Where the Sun Rises
rating: +12+x

The crown was woven grass, weaved into a band of sorts, and from it stuck three points of long thin leaves. The priest who held it hopped on his stem to the leaf in the stone throne. Using his many green needles the priest lowered the crown onto the lobeless, thinly toothed, leaf.

“Here, under the Light of the Sun, I, Priest Gold, decree King Spear the Ruler of the Kingdom Under the Sun.”

The sunlight shined approvingly on the crowd of nobles and citizens that had filled the roofless throne room. Each hopped on their stems in celebration. The leaf in the stone chair stood.

“To the east sits the Kingdom of the River, beyond it the sinful Kingdom of Fire, and all around us, the Kingdom of the Hill. Their Kings sit on their land and do nothing but attack each other, us most of all. My predecessor was generous, and his generosity won us raids from the hills to the west, sparks from the raging fire to the east, I will not be generous. Where he reached out with our water, our citizens, our riches, I will reach out with spears, bows, and arrows. I promise you now, by the time I am in the afterlife, basking in the sun and reunited with the Great Tree, WE WILL BE ONE!”

The crowd hopped and cheered again. King Spear bowed and left, walking into the enclosed depths of the palace.

“Your predecessor was a coward,” Priest Gold said. “But I fear you will be too brave.”

“I chose the name Spear for a reason,” The King responded.

“You do choose your words wisely, was that speech instinctual or prepared?”

“Prepared, and I will do the same with my conquest, prepare.”

“As I would strongly advise, even Kings must at times bow to the eternal pines.”

“Our trees survive the winter too.”

“I have survived almost forty winters, and you are the fourth King I have advised, but if I must serve as well as I will, how do you mean to prepare?”

They hopped in silence for several minutes as Spear thought it out.

“You will send messages to the greater Mother Trees and the lesser ones, all over the Kingdom, fight capable citizens, as many as they can spare. Send those from the Royal Mother Tree to act as leaders to the fighting groups, in a winter’s time we will gather the army and march first on the Kingdom of the River.”

One of the many buds Priest Gold had taught had become a King, and regardless of whether he succeeded or failed, the Priest told himself, he had taught him as well as he could.

“The Kingdom of the River has never raided us in recent times, they trade with us and live peacefully, compared to the Kingdoms of Hill and Flame, they are nothing.”

“My army will need experience, and whoever holds the river controls the river, I hope to take it with as little death as possible, but they will be ours, they all will.”

“Does 'The First' ring any bells?.”

“The First are gone.”


“We will not become them.”

The King and the Priest arrived on the roof. At the highest building in the City Under the Sun, they looked around. The valley opened wide, a sea of forest stretched in all directions, those belonged to King Spear. The horizon was lined with mountains all around, Those belonged to the King of the Hill. To the east smoke columns rose, those belonged to the Fire King. Between them sat the river, the large stretch of land that cut through the Valley, it belonged to the King of the River.

As ordered, messages were sent to the trees. Those that they could spare were gathered and trained under a Royal Leader. As the winter came and went, they trained. With spears and bows, young green leaves became fighting machines. Finally a warm summer day arrived, and King Spear was ready. He called the Fighting Leaders to the City Under the Sun, where they were greeted as they hopped through the streets, assembling Spear’s grand army.

The King watched from the roof of the palace, he had impressed himself with the mass he had assembled, he knew he was now the dominant King in the Valley, but he needed to show it, and he would. He looked at his newly made spear, carved from hardwood and tipped with steel scavenged from the ruins of the first. My symbol has two spears, I should have had another made, he thought, but it was too late for that now.

“My King?” Priest Pine approached from behind, “We are ready for departure, I take it you will leave me in charge here?”

“I will,” The thought made him nervous. He would be leading this great army alone, without the advice of his wise Priest. I am King Spear of the Kingdom Under the Sun, and I have an army.

He walked down the steps of the throne room, it would be a long time before he saw it again. In front of him his saddled moose waited. Grabbing the straps and stepping up, he put his stem in the hole on the saddle and trotted to the front of the column. Many of his commanders wore armor of rough bark, some carved with the sun or other symbols. Spear wore a more finely carved piece, decorated with two crossed spears, his symbol, and above them the sun that shined on them all, inside of which was the diamond of Kingship. Spear took his place at the front of the column, and took the first steps toward the Kingdom of the River.

As they marched down the street, out of the city, citizens came to watch in awe. Nobles from their large mansions, crafters in their tiny huts, rain catchers and city guards. They look at me as if they’ll never see their King again. Soon, the city receded behind them and the forest opened up.

For two days the army marched, crossing many Mother Trees, each decorated with their own symbols, some even having new recruits ready to fight. They went through the great bog and past the houses of hermits. Spear stopped once to pay respects to the stump that had once been the Royal Mother Tree. It had been cut down decades before by the King of the Hill, yet thankfully a seed was saved, and now the new one grows just to the west of the city, the one where Spear himself had been grown. He bowed before the old stump, and saw the rotted diamond half cut off, the symbol of royalty. As they continued drops began to fall. The sun has blessed us with the water of the afterlife, victory will be ours. The King looked up, to the great sea above, up there was an island, and on that island grew the Great Tree, that all descended from and all would return too. Many more would be there when his war was over, he knew.

The sound of brushing branches came from the forest, from the opposite side of his army. Spear turned and saw. A deer came from the forest, upon it a leaf, the same shape as Spear but far smaller and darker.

“Who goes there?” One of his commanders said.

“I am a messenger, sent by the King of the River, for the King under the Sun.”

The messenger approached and the guards let him pass.

“What is this message?” The King asked.

“The King of the River has heard of your army…” And the messenger saw it, gathered around him. He became intimidated as he forced the words out, “…he asks you to turn it back, to attack another foe, in exchange he will give you a large tribute.”

“And what tribute would that be?”

The messenger pulled a bag off the side of the deer, and dumped it’s contents. Shells of clams and nuggets of metal, all valued highly in the Kingdom Under the Sun.

“This is a small sample. The King has the fur of a trapped otter and an artifact of the First, along with much more of what I have shown you.”

King Spear considered the offer. The otter fur could adorn his armor, and an artifact of the first could be a show of supremacy. Then he looked to those he had brought. Taken and trained for a winter for this moment. He could turn back with his riches or give them the fight he promised.

“Tell the King of the River I will take them myself.”

“In this case the King would like to inform you that he has massed his own army and fortified his borders. We have been preparing for a long time Sun-King.”

The sound of mutters came from the army grouped around the two.

“Cut his head off and send it back to him!” One of the commanders said.

“Mutilate him! Show the River King what we intend!” Said another.

Is this my army? Spear thought, all they want is to hurt, but that is for later.

“We will do no such thing, he is simply the messenger, it’s his King I intent to mutilate, tell him that when you get back to him.”

“Words are weak!” a soldier said “A head sends the message better!”

This is my army… this is MY army, “Whoever ends his life will have theirs end-” He hardly got the words through before the messenger turned and trotted. An arrow whizzed by, missing the messenger but hitting the deer beneath him. A yell of pain was heard from the animal as it darted into the forest.

“Who did that!” Spear said with anger. Remain calm and you can handle anything, he remembered Priest Gold telling him once. “Who did that?” The King said again with no tone.

A group of soldiers looked inward, to a single scared marksman. “Bring him to me,” The King said. They brought him.

“I apologize my King… I only wanted to scare him…”

Remain calm, Priest Gold had said, and funnel your anger into every thrust of your spear.

“All of you, stay here, you three, come with me.”

They took him out of sight of the rest of the army, and the two soldiers held him against the soft ground.

“I only wanted to scare him… please?” The King aimed his spear at the marksman’s upper body, right at his stem, and thrust. “Take his body back to his home, they will do what they will with it,” and it was done.

They spent another day marching north, to where the river flowed into the valley from the mountains. A group of mudbrick homes had been erected, and held by a weak garrison which surrendered immediately. Our first captives, Spear thought.

For another couple days they stayed, interrogating the villagers as to where other garrisons were. The King executed another two soldiers who had killed one of their captives. It rained until the river swelled enough to start destroying the homes. At that point the King took a rough three-fourths of his soldiers and continued south, leaving the other fourth to attempt to cross the river and begin taking towns on the other side, along with a small group to keep control of the village.

They took several more on the way south, replacing the river garrisons with their own. The rain was now a light drizzle, yet the river still swelled high as ever. Then Spear noticed it, two logs tied together with woven bark made their way down the river, along with several more. Following that a corpse, drifting steadily through the water. The river crossers had hit a snag, it looked like, but that was only one raft. Spear could only hope the rest made it across.

It was a month before they saw plumes of smoke rising on the other side of the river. The detachment had finally caught up. From there they continued south, taking villages and land where they could.

Finally they arrived at City of the River. Situated on an island surrounded on all sides by stream, every foot covered in buildings of wood and mud. In the center was the River Kingdom’s Royal Mother tree, where all the River Kings had come from. Attached to its branches Spear saw budlings and growing leaves, all moving and talking. Spear remembered his time in the Sun Kingdom’s Royal Mother Tree. Stuck firmly to his branch until he was ready to detach, all he wanted was to see the world. Now I’m here, he thought.

The bridges had been destroyed, likely as an attempt to stop him, so the King ordered his army to wait. One day later a messenger rode out.

“The King would like to speak with you, inside his palace.”

“So he can kill me? I would rather not.”

“We have water to drink from and the sun to feed us, waiting each other out would be a stalemate, the King says if you wish to attack, do so.”

The messenger turned and rode away, nobody stopped him, the King had made sure of that.

“He wants a fight, let’s give it to him!” One of the commanders said.

“He is baiting us,” Spear said back, “He has the strategic position, he will shoot us down as we storm the river.”

“Then what would you have us do?”

“We will march further south, until we have taken everything except the city, they will have rebuilt the bridges by the time we get back.”

And they did. For three more months they fought south until the river was under their control. All but the one island that stood in their way. They grouped around it, ready to strike, then the gate opened. Out rode the King of the River upon his deer, across the hastily repaired bridge. Spear ordered his army to stand down, and went to meet him, and recognized him.


“I wanted to get a good look at you, before you came to conquer my Kingdom.”

Instead of the crown the King wrapped his head in the leaves that grow in the water, and armor made of shells. He dismounted his deer and unwrapped the sealeaf, laying it at Spear’s stem.

“I will not let my Kingdom be stolen, so I will give it to you.”

They stood silently for several minutes, Spear in shock, the River King in a proud defeat.

“Very well,” The King Under the Sun said, “Bow to the me.”

The King of the River bowed.

“You will follow the laws of the Kingdom Under the Sun. You will pay your taxes to the Kingdom Under the Sun. You will provide soldiers to the Kingdom Under the Sun when ordered. And you will answer to the Kingdom Under the Sun. All I order now is that you govern this territory in my name.”

The Branch of the River rose.

Spear knew his actions had changed the valley. An entire Kingdom was now part of another. The remaining Fire and Hill Kingdoms had begun raising their own armies. Yet under Priest Gold’s advice the King Under the Sun spent the winter helping the River Territory rebuild. “We will win their favor, and have the army of two Kingdoms behind us,” and the Priest was right. Troops were raised with little resistance from the territory, some were called to guard the villages and mother trees that now demanded protection of the new fighting force. The rest were grouped near the border of the Fire Kingdom.

“They have been lighting fires across the border…” They sat in the throne room, listening to the commander’s report.

“…I feel they are mocking us, the soldiers desire for war grows each day, they have waited and want to take the Kingdom.”

Spear gave a quick look to the Priest, who gave a slight nod.

“Then it is done,” the King said, “I will prepare for the invasion and leave for the border with you.”

Spear was in his quarters two days later. He donned his new armor of metal, scavenged from the ruins of the Wall Art of the First. He looked out his window to the escort waiting and the crowd gathering to see, and picked up his spear as the Priest came in.

“Departing so soon?” He said.

“It is time to tame the Fire and make it ours.”

“Yes, it is… you know the tales…”

“They were more than tales.”

“The fire burned bright that day.”

“It was not the fire that killed them, they angered the sun… I trust my absence will be like my last conquest.”

“I will oversee your Kingly duties.”

“Am I a true King then? To leave my Kingdom to a priest?”

“Your place is on the battlefield, you will be known as the unifier until the end of our days.”

The King began to say something, if not for the commotion outside. When they went to look a crowd had gathered around something they couldn’t see.

“Move aside for your King!” The King said, the crowd obeyed.

The Fire Kingdom messenger was only half the height of the King. Yet his green flesh was thicker and stiffer, his body was lined with four giant spikes going four different directions, another topping off his head.

“Greetings King Under the Sun, I have brought a message from the King of Fire.”

“Then speak it,” Spear regretted it as soon as he said it. I should have taken him into the palace in private, the Priest is disappointed.

The messenger only bowed, hopping to the small wagon carried behind his deer. He dragged off something heavy and propped it up, wrapped in a bag of leather. He undid the ropes and let the leather fall. A block of stone stood before them, obviously chiseled out of a greater structure, on it the dark shadow of a First, eternally cowering in fear.

“When you anger the sun the sun sends fire. It burns bright and so will you,” The messenger said, mounting his deer and trotting off.

“The sun burns brightest of all, brighter than any flame.”

The messenger stopped and turned around, “The King of Fire invaded your territory this morning, the sun burned bright.”

“Good to know,” The King said, and gave the order to shoot.

The two year crusade was reaching its climax by the time the two Kings met on the battlefield. Most of the Fire Kingdom was now under the sun, and King Spear marched his army over the dry, windy, hills. They were late into autumn, which meant the budlings were detaching from the trees and rebuilding the portions of the army they had lost. Winter will be here soon, Spear thought, I hope this will be over by then.

They saw smoke rising from the red forest ahead, everyone knew what they were burning. “May the Great Tree accept them,” One commander said. “It won’t take them, they’re just ashes now,” Said another.

Smaller smoke towers came towards them through the forest. Out of the trees emerged the Fire Soldiers, each holding a flaming torch, and most painted in symbols of crushed black fire rock. Finally from the center came the King of Fire, the same spiked species as the rest, he wore no crown, the top of his head was black and crispy, and it looked straight at King Spear. He had no mount either, he would be hopping with the rest.

Both Kings gave the order to charge. The Army of Fire hopped chaotically forward, while the combined Army Under the Sun and River spread out, taking them from three sides. Once they had engaged, King Spear came forward atop his elk.

The King of Fire only stood, watching plant and animal come forward as the battle picked up around him. King Spear watched as he drew closer, he looked at the flaming torch in the Fire King’s hand, and realized too late. The elk let out a scream and turned sharply away. The King Under the Sun fell. Disoriented, he picked up his spear and raised himself. The battle was raging well now, and smoke was rising, further hampering the King’s vision. Finally he turned to the King of Fire, his senses sprang back when he saw him throw the torch. If King Spear had a heart it would have stopped, and the flame came forward.

A shape flew in front of the flaming stick, and in another instant both were gone. On pure instinct the King threw his spear back and watched it strike the King of Fire in his stem, a mortal wound.

The next few minutes were a blur. The first thing he noticed was the lack of smoke clouds, those were retreating back to the trees. Next he noticed his crown, it blended with the grass but he still spotted it, having likely fallen off with him off the elk, which he noticed further back nursing an arrow wound.

By now the battle had been taken to the forest, the hillside was strewn with corpses, some cut, some burned. The King plucked his spear out of the one he had made. The King of Fire lay dead.

Spear heard groaning to his right, small bits of smoke emerged from the Commander who saved his life. The King hadn’t bothered to know him before, and he wouldn’t remember what he looked like now. The burns extended across the Commander's left, from the middle up.

“What is your name?” The King asked.

“I… have none… my King… I was a small commander,” The Commander said.

“Are you from the Royal Mother Tree?”

The commander gave a groan of pain but nodded.

“You saved my life, and allowed me to defeat my enemy, I cannot thank you enough, except with a name, would you like to be known as Shield?”

“I would… my King,” Commander Shield said.

“Rise, Commander Shield, use my spear to keep up and I will help you to the camp.”

The King hopped back to his elk, next to him Shield hopped, propped up with the King’s spear. Both mounted the animal as soldiers reemerged from the forest with prisoners. The King considered a speech, but the Commander behind him was growing weak. He turned the elk back to camp.

The sun descended and the screams from the medical tent as the priests cut Shield’s dead flesh away could be heard, among the screams of others. The King had instructed them to notify him when he could be seen, and that was the news he thought he received when a messenger came.

“Is the Commander in fit shape to be seen?” Spear asked.

“My King? I come from the City Under the Sun… the Priest is dead.”

The Army was a valley away, destroying the last Fire Holdouts. King Spear was in the capital, watching as they buried his mentor.

They cut the needles off of the stem, as was pine tradition, and wrapped it in adhesive cloth, placing them together in a small stone box. This will be me someday, Spear thought, this is the burial of a King. But he had already buried a King, the King of Fire was in the soil to be eaten. And made into something better, Spear told himself. He had no place in the afterlife, and it would have been no better to burn him.

They put the lid on the coffin, the inside had the symbols of the four elements: water, air, flame, and stone, and in the middle the shining sun, all would sustain his body so he could live his days in the afterlife. They picked up the coffin of Priest Gold and carried it into the hole carved into the hillside.

Hours later Spear sat in his quarters. I am without my Priest, the one who ran my Kingdom while I was away basking in glory. The door opened and Commander Shield stepped in.

“My King-”

“Do not call me King, not now.”

The Commander paused an instant and continued, “They told me he made this before his death, it was for you.”

The King took what the Commander was holding, a small stone tablet. Carved on it was a tree. The trunk was the royal symbol, a diamond, and inside it the two crossed spears that were his symbol. Four branches emerged, one went straight up and ended in the sun, the Kingdom Under the Sun. The other three led to the water, flame, and hill, the Four Kingdoms. Under the tree, roots branched off, and in the middle of the roots was the symbol of Priest Gold.

Spear looked up, Commander Shield had gone, and the day was ending. The next morning he woke up and called a messenger. “I want all nobles in the city in the throne room, I have an announcement, tell Commander Shield to come as well.”

The morning sun shined through a hole in the wall down where the King took his royal seat. Commander Shield stood next to him, still scarred from what they were now calling The Battle of Cuts and Burns. It was only when the throne room was full that the King began speaking.

“We are all of different provinces, Sun, River, Fire, and eventually Hill. You have all lived Under the Sun as I have, I have ruled Under the Sun, I wield the Army Under the sun, the sun shines on all. But now that changes, I told you when I began my reign that we would all be one by the end, now we will be. I proclaim the Province Under the Sun, The Province of the River, and the Province of Fire, and the Province of the Hill. All will be under the name of the Plant Kingdom!”

Mutters came from the crowd. Some were unhappy, but most were surprised.

“A new Kingdom will mean a new position, Priest Gold kept my Kingdom up while I expanded it, like a root to a tree. Commander Shield?”

“Yes, My King?”

“From this day on you will be known as Root Shield, you will be in charge of affairs while I am expanding the Kingdom, and you will answer only to me. You need not swear loyalty, you have done more than that, do you accept?”

Commander Shield only stood, all eyes on him and his burned body, “I do,” the Root said.

Autumn ended and with it came winter, then spring, then summer, then autumn again. And by that time the last holdouts had been destroyed, and the Kingdom of Fire was now the Province of Fire.

King Spear sat on his throne, the sun was hidden behind a layer of grey clouds. The sun is covered and there is no rain, this is a bad omen. Beside him Root Shield sat on his own wooden chair, and in front of him the one he had selected from the Royal Fire tree.

“Bow to me,” The King said.

The King of Fire bowed.

“You took over after the death of your King, you have fought me, and now you bow to me, from this day forward the Kingdom of Fire is now the Province of Fire, and will answer only to the King or the Root.”

“Yes, my King.”

“You will follow the laws of the Plant Kingdom. You will pay your taxes to the Plant Kingdom. You will provide soldiers to the Plant Kingdom when ordered. I order that your rise as Branch of the Province of Fire, and govern the province in my name.”

“I will, my King,” The Branch of Fire rose.

“Then go back to your province and do so.”

The Branch of Fire hopped down the steps away from the throne room. King Spear leaned back, happy that the Fire Kingdom was now his. He turned to Root Shield.

“How long until we might be ready to fight the Kingdom of the Hill?” The King asked quietly.

“Two winters would be good enough time to prepare.”

“Then we shall, we will discuss the details after this last…”

The last to be seen was obviously from the Kingdom of the Hill. The long thin stem took up over a third of his height, the rest was his body, pinkish in color, the edges toothless and smooth, all ending in a point, copies of his body jutted out where his body met his stem. The only ones of us with arms, Spear thought.

“King Spear of the Plant Kingdom, I bring a message from the King of the Hill.”

This cannot be good, the King thought, “Then come inside with us, we will discuss this over water.” He would not make the same mistake as last time.

“I thank you but I will proclaim it here. The Kingdom of the Hill has declared war, he has sent raiding parties all around your Kingdom, and he wishes to state that he will never bow to you as long as he lives.”

“His wish will be granted,” Root Shield said.

“It will,” the King added, “Go back to your King and tell him he will die with a spear through his stem. But before you do, bard, sing the song you wrote of my battles.”

The bard set his string instrument on the ground, and began plucking at the strings with the bottom of his stem.

"You are not the sun."
"The King of the River said."
"The sun shines bright, your spear does not."
"Nor does this army you massed at my gates."
"The King Under the Sun you call yourself."
"You could not light dried thatch."
"And the King Under the Sun he glowed."
"The sun shined on the villages."
"The sun shined on the river."
"The sun shined on the sealeaf crown."
"And the King of the River Said."
"You are the sun."
"The sun shines bright and your spear shines like a star."
"And this army at my gates shines brightest of all."
"The King Under the Sun you call yourself."
"The King of the Sun I call you."

Several ambassadors from the River Province shifted uncomfortably.

"You are not the sun."
"The King of Flames said."
"The sun is fire, the sun is me."
"And he threw his fire at the King of the Sun."
"The Shield he jumped and blocked the blaze."
"And the King of Flames was snuffed."

The crispy edges of Shield’s face kept still as the sound permeated.

"We are the sun."
"The King Under the Sun."
"We are the fire."
"The King of Fire."
"We are the river."
"The King of the River."
"We are the Plant Kingdom."
"The King of the Plant Kingdom."

With that the bard finished and bowed, the others in the room hopped several times to show their applause. The Messenger from the hill turned back to the King.

“Would you like me to send him the song as well?” The messenger asked.

“Should you remember it,” The King said, half the audience chuckled.

The Messenger turned and left.

The war with the Kingdom of the Hill lasted five winters, and the Plant Kingdom suffered many defeats. The soldiers of the Hill knew the mountains that they inhabited, the soldiers of the Plant Kingdom did not. The soldiers of the Hill had arms, the soldiers of the Plant Kingdom did not. Yet the Plant Kingdom had numbers, slowly and with difficulty they took the mountains from the Kingdom of the Hill, until only one stronghold remained.

King Spear’s life had been continuous fighting for months, his elk was gone and he hopped on his stem with the rest of his soldiers. I wished for this final battle to be glorious, now I only want it over.

They entered a narrow space between two mountains. We’re at the edge of the valley, what lies beyond belongs to the first, if they are still there. The ground was covered in a black stone, old and cracked, on some of it faded white and yellow shapes remained. It stretched like a path out of the valley and lining it’s edges were rusted fences of metal, most of which had obviously been taken for reuse.

Suddenly a booming crumble filled the air, swaths of large rocks rolled down the mountains to block their path. The King and his army turned around, at the other end the King of the Hill stood in front of his army.

The King of the Hill wore no crown, in one of his arms was the traditional Hill Kingdom mace. A large metal piece, one end like a pole and one end flat, the flat end wielding four deadly spikes.

“King Spear of the Plant Kingdom!” The King’s voice was rough, but confident, and uncaring, “Only one of us will leave alive, with one Kingdom or two left.”

King Spear pushed himself back to the front of his army. Shield was better at these situations. But Root Shield was back at the City Under the Sun. Now it was only the Kings of Plant and Hill.

“I agree, this will be our final battle, may the stone give strength to you,” The King of the Plant Kingdom said.

“May the sun give strength to you,” The King of the Hill said, and charged.

King Spear charged back, hopping towards his enemy as he did the same. They were only a few feet apart and Spear only saw a flash. The mace tore into his body.

The Plant King regained himself, but the Hill King was fast with his mace. It hit him again, leaving four holes where it was. The Plant King attempted to block the next attack. The mace caught his spear and pulled it away, knocking it to the ground. King Spear stumbled backward as the mace hit his face, and ripped more at him. Finally the mace hit the bottom of his stem and Spear fell to the ground.

“It seems the sun has abandoned you,” The Hill King said as he raised his mace once again.

King Spear hardly made out the words, the pain will be over soon. Then he noticed his weapon next to him. On instinct alone the King of the Plant Kingdom grabbed and thrust. The mace fell to the ground, and a second later the King of the Hill.

Spear could hear muffled noises around him. “They’re running!” Someone said. “The King is dead!” said another. “Get him!” was the last thing the King heard before losing consciousness.

When he woke again he saw the clear sky above him and the sun shining down. Am I in the afterlife? he asked himself. The stretcher hit a bump, the pain from his wounds sent him into darkness again.

“…infection,” Was the next thing he heard, with an animal skin tent above him.

Finally he woke to the plaster roof of his quarters, light shined through a window down onto his face. Next to him Root Shield sat, looking down at him. The King could feel the strength leaving his body.

Are we one?” He asked.

“We are,” His Root responded.

We are one, King Spear thought as he died.

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