Hello sci-fi lovers! Thanks to all who have already read “Obstacles,” the first episode in Rise of the Sun King. I want to give a brief introduction to the world of Prince Reven and King Fasto in a more informal and discussionary format.
Opella is a world gripped in an ice age and the humans on the planet live primarily in the tropics. There is one dominant culture and kingdom on the planet; it spans the globe and is an ancient culture already when we join the story.
The kingdom is a maritime one, living primarily in cities along the coasts of the continents and on the seas. The lands of their world are wild, filled with animals possessing voracious appetites and “uncivilized wild men” who live as hunter-gatherers. As a result, “kingdom men,” as they call themselves, keep mostly to the seas or stay safely behind the giant walls that protect their cities and fields.
But Opella is full of surprises! The people there are masters of a mysterious technology they believe to be gifts from their gods. Masters of gravity, the Opellans can move and lift the heaviest of objects to unreal heights…even into space!
Opella is a strange mashup of an ancient and mystical people who posses a powerful technology. Their king is believed to be descended from a god. The state and religion are one and permeate life everywhere. A ruler’s fate in the afterlife will be judged by the gods and ancestral kings when they examine his reign. If he was deemed to have been a good king, he will be given a new star in the heavens and a place among the gods as an equal. A bad king must spend eternity as a slave to common folk who were faithful in life.
Rise of the Sun King tells the story of Reven, prince of Opella. He is a young, ambitious man obsessed with pleasing the gods…at any cost. He will stop at nothing to gather power to himself and prove his worth to the gods in his twisted idea of piety.
Join me again this weekend for episode two, “Bekha Makes Her Escape.” You’ll read about young prince Shura’s widow and her daring escape from Reven’s legal claim to her as his dead brother’s wife. More strange technology, crazy animals and a wild run from Reven’s hunters will deepen the intrigue around the devlish prince Reven.
“Brother,” Reven said to Shura not long after they cleared away from the hunting camp. He called his horse to move quickly as the hovering chariot rose up to full height, affording him an excellent view of the savanna spread out before him. “I’m worried about father.” He did not continue his statement but rather urged the horse on faster and faster. The golden chariot floated above and behind the giant gray beast as Reven jammed his boots into the foot blocks to brace himself against the shifting platform. Shura followed suit, running his horse to keep up with Reven. The two animals pounded out across the grassland to the south, kicking up clouds of dust that marked their trail across the low hills as they charged off in search of a king deer buck. It was late in the year and the antlers were fully grown; a perfect time to hunt a trophy. A nice specimen with nearly a two meter spread was spotted last week and the boys wanted to bring it in. With mating season beginning for the deer, the buck was certain to have a body full of hormones driving his search for a mate. The boys hoped this situation would lead the animal to make a mistake and leave himself exposed to the sight of the two princes.
“I know, Reven.” Shura caught up to his younger brother and moved out front a little. He had to shout now to be heard over the noise of the two horses beating the ground in their trot across the countryside. “You’ve made that known to me over and over and my opinion on the matter is known to you. Why are you acting the parrot on this subject? Your statements are the same the hundredth time as they were the first.”
Reven pushed his horse to keep pace with Shura. “You never drop the mask do you brother? Even alone out here in the endless valleys of the hunting preserve without so much as a porter to hear us, you keep up all the formalities of court. It’s just us now. You can speak freely to me.”
“My role is bigger than me, brother. All that matters is that I do what’s expected of me. You know that. Now stop feinting in your argument and speak your mind.” Shura briefly took his eyes off the trail ahead and glanced over at Reven with a scowl.
“Ha! Ever the prince,” Reven called back. “Yes I want to talk about father again. You notice his weakness. And you revel in reminding me of our duty as royals yet you ignore father’s failure in his most basic responsibilities. He is charged to elevate the lives of his subjects; to improve the health and success of the kingdom. But he does little besides fret over whether the temples are clean and the festivals begin on time. What action has he taken to make anything better? Nothing! You know the gods will judge us on whether we allow weakness to exist without crushing it. It’s more than father’s reputation at stake. More than his fate in the afterlife. You are at stake. I am at stake. All of Opella’s esteem in the eyes of the gods is at stake.”
Shura remained silent as he turned his horse up a long hill, looking for a good vantage point from which to scout for the buck. “I don’t need a lesson about duty from you, brother. And I certainly don’t need to hear outright threats against father from you! He is the king; the father of all the kingdom. The whole world! His decisions are his own, guided by the gods, and it’s not my place to judge his thoughts or actions. The gods and the fathers will judge him in the afterlife and he will receive the reward he earns, for good or ill. I will not be a part of idle gossip about him.”
Reven peeled off to keep pace with his brother, heading up the hill. The savanna was a harsh place, filled with dangerous animals, unforgiving terrain and wild men willing to skin and roast a kingdom man, especially a royal, on sight. In a world of green and brown, the gleaming gold of the two chariots hovering behind the massive gray horses was the visual equivalent of a royal fanfare announcing the princes’ intrusion into this wild place. Shura brought his rig to a complete stop at the top of the hill, adjusting his chariot as high as the tack would allow him to rise. He scanned the landscape from horizon to horizon, looking for signs of the great stag. The horse chafed at the upward tug on his harness and stamped his feet in protest but Shura needed as much altitude as he could get to spot the deer. The chariot bobbed up and down a bit under Shura’s shifting weight as he turned to look from left to right, spooking the horse even more.
Reven matched Shura’s posture on the hilltop, bringing his horse to a stop and raising his chariot up over the animal’s head. The heat rippled the air to the eye with waves radiating their energy back into the air. The trees in the distance danced like snakes standing up on their tails, which made observing details across the distance difficult. Shura looked over at his younger brother. It was easy to see why people believed Reven was the older of the two; he was taller than Shura and his thin face, sharp jaw and animated eyes reinforced his commanding voice. His proud posture, elevated face, and puffed chest were all clear signals he was a man who scoffed at the idea following.
“Besides brother,” Shura said. “Even if we both disapproved of father’s actions, what are we to do? We dare not speak to him with such disrespect and our pleas to him will yield nothing but pain to us. He will not be changed except his esteem for both of us will be diminished and we will find ourselves princes of greatly reduced authority. I sympathize with your point of view, brother; it is not without merit. He has not provided progress for our people but he has given them stability after an era of profound and rapid change. There is value in allowing people to pause and catch their collective breath, as it were.”
Reven began to reply but Shura raised a finger in the air to let his brother know he was not finished. Reven rolled his eyes as Shura continued. “Our grandfather Oman led Opella into an entirely new era when gravity was enslaved by us. He discovered the secret of making the heavy weightless and of turning stones to clay; he opened up an entirely new world of works to us. Overnight, difficult things became merely tedious and the impossible became daily life. Real walls, impenetrable walls, rose up to protect our fields and people. Monuments and machines and buildings erupted from the coasts of every continent around the globe. The stars we previously marveled at are now our fellow sailors of the deep. We harnessed power to make the night illuminated and speak to others across the world as though we stood face to face. The entire view of reality for our people was shifted in a generation and the stress on our culture was apparent. Change is good, brother, but people can only accept a little at a time. They needed time to catch up.”
Reven stared at Shura, impatience growing within him. “Brother,” he said. “It was two hundred years ago that the first shipments of diamonds came from the mines of Boran Station. Nearly three hundred since King’s Station was first constructed in orbit and the first power plants went up. Four hundred since men first lifted a house-sized stone onto a wall. These wonders are indeed marvels but no-one alive today remembers a time before we flew into the stars. How many centuries are needed to catch up to history?”
He changed the subject. “Look, brother! Woolies! To the west.” He was up on his toes and shielding his dark eyes with his hand from the brilliant sunshine to see. “Its a big herd, too. I see two, no, three large males with enormous horns. They are magnificent!” He turned to look at Shura. The herd was nearly a kilometer away up the next hill grazing in the warm sun. Their shaggy coats looked a little out of place there on the warm savanna which was dominated by animals with considerably less fur but the herd had thrived there since king Oman brought them from the cold north over 200 years prior.
“Should we, brother? Look at them! We could be on them in an instant and have one down before they see us. You know how bad their eyes are.”
“Oh, that is a real temptation isn’t it brother?” Shura said. “We could finally have our first woollies. And alone, without guides. THAT would raise our esteem in our father’s eyes wouldn’t it? Much more than questioning his authority on running a kingdom.”
“But we mustn’t,” the crown prince continued. “We don’t have permission to hunt anything that dangerous alone. We’ve had that discussion with father and the answer is always the same…’Not yet. Soon.’”
Reven rolled his eyes. “Oh brother. Always with the rules! We’re both of age and don’t need anyone’s permission to do anything. I say we go after them now and prove to father we are ready. Leaders lead; they don’t follow rules.”
“No. Not today. I will not defy father,” Shura said. “We will take the king deer as we planned. And there he is! To the south. It’s the one we wanted too! He’s a beast.”
Reven spotted the buck. “It’s him! Look, he’s as tall as a man at the shoulder; nearly as big as my horse here. And his antlers…each one is as long as I am tall. And six lobes on each side! He will make a splendid trophy and I wager big enough to make it into father’s gallery. We must get him!”
“Outstanding, brother!” Shura proclaimed. “Let’s not get fancy about this. We have nearly a kilometer to close and he is faster than our horses, but he lacks the endurance to keep up that speed for long. We will pace ourselves and let him get tired. I will stay to the left and you to the right. We will come up from behind and on my mark we will both go spears to the ribs. Understand?”
“I understand perfectly how to take down a deer, brother!” Reven called out as he lashed his horse to a full gallop without waiting for Shura. He charged half way down the hill before the crown prince got underway.
The younger brother closed the kilometer quickly but the deer, wary creature that is was, heard the roar of the hooves, looked back toward the rushing chariots and sprang forward at full sprint away from the danger, his long body covering meters with each graceful lunge forward. Shura fumed. Reven would now get his horse winded and lose the deer! The prince decided to stick to his plan and keep his horse fresh for the chase. Let the impatient Reven exhaust his animal in a sprint then take the kill alone after the deer slows. One spear would be enough.
As Reven beat his horse faster up the hill, the predictable happened and his pace slowed. The deer began to open the distance. He had already crested the top and would disappear over the ridge any second while the inflamed Reven furiously urged his horse on faster and faster. Shura kept his pace and soon overtook Reven, then rapidly closed in on the tiring stag.
He guided his horse in close to the animal’s left side and readied his spear, bouncing it in his hand to find the balance point he wanted. The deer peeled away to the right before Shura could raise the weapon. The animal’s maneuverability was remarkable given his size. The strain of the long run was showing in his quivering muscles and panicked eyes and he was losing speed. Shura yanked his horse around to the right with his chariot swinging widely out to the animal’s side. This was a dangerous maneuver and many hunters had met their own end trying to turn a rig so fast but the young prince was well-practiced as a charioteer and he made the turn with ease.
As it turned, the deer saw Reven still coming in and so cut back to its left to avoid the second threat. This mistake, born from exhaustion, drove the deer back to Shura who was now ready. He thrust his spear down into the animal’s ribs just behind the shoulders and leaned into it to push the shaft as deep into the vital organs as possible. The deer lunged forward with an adrenaline-fueled panic and gained a few steps on the two brothers, now converged in their pursuit, but then stumbled and went down. As Reven rode past the scene, he landed a spear again into the animal’s rib-cage then brought his horse to a stop. Shura jumped down out of his chariot and pushed a sword into the buck’s neck, ending its struggle.
Shura fell to his knees gasping for air, partly from the physical activity and partly from the adrenaline and endorphin rush that filled his veins and mind with the thrill of conquest and victory. Reven ran up to him beaming with pride over their kill. He stalked around the animal again and again, sizing it up. He examined the massive antlers and proclaimed them to be the finest example ever taken from the king’s hunting grounds.
As he regained his composure, Shura rose to his feet and challenged Reven. “You! Listen to me little brother. Exactly this sort of impulsive behavior from you is why father says we aren’t ready to hunt woollies alone. A move like that could have gotten one of us killed! Do you have such little consideration for your own safety? Is a trophy worth your life?”
Reven burst out laughing. “Oh Shura, you must learn to have a little fun. We are in no danger from this animal. Do we hunt birds with the same caution as tigers or bears? No. Now, about father…” The insistent prince was determined to press this matter with his brother.
Shura cut Reven off before he could begin. “Not another word about father, do you understand? Our opinions mean nothing to the king of the entire world and you would do well to keep your own confidence on that matter. As your brother, I have an informality with you that no other person enjoys and you may use that as you will. But I warn you that others who hear such talk will not understand it to be idle discussion and will assume it to be plots against the throne. Do not invite that upon yourself, brother. Do not.”
Reven stood silently for a moment with his chin upon his chest, his eyes closed. He took a deep breath and let it out then said “You are, of course, correct. There is nothing to be gained from gossip. Let’s celebrate our kill! We have the world at our feet today, brother. Let us bask in the sunshine…the smiles of the gods. We must give thanks for our kill! Then when we get home, we should ask father for his blessing to hunt the woollies. What do you say, brother?”
But inside, Reven felt the growing realization that his brother was weak just like their father. He fumed.
Shura smiled. “Now you’re making sense. You are right in saying the world is at our feet today. Life is certainly not perfect but if it were, that would leave us with nothing to do when we take control in due time. I will agree to talk to father about the hunt if you swear to me that you will not take it so lightly as this one.”
“Of course, brother, I’m not a fool. An angry woolly can throw a man 20 meters then gore him clean through with both horns in an instant. The only thing good about getting killed by a woolly is that the event is mercifully quick. Let’s go tell the porters how to find the deer and we will celebrate tonight like princes.”
The Princes Plead Their Case
The following day home at the palace, the two found themselves in front of their father who sat upon his throne. An imposing stone seat upon a stone dais in front of a stone wall made certain that all who entered this room felt the king’s kinship to the eternity of stone. Shura believed that father chose to see them from his throne when he was going to say no to their request although he had no real evidence to support that feeling. It was just a hunch.
Everything about King Fasto was tall and thin; his stature, face, hands, limbs, and even his hat. His movements were purposeful, graceful and not hurried. Each action was measured and curated to present the image of the fatherly benevolent king, even to his own sons. As far as the world knew, there was no Fasto-the-man apart from Fasto-the-king; he existed only to fulfill the obligations of his office. The young men approached the throne and took to one knee, bowing their heads, as they approached the throne. The king spoke.
“Welcome my sons! May the gods guide your days. I am joyful to see you both and congratulate you for your majestic trophy that is certainly impressive enough to hang in the main gallery. I am well pleased in your skills. Please rise and come to me.”
The brothers lifted their eyes and rose, beaming with pride. The throne upon the dais meant the king, even seated, was still above eye level of the two brothers. Everyone must be smaller than the king. They looked up and smiled at their father as Shura spoke. “Thank you father. May the gods guide your days. We thank you for your praise and we work to increase your name and your esteem to the gods. We are pleased you agreed to our audience.”
“You are my sons! Of course I will always accede to your desire for an audience. What sort of father would refuse to listen to his son? A poor one, that’s who! Now what is on your mind?”
Shura nodded towards Reven who stepped forward. “Greetings father. May the gods guide your days. Shura and I are grateful for the trust you place in us. We endeavor daily to make you proud of our actions and to increase your name. We had a thrilling time on our deer hunt, father…” His voice trailed off a little as he watched for his father’s reaction. With none appearing, Reven continued “We spotted a nice herd of woollies…”
King Fasto held up a hand without hesitation. “No! You will not.”
“But father,” Reven continued in a noticeably higher pitch and with a little stomp of the foot beneath his robe. “You promised us for a year now that we could hunt them without guides soon. This is a beautiful herd not far from camp. The porters and guards will not be far so far away they can’t reach us if there is trouble. Shura and I are competent hunters and horsemen, father. You cannot deny that. We ARE ready,’ he called out with a hand in the air for emphasis. Shura thought to himself this was one of Reven’s better performances but if he keeps on with the hysterics, all would be lost.
Fasto shook his head. “My boy! You know the way to convince me is with a solid argument…not a tantrum! Does a woolly’s horn care about your foot-stomping? No, he doesn’t. And an angry cow protecting her young is every bit as dangerous as the bull. It’s not your skill as a hunter that I doubt, Reven. It’s your judgment.”
He turned. “Why are you having your baby brother make this plea, Shura? Why can you not ask me yourself? Is it because you know the two of you are not ready?”
“No, father. I am ready.” Fasto and Reven both noted Shura’s use of the word “I” instead of “we.” “I have hunted woollies with the guides enough to know how they react. They are not smart animals, father and are predictable. Respect their size, endurance and those monstrous horns and its easy to take advantage of their weak eyes. I can do it. I ask Reven to speak because he is a man also and I do not want him to be neglected simply because he is the younger son. He deserves respect also.”
Fasto nodded his head and looked down with approval on his maturing prince. “My son. You are ready. You have my blessing and you are indeed wise beyond your years.”
The boys stood motionless and remained silent. They did not think the king would give permission to go but here it was. “Ha! I have left you two speechless! I am delighted that I can still surprise you sometimes. It is difficult for a father to let his boys become men but it is inevitable. I must allow you to become the men you will be. Taking down the king deer is in my opinion, a more challenging hunt than the woollies, if less dangerous. You may find it a less satisfying hunt than you imagine.” Reven smiled to himself hearing this prophecy. “Be safe,’ Fasto continued. “Be wary and may the gods guide your spears.”
“Father, we are certainly speechless!” said Shura. “We spied the herd and watched them graze. We can find them again in a day and bring home another stunning trophy. I thank you for your trust and I will work to increase your name. Reven and I will bring home that crusty old brown one; he had horns longer than anything I’ve seen before. Thank you.”
“Thank you, father,” echoed Reven, tugging on Shura’s robe to say “let’s get out of here while we are ahead” and he began to bow his head then back away from the throne and the tall thin man upon it. Shura immediately stepped back and bowed the same as Reven and they found themselves together outside the throne room door in the grand gallery. A hearty hug and laugh was shared by the brothers as they celebrated their newfound quest and walked away to make preparations. All the while, Reven boiled inside at his father’s disrespect for him. Dramatic action was needed to prove his worthiness.
The Princes Hunt Woollies
Six days later found the brothers mounted upon their golden chariots floating behind the horses outfitted now for dangerous game. Both animals wore heavy leather to protect their flanks and necks from the possibility of contact with a woolly’s horn. Each chariot carried four spears and the princes both had sword and knife. Together they set off into the grasslands again looking this time for the dangerous woolly hornbeast.
The woolly was a curious creature, found originally by king Oman in his journeys north to the frozen wastes. Standing two meters high at the shoulder, its head hung downward more like a bison than upright like a horse giving the whole animal an almost comical pig-like appearance. The body, three meters in length, was capped with a blunt head and snout filled with flat teeth suited for munching grass. The most striking feature of the hornbeast lent itself to the animal’s name: its horns. Two of them, one in front of the other curving up from the top of the snout. The front one being a full meter in length, curving forward and up while the second was about half that length, straighter and somewhat stubbier looking. The animals used these horns to dig through thick snow and ice in the north to reach food underneath. The weaponized appendages were also used for self defense; a charging hornbeast could easily scoop up and toss a full grown giant horse ten meters and then trample it down with a ton and a half of angry-hooved aggression. The woollies were known for having exceptionally nasty tempers; much more-so than even the testiest of bison or buffalo. This combination of size, volatility and a dangerous weapon emerging from the nose made them a formidable prey. Only the strongest of predators dared to attempt to take one down.
The princes sauntered their horses out to the same hill as the previous week and halted. That day Reven was peculiarly quiet, having said barely a word the entire ride. When asked, he attributed his silence to his focus on the hunt. His demeanor changed when they spotted the herd, practically in the same place as the week before and he replaced his furrowed brow with a broad smile.
“I told you they were predictable, brother,” Shura called out to Reven as he spotted them to the west, motioning that direction with his hand. “Right on schedule. And the big nasty looking one we wanted is on this side of the herd. The gods have smiled upon our hunt today!”
“Indeed they have Shura,” Reven said. “You post up just this side of the herd while I move ahead and provoke the big male into chasing me. I will draw him to you where you will be waiting with your spears to make the first hit. From there, I will wheel back around to help finish him off.”
“That’s a solid plan, brother, but you must keep your speed under control. Don’t wear your horse out as you’ll need the endurance to stay ahead of that nasty thing. Getting under his feet would be the last thing we knew of you.”
“Not to worry,” Reven said. I know what’s at stake today. Maybe more than you.”
“What is that supposed to mean? Don’t be coy with me, brother.”
Reven laughed then urged his horse on towards the herd. Shura followed suit, bearing off a little to the left, turning round to face away from the herd and wait for Reven to draw the large male away from the group. The younger prince set off a little more to the right than Shura thought he ought to but there was nothing to be said now; Reven was far out of earshot.
Shura waited for what seemed like an hour for Reven to return and he was growing concerned when he saw the dust flying up, headed his way. His heart began to pump faster and the adrenaline with it. The hunt was on! As he strained to see which way he needed to start moving, he was shocked to see a young male woolly leading the charge. As he got closer, Shura could see there was already a spear in its side. Behind the front animal came Reven furiously waving another spear in the air. But there was more dust following and it was the giant brown bull they were hunting! What had happened? The plan was completely ruined and Shura knew he had to make a decision fast on how to handle this. He would run to intercept the lead animal and get it down first, then he and Reven could concentrate on the big one together.
He urged his horse on, slowly at first, then gaining speed and setting his angle to intercept the running wounded animal. Reven had buried the shaft of the spear deeply into the animal and struggle was was evident on its face as it ran, with its head thrashing from side to side furiously trying to swipe away the fierce pain in its chest. The animal never saw Shura approach and he easily lunged his spear into the bull’s side, opposite the first wound. The animal began to slow and Shura knew the danger was decreasing by the second; he finally dared look behind him to assess the situation with the angry monster chasing Reven.
Shura saw that Reven had closed the ground between them and was coming up fast from the right with the bull not four meters behind him. Shura knew this was a deadly place to be. “You peel right, I’ll peel left!” he called out to Reven. “We will circle back behind him before he knows what happened!”
But Reven did not peel right. Instead, he swung his chariot hard left, colliding with Shura’s in a violent crash, then leaned into it to push him further off center behind his horse. Shura, confused, managed to steady his now unstable chariot and looked at his brother’s determined scowl. Reven lunged over with the butt-end of a spear and pushed even more, causing Shura’s chariot to lean dangerously over to one side.
“Reven! What are you doing? Stop this insanity. You’re going to get me killed!”
Reven saw in Shura’s eyes when the crown prince realized what was happening and then gave another grunting push to send the chariot past its tipping point. The harness became twisted, the chariot flipped and lost lift, crashing into the ground. Reven rode on as the angered woolly overtook the helpless Shura. In an instant, the beast got a horn under the chariot and threw it up and forward, the golden mangled cart arcing through the sky with the ragged body of Shura ejecting from it while the horse rolled into the dirt.
As the heap crashed back to earth, the woolly finished the job by running right over the top of the whole mess, horse and all, crushing it further into the savanna. A large cloud of dust filled the air giving the whole scene a blurry wash. The bull slowed and turned to go for another strike when Reven came in from behind it and planted a spear, then rapidly another into the animal’s side. The beast let out a deafening bellow then ran away from the scene, disappearing in the tall grass to die.
Reven pulled his rig to a halt and jumped down, running first to the downed juvenile woolly to make certain it was dead. A sword plunged into the creature’s neck produced no reaction from the carcass. Returning to his brother, he walked slowly, looking over the situation.
He approached Shura’s mangled remains shaking his head. “Brother, I tried to tell you we had to act on father’s weakness but you wouldn’t listen. You became an obstacle. Kings must lead, Shura. The gods have told us that. We must be leaders to Opella and take her to ever greater glory if we plan to join our forefathers the kings as gods when our time comes. The gods and the fathers are harsh judges and your future kingship was already in danger by your failure to act. Obstacles must be removed. I’m sorry it had to be this way but history has a funny way of happening. I am destined to lead our people to places they never dreamed of and you were in the way. You didn’t see it. Father doesn’t see it…but he will. Everyone will see. Even the gods.”
Satisfied the bloody scene told the story of an accident, Reven headed back to camp alone rehearsing his tale as he made his way. He rode into camp alone and a murmur broke out among the staff and by the time he got the chariot to a halt, a crowd of 30 porters, cooks, aides and guards crowded around him clamoring to learn the fate of their beloved crown prince. As he tearfully spun his tale of being surprised by an angry bull and the wailing of the crowd began, the groom led the horse and chariot away, examining the damage to the side of the prince’s vehicle, looking back at Reven with a furrowed brow as the story of a horrible hunting accident unfolded from the animated prince’s mouth.
Rumors grew and circulated quickly around the camp and suspicion arose within hours about the truth of Reven’s story. He led a group out to the gruesome scene to collect both the trophies as well as the remains of the late crown prince and the groom began to collect up the tack from the ruined chariot and dead horse but Reven intervened. “No, gather it all together. We will burn the chariot. I do not want another to ever use my brother’s gear. He deserves at least that much respect.” As the group rode away from the scene, the smoke rose up into the sky of the savanna while carrion birds circled above, drawn by the scent of death. The staff continued to whisper about whether it was possible that Reven was responsible for this horrific tragedy.