Shallice and Morband: Chapter 1
There is a land very similar to the one in which we live. It is, however, unknown to most of us. The land, in their tongue, is known as Bel-Tharad, which means “The Differed Ones.” It is a vast land ruled by many warring kings, queens, princes, and lords. Our focus is upon one particular kingdom known as Dhelian, whose name has a meaning that has been lost in the ancient texts of the Tharadish poets.
Dhelian was a particularly long-lasting kingdom in Bel-Tharad in spite of the wars spread across the land. The cause for the wars was also lost in the texts of the poets long ago, but one nation that remained secure was Dhelian. Few kings or tyrants were foolish enough to wage war on Dhelian. Even the most barbaric of nations remained loyal to the tradition of Dhelianic peace. Dhelian was the northernmost kingdom of Bel-Tharad, bordered by the Spreading Sea to the north, Cirian to the east and south-east, Talian to the direct south, and Mischian to the West.
King Dhelius was known to his people as a kind and generous ruler, who gave up many of his own luxuries for the sake of his people. The normally critical Talic historians heralded his ability to peacefully generate friendships with surrounding kingdoms. He was born as Tetros Landhel, the younger brother of the Prince of Dorz, but after the unforeseen death of his father and elder brother in battle against the southern barbarians, he became King Dhelius CCCXLVI, later known as “Dhelius the Prudent” or “Dhelius the Wise.” There was some concern that a boy of only sixteen should become Dhelius, but it was not without precedent, and Tetros soon earned the titles later given to him.
Tetros’ eldest son was given the title of Prince of Dorz at birth when Tetros was forty-three years of age. This prince was born Paltrus Landhel, and at a young age earned the name “the Petty,” though this was known to few outside the Royalty. Paltrus was taught by many of the same instructors as Tetros was when he was a boy, as well as some new ones. Most of these instructors were also instructing at the Dhelian University, one of the finest institutions of learning in known Bel-Tharad.
This particular story begins with Paltrus, the day of his nineteenth birthday in the year 1397 A.U. It was custom for the Prince of Dorz to become Sel-Dhelius on this day. He would not be given the authority of Kingship as long as the First King was still alive and had access to the throne, but as the Second King, the Prince would use the power of the throne if the First King were not in power, and upon the First King’s demise or incapacitation, the Second King would become the new First King.
While Paltrus was in the purple dressing room, allowing the servants to dress him in the ceremonial armor, which he would wear to all Royal functions from this point onward, he reflected upon his future glory, and he shared these thoughts with the Arch-Knight.
“I suppose I should take a more active role in the Royalty than most Sel-Dhelius do. After all, there is a lot to do, and I do not want to leave all this work to my father. Do you think so, Polius?”
“That would not be unreasonable, my lord.”
“I do outrank you, do I not, Polius?”
“You do, my lord.”
“What work of my father’s do you think I should help with?”
“That would best be answered by the King, my lord.”
“I suppose I should take on part of his role as First Ambassador. We must create a Second Ambassador position. It is centuries overdue. We cannot allow him to be subjected to the grueling events that take place at every town. The parades held by peasants that take hours upon his arrival. All of that vulgar praise. He simply cannot constantly be required to handle grinning idiots day in and day out.”
Polius said nothing, knowing that he could neither agree nor disagree with the word of a person of such importance when he may or may not be right. Paltrus was finished dressing when he turned to Polius and began speaking again.
“You shall be my right-hand man, Sir Polius.”
“If the King consents, I will, my lord.”
Paltrus smirked, then stepped down from his stool. He walked towards the mirror to examine his ceremonial armor. He was glad with what he saw. The armor was of silver, to match the glorious gold of Dhelius’ jewels and garments. It was to be freshly polished for every occasion, and every time Paltrus was to leave the Capital City of Dhelian, among his servants would be one that knew only how to clean and polish armor, which he would do every night while the Sel-Dhelius slept.
The light brilliantly reflected the emblem of the Landhel Dynasty, two very noble-looking green dragons, one holding a sword and the other a blue shield, facing each other in peace atop a green hill. Paltrus’ ceremonial sword, which was worthless for combat, had carved into it aesthetic designs. In all of Bel-Tharad, there was not a sharper warrior.
Looking in the mirror, Paltrus became lost in thought when Polius said, “My lord, it is time.”
Paltrus followed Polius out of the purple room and into the bright sun of the midday. The brightness of the sun lit up the city. The Capital City was created from gold and silver, even to the silver trees with green leaves that blazed in the sunlight. The roads were of gold lined with these silver trees, and the buildings were of silver, each of which could easily have fit several families to live comfortably. Each doorway was lined with precious stones of many colors. Each building was built with respect to the central palace and chapel, the center of the city.
This particular day, all of the peasants were gathered around the chapel, clearing only the road so that Paltrus may pass. There was no peasant that was not dressed cleanly and respectfully. The colors of their clothing were bright; their flowers spread pleasing, sweet fragrances, which they tossed in front of Paltrus as he walked by; and even their cheering harmonized with the voices of the blue, red, and green birds flying about Paltrus.
The golden path lay between two rows of silver trees, which were more than spaced enough for the peasants to come see their new Sel-Dhelius. As Paltrus stepped into the sun, mercifully honoring his people with his presence, he held up his left hand towards the people, and waved. He grinned as he saw the cheering people, altogether chanting, “Sel-Dhelius, our lord!”
Paltrus climbed atop a large white horse, which was dressed in many shades of purple and green. With Polius on his right, walking rather than riding, he slowly approached the White Chapel of Dhelianos, the “Immortal Emperor,” from whom the name of the Kingdom and King were taken.
Like most everything in Dhelian, the Chapel is among the greatest in Bel-Tharad. It is tall enough that someone could only see the peak on an especially clear day. It is wide enough to have carriages made specifically to carry customers from one side to the other. It is long enough to span the length of some small cities. This enormous building serves a community within the Dhelian community, with plenty of room to spare. They live behind the Great Hall in which the rituals and services are performed. Most of these people are born, raised, and they will die as monks living in this building. There are many people, then, that never leave the chapel in their entire life. The only daylight that they ever know comes in through the beautiful stained glass windows, which are several dozen feet tall and of many colors.
In an attempt to appear pious, and to set a good example for those observing, Paltrus halted his horse and looked up at the Chapel. He beamed proudly as he looked upon the three immense doors that were the main entrance, the middle of which was slowly opening, waiting for him to pass. He looked above that to see the emblem of the Landhel family created in a round stained glass window, probably 40 feet tall. Above that, in a window that was rectangular but arching at the top, about 40 feet wide and 90 feet tall, was the image of Dhelianos, or at least what image the mortal eye can make of Dhelianos. He wears purple and green robes, and his face and hair shine of gold and silver. He has calm, blue eyes, and he holds out his arms, accepting all who come to him. He asks nothing of anybody, but loves all the way that they are.
When Paltrus was finished with his piety, he and Polius continued through the door ahead of them and into the White Chapel, from the golden street to the red carpet, with designs of branches and leaves sewn in green. Paltrus did not dismount, but continued into the White Chapel upon his horse, as was custom.
As beautiful as the stained glass windows are from the outside, they are overpowering in the inside, seeing the sunlight pass through them. As someone walks in, they can see the large windows on the side that cannot be seen from the outside of the front door. These windows, each about 40 feet tall and arched at the top, are of the many kings and saints of Dhelian that have served Dhelianos. They have reverent posture facing the front of the chapel, towards the great statue of the Immortal Emperor, holding out his arms, accepting the works and deeds of those great saints. This was not a bland gray statue, as one might find in the barbarian lands, but brightly colored, just as the window.
Behind the fortunate person that enters the chapel are those two windows that could be seen from the outside, only now they are lit up far more wondrously, as to make someone believe that they are images brought directly from Far Caelum. The roofs were so high up that noone would be able to see them if the room were not fantastically lit. As it were, one could gaze up at the ceiling and see the same intricate designs of leaves and branches found on the carpet below, though much larger as to be seen from the distant floor.
There were enough benches in that grand place to seat the dozens of thousands of people that would flock at the beginning of every week to worship Dhelianos, but still not enough to fit the hundreds more that would have to stand outside. Every person could hear clearly what was being said, due to the expertly designed acoustics of the room, though many worshippers could not clearly see what was happening from the distance. The room roared when the hymns to Dhelianos were sung, but through some mastery of architecture or magical arts were not painful even to the most sensitive ear.
The only things that could reach those high roofs were the wide and tall columns, which also displayed those elaborate patterns of leaves and branches. The floors were only carpeted in the aisles. The center aisle was the red carpet, and was twice as wide as the other aisles. All other aisles were carpeted in green, but also contained the same patterns as the center carpet. The rest of the floor was made of rock that was crafted, set, and polished so that no mortal could find where one rock ends and another begins. The walls, as well as the columns, were also made of these glass-like rocks.
Paltrus was not looking at any of these, however. As he rode forward, still with the peasants on both sides, he was looking straight ahead at the pulpit, where his father was standing in his golden garments, waiting to bestow upon him this honorable position in the kingdom. When he reached the end of the benches, he stopped his horse and dismounted, walking the rest of the way to his designated position. He knew the importance of the appearance of modesty in this ritual, and he kneeled and bowed his head as soon as he reached the king.
Dhelius looked only at his son rather than the peasants. This time that Paltrus spent kneeling was meant to be in prayer.
When Paltrus lifted his head, Dhelius began to speak. He had a deep voice, with a lilt that made many trust him immediately.
“What did you ask of Dhelianos, my son?”
“I asked for the Wisdom and Prudence of my predecessors.”
“And who are your predecessors?”
“You and the ancient kings who make wise decisions, my lord.”
“If you say that I am your predecessor, that means that you are to be king, does it not?”
“It does, my lord.”
“And why is it that you believe me to be wise, my son?”
“Because of the greatness of your kingdom and the love that the people have for you, my lord.”
“And you wish for this wisdom?”
“I do, my lord.”
“Was there anything else that was said in this prayer, my son?”
“Yes, my lord. I pledged my life to serve Dhelianos.”
“Then you have already shown that Dhelianos has given you the wisdom of which you have asked, and as a wise man you must be correct in saying that you are to be king.”
“Yes, my lord.”
“May it be. Rise, my Second, for that which has been known by Dhelianos for all time is now known to us. You are Sel-Dhelius, a member of the Royalty of Dhelian and Commander of the Dhelian forces.”
Paltrus stood and said, “I accept this honor, and my loyalty to the Kingdom is eternal.”
“Go now, and serve the Kingdom.”
Paltrus turned and left the chapel, knowing that on this day his new responsibilities would begin.