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Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter5 Chapter 6

The Earth turns from the Sun and day becomes night. The Earth turns back to the Sun and night becomes day. So it is with Man and Sol.

Bound together by Grimmís iron will, guided by Astarteís unmatched knowledge of the Beasts and their realms, Man began a war of reconquest that promised to restore civilization to Newerth. In battle after battle, the Beasts were beaten, driven from their lairs and dens, slaughtered by the hundred. Their skulls adorned weapons and fortress halls, their claws and fangs hung on the necklaces of brave warriors. For as long as King and Queen reigned, defeat was unknown.

Soon, to ensure that his death would not rupture mankind as had the Prophetís, Grimm asked Astarte an heir. For him and for her people, she agreed, despite an unspoken fear in her heart. As the child quickened in the queenís womb, Grimmís nightmares returned to him once more, calling him to the empty, unknown glade. Pushing aside their secret worries, the two continued to lead the Legion in its conquests, but with the passing days, each became more certain of some ominous thing to come.

And so it did. Jeraziah Grimm, heir to the Legionís crown, mighty even as a babe, was born to Maliken and Astarte. But he was born in blood and death, ripping his way untimely from his motherís body. The mightiest healers of the Legion could not stanch the flow of blood; the most learned Chaplains could not coax life back into her cold flesh. The Prince was born; the Queen was dead.

Devastated by the loss, Grimm gave the rearing of his son to his most trusted advisors, left the destruction of the Beasts to his warlords, and sank into despair. He wandered his capital, Adkarna, in mourning black, prayed silently in each of the great cathedrals established throughout his lands, and, for five years, knew only bitterness.

It was in his wanders that he met the woman known as Sylvia. Raven-haired, imperious, like and yet unlike his lost queen, he found her in a village at the edges of his realm. She was wordless, but needed no words to convey her desire. Grimm drowned his grief in lust and soon returned to Adkarna with his new queen.

Though Grimm retook the throne with renewed vigor, it soon became clear that he was a changed man. The mute Queen ruled his heart, and soon her cruel nature revealed itself to all save Grimm. For a time, the Legionís success was undaunted by her interference, for the courage of the armies and the wisdom of the general did not fade. But as gold was spent on ever more lavish palaces, as dissenting voices fell silent, as ill-planned raids left the doughtiest veterans dead, the Legionís string of victories came to an end.

Grimmís wise councilors dared not risk his ire by speaking out against the Queen. Trusting their master, they hoped he would soon realize her fell influence. But when she grew big with child, fear gripped their hearts. They knew that once she had borne him a child, she would conspire to kill young Jeraziah and set her own spawn as heir. In secret, they stole the Prince away and brought him to a distant monastery of scholar-priests where he would be secure. In his bed they put the corpse of dead peasant boy of similar mien and with magic and craft disguised the differences between them.

The King fell once more into grief, but some part of it lifted when Queen Sylvia presented him with a beautiful newborn daughter. Ophelia was a clever child and mischievous, and soon won the hearts of even those who loathed her mother. For a time, the conspirators allowed their affection for the child to cloud their vision of what was coming to pass. They hoped, indeed prayed, the girl would soften her motherís heart or bring renewed wisdom to the King. But none of this passed.

For the first time in decades, Man had been ceding lands to the Beasts, falling back to the older fortresses and more defensible boundaries. And, with the death of their leader and the failures of the new Queen, the Scouts had begun to drift back to their distant reclusion.

So, though the conspirators still laughed at young Opheliaís adventures with the castle hounds or smiled at her precocious horsemanship, they carefully plotted to destroy Queen Sylvia. Because of their delay, the path had become far more difficult. The Queen surrounded herself with loyal bodyguards at all times and her agents hid in every part of the kingdom. Nevertheless, the councilors readied their weapons, prepared their spells, and hatched their plan.

Ambushing the Queen as she left the Kingís bedchambers, the conspirators fell upon her guard. But even as they did, the Queen raised her hand and shot forth blasts of lightning, destroying guard and assassin alike. The survivors watched as she shimmered and changed, her shape shifting for a moment to that of a terrible bat-like Beast. With a piercing shrike, the monster raised its hands once more, and all around it were struck with blindness.

Shifting once more, now into the form of a giant cat, the thing known as Sylvia swept through the castle toward Opheliaís room. Awakened by the tumult, Grimm staggered into the hall and saw the Beast race away. He grabbed his battle-notched sword and pursued.

Grimm cornered the creature in his daughterís room. The giant catís jaws were closed, tenderly, about the girl, who in turn had wrapped her arms around its massive neck. Grimm raised his sword for slaughter, but in that moment looked into the Beastís eyes and knew, knew it was Sylvia, knew what he had done, the abomination he had committed. He fell to the floor, retching and wretched, as his wife and daughter bounded into the night.

When at last the conspiratorsí sight returned, day had broken. They found the King gone--vanished into the wilderness--and so too the Queen and Princess. Terrified that anarchy would be loosed upon the Legion, they swiftly recalled the hidden Prince Jeraziah and crowned the stripling king. For the disappearance of the royal family, they blamed a Beast assassin, and vowed to keep silent what they knew.

Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter5 Chapter 6

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