Prologue

They say the world likes to turn on its own because some God willed it so. Some say the world turns because the life magic of the planet allows it to rotate. Other theories claim that it is all part of some final destination for us. I like to think that these people need to worry more about themselves than some idiotic debate about the world.

It was a normal day, like any other. I sat at my desk; books laid out in front of me—the cool breeze of the open window danced around the soft strands of my hair. Sounds of giggling and laughter pierce my ears as the children of Valum continue to play their games.

“Lord Kris, Lady Valona, your mother requests your presence in the hall.” The main household butler speaks to the children with a soft yet determined speech. Zao proceeds to escort the children inside the manor, giving me a sense of peace on this humid noon. 

Knock Knock 

The sudden interruption at my door turns my head swiftly. “Come in,” I reply, annoyed. “Master, your father sends his regards for a formal invoice.”

A sigh leaves my lips. “You may come in, Celia.” Upon hearing my voice, a tall, tanned-skinned woman wearing our household’s maid attire enters my room elegantly. The alluring ruby within her eyes was enough to steal any man’s heart if she wanted to. However, she is under servitude as my loyal and faithful personal maid for the rest of her life. She eases her tense expression upon closing the door, letting her sharp fangs slip past her luscious lips; her flame-touched hair beautifully completes her presence.

She takes a deep breath before giving me a warm smile. A grin crawls across my own as she is one of the few people I talk to daily. Even if she is a demon from the Demon Continent, she treats me well, and I give her my respect. “Does he believe he can still get me to join the order?”. Celia takes a step forward and approaches me with a crooked smile, “I am afraid he is very persistent.”

I close my books with a loud thud sound before storming to my closet to get more formal attire to wear outside my room. “My answer will always be the same: no.” Celia follows closely behind me and places her soft, slender fingers on my small shoulders, gently removing my shirt and proceeding to get me dressed in my formal clothes.

Her lips begin to move, but she hesitates for a moment. She swallows her concerns and speaks. “I know he won’t force you, Master, but why don’t you discuss it with him? I believe he wants you to achieve something on your own since your brother, Dunick, will inherit his lands and this very manor very soon. A future for you to have a place you can call home.”

The very notion of joining the kingdom’s order of highly distinguished knights was something I never had on the table. “I don’t want to talk about anything. I’m simply going to deny his request and return to my studies. If he wants another son to be his little trophy, he might as well pay closer attention to Kris than me.”

Celia slips on the last button to my shirt before holding a firm grip. I look at her gently, and she does the same before letting me go. “Master Caleb… If I may… Why do you refuse to even train with a sword? Refuse to attend any event? I may be a humble servant; however, I know you can achieve great things with the kindness within your heart.”

 My hand slips up and waves away the notion behind her words. I grab the final piece of my outfit and proceed towards the door. “Because I refuse to take up a blade, I am not a soldier, and I am not even important as a member of this house. Father won’t sell me off in some marriage because everyone knows that I am a bastard.”

Click Click

The sudden sounds of footsteps behind me startled me more than the sudden grip and twist of my body. Celia stares daggers into my eyes. A flame lights behind those rubies. “Don’t you ever say you are a bastard…! You are my Master, my kind and amazing Master!”…” Celia-“

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Knowing her place, she stands firm and regains her posture before calming herself. “You are a better man than most I’ve had the unfavorable time of meeting.” I can tell it pains her to bring up the past before she was purchased by my father and given to me as a servant. Ceila was once part of the Demon Army rebellion that occurred over a hundred years ago. She fought in the army against the four kingdoms of the Gana Continent, but when their Demon King and his Lords fell, so did the armies under them. Celia was captured and, over the years, went through the most unspeakable things that she won’t tell a nine-year-old boy about, but I am sharp enough to know what she went through. The fact she still looks as stunning as she does must be from her demon heritage.

I suck it up and relax before responding. “I will talk to my father but won’t join the order. If he wants to talk further, I won’t return to my room.” Celia has a warm expression as she speaks. “I’m glad, Master Caleb.” I turn and open my door leading to a reddish-brown interior hallway. My white hair parted as I stepped out of my room. “Please tell Milia that I would like to see her later; I’m sure she would like to talk to me.” Celia smiles gleefully. “As you wish, Master.”

Some minutes pass as I approach the main hall to the manor. I push open the doors and see the long tables and open space of the hall. Its grand interior is one of house Aris’s pride and joy. Our manor is one of the popular halls for receptions and parties with diplomatic figures. We had one just relatively recently that I had refused to attend. So, I was surprised that standing in the hall with my father was a rather astute man with a gray suit and cloak. His tall yet slender figure only hid his age; I could tell this man was over a hundred and fifty years old. He would be middle-aged for humans, but for an elegant elf such as himself, he is barely a full adult.

In the world we live in, Folis is home to a wide variety of races—humans, elves, dwarves, demons, beastmen, lizard-folk, and so on. In our history, elves were the first of man, an ancient civilization capable of living for thousands upon thousands of years. We humans are direct descendants of a variant of elves that moved away from the original lands of our ancestors. Through years of adaptation and the decay of elf blood within our veins, we achieved our natural race among the others. Our lifespan is roughly two hundred and sixty years, three hundred if you are blessed with a long life.

I blink for a moment before approaching my father and our guest. “Father, you requested me.” My father turns to me; his long, dark hair sways with the subtle movement of the turn. His short beard accompanied his soft mustache as he looked at me. “Ah yes, my son. I did indeed request you.” I turn towards the guest before speaking to him. “May I ask why for the invite? You know my answer if this is about me joining the order.”

He chuckles at my words before reaching out and touching the elf’s shoulder before speaking. “Not today, young Caleb. Here, let me introduce you to an old friend of mine, Soldia Eliska.” I greet the man with a bow and elegant curtesy. “A pleasure to meet you, Sir.”

The timid elf smiles warmly; I notice a soft movement behind him as a minor figure hides behind his leg. I see the sparkling green eyes of a young elf girl, her ashen brown hair peak around the corners of his leg before retracting behind him. “May I ask again, why have I been summoned?”

Father clears his throat before sternly turning toward me. “I have decided, as Lord of House Aris and as your legitimate father, that I am agreeing to a potential marriage arrangement between our two houses. Lord Eliska has come a long way to arrive here with his young daughter, Tia Eliska.”

A soft gasp leaves my lips as the sudden announcement stops me dead in my tracks. I looked at my father and went back to Soldia. “Am I really being put into a marriage arrangement?” Soldia steps to the side and gently takes the young elven girl and, sits her in front of him, and smiles at me. “I have already discussed the details with your father. He has also told me of his concerns about your engagement within your own home. I accepted his request for a potential marriage arrangement between our houses with my daughter. Tia, darling, won’t you say hi?”

Standing between his hands is a small yet frightened child. Elves live far greater lives than us humans, but I could tell that she was older than me; her growth was slower compared to mine due to her lengthy lifespan. My best guess is that she was sixteen or seventeen years old, about the equivalent of an eight-year-old human child. “H-Hi… I am… Tia…”. Her voice was shaky, but it was attractive for her age. Her large green eyes peered into mine as she tried to hold the courage to stand before me.

“Very good, Tia… As you can see, we had merely come by to visit and formally introduce ourselves before you arrived at our house.” I stopped dead at the spot before looking at my father and going back toward Soldia. “Excuse me…?” My mouth was dry; I could barely swallow anything, waiting for an answer to reach my ears.

“Caleb, my son, by the time you are fourteen years of age, you will be moving to the Kingdom of Duldat and living in the Eliska household as a part of the arrangement.” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Leaving home was alien to me. I couldn’t fathom the very thought. I looked back and forth between everyone and took a few steps; the denial set in; I could only face one reality…

That my life would be in a new Kingdom…

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