Galytreus, Master of the Gomerites, was getting old. He had been Master of the Order since the very beginnings of the Dark Ring. He had known Olgath’s grandfather and father. Both had been good men, but Trymal-Olgath’s father had been weak. He had noticed that Olgath had weakened with the exile of his only son. It had been a sad day when the Master’s wife had passed, for it meant that the Master of the Dark Ring would have no more heirs unless he remarried. But Olgath had not remarried. Instead, he indulged his sin’s every desire to make up for the loss.
That had been his greatest mistake. The boy grew impetuous and self-centered. As he grew, he became more obstinate and less wise. His foolhardiness became his greatest weakness. His obsessions became his downfall.
Then everything fell apart. The boy rose up against his father, taking Galyreus’ son and many other sons from the Ring with him. Strangely enough, only sons had followed Golmagug, not daughters. But a few Masters had followed as well.
Still, only the patriarchal Orders had suffered. The Gomerites. The Cyrtians. The Veryddians. The Tyresians.
Twelve Orders in all lost sons or Masters—or both. The twelve matriarchal Orders had been spared losses in leadership, since they rarely sided with the males on decisions and were led by women. He smiled. Perhaps his Order should have been led by a woman.
He chortled and shook his head. The Gomerites would never stand for that. They had been a patriarchal Order since they ruled the Renge. Still, change could do them good. After all, his daughter was his only heir at the moment. If his wife did not bear another son, he would have no choice but to break the tradition.
He gazed out upon his capital city. Across the plaza, the pyramid of Gorym rose into the sky. He looked toward the pyramid and prayed to Gorym for another son. Perhaps his chief deity would award him his heir.
He turned away from the window, a tear in his eye, and walked toward his Seat of Judgment. He had last sat upon the Seat when he banished his son, Karnyn, and the others who’d followed Golmagug. Soon, he would sit upon the Seat to welcome more Gomerites from the Barbarian wastes. Like many of his northern brothers and sisters, he smuggled barbarian kin through the lands of mist. The deed was treacherous, but the infusion was much needed to keep the bloodlines from inbreeding.
Those whose cities lay deeper in the interior had been forced to open their doors to outsiders, enraging the Master. The peoples of the Renge had never before been allowed to enter the Ring, no matter how much talent they had in the magical arts. Besides, mixing blood had been against the rules. And rules had to be strictly followed.
The thought made him smile. The rules made had been written to give the advantage to the Master, not the Ring. The concessions they had given the heirs of the Master had basically reduced them to a group of mages without any real power over their own destiny. An outsider had been given that power.
News of the prophecy had reached Olgath. He knew the child would unseat him, but he could do nothing about it personally. Prophecies were nasty things to mess with. Still, he couldn’t have anyone threatening his position as Master.
He would call in the members of the Forbidden Ring—assassins, thieves, dark arts mages, outlaw wizards, and the dregs of the magical world. They would do anything. They had always done anything for the Dark Ring. Well, for him anyway.
They wouldn’t be above killing a child. At least, not if they knew what was good for them. He smiled at the thought. Yes. Send one of the Forbidden Ring to kill the infant as soon as it was born.
Banon Alcanon, Master of the Forbidden Ring, Sorcerer Supreme of the Druinii Order, had also heard the prophecy. At last, a promised one who would heal the lands. Someone who would destroy the Dark Ring, yet, rebuild it. It meant infinite things to the Forbidden Ring.
They had been outlawed at the beginning of the Dark Ring. They had not begun their lives as Orders to be thieves or assassins. They had begun as honest Orders, Orders that rivaled those in the Dark Ring. But Olgath’s father had seen them as threats, banishing them from the Dark Ring. Yes, they had once been brothers and sisters to those in the Dark ring.
Now, they were on the outside. They did whatever was needed to survive. But getting involved with any scheme Olgath might have to prevent the outcome of the prophecy. This time, he would have to do his own dirty work. Or, perhaps, he could call on his beloved son.
He called a eunuch to him. Better to send a messenger who had no magical talent than to risk an attack through psy-contacting the madman.
“Yes, Master?” The eunuch inquired.
“Take this scroll to Olgath, Master of the Dark Ring,” Banon instructed, “This may be your last errand, but I hope not.”
“I understand,” came the reply as the eunuch took possession of the scroll.
Banon watched the eunuch leave. He would be surprised if the poor servant returned. He knew well that the message would have repercussions. It could possibly warrant attacks from the newly formed Inquisition that could result in the Ring’s demise.
Perhaps it was time for his fellowship to leave the Renge. At least until the prophecy was fulfilled. Then they would return and hope for amnesty. He sighed.
It was time to call the Forbidden Ring together. They had to decide what they would do from this point. all he knew was that they would not be able to stay in the four lands for much longer. He closed his eyes and began a psy-contact with all his followers. It was time.