Before Kallen, there was Tarragon. Oryon history sees him as the first and greatest of all technomage kings. What history has forgotten, however, is that he was also the very first to partner with a symbiont.
At the age of eighteen, Tarragon becomes clan king by default. He alters the face of Oryon’s history when he fully embraces magic and emerges as the first ever technomage king. Surrounded by deadly rivals who are intent on eradicating his family, Tarragon, as the last surviving heir, needs to learn how to control his magic and how to fight. Survival is not easy, and if it means getting involved in a dangerous secret, so be it.
Tarragon looked about him as he shuffled wearily over to where servants stood handing out the day’s rations. The remains of the dead had been laid out and burned only that morning. Malcolm, the Guardian who had kept him safe for as long as he could remember, had not been among them. Tarragon had buried the man himself. He’d owed him that much, but he wished he could have done more. The fatalities from the battle the day before had been extensive, and morale was at an all-time low.
To boost lagging spirits and energize the exhausted bodies, there was nothing like a quick distribution of rations among his men. Thankfully, there was more than enough for every man. With the defeat of their enemies came the confiscation of the food supply. Even if the meals were cold, at least with their stomachs full, the Dacron soldiers would have something to prop their rapidly dropping energies.
When it was finally his turn, Tarragon only took a piece of bread and dried, salted meat. He stared at the bits in his hand, willing himself to find the strength to eat. His body ached, and he had no appetite to speak of, but he forced himself to take a bite and chew. He flinched when his teeth met the tough jerky. The painful throbbing in his jaw and the burning ache of swollen gums were incessant. Not to mention the wound in his leg and the one on his back.
In the end, Tarragon spat the morsels on the ground. When a servant passed him a waterskin, he drank from it in controlled gulps. Despite his aching thirst, he still had enough sense to remember that taking it all at once would only result in heaving and stomach cramps. With each gulp of warm water, his throat gradually felt less dry, though the back of his eyes were beginning to feel hotter. He wondered if he were getting a fever. As soon as thoughts of illness entered his thoughts, Tarragon took control of them. He thanked the Goddess above for giving him that ability, for if he did not, he would surely have crawled into someplace he wouldn’t be found, curl up, and allow the shadows to take him to a gentler place.
Once more, Tarragon looked at the dead. At his estimation, more than four hundred of the soldiers who had served his family lay dead. By the sun’s rising, more would perish. His soldiers were getting killed at a rate of five to one. Soon, his losses would turn critical until, inevitably, the enemy would rush through the barricades and slay them all. Tarragon concluded that despite their situation, his soldiers had surpassed his enemies’ expectations. He looked about him with weary eyes and saw that some of the men were talking. Some were even laughing. He wished that he could talk to them about hope, but he knew he couldn’t. Even if he could, he didn’t doubt his men knew that their end would only be prolonged until dawn came. And then it would be all over.
Tarragon sat back against the rock wall. Its surface was an icy dampness on his back. Slowly, painfully, he removed his helm. He scraped back his soaked blond hair and reflected on his life.
His near-death exhaustion brought on one regret—that he would meet his death at only seventeen years. As the youngest son of a vain father, his service in the army had not been out of his free will, but in payment for his brothers’ deaths. At the thought of his older brothers, he closed his eyes and willed away the sudden tears that flooded his eyes.
The first time he’d taken arms had been when his brothers had taken him to the training grounds. That was on his fifteenth birthday, only two years before. Compared to his brothers and father, he had been small and short, but his brothers had all assured him that he would develop into his height. Just like they had. They hadn’t lied. His muscles and strength had indeed caught up with his height, but none of his brothers had seen what they’d predicted. Soon after his fifteenth birthday, his father and brothers had left Tarragon back in Dacron Palace to attend the annual Oryon council of kings. That was when the dissenting clan, Zaruthra, had attacked, killing his brothers. They hadn’t reached his father in time, though. His father had escaped with his Guardians. Seeing that his family had scrambled to defend themselves, another rebellious clan, the Caprici, had quickly joined forces with the Zaruthrans and taken advantage of the Dacron’s momentary weakness.
Tarragon shook off the memories. Too late to wish for a better time while he was sitting here at his post. A piercing flash of pain from the wound in his leg reawakened his anger.
“Ahh, Goddess. Is it wrong to wish them all their deaths?” Tarragon muttered. When no answer from the deity came, he cursed at himself for acting the fool.