Flight, Book One of The Outer Flower Trilogy,

Chapter 1

Long after the fall of Saar, in a space of time illumined by vision, William I, High King of Casoria, began the tradition of Open Court. For six days a year, three before spring moon and three after harvest, those with a grievance would journey to Castle Ursaulis to stand before the High King. He received them in the Great Throne Room, a wonderful hall with great oaken beams and leaded windows of ruby and azure. Rank was abolished on these occasions, and so it was not an uncommon sight for young dandies to be confronted by red-faced merchants or landed gentry to argue volubly with farmers over scraps of land. Rank was dismissed in the galleries as well. Fine silks rubbed against coarse wool or burlap as delicate musk and spices were heightened by a barnyard scent. From dawn until dusk, William heard them; from dawn until dusk, the royal scepter rose and fell. He reigned for forty years and was known as William the Fair.

His son, William II, continued the tradition but found no real pleasure in it. His joy was the hunt; he found the cases before him unpleasant and tiresome. He would not decide against his friends.

Under his rule, Open Court took on a circus atmosphere. The Great Throne Room became an area for coarse villains to bluster and rant to the delight of the crowd. Justice was decided by the loudest voice while lewd fabrications, unspeakable in the first William’s day, drew crude laughter from his son and friends. Even so the people kept streaming into Casoria for these session, if not for justice, then to roam the streets at will.

Before he could corrupt his father’s vision entirely, William II, who, by this time, had earned the epithet William the Rash, began what would ultimately be known as the Blood Wars, a conflict that would span twenty years — a dark, bloodstained part of Casoria history that would nearly destroy the city and cost the lives of thousands.

It began over a bird.

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