Insert an interesting cover here :) 

 

I'm planning to put the first ten chapers here to get you interested. They will introduce you to most of the characters and give you a bit of an idea of what the world looks like. The chapters are still getting edited at the moment. They will pop up here as soon as they are done.

 

 

 

I will not post the entire story here; I'm too afraid someone might steal my ideas and, in case this somehow gets published, no one will buy the book when there is a free version online. So sorry about that, but I hope you'll understand. 

 

 

 

You have read every letter you could find on this site and still want to know more? Then this might be something for you: I'm constantly looking for testreaders for my chapters - that includes the ones I will not put on the internet. You don't have to be a grammar nazi to be one; every form of feedback, how small it might be, is welcome! Send me an email if you are interested!

 



Some information...

 

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Chapters

 

Prologue

1. Another point of view

2. The sound of talent

3. A different point of view

 

There was that feeling again. He was used to it, after suffering from it for years, but it was so unpleasant that he still couldn't ignore it. It felt like his skin was pinched by thousands of hot, long needles. It always happened when it was time for him to wake up. The pain lasted only a second though, forming a mere fraction of the misery that already darkened him.

 

He stood up. He had ended up in the middle of a sea of grass, surrounded by blades that formed ripples in the wind. The pieces of his plate armour clattered softly against each other. Dark blood stained the otherwise shining metal, but it wasn't his.


He wondered why he always wore it; he didn't need protection. Getting wounded was something he didn't care about. Why shouldn't he leave it behind? That would make things easier for him. He started fumbling with the clasps while he looked at his surroundings. Only a few gnarled trees were scattered amongst the dull, monotone landscape. Their dark, twisted branches clawed at the sky and made the place look even more desolate than it already was. It strengthened his grim feelings. He couldn't prevent them from floating up to the surface any longer; he felt lonely, miserable, misunderstood... misused.


This was a good place to flee to though, despite its depressing effect on him. There were so few people living here that being detected by someone was almost impossible. He didn't want to be found, not now. He looked over his shoulder to the north. Even though he had crossed many miles, he could still see the thick smoke on the horizon.


That was my home. What have I done?


He wanted the tears to break free from his eyes, just to remind him that he was still human, not a monster. There was not enough regret to fuel them though - at least not for the fate of his home. The people there deserved this, but was this the best way to make them pay? He only wished he had made this choice much earlier, before his huge mistake. Being in control over so many had resulted a hooking rush. It was one of the few things that gave him a slight idea of happiness, a taste of life. It had completely blinded him for the things that really mattered.


I need a new name, he thought, while he walked away from the column of smoke. More than that; I need a whole new identity.

 

The mighty sorcerer was dead now. No one will look up to him any more, following his orders, obeying his will. He was stripped of his power. It was such an unfamiliar feeling. He was weak and vulnerable now, like every other normal person.


No, not normal. That's something I'll never be.

 

He would be happy if he was normal, or even a fraction of that; just plain and ordinary with a pinch of dullness, like most people were. But no, he had to be special, in a very, very awful way. The worst thing about it was that he couldn't get rid of it. There seemed to be no cure for him, no one who could help. Nothing. It had thrown him into a deep pit and he couldn't find a way out - if it even had one. He didn't know if his dark state of mind was also caused by that special 'gift' of his, or if it was simply a reaction to it, created by himself. Whatever it was, it had left him with Despair as his eternal companion and Misery as his friend.

 

He sighed. He wondered if he was better off dead, a thought he had often. He couldn't kill himself, despite how much he wanted it. Something stopped him, every time he tried. He had no choice but to go on, learning how to live with his 'companion' and 'friend' instead. But how? He did a good job hiding his problems from others, but he had no idea how to do that for himself.


I need a new name, he thought again.


He felt his pendant bouncing against his chest with every step he took away from home. He grabbed it, took it off his neck and stared at it in disgust. This was the symbol of the people he hated so much now. He flung it over his shoulder - but his fingers snatched the chain at the last moment.

 

He groaned. Despite having literally turned his back towards the atrocious system the pendant stood for, he was still trapped by it. He put the piece of jewellery back around his neck. He couldn't let go of the loathed thing, unless he wanted to be hunted down for the rest of his life. The simple object offered him protection and - though now in a much lesser way than he was used to - power. That was one of the strongest forces in the world, maybe even the strongest. Men were addicted to it; he had been addicted to it. He saw that now. The power he had, however, came with bounds. He had realised too late that he valued freedom more.

 

I need a new name.


The western horizon bathed in the greenish hue of dusk, but that last remnant of the sunset would be gone soon. It was getting darker every minute and the first stars had appeared already. The sky was so clear that it made him lose all sense of depth. The small, twinkling lights looked only an arm's length away, as if he could pluck them out of the heavens like they were flowers. One particular star caught his eye. It was still standing low in the east, having started its journey from one end of the horizon to the other not so long ago.


'Rigel,' he said softly, as if he wanted to welcome the bright blue light. He was so accustomed to its company that he almost saw it as a living thing, a real person, but one he had mixed feelings about. It wasn't his friend, it wasn't his enemy; but it was a part of him.


He let his hand run through his short, dark hair, while he gazed at other celestial bodies that illuminated the night's sky. Rigel might burn with an impressive light, but the other stars that shared its constellation did that as well. One of the corners of his mouth curled up, creating a crooked smile.

 

He had found a new name, a good name. It was a bit unusual, but he couldn't think of something that was more fitting. He walked on, with Despair and Misery following his footsteps.

 

 

 



Prologue

 

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contents 

 

- 47 years later - 

 

He looked out on the Old Square from one of its surrounding balconies, while relaxing in a luxurious armchair. Its white wood was carved with tiny little birds and flowers. Velvet pillows trimmed with golden tassels rested on the seat. They were so soft and comfortable that as soon as you sat down, you never wanted to get up again.

 

He shouldn't sit in it. It wasn't his and he was sure that merely using it wasn't allowed either. Was he bothered by that little detail? Not at all.

 

A cold winter's breeze tickled his neck, covering his skin with goosebumps. The sky didn't show a single cloud today, but that also caused the weather to be chilly. It made him put up the collar of a brown fur coat - also not his, of course. 

 

Khorrek had a rather different opinion about possession than most people had: if he could get to it, it was free for him to use it. Even though he considered the piece of clothing as his own now, it was clearly not made for him. He could wrap it around his own skinny body three times. Even his own mother wouldn't be able to recognise him in all this fluff! He liked that; he didn't want his face to be seen by someone while he was up here, especially if that someone turned out to be the real owner of this place. His disguise was completed with the ugliest hat he could find. He pushed one of its long, curling feathers out of sight. 

 

He wondered whether the hatter who made it had forgotten that putting something in front of your eyes might not be the best of ideas, or that he just didn't know where the eyes were located at all. There wasn't just one annoying feather: a whole flock of some sort of exotic bird must have been plucked for it! The sea of iridescent plumage made the hat look like a living rainbow. Pearls were sewed on it too, as if it wasn't flamboyant enough already. 

 

Khorrek was sure that it was one of those fancy headgears from the South, but he never understood why they were so popular amongst certain classes of society here. The only thing he knew was the number written on the price tag for accessories like this. Thinking about those digits brought a smile to his face.  

 

I have the best job in the world.

 

He put his feet on the thick, but elegant balcony railing. The vertical supports that bore its weight could be described in a similar way. The banister wasn’t just a safety feature, it was a status symbol; using it as a mere footstool while slouching in a chair was a downright insult to the stonemason who had crafted it. Khorrek didn’t care. He just wanted to enjoy as much of the winter sun as his outfit would allow, while his gaze wandered off to explore the wonders of the world down below. 

 

The Old Square was normally used for markets, but today it was home to a wooden platform. At one side of it stood a small building. It wasn't possible to see what was happening in there; long theatre curtains made sure that curious eyes stayed away. The three other sides of the stage were flanked by grandstands. All these things together made the square look like an amphitheatre - and a big one too. ‘Big’ was a much-needed word here. This was one of the most popular attractions of the Winter Festival; hundreds of people were attracted to the shows it hosted. The festival was dedicated to the shortest day of the year. Clergymen said that the One will spread his light over the world again, as long as the people would bring him honour that day. But what had watching acrobats, bards, dancers and who-knows-what to do with honouring? Nobody knew, but it made the festival much more popular.

 

Khorrek looked from the corner of his eye at the revellers. They danced, laughed, drank; the air was heavy with happiness. It was one of the few days of the year when you could do anything without someone batting an eye - except for the stuff he did, maybe. The people painted the square bright with their costumes, turning it from the usual dusty brown of brick to something that matched his hat pretty well. 

 

That was not an improvement. 

 

The colours clashed so much it hurt his eyes. Some people had done their utter best to look more idiotic than he did! Maybe the poor choice of clothing was caused by the stuff they drank; a lot of them had more alcohol than blood running through their veins - and the ones who didn't were working on it. It made Khorrek grin. 

 

If that’s honouring a god then I must become a follower as well! 

 

Drunk or not, the number of people drawn to the temporary theatre still surprised him. It looked like every inhabitant of the Islands had come to Woldburg. Not that there were an awful lot of people living there though. The Islands were a bunch of sandy islands ruled by the tide and the wind, not by humans. The soil wasn't very fertile, the sea was dangerous and the weather was usually downright dreadful. No inhabitant of the mainland with a right mind wanted to live here. 

 

The Islanders themselves thought differently about it. 'The rough side of beautiful' - that's how they described their home. Khorrek wasn't sure if he agreed with that. He hadn't seen much of the world to compare the Islands with. 

The sight of all those people - or better: potential victims - made something stir in his heart. The largest part of him enjoyed what he did now, relaxing in the sun, but it couldn't stop the longing to walk amongst them - especially because the current entertainer, a rather handsome, nimble-fingered magician, was good at drawing attention. 

 

His own fingers started to tingle; these circumstances were great for pick pocketing. That was a lot more exciting than breaking into houses! 

 

And not just any houses, he thought, but completely deserted ones. 

 

All the inhabitants were gone, probably to celebrate the festival. He did came across the family cat though, napping in the sun on a window sill, but the creature didn't find him interesting enough to lift its eyelids for him.

 

Khorrek sighed; so much for fun and adventure. His sense of reason was stronger than his unhealthy habit to seek out danger this time. The city guards were all over the place and those 'beware of pickpockets' signs glued on every wall didn't work for him either. On the other hand, the 'beware of corrupted' posters were almost twice as big, so maybe people didn't really think about common thieves any more. Posters or not, there were always people who forgot to lock their door properly. 

 

There was another reason why Khorrek preferred burglary for now: a certain act had caught his interest, something that he didn't want to miss for anything in the world. He wasn't very tall, so he doubted he would be able to even catch a glimpse of it when he would stand along the masses that were flooding the grand stands. This balcony had his own drawbacks though: it was high up, far away from all the action and located too much to the left with respect to centre of the stage, but at least it provided him an unhindered view.

 

The spectators started to shout in awe when the magician showed another one of his tricks; a dove was 'magically' changed into a rose. He gave the flower to one of the women in the crowd. She obviously wasn't the best of the bunch in terms of prettiness, but she was one of the wealthiest. The woman didn't seem to notice this subtle, but important difference and looked quite pleased with herself. The giggle that left her mouth was so full of gloating arrogance that even Khorrek could hear it. It made him want to puke. 

 

The only thing that guy is good at is flirting with the female part of the audience, he grated, while a small amount of jealousy pinched his ego, I didn't come here to see that! 

 

He looked around, searching for something interesting to keep his mind focused on instead. That turned out to be harder than he had expected. Only a small, ugly flowerpot placed next to him on a table could keep his attention for longer than a heartbeat. It looked like it was bought in the same shop as his hat; it displayed a similar level of flamboyancy. The plant it contained didn't seem to be very fond of it. Khorrek stared at the piece of pottery and its dying inhabitant, trying to decide if this was better to look at than that frivolous fool of a magician. Another sigh escaped his throat. When was this cheap magic show over? 

 

Soon, I hope…

 

And then the next act would begin, the thing he was waiting for... That would be a monster of a show! 

 

 

Chapter 1

 

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