Updated: Jan 1
From Chapter 1:
Bewilder pushed open the massive oak doors and entered the castle, sword drawn, scanning for movement and listening for signs of life.
His heart sunk as he surveyed the grand entry. Once a gathering place for nobles and commoners alike, it appeared lifeless save a pair of pigeons cooing in the rafters. Once, Saturday markets had teemed with townsfolk in celebration, reveling in the abundance and good fortune of sweet Belvedere. Bewilder would stroll amongst the many familiar faces, mingling with a population he sometimes felt closer to than the royal lineage he’d been born into. In the five generations of his family's rule, there had been peace.
Sheathing his sword, the King absorbed the cold silence that permeated this place, boring into the depths of his being. Dread pooled in his gut as he considered what may have caused the mass exodus. Had their neighbors to the south, knowing the Order of Belvedere had launched an offensive to the north, taken advantage and laid claim? No, Bewilder thought, for his ragged contingent would surely have met resistance at the city gates. Bewilder's chest heaved at the thought that something far more tragic had occurred.