The Rise of Richard Sullivan: Chapter II
Five years later, Richard Sullivan stood next to a ship, his few belongings clutched in a carrying case in his left hand. Lee Sanders stood next to him. They were too old now for tears, but it didn’t stop either of their eyes from twinkling with suppressed grief.
“I don’t want you to leave,” Lee said. “You’re like my brother, Richard. Won’t you reconsider?”
“No,” Richard said. “Don’t you understand? If we’re going to create the world we once spoke of, I have to leave. I have to go somewhere for a fresh start, somewhere I can rise up on my own accord.”
“You can rise up here,” Lee said. “Or at least let yourself grow older before you set up on this mission. You’re hardly shaving! You’re too young for this, Richard. Stay with me a few more years.”
Richard shook his head.
Lee sighed, “I know,” he said. “I understand. Don’t forget me, Richard. I’m here to help you. When you come into your power, I’m here for you.”
“Promise,” Richard said.
“I promise,” Lee said.
“That’s not good enough,” Richard said. He drew a knife from the sheathe on his belt. He cut into his left palm and then offered the knife out. Lee stared at it for a moment and then took the blade. He cut into his own palm, and then they shook on it. “You’re my brother now,” Richard said. “We’re bound by blood.”
“By the time I see you again, we’ll be men,” Lee said, “I’ll be married, and you probably will too. We’ll have children, and kingdoms to run.”
Richard nodded, “That maybe so,” he agreed. “But we won’t forget.”
“No,” Lee agreed, “We won’t.”
The two stared at each other for a moment. Then Richard sheathed his knife and leaned forward to hug Lee. The two embraced for a long minute, and then Lee did something that Richard would never forget. He kissed his cheek, and then his forehead, “Be well, my brother. Let our dreams grow.”
Richard nodded and boarded the ship. It was headed to Lamonte. He’d have liked to start somewhere else; anywhere else, really. Lamonte was poor and feeble compared to it’s connected continent of Arinford. He would have a lot of work to do there to make it into a kingdom where he would rule.
It was best he start out somewhere like that, though. It was best to start out at a kingdom that was known for its poverty. He could garner support that way. He would spend the next few years growing hair on his face and growing his followers. When there were enough of them, he would take the kingdom by force.
He thought of Lisa, briefly. Lisa was a girl he’d seen a few times in Terifille. For him, she was everything beautiful. Her hair shone like the midnight sky, and her smile felt like the sun. He’d never been in love before Lisa. The thought of never seeing her again sent pain shooting through his heart, and he realized what a dangerous thing love could be.
He shoved this thought aside. It wouldn’t do any good to dwell on it.
The ship set off an hour later, and Richard stood on the deck, leaning against the railing, watching Lee grow smaller and smaller as he sailed away. Once his friend was out of sight, Richard went down to explore the rest of the ship. Lee had paid his way, so he had his own small quarters. He hadn’t brought much with him; just a few books on Lamonte history and politics, some clothing, and some dried food.
It took just over a week to reach Lamonte. Like the rest of the passengers, Richard was more than happy to get off the ship. He’d never been on one before the voyage, and he felt like he should bend over and kiss the solid ground.
Instead, he took some of his meager supply of coin and found a room to rent in a boarding house. It was tiny, just big enough for a bed and a closet, much like his quarters in the Terifille castle. He found a job washing dishes for the house, and he spent his nights doing that and his days studying.
As far as he could tell, Lamonte had always been poor. It was a spring state that bordered on summer, full of marshes, and lakes. There weren’t very many animals that enjoyed living in swamps, so wildlife was fairly scarce. It seemed their biggest trade was fish, and little good that did — every kingdom with a coast had fish.
Richard met many people at the house. They all had similar tales: that the land was not kind, that they couldn’t feed their children, that education beyond primary school was rare, and that they were poor. Unlike Arinford, there were no Priests and Chapels to help out the less fortunate. They were reliant on their neighbors’ good will, and most peoples’ neighbors were just as poor as they were.
Three months into his job, he met a man named Anthony Frien. He was a big man, poor as dirt, with a whole horde of children to take care of. Richard took an immediate liking to the older man, and ended up sharing his plans with him. Together, they’d waste hours talking about the future of the kingdom.
“You should leave,” Anthony said one night, as they passed their time by drinking beer.
“Leave?” Richard asked.
Anthony nodded, “You’re too young now,” he said. “You need to go somewhere to grow older, to earn gold, to garner supporters. You start that here and the king will have your head. People are already whispering.”
“Where would I go?” Richard said. “I want to take Lamonte.”
“I know,” Anthony said, “and I support your ambitions, I do. Gods know that I want to raise my children in a kingdom that’s not run by a madman who cares little for his people… but you’r not strong enough now, and if you stay, you never will be.”
“Again,” Richard said, “Where would I go?”
“Go to Elijah,” Anthony said, “Earn your fortune there through trade and partnerships. Come back when you have an army. When you do, you’ll have my support.”
Richard contemplated this in silence. He was only fourteen, he thought. Perhaps that was too young to raise a military. He would go to Elijah, he decided. He would stay there and he would become wealthy and then he would bring his army back and Lamonte would be his.