“What the hell do you mean I can’t go?” Maronir shouted. Scora shook his head in exasperation at his young master.

“There are a dozen reasons, your Highness,” The seasoned old soldier said, “most seriously being that when a demon invites you to an event it is not typically a good idea to attend. To say nothing of the Gal’Areau! If those filthy rebels get their hands on you it could spell the end of the monarchy. You cannot put your life at risk. All of Sarin is depending on you, and it is still so early in your reign.”

“My reign hasn’t started yet, damnit. If I go, I can discover what they are about, and stop them,” the prince snapped.

“Yes, but it could begin any day, my friend,” Scora whispered. Maronir glared at him like he had sprouted wings.

“How can you possibly know that?” Maronir demanded.

“Maronir, my liege,” Scora soothed, “I stood beside your father and made war when I was a young man. I watched you play in your crib with little toys. Now you stand tall and proud like he did all those years ago. Your father may perish any day. I know it because you wear the grief on your face as if he were already gone. When he passes, you will be needed here.”

Maronir knew that his bodyguard was right, but he still couldn’t accept it. He didn’t like the tone the demon had used. He hated that the creature thought there was nothing more to his family than the power of that “little tree” as he had called it. More than that though, he feared the demon was right, and he needed to prove to himself, and Sarin that he was a true warrior without the Aetheroot, so that if he must inherit it, he could at least carry it with the respect of his subjects.

“Scora,” Maronir whispered, “if my father passes, I will be the first to know, and if it happens, I will return and do my duty, as I must, but I am going to this Aetherstorm, and I will seek to learn what mischief the demons have planned, and stop it if I can. You may join me or you may stay if you wish. I owe you that much after everything you have done for me, and for my father.”

“Then we will go,” Scora answered, “and we will stop them. It may not be wise to make your identity known, once we arrive there, but if you must, then you will have to pretend the tournament is being conducted with out blessing. If the people learn demons are claiming to speak for us, the panic might be worse than whatever the demons have planned.”

Maronir nodded solemnly, and the two men gathered a couple of men to join them on the journey, and prepared to leave at once. They left before dawn, and told no one where they were going.