Once, there was peace in the land.
Once, until Gyuuma, the great Demon king, rose up and tried to conquer the whole of Shangrilar for his own. A mighty battle was waged as the four other great races joined forces to defeat Gyuuma, and after he was slain his Jewel was taken from the Demon people, and they were exiled to the barren lands of the Westerns Wastes. His Jewel, which ruled Darkness, was given to the Elven king, Komon, who had it set next to his own Jewel of Light in the golden torc which he wore instead of a crown.
There was peace of a sort, in the millennium that followed their victory, although Elves and Dwarves continued to hold each other in passive contempt, and the Giant king, who had wanted the Jewel of Darkness for himself, swore in his jealousy that he would offer no hospitality to any Elf. The Humans were given little thought, as their lives were as short as the dew on summer flowers, compared to the long, long lives of the others.
The vanquished Demons were given even less thought than the Humans, and this benign neglect proved disastrous.
For in the Western Wastes, one of the Demon king's concubines had made herself Queen, and she vowed to take all of the Great Jewels for herself. One dark night she sent legions of her minions to attack the four rulers that possessed them.
Both the Giant king and the Dwarven king lost their lives that moonless night, their Jeweled staff and crown pulled out of their dying hands. King Komon was slain as well, but as he fought with his attackers the Jewel of Darkness was knocked out of its setting, and the Demons fled with only the Jewel of Light.
His son and heir, Prince Sandorin, vowed to retrieve the stolen Jewel, because without the Jewel of Light, the Elves could have no king.
~ . ~ . ~
"I don't need any help," Prince Sandorin insisted to his aunt, as he finished fastening his cloak over his armor, "especially from a Human."
Sandorin stood on the edge of the front terrace that led into the domes of the king's palace. The midmorning sun had not quite burnt off the fog that had settled into the valley, and the foliage-topped spires of limestone, dotted with the curving, fanciful domes of other residences, peeked above the fog like verdant islands in a sea of mist. The rope and wood bridges that spanned from pinnacle to pinnacle, still damp with mist, glistened in the sun like a spider's web.
Since the prince had been born in the time of the Second Peace, he had never needed to wear armor, so the artisans had scrambled to tend to his unexpected need. Now clad in the fruits of their labors, Sandorin admired their handiwork. The chest-plate was fashioned of hardened leather, dyed to a deep aubergine and overlaid with swirls of beaten gold wire. Beneath the armor he wore a tunic and pants made from cream-colored silk, its sleeves embellished with gold embroidery in the same design. The finest elven maille glistened from beneath the tunic sleeves, and while it was not as light as the legendary maille of the dwarves, its black metal would afford him some measure of stealth.
"My darling, you will need help." Sandorin's aunt, the Lady Kanzin, rose from one of the carved stone seats along the terrace wall and walked over to him, the jewels in her gown flashing in the sunlight. "You must pass through some treacherous lands to reach the Demon citadel, and, to our shame, the elders and I are unable to give you the guidance you will need to get there. We Elves have spent too many years living apart from the rest of Shangrilar, and we are now paying the price for our solitude. And, if you remember your studies, most of the greatest wizards in this world have been Human." She touched Sandorin's chest-plate, tracing the golden wirework with her fingertip. "Morlund outdid himself," she murmured, "I have never seen such exquisite work." Kanzin met his mutinous gaze. "What is more important, Sandorin, your pride or your kingdom?"
Sandorin glared at her. "My kingdom, of course," he snapped.
She lifted her chin. "Then I suggest you set aside your pride and accept whatever assistance will enable you to retrieve what will make you King. Word of the new Green wizard's skill has reached our ears here in the high reaches of Kinza'an; Hakkien may not have worn his green robes for long, but it seems he wears them well. He has communicated his willingness to meet with you, and you should take whatever assistance he can offer. Have you forgotten that your father succeeded in defeating the Demon king in large part because Todaine the White helped him? Let me remind you, Sandorin, that you have no kingdom without the Jewel of Light," she said, tapping a fingernail against the empty setting in the golden torc he wore at his neck.
Sandorin brushed her hand away. "I see the merit in your words, sister of my father. Very well, I will consult the wizard."
"I am pleased to see that my brother's son is not a fool," Kanzin replied sweetly. She gestured to a nearby servant, who approached with a long, wrapped bundle. She unwrapped the shimmering gray silk, and lifted a sword from its folds, its scabbard fashioned in intricately carved, moonlight gray leather.
Sandorin's attention snapped to the weapon in her hands. "My father's sword."
"Yes," she said. "It served him well a thousand years ago, when he vanquished Gyuuma." She placed it in his hands. "May it serve you well now."
Sandorin took it reverently from her hands. He drew the sword from the scabbard, finding a comfort of sorts in seeing the runes of his father's name, along with the names of the other kings in his family's line, etched along the flat of the blade.
"When you return with the Jewel," Kanzin said, "we will add the runes of your name to this sword, and you shall become our king."