The Land of the Two Kings

Forever the river had divided the lands, the stretch of water signifying the border between the Northerners and the Southerners. Though each people strove to extend their borders in other directions, making lands otherwise inhospitable bend to their needs, that river remained between the two. It prevented the battle that both sides yearned for, yet both sides knew they would lose if they made their first move. Patrols were a constant sight along the banks. Northern and Southern patrols knew the other sides' faces as well as their own families. Were even a small band to attempt a crossing, it would be slaughtered before they reached the other bank.

Time passed as it always had, the people hating the other side of the river beyond reason but simply because it had always been done. Yet a new King took the Northern throne, King Unyevri. Through his childhood he had been known as an intelligent boy, surpassing all expectations of his tutors, absorbing every fact, every nuance of logic they could throw at him. He looked upon this hatred with confusion for he needed reason before anything else. He questioned his tutors, he questioned wise men in every town, sent scouts to every village searching for someone who knew why there was such a feud between the two people.

But the tutors told him only of the men they had lost to the other side's patrols. The wise men went to great lengths describing the Southerners as beasts but gave no explanations as to why. The scouts came back with only tiredness to show for their journeys.

So King Unyevri decided that there was no reason to continue such a meaningless hatred. He dispatched another scout with a written message in a sealed container, and sent him to the river where the water flowed slowest. There the scout attached the message to a log and sent it across to the other bank. A patrolling soldier on the other side immediately appeared to take it.

"This message comes from our King!" the scout shouted to the soldier, desperately suppressing the urge to yell abuse instead. "He asks that it be delivered to your King with haste for there are matters of importance they must discuss."

The soldier shot a look of disbelief and distrust back at the scout, but dutifully disappeared into the trees with the message. The scout did not linger and was immediately on his way back to King Unyevri to report his success. Whether the message reached the Southern King was no longer his concern, and in his heart he prayed that it did not.