I know you have no love of history, my son. And I know that you won’t want to hear a three hundred year old story. But the evil that was started in those times has been a constant curse on us for ten generations. So if, at long last, you want to hear the truth — listen.
Three hundred years ago, which is not so long if you stop to think about it, the land was in chaos. Magic ran unchecked. There were none to stop rogue wizards from having their way with the common folk, and so they slaved and stole and slaughtered. The kings were powerless to stop them. The army was powerless to stop them. Mage guilds evolved into gangs, and fought brutal and destructive wars between themselves for turf. Many innocent people were killed, or else had to pay more than they could afford for “protection.” The rest, seeing how the gangs’ words were law, lost all respect for the monarchy. This was before the Magnolium Order, of course.
Anyway, at long last there came a courageous and wise king who set out to put a stop to the madness. This was our ancestor, of course, King Gadric. Known to most as Gadric the Great. You’ve read in your history books how he formed the Magnolium Order out of the few mages who weren’t corrupt. And I’m sure you could recite the battles in which he used them alongside his own army to put an end to the anarchy and re-establish peace and royal authority. As long as we, his descendants, have ruled, we have kept the chaos of magic at bay thanks to the discipline of the Magnolium Order, and to our own wise leadership, which I know you will continue.
That’s what the official histories read. But there’s more to the story, Romm, that most don’t know. King Gadric had a friend.
His name was Amicen. The secret libraries of the Magnolium order record the details of his life, which will never be widely published. He was one of the most extraordinarily powerful wizards there ever was, and he was also close to Gadric as a brother. I don’t know how they became acquainted, but it was the two of them together who put an end to the terror of the mages. Together they planned. Together they recruited righteous wizards to join the fledgling Magnolium Order, using Amicen’s virtuosity as an example. And it was Amicen’s power that led the way in the battles that destroyed the rogue wizards once and for all.
Once the bloody wars were over, as you well know, the few surviving mages who weren’t in the Order got on boats and fled. They split up and went either to Alaza, the island nation to the northeast, or to the Southlands beyond the desert. In any case, they left. King Gadric reestablished order, and with the Magnoliums’ help, neighboring kings did the same.
So, the question is, what became of the king’s compatriot, Amicen? The man had a wife and an adult child, so he could not join the Magnolium Order. After the war, he was made royal court wizard, a position with much prestige and little responsibility. Needless to say, that position no longer exists. The Order fills all our magical needs quite nicely.
In his later days, Amicen grew greedy and power-hungry. He went to King Gadric and demanded, as payment for his service, ownership of half the kingdom. Of course Gadric refused, but he didn’t punish the elderly wizard. The king accounted his impertinence to his senility, and honored their past friendship. That very night, Amicen tried to kill King Gadric.
Amicen’s son, acting on his orders, caused a distraction in another part of the castle at midnight. The king was left unguarded. Amicen himself attempted to murder his old friend with a poisoned blade, but Gadric got the better of him.In the struggle, Amicen was pierced by his own knife. Before succumbing to the deadly venom, he spoke. This is what he said:
Cursed and slaughtered by my blood.
Not for ten generations
Will what you took, what is yours
Be restored to you at last.
Meanwhile, the guards cornered Amicen’s son. His name is lost to us, but we can safely assume he was a wizard, since children born with at least one magical parent are always magical themselves. The guards told him what had become of his father, and the man, in a rage, declared that his father’s mission of regicide would be completed, even if it had to be done by one of his descendants. And then, he escaped.
Now, I know you’ve read the ancient myths. You know that words like that, made by a dying wizard, carry real power. The power to curse. You’re skeptical, Romm? I guess you also know that such things are usually misinterpreted. And so they were, at the time. It was believed initially that a tangible object was actually stolen from the king. People was supposed that Amicen had somehow stolen some article, and given it to his son, although nobody actually knew what this item was supposed to be. King Gadric died about a year after that incident, and his son, Gadric II (that was the custom of naming in those days), vowed to track down Amicen’s son and retrieve whatever was stolen. When the king finally did capture him, however, no such item was ever found.
We, who have had three hundred years to reflect on the issue, can see farther than our ancestor Gadric II. For you see, every single one of Amicen’s descendants made it their mission in life to carry out his hateful decree of regicide. These descendants, mages all, have — or rather, had — defied the Magnolium Order for three hundred years. They recruited those wizards with evil in their hearts, who left the Order to follow a darker path. With these, and what wild monsters they could harness to their evil cause, the children of Amicen had been a living curse for us. They played the terrorist, wreaking havoc on everything society held dear, as often as they could. And every one of us, the kings, the sons of Gadric the Great, has faced an attempt on his life by the house of Amicen. We all survived, of course. Still, we were cursed. We were definitely cursed. “What you took, what is yours…” Remember what in what circumstances those words were uttered! Amicen was speaking to Gadric, who had turned the poisoned blade back, without suffering death himself. The thing referred to was life. King Gadric took Amicen’s life, and yet his own life he kept. And for ten generations, it is fair to say, life has been fleeing us. You see, each of us, each king from generation to generation, has died younger than his father did.
But! Lucana was the very, very last of her family line. Ironically, Amicen’s descendants depleted their own numbers, sacrificing their lives in increasingly desperate attempts to kill us. And I? Well, you’ve studied our family history. If we still used the ancient system of names, I would be Gadric the Tenth. The tenth generation, as the prophecy stated, would mark the end of it. Amicen’s blood is gone from the word, the attempts on our lives have ceased, and you, my son, are freed from the curse of fleeing life! It was for you that I did what I did that day! I’m sorry you had to bear witness to it, Romm, when you were such a young boy. In the end, I think, it was for the best. You saw the close of the matter. You will never have to suffer from the fear that I did, from the curse of your forefathers. Life is restored to us.
That is what King Thobis told his son, Prince Romm, when the prince was aged 17.
How much of it was true?