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Father, have I sinned? Karol wondered, for at least the hundredth time tonight. If it was a sin to listen at the kral's door, was it compounding the sin to speak those secrets? Surely not. Not if it saved a life. I will confess it tomorrow. 

The boy ran as fast as he could through the halls ending in a breathless mess outside Svatopluk's rooms. One knock on the door. Two. A dishevelled woman answered, impatience in her sharp tone. "What is it?" 

"I need to speak with with Svatopluk. Please." Karol leaned against the frame, putting his foot in the jamb in case she tried to close it.

"He's sleeping." She tried to shut the door and pushed only harder when it got stuck on the boy's shoe.

"It's important," Karol insisted. "Please. You have to listen!" He tried not to raise his voice, but up it went anyhow, cracking at the end. 

The woman opened the door and glared at him. "Speak to him tomorrow at the feast. That is soon enough."

"It won't be. At the feast I'll be speaking to his ghost," Karol told her, clearing his throat.

"Let him in, laska" Svatopluk ordered from behind the angry woman. She transformed at his voice, all smiles as she nodded to the kral's nephew.

At least she opened the door, Karol thought, stepping inside. The room stank of wine and wood smoke, and a thick musky odor the boy could not place. "Thank you," he said, trying not to wrinkle his nose. 

"So what is this desperate message, boy?" Svatopluk gestured impatiently for Karol to speak.

Forgive me, Father, the boy thought. "I heard the kral - I heard Rastislav," Karol swallowed, the words stuck in his throat.

"Speak or get out," Svatopluk yawned, already bored with this unexpected audience.

"Kral Rastislav plans to strangle you at the feast tomorrow. They will block the entrance and when you are drunk the kral's men will choke you to death and - and send your body to Carloman." The words tumbled out one after another in a torrent, but Karol immediately felt better for unburdening this terrible secret. He did not know why the kral wanted to kill his nephew, but he couldn't just stay silent and watch this man die. 

The woman gasped and rushed to Svatopluk's side. "You can't let him do this!"

He pushed the woman away and stood. "I think, perhaps, I will have to disappoint my uncle. I have plans to go hawking on the day of his feast. You will deliver my apologies to Rastislav tomorrow when he wakes. No need to rush." The kral's nephew seemed calm, almost as if he expected this.

Karol nodded and went to his knees. He was afraid to bear any message to the kral, but he could not say no. Svatopluk sent him away with a pat on his head and a promise that his loyalty would not go unrewarded. I hope this is the right thing to do, the boy thought, wishing for certainty above any reward. 

The next morning was bright and cold, and the fortress was bustling with feast day preparations. Already, servants were gossiping in groups of twos and threes. "All his nephew's men went hawking today and Svatopluk too," one said. "How rude to leave on a day of celebration," an old woman hanging linens complained. "Should I make fewer loaves with so many guests missing," a baker's boy asked.  

Karol was worried about none of these things. He woke with only one thought, I will confess as soon as I deliver the message to Rastislav. He waited by the kral's chambers for hours and as time slid past, he began to feel more and more guilty. I should have confessed first, the boy thought, and fiddled at the cross he kept always in his pocket. Could you confess a sin when you were committing it or did you have to wait til it was done? Father Jaroslav would know. The Father would know if this was a sin at all. 

Rastislav woke late and in a bad humor. Karol could hear him inside his rooms shouting and cursing. When the kral finally came out, the boy had a feeling Rastislav already knew the message he came to deliver. "Kral Rastislav." Karol went to his knees and waited for permission to speak. The kral waved a hand permissively. "I was sent to tell you Svatopluk has gone hawking and apologizes for his absence." The kral's nephew had not apologized at all, but Karol thought it might gentle Rastislav's anger. It did nothing of the kind.

"His apologies? That scheming coward! That lying, traitorous pig!" Rastislav wasted no time calling for his armor and rallying his men. It seemed Svatopluk would have company on his hunt, and not the pleasant kind.

Free from his duty, Karol walked to the church. He shivered as men ran past, armor and weapons rattling. Is this my doing, the boy wondered, his guilt weighing on him. He hoped none of them would die today.

The church was small and clean and beautiful; just being inside gave him with a sense of peace. Father Jaroslav greeted Karol as he lit a candle. "Welcome my son." The boy knelt and kissed his hand. Though he knew Jaroslav from before the man became the priest, he could not see him as other than the voice of God now. Jaroslav laughed and motioned for him to stand. "You look troubled," the priest said kindly. 

"I've come to confess." Karol stood, but did not raise his head. All he could think of was the anger in Rastislav's face and the deaths that would lay at his feet when they caught up to Svatopluk. 

Jaroslav laughed and ruffled his hair. "You look so serious, son. It can't be so terrible. You came to confess only three days ago." When Karol still did not look up, Jaroslav crouched down to meet his eyes. "Surely not a mortal sin, Karol? You're a good boy."

"Please, Father." The boy made the sign of the cross. "Bless me father, have I sinned?" 

"I have sinned," Father Jaroslav corrected. "Go on."

Karol told him about eavesdropping, about his terrified run to Svatopluk, and then his lie by omission to the kral. "Have I sinned, father? I don't know if it was angels or devils guiding me."

Jaroslav looked worried. "Only God knows, my son. Go and fast today and tomorrow as penance, and we will see what crop you have sown." 

"Thank you Father." Karol left but his heart felt no lighter. The yard was a chaos of horses and servants. The soldiers stood watching and there was murder in their eyes, cruel laughter on their lips. Kral Rastislav intended to go after his nephew in force, with sword and bow and stave, and kill Svatopluk or bring him back to be imprisoned. I started all of this, thought Karol in horror.

The boy did his best to stay out of the way, and spent the afternoon hiding in the kitchens. It was hard work there, keeping fires lit, but sweat made a man honest, or so Father Jaroslav said. When the kral and his men left, the keep was left in peace. Karol tried not to think about them or Svatopluk, but his rumbling stomach gave him no rest, a constant reminder of his sin. He didn't think he could have peace until Rastislav returned with or without his nephew.

Two days passed, then three. Karol was beginning to wonder if Svatopluk and Rastislav had just died together with all their men in some dark and forested place. Even the other servants were worried. "What will happen to us," they whispered. "Will Louis the German come again and burn all our homes? Who will protect us?" Everyone was afraid. It made Karol want to crawl into a hole and stay there. What have I done, he thought despairingly. By the fourth day he was staring at the gate and considering running away. In fact, that was exactly what he was thinking when the first of the riders came back.

Horses frothing and sweaty, the soldiers raced into the yard. They shouted loudly for drinks, for meat, and chased after the serving girls, laughing all the while. They sounded so cheerful, he thought. Did Rastislav and Svatopluk make peace? Karol climbed the side of the stable and perched on the roof for a clear view. 

Svatopluk came riding into the yard, pride shining in his bearing. Behind him ran Rastislav. His hands were tied to his nephew's saddle, his face dirty and bruised. The kral. Karol felt his chest tighten. Rastislav was a voice second only to God in Karol's world. How could he be brought so low? Was this my fault or is God punishing the kral? The boy turned away, unable to watch. It was time to speak with Jaroslav again, to take the sacrament and hope for understanding.

Karol climbed down from the stables and made his way through the milling crowd. No one seemed to know what to make of it, how to treat with Svatopluk and Rastislav in these strange circumstances. They wisely did as they were told no matter who gave the order, but there was an air of unease to it all. It set the hairs on Karol's arms to standing and lent speed to his feet. 

"There he is!" A gruff voice to Karol's left. It didn't occur to the boy that it was him they meant until a calloused hand grabbed his shoulder and stopped his single-minded journey. 

"Wait-" he stumbled, almost fell, as he was pulled around to face a beaming Svatopluk. 

"This is the boy," the man said, pushing Karol toward his lord. 

Svatopluk looked him up and down and nodded. "This is him, the boy who saved my life with his ears."

Karol wilted under the weight of so many eyes turned on him at once. The worst was Kral Rastislav, with a world of chagrin lodged in the set of his jaw, the cast of his shoulders. The boy would have run if he could. Instead, he knelt there in the mud and bowed his head. It wasn't to Svatopluk, but to God that he bent, begging to be taken up to heaven now before anything else happened.

God, in his infinite wisdom did not answer and Svatopluk took the gesture as his due. He set a hand on the boy's head and spoke. "In thanks, this boy is now cupbearer. He is relieved of any other task, save that which I give him." 

There were murmurs running through the crowd, but Karol couldn't hear more than an ugly hum. He stayed where he was until Svatopluk let go and one of the soldiers nudged him to stand. "You'll need to get to the kitchens fast, boy. Our new kral will want a drink with his bath." 

"Yes," Karol nodded dumbly, and set off for the kitchens at a run. The cooks eyed him askance as he asked after the wine cellar, until the steward told them about Karol's lofty new position. "Kral's cupbearer," the steward said it like a curse. The kitchen servants watched the boy with suspicion, but they gave him a pitcher, tray, and cup and sent him on his way. Father, oh Father, what have I gotten into now? 

Svatopluk was already in his bath when Karol arrived. The room was bustling with servants on various tasks, and a few of the new kral's men sat round the bath talking. Svatopluk beckoned Karol forward and reached for his cup. The boy almost dropped his platter but managed to only set it rattling. That made the soldiers laugh.

"Are you afraid of me?" The new kral regarded Karol with a look of amusement. 

"Yes," the boy admitted, deciding honesty was best. One less sin to confess when he finally made it to the church.

Svatopluk laughed. "You should be. I am no good man. But I am the best man." Karol didn't really understand, so he nodded. The new kral continued. "You really did save my life, boy. I didn't expect Rasto to strike so soon." He settled back in the steaming water. "But now I must ask myself what to do with you."

Karol didn't like the sound of that, but he nodded again. You didn't disagree with a kral. Svatopluk laughed and talked with his men, ignoring the boy except to hold out his cup for more wine. It was only after he was dried and dressed again that he looked to Karol. "I have it," the new kral grinned. "I will send you with old Rasto when he goes to Louis." The soldiers grinned slyly, nodding in agreement.

The boy swallowed nervously. What in the name of heaven was Svatopluk talking about?

"I trust you not to harm him nor help him. You ruined his plans after all." The new kral drained his cup and set it on Karol's tray. "It is an honor for you, boy. And when you return, you can tell me what Louis said. You're good at listening." He laughed and all his men joined him.

Surely God is punishing me for my big ears and bigger mouth. Karol fled the room as soon as he was able. The church was waiting for him on the hill, its candle lit walls a refuge. Father Jaroslav would have answers. He had to. The boy burst through the door and then had to lean against the wall to catch his breath. It was not Jaroslav that came to investigate though. It was a strange priest that greeted Karol. The boy knelt and kissed his hand as the priest gave a blessing in words he could not understand. 

"Is Father Jaroslav here?" the boy asked, confusion winning the battle against reverence. 

The priest pursed his lips. "Ah, no. No Jarlslav. He, ah, he left."

Karol made a small peep of surprise. "But why? Where has he gone?"

"The kral cast him out. And, ah, and others." The priest smiled. "All is good now ah? You are blessed."

The boy wanted to tell him that no, it wasn't good. It was the opposite of good. This was terrible! What had Svatopluk done with Jaroslav? Karol numbly backed away. There was no counsel to be had here with this priest he could not understand. Karol fled as quickly as he came.

He made it to the yard only to have one of Svatopluk's men stop him. "You! You should be resting, boy. Tomorrow Rasto leaves before the dawn and you too!" Karol nodded tiredly. It was too much change, too fast. More than ever he needed the calm, kind words of the priest. He shivered, wishing he had simply kept his ears and mouth shut. That would have been smart. But, would it have been right? The boy had no answer. Father, have I sinned?

Karol wanted to sleep, but he couldn't. No matter how he tried, his worries came to haunt him. Rastislav in chains, Father Jaroslav gone! All my fault, the boy thought. And tomorrow he would be leaving with Rastislav. Karol had never been more than a few miles from the keep in his whole life. This trip terrified him for more than one reason. He tossed and turned, and when morning finally came, Karol was sick with misery. That didn't stop a soldier from rousing him in from his blankets. The boy dragged himself to the yard, a bundle of unhappiness and anxiety.

Outside the sky was barely beginning to lighten in the east, and the air was cold and damp. Six soldiers sat their horses, ringed about the old kral on his nag. Rastislav looked a hundred years old in his chains, back bent and brittle. Karol was given a mule to ride and the leads for the pack animals. "You will help with camp, cooking, washing, and seeing to the prisoner," the soldier told him. "Try not to fall off your mule." And that was that. They rode out of the keep and into the west.

Hours later, Karol decided his mule was the devil himself and riding was the torment of choice in hell. His back hurt, his legs felt raw, and his bum had gone from pain to numb to pain again. He tried to distract himself with the view, but there was only so much a mountain vista could do for you when you just wanted to lay down. The boy nearly shouted praises to God when the soldiers called a halt to rest. Instead, he dismounted as quickly as he could and lay down in the grass. Traveling was neither as exciting or as terrifying as people made it out to be, Karol decided.

Rest was short-lived though. He was called to serve the old kral lunch, as Rastislav was not to be allowed to hold so much as a knife or a wedge of hard cheese. It was awkward, tearing the bread into bite size pieces and putting them in the kral's mouth. His chained hands clanked as Rastislav instinctively reached for each bite, and his scowl grew darker by turns. Karol felt his humiliation acutely. It was wrong for a leader to be reduced to such a pitiable state. "I'm sorry," the boy whispered. "It's not right keeping you chained like this." 

Rastislav grunted. "What would you know about right? You're the boy, aren't you? The one Svatopluk taunted me with. You warned him!" The old kral's voice went up by degrees with each word until he was shouting at Karol.

The boy wanted to run from the accusation, to deny it, but Father Jaroslav taught him that you had to face your sins to put them behind you. Swallowing nervously, Karol nodded.

"Then take pride, treacherous boy! You've given Moravia to the Franks. Are you proud? You and my scheming nephew and his idiot men?" Rastislav spat, glaring like a mad bear. "Get away from me!"

Karol retreated to a safe distance, trembling from the tirade. What did I expect? The soldiers laughed and laughed, taking the interruption as a cue to return to mounted torture. Rastislav said nothing else, sullenly allowing the soldiers to help him onto his horse. He stayed silent through the evening, but allowed Karol to feed him at least. The old kral watched the boy from under heavy brows, thinking thoughts Karol could only guess at. He supposed Rastislav hated him.

Days passed with little change, though riding slowly became less of a torment. Meal times didn't get any better though. Karol sweated and fumbled under the cold stare of the old kral which continued to amuse the soldiers. The boy suffered eight long days and nights this way until on the ninth, Rastislav startled Karol into dropping his food.

"I don't blame you," the old kral said.

"What?" Karol blinked owlishly, and rubbed an ear. He couldn't have heard right.

"It wasn't your fault. You just got caught up in things bigger than you. I cannot hold a child to account for my nephew." Rastislav shrugged and his chains clanked together.

"You . . . forgive me?" It wasn't anything Karol had expected from the old kral.

"Yes. It is Svatopluk that deserves my rage, not some mewling boy. I should have strangled him in his crib. With my bare hands." Rastislav said it with such sincerity that it sent shivers down Karol's back.

"But murder is a sin."

Rastislav laughed, which didn't make the boy feel any better. "A man sins and the God forgives. I would pay what penance the priests require if it rid the world of that cock."

Karol considered this and decided maybe for a kral, that was how God worked. "Alright," he agreed. That made Rastislav laugh again. From a little distance, the soldiers watched but they weren't smiling anymore. Suspicion and distaste twisted their lips to a bitter grimace. It frightened Karol a little. They knew him, seemed to like him, but those expressions put an uncomfortable distance between the soldiers and the boy.

Rastislav seemed immune to their scowls. "If you are going to serve a kral you must learn to straighten up," he said. "And firm your chin. With your mouth open, you look like a drooling idiot." Karol shut his mouth and sat up straighter, earning a nod from the old kral.

"Good, good. Now when you sit your horse - your mule - try not to wobble. You ride like an old woman! Grip the thing with your legs, hold yourself up. I would show you but -" Rasto gestured with his chained hands, helpless. 

"That's ok. I think I know what you mean." Karol demonstrated the position on the log he was sitting on. "Like this?"

The old kral nodded, "Better, better. I don't want to ride into Louis' court with a drooling old woman behind me." The boy thought about this but didn't answer. It seemed to Karol that riding in chains was worse, but how could he know? 

The next day Rastislav asked about the boy's family. This was a hard subject for Karol. His mother had died in childbirth, and his father had given him into care of the church. He didn't know either of them, though his great-mother he remembered, so he told the old kral about her. "Her name was Ana," the boy said. "And she made the best dumplings." Karol smiled to remember the way they tasted. No one cooked like she had.

As he told Rasto about Ana and growing up in the church under the tutelage of Constantine and Metod, the old kral listened with a rapt expression. "I think you had the better of us two," Rasto said when Karol finished. 

"What do you mean?" the boy asked. Growing up a kral had to be better than serving in the church, didn't it?

Rastislav sighed. "Do you know how I came to be kral?"

"No," Karol shrugged.

"Louis the German held me hostage in his court. When I was of age, he took me on a campaign into our lands, burning and killing. I murdered my own uncle on the word of Louis, and took his place as kral." Rasto held out his hands, "You see?"

"I would not want to kill anyone," the boy allowed, "or to be a hostage." Karol had never considered Rastislav as anything but kral, powerful, strong and dangerous. Imagining him as a frightened child in a foreign land put the old man in a whole new light. It made him human. Karol added Rastislav to his prayers that night, asking God to forgive the old kral's sins. He determined to light a candle for Rasto when they next came to a church. 

Each day Rastislav taught Karol something different. It reminded the boy a bit of Father Jaroslav, and he found himself growing fond of the old kral. Karol began to think that perhaps this wasn't a punishment from God at all. He only hoped that God would pardon Rasto for his sins too.

He was still praying for the old kral when they caught sight of Louis the German's stronghold. The sight of it sent a chill down Karol's spine. "Enjoy the view going in," one soldier taunted, poking at Rastislav. "You won't live to see it again." The others laughed and it was a cruel sound. He urged his mule up beside the old kral, giving what support he could.

Karol never thought much about the Franks. He knew the names, Carloman and Charles the Fat, Ludwig or Louis the German, but they were distant forces, like storms or house fires. They struck or didn't and only God knew why it happened. But here, those names seemed solid, people that could count sins on one hand and blessings on another. Men with vengeful hearts and sharp swords.

The Frankish soldiers met them at the gates and flanked their small party on each side. Rastislav sat straighter, looking only forward, and though he didn't mean to, Karol mimicked the pose. People from the city gathered along the sides of their route to watch the passing kral. Some sneered or shouted and some simply stared. It made the boy nervous to be in the center of this spectacle, but he was determined to stay beside Rasto. He didn't leave the kral's side for a moment, not even when they left their mounts to enter the Frankish fortress.

Louis the German met them in his throne room. Though it was a grand place, and full of treasures and pictures Karol would love to look at any other time, it was the Frankish king that took his attention. Clad in rich cloth and furs, he sat atop a plinth in a chair that could easily fit three men. It was impressive, but Louis himself looked sunken and wan, his skin a pallid yellow, eyes red rimmed and rheumy. He spoke to the prisoner in his own language, beckoning his guards to bring the old kral close.

Karol couldn't hear them, but Rastislav jerked away from Louis, eyes going wide in surprise. The boy took a step forward but a warning look from the Frankish soldiers stilled him. It terrified Karol to be so lost here. In a whisper barely more than a breath, Karol began to pray. 

Louis leaned back with a satisfied smile and motioned to his men. The Frankish soldiers pushed Rastislav to his knees as two men brought in a brazier, and another, a long slim rod of iron. Are they branding him like an animal? Karol looked to Svatopluk's soldiers, but they stood still as stone, grim and silent. The boy felt torn between loyalty and fear. He wanted to shout, to cry, anything to stop this. Leave Rastislav's punishment to God! 

From his throne, the Frankish king watched as his men heated the rod to a cherry red. With a horrid efficiency they burned out Rastislav's eyes, first the right and then the left. The old kral grunted in pain, his lips pressed into a thin, hard line, hands straining toward the burnt black holes in his face. Karol cried then, letting them fall for a man that could not cry for himself. The boy ran to Rasto's side, his loyalty overcoming his terror. The guards stepped forward but Louis waved them away and let Karol take the old kral's chained hands in his own. He said nothing, not trusting himself to speak.

Rastislav took a great and trembling breath. "Thank you, boy." And then he let go of Karol's hands. The soldiers marched him out and after that, the old kral was not seen again. Karol lit a candle for Rastislav that night and every night until the day he died.
What happens when you're in the wrong place at the wrong time? Karol eavesdrops and overhears something he shouldn't. From that one little sin, the world changes. Written for Strange Lands Historical Fiction Contest

I've never been to the Slovak or Czech Republics (the story takes place in Morava, which was a bit of both) during the time of Constantine and Metod. I hope I didn't get too much wrong in my depiction - I wanted to show a part of their history that I thought was really interesting. It's hard to get English language history for central Europe so I relied a lot on my dangerous bear and am forever in debt to him for translating resources for me. I have to say, the history of these two Slavic countries (and their mythology) is fascinating and just doesn't get enough attention. 
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Daily Deviation

Given 2016-09-13
In Big and Little SinsZara-Arletis tells an unsettling tale straight out of Europe's darkest age.  ( Suggested by BATTLEFAIRIES and Featured by TheMaidenInBlack )
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Writers-Dreamed Featured By Owner Oct 19, 2016  Hobbyist Writer
So, fun fact: some ten years ago, I learned about the things going on in this story at school. Some of them, at least. Not so much about how Rastislav came to power, or lost it, more what he did while he ruled. I wasn't certain it was actually him the story was talking about until I got to your author's note, but I was certainly happy to see what was it about and have definitely enjoyed the story :) 
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Zara-Arletis Featured By Owner Oct 19, 2016  Hobbyist Writer
That's pretty cool. I wish schools here would focus more on world history, but we just gloss over it. When I was reading the historical articles, I really liked Rastislav. I have no idea what he was like as a man, but the things he did as a ruler were mostly beneficial. I wanted to write something that showed him both as ruthless leader and decent human being ^_^ 

The way he came to power and the way he lost it fascinated me. I originally had an entire bit of text about how he changed the church in Great Morava too, but it made the story too long. 

I'm glad you enjoyed :D Thank you for the comment!
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Writers-Dreamed Featured By Owner Oct 19, 2016  Hobbyist Writer
Ah, actually it wasn't world history xD I live in the region, so that is why we were learning about him, or more specifically, about how he introduced Christianity to the people. We varely mentioned anything else about him, though, so to see it presented here was both surprising, informative and above all interesting to read 😀
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Zara-Arletis Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2016  Hobbyist Writer
Yeah, I saw you are Serbian. I think Rastislav is best known for that - bringing the Bible and litany to the people in their own language. Of course, with Constantine and Metod ^_^ 

You know, if you're not already a member, I think you would really enjoy :iconthewrittenrevolution: 
It's a literature and critique group dedicated to helping dA writers improve. Your stories are excellent, and your comments and critiques are insightful. We'd love to have you. 
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Writers-Dreamed Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2016  Hobbyist Writer
It's pretty much all that he was known to me up until now. To hear there was anything but that to him was like 'wow. why haven't we learned about this in school?' Like, literary. Nobody ever mentioned he was ever captured, and that was why he had feared Germanic influences; it is always just said that he did. 

I've seen the group around the deviant art before, of course, but I'm not actually a member yet, mostly because I feel super extremely awkward about criticising other people's work. Or, at least, I used to be, when I first joined. I think I am going to rethink that now :D
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Zara-Arletis Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2016  Hobbyist Writer
You know, they never teach the good stuff in class :D 

I hope you do ^_^ I think you're an excellent writer. I always feel a bit awkward doing critique, but I know how much it helps. My writing has improved so much since I started posting to dA (and I know I have so far to go!)
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Writers-Dreamed Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2016  Hobbyist Writer
True that :) 

I think I'll have to pass on joining the group again, or at least wait a while, since right now all the stuff I would actually like to have critiqued is at least a hundred words over 3000 limit the group has. Not that I don't care about the two stories I've written for the prompts, it's just that I would like an opinion on the other thing more. Plus, all the stuff I write in the future is likely to end up equally as long, so I'll just probably add the group to my watch list or something :) 
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Zara-Arletis Featured By Owner Oct 23, 2016  Hobbyist Writer
Ah yeah, a bunch of my stuff can't go in group because of length. I have a hard time keeping my stories under 3K. I think some ideas just can't be fully expressed in short form. 
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TuesdayNightCompany Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2016
Nice work! Kept me interested.
I too have noticed the lack of English information on Slovakia and related areas. I work with a Slovak as an editor and cross-checking some of his facts... well, I just have to take his word for it sometimes.
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Zara-Arletis Featured By Owner Sep 26, 2016  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you! Yeah, it really surprised me how little historical information there is on that place and period in English. I'm lucky I had some help to translate Slovak sources. I've gotten the impression they are a very private people and English speaking countries haven't gone out of their way for info. I'd love to see more Slovak literature and history translated. There are so many interesting stories out there!
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TuesdayNightCompany Featured By Owner Oct 1, 2016
Lucky you on having someone around to translate!
Yeah, Westerners in general tend to have a lack of information on other countries beyond the traditional The-Romans-Were-Here areas.
The world is made of stories. I sometimes wish I could stand in a place and see every story that passed through.
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Zara-Arletis Featured By Owner Oct 2, 2016  Hobbyist Writer
It's nice to hear someone else besides me has that dream :D Even when the stories repeat, there is so much variety and beauty in the details. 
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TuesdayNightCompany Featured By Owner Oct 7, 2016
Exactly! Text-based high-five for you, madam. 
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Zara-Arletis Featured By Owner Oct 7, 2016  Hobbyist Writer
:icongimmefiveplz: 
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Bomberhead67 Featured By Owner Sep 13, 2016
Interesting story! I doubt there are too many historical inaccuracies -- you leave much of the setting up to imagination.
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:iconzara-arletis:
Zara-Arletis Featured By Owner Sep 13, 2016  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you! I tried to get the history parts right, so I hope not :D Two things were at work in writing this story, one was trying to limit my descriptions. I tend to elaborate on setting, the feel, smells, and sights of a place and the people too much. It slows down the text. And two, there was a word limit for the prompt. My first draft was about three pages longer than this, with much more on the setting and characters. If I had it to do again, I'd probably keep a lot of that flavor text and focus on a smaller piece of the story arc.
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:iconbomberhead67:
Bomberhead67 Featured By Owner Sep 23, 2016
I bet researching is fun, but since most people don't know jack shit about the early middle ages in eastern europe, what's more important is that it feels right. And I think you nailed that.
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:iconlostgryphin:
LostGryphin Featured By Owner Sep 13, 2016  Hobbyist Photographer
Congrats on the DD
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:iconzara-arletis:
Zara-Arletis Featured By Owner Sep 13, 2016  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you!
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:iconemmandin:
Emmandin Featured By Owner Sep 13, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
Your narrative and character building got me really engaged in the story. You conveyed Karol's emotions incredibly well. Awesome work! 
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:iconzara-arletis:
Zara-Arletis Featured By Owner Sep 13, 2016  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed the story. I wasn't sure about Karol as a protagonist at first, but he developed very nicely ^_^  
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:iconemmandin:
Emmandin Featured By Owner Sep 14, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
Indeed, he was super relatable and likable. <3
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:iconceltic-lily:
Celtic-Lily Featured By Owner Sep 13, 2016
Wow... This is incredibly well written. I forgot I wasn't actually reading a book! I love the characters, and the writing style, I want to read more :D
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:iconzara-arletis:
Zara-Arletis Featured By Owner Sep 13, 2016  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you! There are a lot of pretty exciting stories from the time period, nations being founded, leaders betrayed, revolutions and epic battles - if I decide to continue Karol's story I will definitely post. 
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:iconlintu47:
Lintu47 Featured By Owner Sep 13, 2016  Hobbyist Photographer
Congrats on the DD! :DALove: by Ikue
Have a nice day! :love: by CookiemagiK
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:iconzara-arletis:
Zara-Arletis Featured By Owner Sep 13, 2016  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you! You too :heart:
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:iconlintu47:
Lintu47 Featured By Owner Sep 23, 2016  Hobbyist Photographer
:hug:
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:icondc-26:
DC-26 Featured By Owner Sep 13, 2016
This is a great read - I think because the setting enhances the story, but isn't the point of the story.  Because the reader cares about Karol and what happens to him, even if not especially interested in Moravian history.  We even get to like the old kral - rather as Karol does.  Great characters you've created.
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:iconzara-arletis:
Zara-Arletis Featured By Owner Sep 13, 2016  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you! I think stories should be about characters, no matter how important or exciting the events around them. This was my first attempt at historical fiction, so I really tried to bring that across. I'm glad you enjoyed it!
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:icondc-26:
DC-26 Featured By Owner Sep 14, 2016
Definitely you were successful!
Hope you take the plunge with more historical fiction in future, if this was fun for you :)
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:iconzara-arletis:
Zara-Arletis Featured By Owner Sep 14, 2016  Hobbyist Writer
The research was a little intimidating at points, but it was enjoyable to put together. I will definitely be working on another historical fic in the future. I've been brainstorming :D 
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:icondc-26:
DC-26 Featured By Owner Sep 15, 2016
The work you put in is evident!
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:iconmercenaryblade:
MercenaryBlade Featured By Owner Aug 18, 2016  Hobbyist Writer
Great story about a naïve boy caught up in political intrigue. I'm glad you did your research it paid off, this was a wonderful read 
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:iconzara-arletis:
Zara-Arletis Featured By Owner Aug 18, 2016  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you ^_^ I really wasn't sure initially what kind of story it would be for Karol but I like how it turned out.
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:iconbattlefairies:
BATTLEFAIRIES Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2016
Ah, so we've got your bear to thank in part for making this feel so alive, then!

It's a gem of a thing and I'm going to recommend it, if you don't mind. Best of luck with the contest!
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:iconzara-arletis:
Zara-Arletis Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2016  Hobbyist Writer
I'm glad you liked it! Yes! We watched 2 movies about the time period and read some articles about founding Great Morava. It was really interesting, but I couldn't have figured out half of it without him helping with translation. 

I was worried Karol wasn't vivacious enough. I really wanted him to be a rascal, but he was determined to stay sweet through multiple edits ^_^ I'm not sure what you are recommending it for, but ok :D I haven't checked out the other contest entries yet, but I will keep my fingers crossed. Either way, it was a fun challenge. 
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:iconbattlefairies:
BATTLEFAIRIES Featured By Owner Aug 18, 2016
I think the fact that it's not an everyday timeframe or region makes it all the more valuable. Extra credit!
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