Chapter 18: A Search for Answers

Chapter 18: A Search for Answers

“The acorn seeks a second tree, when it would thrive as one. Unwilling to let secrets be… You are your father’s son.”

The words of the old mage haunted Kaleb. He hadn’t known his mother; his father Caiphus never spoke of her, not even before the arrival of Eilyn and her Clans. The marriage treaty that had saved Argenport also included a provision that only a lawful heir of Caiphus and his new queen could inherit the Eternal Throne. So, after the birth of his half-sister, Kaleb found himself a prince without a crown.

He was proud and headstrong by nature, but the young man made what peace he could with his unique role within the Spire. He may never claim the throne, but Kaleb was beloved by many who still resented Eilyn as a conqueror. Should there come a time, they whispered, to throw down the Wild Queen and her half-blood daughter, we stand with you…

Kaleb had never cared for court intrigues and the politics of those who clung to the Throne. For him, the influence of Caiphus and his family was wide enough for adventures far from home.

But then Caiphus was dead, and chaos ruled. Vara fled from her responsibilities like a petulant child. Rolant barred Eilyn from establishing herself as Regent, and a rebel army came and kicked in the door. Argenport suffered under his uncle’s efforts to maintain order, and it galled Kaleb to see his family’s great legacy fall to ruin. So the young man set out to find his mother, hoping that her identity would help him claim his father’s throne.

He journeyed far to the north, chasing rumors on chill winds until he arrived at last upon the shores of a glacial lake mentioned in one of Caiphus’ many journals. A breeding ground was to be found in the depths below.

The locals held the lake as holy, revered as much for its steaming waters as the dragons who hatched there. But new-found patience led Kaleb to listen, instead of act – and the elders remembered the truth: a tower still stood beneath the surface, warming the waters, though untold years had passed since the one who’d built it had been seen in these parts.

Kaleb dove deep, drawn by the beacon below. The waters grew warm as he swam towards the glow, a broken tower emerging from the shadows of the depths.

The air within the tower was stale with the dusty taste of aging magic. There, among the trappings of numerous abandoned arcane experiments, Kaleb found rows of crystal receptacles filled with a violet ichor. Inside each container floated a mis-formed corpse bearing a horrifying resemblance to his father.

You are your father’s son.

Blinded by madness and confusion – he shattered the caskets, one by one, putting an end to whatever foul works his father had wrought here. Finally, in a sealed chamber, he found two empty caskets intact…and a man – nearly Kaleb’s own mirror image – sealed away in the isolation of his rage, trapped beneath the waters.

There was little to say. They argued in steel and in bullets and in blood: two children of a vanished creator. One, rejected at birth, fueled by spite. The other, held as close as a trueborn son, rejected by political necessity.

The two battled until one remained. Heaving, lungs fit to burst, he reached for sunlight on the surface of the lake as the tower faded back into the depths below. Wounded and weary, he lay on the shore and blinked away the blinding glare of the sun.

“I am my father, and my father’s son. And the Throne that was his shall be mine.”