On hands and knees, Djarret crept over the red carpet. His heart beat so loud that he was sure it could be heard through the whole throne room. The distance from the golden doors to the throne was longer than he had anticipated but the instructions of the chamberlain had been precise. Ignoring them meant death. Djarret didn’t dare to look up at emperor Ceres. All he could see, as he crawled along the red carpet, were the feet of the columns he passed and the four warriors that crawled beside him. Dust tickled his nose but he controlled himself and did not sneeze.
“Followers! Do not creep on the earth like worms.” Ceres’ voice was deep and full. As always, a reverent shiver ran over Djarret’s back when he heard it. His heart beat faster as he followed the instructions of the chamberlain who had taught them proper behavior for facing the emperor. In front of the steps to the throne, he stopped and raised his gaze high enough to see Ceres’ black riding-boots. He didn’t need to see more to know what the emperor looked like. He pulled a leg in front of his body, planted the foot firmly on the ground and placed both hands on the knee, while he squatted on the other leg.
“Our victory is great. Lumitana, the center of power is ours. The High Priestess Durimeh doesn’t live any more”, said Ceres, Master of the Dark Warriors, King of Lumitana and New Emperor of the Worlds of the One. His voice echoed through the hall as if he had a much bigger audience than the five who knelt at the foot of the pedestal in front of the throne. “Many think we have achieved everything. But is that true?”
Djarret’s heart beat so hard that he could hardly understand Ceres’ speech. As he had been instructed, he held his head humbly lowered. With one hand, he pushed a strand of his dark hair back under his black leather helmet. He squinted to the left and to the right to see the other warriors. He was the youngest of the five he but his comrade-in-arms seemed just as nervous as he. Ceres had called his most capable fighters, and Djarret could hardly believe that he was one of them.
Ceres rose from his throne. His voice became even louder as if he wanted to drive all other noises from Djarret’s ears.
“If we truly were successful where are our spoils? Where is the magic stone that we meant to snatch from the Island in the Void?” Ceres looked at the men who knelt motionlessly in front of him staring at the floor. Djarret wondered whether the latest rumor of the capital was true. Would Ceres send them after the magic stone Korosadja? Djarret hoped so. How better could he proof his worth then by bringing the magic stone to Ceres? He looked up to him.
Ceres’ words confirmed Djarret’s suspicion. “Durimeh, the foolish woman, tried to destroy it. Only through my heroic fight, the stone remained intact but Durimeh threw herself into the void with it!” He put his hand on his black, silver studded chest armor. Silently, he looked at his warriors. Djarret’s excitement grew with every breath. His blood roared in his ears so that Ceres voice came to him like through a fog.
“Warriors, you are my chosen ones. One of you will find Korosadja! Djarret of Palumâ come to me.”
Djarret stood up and stumbled up the stairs of the throne. He had never been so close to his king. From the proximity, Ceres seemed even bigger than before. He towered over every man Djarret had ever known. The white lock of the warrior caste in his otherwise black, long hair made him look older than he was. But the fire in his green eyes showed his true age. Djarret felt like a little boy. He forced himself to stand quietly. He did not want Ceres to notice how excited he was. The emperor took a silver clasp of his chest armor and pinned it to Djarret’s, directly over his heart.
“You are young in years but heroic in battle. Be my right hand from now on. If you bring me Korosadja I will give you Palumâ, and you shall rule it after your own fashion. Take as many men as you need.”
With a croaking voice Djarret stammered his gratitude. He had expected much but not such a promotion. Stunned, he swayed back to his place and knelt down once more.