By John Wiegand
Welcome. I’m very glad that you happened to arrive. You are very fortunate to be here, for you are about to hear a tale full of wonders. It is quite a long tale, I’m afraid, but I know that you will find it very exciting. It is a tale of magic, love, treachery, and deception. It is a tale full of unfathomable creatures, mystical demons, and terrible monsters. It is a tale to be remembered for a lifetime and passed down for generations to come...
This is the tale of how our world began. The earth that we know of today did not exist. Fate, the Goddess of Destiny, created for us one world, one land, and one home. This land was known as Gandalmor. It was a peaceful, brilliant land full of unimaginable beauty and boundless wonders; full of light, splendor, and happiness. Every living soul prospered in this land. Peace roamed blisfully, from the highest mountains to the lowest valleys; stretching across the vast plains and luscious, green hills. In this glorious land, there reigned a noble king and a fair queen, who loved their land and people dearly. Despite their contentment, there was an emptiness in their hearts that needed to be filled. It was only a short matter of time before they fell prey to confusion and loneliness. In the midst of their loneliness, they realized that the solution to their problems was to bear children. And so, the king laid with his fair wife and bore her two beautiful children. After the infants were cleaned by nurses who had tended the queen as she was giving birth, their skin shone like the rays of the golden sun. The king and queen looked upon their two innocent sons with great joy and smiled, relieved that the deep hole in their hearts had finally been filled. They were happy to have created two perfect and beautiful children, whom they could truly love and be loved in return. The King and Queen named their oldest son Thadameus, and the younger they named Ritherot.
A year after giving birth, the Queen fell terribly ill. As she laid in bed, she asked her husband one last request before she succumbed to her illness: that she may bless her sons so that it may go well with them all the days of their life. The distraught king ordered offcials to bring the two infants into the Queen's chamber, and immediately they obeyed. When the infants were brought it, the Queen weakly beckoned the officials to give her her children. The officials went to the Queen's bedside and gently gave the two infants to the Queen. The Queen smiled and caressed her children with both hands. Then, she gently kissed each of them on their foreheads and wished them happiness and good fortune. Afterwards, the Queen let out a slight sob, breathed her last, and died. The King realized his wife became motionless, and he gently closed her sad, lifeless eyes with his hand. The King knelt on her deceased wife's bedside, looked at his beautiful wife, and wept tremendously. The officials in the room looked upon the scene with heavy sorrow. Knowing that their queen had died, they instinctively took her children away and left the king to mourn. The next day, the king ordered the officials to take her and bury her near the palace.
As the two infants grew to become mature children, the King deliberated upon the timing of when he should choose to tell his sons about their future positions in the kingdom. When the children turned 10, the King decided to reveal to them their destinies. While the two were playing in the courtyard, the King entered and called for them in a loud voice, saying, “My beloved sons, come to me!” Immediately, the two ran to their father and embraced him. The King smiled warmly and brought them into his throne room. The younger son, Ritherot, knew that it was time to know who would be the true king of Gandalmor. It was everything that he dreamed of being, and his long anticipation was about to pay off.
“Imagine Thadameus: King of Gandalmor! Truly there is no other position worthier than this!” Ritherot said to his brother one day, as he pretended to be a king.
“Yes, that would be amazing.” Thadameus softly replied. Ritherot noticed Thadameus’ reluctant answer and scolded him.
“Thadameus, thou art always so reluctant about everything. Why can’t thou be strong and determined like thy father? Surely you must in order to be king!”
“But that does not mean that thou hast to be so impetuous in thy thinking.” Thadameus retorted gently.
“Hm, well I guess that makes both of us at fault. Oh well, but father shall surely grant me his inheritance, for I am much more worthier than thou art.” Ritherot shot back conceitedly.
The two entered their father’s room and bowed before him. The king nodded his head in approval, and the two stood up.
“I hath deliberated upon whether I should tell thee of thy fortunes, but I hath come to realize that now is the time to reveal to thee what shall lie ahead.” The King stated authoritatively as he sat on his throne. The children listened attentively to their father.
“What dost thou mean, Father?” Ritherot asked, pretending that he did not know the reason why his father brought him in. The King turned his head to Ritherot and looked deeply into his eyes, as if he was searching for something in Ritherot’s heart and soul. The King frowned and seemed to be troubled. Thadameus, knowing that the situation was becoming uncomfortable, anxiously implored, “Oh Father, I ask thee, if I may, please tell us what thou hast to tell.” The King immediately turned his face and gazed deeply into Thadameus’ eyes. Thadameus suddenly became frightened, for he felt that he would be punished for inquiring the King so hastily. But the King smiled upon Thadameus and found favor in him. Seeing this, Ritherot’s heart burned with jealousy. He kept it hidden in his heart, but the wise king already saw it in his eyes before it had conceived in his heart. The King stood up, with his golden scepter in hand, and walked towards Thadameus. The King stooped down on his knees and placed a warm, gentle hand on Thadameus’ left shoulder.
“Thou hath been born to do great things, my son. Things, which I, myself, am not able to do.” The King said in a gentle voice.
“I don’t understand Father.” Thadameus said softly. The King exhaled slowly and chuckled under his breath.
“Thou art to rule this land, Thadameus. When I grow weary and old, thou shall one day take my place as King of Gandalmor and reign with dignity and power. I can see it in thee, Thadameus, that thou shall be a fit king for my people; for thy people.” The King said.
“But my Lord, you rule this land with great dignity and awesome power! I can never rule this land as thou hath!” Thadameus said reverently. The King paused to clear his throat. His face suddenly became serious and he said in a low voice, “Thou hast a pure and noble heart, Thadameus. This is what shall make thee a better king than I ever was. For I am not even worthy to be called noble.”
“Don’t say that, Father!” Thadameus shouted with tears in his eyes. The King heaved a deep sigh. Tears were already flowing down Thadameus’ cheeks. The King saw this and immediately wiped away the tears that stained his face.
“Do not weep, Thadameus. I admire thy love for thy king. I have seen all that is in thy heart, and I find much favor in thee. You have a great power inside thee that will make thee the greatest king in Gandalmor’s history. That power, my son, is love.”
“I still don’t understand. Thou hast love, Father! That is what makes this land prosper. Love hast been the guiding force in our land since the beginning of age.” Thadameus swiftly justified.
“You have a unique love, my son. One day, Thadameus, you will understand.” There followed a long pause afterwards. Suddenly, the King broke down and wept bitterly. Thadameus, confused and stricken with grief, embraced his father tightly. Thadameus desired to know what troubled the king. Was it Ritherot? Did it have anything to do with him? Was it shame that he could have been a better king? All of these questions flooded Thadameus’ mind, but he resisted to ask in fear that it will only make matters worse. When the king had calmed down, Thadameus asked,
“I thank thee, my Lord, for bestowing upon me thy inheritance. But, if I may ask, what dost thou plan to give to my brother, Ritherot?” The King looked at Ritherot, whose face was downcast, and saw that Ritherot’s heart was heavy with sorrow. The King was troubled to see that his son was sad, and, because of his love, he felt compelled to forgive him.
“Because thou cared about thy brother, Ritherot, I shall consent to thy will. He shall be second in command of this land. He shall be given great power to make laws and watch over the people of this land, but he shall not be given power to exceed thee. Thou shall determine whether or not thy brother’s laws and government are acceptable. I trust that thou shall do this effectively, for this is why I hath chosen thee, not Ritherot.” At this statement, Ritherot left the King’s presence angrily and exited the throne room. Thadameus turned to look back at his brother, whom he loved and would die for, and wept in the King’s arms.
“Why art thou sad? ‘Tis not enough to give to Ritherot?” The King asked perplexed.
“Oh, my Lord, if I may, why hath thou chosen me instead of Ritherot?” The King sighed and stared intently into Thadameus’ tearful eyes.
“Because Thadameus, as I hath said before, thou hast love like no other. Thy love is bountiful and unselfish. It is pure, genuine, and blameless. Thou carest not only for thyself, but for others as well, such as thy brother, Ritherot. This is the ultimate trait that will determine whether a king should truly be called king. Love is what rules this land, and it is what has sustained this land for all time. I have seen the heart of thy brother, and he has nothing to share with you but ravenous hatred and burning jealousy. If he ruled this land, my people, along with the land, will die in his hands. I hath already given him power almost equal to thee, and yet he still dares to defy my judgment by leaving my presence. I hath done what a good father should hath done, Thadameus. Do not believe that I show favoritism. If Ritherot hath the love that thou hast, I would have made both of thee kings of Gandalmor! No law of such states that Gandalmor can only have one king. If I allow it, then two kings shall reign this land.” Thadameus looked up into his father’s eyes and smiled.
“Thank you, Father!” He exclaimed, without a tear in his eyes.
Over the years, Ritherot’s jealousy grew, especially when he later learned that Thadameus would surely be king on the day of his twenty-first birthday. There were many times when Ritherot would leave the palace abruptly while the royal family feasted. Every time Ritherot left, Thadameus would instinctively get up from his seat, but the king warned him to let his brother be. On those dreary nights, Ritherot would sit on the highest mountaintop and gaze into the stars, asking himself why he wasn’t chosen to be the future king of Gandalmor. Why couldn’t Thadameus have switched places with him long before birth? Why did Fate, that treacherous traitor, choose his position? Better yet, why was Thadameus living? It was better if he wasn’t even alive. That way, Ritherot would surely be honored as their only son, and will definitely inherit his father’s throne. Even though Ritherot contemplated on the murder of his brother, he tried his best to fight off the thought of it, for he knew that if such a thing occurred, Gandalmor would be destroyed, and he will perish into darkness and destruction for all eternity. Gandalmor was a land of perfection. Any such act of evil would tarnish its perfection, and thus, the land would be consumed by darkness.
Thadameus knew of his brother’s evil intentions, and at times, he tried to reason with him.
“Oh brother, why art thou sad? Dost thou not knoweth that thou hast the entire kingdom of Gandalmor?”
“Thou art bloody fool! Thou knoweth well that thou is the rightful heir to thy father’s throne!”
“Oh Ritherot, my dear brother, thou is so blind! Dost thou not see? Thou shall reign with me forever in happiness!”
“Oh rubbish! What dost thou know about happiness? Why dost thou care? Thou art a greedy sow!” And with that, Ritherot would leave Thadameus’ presence. Eventually, Thadameus grew tired of reasoning with his jealous brother, and so he began seeking for his love to reign with him in the future. The person who caught his eyes ever since he was a boy was the royal servant’s daughter. Her name was Serenia. She was a tall and slender woman who had beautiful, golden hair and eyes that shone brighter than the sun. Every part of her feature was brilliant and erotic. Whenever Serenia and Thadameus gazed into one another’s eyes, it was as if the world around them had momentarily stopped. The two had known that they were meant for each other. Was it ultimately Fate, that sweet, loving Goddess, that created this strong bond between the two lovers? Both of them didn’t know for sure, but they both knew that there was a connection of some sort.
When the two had grown to be teenagers, they left the palace often and traveled to the borders of Gandalmor. There, they would pretend to propose to one another.
“Serenia, will thou be my lawful, good wife?” Chuckling, Serenia would say yes.
“And, Thadameus, will thou be my trustworthy, strong husband?” To which Thadameus readily replied with a strong, hearty “yes.” The two would then kiss each other playfully on the cheeks. One particular day, Thadameus had a surprise for his love.
"Oh, Serenia, dost thou not remember the beautiful legend of Gandalmor?" Thadameus asked eagerly.
"Yes, why dost thou ask?" Serenia replied, confused about what Thadmeus was trying to get at. Thadameus laughed gently and smiled at Serenia's beauty. He stroked Serenia's smooth hair with his hand, and asked,
“Would thou favor to live in a world where we may be truly happy?” Thadameus asked. Immedlately, she realized what Thadameus meant.
"Of course, thy love, I would give anything to leave this world and live happily with thee,” Serenia replied, "but what if thy father or brother finds out about this? Surely you will be condemned!"
"Thou hast my word that nobody shall know of this except for the two of us." Thadameus strongly promised. Serenia smiled at Thadameus and kissed him on the lips. In an act of honor and love towards Serenia, Thadameus created a set of 52 concrete cards with his own hands from the solid border that surrounded the perfect land of Gandalmor. With his imagination, he created four groups out of the 52 cards, and gave each set a specific royal name. For the first thirteen cards, he gave them the name “diamonds,” which resembled the material wealth he and Serenia shared in the palace; for the second group of thirteen, he gave them the name “clubs,” resembling new life after marriage; for the third, he gave “hearts,” representing the lovers’ undying love for each other; the fourth, “spades,” signifying unity and the powerful nature of love. For each of the thirteen cards, he gave specific titles. Together, they would represent the government of their land. These titles were, from highest power to least, the Ace, the king, the queen, the Jack, the 10th rank, the 9th rank, the 8th rank, the 7th rank, the 6th rank, the 5th rank, the 4th rank, the 3rd rank, and the 2nd rank. This government for each tribe became known as the Suit. Thadameus figured to not include a 1st rank, deciding that the Ace would be the alpha and the omega; the first and the last. Thus, the Ace of each royal tribe was the most powerful being, and would serve its purpose to be the ultimate guardian and protector for each royal tribe and their land. With the magical, powerful love between Serenia and Thadameus, combined with the magic in the cards, the Aces transformed into portals leading to its particular tribes’ land. Altogether, four new and perfect worlds were created.
“Oh, let us jump into one of these portals Thadameus! Let us be free from this world so that we may truly be together, dost thou not truly wanteth this?” Serenia enthusiastically asked. Thadameus, however, was troubled to leave his friends and family behind.
“Oh Serenia, I would love to, believe me! But my friends and family I musn’t leave behind. Once thou jumpest into a card, thou cannot return!”
Ritherot noticed that Thadameus had been acting strangely, and wondered what had got into him.
“Perhaps I should follow him and see what is really going on here.” He said to himself. One day, Ritherot eavesdropped on a conversation that Thadameus and Serenia had. During the conversation, he learned that the two loved each other and wanted to marry in the future. Afterwards, Ritherot went to inform his father of everything he had heard. When Ritherot told the king about Thadameus’ affection for the royal servant’s daughter, he was shocked and furious. He ordered his son to come before him and demanded for a reason why he was engaged to someone whom the king had never approved. Thadameus replied by saying he simply loved her with all of his heart. Enraged and heartbroken that Thadameus would act on his own will, the king called for an official to take Thadameus away from his presence and be exiled at the borders of Gandalmor. Thadameus pleaded with his father to spare him of this horrible punishment, but the king refused to listen to his son. Thadameus desired to ask his father why he was doing this, but out of reverent fear of his king he dared not speak. With deep grief and penitence, Thadameus acquiesced to his father’s command and was escorted out of the palace to be banished. Just before he left, Thadameus looked back at the king, then at Serenia. The two stared into each other’s eyes for a moment, as if they were saying farewell to each other for the last time. Thadameus also glimpsed at his brother, who curled his lips to form a dastardly smile.
The guards, who escorted Thadameus, tied him up with rope and took him to the borders of Gandalmor. Once there, the guards chained his hands and feet firmly against the wall. Twice a week, the guards would return to feed Thadameus food and give him water to drink. Each time they returned, the guards informed Thadameus that his father still loved him dearly and encouraged him not to lose hope. As each week went by, however, Thadameus began to lose hope and believe that his father did not love him anymore, and that the guards were merely doing their duties by lying to him. Day and night, Thadameus cried out in agonizing misery, asking himself why he had fallen prey to Serenia’s beauty in the first place. He asked himself why his father had forsaken him and why he would do such a thing to him, his son, whom he loved dearly. Had not he shown enough love to his father? In the midst of his moaning, he suddenly remembered Ritherot’s words from long ago: “Thadameus, thou art always so reluctant about everything. Why can’t thou be strong and determined like thy father? Surely you must in order to be king!” But he had been, hadn’t he? Isn’t that why his father chose him to be king? No, it was his love that spoke louder than his strength. But then again, why would the king banish his own son, his own flesh and blood? Was it wrong to feel deep romantic feelings for someone? As a pandemonium of questions flooded through Thadameus’ mind, he began hallucinating Ritherot standing before him, laughing sinisterly.
“Oh, you pathetic fool! Hast thou not figured it all out yet? Thy father thinks that you’re a coward; a pawn easily manipulated!” The image of Ritherot harshly said.
“That is not true! My father loves thou and I, we both know that.” Thadameus retorted angrily.
“Well, why did thou not speak up for thyself when confronted by thy king. Truly thou would hath saved thyself from this terrible fate if thou hath simply defended thyself. Thy father could not love thee for thy lack of confidence!”
“That is not true! I was merely respecting my father!”
“Thou lack strength; thou art weak like a worm!” Ritherot suddenly yelled in rage.
“No! Thou art a liar! Thou art weak! Thou seek pleasure in humiliating others and believing that thou art above them. Thou seek the wrong pleasure, my brother, for arrogance may cause thee to stumble, but pride shall make thee fall!” Thadameus shouted powerfully. Suddenly, Ritherot’s image disappeared, and Thadameus realized that he was shouting at empty darkness. Thadameus let his head droop and he wept bitterly.
As Thadameus suffered during his banishment, Serenia likewise felt her heart and soul had been crushed by grief. She had thought about leaving the palace to search for Thadameus, but she was afraid of getting caught by the guards. Love, however, urged her to do something. On one gloomy night, Serenia prayed in her bedroom to Fate, the Goddess of Destiny, that She would manipulate the king to make him change his mind so that Thadameus could return home. She asked the Goddess to help ease the pain in her fiery heart so that she would not lose control in the midst of her agony. She also asked Fate to conceal her so that nobody would see her when she left the palace. Finally, she asked for guidance so that she would find her love. When Serenia finished her prayer, she wept on her bed. Fate looked down upon her with immense sorrow, for She felt shameful to have made such a beautiful woman weep. Fate decided to appear before the weeping girl and comfort her. When Serenia saw Fate, she became frightened and hastily hid under her bed sheets.
“Do not be afraid, girl. I am Fate, the one whom you have been praying to.” Fate said in a gentle, mystical voice. Serenia slowly pulled away the blanket that covered her face and peered at Fate with fearful eyes.
“I am sorry if what I have said was blasphemous, O Great Fate!” Serenia cried out as she trembled in fear.
“Child, you have done nothing wrong in my eyes. Listen! I have heard your desperate prayers and have come to comfort you.” Fate said in a mighty voice. Serenia wiped away the tears from her eyes, got up from her bed, and knelt on the ground before the presence of Fate.
“Look at me, child!” Fate commanded harshly. Serenia immediately looked up into the flaming eyes of Fate.
“I am listening, my Lord!” Serenia said reverently.
“Good. Now listen well, dear Serenia, for I shall only say this once. I cannot manipulate people’s minds, I can only control their destinies. Regardless if I was able to do so, there would be no need to manipulate the king’s mind.”
“I don’t understand, my Lord.” Serenia said quietly.
“All of this is merely a test for the boy you love so dearly. The wise king has already planned out everything. He has already known of your love with Thadameus through word from his officials. He surely has not abandoned his child. I tell you, no one who has true love would ever do such a thing! Once the year has come to an end, the boy would have proven himself worthy to be called King of Gandalmor. So weep no longer, dear child. Go out and find Thadameus, tell him the things which I have told you, and I shall hide and protect you from harm’s way. I shall guide you safely to find your love, as you have asked. Now go!” And with that, Fate instantly disappeared. Serenia sat for a moment in disbelief. Who in the history of Gandalmor has ever laid mortal eyes upon the Great Goddess Fate Herself? Without another thought, Serenia got up and left the palace unseen. When Serenia was outside, she saw a beautiful white horse that seemed to beckon her. Serenia knew that it must be Fate in animal form, and sat on the horse. Almost immediately, the horse began racing into the distance. Night had fallen on the peaceful land of Gandalmor. Darkness was everywhere, and yet, the mysterious horse seemed to know exactly where it was going. Serenia held onto the horse’s mane tightly as the wind blew in her face and made her eyes water. Although there was complete darkness, Serenia had hope in her heart, and she trusted that Fate would guide her safely to Thadameus.
The horse began slowing down to a halt. Once the horse came to a complete stop, it raised its front legs and neighed loudly. Serenia knew that Thadameus was near. When the horse came to a stop, Serenia got off the horse and thanked Fate for bringing her safely. Serenia heard low murmurs nearby and suspected that it was Thadameus.
“Oh, Great Fate, I ask that thou shall grant me light to see in this overwhelming darkness.” Serenia said, for she could not see anything. Immediately, a ball of wondrous light appeared floating before Serenia. The ball followed her wherever she went, lighting up the darkness that surrounded her. She thanked Fate again for blessing her. When she approached the great wall that bordered Gandalmor, she saw Thadameus chained against the wall. Serenia saw that her love had grown weary. He was emaciated to the bone. Bags had drooped down his flittering eyes, his face looked like a skull covered by a sheet of skin, and his hair had been falling off his head. Serenia broke down and wept on the ground. Thadameus, who had barely enough energy to move his eyes, heard Serenia weep. Thadameus wanted to cry, but the tears had left his eyes. He felt dry as the desert and hungry as a starving lion. But love had given him enough energy to speak.
“Serenia...” he began. Serenia looked up at Thadameus with tears falling from her face and said, “Oh my love, how I am stricken with grief! I am sorry that my beauty has caused this to befall upon thee.”
“Serenia...am I hallucinating in my madness? Art thou really here?” Thadameus asked.
“It is thy love, Serenia, in flesh, blood, and bone. I am here, my love.” Serenia said. Thadameus heaved a deep and wheezy sigh.
“I am glad that thou hast come. Tell me, art thou here to bring me food and water? I feel my soul slowly escaping my flesh and bones. Please tell me why thou hast come, for I am about to die.” Thadameus moaned quietly.
“Oh Thadameus, do not speak of such words! I hath not brought food nor water for thee, but I hath come to deliver reassuring news.” Serenia said. Thadameus murmured something inaudible. He seemed to have fallen into a trance. Thadameus began breathing faster and heavier, huffing and puffing like a wild boar.
“This is all thy fault, woman! Why did thou possess me with thy infallible beauty? Thou art a wench! May Fate curse thee for all time!” Thadameus shouted suddenly. Serenia was shocked to hear Thadameus react in this way, and she became frightened. “Thadameus, please hear what I hath to say!”
“Why should I listen to what thou hast to say? Look what you have already done to me! I may as well just escape this world than to hear anything from thee.” There was a long pause as Thadameus tried to regain his breath. Thadameus threw his head back against the rugged wall and moaned terribly.
“Oh Father! Why hast thou forsaken me?” Thadameus cried out loudly. Serenia grabbed Thadameus by both arms and held onto him firmly.
“Thy father has not forsaken thee, Thadameus! This is merely a test to prove thy worthiness as king!” Serenia said sternly. Thadameus stared into Serenia’s captivating eyes, confused and speechless. Serenia’s eyes stared into Thadameus’ hollow and weary eyes; eyes that spoke nothing more than misery and death. Serenia wiped away her tears and attempted to clear her throat.
“Fate hath spoken to me, Thadameus. The Goddess Herself hast told me that thy exile is a test to prove to thy father thy worthiness to be king. By the end of the year, thy father shall surely allow thee back home.” Serenia said sincerely. Thadameus thought Serenia was lying, and he said, “Thou art a liar, just like the rest of the guards!”
“No, Thadameus! I sweareth on thy heart that I speak the beautiful truth! Gaze upon this ball of light if thou still dost not believe in my words.” Serenia showed Thadameus the ball of light which Fate had given her to be able to see in darkness.
“See how the ball floats? ‘Tis not a lantern!” Thadameus shook his head in disbelief and thought he was hallucinating.
“Thou art merely a hallucination. Begone out of my mind!” Thadameus stubbornly shouted. Serenia had attempted to be patient with her love, but now she was tempted to scold Thadameus for his stubbornness. Rather, however, an much more wittier idea popped into her mind.
“Would a hallucination ever be able to do this?” Serenia asked. She pulled Thadameus’ head towards hers and kissed him on the lips. Thadameus’ energy suddenly returned to him, and his eyes widened with surprise. The kiss was brief, but it seemed to have lasted for a century. Serenia and Thadameus closed their eyes as dreamy pleasure made time seem to stop. It felt like ages since the last time they had kissed each other, and neither of them could remember when. Regardless, the two felt peace that they never felt before. When the two parted lips, they stared dazedly into one another’s eyes. Serenia noticed that the bags had disappeared under Thadameus’ eyes, and Thadameus realized that Serenia was real.
"It is you!" Thadameus exclaimed surprisedly.
When the year had finally come to an end, The King kept his word and sent guards to bring his son safely home. When Ritherot heard about this, he became greatly disturbed.
“Oh Father, why dost thou changest mind? Didn’t thou banish Thadameus forever?” Ritherot asked confusedly.
“What dost that have to do with thee? It was merely a test for the boy to prove his worthiness as king. Art not thou happy that thy brother is returning home?” The King asked suspiciously. With a mutter, Ritherot quietly said yes and quickly apologized, but was shocked to have learned that The King had not been upset with Thadameus.
When Thadameus turned 21, The King invited everyone in Gandalmor to his palace to celebrate the crowning of the new king. For once, the humongous palace, packed with guests and festivities, seemed so cramped and tiny. Despite the limited room however, there was much fun and bliss in the air, as musicians played and dancers danced and people frolicked from room to room. The atmosphere offered nothing but shear joy and happiness; nothing was going to change that. Or so it seemed.
The King announced throughout his entire palace for everyone to settle down so that they may witness the crowning of his first-born son.
“Oh, ‘tis such a glorious day, that we all may witness the crowning of my son, Thadameus! I have been anticipating this day for many years, and now the time has come for me to pass on my throne and power to my beloved son,” the king said with a great voice. As his father was speaking, Thadameus searched for Serenia through the crowd of people witnessing his crowning. Eventually, he spotted his love and waved to her secretly, but she didn’t see it.
“And now, I shall ask my son, my beloved son, Thadameus, three questions that have been asked from previous Kings of Gandalmor for generations. These questions shall secure the fact that Gandalmor will be rightfully ruled, protected, and prosperous.” The crowd now seemed to lunge slightly forward, a new era was about to begin for Gandalmor. The king turned to face his son, and asked him, “Oh Thadameus, do you swear by thou heart, soul, and mind and that thou shall rule Gandalmor dutifully and rightfully?” With a swift, confident reply, Thadameus said yes.
“And dost thou swear by thy heart, soul, and mind that thou shall love all of Gandalmor’s inhabitants and preserve its land?”
“Yes, my Lord.”
“And, finally, dost thou swear by thy heart, soul, and mind, oh my beloved son, that thou shall keep the presence of evil and darkness out of Gandalmor, and maintain peace and happiness forevermore? Dost thou truly swear, oh Thadameus?” The King looked deeply into his son’s eyes, searching for Thadameus’ answer. The crowd now was so silent that the palace seemed desolate.
“Yes, my lord.” Thadameus said with sincerity.
“Then, by Fate’s will, may Thadameus, my beloved son, be prosperous and govern Gandalmor as I have, and may thou live a long, happy life.” Then, The King placed a golden, jewel-ornamented crown on top of his son’s head and a colorful robe around him.
“To our new king!”
“TO OUR NEW KING!” The crowd raised their fists and roared with delight.
After the ceremony, there was a great banquet at the royal table where everyone was welcome to dine and feast with Thadameus. People crowded around Thadameus with so many questions, that Thadameus couldn’t even move from his spot.
“How is it like being the new king of Gandalmor?”
“My, my, thou must be very glad that thou is king now!”
“Aren’t thou delighted that thy father has passed the crown unto thee?”
So many people and questions swarmed around the dining table, that Thadameus had to push some of the folks away just to grab another duck leg across the table to eat. Suddenly, Thadameus spotted Serenia in the midst of the crowd, looking out through a window into the starry night. Thadameus excused himself from the table and pushed his way through the unruly large crowd, finally making his way to Serenia.
“Serenia, oh my love, isn’t this great! I am officially the new King of Gandalmor!” Thadameus exclaimed.
“Congratulations, love, I am proud of thee.” Serenia said quietly. Something didn’t seem right. Serenia wasn’t herself. Her face looked pale, and her face looked concerned.
“Art thou well?” Thadameus asked worriedly.
“Oh yes, my love, it’s just that I am sad-” Suddenly, Thadameus heard a familiar voice in the crowd of people. Swiftly, he turned around and saw Ritherot staring right at him from a distance. Feeling almost frightened by his brother’s glare, Thadameus quickly took Serenia by her hand and led her through the crowd to an outside balcony.
“Sorry for my impetuosity. I saw my brother, Ritherot, in the crowd. He is jealous of my power and my love for thee.” Thadameus said reassuringly.
“Isn’t it so beautiful?” Serenia asked, totally oblivious to Thadameus’ apology.
“What is, my love?”
“Yes, they are quite beautiful.” Thadameus replied, staring into the beautiful night sky.
“My mother used to tell me that the stars were little gods who descended upon the world to give blessings to people.”
“Dost thou still believe in that?” Thadameus asked playfully.
“Of course not!” Serenia chuckled. There was a momentary pause as the two stared into the starry sky. After a while, Serenia broke that hypnotizing silence.
“Ritherot loves me?” Serenia asked appalled.
“No, he loves power. He will do anything it takes to find fault in me so that I would be dethroned and cast out from the palace; that is why we must talk here secretly.” Thadameus replied.
“Oh Thadameus, hast thou come to realize that we must do everything secretively? Ever since we laid eyes upon each other; realizing our connection, we have always been doing things hidden because of thy father (whom we thought was against our love) and brother. Now that thy brother has figured out our love, we cannot risk being caught, for he may concoct lies about us to deceive thy father!”
“Yes, but even though we do things secretively, we live together openly, and nothing will stand in front of us to change this fact. Dost thou not realize Serenia? Nothing can destroy the power of love. Once the seed is planted, it cannot be uprooted, like an enormous tree. Even if we die from Ritherot's cause, I will never forget about thee, and I hope thou dost not either.” Tears were starting to well up in both Thadameus’ and Serenia’s eyes. With a sniffle, Serenia replied back, tears streaming down her white face,
“Oh, Thadameus, thou art right.” Suddenly, a thought jumped into Serenia’s head, and she became worried.
“What about the cards? Dost thou hath them with thee?”
“Yes. The cards were of my fault. I should have never made them. Even though they are refuge for the two of us, they aren’t refuge for all of us. If we leave, Ritherot will become king, and Gandalmor will be ruined.” By this time, Ritherot had been secretly eavesdropping on their conversation, hoping to hear anything that will be worthy of informing his father.
“Can’t we secretly push Ritherot into the portal so that he shall not harm anyone again?” Serenia asked.
“Perhaps we could. Such a brilliant idea!” Thadameus replied. Enraged, Ritherot rushed back to find his father in the crowd.
“Oh Father, I have something desperate to tell thee!” Ritherot said in a manner that made him seem like the situation was urgent.
“What is it boy? I am dining with thy friends at the moment, dost thou not see?” The King said.
“Father, please listen, it’s about thy son, Thadameus. He was with Serenia, the servant’s daughter, on the balcony outside. I happened to eavesdrop on their conversation and I hath learned that thy beloved son, Thadameus, was plotting to murder thee!” The people who were around The King gasped and froze. After several chilling seconds, The King replied, “Go on.”
“They were speaking about some sort of cards that Thadameus made. I believe the cards he was referring to are the ones made from the walls of Gandalmor. He must have done this before his banishment. Do you remember, Father, the old legend of Gandalmor? One day, an unspeakable sin will be committed that will lead to the inevitable end of Gandalmor. Knowing that Gandalmor will one day be destroyed, the Goddess Fate sealed this land with a magical barrier that has the ability to produce new worlds with the combination of fervent passion and love. Once Thadameus hast murdered thee, he plans to escape into the new world he created to be free with his love, Serenia, the servant's daughter! The reason why he wants to murder thee is because he still holds a grudge against thee for causing him unfathomable pain during his banishment. He wants to avenge thee by murdering thee!” It took a while for the king to sink in Ritherot’s powerful deductions. Realizing that he was in danger, The King announced in a loud, roaring voice,
“Everyone, stop what thou art doing immediately!” Instantly, the palace became ominously silent.
“Everyone, I must inform that we have an evildoer in our midst, and he is within this room as I speak!” Gasps filled the quiet atmosphere and shock overtook everyone in the palace.
“Who is it, Thy Majesty?”
“Oh Lord, tell us!”
“How could such a person dare show their face here tonight?”
Millions of questions swarmed throughout the palace at the fact that there was an “evildoer” in the room, and shock overtook the entire crowd.
“Though he has not committed his crime yet, he is about to tonight!”
“NO! The time of legend hast come! We are going to die! Gandalmor is doomed!” The crowd responded in fear.
“Friends, do not be alarmed! For I know who this evildoer is, and he shall not succeed in his crime. It has come to thy attention to let thouest all know who the culprit is...” Everyone became silent, eager to hear the king’s next vital words.
“It is...” All ears were attentive to the king.
“Thadameus, my son!” The king exclaimed with tears showering down his eyes. The crowd was immediately sent into a pandemonium of confusion and shock.
“How could he?”
“He swore for the protection of Gandalmor!”
“The evil traitor!”
“We are doomed!”
Millions of rude comments shot out against Thadameus.
“He has plotted to kill thee and escape into a world that was created for his own pleasure to be with the servant’s daughter, Serenia! I say, I shall hang the servant tonight, unless the traitor among us has courage to testify against this!” Deeply concerned, Thadameus and Serenia ran hand in hand up to the king. The king met Thadameus’ eyes with blazing hostility.
“You have better come ready to die if thou do not explain to me what is transpiring, according to what thy brother hath told me. Thou art a disgrace! Thou should hath toiled all thy days in exile and perished miserably! Thou hath sworn with thy heart, soul, and mind for the protection of Gandalmor and peace in all its land!” The king yelled in rage. For a moment, there was an ominous silence as the kings stared into each other's eyes. The crowd awaited anxiously for Thadameus to deliver his response. Finally, he broke the eerie silence.
“Oh Father, I admit, ‘tis true that I created a world for my own selfish pleasures. In fact, I created four worlds out of my deep love for Serenia. Forgive me, oh Father, for doing this. But realize that I do not wish of thy demise. I only wish for a world that Serenia and I can be together forever, and in fact, I had hoped to bring thee into this world so that thou may be safe from the true evildoer that is roaming among our midst.” The king looked at Thadameus curiously.
“Who is this evildoer that thou speaketh of? Answer me now!” The king demanded in a harsh voice.
“Oh Father, 'tis not me who wishes of thy demise...” There was a slight pause as everyone was anticipating for Thadameus’ answer.
“..It is Ritherot, my brother, who wishes of thy demise! All that he seeks for is power, and his heart is filled with corruption to the core. He has planned on trying to murder thee for all these years because of his anger and burning hatred towards thee for making me King. My brother has lied to thee, oh Father! He is the true traitor and evildoer! Please spare the servant’s life! I figured out now why Ritherot dares to lie to thy face - since he eavesdropped on my conversation with Serenia, he has known now that he can get away with murder. As soon as Ritherot kills thee, he shall jump into this world and be free from destruction and death!” Immediately, the king turned his face towards Ritherot.
“Thadameus has spoken wisely. It is thee, is it not? I remember now the time when thou dareth to ask me why I did not want to banish my own beloved son, my own flesh and blood, for all eternity. I should have slain thee from where thy stood! Thou art a bloody traitor and a swine! Guards, arrest this evil viper!” The King shouted furiously. Ritherot took a step back, and a malicious smirk appeared on his face. Suddenly, he unsheathed a deadly blade and slit the throats of all the guards that came after him. The sight of the blood spilt on the floors of the palace was enough to make the people witnessing Ritherot’s betrayal flee as quickly as they could. Screams, shouts, and terror could be heard throughout the hallways of the palace. Casually, Ritherot walked up to his father, sword in hand, and said in a calm voice,
“Art thou ready to perish, Father?” Yelling on the top of his lungs, The King unsheathed his own sword, and dueled brutally with his own son. As Thadameus tried to grasp onto what he had experienced only mere seconds ago, he grabbed a sword from a fallen guard, and defended his father. Just as Ritherot was about to slice his father from above, Thadameus’ sword suddenly clashed against Ritherot’s sword, producing a sharp metallic ringing.
“Ritherot, stop this madness!” Thadameus shouted angrily.
“Fool! I will not stop! Now taste the wrath of my double-edged sword!” Thadameus took a long step backward as Ritherot prepared to lunge at him with his sword. He missed just by a few inches from piercing Thadameus’ heart. Seeing this lunge as an opportunity, Thadameus side-stepped and counterattacked with a sharp blow, knocking Ritherot back a few paces. Seething with rage, Ritherot charged towards Thadameus and they clashed swords again. Pushing each other in this position with all their might, Thadameus eventually won and sliced a deep cut into Ritherot’s side. Ritherot yelped in pain, and fell to his knees. The deranged villain put a hand to his wound and when he removed his hand he saw his own blood, fresh and red as beets. Ritherot’s eyes widened and became wild with both fear and excitement. He licked the blood off his hand and began cackling sinisterly.
“Thou thinkest that thou hath won the battle? Thou art truly a fool! Dost thou not see that I hath my own army beside me?” Suddenly, a multitude of figures cloaked in black formed a long row behind Ritherot. When the people who remained saw these mysterious beings, they fled out of the palace, screaming hysterically. Thadameus saw how large Ritherot’s army was and he himself was tempted to flee. When Thadameus looked into the beings’ eyes, he became hypnotized. Thadameus could no longer move, as if he had been paralyzed and controlled by the mysterious beings. He suddenly felt his sword slipping from his hand. Eventually, Thadameus lost his grip on his trusty sword, and it fell to the ground, producing a deep, metallic ringing. Thadameus tried every effort to move, but his body wouldn’t allow him to. Despite his paralyzed state, tt seemed that he could hear his father’s distant voice. “Thadameus - look - out!” A figure swiftly ran in front of Thadameus and was pierced by Ritherot’s sword. Thadameus’ trance ended as soon as the figure blocked his vision from the cloaked beings’ eyes, but it was too late. Thadameus looked at the figure who was stabbed and realized that it was his own father. Ritherot swiftly pulled the sword out of The King’s chest, and The King fell to the ground. Serenia, who was standing at a far distance from the scene, gasped and shrieked with terror.
“Oh, Father!” Thadameus yelled. The loyal son ran to his father’s side and knelt down next to him. A surge of unexplainable emotions filled Thadameus’ heart, soul, and mind as he stared into his father’s dying, sorrowful eyes. Thadameus grasped his father’s hands, put them against his face, and wept in them. The King groaned and turned to face his son, who mourned for his dying father.
“Thadameus...” the king whispered in a hoarse voice. Thadameus dropped his father’s hands gently upon his chest, wiped away the tears that clouded his vision, and stared intently into his father’s eyes. As the life was slowly leaving the king’s body, Thadameus saw that a tear had formed in the king’s eyes, and it flowed innocently down his right cheek. He then wrapped his arms around Thadameus’ and hugged him gently.
“Be free in thy new world!”
The King’s grasp on Thadameus gradually lightened until his arms fell limb to his side. His eyelids slowly closed as let out his final breath and died. Suddenly, there was a loud shattering noise, and the palace disintegrated; blowing away in the wind. In the sky above, a huge hole opened up and began sucking people, trees, and other debris in it.
“Gandalmor is dying....it’s all my fault.” Thadameus said to himself quietly, as he stared blankly at the morbid scene unfolding right before his very eyes.
“Quick Thadameus, take the card out! We must flee from this place before we art to be sucked into that death hole as well!” Serenia cried out. Without hesitation, Thadameus took the card, the Ace of Spades, out of his pocket, and placed it on the ground. The card immediately opened up and transformed into a portal. Holding each other’s hands, Thadameus and Serenia jumped into the portal. As Gandalmor was slowly being sucked up into the death hole, Ritherot and his army followed Thadameus and Serenia into the portal as well.
The new world that Thadameus, Serenia, and Ritherot entered into was teeming with a variety of creatures, and abuzz with life of all kind. It was the perfect world for Thadameus and Serenia to live in, for it was peaceful. Unfortunately, evil had entered into this new world for the first time. Thadameus struggled to get up and fight his brother, but was surprised to hear Serenia’s sudden and sharp voice.
“Thadameus, help me!” Thadameus got up and saw his brother clutching Serenia by his side.
“Let her go!” Thadameus yelled.
“Or what? Thou art going to slay me? I believe that thou hath lost, Thadameus. Thou is outnumbered. Thou hast no chance of fighting against thy army. Now, I believe 'tis time for thee to die a coward, and meet thy father, who also died a coward!” Ritherot harshly said. With a swift thrust, Ritherot threw Serenia into the hands of the ominous figures, and charged towards Thadameus with his sword in his hand. Hot anger like never before burned in Thadameus’ body, rushing through his veins and arteries like a snake making its way through a maze. Suddenly, a bright beam of light began to gleam from Thadameus. Ritherot suddenly stopped dead in his tracks.
“What is this?” Ritherot asked, confused and terrified. The light expanded, blinding Ritherot and scorching the mysterious shadowy figures behind him.
“I - cannot - see!” Ritherot yelled while shielding his eyes from the intense light. The shadowy figures let out a harsh cry before suddenly disappearing. Ritherot continued to squirm on the ground in pain.
“Please - stop this! I - cannot - take - this - insanity!” Ritherot cried out despairingly. Gradually, the light faded, and revealed Thadameus clothed in shining white garments and a golden crown. Behind him, the royal Suit of the Spades appeared in their glorious form. When Serenia saw this, she was awed by Thadameus’ power. Ritherot, with trepidation building up inside of him, attempted to run away, but was frozen by some unearthly power. Casually, Thadameus walked up to Ritherot, who was frozen in his tracks, and whispered in his ear,
“Thou hath been defeated, thy brother. If thou wishest to give up, I may spare thy life.” Serenia, who was just arm’s length away now, smiled at Thadameus. Captivated by Serenia’s beauty, Thadameus turned to kiss Serenia. Ritherot’s spell faded and was able to move again. Without hesitation, Ritherot swung his sword as hard as he could, instantly decapitating Thadameus. The bloody head rolled on the clean ground, and Thadameus’ body fell recklessly onto the ground. Serenia stared, horrified and refusing to believe what she had seen. Then suddenly, a massive earthquake shook the entire world. The two fell to the ground, due to the intensity of the quake, and were unable to get up on their feet. A loud voice boomed from the sky, and Serenia and Ritherot became frightened.
“Ritherot, thou art truly a fool! Thou thinkest that I hath been defeated? My defeat is my strength! Now, with my power and my command, Ace of Spades, I command thee - come forward and split the ground in two where Ritherot lies in helplessness, so that he shall fall into the bowels of this world and forever be trapped in it, suffering for all eternity for his evil and careless deeds.” The Ace of Spades, a powerful, tall being clothed with thick and heavy armor, unsheathed an incredibly long sword, and drove it right into the ground. Immediately, the ground split in two, and Ritherot fell into the abyss. Then the ground closed up, and the earthquake subsided. The Royal Suit, along with the Ace, vanished, and all was well again. Serenia slowly got up on her feet and cried. Tears dripped off her face one after the other onto the ground. Each time a tear fell onto the ground, the area that absorbed the tear sprouted into a beautiful flower. Such a flower shone more beauty than any other flower that ever existed.
“Oh Serenia, thy love, how I am grieved with sadness and shame. This was all thy fault, and nothing can be done to revert thy doings.” The spirit of Thadameus spoke to Serenia from the sky.
“Thadameus thy love, how can I reunite with thee again? Will I have to suffer all thy life without thy presence?” Serenia asked hopelessly with tears streaming down her beautiful, white cheeks.
“Oh Serenia, do not cry. I created this world for us to be happy. It is unfortunate that we cannot meet in this state because of thy brother’s sin. I can assure thee, however, that by thy power I can grant thee eternal life and safety. It is also unfortunate that thou cannot stay in this realm any longer. As thou stayeth, Ritherot’s spirit gains power from thy presence. From this power, he can escape from his prison and bring destruction to this world and the other three. Ritherot is a very powerful being. That is why I couldn’t destroy him completely, and I fear in the near future that Ritherot will eventually escape his prison and wreak havoc onto thy world. I also share this power. That is why I am not completely destroyed as well. We both have some unexplained connection, and I fear that we may duel again in the near future. Now go, and I shall bestow thy blessing upon thee!” A bright light descended from the sky and shone upon Serenia. Serenia knelt down and covered her eyes, yet she felt suddenly strong and refreshed. The light that was shining on her seemed to be losing its intensity, until she had the strength to open her eyes in the blinding light.
“Yes, the gift of eternal life and safety has been successfully bestowed upon thee, thy love, and now, promise me this: that thou shall govern the cards with thy life, never leaving sight of them nor letting them fall into the wrong hands. For if even a single card is destroyed, it affects the other three worlds, and Ritherot and I will surely cease to exist. Dost thou understandeth, Serenia?”
“Yes Thadameus, I promise thee, and a thousand times over!” Serenia replied courageously.
“Then, go into the world that once was Gandalmor!”
And with that being said, Serenia was instantly transported into our world, at the time when the dinosaurs roamed the earth, and men hunted for food with spears and stones. The destruction of the perfect world of Gandalmor initiated the start of a new, imperfect world, as we call today, Earth. With the 52 cards in her hands, Serenia roamed the new lands of the earth, remembering Thadameus and the promise she had made with him.