King Bol Folarok rigidly kept his back to his son. He stared vacantly at the stone wall before him. "I am leaving Dunop," he said. The tone rang hollow, his emotions encased in a vacuum. He spoke as if it were some well-rehearsed line he had already repeated a thousand times. The announcement, though cold, remained firm, and it indicated more than just a temporary absence. The finality of the statement slowly took substance, and it lingered in the dimly lit chamber. The words fell upon Prince Jon Folarok's senses like a lead weight. He looked upon Bol's back, impatiently waiting for further explanation. He was offered nothing. He stared breathlessly into the dark space between him and his father. This was no time for the king to leave. What could be more pressing than the current and growing unrest? Bol was needed here, needed now. He couldn't leave. Jon wanted answers, but the back of his father wouldn't reply.
But Bol would not turn. The dwarf prince squinted as if hoping to see clearly through a dense fog. "Where are you going?" Jon stammered. "Does it truly matter?" The temperature seemed to drop several degrees. "When are you coming back?" "I'm not coming back," King Bol replied with same sterile tone as before. If he had sympathy for his son's confusion, he would not show it. His words remained as brittle as frozen twigs. "Not ever." "What?" Jon felt his innards tighten, a familiar attack of anxiety. He was never a dwarf that dealt well with conflict or adversity. During the past few days, much of that was heaped upon him. Now, he faced a climax of catastrophe, and the accompanying nervous tension boiled over in his midsection. "What do you mean not ever?" "I'm leaving Dunop and I will not be returning," Bol repeated, still not turning to face his only surviving son. Jon dropped his head and stared at the floor. He could not look at his father's back for another moment as it only served to tighten the knot in his belly. The pain in his stomach was making it hard to think. His mind nearly went blank. He fought to seize upon something to say, words which might end this absurdity and set everything right. He could find nothing. He blurted out his confusion. "I don't understand!" "It is simple." Bol extended a hand to the wall in front of him. He patted the polished stone as if hoping to pull conviction from the intrinsic strength of the rock. "I can no longer stay in this place. It reminds me too much of ...." He held his tongue just before his voice cracked. He paused for long moments until his hollow tone returned. "I have made grave mistakes, mistakes I can not simply forget or erase. I can do nothing but leave." Jon knew instantly what his father could not say, knew that the king was referring to the decision that had sent him and his older brother, Tun, to Sanctum Mountain. They were sent to assist the elves, to destroy Ingar's sphere which held all the magic in the land, but Tun was killed at the hands of a sand giant. That was the moment Jon first felt a