The merchant Falias and his counterpart Felix left Donovan and the king alone to talk.
The woods around were calm and un-imposing, quite unlike the king’s prior experiences.
“Felix told me that he pulled you from drowning in the river. Did the pirates cast you overboard in the chaos of battle?” Donovan motioned for the king to sit next to him, which he did.
For the next while, Sigmund recounted the details of his escape to an attentive old man. His words were frequently interrupted by the food that he consumed as he spoke. The sky began to turn from its bright early afternoon shine to the flatter tones of dusk and the conversation seemed to follow its pattern, turning from talk of escapes and adventures to words of caution and a dark past.
“Now that I have escaped from the pirates, I plan to return to my home- to my kingdom.” Sigmund sat back, comfortably warm in the pre-evening forest clearing.
“Are you such a fool! You would return to a land that burns with the conquest and pillage of evil beings?”
“What would you recommend instead? You would have me continue on to meet the man who never fathered me, yet claims my heritage.”
“If you don’t go to him then he will bring you by the hands of less friendly men.”
“What does he want from me that warrants such sudden interest?”
“I told you that he never felt like he belonged in the kingdom he united- that he was from a foreign people.” Sigmund waited for the older man to continue. “And so he left to find some answers about his past- answers that our merchant friend Falias provided.”
“Who is Falias? I don’t trust him- especially after he refused to help you on the boat.”
“He is a very unfortunate man. He is immortal, and he has promised not to use magic for one hundred years. That promise was made ninety nine years ago, and many men have died because he would not help them.”
“So it is plain that we should not trust him if he won’t even help a friend!”
“Don’t forget, he is immortal. To him, death is a gift. When you live forever, the world does not go on, but rather goes around in repetition. An escape from the endless cycle of life might seem quite appealing after enough of your friends died, and you made new friends and they died, and all that you knew continued on eternally.”
“So if his friends keep dying, why doesn’t he save them?”
“Oh he has, plenty of times in the past. He has made himself a promise that he would not for one hundred years, hoping perhaps that in doing so, he too would deserve death. For one hundred years he was once the most evil and powerful being alive. That was before his promise. In that time, he tried every evil in an attempt to deserve death, but still it was not granted him.
“So perhaps you should be grateful that you have met him in this cycle, where he has spared you from his power.”
“And I should trust him?”
“If you choose not to trust him, it will not change how he behaves, it will only change how difficult things become for you. Do what you will, but accept the results.”