The King picked up the bundle of sticks and tied it around his wrist. Turning around, he swallowed the vast vista of an empire that once belonged to him alone. The high towers of the empires of his three sons rose above him. A magnificent bridge of vine stretched between the terraces of the three towers. In the past, violet flowers bloomed ceaselessly over the length of the vines…spreading their fragrance all over the kingdom beneath. The townsfolk called them the Bridges of Myrrh.

The King, when apportioning the kingdom between his sons, was concerned about infighting between them. With the desire to keep an eye without being meddlesome, he had employed his best wizards to ‘grow’ the bridge, adding his own little secret to it. At the slightest discord between two brothers, the violets on the bridge between their towers would wither and wilt. Thus, the King would always be forewarned, and with wit and wisdom, he would unravel and settle the affair before it was too late.

Now, the three bridges wore a dry and brown shadow. The King had employed reason, authority, even force, but the dissent between the three brothers was unnaturally stubborn. Shocked at the sudden lack of understanding and common sense in his sons, he had investigated, and his worst fears had come true.

It was with this thought in mind that the King had ascended the Thousand Steps of Tribulation to see Ferow, the King of All Fliers.

With a shake of his head, the King started walking towards the Inner Halls.

The Temple was carved out of magnificent black stone. The roughness of the walls and ceiling together with the reflective floor added a distinct elegance to it. Cleverly positioned vents in the roof and walls maintained a steady breeze and pleasing brightness in the Halls. A heady scent of Sandalwood, the same as from the Eagle’s nest, permeated the Halls. The King felt at peace and even joyous, though he was painfully aware it was only the sandalwood playing games with his mind.

A mysteriously lit bend led to a winding flight of stairs. Forgetting his fatigue, the King ascended the stairs and was led into an enormous open gallery, at the tip of the mountain. Looking down, he could see numerous smaller galleries every few feet down.

Ferow stood large and brilliant  in the middle of the gallery, his golden feathers reflecting sunlight over the cliffs and precipices around them.

The King bowed low.

Ferow cocked his neck, almost haughtily, but nevertheless. returned the gesture.

“Greetings, The Great Golden, and accept my apologies for coming here so without prior consent.” The King volunteered.

“Is not the sandeltræ armbånd around your wrist enough proof of the consent you so worry about, O King? But come now, lets not waste time in needless greetings. You have not taken the Steps of Tribulation to come and exchange pleasantries with me! Though I claim to be quite aware of the cause of your disquiet, having been witness to the slow decay of your wondrous bridges, the broer af myrra, I would rather hear it from you, lest any misunderstanding cloud my reason.”

“You are wise, Golden One, for it is indeed what you fathom it is, though there is nothing of suspicion in the things you have keenly witnessed. My ever wise, honest and noble sons have lost all reason, and I know what has befallen them. As your keen eyes must have long observed, the Grey Legion has awakened beyond the seas, and they seek followers, armies of the dead, to lay siege upon the Emperor. It is with this intent that the Lord of the Grey Legion, Mustvari, has let loose his shadowy spies who fill the minds of sane humans with thoughts of unwarranted and unjustified malice towards his fellows. As the hatred turns into all out war, the followers of the Shadow, the Vari Järgijaid, watch gleefully from the sidelines as fathers kill sons, brothers behead brothers, till one side emerges victorious, only to be ambushed by the waiting Järgijaid, killing swiftly as the victors celebrate. Then the shamans, Vari šamaanid, are summoned, to resurrect the headless, limbless bodies and lead them to the Trenches of the Shadow Lord, to join the other dismembered soldiers of his ever growing army of decay.”

“Indeed, this is true Wise King, and it pains me to know that such fate awaits your sons. Is there nothing that can be done to save your sons and your kingdom?”

“I am old now, King of the Skies, and it is only because of my timely intervention that the Three Kingdoms have managed to survive for so long, even when there was no threat from the Shadow. My sons, though noble and wise, have blinding ambition and a craving for more land and glories of battle. Even if I manage to stave off the threat this time, I would be helpless the next time, knowing that days are few. Sooner than later, the Vari Järgijaid will return, and my beloved Kingdom will be a dominion of rotting bodies. I shall not let that come to pass. I come to you with a certain machination in mind, and I wish you to help me with it, knowing very well that on hearing it, you will be wont to throw me off this high abode of yours to die in a manner fit for a cruel and selfish man.”

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