From The Corin Chronicles, Volume One: The Light and the Dark
Kirinki rose and approached the entrance of the carriage, prompting Selena to follow him. But Samma stopped her. “Whatever you have to say, my lady,” he said, “make it quick. For Auphora’s men draw near.”
Standing a few feet from the carriage, Selena paced back and forth, sweat rising on her face. “What I tell you now, I do because there is no other way,” she said. “Telling you this is putting a burden on you. One I wish on no one.”
“I agreed to help you, my lady, and no matter what you tell me now, I will uphold my promise.”
“My son is different, unique in some ways,” she said. “Do you know the story of the Anointed One?”
“The story is known to me, yes,” Kirinki replied. “But what has that to do with your son?”
“Just after the divide of Corin,” she continued, “rumors started to spread about the identity of the Anointed One. Some said he was a man. Some said he was a boy. Both men and children were captured in the search for him and, some say, slaughtered for bearing a resemblance to the person foreseen to bring an end to Auphora’s kingdom. My son also bears similar appearance to the One described in the legend, which is why I must hide his face, especially from Auphora’s soldiers.”
Kirinki also started to pace, occasionally glaring at Selena. “Is your son actually the Anointed One?” he asked.
“You dare ask me that?” Selena almost barked her words. “I am from the house of Simpa, an honorable and gods-fearing house. My husband was an honest man before meeting his death for daring to protect his son. Siroco is not the Anointed One, nor will he ever be anything of the sort.
“Master Kirinki, I am desperate. Enough to surrender everything I own to ensure the safety of my son. I beg you to help me. If they see him, they will not even request that he takes off his veil. They will simply strike him down.”
Kirinki looked squarely into Selena’s eyes a moment before Samma rushed toward him. “The Monoroi is only a few moments away, Master. If we are going to act, we must do it now.”
“Bring the boy immediately. Hide him and his mother inside that cave.” Kirinki pointed at a narrow opening in the cliff, just a few feet beside them.
“I cannot thank you enough, Master Kirinki.” Selena took his hands in hers.
“Do not thank me yet, my lady. There is still much to do.”
After a moment, Samma returned with a terrified Siroco running behind him. With mother and son now in the cave and safely out of sight, Kirinki returned to the carriage and ordered his men to continue toward the river. It was not long before the horses came to a stop once again, and Kirinki knew that Auphora’s riders had reached them. Listening to the flurry of voices outside, he heard a number of people dismounting. He could not tell who was who until he heard the heavy footsteps approaching the entrance of his carriage. One of the sounds was that of metal colliding with the ground, and he realized he was in the presence of a Monoroi warrior. He held on to the hand of Gertrude, who had not yet lost her warm smile.
As the carriage door swung open, it was not the face of the Monoroi that greeted Kirinki, but that of a human soldier. He assumed the man was a general, judging by his plain black tunic and the gold emblems on the top right of his chest, just above a bronze star and crescent—the mark of Auphora. “Is it with Master Kirinki I speak?” asked the human soldier.
“Yes, I am Master Kirinki from the house of Shamana.” Kirinki gestured toward the still-smiling woman, seated opposite him. “And this is my wife, Gertrude.”
“Shamana?” asked the soldier. “You would not be related to General Kraipo Shamana, would you?”
Kirinki shifted his gaze toward his feet. “He was my brother,” he said finally.
“He was a great leader,” said the soldier. “He was one of the very best of men, and I am proud to have fought by his side.”
Kirinki raised his head and looked at the soldier, the white in his eyes slowly turning red.
“Please pardon me,” said the soldier, “but I must insist that you accompany me outside.” He maintained an expression of extreme concentration.
Without a moment’s hesitation, Kirinki made his way outside, closely followed by Gertrude, but the man quickly held out his hand. “The lady may remain in the carriage.”
Directly outside the carriage stood the rest of the human soldiers, and just behind them were the rest of his men. But Kirinki only looked for one: the Monoroi himself. He could see no sign of him. “So how can I be of assistance?” Kirinki asked.
The man in the black tunic did not answer at first. He walked around the carriage, inspecting every detail of the horses before returning to Kirinki. “I am General Aspac. You may have heard my name before.”
“I am afraid I have not,” replied Kirinki. “But then again, I do not make it my business to know much outside my own house.”
“On the contrary,” said the general dryly. “I have heard about you, and I believe you know a great deal about everything of importance here in Tyranis. Your brother spoke very little of you, which I found curious, but I make it my duty to know of those who might not serve the cause I follow.”
“I am afraid you are mistaken,” said Kirinki. “I am but a simple man who offers my services to those who require it.”
“But how far would you go?” The voice did not come from the lips of any that stood in front of him. Glancing to his left, Kirinki saw the glow of the metallic body as it emerged from the side of the carriage. Wearing a solid gold mask that revealed only piercing, jet-black eyes and fangs, the Monoroi stared directly back at him. “Would you protect those who betray our Father? Does your greed know no bounds?”