The heavens were like a giant dark bowl filled with bright flickering stars. Throughout the eons, Fren had waited—waited for his turn to be the child, the chosen. He had watched each of his brothers go out before him, each of them only to fail in their mission.
“You must bring peace to a world raging with war,” their Father had said. “You will face many evils, and murder is not the only one.”
Each of the sons had chorused their joy at such a noble mission.
“I shall defeat the warlords with a swift and mighty hand,” said Marik, the eldest.
“I shall bring peace through diplomacy and reason,” said Aldrin.
“I shall first learn of the people’s ways,” said Dall. “Then I shall see how best to bring peace, using means that shall appeal to the people.”
“I shall be like Aldrin,” said Kannin. “Diplomacy and peace go hand in hand.”
“Not I,” Exill said. “I shall be like Marik.”
“And I shall bring peace by establishing rule over all,” Bernal said.
But unlike his brothers, Fren knew nothing of how he would accomplish peace for a war-ravaged world. It was his secret wish that one of his elder brothers would succeed well before him.
Marik had been born to the mighty people of Shaldann, and rose up as a renowned warrior. He struck down warlord after warlord, but every time one war ended, another began. Swift victories could not end the cycle of war and death—and Marik lost his life on the battlefield.
Aldrin was born to the wise scholars of Marral, and studied among great leaders and politicians. He negotiated peace treaty after peace treaty, but within a few years war always returned. Diplomacy could not end the cycle of war and death—and Aldrin was poisoned by another diplomat.
Dall was born to the wealthy merchants of Lazar, and he swiftly learned the ways of a people wise to the value of earthly things. He found he became too interested in the pleasures of things transient, and so abandoned altogether his mission to bring peace to the world. The ways of the people could not end the cycle of war and death—and Dall was robbed and murdered.
Kannin, poor Kannin, was born in the crime-stricken land of Aumin,and he was killed before he reached the age of two.
Exill was born to the vicious warrior tribe of Onmit, and he, like Marik, rose up as a renowned warrior. But as he struck down warlord after warlord, he found himself consumed with battle lust and a thirst for blood. He could not end the cycle of war and death—and Exill was slain by his own people for his cruelty.
Bernal was born prince of the Cavarr people, and soon he established his rule over all of Cavarr. But he grew greedy for more power, and became just another of the warlords terrorizing the world. Such self-serving ambition could not end the cycle of war and death—and Bernal was murdered by a political rival.
So it fell to Fren, the seventh and the last, to bring peace to the war ravaged world where all his brothers had failed and been slain. The time had come for him to leave the giant dark bowl of the stars and enter into the full round ball of the world.
“But Father,” Fren said, “how can I succeed where the others have failed? Fighting for peace does not work, nor does negotiation—all is too corrupt. If neither might nor meekness can triumph, what is left?” Fren’s words danced around the bowl of the stars, seeking an answer that never came.
And Fren too was born into the world, to the nomad tribe of Hazarr. He spent his childhood and youth wandering the desert with his people, learning the signs of the stars he had once lived among. The day before he came of age, he sat beside his earthly father, studying the sky with him.
“I have always sensed that you were born to a high purpose, my son,” Fren’s father said, “for it was written in the stars on the day of your birth. But what that purpose is, I never have been able to tell. Read the stars and tell me what they speak to your heart.”
Fren read the stars, only to find them as empty of answers as they had always been. But he felt the call placed inside him eons ago. “I am to bring peace to this war-ravaged world. But I do not know the way.”
“Read the sky, my son. It speaks to you.”
Fren raised his eyes to the heavens, and saw that shooting stars painted the sky in a tapestry of lights. “It speaks of the end—the end of all.”
“That is your answer. This world is a spoiled vessel of clay, marred with war and hatred. Only when it is destroyed and a new vessel made will there be peace. But this is beyond your reach.”
“No.” Taking his staff, Fren rose to his feet. He looked down at his father. “I am the Seventh Child, the chosen son of the True Father. This is my purpose.” He raised his eyes to the bowl of stars, seeing in them the raw power he had lived among for so long—the power needed to break the cycle. “My name is no longer Fren.”
“What is your name then, my son?”
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