Chapter one: The beginning
Two hearts of salt… two souls of fire.
Two kindred spirits… twins in desire.
Born on the same day… two curses from above.
Lives forever entwined… a fate without love.
So they grew together, yet quickly torn apart.
A single dream, hope and pride, imbedded in each heart.
So hails the bringing of the Salt twins, destroyers of the green.
Taken from the scripture of Estial Tre’stor.
First servant of the High king of Ehtorias.
Wielder of the sanguine quill
Thirteenth age, twelfth year.
As with all things in this word, there had to be a beginning. The tall youth that that was licking a minor cut barely remembered his beginning. His current life was that of struggle, death and as always the salt. The only constant thing in his life was salt. Today marked his twenty third name day, one he celebrated by sacrificing iron to the salt god. No such religion existed in the known world, yet he and his kind had taken up to praying to one. No one knew why; sense of purpose perhaps? Or simply boredom. Lance simply did it because it felt right. There had to be more in life than a salt desert that did not end. He and his brethren were officially part of the southern frontier Guard division. They themselves called it the Endless watch. From their main base one could see for hundreds of leagues in all direction, only spotting the tops of the rock borders in the north. If you were wanted, sentenced to death, a bastard or simply one of the insane, you were quickly ‘recruited’ to the honorary post of Watcher. He himself was raised in this desolate place, ever since the age of twelve. As soon as he could hold a weapon, he was deemed ready for the post. He did not like the position, nor did he despise it. He knew only the endless watch. When the order came for him to return north, to the ever green fields, he was… hesitant. Suddenly deeply buried memories came back from his past. He did not know why, yet his gaze went towards the North West. His features were composed, as was required of his kind, yet his mind was tight, hesitant. He gazed at that direction and remembered, remembered days of old.
The old days.
The kingdom of Ehtorias was simply put perfect. Its northern borders were completely isolated by mountains, to the west a torturous ocean and its south was a never ending salt desert. The only safe entry way in was through the east, one constantly guarded and fortified by the King’s army. Yet the kingdom was not known simply because it could be well defended, no, the kingdom was heaven itself. Never ending green fields, rich soils and the most exotic plants and wild game. Throughout the kingdoms life a single bloodline has been burdened by the task of safekeeping and protecting this perfect land. The Ehtorians, owning their name by their constant service and sacrifice to this perfect land. Their bloodline had always been strong, constantly having numerous daughters and sons to protect this land. It was the tenth age, one with little bloodshed so far. The current king Robertus Tre’es Ehtorian had been ruling for twenty years so far, keeping the eastern countries easily at bay, yet keeping traffic and commerce constantly open. The green clerics prayed to the heavens and received word of their salvation, nine months later a son was born. The young boy was everything the country represented, calm, trusting and fair. The priests quickly decided it would be the salvation of the country and the continuation of a perfect rule. Prince heir and future ruler of the Ehtorian dynasty, Birus sempervirens Ehtorian.
Yet the priests were plagued with dark and troubling visions five years later; a storm of red blood rained down on the lands while salt infected the earth, draining and corrupting the very soil itself. Nine months later was a black day. The current queen died while giving birth to twins. The delivery had been hard and lengthy, in the end she barely had enough life left to hold them in her arms before she was taken to the earth. The priests informed the king of the dark fate surrounding these children, even insisting that these children were darkness opposite he light. Struck with grief and love for his wife, the King disregarded the Priests, insisting that these children were his wife’s final gift to the world of men. So for twelve years these twins were raised as one of the noble blood, learning how to live and behave as proper noblemen and women. Yet unlike their perfect older brother, these children were different. Quick to anger and stuffed with pride, they sought out conflict like a magnet attracting iron. They fought against children from all stations, preferably a few years older. Yet, nothing excited them more when they fought against each other. Boy and girl, sacred twins, they fought each other like banshees. The only thing that kept each other from going at each other’s throats was a direct command of the king. The fires of passion were simply too strong for these children. No such gift, nor burden, should be placed upon a living person, let alone two. No one in the world would ever understand or fully love a being like this. At his final days of rule the king was becoming more and more alert of the nature of these twins. At their twelfth age he decided to protect his kingdom for the last time, signing a royal order of banishment.
The young prince would be send to the endless desert while the young princess would be sent to the forbidden sea. Both would grow up in the army or navy, learning the ways of the military and receiving the burden of protecting these lands. While the young prince became a legend in the south, the desert wraith or simply the salt prince, his twin sister would be known as the sea witch or salt princess. Even in banishment and exile these two found a way to compete against each other, not knowing how tightly their strings of fate were intertwined. When the king died, leaving his twenty eight year old heir as the next king. The kingdom wept from both sorrow and joy, seeing as how great a new king would take the place of the last. The first order of the new king was the return of his siblings, deciding that kinship mattered above all else. Little did the new king new why his father had banished them in the first place.
-Four weeks later-Dear brother,
I hope this letter reaches you in safety. To long our as our blood been spilled in the southern wastes and the western sea’s. It warms me and saddens me to inform you that I, Birus sempervirens Ehtorian, am now rightful king to the Ehtorian kingdom. As my first act of king I hereby release you to from your bonds of warfare and come back home, as well as your sister. Too long have we been without the embrace of another. Join me in the lands of green as I greet you as blood.
Birus sempervirens Ehtorian,
High king of Ehtorian,
Keeper of the royal seat.
The letter was crumpled and showed wear and tear on the edges. To many times he had read the letter, seconds later violently stuffing it back into his pockets. Four weeks since that blasted letter, four weeks since the command to return home came here. It wasn’t that he hated his brother, nor did he really like him, it as what he wrote in the letter. He knew his older brother was heir and would rule the kingdom one day, yet he had secretly hoped all these years that his sister would have drowned. He shook his head once more before he stuffed the letter back into his pocket once more.
He sighed as he peered out of the window, seeing the lush green lands, the farmers working their plows and herding their animals. A peaceful soul could sit and watch this picture for decades, finding peace and comfort. Lance himself thought it was too quiet, seeing as he was raised in the southern waist. There was always something going on, sandstorms that would simply sear the flesh of your bones, strange creatures that carried poisons, the southern barbarians that never seemed to run out of men to throw at you, and the salt… always was there the salt. He let his hand run over his now smooth jaw, finding it strange that the hair that had once marked him as a man was now gone. His long grey, almost silvery hair, was now cut short. He slid his eyelids over his bright grey eyes, finding the notion of ‘looking good’ as childish.
When he had received word of his brother he had packed his things and simply walked towards his former home. For over three weeks he had travelled alone, making great time and distance, when he was spotted by the royal army. So mere hours later he was almost forced into a luxurious carriage filled with grooms and physicians. His 6 feet tall frame was already aching to get out, yet he knew he would only disappoint his brother. He liked that quality of himself, to always try and do the right thing. He considered himself a good man, for all that was worth. So when the carriage stopped and horns started blowing, he forced open the carriage door and stepped out. The man was tall and muscular, yet in a slender way, like a snake curled up to strike. His skin had a deep tan, something that was strange in the green lands. He was garbed in a fine cut, expensive dark silk, the sleeves adorned with silver. He kept his jaw locked in place as he made his way towards the royal palace. To the side men with trumpets, horns and drums stood at attention, seconds away from joyfully bursting into song at the return of a High blood. Lance simply strode past them with his long legs as his gaze shifted from left to right, daring anyone the make a sound. He’d rather face a drunken stupor than hear this lot playing.
The king, Birus Sempervirens Ehtorian, smiled as he felt the warm hands of his wife, her slender digits caressing his neck and shoulders. She softly purred the name ‘king’ in his ear as she nibbled on his earlobe. Gods, the woman was a tease, yet so pure at the same time. His Isabella was, and would always be, the greatest gift life had ever granted him. She was the second princess of a foreign eastern land and had been his betroth ever since they were born. While hesitant when meeting each other at first, their love had been one out of legends. The king of the green lands now had a wife to match it, her smile was as if heaven and earth had suddenly mixed. Both the king and queen were thought of as the most kind and beautiful couple in the world.
Birus patted her hands gently as he heard a knock on the door. He stood up as he inhaled deeply. Thoughts and memories came back from his childhood. He remembered his younger brother Lancerious Sempervirens Ehtorian. Gods, that boy had an adventures mind, constantly trying to wrestle his older brother down and learning new things from him. While his younger sister… Even at a young age he could feel her beauty and grace pulsing within her. In his childhood he did not have many encounters with his siblings, seeing as he was constantly prepped for rule, yet, the memories that he had were treasured immensely. His only negative encounter with his father was when he begged him to return his siblings, not understanding why the king had ordered their banishment. His father never told him, taking the secret back to his grave.
He rushed towards the doors, moving past his servants to open the large doors himself. Quickly two knights helped the king as the heavy doors began sliding open, revealing a lengthy flight of stairs downwards. From above the stairs Birus could see the twin carriages and the lines of servants surrounding it. From below came his siblings, his blood, his kin. A smile spread across his face as he felt his wife squeeze his fingers hard, painfully so. The look on her face was that of someone split between awe and terror. He returned his gaze back to stairs and noticed why his wife was acting like that.
The salt twins had finally come… both twins from the lands of the sun.
Shock and fear filled the air... Seeing as what had crossed the stair
They walked as men, yet looked like hunter… Two animals with a feral hunger.
The lioness of the sea, one armed with grace… Death walking, wrapped in lace.
The lion of the sands, a hulking beast… Teeth and claws for a scarlet feast.
Yet for all their death and piercing eyes, their beauty was the grand surprise.
Such was the description of the beginning, when the salt lions climbed the stairs of green.
Taken from the scripture of Estial Tre’stor.
First servant of the High king of Ehtorias.
Wielder of the sanguine quill
Thirteenth age, twelfth year.
Birus was torn between dropping his mouth wide open, while at the same time going for his sword. Separately they were…. Perfect. The female was gracefully stepping up the stairs, long slender legs driving her up the flight of stairs, accompanied with a tanned male. It seemed like she was simply gliding upwards, as if gravity was making an exception for her. Her face was almost too perfect. The sun caressed and tanned skin and perfect grey orbs made his wife seem dull in comparison. It seemed like a sculptor had spent his life perfecting her, before finally gifting it life.
His younger brother was like a hero from legend, tall and dark. The expensive silk was tight across his frame and the way he moved his legs spoke of agility and an almost cat like spring. A few knights fingered their swords simply by watching him walk, doubting they were fast enough to stop him. He had the same bronzed skin, a gift from the sun gods. The man simply looked like he could jump in a book to turn the tide.
Yet for all their beauty, their eyes were horrifying. Hunger.. that was the only word to describe it. A hunger was in their eyes, like lions starved for flesh. Those two sets of eyes had seen too much, done too much, to be hidden by their looks alone.
For a split second Birus thought he understood why his father had banished them. He shook his head softly, shaking the thought from his mind. He spread his arms to the side as he rushed towards them, taking them both in their arms. When the kin embraced them, hundreds of civilians and soldiers roared out in joy, seemingly forgetting the fear that had taken hold of their hearts moments earlier. They trusted their king, respected and loved him. The king had embraced his kin with love unmatched, even by the gods.
“My dear brother and sister.” He whispered softly as he let go of the embrace, stepping back slowly to gaze at them again. “We have much to say and hear.” With that he lead them towards the dining hall.
One day later.
Lance felt out of place, eyes scanning the environment he was in. He had been embraced as if there had been no banishment, that their exile was simply a long adventure. The king’s wife was constantly pleasant, even flirty at one point, telling both the prince and the princess that they were simply dazzling.
So here he was, a day later, in a grand room that seemed to have been carved out of one solid block of marble. The bath was luxurious, the bed extravagant and the clothing numerous. Each and every item was strange, unwanted and sickening. He had pulled off the linens and laid them at the floor in a corner. He preferred the hard floor over those fluffy death-traps. He had not yet spoken with his twin, a reassuring fact in his mind. He had heard plenty of tales about her, the ‘sea witch or lioness’ some called her. Apparently she had made quite a name for herself.
Even after all these years, Lance felt the urge to kick her teeth in, repeatedly. That… thing.. was the reason his mother died, why he was exiled and why he could never feel at peace. He sighed as he forced the ogre from his mind, clearing his thoughts and moving towards the door. The minute he opened his door and stepped outside he noticed another door opening in the hallway, directly in front of him. Although he kept his face expressionless, rage and hatred came bubbling up to the surface. Great, fucking great! Just what he needed to see so early in the morning, his sister!