Chapter 1

"Parry right! Left, right, center!" an old but cultured voice barked out the commands to the fencing exercise that Ales was doing. The youngster was taking the gruelling exercise in with surprising cheerfulness and it seemed that despite the man's misgivings about teaching it to the boy, Ales was indeed soaking in his teachings.

The practice continued for quite some time and did not let up until the sun had risen well into the horizon for the day and Ales was well and truly drenched in his own sweat. Finally, when the old man barked out a command that Ales' weary hands could not complete only did he call a halt to the exercise.

"Stop!" the man told him. "We'll start it again tomorrow. Right now, get yourself to the river and bathe yourself! You positively smell!"

Ales only smiled wearily at the man as he flopped down onto the grown with is but. He wiped the sweat off his brow and asked, "Granius, will you tell me about my father?"

"Not right now," was all the man would say. "Maybe when you're older."

"But why?" Ales asked plaintively, a frown marring his fine little features. His gold tinged red eyes suddenly looked a trifle darker as he was thwarted once again from finding out his family. "Everyone else has a parents. I'm the only one who doesn't. They make fun of me. All I want to know is how he looked like and what he did. Why is that so hard to answer?"

Granius was silent for a very long time. Ales, who was used to it by this time, waited just as patiently for him to answer his question. Finally the man sighed and sat on a chopped off trunk from the tree that Granius had earlier felled.

"You have nothing to be ashamed of young Ales. Your father was very kind and proud man. He was loved by a lot of people and anyone who came into contact with him knew that he was a good man. He has the same eyes as you do. But your features come from your mother. Your hair came from him too you know. Not many people have hair like yours."

Here, Ales, self-consciously pulled a few strands of his hair down to look for himself. "He really had hair this color? Zaran makes fun because he says it's a girl's hair color," Ales told Granius, smiling hesitantly.

His guardian nodded, smiling back at him. "It's true. I would bet that he probably got teased a lot when he was younger. But Ales, hair color does not affect gender. Your hair can be whatever color it is and you would still be a boy. You have no need to be afraid of that."

"What else do you know about my father?" Ales asked, looking expectantly at Granius, now that the old man had finally opened up to him about some things.

"You had four other siblings beside your father and mother," Granius said sadly. "He loved you all very much, but you were the youngest and the only one I was able to spirit away. So I took you. And now I am raising you up into a young man. It is for your own protection that I do not tell you things. If people knew who you were…."

Ales looked down to his feet and asked in a small voice, " Why am I so important? Who killed father and mother and my siblings?"

"It was not just you that they wanted," Granius told him, starring off into space, at some untold memory he was reliving. "They wanted your father because he was a good man. Some people can not stand to see people happy. They want power and they want to make people miserable because of it. So they killed your father and to ensure that your family line would not take vengeance, they tried to kill all of you as well. But I left with you, just it time."

"Sometimes, I wish that it was not me that was saved," Ales said unhappily. "I would love it if I had father and mother back. Even my siblings. And get to know them…."

Granius sighed. He got off the log and kneeled down next to Ales, taking a hold of the boy's chin and tilting his head upwards so that their eyes would meet.

"I know," he said simply. "But now, you will be able to avenge your family. You are the only one alive who can do it. I alone will give you the tools. And when you are ready, I will tell you all that you need to know to achieve your goal."

Ales' eyes hardened into a determined glint. "Yes. I'll study hard and do my best. I will kill the person who did this."

"Very good," Granius told him. "Hold on to that determination, my young prodigy, and you will achieve your goal. Now to your bath."

The boy pouted prettily but obligingly got up and went back into the modest building called a house to fetch fresh clothing before going to the river as he was told.

As the boy was bathing himself, Granius busied himself with his calculations. He had a task to accomplish – on that if he got right, would significantly help enhance the boy and help ensure his victory over Paras. He just had to get the equations right.