When Twins War: Book IRyan Peter / Fantasy
When Twins War: Book I
By Ryan Peter
Copyright 2011, 2015 Ryan Peter
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A Brief Note From the Author
Thanks for reading When Twins War, now newly revised and edited (2015). I originally began work on When Twins War sometime during 2007 and released it as a full volume in 2011. I was a novice in fiction at the time and as such the book suffered from some (expected) problems. As I developed as a writer I knew I would need to come back to it some time and do the needed changes. This I did 2015 and the result is now the two-volume When Twins War: Book I and Book II.
When Twins War is the first series in a much larger fantasy series, which I’m planning to be five books overall. It’s a mix of Arabian Nights legends with traditional Western fantasy, and a bit of African folk thrown in as well. The idea of the Twin Cities was inspired by the 90's computer game which I loved as a kid, Quest for Glory 2. That's about where the similarities end, but I think the writers of that game - Lori Ann Cole and Corey Cole - deserve a hearty mention.
Special thanks to Jonno Warmington and Tim West who were the first to finish the book in its beta stages and provide valuable feedback.
I hope you enjoy When Twins War. Please leave a review wherever you buy your books online!
The names and places in When Twins War are Middle-Eastern and African, given the setting of the book. If you’re not sure on how to pronounce these, here’s how:
A sound, music as sweet as love,
Calls a new fire and man of truth,
Darkness will come
For its last rebellion;
And the called will stand on the shore,
When twins would war,
When twins war.
Soilabi, the sultan of Iza-Kiêrre, found himself staring, utterly bewildered, at a scimitar pointed at his throat. It glinted in the dusk desert sun, shining gold and silver, as if both the sun and time itself were shocked to see its appearance.
“We have been friends since we were but a child!” he said, looking at his attacker in the eyes. “Our cities have been in a peaceful covenant for generations! It is our calling! What are you doing?”
His friend, Ahmatein, seemed to be confused for a moment, but kept his scimitar pointed at him. Soilabi saw Ahmatein’s chancellor, the dark-skinned Sephobwe, emerge. In his hands he held a fiery torch. He nodded to Ahmatein and said, “It is time.”
Soilabi was shocked and defenseless. It was customary for the sultans to meet alone at the Meadow, without their guards, soldiers, servants, or even chancellors. These were to guard the outside of the Meadow - a wondrous and beautiful garden, magical in nature, deep within the desert of Colone, thriving and verdant even under the desert sun.
In the centre of this Meadow stood the Tree of the Covenant, which represented the deep and ancient promise of peace between the Twin Cities of Iza-Kiêrre and Ben-Kiêrre. The covenant itself had been etched into the tree, carved with an ancient hand, and would serve to bind the Twin Cities together.
He watched with horror as his beloved friend Ahmatein approached Sephobwe and received the torch from his hands.
“So this is the Way of the All?” Soilabi said. “Destruction of our covenant?”
Neither Sephobwe or Ahmatein replied, the latter gazing at the torch and turning it slowly in his hands. He had no expression on his face; his square and handsome features gently reflected in the red haze from the fire.
“We have carried this flame all the way from Ben-Kiêrre,” he said slowly, mesmerised by the flames. “It was lit in a great ceremony of Saha. Fifteen flames, the ways and truths, the disciplines of the only way, into one flame.”
Soilabi grimaced. “I do not know this ceremony. It is new to our lands.”
“Of course you do not know it, my friend,” said Ahmatein. “We have adorned our halls with the paintings; paintings of our past long gone. The ceremony is conducted when we are to find a new way to practice the true Fifteen Disciplines. In this ceremony our artists prophetically painted this moment together, on a great and beautiful canvas. It took many days and weeks to paint it, and then finally it became clear to us.”
Sephobwe came closer and Soilabi spat at his feet.
“This is your great teaching? Which you have brought from Kelagot? It must be true, then — the Moncoin has returned to your lands. Kelagot was once a great kingdom.”
Sephobwe said nothing, keeping his composure absolutely still.
“The Tree of the Covenant is of a darker evil, my friend,” said Ahmatein. “Its evil has permeated our lands for generations, and it is calling its dark evil to come and strike us when we least expect it.”
He looked up.
“Right now,” he said, “it is calling to the heavens — calling for that evil to come. History was written by the races of old, but that does not mean the races of old were pure and good.” He looked at Soilabi now, his face fierce and determined. “No, this time is over, my friend. We burn our passions here in the flame, the same flame that we once shared together, when fire represented the covenant between us. The darkest evil of all worlds shall begin to perish at our hands today, and we shall begin to finally taste true freedom.”
Rage and sadness, both at once, was all Soilabi felt at that moment. As Ahmatein moved towards the tree Soilabi raced forward to entreat him to stop this madness, but this time it was Sephobwe who drew his scimitar, his piercing blue eyes looking intently at Soilabi.
“Come no step closer, exalted sultan,” he said, “for this is right and true for all virtue. If you should love your friend, your people, and life itself, you should leave him to do what he must. We do not expect you to understand, for you have been blinded by this evil that stands here today.”
Sephobwe drew only a little closer, speaking softly. “If you would ask us and submit to the teaching, as we have offered before, you would then understand. As it is now, we must do this whether there is understanding or not. For a great evil lies dormant but ready to strike, and we must strike first.”
“You are mad!” Soilabi shouted. “This tree protects us from the Moncoin — our covenant ensures that when he returns we will be ready! To break this covenant will hasten his return and leave us defenseless!”
“The Moncoin will no longer desire this land,” Ahmatein replied. “For we will not have anything for him to desire. For we will not have the abundance he seeks here because we do not desire for abundance. Do you not understand? This tree, this covenant, is a darker evil and separates us from the divine that lies within. This divine the Moncoin cannot stand against. Indeed, he may become one with it, and then we have defeated him at last. For even he is part of All.”
Soilabi stared at him, astonished.
“We must let the great teaching of truth permeate all of Lexedore!” Ahmatein said. “For kings and queens and lords and nobles all fight with each other over their own passions. Ah, but if they could only find the freedom I have, we would finally be Truth itself! This tree's evil lies in its deception, its covering of the Truth.”
“This is madness,” Soilabi said.
“There is much you should learn,” said Sephobwe, impassive, as always. He positioned himself more strongly between the two rulers. “We do not expect you to understand. But you shall. It is here where your beloved friend finds true wealth. You are invited to partake of this virtue, if you wish.”
Soilabi ignored him and pleaded to Ahmatein. “Please, my friend! My friend! Do not do this! We must talk of this. It is right for us to decide what is right together!”
“You will taste freedom,” were Ahmatein's final words, his eyes reflecting his resolve. Then, he seemed confused again, but for only a few seconds, after which a dull and emotionless expression returned and he approached the Tree of the Covenant, fixing his eyes on it. The Tree was only about as tall as two men, and as thick as two standing side by side. Its flourishing leaves moved slightly in a gentle breeze, a butterfly fleeing in terror as the flame approached.
He touched the leaves with the torch and instantly they ignited, a flurry of fire raging in a matter of seconds. Soilabi's screams and pleas continued to go unnoticed as Ahmatein gazed at the ancient covenant, their friendship and love, blistering towards its end and becoming as nothing before him.
Soilabi eventually gave up the pleas and fell on his knees weeping.
Indifferent, Ahmatein mounted his white horse nearby and didn’t look back, ignoring his friend’s sobs. Both he and Sephobwe left, with Soilabi to suffer in his grief alone.
The sun set and the cold night came, but Soilabi still wailed and wept, lying on his face in the dust. His people could do nothing to help him, and could do nothing to stop the burning. They all watched in horror as the great covenant of over a thousand years between the Twin Cities of Ben-Kiêrre and Iza-Kiêrre had come to utter desolation. It was before light the next morning when Soilabi finally rose and galloped to Ben-Kiêrre to make amends with Ahmatein, wondering if he had done something to offend him. He finally arrived at Ben-Kiêrre by nightfall, but not even a messenger came to receive him.
Soilabi wept outside the city gates, pleading loudly to Ahmatein – if he could hear him - to forgive him for any wrong he had done. He remained there, wretched and broken for many more hours, silently weeping. Finally his soldiers lifted him up and brought him back to his kingdom and his city of Iza-Kiêrre; and he entered it with great sadness in his heart.