Chapter 1 - Four Kingdoms

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Hyra is just an ink stain on the big map of our world. On horseback, you only need a few days to travel from one end to the other. Neither Hyra's natural resources nor its influence are particularly noteworthy, and still it is a special place to be. And I'm not just saying that because I was born there. Something extraordinary hangs in the air, some kind of feeling you cannot explain. Something is different there … Maybe it's the people. There are some noble minds living in Hyra that show you how much virtue a human heart can possess. Yes, I think those are the kind of hearts that make Hyra what it is. They seem to be the country's biggest treasure.

Once, while I was passing through, I stumbled upon a precious book by coincidence (if there exists such a thing). The book was very old and the legend it revealed was even older. I am not sure how much truth that story holds – but let me share it with you and you can decide for yourself.

A long time ago, four brothers traveled far. Driven by ravenous thirst of adventure they wanted to tame the Great Sea and sail around the world. However, not long after their ship was hit by a terrible storm and sank. More dead than alive, they were washed up on the shores of Hyra's beaches.

The following morning, as the waves had calmed down again, a few fishermen noticed the motionless bodies in the sand. They brought the men into their humble thatched huts and treated their wounds. Slowly, the brothers regained their strengths and, impressed by the beauty of the land and the hospitality of its people, decided to stay in Hyra.

In search of happiness and a new home, every brother set off into a different direction of the compass.

The first brother was strong and beautiful. He went north and founded the city Inli, where he built a monastery of black stone. Its towers rose high into the sky and a lot of tortured souls found new peace behind its protective walls.
The monks decided to train the strongest and wisest men of their order as warriors. They became the Black Soldiers of Inli and guards of the new king. Even today, the legendary reputation of those dark clothed soldiers echoes through Hyra. They are famous, notorious - and untouchable. In the cloister, abstinence is the highest discipline and every man who joins the order has to follow it.

One day, the first raven started to circle Inli's monastery and day by day, their number grew. Now, you hear their cries all over the city and there are even rumors that by mysterious ways, the soldiers learned to understand the black birds' words.

The second brother was a bold adventurer who loved the sea more than the land. He traveled east where the Great Sea rolled against Hyra's shores. It was the birth of the seaport Maris; a colorful place of mystical stories and sailor fables. It was not long until Maris' ships explored the world and their heavy wooden chests got even heavier with gold and jewelry.

Unfortunately, one day it was death itself that arrived with the sailors in the port; a horrible plague entered the city. Many, many people died and it didn't take long until the active trading of the kingdoms with each other carried the disease in every corner of the country. The limbs and joints of the sick stiffened, and a sharp, unbearable pain started to gnaw at their bones. Every step, every pitch became pure agony and an insurmountable hurdle. High fever and vomiting dehydrated the weakened bodies beyond recognition.

In memory of those dark times, a great masquerade ball takes place in Maris every year. On that day, many citizens wear masks with long bird's beaks to remember the doctors who tried to protect themselves from infections and the foul stench of death.
Many died but not all were that lucky. Some of the sick changed. The unusual illness created hungry demons that bore little to no resemblance to the humans they once used to be. They became Fear Eaters. Like nightmares they only dared to crawl out and hunt in the dark – searching for warmth and life.

Far away from the cities, in deserted areas, they caught incautious travelers again and again and as the word spread, every night Hyra hid behind its gates and walls praying for the horror to pass. And pass it did. With time, the deadly attacks became rarer and today, the Fear Eaters are nothing but horror stories that children tell each other around the campfire when the sun sets and the lights begin to fade.

The third brother loved tidiness – and the enchanting smell of a specific plant. Hyra's lavender, which bloomed during the whole year, enchanted him on his way into the west. He founded Soudale and became king of a city whose good smelling soups were traded like precious treasures in the whole country.
Behind the town he planted huge fields of lavender; a purple ocean, the scent so overwhelming that your head gets all dizzy. Here, only here, in the midst of those fields, the brother wanted to live and built a small castle for himself and his growing, royal family.

The last of the four brothers had a wild nature and decided to claim the south. Despite all deprivations he passed the mountains of Pals; a chain of steep mountain slopes and conifer forests that rose high into the sky in Hyra's southernmost point.
He was richly rewarded for his efforts, since behind the barrier of stone and wood a terrific view of the fertile plain Anastis awaited the brother. In the middle of that rich vegetation reigned a lonely mountain. When the brother saw that gray giant, he decided to build his city directly under its shadows.

His kingdom increased rapidly and its beauty far exceeded the cities of his brothers. Unfortunately, he didn't know about the doom that slept deep inside the earth right under his feet.
One day a powerful quake shook the earth of Anastis and the mountain came to life. It opened its crimson abyss and spit fiery rain until a coat of hot dust covered everything on and beyond the mountains of Pals.
The king of the south survived but he lost everything he had. Desperate and homeless, he turned to his brothers and begged them to give him some of their lands. However, over the years the hearts of the siblings had gotten hard and greedy. One after one they sent their pleading brother away. Rejected and bitter, the man fled back into Pals and hid there. He found refuge in the art of dark magic and while thinking of revenge his mind got lost more and more into its shadows. The three siblings began to fear the mad brother's darkness. They feared it would not be long before he came and claimed by force the land he had once asked from them. To prevent that, they attacked him in a valley near the mountains.
When the men met at Pals no one survived. On that day all four siblings lost their lives and legend says that their families cried until their pain filled a whole salty sea – till today it gives the Valley Of Tears, the place where Hyra's kings died, its sad name.

The children succeeded their dead fathers' thrones; two sons in the north and west and a daughter in the east. The brother from Anastis had a son, too; Sarray. Apparently, his dark magic and scorn were even worse than that of his cruel father. But the boy vanished after the fight in the Valley Of Tears. No more was heard about the sinister heir of the southern throne and the two kings and the queen were lulled into false sense of security.

Back then, when I read the legend of the Four Kingdoms for the first time, I felt my fingers travel over the pages, amazed and full of awe. At home, in Abnoba, I had never heard about that story before. Maybe because in Abnoba, the mysterious and dark wood that stretches between Inli and Maris, it is so easy to forget about the rest of the world. Until this present day, the other cities keep their respectful distance from Abnoba's borders. The kingdoms prefer to examine the forest's size and wilderness safely from afar.
The paths and trails that lead into the heart of the wood are entangled and hard to follow. Not many travelers find a way through. But anyone who is brave enough to go further, always further, comes across a city, built on the crowns of the trees and inhabited by people with eyes of gold.
Nobody knows where these people came from nor why they went so deep into the forest, but Abnoba tolerates the humans that build their homes high up in the treetops and connect their houses with narrow bridges.
Every child who is born in Abnoba has golden eyes. It's said to be a gift from the forest because the humans respect and protect the sensitive balance that surrounds them. So long as this unwritten rule is honored, my beloved forest, is a refuge, a home and life for my people.

And this is where the story of the girl with the golden eyes begins – where my story begins.
© 2015 Tina Videkiss All Rights Reserved

Here is the first chapter of my book The Girl with the Golden Eyes. Have fun and let me know what you think.

Special thanks to wonderful :iconugotrabs: who helped me with the translation - I'm in your debt. Forever Hug 
© 2015 - 2023 AugenGold
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KejaBlank's avatar
Wonderful prologue and first chapter, my dear. That whets the readers appetite to know more of the story!!!! Good job on this!!!:heart: