Out of the Darkness
by Paul Liadis
Alistar wept, his tears tracing the curve of his sunken cheek. The sky had been a murky gray for ages, the sun and moon and stars, his onetime companions, having long ago taken their leave. His tears were tears of joy, for the light had returned to him, filling Alistar with hope for the first time in his life.
He had been bound to the tree facing this spot for months, possibly years, possibly his entire life. Alistar could not recall. The forest was all he knew, all he could remember. It was his world.
There were times Alistar felt himself on the verge of starvation, ready to give in to the hunger that gripped his being. Each time a mysterious man would appear out of the shadows, giving him something to eat and something to drink. Alistar had begged for mercy, hoping the man would release him from his entanglement or let him die, but the stranger would simply smile, wipe away Alistar's tears, and slink back into the shadows. Despite this, Alistar felt no ill will towards the man.
And so it was, on the day that the day the sun peaked once more through the treetops, that the stranger unbound Alistar’s hands, wrapped a towel around his thin frame, and led him to the cottage beside the rippling stream. “You have endured,” spoke the stranger. “Now rest.”
It was on this day that Alistar began his journey to the throne, as the Great Book had said.