• In a far away land called Synia, there once lived a king. This king was a good, just, king, and perfect for the kingdom. The king was peaceful with the rest of the world, and very powerful. His subjects loved him, he had a beautiful wife, and two sons, who were next in line for the throne.
    Now, the Synian law states that, to decide who will become the next king, the king must set a test for his children. Whoever finishes the test first is the next in line for the throne. This particular king, the one we were talking about earlier, told his two sons, Edmund and Vileare, to find him a scale of a dragon. Whoever finished first would receive the kingdom.
    Edmund, the older son, went deep into the depths of the Caves of Torment and took a scale from an old, sleeping dragon, who hardly noticed the pain. The old dragon’s scales were a muddy brown, covered in dirt and peeling with age. But the first son had completed his test. The rules said nothing about the beauty of the scale, so Edmund headed back to his father’s castle, confident that he would win the contest.
    Edmund did, indeed arrive at the castle before his brother. He wanted to claim his prize before his brother came back, but the king insisted on waiting for Vileare so that Edmund’s younger brother could be present for Edmund’s coronation.
    Neither the king nor Edmund saw neither hide nor hair of Vileare until almost a year had passed since the brothers had first set out. Vileare came back to his father’s castle bearing the scale of the most feared dragon in the kingdom, possibly the world: Glindor. Vileare had traveled to Glindor’s cave, slain the mighty dragon, and plucked a scale from the dead dragon’s body. When the king compared Glindor’s bright golden scale to that of the nameless dragon’s muddy brown one, he decided to make Vileare the new king.
    “When choosing a king, I must decide on the boy who goes for thoroughness,” the king said. Edmund, who had been expecting to win the contest, and by all rights should have, was seething. He stormed out of the castle, and no one in the royal family heard anything from him for years.
    Vileare grew up to be a good king, like his father. He was peaceful with most of the neighboring kingdoms. He had a wife and a baby daughter. There had not been any war for almost four years. Occasionally, he heard rumors of a rebellion, but Vileare ignored them, confident that they were, well, rumors.
    But on the night before his daughter’s sixth birthday, Vileare woke up to screams. He went to his wife’s room, and saw that her throat had been slit. Fearing the worst, he entered his daughter’s room, but the crib was empty. When Vileare called for help, a man hiding in the shadows stepped out. He had a knife. His long, blood-red cloak billowed around him. A hat covered his face.
    “Who are you?” Vileare said, terror gripping him.
    “You don’t remember your own brother?” the man said, a smile playing on his lips.
    And with that, the man lunged toward Vileare and Vileare saw no more.