To the Humans and the Syhlains, it serves best.
To Krâl – it is death.
When Kalum had come to Akronia, he was alone.
Hence, it is not exactly known how Marzong came to the Realm. Some say he followed his uncle with Ric and Ducai and it was actually his presence that had given the two lords reason to venture into Khuzdoh. They had promised Marzong to get him to his fire breeding uncle and it was because of this favor –this uniting of nephew with uncle – that had saved the two meddling lords from the wrath of Krâl.
Well, till Ducai brought it upon himself of course.
However, some Buzurgs believe that Marzong either entered the Realm on his own later or was brought in by Kalum since the boy was Krâl’s very own protégé. The basis of this version is that no one could find a record of Marzong's presence in the Realm during those initial times when the humans from Earth had first discovered the alternate universe. And Buzurgs recorded everything. How could it be that this particular incident escaped them?
Anyhow, fact was that when the odd seasons changed in that new universe, two people couldn’t bear them. Ric and Marzong – they both fell ill, contracting cold of some nature that looked harmless but apparently ended up claiming their lives.
Ric died and was given a fitting decorated burial by his wife and peers.
Marzong, on the other hand, had an entirely different, less ordinary fate. He was branded by Kalum as his heir.
The Demon King couldn’t bear to lose his nephew but he couldn’t make the cold spare the lad either. Hence, he sent for Himar, the Sardan of the earliest clan of Buzurgs, and asked him how he could save the life of his only family member as he lay frail and pale, staring death in the face; spared but a few breaths to say goodbye to those he loved.
“Brand him,” Himar said plainly. “Make him your heir.”
“I can do that?” Confusion spread across Krâl’s face. “How?”
“Place your left palm over his chest and will him to be spared, to have what you have. He will rest till you cease to exist. And then.” Himar paused briefly. “But you can only brand one when there is some life left in the body. I hope Marzong isn’t dead, Krâl.”
“I’ll be damned if he is!” Krâl growled and rushed to his protégé’s bedside.
Marzong wasn’t dead, was almost alive. Kalum quickly performed the ritual, and even though he was the Demon King, he himself didn’t know what such a simple gesture as placing his palm over a dying man’s chest and wishing a certain wish would do.
It worked a miracle.
Marzong’s pulse steadied as color returned to his ashen face and suppleness to his leathery skin. He was breathing again as if asleep. And there was a small mark on his chest where Kalum's hand had been. A scar the size of a pea that looked like the claw of the Narzul, ready to attack…
That was the mark of the Demon. And it meant power.
Marzong slept in the depths of the Demon’s castle, centuries on end while the power of Volttus grew. New alliances were made while old ones either wilted or grew stronger.
Richesse saw the rise and fall of many monarchs and the web of internal politics weaved so thick and intricate around and within its own walls that for many a year, the Richesse had no time to take part in the Realm around them. They were quiet with introvert tendencies till Xavier Leon came to power.
Ducimus was a story, a legend, an epic in its own. Saon ruled with an iron hand. She was political, she was smart and socially savvy – sweet when it suited her and disruptive when it didn’t. The interesting fact is, the borders of Ducimus were closed to outside influence on purpose and for an equally good reason, others preferred to stay out as well. Hence, there are unconfirmed stories about Saon’s heiress. None
are sure whether she was the child Saon gave birth to or was adopted or created by the underground magical forces that continued to brew spells unknown and unnoticed by the rest of Realm. Some say Saon had given birth to a boy, named him Nivis and gave him in the keep of the Grand Wizard to be strong in those ways. Then, adopted a human baby from Enth, gave her a sip of the Elixir for immortality and trained her to take the throne because she wanted to see a woman rule Ducimus for then and eternity. Whatever the truth may be, Arela was a fitting monarch and she carried on tasks left unattended or incomplete by her ancestor with great passion.
In Enth, Sikam ruled blissfully and peacefully. His friendship with Kalum saw many years and shared extreme glory. But it was not eternal.
The water of the doomed Lake that Saon had so graciously gifted to Sikam was indeed elixir to every human and Syhlain who drank from it. The magical qualities of the potion that Sikam had poured into its depths at Saon’s request were meant to secure the unmatched powers of the Syhlains to the benefit of the drinker. It was soon found out that it also bestowed mortal beings, Syhlains or Humans alike, with immortality.
For a Demon, however, it did neither.
The history of friendship between Enth and Volttus is not long and less colorful. The tales of its enmity however are legendary and sparked by the fact that one fine day, while riding through the cherished woods that Sikam so loved, he and Krâl fell thirsty. Their canteens had run dry but there was nothing to upset their joyful trip –the land was strewn with water bodies and that magical lake that had brought such abundant gifts for the Enthonian was close.
Sikam led his friend and one of Krâl’s attendants to it.
“But wait!” Sikam stopped Kalum as he was about to dip a finger in the lake. “You must know that it was Saon who had sent me some crystals to treat the lake water, of course. It has done us much good but for you – I cannot say.”
“Nothing can hurt me.” Kalum smiled and then added, “Besides, I trust you my friend. If it is good for you, then it is good for me.”
“Krâl must consider the danger though – ” the loyal attendant tried to speak but Kalum shot him an angry look that nipped the doubts in the bud.
That was fateful.
No longer had Krâl dipped his hand in the tranquil water to scoop up a mouthful that his fingers, then hand, then the entire arm began to burn. The fire Demon was alight. Sikam didn’t understand. He quickly filled his canteen with more lake water and splashed over his friend to save him. But it set the flames more ablaze and fierce. Krâl Kalum shriveled to his death while his attendant and Sikam stood stunned by the horror of it all. As the fire died and ashes dispersed, the Volttian attendant took flight instantly.
The incident was duly reported to Marzong – the new Krâl of Volttus.
Hells were unleashed. Sikam was killed and his armies and people butchered but Syhlains are not easily put down for reasons already celebrated. Aloysius took the reins of his falling Enthonian kingdom and hauled it up with sheer strength of his muscle. Peace was restored. Treaties signed and borders sealed.
But trust and friendship were outlawed in the Realm forever.