have the honor of guarding the royal family, and here he was. Lance was confident in his ability but Commander Donarius’ glance was enough to pierce even the thickest of armors and strike fear into just about anyone.
Flickering torchlight illuminated the Commander’s aged, battle-hardened face, the wind catching the light periodically and was casting grand shadows on the castle walls behind him. Donarius stared at him for what felt like hours to Lance, but in reality, it was all but a few moments. “Aren’t you that wonder kid from the training camp?” The Commander’s thick, bushy eyebrows raised expectantly.
“Y-yes, sir. Top of my class, high honors.” Lance wasn’t sure what the Commander was getting at. He had done everything according to standard, he was sure of it.
“That’s what I thought. Come with me, we’ll do your next rounds together. Fenra, cover my post for me.” The Commander looked at the girl standing a few yards away and motioned her over. When he started walking towards the western battlement, Lance followed.
“You know son,” Lance hated it when he called him son, but he was okay with it because of the rank and experience he held over him. “When I was your age all those years ago, I was just like you. Young, ambitious, nothing to lose, everything to gain. I graduated top of my class and it was always my dream to serve the royals. You know there’s no greater honor in all of Caerum Ba. King Emis Fenron and Queen Juliana Fenron are the last hope that we have for the realm, what with Lord Barinium causing all of that mess over in Baelisport –“
“Commander!” coming up the stairs toward them they heard an extremely out of breath voice shouting “there’s something in the keep, it has the royals.”
When Lance, Commander Donarius, and the rest of the arrived at the door leading into the King and Queen’s chambers, it was a bleak scene. The screaming that they heard during their run-up to the keep had silenced, and only hushed whispers could be heard coming from beyond the door. Donarius kicked open the door with the force of thirty men, and he charged in the room with Lance at his side. What he saw terrified him.
Around the bed of the King and Queen, six shadowy figures that look as if they were made out of thick smoke huddled, between the figures Lance could make out what looked to be a mess of blood running down the bed frame. The dismembered corpses of the royal family lie in a pile in the center of the bed.
“Halt in the name of the King!” shouted Commander Donarius, but he was too late. At his shout, the figures disappeared into the night, pouring through the window and fading like a puff of dust in the wind, leaving behind nothing but a pile of body parts and three glowing green triangles etched into the wall behind the bed.
To this day, no one knows what or who murdered the King and Queen, but Commander Donarius swore that he would hunt them down even to his dying breath.
Six months after the murder of the King and Queen, the investigation into their deaths was ongoing. Commander Donarius and Recruit Berrington were the first that the Order of Frost sought out to investigate in this matter. They were the first on the scene and their explicit job was to protect the high Lord and Lady. While it was clear that they had no involvement in the murders, their first-hand accounts of the events horrified the mages performing the investigation.
High Mage Sonarious was put in charge of the investigation. He walked into the holding chamber for Barrington, tossed a stack of parchment on the table, and said “Recruit Barrington, is it? Why don’t you start from the top? What exactly did you see that night.”
“Sure.” Barrington was getting annoyed. Six months of interviews, six months of being pulled off his post and having to request leave time because these stagheads can’t nail down a killer. “As I told your partner, when Commander Donarius kicked down the door and we rushed in, I saw six shadows standing around the bed.”
High Mage Sonarius cut him off; “didn’t you mention they were saying something? Murmuring something?”
“Yes, it sounded like an incantation of some kind. It was no language I had ever heard. We don’t get much magical folk up here in the Caerum, and if we do they mostly keep to themselves. But still, the magic I have seen was nothing like this. It was… dark.”
“Thank you, you can continue, what else did you see.” High Mage sat at the table opposite Barrington, one elbow on the table with his chin resting in his hand. Next to him, an enchanted quill was taking hurried notes of every word that came out of Barrington’s mouth.
“The bodies on the bed, they were completely cut up. They were just in a pile. Arms, fingers, legs, ears, teeth, eyes, even their innards; every piece of them was laying mixed up in a pile on the bed. I have never seen anything like it.”
The horrific scene was almost too much for High Mage Sonarius to imagine. Even his quill took a moment to pause before carrying on writing what Barrington said. “And what of the markings on the bed?”
“Oh” said Barrington, as if he was snapping out of a trance that he had entered after remembering the gruesome scene in the bedroom. “Three triangles overlapping other, all three glowing deep emerald green. Do you know what that means? Have you at least figured that part out?” Barrington didn’t mean to sound snappy at the High Mage, but he was annoyed and he just wanted answers that would help him connect these puzzle pieces.
“No we have not.” The High Mage took off his round glasses and rubbed his eyes. “We are no closer now than we were when the murders occurred. You’re free to leave, send in Donarius after you if you would.”