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Keno Chapter 1
“Aaah!”, The boy screamed as he fell to the ground with a terrible pain in his chest. He sprawled forward on the ground and tried to regain his footing a man shouted, “Come on! You can’t tell me the prodigal boy warrior can’t take a single kick!” The boy rose to his feet and faced the man who was screaming. The boy’s face was now red and shaking with anger. A tear slipped down his face, heavy and burning like a river of lava. The man smiled at his anger and taunted him by running his finger from his eye to his chin. This man was around 6’2’’ and weighed at least 200 pounds. The boy crept closer in a tight fighting stance armed only with his bare hands. He hit the man with a hard straight right punch in the cheek, but the specimen wasn’t affected by the blow and dished out a devastating uppercut which once again sent the boy tumbling back.
The boy was now just regaining his senses and just barely made out: “Looks like you and your father won’t live out the night.” With this the boy spun around and up with his fist flying and caught the man on his jaw. He stumbled back a little and the boy charged at him but was met by a kick to the side of his head. He once again hit the ground, this time bleeding uncontrollably out the mouth and nose. The beaten 15-year old now barely was able to stand back up. His vision was blurry and he could barely hear. He faced the man and slowly raised his fists. He then swung wildly but the man jumped to the side and swept out his legs from behind.
The boy was unconscious for a few seconds as he lay on his back facing up. Through the fog of head trauma the boy saw the man shake his head. The boy tried to move but was unable to. Someone threw the man a sword as he stood over the helpless boy. He rotated the sword to face downward and the boy slipped into darkness and could no longer see.
Matt abruptly sat up in his bed with a gasp. He turned to see Alex standing in the doorway of his large stone room.
“Another dream?”, Alex said in a calm voice.
“Yeah.”, Matt replied after swallowing.
“About the past I’m guessing.”
“I’m guessing you don’t want to talk about it.”
“No need. I’m fine.”
“We’ve got a big day today. Best get up, the sun’s been around for a while.”
“Remind me again what it is we’re doing today.”
“Just finding out if we will be accepted as kings, seeing if Keno will be accepted as a country, and trying to have our nation and us become members of The Allies of the Western Lands. You know, nothing big.” Alex said sarcastically.
“No need to mess with me I’m still half asleep.”
“Aren’t you always?”
With this said Matt rose to his feet and walked towards Alex. “I’m up okay. Can I at least change before I eat?”
“Fine. But I’m leaving in half an hour with or without you. F***, Matt put some clothes on!” Alex said as he walked into the dining room.
“You walked into my room b****!” Matt yelled down the long hallway
Matt changed into his armor. His armor was composed of a thin, dark grey, almost black chainmail that hugged his body all over from neck to finger tip. Then he had two thick, shiny silver metal shoulder plates that were about the shape and a little bigger than his shoulders. On his chest were two thick, shiny plates that covered each breast, similar to his shoulder plates, and touched in the middle. Both the shoulder and chest plates had obvious signs of wear streaking across their silver surface. He wore thin gauntlets on both hands that were made of many small plates of the same metal as his chainmail. From his wrist to his elbow were thick metal greaves. On the side facing away from his body the greaves extended a few inches and came to a sharp point. He wore a thick, black leather belt that was about six inches wide and could hold anything from throwing knives to a sword. On his feet were thick metal boots that extended all the way to the top of his knee ending in a sharp point, with a break at the ankles to increase mobility. On his back was a blank navy blue cape that fell to just below the knee.
Matt looked across the room at his helm and sword which were laid upon his wooden chair. His helm was rather simple for a man of his power. The top was rounded and the sides came down to his jaw, except around the ears. The back was composed of a few over lapping thin sheets which allowed him to look around while still being protected. The front was roughly shaped to his face and only had two openings which were ovals around the eyes. On his forehead was a thick, elongated-pentagon plate. The whole helm was made of the same metal as his chest plates.
The hilt of his sword, which was not too much smaller than the blade at two feet, was made of a naturally white wood. The blade was almost three feet of dark, almost black metal that had a blue tint and was just slightly curved. The blade was only sharp on one side and was fairly thin. The sheath was the same wood as the hilt and hugged the blade tightly.
Matt walked out of his room and into the dining hall wearing all of his armor except his helm which he held at his waist. He decided not to bring his sword but stocked his belt full of knives. He sat at one end of an extremely long rectangular table. Huge amounts of breakfast foods of all kinds lay on the table. He set his helm on the table and noticed Alex getting up from the other side of the table. He grabbed a biscuit and right as the morsel hit his mouth Alex yelled, “Hurry up! If we don’t leave soon we won’t arrive until dark and the meeting will be over.”
“Okay, okay I’m not even that hungry. I’ll just bring a few of these biscuits for the road. Server! Server!” Matt replied. He called for a server not a servant; he was respectful unlike most rulers.
A young woman came running out of a door behind Matt. He told her to give the rest of the breakfast to the first person she sees when she walks out the front door of the castle, for lack of a better term. I say this because the “castle” was not much bigger than a large house and only had a few rooms. But it was the largest stone building in the city.
Matt and Alex walked out of the castle and mounted their horses and rode towards the town’s gate. Both of their horses were brilliantly white all over and had been as gift from a tribal leader. Matt’s horse carried all their supplies and was significantly smaller than and not quite as beautiful as Alex’s.
Their town was mostly full of wooden or clay houses and all sorts of traders selling all kinds of goods from several different types of vendors. Most of the roads and walkways of the town were made of hard, dry dirt although a few major roads were paved with crude grey bricks. As they rode out many people bowed and cheered. They were dressed in everything from dull, worn wool shorts and shirts to magnificently colored silk robes. People flocked the streets in vast numbers trading and eating and showing signs of life. It was early in the morning but the golden rays of the spring sun brought out practically everyone in the city. The two kings passed through the gate which was open and they rode briskly out of their city.
They continued to ride almost the entire day taking only a few short rests to let the horses recover. They were riding down from the mountains and into the plains where the meeting place of the Allies of the Western Lands was. They met in a cylindrical stone building that only had one door, which was lightly guarded, that opened up into one spacious room. In the room were seven stone chairs evenly spread apart that all faced in towards each other. This was for the seven kings that led the Allies of the Western Lands.
At around sun down Matt and Alex arrived at the building. They tied up their horses and were rudely greeted by a group of armed guards.
One stepped forward and barked, “Who are you and what are you doing here.”
Alex stepped in front of Matt raising his arm stopping the angered ruler. “We are the leaders of Keno. We are here to try to join the Allies and have Keno be accepted as a country.”
The guards all laughed. “Good luck with that.” One spat bitterly.
“We’ll need your weapons if you wish to proceed into the building.”
“Very well.” Alex said as he took off his belt which held a sword and a knife. Matt handed over his war knife and his belt, which was full of throwing knives.
“Remember to keep your poise in there. I know you and Daxus don’t get along for a number of reasons, but for the sake of our kingdom keep your hands to yourself and don’t do anything stupid.” Alex whispered to Matt.
“I know I’ll be good Dad.” Matt whispered back in a joking tone
The two then proceeded into the stone building. Although it was a meeting place of great importance and had lived through many wars and tragedies; this building was located on an open plain with nothing but high grass and the occasional small tree for miles. The only way anyone could find the place was with a map and a good sense of direction and the landmark tree that stood about a hundred feet high and was only a few yards from the building. The building was made of stone blocks and had no decoration of any kind. The roof was flat and composed of the same stone blocks as the rest of the building. It was known as The Hall of the Seven Kings, but most knew only its name. It was plain and in the middle of nowhere so that only those who were invited showed up.
“I imagined it being a bit nicer.” Matt said under his breath to Alex. Both men chuckled as they entered the hall.
Matt and Alex saw the seven kings sitting in there chairs. Daxus, the king of Malos, stood and raised his hands signaling for everyone to quiet down. He was about to say something but then he saw Matt and grinned, then thought about what to say. He let the two kings walk to the middle of the room as he stepped towards them. He stopped about six feet from where Matt and Alex had stopped.
“Well look who it is, the lovers of Keno. May I ask why you two gentlemen- or um queers are here.” He mocked. The other kings held back laughter trying to maintain there regality and honor.
Matt was angered but did not show it, instead he proudly stated, “We are here to ask if our territory may be accepted as a new Kingdom, and that we may be accepted as its kings. We would also like to become members of the Allies of the Western Lands.”
“Well for starters a kingdom can’t have two kings, unless one of you is the queen in the relationship.” Daxus arrogantly said. A few kings chuckled while trying to keep a regal face.
Alex calmly replied “We are not in that kind of a relationship. We are friends. And we have found that in each other we can find answers to problems we cannot solve by ourselves. One kingdom can-“
“Please stop we don’t want to hear about what you do inside each other.” Daxus interrupted. At this commented the kings all had trouble holding back laughter. Matt was trying painfully hard not to kill Daxus.
“We aren’t gay! You can ask your daughter, Daxus, we showed her why two kings are better than one,” The kings blurted out in laughter as Matt proudly continued, “I loved the way she screamed my name.”
Daxus became red faced with fury and embarrassment. “Just like your mother screamed mine as I raped her before I cut her throat!”
Matt could no longer hold himself back. He lunged toward Daxus who was only a few feet away but Alex tackled him from the side just before his fist met the face of Daxus. Daxus placidly stepped back towards his chair and stood next to it.
“Please, for your kingdom, don’t do this.” Alex whispered. Matt silently agreed and stood up as Alex slowly released his grasp. Tears burned down the red ball of fire that was Matt’s head. He shook in anger as he held himself back with every fiber of his being.
“I knew this would happen. You see Matt and Alex are only boys not men. They can’t be a day past twenty five, and I am the youngest of the kings at the age of thirty eight. But it is not only age which holds them back. It is immaturity and belligerence which Matt clearly just displayed.” Daxus stated.
“Would any of you have acted differently to what that horrible man said?” Matt said with obvious emotion now in his voice.
“I only said that to make you show your true colors.”
“How can you let this man be a king,” Daxus said to the audience, “with a single comment he was ready to kill me and was only held back by his husband?”
“How can you let this tyrant lead your alliance? He is the worst example of an honorable man I have ever seen.” Matt spat back with a terrible anger in his voice.
“Let’s just get this over with. All who are for Keno being accepted as an ally raise your hand.” Daxus said to the kings. Not a single hand was raised.
“Can we at least explain to you why it would help you and your kingdoms to be allies with us?” Alex pleaded.
“I suppose that would be fair. Explain.” Daxus replied.
“As you all know my kingdom, which I hope you all know is named Keno, is a huge trading center and the only safe passage through the White Mountains. Because of our location we get goods from lands on the western shore and beyond at a fraction of the price that you do. Many of your citizens trade in our cities and pay taxes to us. If we were allies your country could buy large amounts of rare goods and materials and sell it to your citizens while only paying minimal tax to us. This would make you richer, your people happier and more wealthy, and build a stronger relationship between your kingdoms and those west of the white mountains.” Alex spoke with reason and logic.
“And how do we know you aren’t just going to tax the s*** out of our goods and make more money for yourself? Your idea of a mutual relationship is quite different than mine boy.” Daxus replied. Alex opened his mouth to speak but was cut off by Daxus. “All who agree with this selfish, stupid, young boy raise your hands.”
One king, an older man dressed in a rich green, silk robe began to raise his hand. His name was William and he was the king of an expansive primarily farming kingdom south of where they were. He looked around the room and saw many beaming eyes telling him to lower his hand. When Daxus glared at him he lowered his hand.
“Are you really going to let him push all of you around? Especially you Will, I had heard you were once known as William the brave. I see why you aren’t anymore.”Matt said in a relatively calm tone.
“We are not pushed around by Daxus. We all think for ourselves and act for ourselves. Daxus is a great leader and speaker and tends to speak more than us. No one pushes us around!” One king declared falsely to protect his honor. All the others agreed.
“Well I believe we are in agreement. You will not be a member of the Allies of the Western Lands, but out of our kindness we will allow you to stay neutral and we will not disrupt your kingdom unless we are given good reason. You can leave now.
Matt stormed out and Alex followed. They were given their weapons although the guards watched them closely. They went over to their horses and sat down. Alex was mad at Matt and was about to say something but when he saw Matt’s face he decided to stay quiet and instead put a hand on his shoulder.
After about ten minutes of silence Alex saw the kings start to get in their horse drawn wagons and leave. “I think we better go. It’s getting darker and we should set up camp before it is night.” Alex said.
“I need to take care of something first.” Matt replied as he stood up. He grabbed his helm from the horses pack and put it on. He walked quickly towards Daxus who was walking towards his wagon. Alex abruptly stood up and followed. “Hey Daxus.” He yelled when he was only feet away. Daxus turned and was met by Matt’s metal encased fist. He fell unconscious to the ground. The six, and only, guards that were there ran towards Matt with their swords drawn. Alex stood next to Matt and withdrew his sword. Matt took his knife from the sheath on his thigh.
Alex’s sword was a long sword about five feet long. It was broad and would have been hard for most men to wield with the control that Alex did. But Alex was strong and large at about 6’1’’ and nearly 200 hundred pounds. The sword had writing etched on the blade. It read “The last blade” because he claimed that it would be the last blade that any enemy came in contact with. The hilt was silver with a black leather grip. Gold was melted on like vines wrapping around the metal of the hilt. The hand guard was a standard design, other than the gold of course, with two rectangles jutting out with diamond shapes at the ends. Alex wore a thick coat of silver chain mail with nothing over it except metal boots, gauntlets and his belt. He wore his helm instead of his crown because he had a feeling something like this might happen. His helm was similar to Matt’s except it had an open face. He also wore a similar navy blue cape like Matt.
Matt was dwarfed by the larger man, although he was rather small at 5’8’’ 175 pounds. But Matt had a broad chest and was also quite strong. He held in his right hand a knife that was just over a foot in length. It looked sort of like a mini sword with a double-edged blade about an inch wide and eight inches long. The blade was made of a dark, almost black metal that resembled his sword. The handle was made of white wood with dark blue odd metal symbols on the surface. The handle didn’t have hand guards and was just over four inches long. On the end of the handle was a short spike that was made of the same metal as the blade. He had gotten the knife from the same source as the chainmail, gauntlets, and sword which will be explained later.
The guards formed a circle around Matt and Alex, who were now back to back. Matt knew by the blades that although they dressed neutrally they were Maloan, the kingdom Daxus led. The kingdoms rotated whose guards were at the meeting to try to stay unbiased and keep from conflict.
“Please lay down your swords so we don’t have to kill you.” Matt said as Alex laughed, both men flaring confidence.
At this gesture of arrogance the guard in front of Matt screamed and stepped towards Matt with his sword raised. Matt kicked the man in the chest before he could strike sending him falling back. He then turned to his right and deflected a stabbing sword with his knife, which was held pointing down. He grabbed the guard’s left wrist with his left hand and swung the point of his knife into the guards exposed throat. The guard that was to his left had not moved and stared fearfully into Matt’s belligerent eyes. He took a step back then turned and ran a few steps. Matt took a throwing knife from his belt and it sank into the back of the man’s neck. The knives were extremely simple. They were made of very lustrous silver metal and only about six inches long. They were double edged and double pointed. They were rectangular with a rounded to the point end.
Meanwhile Alex swung his sword at the man to his left’s knee successfully severing it. He then swung up towards his face hitting away the sword of the man in front of him. He then in one fluid motion stabbed his sword through the chest of the man in front of him. He pulled it out and just barely blocked the sword of the man to his right. The man took another swing at Alex’s right shoulder but Alex parried the blow upwards then kicked the man in the side. The man stumbled to the side giving Alex just enough time to take the head off the guard with his sword.
Alex turned to Matt who was now walking towards the guard who was kicked in the chest, who was now wheezing on the ground. The guard was in the fetal position struggling to breath. Matt saw that he didn’t pose a threat and he looked around for Daxus. His eyes quickly found their target and he walked towards the king who was now holding a sword.
Alex walked over to the man on the ground and put him out of his misery via a stomp on the neck. He then looked at Daxus and Matt who were now circling and ready to fight. Daxus was about Alex’s size, but a bit taller and skinnier. He wore an ornately decorated red and purple robe over a suit of chainmail. His crown was bronze and gold leaf designs overlapping like a dense metal wreath. Hundreds of small diamonds were sprinkled on the crown like the stars in the sky. He was a white man with long flowing brown hair and a thick but short brown beard, which contrasted with Matt’s two inch long hair and shaved face. The two, however, shared lightly colored skin and bluish eyes. Daxus stood with more of a king like presence. He had a crown, a magnificent sword, a beard, and stood with raised shoulders and a puffed out chest. Matt looked odd next to him, not like a king other than his cape. He was hunched forward with legs slightly spread and knees slightly bent. He had his knife in his right hand facing downwards and slightly askew to the outside. His left hand was empty other than the gauntlet he wore; both hands were held at shoulder width about a foot in front and a few inches below his eyes. His stance was aggressive not regal.
“Are you still holding a grudge for what I… we did so many years ago?” Daxus said in a somewhat sarcastic, taunting voice.
“How can you think I would ever forgive you? How could I ever forgive the man responsible for the destruction of my city, my people, my…” Matt replied in a serious stern tone with tears running down his face again.
“Shall I finish your sentence for you?” At this comment Matt lunged forward breaking the roughly 5 ft. gap. His knife swung down towards Daxus’s neck, but Daxus pulled back and got a, relatively, small cut on his left shoulder. Daxus now swung his sword across his body. Matt ducked under his swing and tackled Daxus. He mounted Daxus and violently beat the man to bloody mess. After a brutal 10 seconds Matt grabbed Daxus’s throat and raised his knife.
Matt looked into Daxus’s swollen eyes. He wanted to kill him but for some reason something was holding him back. Daxus began to laugh, or at least try to. He mumbled, “You can’t kill me.” Matt wanted more than anything to kill Daxus but he couldn’t bring himself to do it.
“Now! Do it!” Alex shouted. Matt looked over and saw Alex’s confused face. Daxus took advantage of Matt’s vulnerability and threw dirt in his face, then scrambled away. He sprinted for Matt’s horse. Alex chased after him but was just barely late. Daxus jumped on Matt’s horse and was off before anyone could get to him.
Alex turned his attention to Matt who was sitting on the ground staring blankly at his upturned hands. “What the f*** is wrong with you!” Alex yelled as he stomped towards Matt. Matt stood up but Alex shoved him down violently. “I don’t understand what the hell you were thinking! If you’re going to let your pride and emotions get in front of your responsibility to your kingdom at least finish what you set out to do! Now Daxus has a reason to tear through all of Keno just because you didn’t have the balls to kill him! I mean if you killed him at least it would take some time for Malos to find out what happened and they might not be so mad about Daxus! But know I bet we’ll have the whole Maloan army at our doorstep in a week!” Alex paused and breathed as Matt stood up.
“I know. I messed up. I don’t know what else to say.” Matt said with his head hung low.
“Look at yourself”, Alex’s voice was now calm and sincere, “right now you do look more like a boy then a king. Come on let’s go.” Alex whistled for his horse.
His horse slipped his head out of the rope and pranced towards them. His name was Ghost. He was White all over. Many horses are mostly white but have black snout’s and black hooves or black eyes but not Ghost. Ghost had pure white hair and pinkish white skin and hooves. His eyes were an extremely light blue. He was named Ghost partly because of his white hair, but also for his mysterious behavior. No matter where you put him to sleep if he didn’t like it, in the morning he would be somewhere else. Also, for a horse, he moved really quietly and if you put any saddle on him he would act irked and not listen as well. He was a huge very strong spectacle of a horse. Ghost was a gift from one of the tribes Matt and Alex had united, but that is a story that will be explained later.
Alex easily jumped on the horse who wasn’t wearing a saddle. Matt tried but fell twice. Alex extended his arm to help and laughed. Matt shook his head but took the much needed assistance. Alex patted Ghost’s neck and he started running at a relatively slow speed. Matt almost fell off because he wasn’t used to riding a horse without reins and a saddle. “I liked my horse better, he wasn’t as clumsy and big and-“ Ghost sprinted for a second and threw Matt off. Alex stopped Ghost and turned him around. Matt rose and said, “What the f***, does he speak?”
“No, but he hears. Hahaha!” Alex laughed again at Matt.
After a few hours of riding in the night they decided to stop and sleep. They had nothing to eat and nothing to sleep on because Matt’s horse had all the supplies. They woke up early in the morning and continued to ride back to Keno. Within a few hours they approached the base of the mountain chain that Keno was on. They were called the White Mountains because they were made of pale almost white stone. They were also rich with various ores and other valuable materials.
There was really only one easy way up and over the mountains. To get up it there was a steep, but also very wide, switch back trail that was mostly natural but refined by Keno. At the top of the trail was the lowest point of the mountain range. It was sort of a raised valley that was generally flat and stretched for almost 30 miles. The rest of the mountains were steep and rocky and hard to get through for a man let alone a horse or caravan.
The first city that Matt and Alex will arrive at is known as the Eastern Trading Post. That is where our story began. It is called this because originally it was just a small trading post on the eastern side of the mountains. What was once a trading post is now a large prosperous city focused around trade and producing materials like metals, stones, and hardwood.
There is a very similar city on the western edge of Keno known as the Western Trading Post. The two cities share that they are based on trade but the Western trading post is more based on art and product trading while the ETP is based more on material trading.
The largest city in Keno is called Keno. It lies almost exactly in between the two trading posts and is a huge, prolific capital. It is about three miles long and two miles wide. The kings live in the heart of the city called The White District. The White District is an area of town about a half mile in diameter that is encased by a massive 20ft tall wall. Only the most respected people in Keno are permitted to live in The White District. It is known by this name because all the buildings inside are made of pale almost white stone. The District shares more than half of its borders with a steep tall mountain. The kings live in a large pale stone castle that is built in to the mountain known as Kenarosa, hence the name Keno. The castle and some of the larger buildings in The White District are still under construction. The whole city is surrounded by a wooden wall with a heavy metal gate in the middle that is always open. The cities main economy comes from trading and blacksmithing but also has a lot of mining and production revenue.
As the sun started to reach the end of its daily routine Alex and Matt rode through the gate of the Eastern Trading Post. Guards with long spears stepped out of their way and bowed their heads. Ghost changed speeds from a jog to a slow walk. As they rode towards the “castle” they slept at a few nights ago they were greeted by most with applause and subtle bows. However there were a lot more people that gave them dirty looks and held their heads high in defiance then the kings had expected to see. Alex was too tired and distracted to notice these mutinous people, but Matt saw almost all of them out of the crowd. He wondered what he and Alex had done to make that many people hate them. He then realized that by returning in the fashion that they did many people were probably aware that the meeting didn’t go as planned.
Matt and Alex were fairly respectful, kind people, which for kings is unheard of. They treated the poorest farmer with the same respect as the richest nobleman. Most kings would have beaten or killed anyone who did not show them the most respect possible.
Matt kept quiet as they neared their destination. He tried to not think about the looks of disgust he was receiving from so many faces. He was starting to get angry. As he gazed into the crowd one face caught his eye. It was a boy about ten years old with a look of pure hatred on his face. Matt couldn’t let that go.
How could a boy so young hate such a nice respectful leader?, he wondered. What could I have done to make this child hate me .Matt leapt off the horse and push through the crowd towards the boy. The boy realized what was going on and ducked his head and walked calmly away. The chase ensued for only a few seconds until Matt caught up. He reached out and put a hand on the boys shoulder.
As the boy turned around, the world around Matt started to change. The sky faded to a greenish gray. The ground became black and cracked. All sound faded away. The boy continued turning but his face was different then before. It was grey and looked rough and thick like leather. His eyes were solid black with no pupils in the middle. He had no hair or eyes and his nose was two thin long slits running down the middle of his face. Matt let go and the boy ran away.
Matt closed his eyes and then rubbed his fore head and opened them. The world around him was the same as when he closed them. All the people around him had similar faces to the boy and were dressed in dark suits of armor. The armor was made of a blackish metal with a red tint and was simply sheets about 3 inches wide stacked on one another. The wooden trading shacks had changed into dark grey, crude metal buildings.
“Are you okay brother?” He heard a terribly high pitched voice say behind him. He spun around to face one of these things only about a foot away from him.
“Yeah, yeah I’m fine. I thought I saw that boy steal something but I was mistaken.”Matt replied.
“But your eyes, they’re… they’re becoming black. Your pupils are taking over the rest of your eyes. And you look pale. Like you’re terrified or something.” The horrendous voice replied.
“Umm I guess I was just shocked to see such a young boy do such a terrible thing.” Matt said as he turned away. He felt a hand on his shoulder spin him around. He saw that it was Alex. The world looked like normal again.
“Are you sure you’re okay? You don’t look so good.” Alex replied in his usual regal, some might say slightly arrogant, voice.
“Yeah I’m fine. I just need some rest let’s get to the castle.”
“Okay. We can do that brother.”